STAR TREK

DEEP SPACE NINE

Gestalted States

"So that's how you know the future. You actually see it, instead of predicting it."

Benjamin Sisko was talking to Jadzia Dax, or actually a Prophet manifesting itself to Sisko in Dax's form. She didn't talk like Dax, nor walk like her, but Sisko had trouble differentiating her from the real thing, especially since they were standing on a Prophets recreation of DS9's operations deck. She spoke softly and slowly. "That is how we know it."

Sisko smiled, almost convinced he was talking to Jadzia herself, even though she had died more than a year before. His thoughts turned back to the station, and his family. "I don't suppose you could show me what my second child will look like when he or she grows up?"

Suddenly, they were walking along the station's Promenade, and the Prophet changed its appearance to look like Worf. "The Sisko values his linear existence."

"I know, but you can't blame a man for asking." The Prophet looked slightly confused- or as confused as Worf could look- so Sisko changed the subject. "So, I guess you are omniscient after all. Do you see alternate futures as well?"

"We cannot."

"Never?"

"We have only been shown an alternate existence once."

"Who showed it to you?" Sisko asked, curious.

"The Tricker."

"The Tricker? Who is The Tricker? Was it that Pah-wraith Gul Dukat sent here?"

"No. The Nameless One was purely adversarial. The Tricker arrived and caused brief chaos through illusion."

"The Tricker is not a Prophet?"

Suddenly, 'Worf' looked surprised, staring at something behind Sisko. He turned around. There was Q, or something that looked like Q, and he had a grave look on his face. Sisko knitted his brow in confusion.

Q suddenly smiled. "Had you going for a minute there, didn't I?"

Sisko still looked confused.

"No, Benji, I'm not a figment of your memory. I'm the genuine article."

Sisko looked behind him, where the Prophet had changed to Quark. "Is he The Tricker?"

Q grabbed his shoulder and turned him back around, saying, "Among other names," He leaned in conspiratorially, adding, "some of which won't be repeated in present company..."

"What are you doing here, Q?"

A measuring cup appeared in his hand. "Oh, I just popped by for a cup of sugar; see what was going around the local grapevine. As it turns out, they're talking about me."

"I don't believe in coincidence, Q."

Q looked shocked. "Am I that transparent?" He began inspecting himself in an exaggerated fashion. "No, I'm not. But sometimes I swear Picard and Madame Janeway can read me like a book." He gestured, and an old-fashioned tape-recorder appeared in mid-air. "Note to self: Become less predictable." It vanished. "As it turns out, I've got a whopper of a story, and guess who has the starring role?" Sisko's eyes widened, but Q said, "Oh, don't be so vain, Benji! I'm talking about-" He gestured expansively, "-- The Galaxy! And it goes something like this..."

:-----:

Sisko sat impatiently in his command chair as the U.S.S. Defiant raced toward Dominion-controlled Deep Space Nine. The ship had just escaped from destruction by a massive Dominion fleet, thanks to the Klingons. Unfortunately, the Defiant was the only Federation ship to survive the gauntlet run to Deep Space Nine, and Sisko and his crew were forced to try and retake the station alone.

The Ferengi Quark had just liberated Major Kira and her small band of resistance fighters, who then planned to stop the destruction of the minefield around the wormhole by sabotaging the station's computer.

But they were too late. Sisko saw the mines explode, and ordered the Defiant into the wormhole to confront the Dominion reinforcements.

Suddenly, Sisko was enveloped by a bright light. He was in the realm of the Prophets. He looked up and asked, "Why have you brought me here?"

"The Sisko wishes to end the game," said 'Dukat'. Sisko felt uncomfortable that Dukat sat in the Defiant's command chair.

"What game? I don't understand."

'Weyoun' sat at the helm. "You seek to shed your corporeal existence."

"Is that what 'the game' is? My life? Is that what you have brought me here for?"

"The game must continue," 'Dukat' said. He held Sisko's baseball in an upturned hand.

"Believe me. I don't want to die. But I must do everything in my power to stop the Dominion from conquering the Alpha Quadrant. If that means sacrificing my life, then so be it."

'Jake' spoke. "We do not agree."

Sisko turned and the setting changed to DS9's Ops deck. 'Kira' approached. "Your reasoning is flawed. Insufficient."

They all crowded around the main Ops console as Sisko spoke. "I'm glad you feel that way, but I need to get back to my ship."

"But you are The Sisko."

"I am also a Starfleet officer. I have a job to do and I intend to do it!"

The Prophets looked at each other. "He is confrontational."

"Adversarial."

Frustrated, Sisko interrupted. "You're damned right I'm adversarial. You have no right to interfere with my life!"

"We have every right."

"Fine. You want to interfere, then interfere. Do something about those Dominion reinforcements!" Sisko gestured angrily. "You once told me you were 'of Bajor'. What happens when the Dominion conquers the Alpha Quadrant? Bajor will fall! What Bajor and my people need is a miracle. Stop those ships!"

