Awakenings

Dominion Outpost M-2671
Ginkarin Sector | Gamma Quadrant
9 July 2382

The chaos around the colony was a sure sign of the divine, and utterly unexpected, visit. Gods were known to pop in unannounced, certainly, but in an organization that prided itself on strict obedience and adherence to order, it was unnerving to suddenly find oneself catering to the almighty. Genuflecting, the Vorta bowed as the doors to his home parted to reveal the much whispered about visitor. "Founder, you honor us with your…"

"One of our survey vessels in grid eight-two-three detected what they believe is a Borg transwarp conduit," the Changling announced, interrupting the Vorta's speech without so much as a word or gesture in apology.

"Here? In the Gamma Quadrant?" Dalyn inquired, drawing himself up to his impressive stature of seventy inches. He was tall for a Vorta. Originally conceived as a tactician, his most recent self had been re-engineered as a biogeneticist. Despite the altered parameters of the Dalyn series, the Founders had kept the physical properties of all the subsequent clones the same as the pre-war Dalyn's, much to the Vorta's ascetic appreciation.

"You act surprised," the shapeshifter spat, the venom coating each word as he spoke. "Are you not familiar with the Juggernaut and Pathfinder incidents?"

Pausing for a moment, the Vorta gave the Changling a disarming smile. "I had assumed those to be isolated encounters, Founder," Dalyn remarked candidly. "Given the expanse of their territory, it seems logistically improbable that the Borg would…"

"The Borg exert influence in every quadrant of space but our own," the Changling barked in reply, as though chastizing an ignorant child. "I would not take such 'isolated encounters' lightly."

The false smile never wavering, the Vorta bowed his head to the shapeshifter. "The Founder knows what it best for the people of the Dominion," Dalyn murmured in reverent submission.

"What I know is that the Borg are the most dangerous solids we might encounter," the Changling countered sharply. "We must destroy them before they can pose a threat to order in this region."

"The Borg Collective spans billions of drones across three quadrants of space…" Dalyn noted, rearing his head back up as he raised what he hoped was a voice of reason.

"Nothing is impossible for the Founders," the shapeshifter answered shortly.

Blinking, Dalyn was left momentarily speechless. How did one respond to such a one-liner from their god? "Of course not, Founder. I did not mean to imply doubt…"

"Your faith is not in question. What do you know about Starfleet Commander Nathan Benjamin?" the Changling demanded harshly.

"Nothing," Dalyn answered simply, his curiosity immediately aroused by the mention of a Federation officer on the heels of discussion of the Borg. "Should the name mean something to me?"

"A Federation starship captain here in Gamma Quadrant, who also happened to be involved in the Juggernaught incident," the shapeshifter informed the Vorta succinctly, before adding, "And a former Borg drone."

"I would imagine such an individual would be useful in providing information and tactics for combating the Borg," Dalyn replied in a neutral voice, not following the Changling's line of thought, but also fearful of saying anything wrong.

"Irrelevant for our purposes," the shapeshifter stated dismissively. "But the Collective knows that he is here," the Changling explained slowly, at last revealing to the Vorta where the connection existed between the two. "I would imagine that such an individual would be useful in providing information and tactics for assimilating the Federation, an objective that the Borg have been attempting for the last two decades."

"He seems a tempting resource for the Collective to reclaim, but the other Founders would not approve of provoking the Federation," the Vorta warned sternly, a worried expression crossing his face as he spoke. A divide among the Great Link would be disasterous to the Dominion. The very thought alone instantly terrified him.

"So long as we keep Starfleet and the great Federation out of it, why would we need to tell the others?" the Changling countered in a conspiratorial whisper, slowly pacing to the other side of the room behind the Vorta.

"But, I thought you meant that Commander Benjamin was the…" Dalyn began, only to trail off as his thoughts began wandering down a different track. "Of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be Benjamin," he murmured, thinking aloud.

"Of course not. We wouldn't want to interfere with the good captain, I'm sure he's a busy man," the Changling remarked in a more whimsical aire, picking up on the Vorta's line of thought and carrying it the next step forward.

