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Out Of Mind » MEMBER ADVERTISING & BLOG FORUMS » T.S. "Tray" Caladan » STARWALKERS, Episode 46: "The First Borg - Part 2" by TS Caladan

STARWALKERS, Episode 46: "The First Borg - Part 2" by TS Caladan

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STARWALKERS, Episode 46:
"The First Borg - Part 2"

by TS Caladan



[Second season finale. To recap: Commander Staak had become increasingly "unstable," discharged from SC duties and confined to his quarters. Part 1 ended with the alien from Proxima Centauri in a deep trance. From the shadows, he stated in a partial-electronic voice: "I am the Borg."].


    ~buzzer~
       "Come!"
       The door of Dr. Ben O'Leary's quarters on the Enlighten opened with the usual "wooosh" sound.
       "John," the doctor was surprised.
       In space, it was late in the 'day.' The last three days hadn't been the strangest in their experience, but surely shook the confidence of the crew more than anything else in the previous two years.
       The Captain walked in. He looked around somewhat, then casually sat and joined Ben in the comfy, blue seats. It wasn't often they met in the doctor's quarters.
       "Well I know what this is about, sir."
       "Hm. Nothing official here, Ben. Off the record..."
       "Yes?"
       "Something's wrong with Staak," the Captain said with worry 'written' on his face.
       "John. I didn't hear the words you claim he, I mean..."
       "You don't...believe me?"
       "I believe you 100%, Captain."
       "But?"
       "Scans showed nothing. No abnormalities whatsoever, physically. And get this: There's nothing wrong with Staak mentally. Our best psychs and 'shrink' programs were on it, as you know, John."
       "Huh," the concerned leader exhaled.
       "I don't know why you made me...what? Quarantine him to quarters?"
       "There's something seriously wrong with him, Doctor. I know my First Officer."
       "Care for something, John?"
       "No."
       "Okay. When did you first notice?"
       "You know that link I have with him?"
       "The mind-merge?"
       "HAD with him. Three days ago...it shut off."
       "You're sure of that?"
       "Yes! There was like...an...absence of Staak in my head."
       Ben looked down, then up. "I'm at a loss. Wait a minute..."
       "What?" the sensitive Captain saw a glimmer of 'hope' in Ben's eyes.
       "Well. I was going to say: If he's fine physically and mentally, then maybe it's the robotic part of him? The, the 9%."
       "That's it then. Ben. Call the Centauri Science Academy. Get the best Ramoran you can find in...cybernetics. Get him here."
       "Easy, sir."
       "One more thing..."
       "Hm? What's that, Captain?"
       "I'll be busy. I have to research...cyborgs."
       "Oh?"
       "Yeah, Ben. I have to find out...what a BORG is."

       "Fascinating," Kratt said to Doctor O'Leary and Captain Church inside the Ready Room. The female Remoran from the famous Science Academy had viewed and heard the visual and audio record of the Commander. The First Officer had definitely stated:
       "I am the first of my kind, sir. In future, there will be many Borg drones, a powerful collective. You will be assimilated. You will be assimilated for the greater good."
       The Doctor and Captain stared at the alien. John had forgotten that these 'people' used to be more purple in color and had no ear-appendages. But reality was an unreal, changed universe where the Ramorans now had red blood and only a hint of a purple tan.
       Kratt flatly expressed, "Incredible," and raised both of her eyebrows.
       They waited.
       She understood the humans wanted her to elaborate. The scientist coldly stated a fact: "Ramorans do not lie. They do not tell false tales as truth. They do not, really, imagine or create false scenarios and then believe them." Her eyes darted a bit to the men as if to suggest: Was that an appropriate reaction?
       Nothing was said. She added...
       "The answer to the mystery must be temporal. We will monitor the future with our time device."
       "Wait, ah, doctor? Do I call you only Kratt?" Ben asked her.
       The alien with ear appendages (she believed she always had) answered, "Just Kratt."
       Ben knew something about the subject and asked, "Kratt. I thought your Science Academy declared Time Travel impossible?"
       "Yes. That was true. We did. We changed. We do that when it is shown and proven that we were wrong. And. Especially since Darek, an Academy "temporalist," built a time device." 
       Church had not heard such "galactic news." (Academy conveniently failed to report to others of Starwalker Command that they had been very wrong all this time). The Captain asked, "So you can travel into the past and future?"
       Kratt explained, "No, sir. It is not a Time Machine. Norcavata is a 'time device' or viewing apparatus-screen. We see future possibilities..."
       Church understood and expressed, "Because the future is fluid, in motion, always moving?"
       A trace of a smile formed on the alien's mouth. "Yes, Captain. Our present actions determine what will be a fixed, static universe for us in future."
       "Can you help, Commander Staak? We need him."
       Kratt did not comprehend that it was Staak's friend that asked the question and not his Captain.
       "I would have to tear apart his hardware, inspect every nanite for an...oddity of some type. It will take time to discover a thing out of place or additional thing that should not be there."
       "Then, let's get at it. I'm sure the Doctor will help you all he can, Kratt."
       Ben replied, "Of course."