"We are of Bajor," 'Weyoun' said.

"But The Sisko tries to control the game." 'Odo' said.

"A penance must be exacted." 'Weyoun' said. They paused, telepathically conferring, then he said, "It is agreed."

Sisko returned the bridge of the Defiant, where O'Brien said, "Weapons ready. Targets locked."

"Here they come," Jadzia said.

Adrenaline coursed through Sisko's veins as he said, "Fire on my command."

On Terok Nor, Gul Dukat and Damar gaped at the viewscreen in anticipation. The wormhole opened. Everybody began cheering. Damar grasped Dukat's arm in congratulations as the Dominion reinforcements came through, with the Defiant on the end of a tractor beam.

The Founder turned to the Jem'Hadar on her right. "Open a channel."

He tapped the console. "Open."

"Welcome to the Alpha Quadrant. We are sending you the coordinates of our battle with an Alpha Quadrant fleet." She looked back at the Jem'Hadar, who sent a datastream on the transmission. "Vanquish them. Victory is life!"

The bulk of the fleet then went to warp, leaving a few ships behind to take care of the station.

Damar looked at a readout on the main console. "I'm reading a massive neutrino flux. Several thousand more ships are on their way." He looked to Dukat. "Now that victory is certain, what will you do with Bajor?"

"Now they will experience an occupation like they have never seen before."

The Founder spoke from behind him. "You forget, Dukat. They signed a non-aggression pact with The Dominion. There will be no occupation."

Dukat turned and bowed. "No matter. Hearing the news that we have conquered the mighty Federation will be enough."

Suddenly, consoles began deactivating. The lights on the Ops deck flickered. A Cardassian spoke up while tapping buttons. "The main computer is destabilizing."

Dukat sighed, glancing at the ceiling. "Kira." He thought for a second, then turned to Damar, smiling.

Kira popped up from behind a cargo container and shot another Jem'Hadar soldier. Odo and Rom were at her side. There was so much gunfire in the corridors, Kira almost thought she was back in Shakaar's resistance cell again. One of Odo's Bajoran deputies fell to the floor, a smoking hole in his chest. She fired again, but the Cardassian she was aiming at ducked behind a box.

Suddenly, the intercom sounded, and Damar's face appeared on the room's viewscreen. "Major Kira Nerys, I order you to surrender!"

Kira knew Damar. He would only use her full name and rank unless he had the upper hand. She shouted at the screen. "Or you'll do what?"

"Or we'll destroy the Defiant."

Kira laughed. Damar then displayed the image of the Defiant being held by a Dominion tractor beam.

Her mouth fell open. Odo stared at the screen in shock. Rom covered his eyes and moaned, "Oh, no, no, no, no, no…"

:-----:

"What? You mean to tell me I die in this alternate timeline?" Sisko asked, smiling.

Q sat in a chair, his feet propped up on a table in the Prophets' recreation of Quark's Bar. He folded his hands in his lap and looked at Sisko patronizingly. "What makes you so sure you died?"

"Kira would never surrender. I know her too well."

"Look at the situation again." He held out his right hand. "She's surrounded." He held out his left. "You're surrounded. And best of all, she only has to surrender--" he clasped his hands together and spoke flippantly- "to save the life of her beloved Emissary."

Sisko fell silent, thinking Q was right.

"So, to make a long story a few nanoseconds shorter, the Klingons were destroyed, and the Federation fell within a few weeks…"

:-----:

The Jem'Hadar brought the black jump-suited slave into a metallic gray cell, seven feet square, and restrained him in a chair by the wrists and ankles. The blindfold was removed, but the slave collar was not.

A First came into the room as the others left. The First surveyed the slave for a moment, then addressed him, reading from a padd. "Jean-Luc Picard. Slave number 752- 01325. I was chiefly instrumental in the battle that disabled your starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, the flagship of your once mighty Federation fleet. You put up a valiant struggle, but in the end we were victorious."

Picard looked the First squarely in the eye. "That is only because your ships outnumbered us. It was hardly a fair fight."

"Those who oppose the Gods hardly deserve a fair fight. The Dominion is superior in all things."

"If you were truly superior, you would ally yourselves with all you meet, instead of conquering them and dictating their actions."

The First pressed a button on his padd, and a small surge from a plasma field in the chair jolted through Picard. "Bold words coming from an inferior race with inferior philosophy."

"Philosophy? Your philosophy is to unequivocally obey the Founders. Genetic spawns like you have no capacity of thought."

Another shock, this time, slightly more powerful. "Such jagged words from captive to captor. One would think that you have no will to live, or hold a taste for pain."

"I would rather die than submit to the will of the likes of you."

The First held up his padd, and Picard braced for the pain, which did not come. "No. Death would be too much of a release for you, and we have need for you here."

"Are we here to discuss our relative roles in the universe, or do you have something in mind?"

"Ah, straightforwardness. Something Humans and Jem'Hadar share. An admirable trait." The First tapped buttons on his padd, saying, "We wish for you to identify this vessel." He turned the padd around.