"And since this won't be Nathan Benjamin…"

"…then technically he won't be a citizen of the Federation," Dalyn finished, his eyes immedately alight at the prospect formulating in his mind.

"This is, after all, a purely internal matter inherent to the protection of the Dominion." the Changling added. "Starfleet's Prime Directive would forbid their interference."

"The Founder is wise." Dalyn purred reverently, bowing as he faced the Changling. No sooner had the Vorta straightened back up than he was urgently biting at the bits once more. "But, such a creature would require an integrated autonomic cortical array, self-sustaining nanoprobe technology, regenerative cybernetic systems…" Dalyn noted, drawing in a breath as he the task being asked of him. "We are way beyond breeding Jem'Hadar here."

"Your gods have need of your talents," the Changling stated in low, firm tones. "Can you create this clone?"

It was a moment before Dalyn answered. "I'll need unrestricted access to all data on the Borg. Their maturation chambers, implantation processes… There must be something on how they control the rate of cellular division during development," the Vorta mused aloud, before looking back up at the Changling. "When do we begin?"

"My child, we already have," the Changling stated cryptically, as a slow smile spread across his silicon smooth face, the shapeshifter holding out a medical padd with a single vial attached.

Accepting the padd, the Vorta perused the medical data for a moment, before holding the vial up to the light, which shone through the coppery, red human blood capured in the cylindrical prison. "Excellent," the Vorta breathed in awe.

Originally Posted on 7 January 2007 by Ray (Three of Seven)


Dominion Cloning Facility K-12
Ginkarin Sector | Gamma Quadrant
1 November 2382

"The fetus has developed to post-natal proportions for its species, doctor."

"Excellent," Dalyn remarked, moving near the lab assistant as the Vorta inspected the small infant contained within the illuminated green environment of its metallic womb. "Have the nanoprobes begun replicating themselves?"

"Yes," the assistant reported, adjusted a few controls as she answered the cloner. "They have infused its entire circulatory network."

"Fascinating," Dalyn murmured appreciatively, staring over one of the displays for a moment before moving over to the glass to visually inspect the specimen. "The nanoprobes have modified the lymph nodes to serve as replication points. I wasn't sure they would do that on their own…"

"We should be ready to begin the next level of cybernetic augmentation, doctor," the Vorta assistant pointed out.

"Its cordical node won't be ready for at least another month," Dalyn noted, more to himself than to the assistant. "Prepare the surgical room, we'll install the spinal clamps and first stage of the oscipital implant," the Vorta ordered neatly, turning as he walked away to leave the assistant to her duties.

Behind the glass, the infant shuddered and jerked in short spasms; his movement restricted by the black tubes and metal clamps afixed to the small body, which was almost human, frightningly so. Perhaps more horrid was the idea of a human living such an existance: trapped between life and the machine. Alive, but not quite fitting the human definition of life. Waiting to be born, unaware of its hybridized existance. Like a hammer in a toolkit or a torpedo in its casing, he was just waiting to be used.

Originally Posted on 7 January 2007 by Ray (Three of Seven)


Dominion Cloning Facility K-12
Ginkarin Sector | Gamma Quadrant
1 January 2383

"Sensor analysis of the transwarp conduit confirms the initial report," the disembodied voice was heard to remark over the comm.

"Has this report been made to our fleet yet?" the Changling inquired immediately.

"No. We did as you instructed, Founder."

"Such loyalty will be rewarded," the shapeshifter promised in vapid, hollow sounding tones, before ending the transmission and turning to face the Vorta standing in the doorway. "Change in plans," the Changling stated, as though altering their timetable was as easy as that.

"Is there a problem, Founder?" Dalyn inquired anxiously. The project wasn't due to be completed for another three months. It was far too early to be making changes, not and expect the clone to be feasible.

"There's a Borg ship inside the transwarp conduit. It'll exit in less than a day at present speed," the shapeshifter stated flatly. "We need that clone. Now."