       Hours had passed. The medical facility onboard contained a few human assistants, Dr. O'Leary, Kratt and on the main table were the mechanical 9% of Commander Staak. The Ramoran scientist intensely scoured the computer screen that displayed every microscopic detail inside and out. For the entire time, Kratt received nothing substantial as far as a "clue" or "possible solution" from the Earthlings she was forced to share a big room with. She also did not enjoy their odor. They were only a distraction to her. She insisted, unemotionally and quite logically, that...
       ...They should all leave. She would get far more work accomplished without them.
       Ben O'Leary recognized her prejudice against Star Command and humans, a prejudice that has existed ever since the Centauri greatly assisted and guided Earthlings into deep space. The Doctor did not argue with the alien. He was equally frustrated. Nothing had changed or progressed in long hours.
       What did Staak feel without his "hardware" for the first time?
       Dr. Ben waved to his staff. They left the medical facility.
       Kratt concentrated harder on the task at hand. She soon sensed something that she should not have sensed at all. Ramorans had only recently accepted the time-device because they had to. But the Centauri never placed 100% faith in psychics and what was considered 'mystical magic' by most and certainly not science. They were in for another change.
       The alien girl, alone in the big room, knew what was going to happen before it happened...
       The prime "valve" from Staak's metallic innards suddenly POPPED and two, extended "tubers" flung themselves up and into the neck of Kratt! She did something Ramorans do not do: She laughed. Then she became the second Borg. Now there was a collective of two.