Picard instantly recognized the ship, and the emotions that welled up as a result. "I recognize it."

"What is it?"

"You know damned well that it's a Borg cube."

"You are correct. One of our listening posts on the other side of Romulan space picked up its exit from a transwarp conduit." The First leaned in, his face inches from Picard's. "Tell us how to destroy it."

Picard laughed. "There was no need for any torture. I would have given you the information freely."

The First considered Picard for a moment, then pressed another contact on his padd that released Picard's wrist restraints, but not the ones binding his feet. He gave the padd to Picard, who examined the sides of the cube, then called up a schematic on one of them. "Concentrate your weapons fire on the lower left of that side."

"Excellent." The First took the padd and turned to leave. He looked at Picard before he reached the door and said, "You have a hatred for the Borg because of your assimilation, correct?"

Picard's brows furrowed as he thought for a beat. "You could say I have a small vendetta."

The First opened the door and talked to the guard outside. "Ready the battle group." He glanced back into the cell. "Bring Slave 752-01325 with us."

Seven Jem'Hadar battle cruisers left Romulan space and headed to the last known coordinates of the Borg ship.

"Sensors detect the Borg vessel," said the Jem'Hadar Third. "Bearing 019, mark 038."

Weyoun looked through his headset to examine it. "Fascinating. It's almost majestic in its being nondescript and functional." He smiled as he savored the challenge of destroying a virtual juggernaut. "Bring in the prisoner."

Two Jem'Hadar guards took Picard onto the bridge and secured his wrist restraints to the floor with a long chain.

Weyoun tilted his headset screen up so he could scrutinize Picard with both eyes. "As a reward for volunteering to provide us with information regarding the Borg, we have brought you here. I believed you would be able to get a cathartic thrill out of seeing us destroy a ship of the monsters who forcibly altered you."

Picard smiled. "Anything to get out of that detention center."

"We can remove you from the bridge."

"That won't be necessary."

Weyoun put his screen back into place and turned around. "Have they detected us yet?"

"Believe me, they have," Picard said.

At that moment, the Borg ship rotated so one side faced the Jem'Hadar ships. "We are being hailed," the Third said.

"On screens."

Weyoun looked at the virtual display. He saw an image of level upon level of Borg alcoves surrounding a large atrium. He noted a green light that radiated from the center as the multi-voice spoke. "WE ARE THE BORG. YOUR BIOLOGICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL DISTINCTIVENESS WILL BE ADDED TO OUR OWN. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE."

Weyoun spoke calmly. "Greetings. We are the Dominion. I would say 'prepare to be destroyed', but I hear preparation is irrelevant to your Collective. So, what I will say is goodbye." He severed the link and opened a channel to his ships. "Target all weapons on the specified coordinates and fire."

The Jem'Hadar ships separated and fired at the area from different angles, swarming around so the Borg could not get weapons lock. The cube fired disruptor bolts randomly. One bolt struck a Jem'Hadar ship, which received minimal damage. The Jem'Hadar ships pounded the weak area, which began to collapse inward from the onslaught.

Suddenly, Weyoun's ship shuddered. The Second spoke up. "The Borg have caught us in a tractor beam."

Picard's eyes widened in apprehension. Weyoun still remained eerily calm as he gave an order to his bridge crew. "Fire at the tractor emitter."

The ship fired disruptors and torpedoes, but there was no effect. Weyoun's ship was still being pulled toward the cube, where an aperture opened.

The First worked his console. "The emitter is shielded. We're being pulled inside. The other ships are awaiting orders."

Weyoun started to show slight signs of discomfort. "Have them continue to assault the weak point. We'll concentrate on the emitter shield. Fire all weapons. Full spread."

They continued to pound the emitter, but there was still no noticeable damage. The ship was on the lip of the aperture. Picard could be silent no longer. "Rotate disruptor frequencies with each shot! Hurry!"

"Silence, slave!" The Second moved to strike him.

"No," Weyoun said, halting the Second's advance with the raise of his hand. "Do as he says."

The Second walked back to his console and pushed buttons rapidly. Dirsruptor bolts fired rapidly at the emitter. Seconds later, the emitter exploded. Weyoun's ship rejoined the assault on the cube. The Borg ship repeatedly tried tractor beams on the seven ships, but it was too late. The weak point sent out a shower of sparks.

The First looked at Weyoun. "I'm reading a chain reaction cascading through it's power systems."

Weyoun clasped his hands in personal congratulations and smiled, "Withdraw to Romulan space."

The Jem'Hadar ships took off as the Borg cube exploded.

Dukat sat in his office on Terok Nor, nursing a glass of kanar. The door chime sounded, and he looked up. Damar stood there. Dukat pressed a button on his desk and the doors parted.

As he entered, Damar said, "One would hope you're off duty."

"I am. I realize I have been pulling double shifts ever since the rumors were confirmed, but I am desperate to find that B'Hala tablet the Bajorans discovered."

