I’m not quite sure what WIP amnesty day is all about, but here’s a UFO (that’s unfinished object - I make no claim that it’s in progress) I’ll probably never finish. I issued a Leatherclad Challenge at some point, to get Chakotay back into his Maquis duds. Somehow this AU set in first season was supposed to accomplish that.
The Nines by Jemima (VOY, UFO, Season 1/”Survival Instinct”) 7/03
No one would have guessed they were drones by looking at them. Yes,
there was an eerie coordination to their movements as they strolled
down the wide thoroughfare of Llan Station, but theirs was not the
flesh-defying mechanical precision of the Borg. The unity of the four
humanoids was more like the discipline of an elite military squadron.
A passer-by might notice an almost decorative flash of metal on a neck
or hand, but the Collective’s callous disregard for the humanoid form
was nowhere in evidence.
As the figures turned aside at the entryway of a shop, the Human’s
motions were not quite human, nor the Bajoran’s exactly Bajoran. A
member of Species 571 would not have claimed this quartet, nor would
the former comrades of the fourth humanoid have recognized their own.
They disconnected the credit register with swift, accurate motions
that could as easily have belonged to a ring of thieves as a crew of
Their oddness did not disturb the inhabitants of the space station,
who were mainly members of species 482, 390 and 207, with a smattering
of 133, 797, the ever-popular 218, and unidentified visitors. To the
locals, they were merely four more aliens employed to service the
station’s decaying infrastructure. It would take a human to spot
Seven’s inhumanity, and a purported Bajoran to call Three spiritless.
So Ensigns Kim and Seska observed the four drones from a small
eatery on the left side of concourse.
“Anyone you know?” Harry asked.
Seska glared at him with something more, he thought, than the usual
Maquis hostility. “I can’t see from here,” she complained, and
rotated her chair.
Harry put a restraining hand on Seska’s arm. “Captain Janeway said
to approach them cautiously. They’re our only friends in this
All that earned him was another cryptic glare. She shrugged his hand
off and slipped through the crowd. Stealth was a job for a Maquis, he
thought; he was already having trouble watching both Seska and the
mysterious Human woman. He found himself hoping that the foursome
wasn’t composed of two couples - Janeway hadn’t mentioned anything
about bringing spouses or children aboard.
Seska had passed by the store and was now doubling back as if she’d
forgotten something. She made a show of impatience at the broken
credit register and left. He lost track of her again; he jumped when
she slid silently into the seat she’d vacated twenty minutes earlier.
Seska just sat there looking like the cat who caught the pet parakeet.
“Well?” he finally asked.
She put a medical tricorder down in front of him. That hadn’t been
part of the Captain’s plan, but Harry was quickly adjusting to these
little Maquis innovations. He scrolled down through the readings, but
could make no sense of them. “That metal jewelry–”
“Isn’t jewelry,” she said.
He looked at the readings again. “This isn’t possible.”
“What’s more likely - that an overprotective blob of jelly sucked two
ships full of humans and Bajorans across 70,000 light years because
he was looking for a mate, or that the Borg somehow misplaced one
human and one Bajoran, out of however many they’ve assimilated over
When she put it that way, Harry had to admit to himself that Seska
might be right. “The Borg don’t misplace drones.” As an
afterthought, he added, “Janeway won’t like this.”
“It’s a little too complex for her tastes, I agree,” Seska said
smiling, and went on before he could formulate a protest. “I’m sure
she’ll find something to blow up to make herself feel better about
Harry knew better than to let Seska say such things; he knew every
sentence was a beachhead in the Maquis-Starfleet cold war, but he
wasn’t quick enough to repel her forces. He wished Tom were here, but
Seska would never have put up with the traitor. And, looking through
a break in the crowd at the first new human face he’d seen in two
months, he thought of another reason to be glad Tom was back on
Voyager doing a Level 3 diagnostic on the EMH.
He noticed that the blonde woman seemed to be wrapping things up.
“I’m going over there to talk to them,” he said.
Seska shrugged. “Try not to get yourself assimilated.”
He strode across the wide corridor with the firm, even step, he liked
to think, of a Starfleet Officer, not the sneaking, back-door Maquis
way. He stood in full view, waiting for them to finish their work
and the related paperwork.
Again the strange choreography of their motions struck him; at the
same moment the older man obtained the shopkeep’s thumbprint on his
data pad, the women finished packing up the tools and the younger man
collected the last of the spare parts. As one they brushed past him;
he barely caught the blonde’s arm.
“Excuse me,” he said, stumbling over the words, “I’m Harry
Kim–Ensign Kim of the Federation Starship Voyager.”
The four figures stopped, but only the Human woman turned to face
him. She said nothing.
“You are Human, aren’t you?”
“Yes, that is my species designation.”