       The triangular screen, of what was called a "Norcavata," showed a vast, cubical spacecraft in space. The ominous unknown was dark with small, intricate sections that were lit in green. It approached Klingon territory. A strong/electronic voice was heard that said: "We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. Your uniqueness will be added to the Collective."
       Three Klingon "Birds of Prey" quickly arrived on the scene and fired at the Borg cube! More red Faser-fire blasted various points on the cube spaceship, without an effect.
       It only took three shots from Borg-enhanced, green Fasers to disintegrate the Birds of Prey into tiny particles! Three silent and tremendous explosions resulted in a bright and very colorful lightshow, viewed on the Norcavata screen.
       The screen went blank.
       The light of Ramor's purple sun shone through the 'crystaline' glass of a huge bay window in the Science Academy's auditorium. Proxima Centauri hung in a light violet sky as well as the distant sun of Alpha Centauri. Captain Church was the only Earthling on stage, where the Norcavata time device stood. Kratt and two of her colleagues were also on stage as a few hundred Ramorans filled the auditorium.
       The crowd behaved orderly. There was hardly a difference from the extremely slight "commotion" of earlier and now. They all wanted to see the Captain or the SC rep, and hear his reaction to a secret only the academicians of Ramor knew...
       Church was the first of Star Command to view the true future and the Borg.
       He said, "All this occurred...or will occur...because of Commander Staak?"
       Kratt nodded for yes.
       "We weren't even aware...you could...look into the future. We, ah...Starwalkers, are supposed to be on the same side. You don't tell us everything, do you?"
       Kratt shook her head somewhat and indicated no.
       The Captain felt very alone. He said to himself, "Wonder what else you haven't told us?"
       Kratt, as well as one of her colleagues on stage, was about to speak, when...
       Suddenly, COMMANDER STAAK MATERIALIZED!
       Even the crowd of unemotional men and women of science were moved to react: Some of them actually expressed emotion and stood on their feet. Many were frozen in the seated position and watched...
       Church jumped off the floor about an inch.
       Kratt's two colleagues moved and had 'surprise' on their faces, slightly. She did not react.
       "Staak? What's going on?"
       "That's not my name, Captain. I am One of Two." The Science Officer took a few steps toward John Church. Staak raised his arm and two Borg tubers sprang up into the side of the Captain's neck~
       "Ah! Damn!" Church felt pain and was plenty mad. "What'd you do Staak?" The Captain looked at his second in command. "That hurt."
       The new Borg was confused and raised an eyebrow. "Sir. You have been assimilated. You...ah, you...ah...are not acting as a human who has been assimilated...sir."
       Captain Church yanked two tubers out from his neck. Blood drops flew in the air.
       Everyone in the science arena turned toward Kratt and most heard her when she said:
       "Not yet. But soon. It will be something like this..." Kratt raised her right arm and tubers injected into her colleague. She raised her left arm and two more tubers attached to the other Ramoran.
       This time, the crowd really reacted.
       The Captain tried to logically reason with her. "Kratt! That machine showed us the future, ah...a future, where MACHINES take over! Build armed forces throughout the galaxy. Threaten everyone! We can't let that happen!"
       The second Borg uncharacteristically smiled and even laughed a little. "Of course we can!" she declared with emotion as she completed the assimilation of the other two. The tubers retracted.
       Remoran armed guards ran into the large arena and quickly approached the stage.
       There was more hustle and bustle in the agitated crowd. This was big news.
       Kratt turned to the Commander. She casually said, "We should go."
       A desperate John Church also turned toward his good, alien friend that he'd gotten very close to over the passed two years. He yelled, "Staak!"
       He responded with, "We are Borg."
       "Come...One of Four." Kratt activated a 'beam-out.'
       Captain Church was left alone as four of them disappeared from the stage. The palm of his hand went to his neck. When he took it off and looked at it, there were two blood marks. "Augh."
       Others approached the Captain...

       "I can only give you a clean bill of health, John."
       The Captain and his doctor were in the medical lab. John was topless, on his back and got off the 'med-bed.' "Nothing's wrong with me, Ben? You sure?"
       "We fixed a semi-slipped disk and repaired the neck punctures. That's it, John. No trace of virus, nanite or anything. Our shields may have wiped out 'seeds' of infection. Nothing's there now, Cap. You're clean."
       "Do you know...if we've located the Commander? And that...Crap girl?"
       "Kratt."
       "Ben. You're not supposed to correct the Captain."
       O'Leary smiled. Then he reported, "No, sir. Ha. They're a fine pair, huh?" 

       Days later, the Captain of the Enlighten found himself [off-duty] and drank bootleg, pink Tranya with his old friend, Curzon Dax, on Deep Space 17. The hour was late.
       "I don't know what I was thinking, Dax."
       "Hmm?"
       "Coming here. Why?"



