A Most Interesting Development
Part of the Omniverse Project
by Benji The Vampire Confuser
Based on Characters and Situations created and/or owned/copyrighted by Rysher Entertainment, Gene Roddenberry, Paramount Pictures, and Joss Whedon.
"The Time Is 0700 Hours." the Computer said, as the lights went on. Ensign Sean Fogerty got up and headed for the head. The lights hurt his eyes.
"Computer, half lights." he ordered. Obediently, the lights dimmed to a more tolerable level, giving his eyes time to adjust. He took off his sleeping garb and stepped into the sonic shower. It woke him up and cleaned him, but as far as he was concerned, it would never be as good as a real water shower.
"Computer," he said, as he got out. "Access music files, 20th century composer, Williams, John. Play random track." He smiled as the music filled his quarters. Then he got ready to start his day.
"Ah!" Neelix greeted enthusiastically. "Good morning Ensign! How are you today?"
"I'm all right." Sean said. "But the day is young." He smiled to show the Talaxian chef that he was joking. "How about you?"
"Oh I'm doing quite well today, thank you." Neelix's cheerful attitude had gotten on Sean's nerves at first, as had his incessant attempts to cheer him up.
Sean had never considered himself a cheerful person. The best his mood usually got, he said, was not depressed. But eventually they'd gotten used to each other.
"So what's on the menu for today sir?" Sean asked, practicing a Scottish accent he'd perfected over a century ago.
"Well I tried that recipe you gave me for hash browns," Neelix told him. "I think I've managed to come up with a reasonable facsimile, seeing as how we've a shortage of Terran Potatoes. I've also got some fruit juice."
"Sounds good, hook me up." Neelix, having also gotten used to Sean's penchant for old Earth Slang, knew what he meant.
Taking his tray, Sean scanned the mess hall for a place to sit. Seeing a possibility, he headed in that direction.
"Mind if I join you?" he asked Harry Kim.
"Not at all." Kim said. "Haven't seen you for a while. What have you been up to?"
"Oh, you know, same old same old. I'm taking a turn on Brig Duty."
"How do you stay awake?" Kim grinned.
"I'm writing my memoirs of this voyage." Sean answered truthfully. "I just finished the second chapter."
Sean looked around the station Terok Nor. Or Deep Space Nine as it was now called, and shook his head. He hoped he never ran into any Cardasians. He'd spent a long time on Bajor during the occupation, helping with the resistance. Sitting in Quarks bar now, he sighed. The Bajoran resistance had proven mostly ineffective. They hadn’t driven the Cardassians out like so many liked to believe. The Cardassians left because they were done with the planet.
Ever since he'd taken Tiernan's Quickening, in his first battle, he'd had memories of Ireland's struggle for freedom since before the Celts. He'd even joined in the struggle in 2005, and had stayed in the fight until it had ended in the unification of Ireland in 2025.
Many aspects of life before the third world war were lost in that horrible catastrophe, but thanks in large part to his, and others' efforts, the history and culture of Ireland and Scotland survived.
But the struggle for freedom never ended. At one time or another, he'd been wanted by the Klingons, before their alliance with the Federation, the Romulans, and in recent decades, the Cardasians. All for joining in the fight that many of their subject planets had waged. He’d even been part of the Maquis for a brief time, before realizing that he needed a change. Morrigan, though disappointed, helped him fake his death and start a new life.
And now here he was, recently graduated from Starfleet Academy, hoping to not run into Kira. She’d seen him die in battle in her first raid. Though she’d seen him a few years later, she’d been delirious, and he’d been able to avoid an awkward situation. But Kira was not the only old friend on the station.
"So there you are Old Man." a feminine voice laughed from behind him. He turned, startled. Only one person called him that.
"Dax!" he cried, leaping to his feet. "How are you youngster?"
They both laughed and embraced. The nicknames were an old joke between them. Sean was only the Symbiote's elder by about a hundred years. Not that long really. He'd known several of it's hosts, male and female. He'd even assisted in the capture of Juran, the host that had killed three people.
He'd always had to suppress a snicker when he'd heard Sisko call Curzon "Old Man".
Sean looked Jadzia Dax up and down. "No offense," he said, his centuries of life had taken the edge off his shyness. "But you look a lot better than your previous host."
Dax seemed to consider this for a moment. "None taken." She decided. As they sat, she turned serious. "How are you taking your new mission?" she asked him.
"I'm not really happy about it." Sean admitted. "I mean, the Maquis are only protecting their home, just like the Bajorans-"
"And the Irish, and a hundred other species you've fought for." Dax interrupted. "I've heard it before."
