This is 'ESB' of the trilogy.
And now, part three begins. Hopefully this might answer any questions.
Here we go!
*****Part Three: DopplegangerPrologue
"We are... I am the Borg. I am the one, She who commands and lead the Collective. All flow through me. All ARE me.
"For over five thousand years, I have brought perfection and peace to the Delta Quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy. Now, I extend my hand out to the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, bringing that which you will ultimately desire and crave. My reach extends even to the newly-discovered galaxy and the New Republic, Imperial Remnant and Hapes Consortium, among others. The Chiss Ascendancy already knows of me, and welcomes me.
"But that which I have longed for has now arrived. That which I want-I NEED is within my grasp. And they are MINE. As all of you shall be mine! Both galaxies shall fall before me, assimilated and bent to my will. Resistance is futile. All shall be assimilated.
"And the galaxy shall finally know peace."Chapter One: Regrouping Captain's log, stardate 58387.9. It has been one week since the Borg halted their advance upon New Republic, Imperial Remnant and Alpha/Beta Quadrant powers in the Milky Way Galaxy. The
Enterprise has been holding station in Coruscant orbit while the Borg have soldified their hold not only on the Corellia System, but other systems in the Corellia Sector. With the assimilation of Master Skywalker and the other Jedi, I fear the Borg's power might prove too much for us.
Captain Picard rubbed his forehead as he looked over a PADD, the contents of the personal access display device blurring together as he finished his latest report to Starfleet Command. I thought we were past the era of the bureaucracy
, he thought to himself. His head dipped low and his eyes half-shut, but the door chime sent his head snapping back up. "Enter," he said.
The door slid open, allowing Tenel Ka Djo to enter. The Hapan princess nodded curtly as she strode up to his desk. "Captain," she said. "Thank you for letting me stay here. The Solo estate is a bit... empty at the moment."
Picard nodded and motioned to a seat. He noted she wore a simple red shirt and pants instead of her usual lizard-hide armor. "I am sorry for your losses," he said sincerely.
Tenel Ka sighed and slouched in the chair. "Thank you. Tell me, what has been decided of a rescue mission?"
Picard's brow furrowed. "I'm sorry?"
Tenel Ka sat back up straight. "Yes, a rescue mission. Surely we shall go after Jacen and the rest." Her gray eyes widened slightly and both her hands clenched on her lap. "You do not
intend a rescue mission?"
The captain sighed and put his hands on his desk. "Tenel Ka, when someone is captured by the Borg... it's not a pleasant experience." His right hand went up and the tips of his fingers brushed down his cheek. "They assimilate you, modifying you body to integrate you into the Collective. It is... difficult at best to rescue someone."
There was a pause before Tenel Ka nodded. "Yes, but possible. You were rescued. Seven of Nine and Hugh were both split from the Collective." She leaned forward. "He-they-are out there, Captain. I can feel that it's not too late."
Picard sighed and motioned to her left arm. "Can you, really?"
A low growl came from the princess' throat. "Have you ever been in love, Captain?" she asked, continuing without waiting for an answer. "I have known Jacen since I met him at his uncle's wedding when I was twelve. He tried to make me laugh. He tried for four more years before the walls tumbled." Her prosthetic hand clenched. "He proposed to me before the mission. I cannot touch the Force, but I know he is alive and can be saved."
Picard eyed her for a moment. "I have... been in love, Tenel Ka. I may seem like a stuffy old man on occasion... but I like to think I have known love in my day." His eyes lost their focus for a moment before his gaze once more hardened. "Besides, it is not my call to make. Command has us waiting, so for the moment, we shall wait."
Tenel Ka's eyebrow arched. "So says the man who went to Earth to stop the cube in 2373, against orders if I remember."
A grunt escaped Picard's lips. He stood up and walked to the replicator. "Tea, early gray. Hot." While a cup of hot tea appeared in the slot in the wall, he glanced at the princess. "I heard voices, then. The voices of the Collective," he said as he walked back.