Curzon offered a few incorrect answers: "Why come here? Obviously, like always: it's my colorful banter. No, the Tranya, did you notice it's different? I know. It was the girls! Hey. I want Pauline; you can have Olivette?"
       Church smiled and told him, "No, thank you, you old dog." The Captain liked to see Dax's spots. They moved when he laughed.
       "Ha, ha. You want Pauline?"
       "No," John insisted. 
       "Hmm. That's different."
       "I guess. I guess what I was thinking..."
       "I know the thing with Staak weighs heavy on you, John," Curzon interrupted and said seriously. It was his first serious statement of the evening.
       The Captain replied, "Who else would know about sudden...changes...but a Trill?"
       "I don't know how I can help you, Captain."
       "Call me, John."
       The old friends laughed.
       They finished the special blend of pink 'Ambrosia of the Gods.'
       "Uh, that was good."
       "That was great," Dax stated, very satisfied.
       John softly ordered, "Give me your thoughts, Dax."
       "Ugh. I'm not your Constable. What you should do, eh? This Borg business? Machines coming to take us over, terminate and rule SC or try to and much more, eh?"
       "Ha. I'll take anything you got."
       "John. You are asking a Trill, really a 'slug,' according to some of your species..."
       "Curzon..."
       "Wait. We do a lot of...'inhuman' things, your enlightened people still do not fully understand or approve of. Like many 'out-worlders' of Star Command, they often have pointed to the hypocrisy of our 'Number One Executive Order.' We do interfere, John..."
       Church looked into his friend's eyes and asked, "What are you saying?"
       "Yes. You wave the banner of freedom, liberty and HUMAN rights! But. Maybe this is the Tranya talking...did you ever think, for a millisecond: WE DID THIS? Our super-modern technology will inevitably, one day, consume us? For maybe...survival's sake? Or for the 'greater good?'"
       Church was in a Tranya-trance and disassociated for a minute. Then the following words came out of his mouth: "Give up? Not my nature, Dax. If you're saying...it's Fate and we should let it go at that? I don't like that. I change my Fate."
       It was very late.
       "Get a good night's sleep, Captain."
       John closed his eyes. The day was long. He planned exactly that: a good night's sleep.