Sean blushed. "Sorry. But don't worry. I have no intention of sabotaging the mission, if that's what you're wondering. But Fergus is all set to defend them with all the centuries of lawyering experience he has. Which at two hundred years isn't too shabby."
"I swear, every time I look at that man, I can just picture him going after someone with a sword. Not as a lawyer."
"Yeah, go figure."
With a bit of effort, Ensign Fogerty pulled himself to his feet. "Man," he grunted, "When they say `Badlands` they aren't kidding." He looked down at his tunic and grimaced. Looks like I died.
he thought. The front of his tunic showed the residual burns of the console before him exploding.
He took quick stock of his situation. He was alive, most of the others in the security station were not. One was but with a deep cut in her calf. He ripped the sleeve off his tunic and tied it around her thigh to stem the bleeding Then, as an after thought, removed his tunic altogether to bandage her wound. She was semi-conscious, able to hobble on her good leg, but that was about all. He draped one of her arms around his shoulders and wrapped his other arm around her waist. Slowly, they made their way to sickbay.
Sickbay hadn't fared any better in, whatever had happened. Tom Paris was frantically helping what he guessed was the EMH with the wounded.
"Room for one more?" he called over the red alert noise.
"Sure," Tom replied tensely. "Why not?"
"While I'm here," Sean offered. "You two need any help?"
"If you've enough knowledge," the EMH accepted. "You can see to any new arrivals." He pointed to the extra medical tricorder and proceeded to ignor him.
"Brig duty. Sigh." Brig duty wasn't always
boring. Every now and then a minor squabble would break out, or someone would manage to get drunk, and then it was kind of interesting.
He didn't always pull Brig duty, he actually mostly monitored the ship from one of the several Security Stations. Once or twice he'd even gotten bridge duty on the night shift. Plus he'd had his share of away missions.
Today wasn't one of the exciting days however. He sat back in this chair, looking absently at the PADD in his hand. He'd reached sort of an impasse in his writing, wondering what he should leave out, and what he should include. "Hell with it." he sighed and put the PADD down. He closed his eyes briefly and remembered a time earlier in the year, when he'd had quite an interesting guest in the Brig.
Ensign Fogerty cast another uneasy glance at the cell, and the Borg Drone imprisoned therein. He'd missed the Captain's conversation with it, her, whatever. He'd come on duty just after she'd left. In fact, he'd narrowly avoided colliding with her.
He couldn't say exactly what it was that made him so nervous about the Borg. He didn't think they could assimilate him. But the fact remained that it was a possibility. And if that happened, if the Borg learned the secret of Immortality...
He shuddered just thinking of it. At least he wasn't bored.
She hadn't spoken to him once since he'd arrived. That was another thing that unnerved him. Every other prisoner had struck up a conversation with him, or at least done something. But she just stood there, not moving, not speaking, he wasn't even sure if she was breathing.
"You are afraid of me." Her voice made him jump.
"You are afraid of me." she repeated.
"I think it's safe to say that most of the crew is afraid of you." he told her. "Does this surprise you?"
"The Borg do not get `Surprised`."
"Of course not. The unexpected is irrelevant."
The conversation lapsed into an uncomfortable silence for a moment. Uncomfortable for him anyway.
"Are you're auditory nerves malfunctioning?"
This made him laugh. "No, my ears are working perfectly. I just don't know what you mean."
The Drone seemed to ignore his laughter. "Why do humans fear assimilation?"
"Let me answer that with a question. What happens when an individual is assimilated?"
"They are joined to the collective. Their thoughts become one with all Borg."
"But what happens to the person, their personality? The part of them, that makes them who and what they are?"
"Their memory engrams are stored in implants."
"So, in essence, they are trapped, with no hope of escape, or even of the release of death, with no input, complete deprivation of everything."
She digested this. "It is a reasonable facsimile of what this means. Yes."
"There's your answer." Sean told her.
She had not spoken to him again after that.
The stark grid of the holodeck greeted him when he entered. "Computer," he said, "Run Program Fogerty One, level 9." He'd just beaten Level 8 last week. Usually he played a beaten level for a while until he'd beaten it five times in a row, but he was bored. He needed to release the tension he'd built up on the Brig.
The grid disappeared, to be replaced by a dark forest. He held still, listening carefully for the opponent he knew was out there.
He almost didn't hear them, but at the last second, he spun, and parried the blow. The impact drove him to his knees, and he looked up at his assailant.