"Nothing at the moment," he confirmed. A sigh escaped Picard's lips. "Your loyalty to your friends is commendable, but sometimes you must let them go to regain them. That is what Will did to me and for me in 2367."
"I... see," Tenel Ka said. She rose and bowed her head. "Thank you for your time, Captain," she said before turning and leaving.
Picard sighed as the young woman left. "May you find what you seek," he said, "but do not mourn too deeply if you do
He lifted a PADD again, but his work was interrupted by the chirp of the comm. "Sir," Tirsek said over the speaker, "Admiral Ackbar is contacting you."
Picard looked up and nodded. He tapped his combadge and spoke. "Put it through," he said. He reached out and moved a small desk-mounted viewscreen around for better viewing. "Admiral?"
Ackbar's bulbous head appeared. His eyes swiveled around before he spoke. "Captain, I've just conferred with Admiral Ross and you've received new orders. I'll be beaming aboard in an hour, where you'll fly to the Bilbringi Shipyards."
The captain leaned forward, rubbing his chin. "I'm sorry?"
Ackbar blinked. "I shall have the orders for you when I arrive, Captain. Be strong, my friend. The tide is rough, but the lighthouse is shining brightly through the fog." And with that, the link was cut. The image changed from Ackbar to the Starfleet chevron and some text scrolling along the bottom.
Picard sat there for a moment. "There's something rotten on Coruscant..." he muttered before leaning back and tapping commands into the console mounted below the viewscreen.
Tenel Ka left the ready room. She walked along the bridge's perimeter and reached the turbolift, but she paused before entering when she saw who was at the aft science station. "Lusa, my friend," she said, crossing the aft of the bridge.
Lusa turned from the station and half-smiled. She bowed her head to the Hapan princess. "How are you?" she asked, brown eyes shining.
"My heart is heavy," Tenel Ka said, sighing. She looked to the main viewscreen as it showed a holographic image of Coruscant and orbit. No civilian ships could be seen as Defense Force warships moved back and forth amongst Golan Arms battle stations, hospital ships, supply tugs and the like as they shored up against the almost-inevitable Borg assault. "He is out there," she continued. "I know it. Even without the Force, I know it."
Lieutenant Commander Tirsek stood up from his seat in the central command area. The blue-skinned Andorian looked at Tenel Ka with inquisitive eyes. "I'm curious, Princess How do you 'know' Jacen Solo is all right?"
Tenel Ka looked at her, eyebrows furrowing. "How-how did you know I meant him?" she asked, voice betraying her surprise.
Tirsek shrugged. "I saw your interaction with Jacen when the Enterprise
first entered your dimension. I saw your heart and love for him. And his for you. Your souls are connected."
Tenel Ka half-smiled. "Then you know why I believe him to be fine."
The Andorian inclined her head, her antennae flattening. "Yes, but Tenel Ka... the Borg will not wait. I don't wish to cause you pain, but Jacen will not be left unscathed. The Borg will
alter him, assimilate him into the Collective."
Tenel Ka's gray eyes glanced to the door to Picard's ready room. "If that is so... then there is still hope for him." She turned back and patted Lusa on the shoulder before walking to the turbolift alcove and leaving the bridge.
Tirsek snorted, shaking her head. "Hope, but little of it. Especially against the foe we face now."
Lusa nodded. "The foe we face is precisely
why we need hope, Lieutenant Commander. Without it, why even bother fighting the Collective?"
Tirsek flashed a smirk and her eyes glinted. "Because it is better to die on your feet than live on your knees, Lieutenant."
Lusa swallowed and backed up slightly, her flank brushing against the console behind her equine body. "I... disagree, sir. With life, there is hope and a chance to win. With death, there is nothing."
Tirsek's eyebrows quirked. "I thought there was no death, only the Force."
A small smile crossed Lusa's face. "That is correct, but there's still little we could do against the Borg in such a state."
Any response from Tirsek was cut off as Picard emerged from his ready room. "Tirsek, we'll be going to the Bilbringi shipyards in one hour. I want the Enterprise
ready for warp by then."