"Well, wait no longer. Gul Rusot found it through monitoring Bajoran frequencies, and he has managed to convince them to bring the tablet here for computer translation."

Dukat gripped the ends of his desk and stood. "Excellent news, Damar."

"However, there is something troubling. Initial translation of some of the tablet's runes say 'Welcome, Emissary'."

"Well, since the Bajoran Prophets let Sisko be captured, one would hope that he might not be the Emissary anymore. Let me know when it arrives. I plan on conducting a little test."

Damar nodded and left.

Weyoun entered the former office of the Federation President in Paris. He stopped in front of the desk, held his arms open and bowed his head. "Founder."

She turned away from the window, where she was scrutinizing a flag of the Dominion emblem hanging from the Eiffel Tower. "Weyoun. You bring news of victory."

"Yes, Founder."

"But it is possible you would have failed, had you not brought the human."

He raised his head, a pained expression on his face. "That is correct. But efforts will be made to extract all information about the Borg from him. The Romulans have technology--"

"No," she interrupted. "I want you to take as many ships as you can into the Delta Quadrant. Take along any slave who has experience fighting the Borg." She walked toward him, and looked him in the eyes. "I want you to take personal charge of Slave 743-57591."

Weyoun smiled. He loved ordering Ben Sisko around.

Dukat stood near the airlock to Docking Bay 5 with Kira, the monks in charge of the shrine on the Promenade, a small assemblage of Bajorans, and an armed contingent of Jem'Hadar. The computer voice said, "Docking complete." The doors rolled aside. The monks walked into the ship as Kai Winn and her entourage came out.

"Greetings, Gul Dukat and Major Kira." she said.

Kira bowed slightly. "Welcome aboard Terok Nor, Kai Winn."

"As owner of the tablet, I have allowed it to be brought aboard your station for translation on one condition."

"Of course, Kai. What is it?"

"That it be examined by The Emissary."

"I will have it arranged," Dukat answered. At that moment, the monks brought out the tablet on an antigrav pad. "Take it to Science Lab 2. Have Slave 743-57591 report there."

"But sir, he's scheduled to leave for Rudok Nor as soon as the Jem'Hadar soldiers have boarded Gul Ocett's ship."

"I'm aware of that, Major. Now do as I ask."

The Jem'Hadar formed an escort around the tablet as the monks gently pushed it to the lab. Dukat, Kira and Winn followed. When they all arrived, Sisko was already waiting, flanked by two Cardassians.

"Have the slave place the tablet on the analysis pad," Dukat ordered.

"But Gul, this is highly irregular," one of the Cardassian guards said.

"Are you questioning my orders, Glinn?"

The guard stood at attention. "No, sir." He and the other guard moved back, allowing Sisko room to maneuver.

Sisko bent over to lift the tablet. He noticed the runes and realized what they translated to. He turned to look at Kira, who had arrived at the same translation and looked back at him. She looked at Dukat, who had a vaguely smug expression on his face. Sisko then gripped the tablet. He hesitated briefly, then hefted it onto the table.

"Did the excessive weight of the tablet affect you in a way that might disrupt your duties, slave?"

Sisko gestured in supplication. "No, my Gul."

"Then report to Docking Pylon 6. Gul Ocett awaits you."

Suddenly, Sisko bent over the table and shouted in pain. Kira ran to him. He flailed around in agony, and in so doing, pushed the tablet off the table. It shattered. Sisko shouted, "Reckoning! RECKONING!" then collapsed to the floor. The guards gathered round to subdue him; but suddenly, a vortex of red and white energy emanated from the tablet pieces, forcing them back in fear. The vortex glowed brightly, then vanished through the ceiling. Kira and Winn watched in shock, then they and the monks bolted from the room.

Dukat shouted orders. "Take the slave to the infirmary aboard Ocett's ship! Get a team down here with scanners!" As they ran past him, he glanced at the ceiling in shock, then stumbled out the door.

:-----:

Sisko looked away from Q in thought as he paced a facsimile of his office. "That's funny. I've never experienced pain from a Prophets vision before."

The Prophet had changed to Ezri Dax. Q spoke from Sisko's desk chair, where he seemed quite comfortable. "That's because you were faking it in order to warn Kira and destroy the tablet."

"Sounds like something I would do."

"You did do it."

"That wasn't me. That was another me."

"Semantics, Benji. You're still the same person."

"Spare me your lectures on dimensional mechanics, Q. I'm me and he's him. We're two separate people."

Q wagged a finger in a chiding gesture. "Careful. With such a sharp tongue, you could slit your own throat. I could continue that fight we had on your station."

"As I recall, you hit me first."

Q leaned forward in his chair. "True, but the Continuum's rules on fighting aren't like yours. One wrong move, and you could spend the rest of your life in Earth's Jurassic era. Or, we all could be swayed to believe that your race is still a bunch of pugnacious savages and erase you all in the blink of an eye. Are you sure you want that?"

Sisko forced himself to look out the window. "No."