"Founder, its too early. Its barely aged beyond early childhood. We haven't even begun downloading the preprogrammed memory files to its cordical array yet," Dalyn argued in protest.

Grunting quietly, the Changling moved over to a desk in one corner of the room. "But it's nanoprobes have been modified with the neurolytic engrams, yes?"

"As early as the second stage of…" Dalyn began.

Depressing a button on the desk, the shapeshifter ignored the Vorta, instead waiting as a Jem'Hadar soldier strode inside the room. "Kill him and activate his clone," the Changling ordered shortly, indicating the Vorta.

"Founder…" Dalyn began, the protest quickly silenced by the shot of the soldier's pistol.

"That drone will be ready if I have to see to it myself," the Changling swore darkly.

~~ USS Hawking ~~~
~~ 0015 Hours ~~~
~~ Captain's Quarters ~~~

The alcove hummed softly as the Hawking's captain slept. It's gentle green undulations bathed the boy in the same soft glow that it had washed over th rest of his cluttered quarters. The jagged shadows cast from sporting equipment left out, or computer components lying in wait for the day that they'd be assembled gave the room an eerie feeling.

But it was quiet, which was a sharp contrast to what was gong on in the sleeping youth's head.

He was swimming in a sea of voices. Trying to single one out as he walked slowly down a long corridor was bearing no fruit. The setting was familiar to him, but he hadn't been here recently. FNot for some years had he walked these corridors. The outer fringes of his vision were white. "I'm Dreaming." He thought as he walked, taking in his surroundings. The drones were all regenerating. The gentle whirs and beeps of the vessel were lost on him though, as the many voices of the Collective crashed about in his mind like a bull in a China shop. He struggled against them for some time, during which one voice managed to grab his attention.

"Three of Seven… We've come for you."

Her soft, almost purring voice was recognizable almost immediatley. She'd been there when they'd taken him.. the whole time in fact. The boy stopped walking and just listened. But as quickly as she'd come, she was gone.

Dominion Cloning Facility K-12
Ginkarin Sector | Gamma Quadrant
1 January 2383

…a spark…

…a single glimpse of something…

…realization, a reality lost in swirling darkness recognized for what it was for the first time only because, in that single moment, the spark had illuminated the shadow eternity in which he lay, suspended in time…

…consciousness, slowly forming like an undulating tide moving unseen beneath a dark sea, breaching on shores of light which flooded the walls of his reality. Sensation striking him for the first time, though he knew not what it was; only that it was excruciating. Every fiber of his being suddenly ripped from out of darkness and thrust into the light. It was pain. Total, complete agony. It was wakefulness…

…it was a birth…

"Initiating independent respiratory response."

…sound, another sensation. Audible tones without meaning, soon replaced by a different sound; that of air being sucked in. Muscles tensing beneath the layers of flesh and exo-armor, the boy felt his jaw pop open as the lungs within him expanded with the sudden intake of air down his throat. An exchange of gases formulated inside his chest as air moved in opposite directions, this time exhaled, carried outside from within. The process repeating, over and over again…

"Transferring synaptic function to the cordical node."

…falling…

…collapsing into a sense of weightlessness that was suddenly shattered by a new revelation within the still forming solid reality that had so rudely introduced itself to discovery; this one was called the ground. A meaty thud mingling with the clang of metal as the still form slid from out of its artificial womb amid a waterfall of green amiatic fluid, a fair portion of which erupted from out of him; as the boy choked on his own vomit. Caught between breaths and the instinct to purge the foreign substance from the body…

"The clone is now completely autonomous, doctor."

"Amazing," Dalyn remarked, walking around the assistant to stand beside the Founder who was poised like a dark god over where the newborn cybernetic humanoid huddled in a fetal position on the floor. "We'd estimated its survivability to be less than twenty percent. It's immuno-synaptic responses weren't completely programmed yet."

"We did created it to be Borg," the Changling noted in a weighted tone. "It adapted," the shapeshifter quipped dourly, before turning to gaze over at the assistant. "What's the position of the Borg vessel?"

