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7: Duplicity

He stood with his back to the door and his face to the stars that were streaking past him as Voyager continued its journey at warp six. In his hands was a data PADD that contained a report made years ago by a certain Federation Captain.

Chakotay took a deep breath and began to speak.

"Computer, begin recording."

The computer beeped to signal its acknowledgement.

"First Officer's Report.

While exploring the Necred expanse looking for a faster way through, Ensign Kaplan and I encountered a Federation distress signal coming from a planet. We entered orbit, located the source of the distress signal, and transported to the planet's surface. We were approached by a couple of class five humanoids who ignored our standard greetings and inquiries about the distress signal. They attacked us using energy, weapons and I saw one of the humanoids shoot Ensign Kaplan. I was also caught off guard and shot."

Chakotay gave a slight pause.

"When I regained consciousness, I was in a room with a human female who introduced herself as a Riley Fraiser. She informed me that Ensign Kaplan had died form her injuries and that she was the one who had sent the distress signal. The people who attacked us were not of her community which comprised of about a hundred people of different races who lived together in the compound where I was staying. When I asked to be taken to my shuttled to see if I could contact Voyager, I was told that the people who attacked us the night before had stripped it for parts. The communities' own communication's array had been damaged in a recent attack and she estimated that the repair would take days to complete. I was still severely injured and ordered to rest. When the guard was convinced that I was resting, I managed to leave the compound where I was and go exploring outside. The inhabitants were indeed made up of different races, some I recognized and some I didn't. They all had one thing in common, they seemed to be cyborg and I had a suspicion of what they were. It was later confirmed when I saw Riley, without hair, and another person working on the circuitry in the back of her head.

They were ex-Borg drones.

I lost consciousness again. When I came to, I was informed that my head injuries were progressing and that since they had limited medical equipment and there was no sign of Voyager in orbit that there was only one way to treat my injuries and prevent me from dying."

Chakotay paused again. Until now he realized that he could have given cursory information in his report about his experiences, but in this section he would be expected to provide as much detail as he could. The information that he recorded maybe extremely useful in providing tactical information which could be used to defeat the Borg. It would be useful to Starfleet once they returned to Federation Space and it would be useful to them in the Delta Quadrant. They were no doubt getting closer to Borg Space.

"They wanted to initiate a neural link with me. The members of the former Borg still had neural processors implanted in their brains. The ex-drones could not remove this technology from their brains as this would have resulted in death. The neural link of the Borg not only transmitted information, but because of the nature of the energy used in transmission, it was also able to repair organic and inorganic parts of injured Borg.

I asked how they were planing to link me to them, as there was no way I was going to let anyone put a neural processor in my brain. They informed me that they would simply attach a neural transponder at the back of my spine and the short-range communicators would be able to channel the neural electric energy to the transponder and to my brain where it would be able to cure my injuries. I resisted the idea at first and then I saw that I had no other choice I agreed to the procedure. Being linked to other people was almost an indescribable experience."

'Indeed it was' Chakotay remembered.

"Don't be afraid Chakotay, we're here to help you
Open your mind to our thoughts, and concentrate on getting well"

"Come on Grandaddy, let's go!"

Chakotay knew that she should not hurry Grandaddy, he was still frail as her mother had told her but she just could not help herself. He had just gotten out of the hospital in China after undergoing a delicate surgery on his back. Grandaddy had been in and out of hospitals for most of the 7 years of her life and this was indeed the first time that she was able to pick bluebonnets with him in two years. It was their special activity and her special chore. She was in charge of picking and making the floral arrangements for every family gathering. The thought that she was going to do it with Gandaddy again made her nearly faint with excitement.

She had missed him in the years that he had been away from their Texas ranch. For a period of time during the previous year, she knew that her parents believed that Gandaddy was going to die. They hadn't told her any of their fears, but she could sense the sadness that would befall her mother and father when they talked of granddaddy to her. The house had gotten so quiet during that time, and that was unheard of. There were always neighbors visiting, people in the horse-buying business stopping in the house and kids running about. There was a certain din which was expected in the Frasier household. During that time, people seemed to be talking in hushed voices and always on the verge of tears. On two separate occasions her mother and father had been transported directly to the hospital in China from Texas instead of taking a transport to see Grandaddy and they had left her behind. She hadn't known about death until Charlene, her schoolmate and neighbor, had told her about her grandmomma's illness and death. Riley drew some disturbing parallels between the behavior of her own parents and Charlene's parents during that time.

"Go on ahead, Sunshine and start picking, I'll get a big vase out so we can put it on the table for the barbecue"

Riley danced her way into the fields. She had collected a dozen stems by the time her granddaddy came to her with the vase. As she arranged them in order with his help, Riley felt happy. Today was the day of the Fraiser's annual barbecue. Only everyone in the whole town was going to be there and this year they had something-extra special to celebrate. She handed out a stem to her granddaddy.

"Where do you want to put this one, sunshine, the stem is so full."

"That one is for you granddaddy, for being home."

He smiled, laid down his walking stick and hugged her.

Her granddaddy was healed and he was home.

"Feel the connection."

Chakotay looked at his son's precious little toes. He counted them again. He knew that they hadn't changed in number since he last counted 5 min ago but he couldn't help it. William looked at his son's sleeping face, his hands curled into little balls and watched his chest rise and fall as he took each breath. 'My son' he thought. He felt something rise in his own chest that he had never felt before. It was a sense of wonder, awe, pride and nervousness all rolled into one. He saw the promise which was lying there in his arms as he gently rocked him by the bay windows of his own house. William knew what he wanted to do, what he needed to do. He freed one hand and started the voice recorder for his mini holographic projector. He continued to rock Mathew as he began to speak.