       The Captain was in his bed, on his starship, in the dark and without clothes. The man was almost asleep. He turned. Someone was in bed with him.
       "Lights!"
       When the lights in his quarters came ON, they were much too bright for John. He had to adjust.
       Q did not.
       "Half light!" Church barked out another order and the computer responded.
       "Oooh, half light. Sexy." Q was naked and seen topless above the white sheets.
       The men looked at each other, a foot apart, horizontal on the bed.
       When Church's eyes focused, he shouted, "You bastard!"
       Q exploded in a warm burst of affection, "Mon Capitan!"
       "Stay away. You were told by the Continuum NEVER, I mean...never darken my door, my ship! Q! you're not supposed to be here."
       "I received a harsh warning. Probation, Two Strikes, not one. Uh. I'll grant you, Johnny: You bested me when it came to the black goo and that, that, whole creation of life-thing. When was that?"
       Church rubbed his face. [The creature was still there]. He answered, "Two months ago."
       Q grabbed his chin, looked up and said, "I don't think it was Episode 42; I think it was Episode 41."
       "What?...YOU?" the Captain screamed at the super-being. He got closer and choked him, violently. The ploy did not really work on the Q, master of time, space and material physics within time and space.
       "You're choking me, Johnny."
       "YOU did it to Staak! Made him a Borg!"
       "I could have done this to your Commander...but I didn't."
       "I suppose you'll tell me...you're here to 'Save the Day,' yes?" Church put pants on as he talked. "Make everything, right, right? (normal pause) AH! You think...if you help us, you'll square things with the Continuum. That's IT, isn't it Q? I knew it was it."
       "You're still choking me."
       "I don't think so."
       "You know? Mon Capitan? What you just said is a brilliant idea. I could help you."
       John released his grip on the super-being. He realized, the creature might fix everything. But would he?
       The Captain took a breath. He sat on the edge of the bed. He was very sincere: "Stop acting. Stop lying, Q. This is serious."
       "I am serious. I could help you, but I'm not permitted...John."
       "Huh?" [Captain took note]. "The Q won't let you, you're telling me?"
       "Exactly."
       The Captain attempted another try: "What about them, the other Qs. Can't they help?"
       Q busted out in a loud roar of laughter! "HAAA! Wow. That's a good one, Johnny. You're back to being Johnny."
       "I take it...they can't?"
       "Won't. I know you're full of yourself, Captain and the importance of the human race. But I assure you, to the higher beings, such as the Continuum...you are nothing more than insects."
       "Really?"
       "Staak might agree. It is only my, ah...how shall we say? My interest in you as a species that has...well? I saved you from utter destruction one time..."
       "Q. You created the utter destruction in the first place!"
       Q waved his hand from side to side and said, "That's beside the point." Q got to his feet, the sheets fell and he stood there tall and naked.
       "Please." The Captain averted his eyes." He asked in a low tone: "What can you do?"
       "I actually can help you, John. Go around the Continuum."
       "But you said...?"
       The Q cannot help you, but I know someone who can."
       John sensed real sincerity in Q's words. He told the truth. "Yes! There are other immortal, all-knowing, all-seeing creatures in the universe, that...care and have hearts..."
       Q frowned. Then he had a good thought and a good feeling inside his...soul? "I feel like leading a Mariachi band, Captain. With loud horns!"
       "Oh? Who's going to help...our situation?"
       "John. I know the Caretaker. He, the male, kind of...owes me a favor. Yes! He'll do it!"
       Church was in error and asked, "You mean the Amusement Planet Caretaker? He can do it? Wave a magic wand?"
       "That guy? From Episode 33? Like hell. That's a small 'caretaker.' I'm talking about the Big Caretaker, the one for the entire Alpha Quadrant," Q explained.
       "You can bring him here, and he'll help, Q? Get rid of the Borg? Save Staak?"
       "Yes. You're welcome. He's on his way; he's old, John. Be patient..."
       "Like last time?"
       "Forget that. It's not up to me, or even the Caretaker. Everything depends on you, John. Everything." Q had a strange look.
       The Captain yelled, "Then, it IS like last time...with the goo?"
       The remarks were moot and the Q completely changed persona and attitude. The creature was not his cheery self, anymore. Q became super serious, because..."I have an urgent question for you, sir. The test never ends. Everything depends on your response to the question and your future actions and choices. Your galaxy, your friend, and, and, I dare say: my status with the Continuum. All up to you, Jean, I mean, John."
       "Ask."
       Q inquired, "Would you sacrifice yourself, give up your life, John? Die. Die for the cause? Die for all to be back like it was? The only way I see...is for you to give up your life. One of the Caretakers just may take mercy on your pitiful soul and grant your wish? But you can't have everything, John. Will you sacrifice and die for all you believe?"
       When Q stopped the question, the intrepid Captain of the Enlighten starship, flagship of Starwalker Command, said: "Yes." He meant it.
       Q sighed. The solemn super-being, who was really a 'pal' to his favorite 'insect,' stated, "I'm very sorry to hear that, John. He's coming. He'll be here in a moment..."
       "Who?"
       Q continued, "That was the easy part. I have a harder question for you, my friend." Q kept up a sad and serious demeanor. He was actually 'being real.'
       "Harder? A bigger question than sacrificing one's life?"
       "The question is: What about extreme/continuous pain, extreme/continuous pain without end? Would not beautiful death be preferred to that, John?"
       The Captain was totally befuddled. He sensed no deception whatsoever.
       The last thing Q said to the poor man before he disappeared was, "You agreed, Captain. There is a crucible ahead of you and another, a gauntlet you and the other must experience because of your choices. You in your world and he in the Universal Industry of his choice. Good luck. I mean that, John. I hope you...and he, survive. The Borg is here."
       Q was gone.
       John yelled: "What?" to his empty quarters. Then the lights went out. Total darkness, except for some brightness near the bed.
       In a few seconds, the empty quarters was filled by sounds of a Borg (109 of 3376)! The sounds were mechanical. He/it stepped into the light. The 'thing' had dark tubes, wires and a few metal implants over approximately 15% of his body.
       The Captain did not recognize the face.