"Currently one million kilometers away, Founder. The vessel is proceeding at sublight speed on a trajectory that will take them into grid two-four-eight," the female Vorta answered succinctly.

"That course will take them into Federation space" Dalyn began, turning his head to gaze questionable toward the shapeshifter. "Perhaps we should allow them to contin…"

"Oh yes. Allowing the Borg to successfully send ships through that transwarp conduit will teach them a lesson about coming to the Gamma Quadrant," the Changling snapped bitterly, glaring at the Vorta. "Do you want to invite more vessels?"

"I merely meant that they might be more interest in the Federation than in…"

"The Borg are not known for having discriminating tastes," the shapeshifter barked loudly.

"Of course, you're right," Dalyn confessed submissively, genuflecting to the Changling. "The Founder is wise."

Grunting in apathetic frustration, the shapeshifter turned to glare over the small, sickly time-bomb. "Activate its proximity beacon. Then evacuate all personnel who have a knowledge of this project," the Changling ordered coldly, before turning to depart.

"But Founder… what of the others?" Dalyn asked blankly.

"Leave them for the Borg," the shapeshifter answered with a dismissive wave as it breezed over to the exit. "The Borg would suspect something if they came across a vacant outpost. Besides, we can clone replacements later."

"The gods must be crazy," Dalyn quipped under his breath, as the Vorta turned to face his assistant. "Purge the computer files and then get to the transport ship," the cloner directly quietly, as the man reached over to pick up a hypospray from off of a medical cart and calmly began meeting out a dose of medication.

"You must evacuate as well, doctor," the assistant noted wryly.

"I'm going to run a final diagnostic on the cordical array," Dalyn informed the woman dryly, as he continued with his work. "The clone will be useless to us if it suffers synaptic collapse before it can be assimilated," he added with a sigh, gazing down over the prone form of the newborn. His greatest masterpiece and no one would ever know it. Typical. "I'll be along after a moment," he assured the assistant with a wan smile, dismissing her with a nod of his head."

"Dalyn, you have to be aboard the transport in the next thirty seconds," the voice of the female Vorta echoed overhead. "The Founder is becoming impatient."

…the same sound as before echoed from somewhere around the small drone, the young Borg raising his sticky, wet head up as the large, curious, grey eyes searched in vain for the source of the startling interruption…

"You don't like the sound of her voice either, do you?" Dalyn inquired rhetorically, as the Vorta casually moved beside the small figure, cupping the boy's chin in one hand as the cloner raised the youth's head up, exposing the slender neck. Unafraid, the child reached up its own, small hands to explore Dalyn's. Holding the Vorta's hand up and away as it examined the man's hand and its own. Bemused, Dalyn pressed the hypo he held in the other palm to the child's neck, extracting a blood sample with a sharp hiss and sudden piercing pain that caused the small clone to recoil back from its creator as the man moved back to the medical terminal, where he fit the hypospray into a socket on the lab table.

"Dalyn!"

"And here I thought that patience was a divine virtue," Dalyn murmured to himself, before glancing up from his console and raising his voice. "On my way," he promised, rising from his seat. Picking up the hypospray from off the laboratory table, the Vorta moved to kneel back beside the small boy, who immediately moved back away from the doctor at the sight of the object in the Vorta's hand. "Pain association and avoidance. Good," Dalyn noted, impressed, as he reached out with his free hand to grasp the child's shoulder. "Unfortunately, I don't have time for this," the Vorta added, as the man leaned in to force the hypospray against the small cyborg's neck.

A hand shot up in defense. An unexpected sound echoing rather than the anticipated hiss of the hypospray, which was perched in perfect stillness a hair's breath from the child's skin. Eyes wide with fear reflected the black sheen of the metallic tubules running from his outstretched fingers into the Vorta's arm. The pair exchanging wide-eyed glances as the color drained from Dalyn's face in dawning realization of the black miasma moving beneath his flesh from out of the wounds where his skin had been punctured, as the nanoprobes spread into his blood, while the child merely watched in confused, curious awe as the newborn mind suddenly came into contact with another and those grey were awakened to a single, dawning question:

Who am I?

