With Plagues of Night
and Raise the Dawn
, David R. George, III returned not only to the world of Star Trek, but to the ongoing storyline involving the Typhon Pact. David previously contributed to the Pact saga with Rough Beasts of Empire
, a tale of Romulan politics and deception that also introduced the theretofore unseen Tzenkethi. Additionally, David has written more than a dozen articles for Star Trek Magazine
. His work has appeared on both the New York Times
and USA TODAY
bestseller lists, and his television episode was nominated for a Sci-Fi Universe award. You can chat with David about his writing at Facebook.com/DRGIII.STEVE MOLLMANN
is studying for a Ph.D. in English at an unknown university at an unknown location in the United States. He is not being coy; at the time this was written, he simply had no idea where he would be by the time you read this. He obtained his M.A. in English at the University of Connecticut, and hopes to pursue a career as a scholar, specializing in British literature, especially its intersection with science and technology. Also in that gap of time, he will have gotten married to his then-fiancée, Hayley. He has met Michael Schuster on more than one occasion.MICHAEL SCHUSTER
lives in a picturesque Austrian mountain valley, with half a continent and one entire ocean between him and Steve Mollmann. A bank employee by day, he likes to come up with new (or at least relatively unused) ideas that can be turned into stories with loving care and the occasional nudge. With Steve, he is the co-author of two short stories in the anthology Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Sky's the Limit
. Their first novel, The Tears of Eridanus
, will be released as part of the collection Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Shattered Light
this December. Currently, the two are hard at work building their own universe-sized sandbox to play in. More information about them (including annotations for The Future Begins
) can be found at http://www.exploringtheuniverse.net/.
Like the waters of a vast ocean, the voices threatened to drown him. They surrounded him, weighed him down, pulled him inexorably into their midst. As uncountable as sea waves and as unsympathetic, they battered him from all sides.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard lay on his back, the metal table beneath him once cold and hard, but now beyond his ability to feel. He stared blindly upward, no longer seeing the complex equipment pervading the alien vessel. Numbness suffused his body, a welcome release from the thousand natural shocks to which his flesh had been heir.
A glimmer of recognition darted through Picard’s awareness. Shakespeare
, he thought, grasping for the paraphrased fragment of dialogue, desperate to latch onto something—anything—familiar. Shakespeare
, The Tragedy … The Tragedy of …William Shakespeare,
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, said a voice in his head—said all
the voices, knit together as one. Hundreds of Borg—perhaps a thousand or more—spoke in unison, a chorus of unremitting pressure. Until now, their refrain had articulated only pronouncements of conquest: Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.
A single voice loosed itself from the whole and spoke to him through the continued din of the aggregate. To die, to sleep—no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.
The words came in flat tones, devoid of emotion, the cadence robotic. Act Three, Scene One, of
Hamlet.How do they know that?
Picard wondered. Had they extracted the information from his brain, or had they gleaned it from some other source? Even as he posed the question, he understood the answer. Though he and the Enterprise
crew had discovered from their first encounter with the Borg that the physically augmented humanoids procreated, it had grown clear just how they added the “biological distinctiveness” of other species to their own: by brute force. The restraints that bound Picard prevented him from peering down at himself, but earlier he’d heard the awful sound of a drill penetrating the side of his skull, he’d felt the strange sensation of tubes pushing into newly opened holes in his torso, he’d watched a dark, plated mechanism being secured to the right half of his face.
And he had begun to hear their voices, no longer without, but within, side by side with his own thoughts. As he resisted, they continued to tell him that he had been chosen to speak for the Borg in all communications, in order to facilitate their introduction into Federation societies. The Borg would make him one of their own, both physically and mentally—just as they had with so many others. Their knowledge of Shakespeare had not come from him, but from some other individuals they had incorporated into their hive.When did you learn Shakespeare?
came another lone voice, barely distinguishable from that of the Borg mass, yet divergent enough to impose a primacy of attention.Where did you learn Shakespeare?
asked a second.Why did you learn Shakespeare?
demanded a third.
Picard did not intend to respond in any way, but his mind’s eye conjured the image of a classroom. He saw himself in school at the age of fourteen, listening to Ms. DeGiglio, his literature instructor. He knew at once that the Borg had in that moment ascertained the answers they’d just sought, and more: the appearance and name of his teacher. The mere act of hearing their questions had amounted to an irresistible interrogation.
More voices peeled away from the ongoing swell of Borg thought rushing through Picard’s mind.What else did you learn?What scientific concepts did you learn?What scientific applications did you learn?