Tirsek turned to him, her antennae straightening. "It shall be so, sir." She turned to the helm station, but paused. "Bilbringi?" she asked, mouth twitching. "What in the Federation is in Bilbringi... sir," she finished, snapping to attention.
The captain smiled weakly. "You and I shall both find out," he said before walking to the turbolift alcove. "In any event, it should prove fascinating to see what the Defense Force and Starfleet have stashed there," he said as the lift doors closed.
Tirsek opened her mouth, then stopped. "The Defense Force and
Starfleet?' she asked. She turned to Lusa. "Do you have-"
"Sorry," Lusa said, interrupting. "I'm a Chironian, not a fly on the windowsill."
"That's wall," Tirsek corrected, smirking. "Learn the Earth terms if you're going to use them."
*****Hold of the
Millennium Falcon, somewhere in the Delta Quadrant
[Honor Brother, it's been six hours.]
Han Solo's eyes snapped open. He sat up, stretching as the fog of sleep quickly dissipated. "Any change?" he asked, standing up.
Chewie walked over, a glass of water in his furry hand. [Nothing,] he sadly crooned. He motioned to the hatch that lead to the cockpit, sealed off behind a door and force field. [No one's come out or said anything over the intercom.]
Han walked over, his hands on his hips. He picked up a tool laying about and tossed it at the door. It hit the force field, producing a green ripple of energy as it bounced off. "The room service is severely
lacking!" he shouted. He turned back to the hold. "Any progress?"
Chewie shook his head. [Even with the parts, all I've been able to do is get the outside cameras working.] He walked over to the dejarik game board, where the holo-emitter mounted in the middle projected a soft-blue image of the Falcon and a few surrounding meters. The big Wookiee looked to the side of the little gaming table and bared his fangs. [Thank you for the use of the parts, Threepio.]
See-Threepio waved his right arm around, his photo-receptors shining. "Oh, it was my pleasure, Master Chewbacca!" He motioned to his right leg, stripped down to the endoskeleton. "If you need anything else, just ask. These awful Borg are quite rude. I do hope Mistress Jade, Master Anakin and Mistress Leia are all right."
Han half-smiled. "So do I, Goldenrod. And thanks." He walked over and patted the protocol droid on the shoulder. "You're not half-bad, you know?"
Threepio seemed to beam, but just then the force field around the main hatch shut down and the door slid into the bulkhead. Han made a move for it, but an invisible wall sprang up, forcing him back. Chewie scrambled over, but was also stopped.
Anakin, Leia and Mara emerged from the short hallway. "We have arrived," Leia stated, her voice toneless and without any sort of inflection. She looked down toward the floor, not meeting anyone's gaze as she continued. "Repair the protocol droid. He is required."
Han banged on the telekinetic barrier, teeth bared. "Let my family go, you bastards!" he shouted, eyes wide. "I'll kill every single one of you! I'll free you and-Whoa!' he shouted as he was flung back, landing in a heap.
Mara spoke. "The outer hatch will open for you in ten minutes. You will leave the Millennium Falcon
at that time." And with that, she, Anakin and Leia walked back and out of the main cabin.
Han swallowed. "I've got a very, very bad feeling about that."
The Borg cube carrying the Falcon
exited transwarp, seeming to slide into existence with a bright yellow light outlining it. It flew on at warp speed to the Unicomplex, the twisted heart of the Borg Collective. Thousands of kilometers of superstructure lay sprawled out in a seemingly haphazard collection of geometric shapes, each one slate-gray with the odd green light amongst it. Thousands of Borg cubes and spheres flew about, some returning, others readying to disembark on missions.
The cube docked with a rectangular section, drawing close. A docking tube seemed to grow out of the superstructure, connecting with the cube. It thickened, eventually taking up a quarter of the cube face.
Inside, Han, Chewie and Threepio disembarked from the Falcon
. Han looked around, wiping his brow with his sleeve. "Hot," he muttered.
