Today I was told that my Starfleet commission was officially being reinstated. I even got a personal comm from Admiral Quinn himself welcoming me back to Starfleet.

They just need help with the Borg.

When I and several hundred of others like me were freed from the collective, one of the first things I remember hearing was that we’d be useful somehow to the ever-growing threat of the Borg. At first I feared that we’d be bait or something cruel like that for the Collective. But then I calmed down a bit and continued listening.

As liberated Borg drones, we are immensely useful to Starfleet for not only physiological reasons, but also for intel and debriefing purposes as well. The more access they have to some part of the Borg Collective, or anybody that used to be a part of the hive mind, the better the Federation’s chances are to fight the Borg.

Personally, I find it idiotic that the Borg task force was disbanded some years ago. I now realize that one should never underestimate the Borg. One should never, in fact, stop thinking about the Borg. They’re an ever-present force. We thought we got rid of them after Hugh infected his Borg hive with the concept of individuality. We thought we got rid of them when Captain Jean-Luc Picard fought the Borg Queen herself on the U.S.S. Enterprise-E decades ago. We thought we got rid of them when Captain Janeway and the U.S.S. Voyager destroyed most of the Borg transwarp network on their way back to the Alpha Quadrant.

Every single time, we thought wrong.

In a sudden and unexpected move, Admiral Quinn announced a few days ago that all liberated Borg that were once a part of Starfleet would be reinstated after a brief psychological evaluation. The catch? The highest rank as which any of us would be reinstated would be Lieutenant — Junior Grade.

It’s like starting over for me. I understand why they decided on such a stipulation. I just don’t like it.

Lieutenant Iborin Jolar. It has a ring to it. A very off-pitch, annoying ring to it. But I’ll grin and bear it if it means re-joining Starfleet and continuing to serve the Federation.

My therapist — yes, I have a therapist; how ironic for a Betazoid to need a shrink — tells me that I should think of it as a new challenge. Climb the ranks of Starfleet again, with new experiences under my belt, and try to see things in a new light. “It’s a new day,” she says. “Grasp onto every one of these new days with the strength and ferocity of a person hanging on for dear life, but revel in each new day like you’ve just been born.”

Lady, I don’t need to hear about life. Just regaining my own is enough of a reward for me.

And as for needing a shrink, well… let’s just say that my abilities were tampered with by the Borg. Apparently the implants were augmented by my telepathic abilities, aiding in my link to the Collective, to the point where they became one and the same. So when Starfleet severed my link to the hive mind, so went what little telepathic abilities I had left. Now I can only sense core emotions in most beings, and even then it can be vague at times.

When I spoke to Admiral Quinn about being allowed back into Starfleet as a Lieutenant, I could feel a general sense of uneasiness with what I had once been, but an underlying pride in what he was doing. The guy was patting himself on the back internally. I found it amusing at the time, and still do. It’s part of why I agreed. Not only did I ace my psych evaluation, but I was given the highest allowable rank for liberated Borg, and was able to sense Quinn’s silent self-praise.

So it is indeed a new day. We’ll see what these new days bring.

I have to go. I’m being called to the bridge. Sounds urgent.

My name is… was… is?

Let’s start over. My name is Iborin Jolar. I’m from the planet Betazed.

You know, there was a time when I didn’t have to worry about my own identity. When I was sure of who I was. When I didn’t hear the droning voice of the Collective in the back of my mind from time to time.

This is what I used to look like. Now, I’m not one for vanity, but there’s something to be said about bearing a passing resemblance to your… former species.

I suppose I’m still Betazoid, at least according to my DNA. I still feel what others feel, and still at the reduced amplitude compared to most other Betazoids. I’m no psychopath or anything, but sensing thoughts and emotions at only half-power makes it somewhat easy to be a member of Starfleet.

Let’s start at what I consider to be the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another. Let’s start at the Battle of Earth Spacedock.

It was like any other day, performing my duties for Starfleet and to the United Federation of Planets. I can’t even remember what day of the week it was. I want to say Tuesday.