Though he made no conscious effort to do so, Picard thought about the warp-field effect, about the equations he’d studied during his years at Starfleet Academy. He envisioned the classroom, the campus in San Francisco, diagrams in textbooks, and schematics he’d seen in Enterprise
’s engineering section. Distressed by the idea of the Borg gathering any information at all about Starfleet and its abilities, Picard attempted to blank his mind. He understood that the human brain did not function as a computer did, or even as Data’s positronic brain did. The Borg could not simply download his organic intelligence and memory, so that they could then scour the data for useful information, but after connecting their collective mind to his psyche, they could “see” and “hear” his waking thoughts. If they could compel him to think of some particular detail, then they could incorporate that detail into their own body of knowledge.
Despair washed over Picard like the tide, carried along by the unrelenting voices of the Borg. They had already exhausted his body and his mind, leaving him with a faltering resolve that he knew he couldn’t maintain for much longer. He had promised to resist the Borg with his last ounce of strength, but once they had worn him down, what then? It required no guesswork to determine the information they wanted most—information he retained as the captain of Enterprise
Picard cried without opening his mouth. He would not think of his starship. Instead, he struggled to envisage the night sky above his childhood home in La Barre. As a boy, he’d often stood out in his family’s vineyard, gazing upward and identifying the constellations and stars that so fascinated him. He’d spent more than a few nights imagining himself aboard a starship, warping through space.Your vessel possesses warp capabilities
, stated a Borg voice. What other technologies does it employ?Cepheus, the constellation of the King
, Picard forced himself to think. He recalled the formation of stars from memory. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear,
he thought next. Draco, the Dragon.What are your vessel’s armaments?Alderamin and Errai in Cepheus
, Picard recited to himself—to himself and to the Borg. Polaris and Kochab in Ursa Minor. Eltanin and—What are your vessel’s newest technological developments?Newest,
Picard echoed, the word shining in his mind bright as a nova. Newest
, he thought again. The newest technological developments aboard
His thoughts drifted backward to—when? Hours ago, perhaps? Or had days passed? The perception of time had slipped away from him beneath the constant assault of the Borg intelligence. Still, whenever he had last been aboard Enterprise,
he’d witnessed firsthand his crew’s most recent technological achievement. In a flash, related sights and sounds, thoughts and feelings, emerged from his memory.
The Borg saw everything.
The turbolift glided to a stop, its doors easing open with a whisper. Captain Picard stepped out onto deck twelve and strode purposefully down the corridor, headed for one of Enterprise
’s numerous science laboratories. His presence there had been requested by Commander Riker, who had just contacted him about a highly unusual—and wholly unauthorized—project undertaken by Lieutenant Commander Data. Unclear as to precisely what he would find in the lab, the captain feared the worst-case scenario, already rehearsing what he would say to Starfleet Command in such a circumstance.
Picard approached Room 5103 and reached for the door control. The panels parted before him to reveal Riker standing beside Data and Counselor Troi at the periphery of the raised octagonal platform that dominated the space. Lieutenant Commander La Forge and Ensign Crusher stood off to one side. Each of the officers faced the experiment chamber at the center of the room, though they all peered over at Picard as he entered. Whatever conversation they might have been having immediately ceased.
Gesturing toward the chamber as Picard mounted the platform, Riker said, “Captain, this is Data’s—” He hesitated, seeming to search for the appropriate word. “—creation,” he finished.
Picard regarded the humanoid figure. Slight of form, perhaps a meter and a half tall, it projected a neutral, unfinished appearance. It wore no clothing, and its bronze skinlike covering showed neither hair nor sexual characteristics. Its nose had no nares. Narrow slits formed its eye sockets and mouth.
“Lal,” Data said, “say hello to Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”
The android looked first to Data, then to Picard. Its head did not turn smoothly, but incrementally, much as Data’s often did. “Hello, Captain Jean-Luc Picard,” it said, its voice possessed of a vaguely electronic quality, not really masculine, not really feminine.
Picard did not reply. Of Data, he asked, “How similar is this android to you?”
“Lal is very similar to me,” Data said, “though I have attempted to improve those design elements I could.”
Any hope Picard nurtured for an uncomplicated resolution to the situation vanished. He studied the android, and began slowly working his way around the experiment chamber to examine it further. It had not been so long ago that Picard had fought Starfleet to establish Data’s own rights as an individual. While a reasonable argument could be made to apply that decision to Data’s new creation, the captain doubted that Command would agree so readily.
“Lal has a positronic brain much like my own,” Data continued. “I began programming it during my time at the cybernetics conference on Galtinor Prime.” Data had attended the confe...