Q leaned back again. "Then I'll continue with the story."

:-----:

A Dominion fleet surrounded the shipyards at Rudok Nor. Picard and Sisko were brought onto the bridge of the Jem'Hadar vessel commanded by the Founder and chained to the same spot on the bridge. They regarded each other.

"We need to stop meeting under such difficult circumstances," Sisko said.

"And without the Borg being involved," Picard said grimly. "Are you prepared for the possible outcome?"

Sisko nodded. "As prepared as one can be for possible assimilation." But there was a steely resolve in his eyes Picard could not decipher.

The Founder entered the bridge. "Condition of the force."

Weyoun responded with a wide grin. "Condition green. We are ready to depart."

"Move the fleet out to the coordinates of the transwarp conduit."

"It will be my pleasure." He opened a channel to the battle group. "Engage at warp seven to heading 000 mark 015."

All of the Jem'Hadar started chanting their battle mantra as some 3000 ships warped out.

The Founder opened a channel to another ship. "Keevan, do you have the information on how to open the transwarp aperture?"

"Yes," the Vorta answered. "With the proper encouragement, Slave 752-18423 was quite helpful." He turned to regard Geordi La Forge, whose ocular implants had been removed, and his old VISOR ports were re-installed. Keevan currently held the VISOR. "It seems he has experience opening them from a previous encounter with the Borg. We have set up a tachyon matrix in our navigational deflector that will open the aperture."

"Excellent. You have served the Founders well."

He gestured and bowed. "The honor is to serve the Gods."

An hour later, the fleet emerged from the conduit. Weyoun looked around in awe. The virtual display showed a vast nebula, and as he looked to the aft of the ship, he saw Borg machinery on the surface of a star. "What wondrous technology!" He looked at Picard. "If you'll forgive the terminology, I'm looking forward to assimilating it. The Dominion will spread to all points of the galaxy!"

Picard gave him an unfavorable look. "You must be looking at a transwarp hub. For what it's worth, I will wish you luck on your assault. Otherwise, we will be using the hub with complete authorization as Borg drones."

"Well said, human. We will immediately put your wishes to good use." He pushed a button on his console. "Weyoun to all ships. Choose targets and commence the attack."

The ships splintered off in groups of ten and went after the nearby Borg ships. The nebula lit up with weapons fire and explosions. Scores of Borg cubes and Jem'Hadar warships maneuvered and fired. It took more effort for the Dominion ships to concentrate on their targets with Borg disruptor bolts coming in from all directions. Some Jem'Hadar ships were hit, and the Borg targeted and destroyed them.

Kai Winn stood before a window on the Promenade, looking in the general direction of the wormhole. Footsteps approached from behind her. A low rumble penetrated the decks of the station. Winn kept her footing, but could not keep from looking at the deck in fear.

"It's the wormhole. It's emanating gravitational eddies."

Winn turned around. "What can I do for you, Dukat?"

"Sisko mentioned a 'Reckoning'. What was he referring to?"

"You didn't call him 'Slave'," Winn said with a smile. To keep Dukat off-balance, she changed to Kai mode. "He is referring to an ancient Bajoran prophecy. Two-thirds of the Rakantha wheat harvest has been destroyed, and hundreds of people have been left homeless because of devastating earthquakes in Kendra Province in further evidence."

The intercom sounded. "Damar to Dukat."

"What is it?" Dukat said, irritated.

"You should come down to the shrine, sir."

"Is there a problem, Damar?"

"I don't know, sir, but it doesn't look good."

Dukat and Winn made their way down the spiral staircase to the lower level. What they saw shocked them.

Kira stood at the entrance to the shrine. Bolts of electricity shot from the door frame into her upturned hands. Lights and computer displays tried to compensate for the power drain. A wind wafted through the Dominion flags suspended from the ceiling. She stepped down from the doorway, eyes glowing with an inner light. Nearby wall panels sparked. "Where is the Sisko?"

Dukat backed slowly away. "He has been removed from the station."

Winn looked to Dukat. "It's a Prophet." She turned to Kira. "Why have you taken this woman's body?"

The Prophet's voice echoed eerily. "This vessel is willing. It is time for the Reckoning."

Dukat confronted her. "What does that mean?"

"The end… or the beginning."

"You will tell me, or I will have you restrained." Dukat raised a hand, and several Cardassians pointed their phasers at her.

The Prophet didn't seem to notice. "I await Kosst Amojan."

Winn took a step back, her mouth open. "The Evil One—A Pah-wraith—banished from the Celestial Temple. He will take corporeal form as well."

"The battle will be joined," said The Prophet.

"Will someone tell me what all of this nonsense is about?"

"Shabren's Fifth Prophecy. The Rebirth." She looked at Dukat. "If the Evil One is destroyed, it will bring a thousand years of peace."

Dukat looked back. "What do you mean, 'if'?"

A placid expression came over Winn's face. "Dukat, you had better evacuate the station. There will be a battle here."

"Over what?"