"Fogerty." the man growled, his gravely voice fitting perfectly with his appearance. He was over six feet tall, and built like a tank. His armor was old but strong, and his helmet was fashioned out of an animal skull.
"Kurgan." Sean said, through gritted teeth. The Kurgan was trying to force his blade down, and it was almost all the Ensign could do to keep it up.
The Kurgan. The most feared of all Immortals, Tut had told him. Until Connor MacLeod had taken him out. Sean had first met the Highlander at Tut's wedding a couple centuries ago. Connor had told him about the Kurgan, enough for Sean to create this holodeck simulation. What better way to test one's skills than against the most fearsome opponent one could find?
He wondered idly who would have won in a battle between The Kurgan, and Gabrielle's friends, Xena and Hercules.
"Tuvok to Ensign Fogerty."
"Computer freeze program." Fogerty slid out from under the frozen Kurgan and tapped his combadge. "Fogerty here."
"Report to Transporter room three immediately." Tuvok instructed.
When he arrived, Tuvok regarded him silently. He was wearing a trench coat over a simple jumpsuit. "Sorry for being out of Uniform sir." Sean apologized. "But you caught me on the holodeck, and you said 'Immediately'."
"There is no need for apologies Ensign." the Vulcan reassured him. "You were off duty. However, a situation has arisen that requires your expertise."
"We have discovered a Borg outpost station with a lone human life-sign aboard." he said.
"Again," Sean said, confused. "What expertise?"
"To be honest, I am not certain. However-"
"I told the Lieutenant your presence would be advantageous." Seven declared, having just entered. "You will see why shortly."
Tuvok and Sean both looked at her rather suspiciously.
"Very well." Tuvok said. He led Seven, Sean, and three other security officers onto the platform. Sean quickly shed his trench coat and tossed it away. He'd want as much freedom of movement as possible on a Borg station.
As soon as the Borg corridor took form around them, all the security officers drew their phasers, as did Sean. Seven wielded a phaser rifle, while Tuvok operated a tricorder.
"The life signs are this way." Tuvok said, leading them off to the right.
Several Borg Drones passed them, and ignored them.
"That's something I never quite understood." Sean admitted to Seven. "A species as aggressive as the Borg, just ignores several potential Drones?"
"Are you complaining Ensign?" Seven asked.
"Lord no. I just don't understand it."
"It is difficult to explain." she said. "I believe the human phrase that best describes it, is `they have better things to attend to`."
"Our objective is right around the corner." Tuvok said, ending all conversation.
"What's a human doing on this station anyhow?" Sean wondered.
When they turned the corner, and saw the young woman imprisoned in the Assimilation chamber, he found out.
"Oh my God," he said, in spite of himself. "Willow?"
*****Sunnydale California, 1999
Sean looked around at the quad of UC Sunnydale. It been cleared of students by the Dean, though a small crowd was beginning to gather at the fringes. He shook his head in bewilderment. He didn’t see how a college campus was supposed to double as a High School. Joe however assured him that it worked on Dawson’s Creek.
“We would have filmed at Sunnydale High School,” Joe had explained. “But it kinda got blowed up.”
Sean looked down at his script at the scene they were about to rehearse. He grinned for about the 50th time since he'd gotten this part. His first movie part, and it was a major role.
He was playing a Werewolf named Scott in the Indie Horror/Comedy: Welcome to The Hellmouth. The director and star, Joseph Macleod, was playing the male lead. A good Vampire.
It was one of the most unusual plots he'd ever heard of. A town is built on the Mouth of Hell, and all sorts of Supernatural nasties were running around. Then a former gang member from L.A. moves to town and proceeds to save the world from said monsters with the help of a Vampire, Joe, who was also her love interest, a Werewolf, himself, a Witch, who was the Werewolf's love interest, a snotty bitch, a wise cracking sidekick, there was always one, and the inevitable mentor.
Joe had also written the script. He'd cast some of his college friends in it, and had gotten permission to film it in his hometown. Sean sometimes felt like an outsider, as he was one of the few cast members who was not an old friend of Joe’s. Although Cordelia, playing one of the evil Vampires was actually an old enemy of Joe’s. Her character, a neurotic Vampire named Juliet Benz got staked early in the film.
"Where does Joe get this stuff?" Sean had wondered. His teacher, Tut, was a stuntman, but Sean had gotten, after much haggling, permission to do most, if not all of his own stunts. For instance, in the scene coming up, he was going to be thrown from a second floor walkway to the courtyard below. This should be fun.
