Spock and McCoy tensed, as the two drones advanced. Spock stood, and hit one across the face, before pushing it back, and he kicked the second. McCoy stood behind him, tensed. The drones quickly recovered, and pushed Spock to the floor, knocking McCoy over in the process.
But before Spock or McCoy could do anything more, Locutus sat up, and stared at the two new drones. They stayed perfectly still, then came to attention. Spock dragged McCoy to his feet, and addressed Locutus calmly.
"You are a prisoner of the United Federation of Planets," he began.
"Shut up, Spock," Locutus cut him off, still in that dull tone of voice, but with wording that sounded vaguely like...
"Jim?" McCoy asked.
"Sort of," Jim Kirk replied, standing to his Borgified feet. "Beam me back, and quick."
"What?" Spock said, before McCoy could reply.
"I've been spending ages trying to get my body back," Kirk said, as quickly as his Borg voice could manage. "But I need you to send me back to that ship – and I need to destroy it. I can make them destroy themselves."
"No!" McCoy shouted instantly. "You'll die!"
"How will you achieve this?" Spock asked.
"Too complicated, Spock," Kirk said, facing his friend one last time. The two drones stayed perfectly still. "I'm sorry – but there is no other way."
Locutus's face was blank and cold – but Jim's eyes were alive. Spock searched them for signs of duplicity, and found none. McCoy, however, couldn't let this horrible thing come to pass without comment.
"NO!" he yelled. "There must be some other way. It can't end like this!"
"No, Bones," Kirk said, the word sounding odd with Locutus' intonation. "There is no other way, as I have said. I'm sorry."
McCoy looked upset – profoundly upset. Spock decided now would be the best time to send Kirk back, and walked to the console. Kirk stared at the two drones, and nodded, and they walked blankly off of the pad.
Leonard McCoy watched this and despaired.
He had lost too much in his life. His wife had left him. His daughter believed he had abandoned her, because that's what his wife had let her believe. For four years, the only friend he had truly had was Jim Kirk. And now he was about to die.
"It is for the best," Jim said, finally, as he waited to be sent to his death. "I can't be assed waiting for my hair to grow back."
The joke, delivered completely deadpan in Locutus' dull monotone, made McCoy smile.
Spock entered in the sequence to send him back, and then he raised his hand.
"Farewell," he said. "Since my usual salute would be inappropriate, I will merely say... prosper."
McCoy said nothing, but nodded. And James T. Kirk smiled.
"Here goes," he said.
On the Borg ship, his thoughts amplified by a factor of ten thousand, this plan would work. From nowhere else could he have pulled off what he was about to.
The drones had now will. They had thoughts, but no will. They served the computerised will of the Collective.
James T. Kirk had more will than half the human race put together. His mind was strong. And with it, he forced all that will into one single command, given to the drones, to the ship, to everything Borg within ten thousand light years...
To Spock and McCoy, horror struck (though Spock would never show it) in the transporter room, it looked like this; the two assimilated crewmen suddenly collapsed, and they're faces flushed. The nanoprobe veins had vanished completely. They both knew what that meant.
To Admiral Pike, watching on the dark and smashed up bridge of the USS Yorktown, it looked like this. One minute the Borg Cube was firing weapons, blasting another ship out of existence... the next, it exploded into shrapnel, a great green light expanding in the wreckage.
And then, it was all over.
James Kirk had done it again.
He was dead, or at least he should have been. But then, if he was dead, his eyes should not be open .And he should not be looking at the ceiling on the bridge of a star ship.
"Time to wake up now," a polite voice came. Jim Kirk sat up, and saw a middle age man, slightly chunky, in an Admiral's uniform – no, an old fashioned Admirals uniform, of the sort his father would have seen - sitting on the command chair of a Kelvin class bridge. "I must say, that was quite an impressive death."
Jim Kirk raised both his eyebrows, and looked down at himself. He was wearing a command uniform, of the Kelvin era.
"That's nuts," he said.
"Yes," the man smiled. "Oh sorry, should introduce myself... I'm Q."
"Q?" Jim repeated.
"Yes, Q," the man named Q smiled.
"That's even more nuts," Kirk declared.
"Yes, it is rather," Q smiled. "If you prefer, I'm known as the philosopher."
"I'll stick with Q," Jim said, pulling a face. "So... is this the afterlife?"
"Goodness me, no," Q smiled. "Just a... nice spot for a think. Actually, you're technically meant to be dead, but I decided to intervene. I mean, you've done so much and yet... compared to the other you, so little."
"You know about the other me?" Jim asked.
"Yes," Q smiled. "I make it my business to study alternate lives. They make our own seem so... strange. By the way, I want to show you something..."
He waved a hand, and suddenly, they were standing in a great hall, watching Admiral Pike speak to an assembled group of Starfleet officers.
"James T. Kirk was a great man," Pike was saying. "Brave and noble and true. And only his great strength of will allowed the Federation, and humanity, to survive this, greatest threat. His memory will live on, and long after we are gone, worlds will still remember the name James T. Kirk."
Then a different speaker stood, tall, dressed in a Starfleet captains uniform. He was solemn, and his face was tinged with some unreadable expression.
"We are gathered here today to pay final respects to our honored dead," he began. But it should be noted that this death takes place in the shadow of victory, of triumph against odds that would have been considered impossible by any other man. Jim Kirk, was not such a man. He did not believe that any situation was unwinnable. And his sacrifice has proven that. He will be missed."
Kirk could almost see emotion on Spocks face, and it moved him greatly. But the best was yet to come. Spock Prime, older, wiser, and infinitely sadder, shoulders slumped and eyes dejected, stood and faced the crowd.
"Long ago and far away, a friend spoke words at the funeral of a man. These words apply to James T. Kirk, as well as anyone else. 'Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human.'"
Spock Prime paused.
"James T. Kirk died, as only James T. Kirk can. Bravely, for good reason, making a difference. He went boldly, where none had gone before."
"That's enough, I think," Q said, taking Jim's arm.
"This is the end, isn't it," Jim stated, more than asked. "I'll never see them again."
"You will," Q smiled. "When you're needed, James Kirk, you will return. I promise. Now follow me... this promises to be quite... entertaining..."
And James T. Kirk vanished.