"If the Prophets win, they will start The Golden Age Of Bajor."

Dukat looked at Kira. An aura of power surrounded her. He activated his communicator. "This is Dukat. Evacuate the station immediately." He turned to Damar. "Recall Rusot's ship. We'll have to board it."

Damar's eyes widened. "All of us? On one ship?" The alarm sounded, and he ran off.

The wind picked up as Kira closed her eyes.

Weyoun's ship was being chased by a Borg sphere through the sea of Borg and Jem'Hadar ships, both intact and destroyed and everything in between. Two Dominion dreadnoughts followed it, firing.

"They are probing us," the First said.

"Evasive pattern five point seven," Weyoun ordered.

The ship cut sharply to starboard, directly into the path of an armored tactical cube. Before Weyoun could order another evasive maneuver, his ship bucked violently.

"They have us in a tractor beam," said the First.

The cube fired disruptors rapidly. The dreadnoughts managed to circle back around to help the Founder's flagship. They fired at the emitter, rotating their frequencies.

"The Borg are targeting our number three shield only," reported the First. Then sparks flew over the bridge. "Shield is down! Compensating!" They heard a Borg transporter. Those Jem'Hadar who were not working on the shielding turned around and pointed their weapons. Confusion reigned for a moment as they tried to locate the Borg boarding party. None were there. "Shields are restored. The emitter has been destroyed."

The Founder looked around. "Where is Slave 752-01325?"

Weyoun looked. Sisko was alone.

"Habitat level three, report to transporter rooms five, six and seven." The computer spoke calmly as Cardassians ran through the Promenade to get to their assigned evacuation posts.

In the mayhem, Kira opened her eyes. "Kosst Amojan has chosen its vessel."

Dukat spun around and found Kira looking at the upper level above him. He maneuvered behind her, looked up and shouted "NO!"

Grasping the railing, with blue wisps of energy emanating from her hands, was Tora Ziyal, her eyes red fire.

Dukat drew his weapon. "Leave my daughter out of this!"

Ziyal – with a look of barely restrained fury on her face – raised her hand and threw an energy bolt that sent Dukat back through the air ten meters. When his eyes cleared, he saw Ziyal walking slowly from the staircase.

Tendrils of energy snaked around their bodies. Kira's white, Ziyal's red. They raised their arms, and energy coalesced into beams that shot forth from them. A shockwave blasted through the Promenade, sending Kai Winn running for cover. The columns of energy met in a fireball that sent flares into the bulkheads. Their faces trembled with effort. The fireball slowly moved closer to Kira.

Sparks flew on the bridge of the Dominion flagship. Weyoun held a hand to the communications device in his ear. "This is Keevan! Our shields are down! We are being boarded! Our self-destruct systems are off-line!" The transmission ended with a guttural yelp.

Another transmission came through. "The Borg are adapting to our weapons!" Weyoun looked through the visual display and saw Borg drones grabbing the people on the bridge of the ship. The Vorta, the Jem'Hadar and a bearded slave all collapsed to the deck and turned an ashen gray color. He switched his visual to a tactical image of the fleet. What he saw surprised him. The Borg ships stopped firing disruptor bolts. The remaining Dominion ships fired, but the Borg shields absorbed every shot.

Weyoun looked up at the Founder in shock. She looked evenly at him and calmly said, "Perhaps we have underestimated the Borg."

Sisko slumped to the floor, traumatized. It was a matter of moments before they were boarded, and he was powerless. Weyoun keyed the comm. "All hands, fall back to the Alpha Quadrant."

The ships turned around and headed back to the transwarp hub. But, one by one, they were caught by Borg tractor beams. Weyoun's communicator came to life again. "The Borg are beaming right through our shields!"

The bridge rocked. Drones transported in. Sisko looked up and saw the image of his worst nightmares solidify in front of him. He uttered "Loc—" just as he felt the tubules sink into his neck.

A drone approached the Founder. Scanning beams emanated from its head as she backed away in fear. It raised an arm and extended nanoprobe tubules. She morphed around them. The tubes retracted, then extended again. She shapeshifted around them again. The drone stepped back to receive orders from the Collective. The Founder turned into a golden column and jumped through the vent in the ceiling.

Seconds later, an escape pod launched from the flagship and headed for the hub. It was instantly destroyed by a Borg torpedo.

At the nearby Unicomplex, The Borg Queen gasped. She gazed at the light in the ceiling and said, "Never in the history of the Borg have we assimilated minds that are so purely adversarial!" She closed her eyes, basking in the new mentality that was forming, then transmitted a new command to the rest of the Collective. "We have work to do."

Kira's face was exerting so much effort, her nose started bleeding, which was much better than Ziyal was faring. Her eyes and ears were running with blood. The fireball edged slowly closer to Ziyal, a meter away. A flare shot from the fireball and shattered the glass in the security office door.

Dukat's communicator sounded. "I'm coming," he yelled into it.

"All personnel are aboard, Dukat," Rusot said. We don't have much time, not with that much energy coming from the station!"