"Oh god this is good." Sean sighed after taking a sip of the Root Beer in front of him. It had been a long day on the set. He must have been thrown from the walkway fifteen times. But it was worth it. He loved his work.
"Um," a hesitant voice said. "Excuse me."
Sean turned to find a pretty redhead standing by his table.
"Uh, yeah?" he said.
"Are you, um, in, in the movie that's being filmed?"
“Yeah I am." Sean smiled. He figured she was some local who wanted a part in the movie. He turned out to be only half right. She was a local, but she didn't want a part in the movie. She wanted to know how Joe had known as much about the Hellmouth events as he did.
Years later, they’d met once again, this time under less pleasant circumstances, during the Eugenics Wars. Throughout the years they’d remained friends, meeting up every decade or so, usually when he wound up helping the Slayers. Then, 20 years before Sean would enroll in Starfleet Academy, she’d disappeared on a deep space mission. Though her friends had searched for her, no trace had been found.
"You know this woman?" Tuvok asked.
"We have to get her out of there." Sean said in answer. "What are they doing to her?"
"Attempting to assimilate her." Seven stated simply. "As they have been for over ten years."
"Dear God," one of the officers said.
Tuvok merely raised and eyebrow and put away his tricorder. “I will require an explanation. But now is not the time."
Seven went to the controls and opened the chamber. Sean caught Willow as she slumped to the floor and hoisted her into his arms.
"The Collective will not wish to give her up." Seven said. "We must return to the beam out coordinates quickly."
Seven led the way with Sean right behind her. Tuvok brought up the rear.
"Here they come!" one of the Ensigns cried. A quick phaser blast reinforced his statement.
"Seven to Voyager."
"Voyager here." Janeway's voice came through.
"We have retrieved the human, but are being pursued. We must be beamed out as soon as possible."
"Acknowledged. Stand by."
"Stand by she says." Sean muttered. Willow lay limply in his arms.
"They have adapted to my phaser frequency." Tuvok said, and switched places with one of the other Ensigns.
Seven stopped short. "Our route has been cut off." A force field had been erected before them.
"Voyager to Away Team." Janeway called. "They've adapted their shields, we can't penetrate them to beam you out."
"Understood." She turned to Sean. "I will require your assistance." She took Willow from him, handing her off to Tuvok, then siezed him by the front of his tunic and thrust him into the force field. Energy crackled as his constant contact with the field slowly overloaded the systems.
"I'm reading a power drain on the station." Kim said.
"I just got a lock on them Captain." Paris said. "But something's wrong with Ensign Fogerty's communicator."
"Seven to Voyager. Have you a lock on us?"
"We do," the Captain said. "But it looks like we're losing our lock on Fogerty."
"Do not be concerned. Initiate Transport on my mark."
Seven waited five more seconds and pulled a barely conscious Sean Fogerty out of the field. "Mark."
Sean's convulsing body appeared in Sickbay as did a comatose girl, Seven and Tuvok. The other security Officers had been beamed to the transporter room.
"What happened to him?" The Doctor exclaimed, rushing to Sean's side.
"I held him in the force field to allow for our escape." Seven told him.
"Do not be concerned. He will recover."
"I'm the Doctor, I'll decide whether or not I should be concerned."
"L-listen t-t-t-to h-her." Sean managed to get out, still feeling the effects of the field. "S-s-see to th-th girl."
The Doctor still looked hesitant. "C-comp-puter, r-r-r-"
"Computer initiate EMH Override 1, clearance 1-9-7-8." Seven finished.
The Doctor blinked. "He'll be fine." he decided, and turned towards Willow.
Tuvok observed calmly.
"Y-y-you c-couldn't have w-warned me?" Sean said, glaring at Seven and struggling to his feet. The energy was beginning to drain from him. But slowly.
"There was not time."
Sean shrugged and looked at Willow. "You knew she was down there. You knew what she is, and you knew what I am, this whole time you knew, and you said nothing?"
"When I first knew, it was against the Borg's best interests to reveal that to the Captain."
"And after that?"
"It was not truly her concern."
"Well it is now." Janeway said, having entered silently, with Chakoatay behind her. "Who is this girl, and what's going on? What did you mean Seven knew what you were? How did you survive the Force Field, and why wasn't this girl assimilated?"
"I can answer the last question captain." The Doctor said. "The Borg nano-probes were unable to assimilate her because her immune system adapted even faster than they did. But the Borg kept pumping new ones into her, and it looks like they were beginning to wear her down. It was only a matter of time."