Harry thought he heard a slight pause before the word ‘my,’ as if she’d
had to think to remember it. The conversation wasn’t going as he’d
pictured it. Where were the shock, the gratitude, the questions?
“We’re a long way from home. We thought maybe…” His voice trailed
Seska appeared, again from nowhere, behind him. “We thought you
might like a lift home,” she said.
The others turned to face Seska. “We will consider your proposal,”
the human said to Harry, and began walking again.
There was no resisting her; her arm slipped out of his hand as if he
had just lost his grip on the overhead bars in a heavy-gravity gym.
“We’re docked at berth 1-3A–”
The Bajoran woman cut Harry off, saying, “We are aware of your location.”
He and Seska watched them walk away, still in sync. “What are they?
What have we done?” he asked.
“Whatever they are, I’m sure they’ll make life interesting.”
Life was already interesting enough for Harry Kim.
Janeway looked around the conference table at her senior staff,
Chakotay, Tuvok, Torres, Paris, Kim, Neelix and Kes - two Starfleet
officers, two Maquis, two Delta Quadrant natives, and one convict.
Honesty, she decided, was the best policy.
“I don’t know what to make of this,” she said, tapping her PADD for
emphasis. “First, I’d like to know where they got all this
information about Voyager.” She looked to Ensign Kim.
“We didn’t tell them a thing,” Harry said, “and they didn’t ask.”
Chakotay leaned forward in his seat. “Did they seem surprised to see
you or Seska?”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t think the other three saw us at all.
We spoke to the Human woman only, and she wouldn’t even listen when I
tried to tell her Voyager’s berth number.”
Tuvok consulted his own PADD. “In fact, she claimed to know Voyager’s
location.” He looked up at the Captain. “I have detected no security
breach, but their background may enable them to conceal such
“What is their background?” Neelix asked.
Janeway made a mental note to remind the Talaxian to review the
relevant reports *before* a staff meeting, then explained: “When
Dereth told us that the Vidiians had met a Human before, he said she
was one of a group of four humanoids who were treated aboard a Vidiian
research ship, then released at Llan Station.
“The Vidiians provide mortuary services to this entire sector,” an
arrangement Janeway doubted was fully voluntary but probably cut down
on the number of involuntary organ donations like Neelix’s. “The
Station is the hub of the local trade routes. Dereth didn’t mention,
however, that the Human was actually Borg,” she added dryly.
Ensign Kim spoke up. “They were…odd, but they didn’t act like
drones.” It wasn’t like Harry to interrupt, so Janeway let it pass.
“They didn’t have armor or anything of that sort. I don’t think
they’re really Borg.”
Tuvok disagreed. “Yet that would explain their presence here in the
Delta Quadrant. The Borg possess advanced transwarp technology.”
Janeway looked up sharply. She had thought of the Delta Quadrant as
one long, desolate range of primitive bands like the Kazon, or
hapless but friendly Talaxians and Ocampa. She had forgotten that
this was home field for the Borg Collective.
She felt a headache coming on. “In any event, someone calling herself
Three of Nine has sent us an acceptance of Ensign Seska’s unauthorized
offer of ‘a lift home’.” Janeway paused to persue her PADD. “In
fact, she has sent us a Llan standard work contract for herself and
her companions: Two, Four, and Seven of Nine. She will not work
without them. According to the contract, they would form a subunit
aboard Voyager, and Three of Nine would represent them on the senior
staff. Three of Nine’s commission would not be reinstated–”
“Did she belong to Starfleet?” Kes asked.
The Captain shrugged. “I’m assuming she was assimilated at Wolf 359.
She does not want her commission back; she wishes to represent her
subunit the way Neelix and Chakotay represent subunits of this
crew.” Janeway looked up from the PADD. “Those are her words. I’d
like to know where a complete stranger picked up that view of our
“Are you saying it’s inaccurate?” Kes asked in her gentle way.
Janeway shook her head. “I wish it were. I’d say it’s an
idiosyncratic perspective on Voyager.”
“Such a view must have come from a crew member,” Tuvok explained,
“rather than from objective data obtained from the ship’s computer.”
“You’re saying one of us got in touch with them,” Tom said.
“That is my conclusion. Moreover, the dissatisfied crewmember is
likely to be Maquis.”
“That’s not necessarily so,” Chakotay said. “This could reflect
criticism of our irregular situation from the Starfleet perspective.”
“I will attempt to discover the leak,” Tuvok added.
Chakotay shook his head slightly, but changed the subject. “So, will
we be taking Three of Nine up on her contract?”
Janeway didn’t answer him directly. “She includes an impressive
resume of her team’s technical qualifications, and convincing samples
of the kind of astrometric data they can provide. Three of Nine even
proposes a research program which could lead to transwarp technology
in under a decade.”