There was something in the air that day. There had been word of a Klingon Empire fleet planning on making a bold move to invade Federation space. Their goal, some had said, was the Sol System itself. I was assigned to the U.S.S. Heart of Gold with the task of aiding in the prevention of Klingon forces from penetrating our boundaries. That’s when we got the call.

The Borg had returned.

After all these years, one of the most horrid, most gruesome group of beings known to man had made their grand re-appearance. In a rather uncharacteristically sinister move, they had timed it so that our forces were weakened by the attempted Klingon invasion, to the point where neither side was prepared.

The sheer number of Spheres and Cubes and other geometric polyhedra that the Borg sent… to this day I still can’t believe it. I honestly didn’t think the Borg were capable of amassing in such enormous multitude.

The Heart of Gold was re-assigned to defend Starbase 1 orbiting Earth. The mere mention of the Earth starbase sent chills down my spine as I, and the rest of my crew, came to the grim realization that the Borg had finally made their way to the very heart of the Federation: Earth.

As I beamed down to Starbase 1, nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed. Dozens upon dozens of Borg drones, hundreds of which were already on the station, were materializing by the minute, overwhelming all of us. Somehow they hadn’t yet made their way to Admiral Quinn’s office, or so I’d heard. Hundreds of Starfleet officers were engrossed in a battle with the drones, and our side seemed to be losing.

What at once warmed my heart and steeled my reserve was the sight of Klingon forces beaming down to Starbase 1 — not to take advantage of our weakened state, but to help us in our fight against the Borg. Our sworn enemies, those who had vowed to end the Federation, those who had been dead-set on a bloodthirsty campaign against us, now saw that we had a common enemy, one which was a far greater threat than either of us was to the other.

There were times when the battle seemed to go in our favor. When it seemed that we were finally reducing the amount of Borg drones to a manageable number and finally turning the tide of the battle in our favor. At times I tried to imagine being in Quark’s Bar on Deep Space 9, or on Risa enjoying the sunshine and tranquil beaches. I tried to mentally escape the battle that was ensuing right at the heart of home territory.

Very few of us ever made it past the beam-in point in front of Admiral Quinn’s office. At one point, when things seemed to be going in our favor, many of us made it to the other sections, only to see more chaos and destruction reign upon our surroundings.

The Stateroom was utterly destroyed, bodies of fellow officers and diplomats littering the conference area. The Ship Requisition area was in shambles, consoles destroyed, drones beaming in by the dozen, overwhelming even each other with the sheer mass of drones invading the base.

The battle lasted mere hours. It was hopeless for our side. The last thing I remember was overwhelming screaming and a near infinite number of orders being shouted, expletives being uttered, exclamations of surprise and shock, of anger and rage. And then… nothing.

Absolutely nothing. I can barely remember being in the Collective. All I have of that gruesome experience are images and flashes of information. The Borg Queen and her devious new plot against all of us. The Collective’s new determination to exterminate all civilization as we knew it.

When I awoke in a Starfleet medical facility, I almost believed that I had simply experienced a bad dream. From what I had heard about the nightmares of Humans, those that Betazoids experience are apparently much, much worse and more real to us than sometimes even reality can be. When I used to hear about my Human colleagues’ bad dreams, I would scoff and smile, knowing that my species could put the fear in a higher power in them with some of our tales of nightmarish imagery and horror.

None of it would’ve even come close to comparison against the memories that even today, still haunt me and give me nightmares. Betazoid nightmares. Borg nightmares.

When I was finally told that I had been freed from the Borg Collective, I was both astonished and immensely grateful. Had I been assimilated, and lived to tell of it? Was I alone?

Apparently I was not. In my quest to better understand what I had been put through, I’ve met dozens of other liberated Borg drones who were also fighting to reclaim their humanity. Their very souls were submerged in a murky swamp of fear and loathing and pain, scratching and clawing to reach the surface for a breath of refreshing air.

It will take time. I will rebuild my life, and reclaim that which the Borg had wrongfully taken from me: my individuality, my soul, and my sense of identity.

One thing’s for certain — we haven’t seen the last of the Borg. “Not by a long shot,” as my Human friends would say.

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