STAR TREK

HYPOTHESIS

Soft starlight caressed the hull of the U.S.S. Enterprise as she sailed along peacefully at Warp 6.

Captain James Tiberius Kirk leaned back in the center seat, casually contemplating the meaning of life when Science Officer Spock turned around sharply and said, "Captain, there is a vessel approaching at a virtually immeasurable speed."

"Helm, all stop," Kirk ordered, sitting up, "Spock, on screen."

The viewscreen flicked from a scene of the starfield to a gray mass. "The vessel is hard to track at such an immense speed, Captain. Once we magnify on one position, the vessel is in another."

"Answering all stop, Captain." Sulu said as Kirk tried to make sense of what was on the viewer.

"The wessel has stopped, and is now 50 kilometers off of the starboard bow, Keptin," Chekov reported.

"Correct viewscreen image."

The image changed, and Kirk's eyes widened at the sight of the ship.

"Vessel is cubical, mass is five billion metric tons, no discernible life forms." Spock

declared. "Impressive."

"Tactical analysis, Spock?"

"Their technology is far superior than ours, Captain. They could tear us apart within seconds."

"Yellow alert," Kirk commanded as he stood up. "Let's hope it can talk. Uhura, open all subspace frequencies."

Uhura's fingers danced over her console. "Hailing frequencies open, sir."

"This is Captain James T. Kirk of the United Federation of Planets, commanding the starship Enterprise. Identify yourself, please."

There was a brief pause, and Kirk was about to repeat himself when the viewscreen changed to a scene of level upon level of computer consoles, and in the middle was a green light.

What seemed to be a series of voices said, "WE ARE THE BORG."

Kirk's eyebrows raised as the voices reverberated around the bridge's acoustics. "I see." he responded. "And just what is it we can do for you, Mr. Borg?"

"YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED."

"Assimilated? Into what?"

"INTO BORG."

"What is a Borg?"

An image of a humanoid with machinery attached and wires protruding from it appeared on the screen.

"Fascinating," Spock said, raising an eyebrow, "A race co-dependent with machinery."

"Spock," Kirk said in an aside, "what is the purpose of that device over his eye?"

"Perhaps a virtual viewscreen for scanners and communication.

Kirk turned back to the Borg and said, "What if we don't want to be assimilated?"

"RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED."

"Why must we be assimilated?"

"WHERE THERE IS BORG, THERE IS ORDER. WHERE THERE IS NOT-BORG, THERE IS CHAOS."

"Remind you of anybody?" Dr. McCoy asked as he came out of the turbolift.

Kirk knew he meant Nomad, whose function when they met was to annihilate that which was imperfect. Kirk mulled that over for a second, then asked, "You mean, everything that is not Borg is imperfect, and once everything is assimilated into Borg, it is then perfect?"

"AFFIRMATIVE."

"Suppose we would rather die than be -- assimilated." Kirk spat out that last word as if it tasted bad.

"DEATH IS IRRELEVANT."

Kirk strode around the helm console. "Well then, Mr. Borg, will you allow me some time to prepare my people to become assimilated?" he asked, fully intending to have a strategy conference.

"PREPARATION IS IRRELEVANT."

"Mr. Borg, I am the leader of my people. They are my responsibility. If they are to be assimilated, I should be the one to inform them."

"YOUR ARCHAIC CULTURES ARE LEADERSHIP DRIVEN. WHERE THERE IS BORG THERE IS ORDER. YOUR MINDS WILL BECOME A COLLECTIVE."

"You're saying leadership is irrelevant?"

"AFFIRMATIVE."

Is there anything relevant to you besides your precious Borg? Kirk thought.

A series of tones emanated from Chekov's board. He began pushing buttons as he announced, "Intruder alert, Keptin."

"Where?" Kirk wanted to know.

"Engineering, sair."

Kirk walked briskly back to his chair and punched a button on his armrest. "Engineering? Scotty? What's going on down there?"

"Some sort of cyborg has beamed aboard, Captain."

Kirk's pulse quickened. "What's he doing, Scotty?"

He's directing an appendage that has some machinery on it at some energy output monitors. I'd just say he's just scanning us. He's doing us no harm, Captain."

Not yet, Kirk mused. "Chekov, send security to Engineering."

"Aye, Keptin."

He thought about what the Borg could do from the energy monitor position as he sat down and looked at the Borg on the viewscreen. He said, "Mr. Borg, I hope you are familiar with the various elements in our power frequencies."

"WE ARE BECOMING FAMILIAR."

Suddenly the lights on the bridge flickered. "Scotty, what's happening?"

"He's drainin' power from the warp chamber!"

Kirk muttered a curse under his breath, then said, "Mr. Borg, I should warn you that there is a very volatile element in our fuel mixture that has proven to become very unstable once introduced to alien energy systems. There's no telling what it will do once it is brought aboard your vessel."

"WHAT IS THIS ELEMENT?"

"It is called..." He trailed off, unsure about using this next word, "...corbomite."

"WHAT IS CORBOMITE?"

"As I said, it is a very unstable element. It has taken us several years to maintain a suitable containment pattern for travel purposes." Kirk signaled Spock to have the Borg beamed back to its vessel. He strode off the bridge as Kirk continued to communicate with the Borg. "Every time this element is introduced to a foreign containment system, it erodes the energy pathways through the vessel, and eventually causes a cascade power failure after a specific period of time." He called to the engine room. "Scotty! What's going on down there?"

"He's still drainin' power! The dilithium crystals are gonna fracture!"

"Cut it off, Scotty!"

"I'm tryin', but he's takin' it right out of the reactor core!"

Spock's voice crackled to life over the intercom. "I am energizing, Captain."

"Sulu! Raise shields as soon as it's aboard!"

Sulu's hands worked quickly over his board. "Shields up, Captain."

Kirk walked up to Spock's science station, looked in the viewer, twisted a few knobs and touched a few buttons, then turned back to the viewscreen, saying, "We have confirmed that the Borg we beamed back to your ship was contaminated with corbomite. The Borg you have is now imperfect. You must fulfill your prime directive. Destroy or assimilate that which is imperfect."

"WE DO NOT DETECT..."

"Corbomite is undetectable until it is too late! I repeat, destroy or assimilate that which is imperfect! It is your prime directive!"

The transmission from the Borg vessel ceased, and the viewscreen showed the massive cube again.

As Spock returned from the transporter room to his station, Kirk walked back to his command chair, saying, "Spock. Tactical situation. Will they prevent us from beaming anything onto their ship?"

He looked into the viewer. "I detect no shielding, Captain. Are you going to lead a boarding party?"

"No, Spock. We'll be transporting something with a little more punch." He pressed the intercom switch once more and said, "Scotty, when we lower the shields, beam over as much of our antimatter supplies as you can, and set the magnetic bottles to collapse as soon as they reach the Borg ship!" He turned to Sulu and ordered, "Helm, get us out of here as soon as the pods are on board!"

Sulu's arms moved around his panel as he set a reverse course.

The Enterprise came hard about and streaked off into the distance as the Borg vessel exploded in bright color.