"My son. You are only 3 days old and yet I feel that you have taught me one of the most important lessons that I will ever learn in my life. I look at you and I realize that my life has been filled and completed with your birth and yet I have the sense that it has only just begun. I have waited for you for a long time, although I must admit I didn't spend that time wisely. I was so afraid that I pulled away from your mother and from you. I hid on my starship instead of being at your side and at your mother's side at the base. I was questioning how well I would be a father to you when I never had a good example of what that was."

William paused. A sadness filled his heart but resolve replaced it quickly.

"But now that I see you and I count your fingers and toes, now that I was with you when you struggled to come into the universe, I get a glimpse of the enormity of the task ahead but I'm not afraid anymore. I promise you the best that I have to offer. I promise my presence, love, support, and challenge in all that lies ahead. No matter what happens to us, I will always love you. Remember that."

William stopped the recorder and looked at his son again. He remembered the hurt, anger and destruction that were the legacy that he inherited from his father. Now there was a measure of peace that had never been present whenever he thought of his father and what had happened. He felt the tears streaming down his face. He began to heal.

He hadn't seen his wife, Lanna, coming towards him. It was only when he felt a light touch on his arm that he looked up and saw her. Lanna was also crying and he knew that she had heard what he recorded. Her eyes told him that while she had always understood what had happened when she was pregnant, she had now begun to forgive him. Lanna believed in the promise that he had recorded to his son and realized that it also extended to her. Her arms encircled him and her son. The pain that had always been a part of William's life since he could remember simply vanished on that day.

"There is nothing to fear, we won't let you die
We are all one circle no beginning and no end"

"Heyar O!"

Chakotay was only seven years old and was gripped in the throws of the worst illness that he had ever felt in his life. He was in the cornfields when he felt it begin. He felt the nausea and the pain but he ignored it and continued playing with his cousins. Eventually he felt so bad that he had to return home because he was so dizzy. Only his mother was home as his father was visiting friends in another village. His mother put him to bed made broth and soon after he drifted to sleep. When he awoke he felt worst than ever. The pains in his stomach had increased and there were new sharp pains in his sides and he was running a high fever. He began to scream in pain and in fear. When his mother came into the room, he could see that she was alarmed by the amount of pain that he was in. She sent his cousins to go to their communications center in the village and summon his father.

By the time his father had arrived, Chakotay was sure that he was going to die. He knew that he shouldn't be afraid, that he was going to join his uncles, aunts, cousins and all who had gone on before, but he couldn't help it. He was scared out of his mind and the pain made it worst. By the time his father arrived, his mother had to hold him still so that he wouldn't injure himself more by moving.

His father began to place the poultice on his bare chest and rub his face with oil, all the while chanting the prayers of healing. Chakotay tried hard to keep still, but he was in pain and twitched periodically. When he was finished, his father kept his hand on Chakotay's face and began the final chant

"Heyyyyar OOOOOOOO!"

The second chant pierced him. Chakotay felt the connection with his father and curiously with others. He had a sense of his grandmother, his great aunt and uncle. He closed his eyes and imagined seeing them in a big circle, drawing his pain away and sharing their strength with him. He began to feel the illness leaving him. He looked up and saw that the circle had gotten wider, there were others, but they were not of his planet, some were not of his race. Suddenly he was part of the circle connected with himself. He saw himself growing stronger, being healed and he experienced thoughts that were not his although he was forming them,

"Chakotay" he softly said his name and recognized his voice as Riley's.

Chakotay opened his eyes and saw his father smiling up at him.


His breath was raw and his throat felt sore, but the pain was gone. He threw his hands around his father and hugged him as he began to sob.

"It's OK, Chakotay, you're better now. You are well."

Chakotay had a sense of someone watching intently, of the others hearing his jumbled thoughts at that moment, of others feeling what he was feeling. He welcomed them

"You're safe with us, feel the connection,
See who we are,
Know us,
Our strength is your strength,
We can overcome your pain."

Chakotay saw the Maheican long before his transport lights hit the injured animal in the road. He had been driving to Humthe and had become aware of the animal's pain and chaotic thoughts a hickar before he actually saw him. When he finally saw the animal in the Transport Path, he had already decided what he was going to do. Climbing out of his transport he went to the animal and put his cathar to his body. The Maheican, twitched uncontrollably, it was in the throws of death. Bellungth felt the magnitude of the animal's pain and the desire that the Maheican had for death. He understood the accident that had occurred. A transport out of control had hit him and left him for dead. Bellungth acted quickly as there was no time to lose. He turned his head to the stars and began to shift his essensar. He began to treat the animal's injuries. It was hard keeping focused, keeping his essensar in flowing in the face of so much pain. His head ached and he grew wearier and wearier by the count. Bellungth kept going. He was a Fanthar Healer. It was his job, his duty, his calling to heal, in whatever situation that he found himself into.

Most Fanthar were not born with the gift of healing as he had. Those who were took that gift very seriously and were treasured in their society. It had taken them centuries to over come prejudice and hatred that arose due to the fact that only ten percent of the Fanthar population was born with the gift of healing. Wars were fought, dictators came into power and were overthrown until one day peace was negotiated and both types of Fanthar. Then understanding came, about who they were as a people, what values they wanted to espouse and the desire that they had as a race for peaceful co-existence with one another. All Fanthar were declared individuals and equal, not one type better than the other. Paradoxically, it was when they began to live that ideal, difficult as it was to at first, they discovered what component of their biological make up that caused the gift of healing. When they were in conflict, years of research were conducted, but no one was able to discern the cause of the manifestation of the gift to some and not to others. In the end, it was decided that the gift should remain exactly that. A gift, one of many to be used to serve society.

Bellungth was there for 45 counts before he felt the Maheican stop twitching in pain and his felt strength returning. He removed his cathar as the animal stood up. As he lumbered away, Bellungth could feel the animal's gratefulness for his healing.