Threepio looked around. His leg has been mostly repaired, but was missing a shin plate. "The humidity is ninety-two percent, temperature is at 39.1 degrees Celsius. Not the most pleasant environment for humanoids." His optics brightened in the dim interior. "What a dismal place," he commented.
was parked on a platform, with a gangway connecting it with the interior. Drones walked around, occasionally pausing and performing maintenance. None spoke, none made any noise besides the whirring of their limbs as they performed their tasks. Their feet drummed out a tempo of despair and imprisoned souls. Han couldn't recognize any of the species, could barely mark out physiological differences among the humanoid drones. He shivered and rubbed his arm.
Two drones approached. Both were wearing heavy armor and had both arms replaced with disruptor cannons and their four eyes each with targeting scopes. "You will come with us," the first one announced.
Chewie bared his fangs. [And if we don't?]
"Resistance is futile," it continued. "You will comply, as per our Queen's orders."
Han held up a hand. "Wait, Chewie. Let's go see what her highness wants. I have a way with authority figures, after all," he half-joked.
The first drone turned and the second walked around to the back of the group. They quickly marched on, leading the group through a maze of gangplanks, corridors and across chasms. Han licked his lips. "Got any refreshments?" he quipped, flashing them his famous smile.
"Nourishment will be provided when we arrive at your destination," the first drone said.
[Will it be infested with nanoprobes?] Chewie asked, growling.
"I doubt it," Han said. "If they wanted to, they'd have already plugged us by now."
After an interminable time, they arrived in a large room. A single throne-like chair dominated the room, with several hatches in the bulkheads. Han walked around the room, eyes taking in everything. "The heart of the beast," he said.
Some of the hatches suddenly opened. Han gasped, Chewie roared and Threepio exclaimed, "Oh, my!" as Luke, Mara, Leia, Anakin, Tahiri, Jacen, Jaina, Zekk, Tionne, Raynar, Ganner, Kyp, and Kyle entered, standing at attention. They all wore black, form-fitting bodysuits similar to what Borg drones wore, each one clinging tightly.
Han walked up to them, mouth open. "Jacen?" he said, grabbing his youngest son by the shoulders and shaking him. "Wake up, son," he cried, tears forming in his eyes. He walked to Leia, touching her cheek. "Come on, say something! Call me a nerf-herder, for Force sake!"
Chewie walked up to Luke and moaned. [Honor Brother,] he said, motioning to the implants on Luke's face.
Han stalked over to Luke. "Damn it," he shouted. "Kid, come on! Don't let those bastards get you down!"
"They cannot hear you," a voice from nowhere suddenly said, echoing around. "Or rather, they cannot respond. I control them."
Han looked around, fists clenched. "Show yourself!"
A hatch near the back opened and a smaller female stepped through. "Very well," Queen Jaina said. She walked up to Han, a smile on her face.
Han regarded her with horror and confusion. He looked to the stupefied Jaina standing next to Zekk, blank expression and back at the smiling drone wearing his daughter's face. "Who the hell are you? No, what
the hell are you?"
Queen Jaina's smile widened and she spread her arms wide. "I am your daughter, returned to you after five thousand years. Now, in the heart of my domain we shall reunite. All of us..." she said, trailing off. She suddenly scowled. "Except for Tenel Ka and Lusa, but they shall be mine as well. All shall be mine in the Collective!" She laughed for a half-minute before stopping. "Would you like some refreshments? The replicator can make an excellent julaberry torte."
Han swallowed. He held a hand up and took a step back. "Wait, a-a torte?" He looked to Chewie, eyes wide and mouth agape. "Chewie..."
Chewie shook his head, eyes almost as wide as Han's. [I don't know what she's talking about!]
Queen Jaina sighed. Her claw arm twitched slightly. "I am talking about refreshments, Chewie. Or did Serndipal flatten you too much?" Queen Jaina suddenly laughed, her mouth contorting. She clutched at her stomach with her left hand, almost bending over before tears began streaming down her face. The Borg Queen suddenly straightened. She raised her arms and shook her hand and claw. "You shall not die here! The Vong don't exist here!"
