Khan climbed his way back to the tip of consciousness. He opened his eyes, straining them against the light. Feeling the pressure of arms clamped around his elbows, Khan examined the Borg soldiers, now aware that his feet were being dragged over solid pathway. Still weak from an earlier blow, Khan tugged the arm of one soldier, testing his strength. The gesture was met with a pull of astonishing force. Clearly an escape was out of the question.
A green, pulsating light shone in all directions, illuminating a labyrinth of corridors and the enigmatic conduits that ran through them. Progressing further into the bowels of the alien ship, Khan closed his eyes, shutting off his mind to the horror of it all.
The soldiers halted, waiting for what came next. A door opened, flooding Khan with a burst of methane and fluorine gas. The soldiers dragged him inside the chamber.
Eyes watering, Khan swallowed a heavy breath, gulping down the remaining traces of oxygen. It was no use. The Borg atmosphere scorched his lungs as he struggled to inhale, suffocating him.
The Borg loosened their grip, dropping Khan to the floor, wheezing. Even on the brink of death, Khan prided himself on having survived for so long—a feat that no “ordinary” human could have accomplished.
“Adjust oxygen-methane ratio to compensate for human respiratory functions.” The command was delivered not by a Borg soldier, but by a soothing female voice. “We wouldn’t want our guest to feel unwelcome.”
A gust of fresh air blew across the chamber, washing away the smoke. Khan filled his nostrils, cherishing the sweet oxygen.
The fumes cleared from the chamber, allowing Khan to see again. Both curious and bewildered, he beheld the distorted female spectacle that stood before him.
“Who are you?” asked Khan, rising from the floor.
The Queen curled her lips into a smile. “I am that which brings order to chaos.”
“I see,” said Khan. “I believe I understand now.”
The Queen stepped closer to Khan, studying him. “Khan Noonien Singh. I never dreamed we’d meet face-to-face.” She pulled away with a slow, seductive motion. The Queen fondled the Genesis Device while staring at Khan, teasing him. “This is what you want, isn’t it? If memory
serves, you were the last in a long line of failed experiments. Experiments that were conducted in order to create the perfect warrior, one who could bring order to a world rife with chaos. Something I can appreciate.”
Khan nodded with respect. “You know much about me. I, on the other hand, have yet to learn of you and your ways.”
The Queen smiled. “You will in time.”
“You wish to assimilate me,” said Khan. “To add me to your Collective, yes?”
“Perhaps,” said the Queen. “Then again, I might be willing to compromise. There is something I need from you. Something only you can give me.”
The Queen stepped into a ray of light, exposing the onyx suit fastened around her skeletal frame. The spectacle offended Khan. So did the Queen’s cryptic response to a straightforward question. “With all due respect, I have little patience for games. Tell me what you desire, and I shall decide whether to accommodate you.”
“You’re a direct man. I respect that.” The Queen inclined her head to one side, signaling the Collective. An image flashed over a display screen, revealing a tractor beam holding the Reliant in place. “As you can see, your crude efforts to evade detection were unsuccessful. I’ll admit that your cloaking device worked for a time. But when I assimilated your guards, their thoughts became my own. I learned of your vessel. And of every passenger, and every prisoner, aboard.”
“Excellent,” said Khan. “Oh, how I underestimated you. Well done, indeed.”
“Your flattery is quite unnecessary. I’m willing to offer that which you seek, so long as you agree to my terms.”
“You wish to offer a trade,” said Khan, now highly intrigued. “Name your terms.”
The Queen turned away from the viewer. “I’ll release your ship and return you to your crew. Once you leave here, you will never see or hear from us again. As long as you stay out of our way, we’ll stay out of yours. Find a world suitable to your tastes, and rule over it as you will. To compensate you for your troubles, I’ll even return the Genesis Device.”
“I see. So as a token of goodwill, you would give up the most powerful destructive force ever created.”
The Queen understood Khan’s skepticism. “We have no need for it, now that Starfleet has been neutralized. Those who accept our ways will be assimilated. Those who do not will perish.”
“Simple, but effective. Tell me, what must I offer you in exchange for Genesis?”
“Starfleet is in shambles. My drones are preparing to invade the Earth and take it by force. Soon every person on your insignificant planet will be assimilated. In the meantime, we could benefit from a liaison to communicate on our behalf. Someone who could bridge the gap between your species and mine.” The Queen glanced at the viewscreen. Something about the Reliant seemed to intrigue her. Then she stared back at Khan, dropping all pretenses. “You’ll receive everything I’ve promised and more. But first, you will deliver to me the human known as . . . James Kirk.”
At first, Khan was offended by the offer. He wondered why the Queen would desire Kirk—a boorish, uncultured man—over himself when selecting a liaison. Swallowing his pride, Khan considered the proposal with the gravitas of a leader. “I admit that your proposition intrigues me.”
“Then we have an agreement,” the Queen decided. “My drones will escort you back to the Reliant. Bring me the Admiral, and I will release your ship and return Genesis to you.”
“Ah, but we have yet to discuss the nuances of our arrangement. For instance, I must know the exact world over which I am to rule, before I agree to surrender James Kirk.”
The Queen inclined her misshapen head slightly. “What do you have in mind?” she asked, genuinely intrigued.
Khan directed his gaze at the viewer. Behind Reliant, the oceans of Earth painted the screen a majestic shade of blue.