…thoughts…

…a voice. Quiet. Growing louder. Language. Understanding. Dominion. Dalyn. The seventh in a series of clones engineered to service a race of silicon-based morphagenic beings…

…clone…

…a genetic duplicate. Biological replica. Anatomical doppleganger. Imitation of life….

Why am I here?

…Borg. Cybernetically enhanced beings linked to a collective consciousness in a unified hive. Starship. A vehicle capable of interstellar travel. A Borg vessel has been detected in grid two-four-eight. Deception. Lure the Borg to this laboratory with the objective of assimilating the juvenile clone of a Starfleet officer. A trap. Destroy the Borg before they threaten our Dominion…

The assimilation tubules slid back into the fingers of the small cyborg, as the boy's head raised back and he slowly rose to his feet, exchanging a brief look at the Vorta standing over him. Implants were beginning the break through the man's skin. Turning away to move toward the console in the lab, the child's subvocal processor came on-line. "There is…"

"…a Borg vessel approaching," the assimilated Dalyn finished, turning to examine a monitor against the wall. Thoughts were passing between the two. An exchange of knowledge. The lines between their two beings blurred.

"They are attracted by our presence," the child reasoned aloud, craning his head to the left as he looked back at Dalyn. The notion of terminating the existance of another sentient creature sparked an ingrained emotional response within the child that was absent from the Vorta.

"The Borg will assimilate us and be destroyed," Dalyn intoned. The two both pausing in tandem with the other as they each processed the question of an alternative factor to the equation before them. Assimilation into the Borg Collective meant subjugation to the will of the Hive mind, before being destroyed by the very nanovirus he'd been designed to deliver when that hive broke down.

The child-clone had only just awakened to a mind of its own. Realized a sense of identity from the connection with Dalyn, yet still it seemed that his first query was incomplete. He did not desire to lose his freewill until that question had been answered. "We will adapt…"

"…our nanoprobes to…"

"…circumvent the Borg control," the child finished, downloading an understanding of the computer controls before him from the Vorta's mind as the boy keyed an internal sensor analysis of the outpost. "We will require…"

"…more assistance to complete the task," Dalyn intoned, raising up a hand as the newly formed assimilation tubules there broke through the skin. Inspecting their installation for a moment, the Vorta turned its attention to the door exiting the lab.

Originally Posted on 7 January 2007 by Ray (Three of Seven) and Justin (Nathan Benjamin)


Dominion Transport Ship
Ginkarin Sector

"If its possible, this Dalyn is even more insolent than the last," the Changling declared hotly. "I should not expect there to be a Dalyn eight," the shapeshifter threatened darkly, before reaching out to hit the communications terminal on the wall of the small, vaulted stateroom. "Contact the First. Order he and his men to locate Dalyn and execute him immediately, but under no circumstances are they to touch anything else in the lab. Is that understood?"

"Understanding may not be sufficient, Founder. We have lost all communications inside of the outpost."

"How is that possible?" the Changling demanded angrily.

"Unknown at this time, Founder. Our sensors appear to have been deflected, but we did detect a variance in the environmental systems prior to the blackout."

"What sort of variance?" the shapeshifter asked, suspicion breeding in his voice.

"According to last analysis, internal temperatures had risen above thirty degrees Celsius and atmospheric humidity was at eighty percent."

"Disengage from dock immediately!" the Changling shouted hoarsely, as the shapeshifter shot to his feet. Apparently, Dalyn's weapon was working better than they had imagined. It shouldn't have been possible. There couldn't have been a single coherent thought in the clone's mind. His memory engrams had been intentionally left blank. A zombie, little more than a vegetable and probably less than an animal. But, like the Borg, it appeared that the clone had adapted. "Get us out of here, maximum warp!"