He wiped away traces of the Maheican pain from his essensar.

Chakotay felt his own pain ease as he did so.

"We welcome you into our thoughts
You are not alone
You are safe with us"

Chakotay sat on the park bench and looked out onto the bay. It was a warm spring night in San Francisco outside of Starfleet Headquarters. Jarren had his arms around him and Chakotay gave a deep contented sigh and snuggled closer. In response, Jarren turned his face gently and kissed him. Riley pulled away after a long time and took a long hard look at her lover. She enjoyed the thoughts and feelings that she had at that moment. She was struck by the rightness of the two of them being together. It seemed that all of her searching for a mate had prepared her for meeting Jarren. She was not alone anymore. Her gaze softened with this knowledge. In his eyes, she saw the children that she would have with him, the homes, the careers, and the experiences. She saw the challenges and she drank in the knowledge that they would face them together. Jarren 'read' what was in her thoughts at that moment and smiled at her. It was a smile of promise. She responded by kissing him...........


"Feel the Connection"

Chakotay was sitting on the floor of a forest sobbing with his father beside him. He remembered this healing. The tears were of joy, acceptance, belonging and the knowledge and through whatever was to come, his father was with him. He hadn't lost his father when Trebus, his home planet was destroyed. He had gained part of who he was on that day. All the denial of his heritage, all the anger and the pain that living in two worlds was for him were now of the past. He knew what he had to do. He understood then the rightness of his choices, of his actions as a member of the Marquis. He sensed others in his vision and when he looked up, he saw Riley, Orem, B'Ellard and the others. It was right that they should be here. He had invited them to see him at this moment. To understand some of the things that were most important to him.

To understand him.

"We welcome you into our thoughts,
You are not alone
You are safe with us."

Chakotay saw Vulcan thought the viewport in his quarters. A relative calm came over him, something which he had not felt since the onset of his Ponn Farr. Still he felt as though he was drowning in a sea of emotion. Every seven years, it always surprised her what 'feeling' and experiencing emotion was actually like. Soon she, Sethar, would be joined with her mate to complete the bond which had been formed when they were children. They would do what must be done, what needed to be done. She needed Neevok and she knew because of their bond, he needed her also.

He met her at the door of their home. Neevok was breathing irregularly and Sethar could see the state of dishevelment that he was in . It probably matched her own. At the sight of him, all her turbulent emotions focused into one overwhelming need, drive and desire. She could barely refrain herself from accosting him then and there.

Hours later as they lay in bed spent, she felt a more complete calm descend as she discerned herself returning to normal. She could discern her thoughts becoming as focused as they always were. Her mind reached out and embraced once again the clarity that attaining logic afforded a Vulcan. She looked at her husband. She saw with her mind that he was also in the same process as she was. They were of one spirit, of one mind. They had been that way ever since they had been joined in the throws of their first Ponn Farr. She said simply,

"My husband"

His reply was the repetition of the promise that he had made every seven years for the hundred and forty seven years that they had been married.


It was the reconnection of oneself to the ways of logic and to the clarity that it afforded that was the greatest healing from the effects of the Ponn Farr for Sethar.

"Our strength is your strength"

The howl that came from his throat told Chakotay of his victory.

The blood stained Bath'leth above his head told of the means of his victory.

The ten Romulan soldiers at his feet told of the greatness of his victory.

B'Ellard saw the other Klingons of his crew join him as he continued to tell, though his war cry of the great victory which had been achieved that day. This was the last Romulan Warbird which had been found in Klingon territory. When the fleet was discovered, they didn't leave the Klingon space as ordered but stayed and tried to fight. They had been defeated, first in space combat and then in hand to hand combat after B'Ellard and his men had beamed over to continue fighting. They had killed ever last Romulan on board although they had been outnumbered three to one.

When the victory cry was finally finished, his First Officer lead the other warriors in the song of victory. Burtok started the song six years ago. He knew that B'Ellard would be instrumental in driving the Romulans out of their space, that this day would come and now that it was here, they were all prepared for the greatness of this moment.

B'Ellard looked at his warriors and felt the true spirit of Kahless among them. He felt that same spirit coursing through his blood at this moment as it had been when he was fighting the Romulans. His body should be aching with pain from all the cuts and bruises, broken bones and the collapsed lung. Blood poured forth from the wound on his back. He felt none of it, instead he felt the glory of the moment. That is what kept the pain at bay.

"Know us."

"Lt. Riley Fraiser it is with great honor that we accept you in the Command Program at Starfleet Academy. Your new assignment would be the science officer on the Roosevelt"

Riley shook Admiral Kenneth's hand as a wide smile covered her face. She heard her parents cheering in the background and could imagine the sense of pride which crossed their faces. She felt it too. It has taken her a long time to get where she was now and she intended to enjoy every minute of it. As soon as the ceremony was over, she and her family were going back to Texas for another Barbecue. Riley smiled. All of the important moments of her life had a barbecue attached to it. The usual neighbors and friends would be there.

The smile took a sad turn when she remembered that one person would not be there. Grandaddy had died three years ago.

"See who we are"

Chakotay found himself standing in a long hall with tables on either side of him. The tables seemed to be two miles high, but he knew that the tables themselves were standard height but a floor above him. The cloths which covered them fell to the floor on his level, giving the illusion that they were that high. Background lighting enabled Orem to distinguish twenty-five Romulan silhouettes sitting at these tables surrounding him, but he could not see their faces. In front of him was a single Romulan who was hooded to protect his identity. The light was stronger on him, but the most visible, most glaring object in the room was the Romulan Shield. Orem gazed at it with pride. The Bird of Prey; wings outstretched, talons in the clenched position and waiting. It's beak incredibly long and the instrument through which its venom is transmitted. The large triangle in the back symbolizing this powerful weapon that the bird used in destroying its prey. The bird seemed to be calling to him as he stood there waiting.