“Out of the question,” the Queen snapped. “You had your turn three centuries ago. Earth belongs to us now.”
“Come now, your Majesty. When I was a prince, on Earth, I grew to appreciate my fellow man, flawed though he was. Like a pet, if you will. Surely you understand. You, on the other hand, have no reason to conquer Earth except to acquire human technology, which I would be more than willing to share with you. I shall indeed give you Kirk. But only if you return that which belongs to me by right of birth.”
“I’ll make you another offer. Either you give me what I want,” said the Queen while circling Khan, “or I’ll swarm your vessel with Borg drones and assimilate every last member of your crew. That is, after I’ve assimilated you and extracted the whereabouts of Admiral Kirk from your own memory.”
“No, I do not think so,” said Khan with a prideful grin. “If such were a possibility, you would have done so already. You know as well as I, that if one of my people were to activate the Reliant’s self-destruct sequence while under attack, Admiral Kirk would perish along with my crew. If we are to reach an agreement, we must learn to trust each other. Now tell me, what is your motive for adding Kirk to your Collective? Your true motive.”
“Admiral Kirk,” the Queen spat, sickening Khan with her foul breath, “is an aberration among billions. Not unlike yourself.”
Khan glowered, offended by the comparison.
“With his extraordinary tactical skills and his inexhaustible ability to cheat death, Kirk would make a more valuable addition to our Collective than you could ever realize. Once we have assimilated Kirk, the Collective will become stronger than ever before.”
“Then you cannot risk destroying him,” said Khan.
Graceful in stride, the Queen moved closer to the Genesis Device. She studied the object and ran her long, slithery fingers over the casing that concealed it. “Kirk’s death would be an unfortunate loss. But we would survive, nevertheless. I’m offering you a second chance. An opportunity that will benefit both of us. Don’t throw it away for pride’s sake.”
She locked eyes with Khan, awaiting his reply. Unexpectedly, her thoughts were scattered by a disturbance in the Collective. The Queen could sense another in her midst, one who did not yet belong to the Collective.
“Kirk,” she realized. “It can’t be. He’s trying to trick you. Ignore him.”
Her efforts to reassure the Collective were in vain. At that very instant, Reliant was beginning to break free.
“Stop it! Do not humor him with logic. Focus your thoughts on me.”
Khan studied the Queen, a quizzical expression on his face. He struggled to understand why the Queen was acting strangely all of a sudden. Then he turned his attention elsewhere.
Seizing the opportunity, Khan crept upon the Queen as she struggled to restore balance to the Collective. He curled his fists into a ball and slammed the Queen’s back, hurling the abomination across her chamber floor. Pulling out a detachable phaser unit, one that had remained tucked within his boot until now, Khan stepped away from the Queen, keeping his eyes trained firmly upon her.
“You won’t kill me,” said the Queen. “If you do, you’ll never make it out of here alive.”
“And the alternative? To live in a galaxy crawling with Borg?” Khan shook his head. “Even the taste of death would be far sweeter.”
“As you wish.” The Queen rose to her feet and drew closer to Khan, prompting him to tighten his grip on the phaser.
“Go on. Kill me,” the Queen taunted. “It will make no difference. Another will assume my throne. The Collective will continue to flourish, even in my absence.”
Khan thought of another approach. Out of curiosity, he aimed his phaser at the Genesis Device.
“You wouldn’t dare,” the Queen snarled.
“Now you seem disturbed. Why? A mere moment ago, you said you would return Genesis as a token of good faith. Of course, with Doctor Marcus now a prisoner on my ship, I can utilize her knowledge to construct a new matrix. I have no need for the Device. But do you? We shall soon find out.”
Khan prepared to fire, prompting a reaction from the Queen. “Wait!” she screamed.
“So, my suspicions were correct. Genesis is important to you after all. You never intended to give it up, did you? No, that is clear to me now. You sought to maintain my illusion of power so that I would deliver Kirk to your throne. Then you would have destroyed me. I must confess that you disappoint me. I had assessed you to be a creature of nobility. I see now that such is not the case.”
“There are billions of people on Earth,” said the Queen. “Our weapons would annihilate them, eventually. Though perhaps not soon enough. Humans are resourceful, resilient, unwilling to accept the gift that we offer them. Even as we speak, Kirk is planning an escape. He thinks he can outsmart the Collective.”
Khan looked at the Queen, perplexed.
“You heard me. Kirk is free now. Either he escaped on his own, or you have a traitor in your company,” said the Queen. “It would only be a matter of time before humans find a way to penetrate our defenses, thwarting our attempt to purify. With Genesis, we have the chance to deliver a crippling blow to your people, killing most of them in a matter of minutes. Though we admire Kirk and wish to add his cunning to our Collective, we never needed a liaison,” she admitted, “because we never intended to assimilate mankind. Only by annihilating the human species can we guarantee our survival in the future. As a military man, surely you understand.”
“Indeed,” said Khan. “You are only acting in the interest of your people. Now, I must act in the interest of mine.”
He drew his finger inward, gently squeezing the trigger mechanism. Before he could vaporize the Device, Khan noticed a flutter in the corner of his eye. He turned his attention to the viewer. Reliant engulfed the screen with its silver hull, gaining speed with every second. Khan faced the Queen, eyes bulging, mouth gaping. After all the bickering, scheming, and deception, neither Khan nor the Queen would prevail. Only Kirk would have the last laugh.
“Goodbye,” said Khan.
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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.