He backed away, not wanting to leave his daughter behind, but it was either leave, or stay and die. "Ziyal! We will meet again!" He turned and ran.

Dukat had almost reached the airlock when his communicator sounded again. "What is it? I'm almost on board!"

"Reports are coming in from Dominion and Romulan listening posts! Fleets of Borg ships are coming through transwarp conduits near Romulus and Earth! Most of the Dominion ships were sent through the conduit to face them!"

"Then the Dominion has failed. Go to red alert and signal all available Cardassian ships!" He ran through the airlock, and the doors cycled shut behind him.

Rusot's ship disengaged from Terok Nor. They had gotten two kilometers away when an explosion ripped through the top central part of the station. The shockwave caught the Cardassian warship and spun it. Sparks flew near Dukat as he emerged from the turbolift. "Damage report!"

Rusot sat in his command chair, tapping buttons on his console. "Power relays are overloading all over the ship! Main power is failing!" He issued an order to his subordinates. "Go to auxiliary power!"

"Scan the station!" Dukat ordered.

The glinn at the science station tapped buttons on his console as the deck heaved beneath them. "Reading one life-form!" He turned to Dukat. "It's Bajoran." He turned back to the display and gasped. "My Gul! On screen!"

The viewscreen panned from the station to the wormhole. It opened, and turned from blue to blinding white. Golden tendrils of energy reached out in several directions, reaching out to Bajor and the station.

Ro Laren sat in her holding cell on Bajor, awaiting her extradition to the Cardassians for a war crimes tribunal. A golden light shone through her window, and she turned to look. Shimmering strands of energy came from the sky and struck the Bajorans she could see. They were lifted from the ground, arms outstretched. These shafts of light spread out as far as she could see. Then she looked and saw one was headed for her. She backed away in fear, hitting the wall of her cell. The shaft came through the window and struck her. She suddenly felt the inner peace she had struggled to find ever since the Garon II incident. She looked down, and her body was being converted to energy as it was pulled from the cell. She looked up and saw she was being drawn to a light in the sky. She welcomed it.

The Cardassians gaped in shock as the columns of light retracted from Bajor and back into the wormhole. The proximity alarms sounded. Rusot issued orders. "Target the Borg ships and fire!"

The ship was sluggish as it turned to face the incoming Borg cubes. A tendril from the wormhole enveloped one of them.

The Borg Queen concentrated. "I am losing contact with Fourth of Five, Secondary Adjunct of Spatial Grid Two-Zero-Eight." She opened her eyes. "Sisko!"

The tendril released the Borg ship and returned to the wormhole. Seconds later, the weakened Cardassian ship was boarded by Borg, and all hands were assimilated.

The wormhole began shifting as the tendrils returned from throughout the Alpha Quadrant. In the Gamma Quadrant, the same thing happened to all of the prisoners from the New Bajor colony. Then the Gamma wormhole point moved swiftly. As it did so, a Borg fleet exited a transwarp aperture. Within minutes, the ships were in orbit of the Founders' homeworld. In a single concerted effort, the fleet fired weapons, and reduced the surface to ashes. They continued firing, and the planet exploded.

In the Delta Quadrant, the U.S.S. Voyager sped as quickly as it could from Borg space. Ensign Kim's bridge station emitted a series of beeping noises. "Captain. I'm detecting a wormhole opening up ten thousand kilometers in front of us."

Janeway stood up from her command chair. "On screen."

The viewscreen shifted. A nearly blinding light appeared. Tuvok worked his console. "Captain Janeway. The wormhole leads back to the Alpha Quadrant."

Hope sprung in Janeway's heart. "Adjust course. Take us in at half impulse."

"A stream of energy is heading toward us," Paris announced.

Janeway saw it. "Evasive maneuvers."

Paris worked his helm console. "No use. It's following us."

"Raise shields."

Tuvok raised them just as the light enveloped the ship. Janeway looked around as a strange glow covered the bulkheads. Torres' voice came over the intercom. "Engineering to bridge. Something's happening to Ensign Tal."

"What is it, B'Elanna?" Janeway asked.

She gasped. "Captain! She's disintegrating!"

The intercom sounded again. "Security to Cargo Bay 2! Crewman Gerron has been engulfed by a form of energy!"

Tuvok was rapidly pushing buttons. "Captain. I have traced the energy. It is affecting all Bajorans on board Voyager."

Just as quickly as it arrived, the energy retracted toward the wormhole. It then started to close.

Janeway saw it. "Full speed, Tom!"

Paris poured on the impulse power, but it was too late. The wormhole closed without a trace. Janeway turned around. "Would somebody care to tell me what the hell just happened?"

The Borg Queen almost couldn't handle the influx of new minds and technology as the Borg spread unchecked through the Alpha Quadrant. After they had assimilated the Jem'Hadar, their newfound aggressiveness was proving quite useful. They even found genetic plants where the Dominion grew new Jem'Hadar. She planned on using them herself to create new drones. The Queen made a decision and sent it through the Collective. "We are going after Species 8472. But first, we're going to have to make a brief stop."

