by Lisa McCourt Hollar
We were in the fields when they came, their ship blocking our sun and casting our world in shadows. My sister and I stopped our work and stared at the ship, along with everyone else in the field that day. A spaceship! We were in awe, and trepidation. It was no secret the world we called ours was not our home world. We had grown up knowing our people had left, or rather escaped the planet we originated from, just hours before it was destroyed by its’ sun. The ships that our people took refuge on had split, going in many different directions in search of a new home. Our grandfather’s ship had landed here, but having long since lost communication with the other ships, they had been unable to send coordinates to the others. They had set up a beacon, hoping that the signal would eventually reach the others, but then the tech wars had started and the beacon was destroyed as part of the covenant. Machines that we created had turned on us and it was by sheer luck that we defeated them. All technology was destroyed and it’s use was never to be sought again, upon penalty of death. I had taken the oath, as had my sister.
The ship, the space ship hovering above us could be the lost refugees, coming home to us at last! But it was also technology, something we had been taught to fear. Our ancestors had learned the hard way and had sought our protection. Would their efforts prove in vain? A few murmured among us that perhaps our ancestors had been wrong. Most of the S’tavod that had lived through the tech wars were long since dead and those that remained were often considered paranoid. Our grandfather remembered though. He had told us of many great battles and how he had almost died at the hands of an android, a machine made to resemble S’tavod. Rosa and I used to sit for hours, enthralled by his stories, but now we wondered if he might not have exaggerated just a little bit. It was hard to believe that any machine could be made to look and act like us. After all we were not god’s. To turn on us, a machine would have to have thought. In light of our visitors, that seemed a little ludicris.
Around us, figures began appearing, out of thin air. Shocked, I realized they were transporting to us from the ship. Grandfather had told us of that ability, but we thought he’d made it up. He had been telling the truth! These must be the lost refugees.
But they looked nothing like us. Their noses were just slits and their eyes were not kind. Only moments after they appeared, I realized they didn’t come to greet us, but to destroy. They carried weapons…horrible weapons that fired energy and around me my friends began to fall, black scorch marks on their clothing. Rosa screamed and I fell backwards as I turned to run, but someone caught me before I hit the ground. It was grandfather and he screamed at me as he grabbed Rosa’s hand.
“T’resa, quick, follow me! Now girl! Don’t look back, just run!”
My heart pounded inside of me as I followed and almost stopped beating when I saw Rosa go down, a burn mark on her side. She’d been hit by one of their weapons. Then something landed on the ground between us. I was closest to grandfather and he shoved me to the ground.”
“Cover your eyes T’resa!”
There was a loud sound, something I had never heard before and when I looked, I screamed in terror. Grandfather was bent over Rosa, examining her injuries. I could tell it was bad. The sound of the invaders was getting closer. Grandfather looked in their directions, then picked Rosa up and continued running. Where was he taking us? Over his shoulder, Rosa stared at me, still alive! Oh praise the god’s she was still alive! But her eyes, oh m god’s, her eyes! One of her eyes was hanging outside the socket, and the other one was filled with fear. The light that had been in there just moments earlier when we had stopped to speculate over the strange ship was gone. And her arm, just hanging there limply, over grandfathers shoulder, looked like the flesh was gone. I fought to keep my eyes on her. She was dying! There was no way she could survive this! Grandfather continued to run and I was amazed, even in my panic at how strong he was. He didn’t seem to be the same frail man I had become accustomed to these past years. As I followed I realized he was heading towards the Mountains of Nas Ramaj. What was he thinking?!? That was where the machines were buried. We were forbidden to go there! The penalty for disobedience was death. As absurd as it sounded, I was tempted to turn back, towards the strange aliens that were killing my people that to continue on towards the technology that I had been taught to fear above everything. But somehow I forced myself on, sure that grandfather must know what he was doing. Besides, I had to see to Rosa. I had to know she would be okay.
Granfather led me through a series of tunnels and then to the burial sight of the machines. He laid Rosa down on a cot. The bed was strange, unlike anything I had ever seen before. There was lettering on the side, but I couldn’t make it all out.”
“What is this grandfather?” I asked.
“Technology form our past. It is a medical bed. I’m not sure how it works, but my father had been a doctor. He used this to heal people. I’m going to see if I can get it to work and we can fix your sister.”
“B.O.R.G?” I asked, reading the lettering? “What does that mean?”
“I’m not sure T’resa. Most of the lettering is gone. Does it matter though, as long as it can repair your sisters wounds?”