As the Dominion vessel tore itself away from the orbital outpost, another ship was emerging from out of warp to survey the planetary starsystem. This one shaped vastly different than the beetle-like Dominion corvette, being formed in the geometrical configuration of a rectangular box.

…vessel detected. Warp seven light cruiser. Seventeen lifeforms aboard. Moving on a course two-five-nine by three. Vessel deemed irrelevant. Pursuit is not required…

Its singular focus unbroken, the black box continued on its singular drive toward the outpost, like a moth being drawn to a flame.

…thirteen drones have been detected. Designation unknown. Origin unknown. Communication has not been established. Transporting drones One of Five, Two of Five, Three of Five, Four of Five, Five of Five for re-integration analysis…

The five cyborgs arrived to find themselves in what seemed like a Borg environment, surrounded by Borg drones of species which their Collective consciousness had limited knowledge. Staring around the assembly for a moment, the five pairs of eyes and optical sensors finally arrived on a small, neonatal Borg as it stepped forward.

"We are the Borg. We will adapt your biological and technological distinctiveness to add to our perfection," the Borg intoned dryly.

"Perfection is irrelevant," the child-drone answered simply, taking a step toward one of the drones. "My function is to destroy you. I wish to comprehend this purpose. You will assist me," the boy added, holding up one hand as a set of assimilations tubules sprang forth. Without hesitation, the youth plunged his vicious talons into the flesh of the Borg before him.

"Resistance is futile."

Originally Posted on 7 January 2007 by Ray (Three of Seven) and Justin (Nathan Benjamin)


Borg Scout Ship
Ginkarin Sector | Dominion Space

…voices…

…a multitude speaking as one, culminating in a harmony that transcended any explanation that might have been put forth in words to describe the sensation. He was himself. He was also everyone in their Collective. A multitude of minds ascended to a single consciousness. Many people, one voice; shared through a kaleidascope of vision that intermixed and mingled their thoughts, dreams, hopes, fears. Joy and sadness, guilt and glamor. Things that had the newborn clone never fathomed to exist, whispered into his ear, like a universe exploding through the senses and sending the sanctuary of his ignorance crashing down around the walls of his reality…

…but some of those voices were different than the rest. Chaotic. Random. Simple lines of thought complicated by overlapping tapestries of fantasy. The loud, vibrant echoes of their voices had drawn the clone to the inner most caverns of the Borg ship to the peaking waves that raged against the sea of calm and order…

"They are different," the clone stated aloud, as his ocular implant observed the vaulted chambers in which the three drones were entombed. The construction was similar to the artificial womb which the clone had, himself, just been released from. An emotional response echoed across the Collective at the recollection sparked by the sight of the enshrined Borg. "They are… like me."

These units are incomplete, the voice of the Collective echoed in return. Neonatal drones whose development is not yet sufficient to service us.

"Their voices are disorganized. Chains of… memories," the clone breathed, immersing himself in the riptide of imagination swelling from out of the juvenile minds. "Children. Play. Fun," he spoke, pausing to contemplate each of those words as he said them aloud. "What is… fun?"

Recreation is irrelevant, the Collective echoed in response.

"That reply is deficient to address the inquiry addressed," the clone noted, craning his head to one side as he mentally released the mechanisms controlling the maturation chambers. One by one, the partially assimilated child-drones emerged, to stare back at the little Borg prince, as they and the whole of the hive spoke.

We do not comprehend 'fun'. We will assimilate more children into the Collective in order to perfect our understanding.

Turning his head, a monitor along the wall, the image of a mottled planet appearing there. "Class M planet identified in grid 978. United Federation of Planets colony, Megiddo System."

…it was only a passing thought, but in the fleeting moment in which the idea had crossed his mind, the Borg vessel had shifted course and slipped into warp. Cruising like a lion stalking across the savanna, the rectangular vessel snuck across the void of space…

…they would assimilate the children of Megiddo IV and any others discovered in their path…

Originally Posted on 7 January 2007 by Ray (Three of Seven)

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