Janeway sat in her ready room, looking at her computer screen, looking at Bajoran texts. She and her crew had just finished a memorial service for the Bajoran crewmembers, and she had to declare them missing. She was determined to find out what had happened to them.

Suddenly, red alert sounded. She rushed to the bridge. "What's going on?"

Tuvok looked at her and said, "We are receiving a transmission from the Borg Queen. She would like to speak to you."

Janeway's eyebrows climbed her forehead in surprise. "Scan for Borg ships."

Harry spoke up. "We already have. There are none within our scanning area, even long-range."

She positioned herself in front of the viewscreen camera with resolve. "On screen."

The Queen appeared. "Captain. I just wanted to inform you that we are coming after the tactical research you have compiled about Species 8472. There is nothing you can do to stop us."

"We'll see about that," Janeway said, cold steel in her voice. "You're not even in our scanning range. There should be plenty of places around here to make a stand."

"I assure you, Captain, we're closer than you think."

"Captain! Something's decloaking!" Harry yelled.

A Borg cube faded into view. Another one dropped its cloak directly behind Voyager. Three more appeared, surrounding the starship.

The Queen's smug visage commanded the screen. "I should mention we have help from somebody you're familiar with."

She moved off-camera, and Janeway's mouth dropped open in shock.

"I am Locutus Of Borg. You will be assimilated. Victory is life."

Janeway turned around and motioned Tuvok to cut the transmission. As he did, Janeway said, "Tom, take us to maximum warp."

"There is a nebula at bearing 187 mark 030 containing gaseous dilithium isotopes," Tuvok said. "It should be an effective screen."

"Adjust heading." She turned to Harry. "Download all tactical information about Species 8472 into the Doctor's program and delete him."

"It's going to take a few minutes." Harry said, pressing buttons as rapidly as he could.

Voyager turned to the nebula and almost engaged its warp engines when the Borg caught the ship in a tractor beam. The resulting shear nearly tore the nacelles off. The cube fired a cutting beam along the hull near Engineering.

In sickbay, The Doctor was examining Seven Of Nine when the room heaved under the explosions. Borg drones beamed in. Seven stood to face them, a combination of recognition and fear on her face. One of them grabbed her. A drone began scanning the hologram. The Doctor started to destabilize. Another drone punched through a computer console and extended its tubules. Still another scanned the room. It reached down and picked up the Doctor's mobile emitter. The drone scanned it, then beamed out.

The Borg Queen gasped in near ecstasy as she received both the tactical data and schematics of the mobile emitter. Every Borg drone in every cube, sphere, hub and unicomplex across the galaxy stopped what they were doing and looked up. They analyzed the new technology, drafted new weapons based on it, and reprogrammed the nanoprobes to immediately implement them. Internal transporter nodes, reactive armor, and multidimensional adaptability were installed and fully operational just as the cubes in the Delta Quadrant opened a dimensional gateway into fluidic space.

As the Borg ships entered the liquid realm, they were immediately set upon by a swarm of Species 8472 ships. They fired their bio-electric weapons, and the Borg ships recovered with minimal damage. In return, the cubes fired nanoprobe torpedoes. They traveled slower in the fluid, but the bio-ships still had trouble avoiding them. Once they hit, the ships powered down, leaving them simple targets for Borg disruptors. Nine bio-ships grouped together and channeled their collective power into a devastating blast that ripped through three Borg cubes, but they instantly began regenerating with only 30% damage.

Within three weeks, Species 8472 was extinct, and Borg cubes from every point in the galaxy reported that, with the exception of Species 11528, the Bajorans, all life was either assimilated or destroyed.

The Borg Queen threw her arms wide, lifted her head, and laughed heartily.

:-----:

"And they lived happily ever after." Q said. He clapped his hands together once and smiled. "Who's up for a rousing round of 'Koombayah'?"

He and Sisko were standing in a white realm with no discernible walls or ceiling. "So you mean to tell me all of that would have happened if it weren't for them?" He indicated the Prophet, who had taken the form of Kasidy Yates.

"Scary, isn't it? To know how much one decision can influence the future at a crucial point."

"Temporal mechanics gives me a headache, Q."

"Oh, come now. Temporal mechanics seems to give everybody a headache these days. Except for the gang at Temporal Investigations. Now there's a wild bunch." He gestured toward the Prophet. "Makes them look like Argelians on Fat Tuesday."

The Prophet remained silent.

"Q, I think you've worn out your welcome."

"Oh, please. For once I'd like to hear something original from people who'd like to get rid of me. Makes me want to stay until I hear it."

"Q!"

He raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay! I'm going already! But there are no guarantees that I won't be back." He inclined his head toward the Prophet. "Ask her." He vanished.

Sisko looked at the vacated space for a moment, then turned around. "Now, where were we?" He smiled. "Oh, yes." They started walking. "I believe you were going to show me what my child will look like…"