Was that pointed ears?
       "Who are you? What do you want?"
       Nothing was said.
       It stepped closer.
       "Stay back!" John shouted at it.
       With the next step, an arm was raised and two tubers jettisoned out and struck the Captain, similar to the rattlesnake that bit him when he was a kid in the mid-west of what was once "America."
       John collapsed and was beamed, along with the Borg, to a small, cloaked, rectangular ship with other Borg onboard. The craft stabilized a warp field and shot like light very far from the Enlighten.

       Staak was not Staak anymore. He had a few more mechanical implants than usual. One of 4011 was in a strange and precarious position at the moment. He sure did not understand it. It could be a very dangerous position. It wasn't the jungle planet that he slowly appreciated more and more around him, its beauty and splendor. It wasn't the 'enemies' of the Borg, which were anyone not Borg. It must be the completely odd and totally uncalled for action of his second in the growing collective. What did she instigate here and why? One did not know. The lips of Kratt, the former Academy scientist, whose designation at this exact time was Two of 4012, were pressed tightly against his lips. She engaged a kiss.
       The first Borg was dumbfounded and searched for answers and aid from the now 4013 others. The conflicted information on the subject was no assistance to him.
       He turned his head to the side, broke the kiss and spoke. "Two?"
       "Yes, One?" She felt love and batted her eyes and left them in an alluring squint.
       "Was there some significance to that action?"
       Suddenly, the second Borg had strong emotions. She had mega-emotions! She felt hotter and hotter as time went on. "Yes! There was significance." The girl tackled One. Two grabbed him hard in the crotch and rubbed the area over and over again. Her eyes tried to meet his eyes. Two of 4020 said in a deep, sultry voice, "You think there's some significance to THIS action?" Two rubbed him even harder.
       One got to his feet in a flash. He decided he'd ask a question. One asked, "Why?"
       She answered his directive: "Because soon, very soon, One...We will have no emotions, no individuality at all, nothing of our old selves. Nothing left. Only the hive-mind of thousand, then millions, then billions...and then many more. Let's explore the last drop of our feelings, before they're gone forever. Love me, my Number One." She placed his hands on her breasts. Two reached up and kissed him again. "Please, my love."
       But there was nothing. The man felt nothing for her and they were a part of the same collective. How could they be so different? He thought, How dare she propose a husband/wife situation at the critical time of the collective's construction? One suddenly did feel for her and spoke out of emotions, also. But the words were not a last moment of love, freedom, liberty and joyous happiness before emotional oblivion...
       "You're not my type." He was mean and rude to her.
       "What?"
       "You're brainy. I like fun girls."
       It took a second or two for Two of 4103 to know what to do. She decided. She SLAPPED him across the side of the face so hard...
       ...That both of them were knocked or shattered out of the collective! The few mechanical, Borg implants simply left their bodies and fell into the lush grass on the ground. The collective was reduced down to 4101 units that were now in the large Uni-Matrix.

       Captain Church was tortured. Q was right. The torture, the continuous PAIN went on and on. No relief. The Borg stripped the man of all his dignity, all of his humanity and everything that made him the strong Captain that he was. Pure agony and pure pain were maintained by the new collective, day after day and week after week. Tests. Drugs. Probes. John was shredded in the pits of Hell, blood and fire everywhere, outside and inside of his mind. He was pieced together. The whole process of horror marched on and on again, cycle after cycle, never a termination, never a death...
   