The hooded Romulan began to speak.

"For the development of the nerve toxin, n-alpha-2 which destroyed the renegade Romulan settlement of Surtar IV and ensured peace in Romulus for years to come, we welcome you into the Romulan Tal Shirar. Receive the secret oath." Orem felt the implanted memory engrams activate, enabling him not only to remember the oath, but his pass codes and security clearance which would be used for the rest of his life.

He had prepared for this day. It was the day that he dreamed of ever since he left the medical service and plotted and schemed to be considered for the Tal Shirar, the most exclusive, the most effective intelligence agency in the quadrant. He already *knew* what his first assignment was. He was confident that the success of that assignment and the others to follow would lead the Romulan Empire to greatness. Orem gazed at the shield again. In a way the Bird of prey was like the Romulan Empire. Its beak was their leaders and its venom was none other than the Tal Shirar; ready to bring to completeness the destruction of its prey,

The Federation.

"Hear our voices
Open your mind to our thoughts
Our collective strength can heal you."

"By the decree of this court, your initial charge of guilty for the act of treason still stands." Chakotay looked at the defendant's family.

"Does the family wish to disown him publicly?"

"Yes we do."

Tulleth felt herself growing with pride with each renouncement. This case had been difficult for the Cardassian justice system. They knew that Gul Cadak was guilty, but they couldn't prove it. Normally it wouldn't matter, but in a case like this one it was of paramount importance that they found out exactly how it had been done because Cardassian security had been compromised. Cadak had done the unthinkable and the unforgivable. He had sold Cardassian secrets to the Klingons. It had taken Tulleth and her staff six months of treachery, bribes and interrogation before she they could uncover the means of Cadak's treachery.

Later, she watched Gul Cadak breath his last after his execution. She gave him credit for meeting his death with as much dignity as he had left. He had not begged, preached or pleaded. She watched when the final act of torture caused his eyes to roll to the back of his head, silently signaling his death.

Now it was over.

"Hunanna, Hunanna, how was your day?"

Hellak and Sevek came racing to the door when they heard Tulleth come into the house. She stooped down and hugged them. Her grandchildren had lived with her ever since her daughter and son-in-law had died in combat with the Klingons

"It was a very good one Humannalas."

Indeed it had been. Tulleth felt a great measure of peace. With his exposure, Cardassian security had been investigated with a fine-tooth comb so to speak for any other hints of treachery and the necessary measures had been taken to ensure that all of the compromised measures had been irradiated. . Her grandchildren would not be taken from her by the actions of Cadak or any like him. As her daughter was. Somehow the pain of her loss was lessened that day.

"We can overcome your pain"

Chakotay was running as hard and as fast as he could, but he knew it wasn't fast enough. Soon the beings of this species would be upon him and they would make good of their threat. They would assimilate him. He was groaning as he ran. Maylar had never been in any shape to do physical exercise since he was 7 years old and had developed the phage. Now he was in an even worst state than before. His organs were grafted only three months ago right before he started the trip but with the rigors of travel, they had degraded a lot faster than anticipated.

With every breadth that he forced out of his body, he cursed the phage, himself and the species that lead him to this one. They called themselves the Borg. The Covar had told him about this incredibly advanced species, part human and part mechanical, who had medical technology which was far more advanced than any thing that the Vidians had ever heard of or developed. Maylar had taken a single ship to see if he could contact these people and as for their help in finding a cure for the phage. He knew, as one of the leading doctors of the Vidian Solidarity, that the Borg had never been harvested as a race and as a result would have no reason to resent the Vidians. On his way there, he was intercepted by a cube and in a desperate attempt to escape, had crash-landed on a planet. It was there that he was running in order to escape the one Borg who had come after him.

Eventually the Borg caught up with him and when his vicious looking tubeoles pieced his skin he screamed in excruciating pain. A moment later there was none. For the first time in 37 years of life, Maylar was free from the pain of the phage. He looked at his captor in amazement in silence and he realized that his gaze was also lined with gratitude. It mattered not to him that his body was not under his command although he was moving with the Borg without being forced. He felt himself being immersed in a transporter beam and when they re-materialized, Maylar could see the vast assortment of wires, conduits and bulkheads that comprised the cube.

His look of amazement did not leave his face when he began to spout Borg implants and several drones began to operate on him. He felt his flesh regenerate until it was supple for the first time in his adult life. He felt his physical strength return. Strength he had not known since he was a child. Once his neural link was established, he felt the strength of the Collective. Maylar knew that he would never be alone again, would never be shunned because of the phage again. He was now one of a powerful many. Information poured through the link. He almost wept with joy as he realized that his dream of exploration would be realized as a Borg drone. His last individual thought before it was permanently shoved aside was the wish that his society could all be assimilated so that they would know the healing that he had experienced because of it.

"We will not let you die."

It seemed to Four of Seven of secondary matrix 038, that once assimilation of a new race occurred, the entire collective would pause for a nanosecond. Every drone would be receiving the new data which was transmitted through thousands of light years across the neural link. It was no different when species 8251 was assimilated. Once the assimilation was complete, the entire collective worked at interpreting the biological and technical distinctiveness that they had acquired and seeing where it could be used. There was a lot of interpretation to do. Species 8251's bodies' natural ability to channel their electrochemical energy through their bodies for the purpose of healing was one of the abilities that lead the Borg to desire their assimilation. In five hours, the Collective had found a way to imitate this ability and use it to repair damaged drones through their shared neural link. The Collective's biological and technical distinctiveness was indeed greatly enhanced that day.