The table was silent. The idea of still being in the Delta Quadrant a
decade hence had affected them the way the reminder of Borg in the
neighborhood had Janeway. She wasn’t prepared to think ten years
ahead; she had other issues on her mind. “We can’t abandon them here
if they’re willing to return home with us.”
She had shown Chakotay the contract earlier; he raised a different
concern now. “If they are Borg, the risk of taking them aboard would
be too great.”
Kes had her mind on the EMH’s interests. “On the other hand, if
they’ve been separated from the Collective, think of the medical
information they could provide.”
“We may be able to save more drones from the Borg,” Janeway added.
Chakotay disagreed. “They were dissimilated by the Vidiians, whose
medical technology is more advanced than our own.”
“We’re still understaffed.” Torres had been reading her PADD for
some time. “We could certainly use the help in Engineering.”
Janeway smiled at her new Chief Engineer. “I know you could, but the
deciding factor is the proposal for an astrometrics lab to determine
an optimal course home. Three’s knowledge of Borg stellar cartography
would be an invaluable addition to Neelix’s trade contacts. I don’t
want to go on being surprised by each new species we meet.”
She waited for objections, but no more were forthcoming. “Thank you
for your input,” she said by way of dismissal.
Chakotay gave her a look she was coming to know well, and she wasn’t
surprised to see him hang back as the others left.
He came straight to his point. “Are you willing to fracture the crew
into yet another subunit for the sake of astrometric data?”
She answered Chakotay’s question with her usual optimism. “Over time,
we will become one crew.”
“I agree that we can all learn to work together, but I’m afraid that a
group of ex-Borg will never assimilate into Starfleet the way you
think the Maquis can.”
“Don’t you believe the Maquis could become a good Starfleet crew?”
He nodded. “They could, but you may lose more than you gain by fully
integrating us. If that’s still your goal, I have to warn you that
it will be easier to get from Maquis than from Borg.”
She smiled. “Cheer up, Chakotay. We haven’t even met Three of Nine
Chakotay was there on business, but everyone who could think up an
excuse had also come to the transporter room to meet Voyager’s new
crewmembers. The ship’s grapevine had already produced a nickname for
them, “the Nines,” and he found himself using it already in his mind,
if not in his speech.
He strove to think of the four figures materializing on the
transporter pad as individuals. Janeway spoke a few words of
greeting and shook hands with her new employees.
“Thank you for allowing us to work on your crew,” Three of Nine
replied. She pointed to several cargo containers on the pad behind
them, which Chakotay had assumed were their personal effects. “We
have brought equipment for use in the astrometrics lab.”
Chakotay had Kim and Paris take the containers to the room formerly
known as Stellar Cartography. He’d managed to convince the Captain
that this sort of thing was part of his job, so he ushered the four
drones out of the crowd as quickly as possible, leading them to the
mess hall. Three of Nine walked beside him in silence and the others
followed, he didn’t attempt to start up a conversation. Instead, his
mind wandered as they waited for a turbolift.
Chakotay had no intention of imitating his predecessor in the position
of first officer, the late Lieutenant Commander Cavit. He’d always
been better at persuasion, resolving knotty problems, and pushing
limited crew and resources to their breaking point but not beyond,
than at toeing the Starfleet line. He was a tactician, not a
subordinate, and he had accepted his new brevet rank for purely
strategic reasons. If he played the model Starfleet officer at the
moment, it was because that was the only language Janeway seemed to
He had barely begun his campaign for less Starfleet tunnel-vision on
this unusual trip when the Vidiians’ casual comments had tossed this
wrench into everyone’s plans. Now there was a new logistical issue
standing right in front of him. It had been a stroke of genius to set
themselves up as a fourth faction aboard Voyager, further weakening
the Starfleet status quo without challenging Janeway directly. If the
idea had occurred to him, he might have contacted them himself and
encouraged them to take just such a tack. As it was, he suspected
The thought of that other Bajoran was driven from his mind by Neelix’s
ebullient greetings in the mess hall. Once the Talaxian had calmed
down and returned to his cooking (and ill-concealed eavesdropping),
Chakotay and his four companions sat down at a table. He waited for
Three of Nine to speak.
“It is customary to make small talk at such occasions,” Three said.
Chakotay was unsure whether this comment was directed towards himself
or her fellow drones. The others remained silent, so he said, “That’s
not always necessary. We could talk business. For example, do you
have any medical issues of which I should be aware?”
“The Vidiians were quite thorough,” Three replied. “Our physical
requirements are the same as those of any other humanoid of our
respective species. You are familiar with Bajorans and Humans;
Species 230 and 271 have no unusual biological traits.”
