In which Janeway throws a rock at a nest of angry hornets.
We open with Borg Cant altering the course of their cube to intercept a ship. We’re seeing the perspective of one of the drones, who needs to look at a monitor to see the readout. This tells you a lot about the evolution of the Borg, if you want to try to tease it out. However, we see that the ship is, of course, Voyager. The crew count is down to 143 now and the Borg ship, this one lozenge, is ready to assimilate. Janeway is defiant, and we see the battle from inside the Borg ship, as Janeway beams a photon torpedo into the Borg ship, blowing it from the inside. Apparenty this was an attempt at a tactical strike to disable the ship, but their aim was too good, and hit one of the Borg power grids. No survivors, which isn’t want Janeway wanted, but they go in for salvage operations.
So now Voyagerhas a cargo bay full of Borg debris. In fact they have 8 kilotons of debris, mostly hull. That’s a hell of a carrying capacity. From it, they’ve gotten some spare parts and a transwarp coil that they may be able to make use of. Also, Janeway has hopes that this will make the rest of the collective less likely to bother them. Harry’s also left a rangerous mobile peace of equipment out for Janeway to play with while she contemplates the next way she’s going to try to get the crew killed.
While the doctor geeks out over a brand new medical armature, Torres and Seven lament that after the ship destruction, the transwarp coil self-destructed, and all they have are the borg hard drives. From it, they find some tactical movements, and have isolated a damaged scout sphere that Janeway wants to knock over for working parts.
Janeway equates it to Fort Knox, which was turned into a museum after, according to Paris, ‘money went the way of the dinosaur’ in the 22nd century after the new World Economy was up and running. But which was, until then, a nearly impregnable fortress. Janeway wants to break into the sphere for a transwarp coil, which could easily shave 20 years off their trip. This will apparently take microsecond precision, but this ragtag band of plucky grifters can surely manage it, right?
Seven thinks the plan might work, but Janeway wants to mine her for any advantage her parents might give her. This is not a comfortable subject for Seven, however. Neelix, when dropping off all the data, reminds Seven that not everyone has such copious remnants of their parents legacy. She gets a flashback, which makes it clear that the Hansens attempts to study the Borg were before the Federation knew anything about them but their name. This was 11 years prior to when Q showed them off to Picard, mind you.
The Hansen’s voyager, with their daughter aboard, lasted for at least 8 months of active tracking time. Apparently this didn’t interfere with her education enough for the Federation to insist Annika stay home. By this point they can’t even go home, without proof, because they’ve crossed the Neutral Zone. And apparently the fringe research circuit knew about transwarp condoits even back then.
Seven is pulled from her memories of tailing a Borg cube to find that Voyager has located the sphere they want to tail. It’s damaged to the tune of ‘heavily inspired by Recitly turn of the Jedi’ and Janeway orders the crew to keep up the infiltration simulations. What we see next is probably one of those, but we’re not explicitly told. In fact, Chakotay is cut in as if it’s the real thing.
The plan seems to be to beam in, find the coil, blow some charges to let them beam the coil out, then move to a different place to beam themselves out instead of using the established transport enhancers to get them out. This delay costs the team their escape, almost, and the Borg infiltrate as well, because the simulation-borg can tap into Voyager‘s transporter beam. This is one of those critcal stupidity instances, where if someone ordered the holodeck to gin up some Borg without bothering to set strict parameters on what they can and can’t do, the demonstrated ability of the Holodeck to make real things gets them all in a lot of trouble. Fortunately,
They’re twelve seconds over the limit, and they can’t beam directly in due to all the shielding around that area. Still doesn’t explain why they can’t beam out once the transporter enhancers are up, but Seven’s other idea is more Hansen research.
Interrupting the Hansen research is Naomi, playing the role of Young Annika. In fact, she is pestering Seven with questions, the same questions that Young Annika once asked, and which turns out to be a nightmare. Possibly a waking one – the Queen claims to have tapped into her neural prosthesis to talk to her, and to gloat about knowing the upcoming plan. The Queen wants Seven to rejoin the collective, and in return she’ll spare Voyager, because Seven has something the Queen wants.
The Hansen expedition, once it found and tailed the cube, had Magnus aboard a cube for long periods of time, tailing drones he’d identified and tagged. We watch some drones decommission another, damaged drone and dismantle it for parts. Eventually, his bio-damper, evidently the thing that keeps the Borg from noticing him, starts running down. And it is this device that Seven shows to Tuvok and the Doctor as the gimmick they need. And while the Doctor compliments the idea, Seven is not in the mood.
Janeway’s trying to addict Seven to coffee while reassigning her to Voyager. Partly so that she can be on the ship if something goes wrong, and partly so that she’ll be on the ship to help prevent things from going wrong. Of course, if Seven believes the Queen, then she has to be on the away team to surrender… if she wants to save her new friends. Her vehemence has Janeway convinced that something deeper is going on, but she doesn’t press enough.
Voyager is detected once again, and we get the same detection montage, although with a different borg and, interestingly, slightly different screen layout. Do borg drones have different skins? Would different Borg terminals have a different visual feed layout? In this case, they only detect the shuttle they’ve sent out as a decoy. Once the borg drop shields to pull the shuttle in, the away team can beam in. The heist begins, but with Seven a bit distracted by memory. The charges blow, the Borg shields drop, Voyager gets the coils, and everyone goes to the extraction point. But the Queen makes her play, and Seven stays aboard the ship. With no time, Janeway is forced to abandon Seven back to the Collective. Tuvok and Harry are caught too, hemmed in by drones on all sides, but they extract. The drones let them go, and once the Voyager away team leaves, the Sphere leaves.
Aboard it Seven is escorted to the heart of the Sphere as the ship itself leaves its conduit in the heart of a Borg space-city. This space-city has light rail transit. I hope those are for cargo, because I have a hard time seeing the need to transfer drones from one stationary structure to another. Particularly when you have transporters. Regardless, the sphere docks with a base, and Seven is taken to a chamber with a familiar-looking layout, to meet the Queen, whose body is just kinda stored in floor panels in case she needs to be ambulatory.
To be continued