The ex-Fantar Borg drones once fully converted, also began to receive information across the neural link about what their new lives would be like. They began to understand that though they had initially resisted assimilation, it was good that they had been defeated in the end. The Borg had learnt of Species 8251 from Species 8235, a violent paranoid race who were bent on destroying Species 8251 because they feared their abilities once they had heard of it. Their technological distinctiveness was impressive, even though as a species they lacked cohesion and focus. It was a good thing that species 8251 was assimilated or else they would have been eradicated.

"Hear our voices
We welcome you into our thoughts."

"You will never belong to that life and if leave you will never belong to this one, you'll be caught between two worlds"

"You're Chakotay, I'm Seska"

"Who is she to be making these decisions for all of us?"

"She is the Captain"

"In that way, the angry warrior began to know the true meaning of peace"

"No matter what happens, we'll make it remember that"

"Watch over a boy named Kar-dane who has a difficult path to travel"

"On this day of sorrow and uncertainty, I pray that the wisdom of my father find me."

"Like something worth living for."

Chakotay invited them all into his life. Their insights into his thoughts, feelings and reactions as they experienced them for the first time from their different cultures and ideals. His own understanding into his own experiences were greatly enhanced that day. He felt safe with them. The constant pain that he had been in because of his injuries seemed greatly diminished. He didn't know how long he was linked, he didn't care. The experience was unlike anything that he had ever experienced and he knew that he would never experience anything like it. He closed his eyes. It felt good to sleep.

"I was able to feel the neural energy flowing to my head and I felt the pain of my injuries lesson. The means of doing this seemed to be the projection of thoughts, memories and feelings of the people linked to me. There were eight people in the link beside myself, Riley and another human, a Cardassian, a Klingon, a member of a species called the Fanthar, a Vulcan, a Vidian and Orem who was the medic who tended to me. He was Romulan. I was able to experience their memories and they experienced mine. Many of them seemed specific to healing although there were one or two which were not. It was as if I was experiencing what it was like to be them and I was able to see myself through their eyes. Eventually a sense of peace overcame me and I fell asleep."

"Computer pause" The computer beeped its compliance with his order.

'Well that was a far cry from the actual experience', Chakotay thought. He squared his shoulders as he prepared to continue making his official log. He was not looking forward to this part.

He looked again at the PADD and began to read.

"Once fully assimilated, orders are received via the neural link which is imbedded in every drone. The voices that are heard over the link are an amalgamation of the entire Collective. There are different tones, but essentially one voice and one thought. There seemed to be an undercurrent of one voice who was in authority under the Collective, but I was never able to distinguish it. It seemed impossible that a Collectiveness, which was so vast and spread out over such great distances, could form one such cohesive thought. That one this thought could form one directive, one plan of action and orders to implement that plan of action, for the various different tasks that the Borg were active in. But it was done every nanosecond of very day. When the orders are given, the whole being of the drone responds to carry out that order as they have been altered to do. The person's individuality cannot control what the drone does or even thinks. All it can do is lay dormant and watch in horror, when all the values that it has ever embraced, all the promises that it has ever made be destroyed, as the drone carries out the will of the Collective.

Picard's experiences of being assimilated by the Borg was made known to the command crew of every starship in the Federation's Fleet. He was the only known survivor of the process. He could almost hear the voice of Picard getting angrier and raspier as the log went on. Chakotay had not been fully assimilated as Picard had been and thankfully he had not been responsible for innocent lives, yet he was still enraged by what he had been forced to do. He couldn't imagine what Picard would have had to face after he had been rescued from the Borg. Having to live with the memory of Wolf 359 must be unbearable at times.

"Captain Jean Luc Picard's log dated 44084.7 includes a correct summary of what a person experiences when under the influence of the Collective Will of the Borg."

He made no distinction between the Borg that Picard had encountered and the ones that he did. All were the same. He began to understand that once one had been assimilated for a long time, there was no way to get rid of the Collective way of thinking and of doing things.

"Chakotay can you hear us?"

At first it was faint, like an echo of what once was, but there was something different to the voice now, it held a desire of sorts.

"Chakotay, we need your help"

His mind reached out to find out what was wrong, in what way he could help. But this time no individual thoughts reached him. There were no questions, no debates, and no differences of opinion. There was only one will, one purpose to the collection of voices. One task that he had to perform. He knew what he had to do.

"Don't do that." His phaser was drawn. It was then that all that Chakotay, his soul, realized that he was not in control of his thinking and his actions anymore.

"Chakotay give me the phaser." Torres had looked at him in horror, speaking to him in even tones as if to try and make him come to his senses and realize what he was about to do.

It was too late for that.

He tried to fight, tried to reach out with his thoughts to make them stop what they were doing. They simply ignored him. Their hold was firm, and Chakotay heard his soul cry out in anguish as he watched himself phaser Torres and change course to head for the deactivated Borg Cube.

"Transport to 47-omega.
The bunker is under attack.
47-omega section 9, mark coordinates
We are under attack
We must hurry, the bunker is under attack
47-omega section 9,

"I am sorry Chakotay. I hope one day you can forgive me"

The thought, very faint had come from Riley and was directed towards Chakotay's soul. He almost missed it as she joined the collective voices again.

It was also too late for that.

We are under attack
Proceed to interlink consol 3-beta-6
Hear our thoughts,
Our thoughts are one
Interlink consol -beta-6
Hear out thoughts."

He heard voices. They were of the Voyager crew, he recognized them, but he knew that he had to avoid them, so he did. His soul was triumphant. They would stop him. They would not allow him to complete his task even if it mean killing him.

"Lower right panel,
Attach power conduit 166
Hurry! Pathway pie-2
We are under attack, pathway pie-2
Activate Neural electric generator quickly.


