FEDERATION'S END II: THE WITCHING HOUR
by E. L. Zimmerman
He opened his eye, straining against the pain that ripped through his
entire body, from his head to his feet. The same pain had apparently caused
him to succumb to a black sleep once more ... possibly to awake a full drone
... possibly never to awake. He blinked the haze from his own good eye, and
he lie completely still, waiting patiently for the ache to subside.
The droning voices inside his head had returned. Lying there on the
deckplates, he heard programming commands, battle analyses, power statistics,
communications sequencing. But Mandakorr wondered ... where they speaking to
him directly, or were they simply speaking to hear themselves talk?
Obviously the content was directed somewhere ... to someone ... to a drone or
to a series of drones ... but was it intended for him? If he were truly now
Borg, wouldn't he know? Wouldn't he know the simple answer to a relatively
When he realized it hurt too much to think, he stopped.
Face down on the floor plating, he lacked the strength to do anything
other than stare down the length of the silent corridor, finding drone after
drone after drone standing peacefully in their alcoves, apparently locked
into their regenerative cycles. The minions simply stood silently in their
respective spaces, eyes closed, limps at their side, face forward, completely
expressionless. They were ships waiting to be engaged, toys waiting to be
played with, and Mandakorr realized that he was trapped, here, among them.
He guessed there were dozens of them. Hundreds of them. Thousands of
them. And ... he guessed it was their voices that he heard deep inside his
The voice of the Collective.
'No,' he finally told himself. He closed his eye for a second before
opening it again. He glared angrily, spitefully at the nearest still drone,
and he wanted to viciously lash out at the worker-bee for no reason other
than the sole fact that it existed, it was there, and it was the closest.
'No,' he repeated to himself. 'This is not for me. I am no Borg. I will be
no Borg. I won't serve the Collective, and I will be no drone.' He gritted
his teeth, and he spoke aloud, 'I ... am ... Mandakorr.'
Slowly, he repeated the phrase until his normal speech cadence returned.
He repeated it for several moments, fighting the panic bubbling just
under the surface, suppressing the anger to flare up at the defenseless
drones near him.
'I am Mandakorr.'
Fighting the pain, he slipped his true arm out from under him and planted
his hand squarely on the deck. Deliberately, he raised his aching form from
the deck, his natural muscles straining. Pulling, he brought his legs up
under him, grinding his teeth against the burning fire that engulfed his
entire body. Eventually, inevitably, he succeeded in pushing himself up from
the floor and stopped on his knees, lungs heaving for air.
'I,' he began, panting, reaching up and wiping the sweat from the exposed
tissue of his forehead (so much of him had been covered in Borg armor), 'am
After several seconds, he had his breath back, and he started the battle
'One battle at a time, Mandakorr,' he remembered the counsel of his
father. 'Fight them one battle at a time. Do not try to seize the universe
in one fell swoop. That will only bring about your end.'
Mandakorr remembered his father's advice, and he fought, pushed with
every fiber of his being to stand. Aching, his legs extended, his ankles and
his knees red hot, the muscles and ligaments trembling until ...
He stood, sweat pouring down his skin. The Borg must have administered a
paralytic, he guessed, to keep him at bay until the assimilation process was
complete. Certainly, a drug could account for the difficult he had in
maintaining his physical and emotional control. Gallenian physiology was
never his specialty, but he knew enough about how his body worked to diagnose
that he was under the influence of a very powerful drug he had never
experienced before. If not the truth, his was still a reasonable hypothesis,
and he would accept it and work around it for the time being.
For the moment, he felt overwhelmed with the sight of the infinite wall
of Borg drones.
Mandakorr saw what he was destined to become, if the Collective had its
He remembered it now.
The Borg had come for him while he was aboard the Voyager, piloting from
the ship's helm. Under orders, he had played out the coordinates to
intercept the Borg Armada approaching the planet Besaria in the console
before him. He could see it vividly in his mind's eye. The Voyager. It was
quite a ship. Somewhere, deep inside him, he had hoped that the ship's
industrious, defiant crew would free the Besarian Lemm from their captivity.
If that happened, Mandakorr imagined that, due to his piloting skills and his
proclivity with ChannelSpace, he would be asked to join them on their trek
toward ... where was it that Harry Kim had said they had come from? Earth?
Dearth? Hearth? Something like that. However, the One had seen to it that
Mandakorr's dreams remained just that ... dreams.
They engaged the Borg and were eventually stalemated in space, but
suddenly the Borg had the upper hand, and the Voyager bridge was overrun with
Not drones like the One had co-opted for his own personal army.
These were drones run by the Collective.
First, they went about re-assimilating their lost brethren, somehow
miraculously reactivating whatever programming the One had suppressed years
and years before. Then, the drones turned their attention to the rest of the
bridge crew ... and Mandakorr was one of the first, the helm located so near
one of the primary beam-in points.
A drone had taken him from behind.
Mandakorr recalled the sting of Borg tubules lancing deep into his neck.
And then he remembered the blackness that pervaded his very being ...
until he woke up here, latched into his very own alcove, aboard one of those
Borg Cubes he had seen on the Voyager main viewer.
'Harry,' he wondered.
'What happened to Harry?'
'And to the others?'
'Were they here as well?'
'Were they on another Cube?'
'WHERE WAS EVERYONE?!'
Again, he slowed his breaths, denying the probable side effects of the
paralytic drug coursing through his system.
Harry and the others couldn't be his priority now.
Undoubtedly, the people of Besaria were protected under the planetary
shield. Mandakorr guessed that there was no means for the Borg to go after
them, to threaten them, to assimilate them.
That was all he needed to know, and that was where his message would be
sent. All he needed to do was to find a communications console.
Certainly, Borg technology couldn't be that different from anything he
had encountered, especially since the Borg assimilated everything. As he
recalled remarking on the Voyager bridge and from his talks with his friend,
Harry Kim, species weren't so different. Technologies far and wide were
based on similar principles. Automated systems required manual activation,
and Mandakorr hoped the Borg, while they might've communicated through neural
transceivers, were ultimately no different when it came to piloting their
ships and communicating to non-assimilated species.
If there were a communications console on this ship, Mandakorr was
confident he would find it. If there were anything he could modify into a
transmitter, he was confident he could do it. If anyone was alive and
listening on Besaria, Mandakorr trusted they would hear him.
But it would have to be soon ... before these Borg cubes traveled too far
from Besarian space. He wasn't sure how long he had been under the influence
of the Borg sedatives while the nanites did their work, and he realized he
was increasing confused about how it was he hadn't been turned into a full
drone ... or had he?
Was this what it was like to be a Borg?
Were you only a Borg in body, not in spirit, until the voice of the
Collective called upon you?
Or ... was he not worth being called upon?
Regardless of the consequences and his position, he had one directive
from this moment onward: he had a message to send.
'I am Mandakorr.'
Denouncing the pain, he lifted his foot and took his first step, then his
second, and then his third, lumbering ever so slowly down the long dark