A pause followed this short speech. Chakotay said, “Do you always
use your Borg designations? According to the information you gave
us”–he looked down at his PADD, though he remembered her name quite
well–”your Bajoran name is Marika Wilkarah. May I call you
For the first time, she smiled. “I am sure your crewmates would call
me Marika by mistake; that was my experience aboard the Excalibur.”
Her smile faded back into that distracted look they all seemed to wear
most of the time. “We find our Borg designations to be
“There are several other Bajorans aboard,” Chakotay said, not
expecting a response. He hoped that the brief smile indicated some
deeper wells of humanity within these former drones, but that was not
a requirement. “As first officer, my role is to coordinate your
activities with the needs of the ship, and to help you through any
conflicts which might come up.”
Three nodded. “That is not unlike my role within our small group.
Should conflicts prove unresolvable, you will of course set us down at
the first convenient space station according to the terms of our
Her tone made it a declaration, but Chakotay heard the underlying
shade of doubt. The four of them were now effectively trapped aboard
Voyager. The Borg allowed no defections, and Starfleet had chased him
seventy thousand light years after his resignation. “Of course,” he
replied, “all crewmembers have the right to self-determination. If
you or anyone else asks to be remain behind on a convenient planet or
outpost, you will be allowed to do so.”
He had discussed no such rights with Janeway; in fact, she had ignored
that part of the contract completely during both their private
discussions and the staff meeting. The issue of settling down in the
Delta Quadrant, individually or as a group, was one he hadn’t expected
to come up for several years yet. Instead, the Nines, or rather their
informant, had raised and settled it for him already. The tactician
in him was both grateful to this mysterious general, and concerned
that his ship concealed an ally who might equally well turn out
to be an enemy the next time around.
He let that train of thought go. “While you are with us, however,
I’ll do my best to make you feel at home. We’re a bit crowded at the
moment, so I can offer you only two rooms to divide between the four
of you as you see fit. Given time, I hope to reclaim more space for
“That arrangement will suffice.”
Chakotay had expected them to pair off, either as couples or by
gender. Instead, Three took one room for herself, leaving the other
for Two, Four, and Seven. He didn’t tell the Captain about it, and
she didn’t ask.
All heads turned as the Nines entered the mess hall. Most turned back
quickly - even former drones were somewhat intimidating. Harry had
staked out a table against the wall, near their preferred table, from
which he could observe them without being too obvious about it. He
thought for a moment how strange it was that their territoriality had
spread to the rest of the crew so quickly - now the Maquis had their
own section of the mess hall.
As the drones were waiting in the mess line, Harry’s eyes drifted over
to the Maquis quarter. Most of them were out of uniform; those who
were still on duty had taken off their jackets. His ensign’s
sensibilities were offended, but the Nines distracted him from the
When he turned back, they had reached Neelix and were carrying their
meals to their table. If he paid attention, he could still spot
traces of that perfect coordination he’d first seen on Llan Station.
Was it wearing off, or were they hiding it?
Harry was so busy watching the Nines that he was blindsided by Tom.
“Harry, Harry, Harry,” he said, “I didn’t know you preferred blondes.”
Tom sat down across from him, not quite blocking his view of Seven of
Nine, and started eating. Taking a page from the Maquis rulebook, he
was out of uniform.
“Hi, Tom,” Harry said, and took a bite of his own strangely spiced
dinner. He made no further attempt at conversation, and Tom shared
They were both listening to the Nines. After a silence much longer
than any other table could have sustained, Three of Nine spoke.
“If you have something to say, Seven, say it aloud,” she said. Harry
was still trying to parse that sentence when Seven complied.
“The Vidiian possessed far superior medical technology. Voyager does
not even have a ship’s doctor.”
One of the men spoke; Harry couldn’t tell them apart. “I believe the
Emergency Medical Hologram has great potential. If we reprogrammed
Three interrupted. “We will not interfere with the EMH.”
Seven sounded pleased. “Then the issue is decided. Unless we
encounter another species with advanced medical technology, we will
remain as we are.”
“Don’t sound so pleased.” Harry was sure that was the younger man,
Four of Nine.
“You know the why the Vidiians would not remove the implants,” Seven
said. “Our lives would be at risk.”
“We don’t have lives,” Four said. A chair scraped across the floor,
and Harry looked up. Four of Nine was leaving.
“Trouble in paradise?” Tom whispered without turning around. Harry
Three was standing as well. “I will speak to P’Chan,” she said, and
followed him out.
Tom gave Harry a look that said, go talk to the blonde, so he did.
“Seven, Two, may I join you?”
Two of Nine chuckled. “I wouldn’t recommend it,” he said, and stood
Harry sat and watched Two as he walked out of the mess hall. “What
did he mean?” he asked Seven.
“I believe it was a form of irony.”