Power circuit mechanism
Activate the neural generator
We must activate the neural electric generator now
Chakotay need your help,


His will struggled even harder. The directive was issued by a collection of voices which was almost near panic. Chakotay did not know if this was because he was fighting them harder, or if it was the result of the threat that the New Cooperative was under.

"Commander, step away from that consul or I will be forced to fire." They had done it, they had found him. His crewmates would stop him, because he realized that despite of all his struggles, he couldn't stop himself.



And he fired on Tuvok, he had no choice. He could not break free of the will of the Co-Operative. Someone caught him with a phaser blast and he welcomed the darkness of the stun. He had not been able to complete the directive of the will of the New Cooperative and that what was most important.


Even though his mind was shutting down, they were able to control his body so that his last action was to do their exact bidding before he lost consciousness.

"Captain Jean Luc Picard's log dated 44084.7 includes a correct summary of what a person experiences when under the influence of the Collective Will of the Borg. When I was first linked to the eight members of the New Co-operative who healed me, there was no force of any kind. Neural electric energy was transferred to me via the link. Since I knew that it was going to cure me, I welcomed the thoughts, memories and images. It was as if we were sharing information only. There were no commands given, no orders, I did not know at the time that if I wanted to resist, I could not. The second time, resistance to the commands given across the link was indeed futile. It felt as if, my will, my individuality was shoved aside to make room for another, and try as I might I was not able to take control of my body and my actions. My actions were those of one possessed. I find it hard to believe that they were able to do such without a neural processor embedded in my brain. Somehow or the other the energy which is used as the basis for transmission in the link must be responsible for chemical and physical changes in a person's biology that makes resistance to a command transmitted over the link impossible. If it had not happened to me, if it did not have such terrible consequences I would find this ability of the neural electric energy to be truly fascinating. But as it is, I am glad when I realize that all research done to will be in order to prevent this technology from ever stripping an sentient life of their individuality.

End log. "

Chakotay sat on his couch and let his body go slack. Making the official log had taken a lot out of him. He felt as if he had re-lived the experience in telling it.

The door chime sounded.

Chakotay sighed, he really did not feel like dealing with day to day ship's activities right now.

"Computer who is at the door?"

"Lt. Torres." came the answer.

"Come" His voice authorized her access into his office, but he did not change his position on the couch. He felt as if he didn't have to with Lt. Torres. She had seen him in far worst conditions than this.

B'Elanna came striding into the room and stopped when she realized that Chakotay was not behind his desk. She located him at the couch and noted his body position. She came over and sat next to him. Chakotay felt guilty when he noted the PADD that she had been carrying. He had been away for a week, there were a lot of things that he was behind in and needed to be attended to. He made an effort to straighten up.

"What do you have?"

"The Captain asked me to give you a copy of our Medical/Engineering Reports during the Borg Cube/New Co-operative encounter. She wanted you to cross reference them to what you wrote as your official report to see if we could find out any more information about the Borg that we could use in a tactical situation."

"Thanks," He began to scroll through the report.

B'Elanna studied him. She asked tentatively. "How are you doing?"

"After you beat me in three straight games of Hoverball, how do you think I'm doing?" he smiled at her.

"Your mind was not on the game that much last night, I knew that I was going to beat you. The experience still weighs heavily on your mind doesn't it?"

"Yes it does. It will take some time."

"Are you still thinking about her?"


This time it was B'Elanna turn to smile. Chakotay looked like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar.

"I know you Chakotay. You were intimate with her weren't you?"

It occurred to Chakotay that he could lie to B'Elanna or even tell her to mind her own business. But he didn't want to.

"Yes." He hesitated a little before continuing. "It happened after the link was severed the first time." Something occurred to Chakotay and he frowned. "Or at least when I thought it was severed. There were residual effects of the link for about an hour after the transponder was removed from my the base of my neck. When I was linked to the members of the New Collective in order that my injuries would be healed, I realized that Riley's interest in my thoughts was different from the others. One of the memories that she chose to share with me was rather intimate, and I could feel her studying me as I experienced her memory of that incident. Afterwards when I shared what I thought about my experience with the link, I could still hear her thoughts and I realized that she wanted to be sexually intimate with me while we still had the lingering effects of the link. I realized that I had wanted that too."

Chakotay awoke and realized that Riley was not in bed with him. He lay in the silence of the morning thinking about the night before.

It had been incredible. More incredible than the link had been before. He had felt her desire towards him and he knew that she felt his. He knew because he was feeling it also. When they first touched, she touched herself. It was one of the most erotic things that he had ever felt. He reached out and touched himself and he knew how she responded when she felt his touch, because he responded in like fashion. That was just the prelude to the actual lovemaking. When they touched each other, the sensations that each felt were heightened to the n-th degree. Chakotay knew what it was like for a woman to be touched by a man intimately. He knew what it felt like, he felt the responses that it gave rise to, in her body. It was different than when he felt a woman touch him and his own body responds, however it was no less pleasurable. Feeling the two types of sexual reposes at the same time was overwhelming and indescribable

When Chakotay made love to Riley Fraiser, the sensations that he felt were intensified. For the first time in his life, Chakotay knew what it was as a man to be on the receiving end of male sexual intimacy. He understood how the sensations gave pleasure to a woman, and felt that pleasure more than he would ever feel again. He also understood what it meant to be the giver of female sexual intimacy as he had always felt what it was like to be on the receiving end.

The link facilitated something else that made the experience truly unforgettable. He knew this woman with whom he was making love. He understood her, he had lived pieces of her life through the link. Had experienced what she experienced and felt what she had felt on an intellectual level as well as on an emotional level. Riley Fraiser was strong, brave wise, beautiful, vulnerable, compassionate, persistent and intelligent. He knew her and in his knowledge possessed her completely in the physical act of their lovemaking. He would never possess anyone like that ever again. He would never possess himself like that again, because of the link, possessing her was possessing himself. Chakotay had felt safe, happy, fulfilled, complete being with her, in her, and for her. He knew that Riley felt the same way.