“Grandpa, it is forbidden!”
He begged me to understand as I pleaded with him to stop.
“I love you T’resa.” He said. “I love your sister. I can not allow her to die.”
“But it is forbidden!” I cried. “We will be put to death!”
“We will surly die if I don’t! I know what technology did before, but if it can save Rosa, I will embrace it!”
Grandfather worked at the machine, trying to get it to turn on. All of a sudden the machine came to life, and a voice spoke. “Powering up Cybernetic Organic Replacement Modular.”
“Grandpa!” I said, jumping back. “Is it alive?”
“Calm down T’resa. It is programmed to speak.”
“Examining patient.” The machine spoke. “Injuries extensive. Patient suitable candidate for cybernetic implants. Begin.”
I jumped back as the sides of the machine came up and closed Rosa in. I could not see what was being done to her. Grandpa and I stood there for a while as we listened to the ‘Borg” machine at work. Hours seemed to go by. We waited. Grandpa found chairs and we sat by the machine, waiting for it to open up again and release my sister.
I must have fallen asleep, because I was dreaming about a huge spacecraft that had ‘beamed my sister and me on board. It was our long lost ancestors and they had come to take us from this planet. Suddenly they turned into strange creatures and imprisoned us in cages. I was banging on the bars when I heard a hissing sound. I opened my eyes and saw that the machine had opened up. Rosa was lying there, breathing slowly. At first I thought I must be dreaming. It had to be a nightmare. But then I realized I was awake and what I saw was real. I screamed. Grandfather took hold of me from behind and whispered soothingly into my ears. “She is breathing T’resa. She is alive! The rest, doesn’t matter.”
Hours went by as she lie there and we waited to see if she would live. Then, just when I thought grandfather had been wrong she opened her eye, for she had only one. The other had been lost, replaced had replaced with a some kind of an implant.
Rosa sat up and looked around. She started crying when she saw the tubes coming in and out of her body, but grandfather said she would grow used to them. They would keep her alive. Her hands though! The weapons fire had destroyed her left hand and the machine had replaced it with tools.
“It’s ok.” Rosa whispered, her crying stopped. She had seen the fear in my eyes and was trying to calm me. “The machine has implanted in my mind some of our history and the knowledge that we lost when we destroyed the machines.” She looked at her hands and shuddered. “It doesn’t look pretty, but it was necessary. I would have died otherwise.”
Grandfather and I went to look for food while Rosa rested. She seemed to be adjusting well. When we came back with some food rations we’d found in a storage room, Rosa was studying some of the machines.
“They’re badly damaged,” she said, “but not completely disabled. We should be able to get them working again.”
“Why would we do that?” I asked. “It is against the law!”
“T’resa, there is no law anymore. Those creatures have destroyed all of our people. We are the last.”
“We don’t know that!”
“I do! Some of the implants the machine gave me allow me to reach out with my mind. I’ve done that and our people are not there. Just the invaders. They are going to find us soon and we need to fight.”
True to her word, the next day the invaders found us. I was shot with one of their weapons, and grandfather was injured badly. But somehow Rosa managed to fight them off. They fired at her, but the damage they did was nothing compared to what she did to them. When they retreated she took their injured and placed them in the machine.”
“Why?” I asked, holding my injured arm. “They should die.”
“They will serve us.” She said.
“I didn’t know what she meant, until the first one came out of the machine, his injuries repaired. He was different. He seemed to have lost his identity. I stared in horror as Rosa placed another invader into the machine.”
“Rosa, this is wrong.” Grandfather said.
“It is the only way.” Rosa said. “We will not be victims of technology again! Because we buried our knowledge, we were ripe for an invasion. Now we will embrace this knowledge and incorporate it into our lives. Not only ours, but theirs! We will know what they do, so we can protect ourselves!”
After Rosa had finished with the invaders, she turned to me and announced it was my turn to join the collective.”
“I don’t want to.” I whispered. “Collective? Rosa, you’ve lost your mind!”
“You will,” she said. Grandfather tried to protect me, but Rosa threw him against the wall. As he slid to the floor, he looked at me and whipered, “I’m sorry T’resa. I should have listened to you.”
Rosa placed me in the machine and powered it up. As the voice began to speak, the lid closed. I could feel needles being injected into my body and tried to fight, but it was useless. I could hear the machine speaking, ‘Resistance is futile.’ I closed my eyes and cried. How long before the machines took hold of my mind, as they did my sisters? How long before I too called myself Borg?
copyright 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar All rights reserved