       The Collective grew to fantastic proportions. Most of the population on Remor had been assimilated. There were millions of Borg units that functioned as one mass hive-mind.  Remorans were the perfect, initial hosts for the 'machine-consciousness' of the galaxy and start of the "cosmic epidemic." Mechanical seeds or nanites entrenched themselves as cold roots into living things and destroyed what little humanism and emotions remained on Staak's world.
       In the near future, when the entire planet that orbited Proxima was assimilated, the Borg will consume the life, data and energy resources of the other planets in the system. With such strength in numbers and knowledge (far more machine parts inside the units) and much more power, any alien species could be assimilated!
       There might not be anything to stop the Borg from a total assimilation of the Alpha Quadrant, in time. 
       New systems and stratagems had to be adopted with an increased Borg population. The massive Uni-Matrix broke into countess [# always increased] very small (Mendelbrot) collectives inside the ultimate one. A Borg was no longer referred to as 94559 of 5855332, rather 6 of 10 or 2 of 7 of a designated uni-matrix, for example.
       Changes. New concepts were received in a vast 'Collective Ocean.' Departures from the norm were, at times, accepted. But what decided? There was no norm for Borgs, only continuous changes and continuous expansion. A big change had occurred within the fluid Borg Collective. The idea of one king, a single ruler, a King Bee to absolutely rule the Cosmic Realm and all that the Borg Empire will have consumed in future. An occasion could call for an INDIVIDUAL to make a semi-human or emotional decision beneficial to the group that, otherwise, a collective would not have. The Borg instituted a drastic change:
       They removed a special subject of intense torture and discovered a powerful enemy that could be transformed into the ideal King of the Machines. The Borg needed to be one part humanity and they found it in...
       "Coluusis of Borg."



The Captain had survived the crucible, the Borg gauntlet, and had come out the other side alive. Only John Church was no longer John Church or anything close to what he once was. He was Coluusis, Emperor of the Borg, or basically: a Judge, if a judge be needed?

       Back on the Enlighten, a very old and wrinkled man with long, white hair and a wooden staff...
       ...slowly, so slowly, stepped out of the darkness in Captain Church's quarters. When the low light struck him, the Caretaker for the Alpha Quadrant said, "I do hope I was on time, Captain. Captain?" He turned in all directions. "Where are you? Captain? Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Ah. Now I see you. Oh, my. We can't have that, can we?" The Super-Being passed his thin, boney, right arm through the processed air. "There. That's better."
       First step: The Captain needed to be un-assimilated. The Big Caretaker did that in a snap.

       Presently, the Captain was not a part of the Collective or any type of starship Captain. He was simply a man who'd been through hell and back. He recuperated in France. He tried to forget the Borg torture, but could not. The Test didn't end and the pain never ended. John relived the moments of madness again and again inside his head. He hid his personal agony well from Erik and his older brother's wife, Ruth. He 'rested' at his brother's vineyard. John had a few more things to work out before he made a full recovery.
       His face and parts of his body were still marred with scars of Borg implants. They were constant reminders of hell. A few of the Doctor's geometric "med-pads" adorned his face and body. They promoted healing. Physically, the Captain will recover and become his old self. Mentally, he may never be the same.
       The brothers had it out as old issues from the past rose to the surface: Erik, jealous of the fame of his mighty/younger brother that flew starships. And John, jealous of Erik and his family that included little John and the peace that came from a quiet life. Erik and John often fought like two dogs at each other's throats. Today was no different. They fought in the mud of the French vineyard...
       Until they realized they were way too old for that kind of thing. Each busted out in laughter at the sight of the other! They laid on the ground and were covered in mud. What would Ruth say? What will she say when they cleaned up? The laughter was cathartic. John considered his brother's offer: to leave the Starwalkers. That was one more huge dilemma for the Captain. Should he throw away his career after the ordeal with the Borg and retire? He decided. The feeling was wonderfully glorious. Did he have Q to thank?
       Then everything changed and John exploded, not with warm and wonderful feelings, but he had to face HELL one last time and release the memories. He cried. John cried uncontrollably, covered in mud, as his brother watched a sight he'd never seen before: The immortal Captain, reduced to the status of a mere mortal.
       John cried to Erik and revealed: "They took everything I was! They used me to KILL and destroy. I couldn't stop them! [tears flowed more] I should've been able to stop them. I tried. I tried so hard, Erik. I should have been stronger!"
       Erik was amazed. He suddenly had great empathy for John for the first time in his life. He said, "So my brother is a human being after all. This is going to be with you a long time, John. You have to live with it. Your choice, brother." 