The ability of the link in enabling two individuals to be that close was flabbergasting. After the two experiences of being linked to others, he found it hard to imagine being alone, an individual, never again to share with another on the level that the link had afforded. He wondered how Riley, Orem and the others found life without the effects to the link.

The effects of being severed were certainly apparent. If the ex-members of the Borg on this planet were still linked, there would be no more raids, no more hostilities and cultural intolerance. One will, one mind and one thought.

A thought struck him.

"Come on Chakotay, get out of bed sleepy head." Riley appeared naked in the room, using her towel to swat his bear buttocks.

"You promised to help us work on the communications array."

He laughed and rolled out of bed.

"I'm coming, I'm coming."

"Our lovemaking was a very intimate experience because of the effects of the link. I don't think that I will ever experience anything like that again." Chakotay marveled at his ability to understate his experiences.

He grimaced. "My track record in picking the wrong women to be intimate with seems to be getting better and better."

B'Elanna snorted. "I'll say". Too late B'Elanna realized that he was making a joke at his own expense. Chakotay got up from the couch and moved to the view port.

"The horror of it is I knew her better than I knew myself and she still managed to manipulate me like a puppet." He said quietly, his back to her.

B'Elanna got up and slowly went to the viewport. She realized when she got there that she had nothing to say. She touched his back lightly.

"I'm sorry Chakotay."

"So am I."

B'Elanna hesitated for a moment and then walked out of his office. Chakotay remained where he was standing for a long time, looking at the stars as they moved towards the alpha quadrant.

"Come in"

Kathryn sat in her ready room going over the reports that had been made by Tuvok throughout their New Cooperative/Borg experience. She had been through it twice before, but she wanted to go through it one more time. She realized that they were quickly approaching Borg space and she was going to need every piece of information at her disposal to face the challenge that was ahead of them.

B'Elanna walked in. "Captain, I would like to talk to you, do you have a minute?"

Kathryn smiled. "Of course. Join me." she gestured towards the couch.

"Would you like anything to drink."

"No thanks. It's about Chakotay."

Kathryn nodded. Somehow she knew that was what she wanted to talk. It amazed Kathryn sometimes the protective instinct that Chakotay and B'Elanna had towards each other. It seemed unlikely given the differences in their natures, that they would be such good friends.

"Have you spoken to him since he got back?"

Kathryn thought about breakfast that morning. "No I haven't been able to."

"I just came from his office. He and Riley were intimate Captain."

Kathryn gave a sharp intake of breath as the jealousy cut through her like a knife. It was a confirmation of what she had deduced by observing him throughout the encounter. Still it was surprising how her intense her feeling were.

B'Elanna misinterpreted the look that she saw cross her captain's face. "Yes, that's the reason that he is taking what happened to him very badly. I talked to him briefly, but I know Chakotay and I know the limits of our friendship. I don't think that he will open up to me a lot more about it, but I think that he needs to talk."

She gave a deep sigh and continued. "I guess what I'm asking you to do is but in. He'll try to keep you at a distance but see if you can reach him, be as persistence as you can. He needs all of his friends right now."

Kathryn was about to ask B'Elanna how she knew that he would open up to her. But she sensed that her officers were not blind nor stupid. It was obvious how close the Captain and First Officer were.

Until now.

Kathryn shook the thoughts out of her head. She smiled.

"Aye Lt." B'Elanna returned the smile and left Kathryn to her thoughts.

She touched her combadge. "Kathryn to Chakotay."

In his Office, Chakotay was startled by her call. She had never used her first name over the Com before.

"Chakotay here."

"Join me for dinner tonight, my quarters?"

"Is that an order?"

"Do I have to make it one for you to join me?"

He chuckled. "No you don't. 1900 hrs OK?"

"Fine, Kathryn out."

Chakotay sat down at his desk with a sigh and took the first PADD on his desk and began to read. He had a lot of work to do. In her office, Janeway did the same.

"Penny?" Kathryn said

Chakotay pushed his plate aside and took a sip of his drink. Kathryn sat opposite him and studied his face. Normally, he would have smiled at the word that she used to ask him what was on his mind. It was their code word, when one of them realized that the other needed to talk. It was their way of saying, 'It's OK to be now, I'm here with you' It had a history behind it.

They were sitting in her dinning room at the end of their dinner together. The entire evening's conversation was about their experiences with the Borg and the New Co-operative. Chakotay had told her about some of the things that he had found out about the people in the New Co-operative through his being linked with them. Kathryn listened with her full attention, she was eager to find out anything, any information which would help her discern how the collective worked. She was also grateful that he did not share his personal experiences with Riley. Kathryn knew that she did not want to know any of it. She had done her part to keep the discussion as professional as possible without losing the ease at which the experiences were shared. It seemed that Chakotay had realized this and had done his part to ensure that the discussion was indeed professional. At the end of the meal, when they seemed to have run out of neutral material to talk about, he became very quiet. Kathryn thought that she could see his face becoming darker and darker as he lost himself in his private thoughts.

"I was thinking about the best thing of my experiences and the worst thing."

"And they were?"

"Actually there the same. The worst thing about my experience with the neural link was losing my individuality. The best thing about my experience with the neural link was losing my individuality."

"I can understand the worst thing, but why was it the best?" Kathryn looked at him puzzled.

"I was no longer alone."

Chakotay looked directly at her. The intensity of his gaze was disturbing. It commanded her complete attention and it held an unspoken question. He continued.

"You never know what you have until you lose it. I've been thinking about that a lot. About what a gift it is to be an individual. Yet as precious as the gift is, we strive not to be alone. We take mates, raise families, that's part of our biological drives, our make up. But somehow that is still not enough, so we come together and we form communities. First with people of our own race and then with people from other races. And we survive and thrive; together. We seem to enjoy letting go of our individuality in that instance."