Han held his hands up and shouted, "Whoa, whoa! What the hell are the Vong? And who are
Queen Jaina focused on him. She stepped forward up to her 'father' and tilted her head to the side. There was an audible whirring
from her temple as her prosthetic eye adjusted. "I am your daughter, Han Solo. And yet... not your daughter." A small smile lit her pale, green-tinged features. "It's complicated." She turned and walked back to the throne, sitting down with a flourish. "I come from a parallel existence to your own-a mirror universe, if you will. I was traveling in hyperspace and intersected the Maw, entering an unplanned transwarp slingshot. The resulting verteron wormhole threw me into this dimension, with chroniton particles drawing me to a point in time five thousand years in what is now our past."
There was muted silence for a moment before Han shrugged, smiling crookedly. "Transwarp, verterons... of course!" he half-shouted, throwing up his arms. "It all makes sense." His facade crumbled. "Is there something
in the Milky Way that makes it impossible for people to use simple words and non-jargon that belongs in a science book?!"
Queen Jaina half-smiled. She leaned her cheek on her gloved and armored left hand. "A wonder you were able to reverse-engineer Rakata technology," she murmured before standing up. She waved her hand and a hologram flashed to life between her and Han, Chewie and Threepio.
Several translucent-blue globes appeared, floating. Thin lines of white light connected a few of them, with flashes of... something going off. "This is the multiverse," Queen Jaina said. "It is the sum total of all creation. Every universe, every dimension, every quantum reality is contained within. There is literally nothing else."
She motioned to Jaina, standing next to Zekk. "She and I are quantum clones of one another. I am from a different quantum reality than she is, but we are both Jaina Solo. I simply have upgraded myself."
Chewie growled and shook his head. [That doesn't make any sense!]
Queen Jaina chuckled. "You're from a different universe than this one, Chewie! How can it not make sense to you!" She began pacing. "Every action, every motion of the very quarks of our bodies that can
happen, in one of the nigh-infinite realities out there." Her open hand suddenly clenched. "And the Borg shall bring order to every single one of them!"
Queen Jaina suddenly smiled. "So, that torte?"
Han nodded, forcing his face into an expression of happiness while simultaneously clamping onto his thoughts. "Sure!" he said. He pointed his thumb at Chewie. "Got something for the Wook, too?"
"Of course," Queen Jaina said. She glanced to the ceiling and nodded. "Refreshments shall be here shortly."
Han nodded before walking to Chewie and Threepio. "The food's probably safe," he explained. "If she wanted us as drones, she'd have her goons stick us with those tubes and pump us with nanoprobes. Better keep our strength up, especially here," he said, wiping his forehead with his sleeve.
Threepio's photo-receptors brightened somewhat. "Captain Solo, I believe I have a theory."
Chewie slapped him on the back, nearly sending the protocol droid stumbling. [Tell us!]
Threepio straightened, upgraded gyro-stabilizers and hydraulics enabling him to withstand the blow. "I am bringing up a file I downloaded concerning Starfleet encounters with alternate realities, one in particular concerning the Constitution
. It seems that in 2267, several bridge officers were involved in a transporter accident, arriving in some barbaric version of the Federation."
Han suddenly snapped his fingers. "Scotty told me about this when we were working on the Falcon
! It was the Terran Empire and everyone there was the same, but evil!" he glanced over his shoulder at Queen Jaina, who was standing and staring off to the side.
She walked over to Jacen and reached out, stroking his cheek. "I'll make it right this time," she whispered. "You won't die by my hand. You won't kill Aunt Mara. Anakin won't die. Mom's legs won't be crushed. You and Tenel Ka can be together for real
Han paled as he listened to her speaking. "I've got to get her talking." he looked back to Threepio and Chewie. "We've all got to get her talking. We need information, and quickly."
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