Kirk stared at the viewscreen, mouth agape. “Khan . . .”
“You still remember, Admiral,” replied a tall, silver-haired man of muscular physique. “I cannot help but be touched.” Khan folded his hands over his chest, mocking the admiral. “I, of course, remember you.”
“What is the meaning of this attack? Where is the crew of the Reliant?”
“Surely I have made my meaning plain. I mean to avenge myself upon you, Admiral. I deprived your ship of power, and when I swing around I mean to deprive you of your life. But I wanted you to know first who it was who had beaten you.”
Kirk stepped forward, opening his palms in a pleading gesture. “Khan,” he began.
Before Kirk could offer himself in exchange for the lives of his crew, a wave of static rippled through the viewscreen. Though Khan’s mouth continued moving, his words became garbled and incomprehensible.
“Uhura, get him back!”
Uhura fiddled with her station controls. “I can’t, sir. I’m detecting a spatial anomaly in this sector. It’s blocking our transmission.”
“What could be causing the disturbance?” Kirk inquired.
“I’m not sure, sir. Wait a minute. . . .”
“Admiral,” Spock cut in. “We are being probed.”
“By whom? Reliant?”
“Negative. There is another vessel approaching.”
“Please tell me it’s a Federation ship.”
“Unknown designation.” Spock peered into his visor. “Admiral, these readings are incredible. If accurate, then—”
The overhead speakers sizzled for a moment. Then came a shrill, agonizing screech.
Finally the noise stopped. Khan’s form evaporated from view. An arrangement of snowy, fluctuating lines appeared in his place. Then a new image materialized.
The crew took a second to relax. At least for the moment, Khan wasn’t their primary concern.
Kirk turned his attention to the viewscreen. He stared into the enigmatic entanglement of overlapping structures, amazed at how far they extended before disappearing, at least apparently so, into an interminable horizon of alien complexity. “Spock,” he whispered. “What in God’s name are we looking at?”
“Based on my readings, I believe it is the interior of an alien ship. Any further analysis would be pure conjecture.”
Sulu offered his own opinion. “It looks almost like . . .”
“V’ger,” said Kirk. “The patterns are similar. Maybe it’s somehow connected to the modified Voyager 6 probe. But it’s not V’ger. It can’t be.”
Every crew member on the bridge stared silently ahead. Their awestricken faces spoke for them.
Kirk opened his mouth and prepared an introduction. Before he could speak, the gravelly echo of a thousand unified voices crackled through the overhead speakers.
“We are the Borg. Surrender your ships and prepare for assimilation.”
Kirk was startled by the sound. His spine stiffened with chill. Goose pimples crawling over his skin, Kirk addressed the voices, “This is Admiral James T. Kirk of the United Federation Starship Enterprise. On what grounds do you—”
“Existence as you know it is over.”
Kirk looked over his shoulder at Spock, hoping for a suggestion. The Vulcan scientist only stared at the viewscreen, feasting his eyes on the alien wonder.
“What do you want with us?” asked Kirk.
“We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us,” the voices replied. “Resistance is futile.”
The bizarre internal structure of what might have been a vessel, or entity, cleared itself from the viewscreen. Then appeared the exterior of a ship, spherical and generalized in design. The vessel made Reliant seem small in comparison.
Kirk gazed at the object, wondering how something so monumental could have escaped detection until now.
“Admiral, according to my readings, the ship is approximately six hundred meters in diameter.” Spock cut the surrounding tension with his mellow voice. “Its design is oddly uniform, similar to, though substantially more compact than the Fesarius vessel we encountered nearly twenty years ago. I can offer no other frame of reference.” Spock drowned his eyes in the light of his science station visor. “Our scans detect no bridge, no engineering section, nor living quarters of any discernable type.”
“What about weapons? Alert status?” Kirk inquired.
“Their weapons . . . are unlike anything we’ve encountered,” Spock said, alarming the admiral with his ambiguous reply. “As for shields, I detect no graviton emissions around the vessel exterior. The ship appears to be coated with armor plating consisting of various unknown alloys.”
Kirk stared quizzically at the viewscreen. “Uhura, can you open a channel?”
“Aye, sir. Channel open.”
The admiral cleared his throat and addressed the voices a second time. “Borg vessel, this is Kirk speaking. We would like to discuss your intentions in greater detail. If it’s technology you want from us, then perhaps we can accommodate you—within reason, of course.”
Kirk’s proposal was met with chilling silence.
“Listen,” Kirk continued, “We are peaceful in nature. But if you wish to negotiate, then you must—”
“Existence as you know it is over,” the voices restated. “We do not negotiate. You will be assimilated.”
Kirk glanced at Spock. “Assimilated? What exactly does that mean?”
“Admiral, if I may make a suggestion,” Spock said quietly.
Kirk leaned closer to Spock, intrigued.
Saavik allowed her eyes to wander from the helm console. She directed her furtive gaze at the officers and their secretive chatter.
“There is an old human adage that comes to mind. I believe it says, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ ” Spock glanced at Reliant, her tiny frame drifting over the ominous, towering sphere.
Kirk got the message, but didn’t like it. “Are you suggesting that we join forces with Reliant? I don’t know, Spock. Who’s to say that Khan will even cooperate with us? He tried to destroy us only a moment ago. If not for the interruption, he might have succeeded.”
“It was merely a suggestion, Admiral,” said Spock.
Kirk fell into the command chair, burying his face in sweaty palms. He raced over every possibility in his mind, desperate for another solution. Then an old memory surfaced. It was a long shot, and not by the book, to be sure. Then again, Kirk was never one to play by the rules.
“Uhura, would it be possible to hail Reliant using a Code Three frequency?”
“A Code Three frequency, sir?” Uhura was baffled by the nature of Kirk’s request. “I believe so, Admiral.”
Kirk rubbed his hands anxiously. “Hail them.”
“Aye, sir,” Uhura complied.
“Here goes nothing,” Kirk muttered under his breath.
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Disclaimer: Star Trek and related marks, logos, and characters belong to Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios. Dialogue and scene excerpts from Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek: The Next Generation are used for transformative and non-commercial purposes only. Star Trek: Genesis is a fanfiction work and is unaffiliated with Paramount Pictures or CBS Studios. No commercial distribution of Star Trek: Genesis or its cover image is permitted.