"But not in all instances." Kathryn had no idea where Chakotay with his conversation, she felt a little uneasy by what he seemed to be suggesting. "Being for another, living, working and being able to die for what we believe, those are things that we readily aspire to when we form a community, a human community and especially a Starfleet community. But that loss of individuality has to be our choice, it is not taken from us, we are the ones who give it up willingly. If we are forced, if the choice is made for us, then we are merely slaves and that is not acceptable to us, in any circumstance"

"Exactly!!!" Chakotay said emphatically, and Kathryn relaxed momentarily. "Once we are forced, our ideal, even though it essentially remains the same, is not something that we submit to anymore. But the ideal is still there, it is still what we believe in. The Borg are different. It doesn't matter how it is accomplished, but the task must be performed and the ideal reached. In the formation of its community, it matters not if an individual is willing or not, you are either assimilated or aid in the assimilation and the community grows."

Chakotay's face changed expression. Kathryn felt her guard go up again.

"And it seems that once you've been exposed to this way of thinking of a while, it is what you end up embracing." The look was a bitter one and Kathryn kept her silence.

Chakotay sighed and tried to let go of what he was feeling. He only partially succeeded. A thought crossed his mind.

"Sometimes I wonder what they are doing now and especially how they are doing it."

"Why is that?"

"I can't help thinking about Riley and Orem and the others and what they wanted for their community. In a lot of ways the Borg thinking has some parallels in Federation values."

"How does violent assimilation have any parallels to peaceful co-existence?" Kathryn frowned. Again she didn't think she liked where this conversation was heading.

"I think that there are parallels between us before a point where a line is drawn and we go very divergent ways after that. I think that the line is defined by the answer to the questions, 'What price are we willing to pay for peace? How far will we go to attain achieve peaceful co-existence with others?"

"Go on." Kathryn said intrigued.

"If you think about it, all the species of the Federation have had a barbaric period in their history. Humans, Vulcans, Betazoids, Bolians, Catarians to name a few. When First Contact was initiated between Vulcan and Earth, it was at the end of a particularly savage era for us. But we survived and with the effects of first contact, we were able to come together in true unity, to work at rebuilding our society. We were able to eradicate war, hunger, poverty and disease. Then we joined together and we formed the Federation. It took time, but we united our corner of the quadrant and then we expanded, pushed out against the boundaries of who we were, what we knew. We wanted to know more of what was out there. We made our share of mistakes, but we learnt. We approached other races in peace. We wanted to learn and to understand their ways, their cultures. To share our technologies to attain peace through co-existence, not subjection. Some of the new races were willing to respond in like to our approaches, others were not. Others were willing to take by force what was not theirs. They had not interest in sharing. Their value systems are too different.

Infinite diversity does not only bring infinite combinations, but infinite opportunities for conflict. That which is other than us, is in conflict with us by it's very nature. Being diverse, a collection of individual races, a collection of individuals means having the freedom to fight and engage in war, in order to resolve conflicts. Sometimes that is the price of peace."

"Chakotay, the Federation has not been at war for over 80years!"

"Not officially, but we have been involved in squirmishes, boundary disputes and political disagreements. The causes and results are the same. Intolerance played out resulting in death destruction, homelessness and the slaughter of the innocent. Any name that you give it, it is still war. And somehow, in fighting others we've learned to fight ourselves again."

"You can't possibly think that our directive seeking out new life and new civilizations was the cause of the situation in the de-militarized zone?" Kathryn looked at him in surprise.

"No, I don't. But you can't deny that if some members of the Federation had decided that the price for peace with the Cardassians was too high, we would not be fighting each other now."

She couldn't deny it.

"The Borg are different and yet the same. They seem to crave the peace and the harmony that comes from one collective mind, one collective will. The good of the many is the good of the one. The different cultures, technological advances are used to add to the collective's knowledge and betterment. There is one way, the way of the Collective. When I was linked to the new cooperative, there was a former drone who was Vidian. I can't describe the joy that he felt when he realized that in being assimilated he was cured of the phage forever. He regarded his life as a drone, much better than any life he would have had as a Vidian individual. The Borg's way of peace, of exploration of understanding of other cultures is done violently. It is done through assimilations and the destruction of entire civilizations and cultures. There is no price of what they consider peace that it too high for them. They don't take lives, they take souls, individualities if you will, and for our culture that is a higher price than death to exact from someone."

"Now we have the new co-operative, endeavoring to the mixture of Federation and Borg societies. They want to keep their individuality and cultural identity but still be one harmonious community. Is it possible?"

"I don't know, but by the way that they acted in saving us from the cube, preventing us from being assimilated. You could see that they were functioning as a group of compassionate individuals I would think that it was possible." Kathryn replied.

"Really? Now what happens if one person has a thought that is contrary to what the majority believes. What if others join in, but there is still a minority who believe in the dissident thought. Whose thought is taken as law?"

"I supposed that the majority would."

"Eight people Kathryn, that's how many people decided that the thousands of people on that planet should be joined together and be linked. I have a good idea whose thoughts and objectives will be catered too."

"You're saying that in this instance the price of peace, or the means of attaining peace was too high. That in using the Borg neural link and attaining peace by force, by coercion, the new co-operative have shown that they were no different from the Borg. I'm surprised Chakotay, I thought that you had agreed to Riley's proposal."

"I don't think that I was objective to it at first. But that was because of my first experience with the link. After the second, I realize what a great potential for abuse lies in it. In this case, the ends....

"Do not justify the means" Kathryn finished for him. She looked worried. The look of anger on his face spoke volumes.

Part 8: The Dark Pages