       In another world that was not positive or negative. In a universe that was not matter or anti-matter...
       A Third Alternative existed that was the only real universe. It was the third side of the 'Mirror.' It was the only true world...
       Another "John Church" only played or acted on the screen as if he was a starship Captain. He was an actor with a different name. He was "forced" [his choice] to do unspeakable rituals and "sacrifices," which were really murders...just to get the part on a television show called "Starwalkers." For fame and fortune, exactly like many other celebrities that have 'sold their soul to the Devil.' Or the Universal Industry. The job in the Captain's chair would lead to a fabulous acting career where he'd star in major motion pictures in the last part of the 20th Century and beyond.
       The actor was an emotional wreck after what he'd done. He confessed to his father: "They took everything I was! They used me to KILL and destroy. I couldn't stop them! [tears flowed more] I should've been able to stop them. I tried. I tried so hard, father. I should have been stronger!"

       In one of the other two worlds, Staak, Dr. O'Leary and the Captain met in John's quarters one more time. The 'day' was over. The Commander proposed a toast. This was the second time the Remoran would have an alcoholic drink. He thought it was a special occasion. It was.
       The real special occasion was the fact that the Big Caretaker sent 110,836,221 Borg units many thousands of light-years away from the Alpha Quadrant. It would be more than 50 years from now, when other Quadrants were explored, that the Machines would again be a threat to Star Command.
       Remorans were gone from home planet. Staak was not upset about this fact. He hoped Cyborgs and the Centauri were a lost and forgotten way of life.
       Staak raised his glass first and said, "To all good things..."
       The Doctor protested and replied, "Wait a minute, Staak. What kinda toast was that?"
       John smiled.
       Ben continued, "That's...why, that's for some...conclusion to our adventures, you tight-assed, Remoran bastard."
       "You forget, Doctor. You yourself removed my 9% cybernetics after the Borg incident. I'm almost a human being now, Ben. It might be fun to be human? I could even end up more human than you, Dr. O'Leary." 
       Captain John laughed. "Ha, ha. Gentlemen."
       Staak clarified, "I was only going to say: To all good things...may they continue..."
       "Oh! That's better. I like that. I'll drink to that," Ben said.
       They did.

       That 'night' in space, the Captain found another person in his bed.
       "Q! Lights! Oh, God." Lights came on.
       "Mon Capitan! It is I, your very good friend." He was naked again.
       "Hey. I don't owe you a thing!"
       "No sir, you do not. It is I who owe you..."
       "Really? Then if you owe me...promise me, truly, you'll...you'll never appear in a Captain's bed again."
       "I truly promise, Captain."
       "Good."
       "Unless she's a pretty woman."
       "God. What? What have you come to say, Mr. Q?" 
       "Remember what I whispered in your ear at the end of our first meeting?"
       "Yes. Test for the human race, or my own personal trial, never ends. We, collectively, are always on TRIAL by you...supposed higher lifeforms. Now what's next? What's up? I'm tired, Q. Just spit it out!"
       "I have good news and bad news for you, Mon Capitan."
       "Great," John said sarcastically. "What's the bad news? No just gimme the news!"
       "I was wrong, John."
       "Well I lived to hear that, anyway."
       "Your stories, 'adventures,' you call them, will indeed END. Finito, last curtain call and that's all she wrote. Two full seasons, but...no more."
       "What the hell are you saying, Q?"
       "God, you people are mindless. What the Caretaker said, the other one? Third universe to the other two..."
       "What?" John tried to understand.
       "Your show's been cancelled in the real world. Forty-six episodes. Done! John, you and your crew are finished flying through space...entertaining us. I'm as sad as you are about it, hey. Should have gone on years more."
       "Wait. Why are me and the crew done flying through space?"
       "
You had a good run. You were hot, for a time. Now you're not. All good things, Mon Capitan."
       John closed his eyes, smiled and hoped he'd go away. "Good night."

~the end








  

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