Janeway looked at Seven and Sean. "Care to explain the rest?"
Seven looked to Sean.
Sighing, Ensign Fogerty sat back.
"A lot of what I have to say is going to be very hard for you to believe." he said. "And I must insist that it not go out of this room."
Janeway nodded. "Go on."
"I was born on Earth, near the city of Washington D.C. In the year 1978."
"Are you El Aurian?" The Doctor asked.
"No Doctor, though some would argue that I'm no more human than any alien. I am Immortal. There is only one way I can die, and if you don't mind, I'll keep that information to myself. There are others like me many of whom are a lot older than I am.
"This is Willow Rosenburg. She is also Immortal, which is why the Borg were unable to assimilate her. She's about the same age as me. We first met in the year 1999.
"She disappeared over twenty years ago on a deep space mission. I knew there was a good chance she was alive, but I never thought I would find her out here.
"The Borg found out about us when they captured Willow I guess. But Seven knew what I was from the beginning. And there's something else. We all try our best to hide what we are, in fear that someone who won’t understand will come after us, or that we'll become Lab Rats, which has happened more than once. If the Doctor ever examined me, there's a chance he would have discovered what I was. So I installed a program in his matrix that kept him ignorant. I've never once gone to a routine physical, but your records will show that I have, and that I've had perfect health most of the time, but there's also falsified records of a few broken bones, accidents on the holo-deck and I underwent treatment for Altarian Flue once."
Sean gave a half smile as he told the computer to erase the program.
The Captain and the others in the room took some time to absorb the information he'd just given them.
"You're right." Chakoatay said. "It is hard to believe."
"But it is an explanation." Janeway said. "And I'm willing to take it on faith until Ms. Rosenburg can corroborate your story." She turned to the Doctor. "How is she?"
"I'm not sure." he answered. He cast a glance at Sean that clearly stated they weren't done talking about him messing with the holgram's matrix. "The Nanites in her system are being destroyed as we speak, but I can't be sure what kind of damage has been done to her by the years of constant invasion. Her body should recover, but there's no way to tell if her mind will."
"I might have a way to remedy that." Sean said.
"Is it safe to wake her?" Janeway asked.
"She is awake." The Doctor said quietly. Sure enough, her eyes were open, but there was no sign that anything was going on in her brain.
Sean looked approvingly at the program that was running. He'd recreated the Bronze for one of his already existing programs, right down to the lighting. For the purposes of this program, he'd also recreated Willow's friends from his own memories of them, and Willow's stories. Xander, Angel, Buffy, Joe, Micky, Giles, Cordelia, Jesse, Oz, Tara, Kennedy, Faith, Dawn, they were all there. He hoped it was accurate enough.
"Computer," he said. "Freeze program."
He went to the door, and took Willow from Paris. "I'll take it from here Tom." he said. Leading Willow by the hand, he sat her down at the table with Buffy and Xander.
"Computer, resume program."
"So Willow," Buffy said. "What have you been up to?"
"Hello," Xander said, waving his hand in front of her eyes. "Hellmouth to Rosenburg, come in!"
"You'll have to excuse her." Sean said. "She's had quite a shock, and well, I was hoping you guys could help her snap out of it."
"I think we could handle that." Jesse said. "So Willow, how are you and Oz doing?"
Sean may have imagined it, but he thought he saw something flash in her eyes. He looked up at the stage, where Oz was playing. Getting up, he listened to Willow's friends continue to attempt to get her to open up.
"Hey Oz." Sean said to hologram.
The orange haired boy stopped playing, to the mild consternation of Joe and Micky, who'd been trying to play a song. "What's up?" Oz asked.
"Willow needs you. She's gone into some kind of coma, and I think you can bring her out of it."
Oz immediately jumped down from the stage, barely taking the time to put down his guitar. Tara and Kennedy quickly joined him from where they’d been talking by the bar. They hurried over to Willow's table, where it seemed that her friends did seem to be getting through to her. Possibly it was Dawn’s tickle attack. She blinked.
"Hey Willow," Oz said, sitting beside her.
“Willow,” Tara said gently, taking the girl’s face in her hands. “Willow it’s us,”
“Come back to us baby.” Kennedy chimed in, stroking her hair.
Sean was absolutely sure this time. She seemed to twitch at the sound of their voices. And her head seemed to have inclined a bit.
"What?" she said. Almost too quietly for Sean to hear. He took one of the two swords he held in his hand, and put it on the table just within reach of her hand. Then he backed up a bit.
"Computer remove all characters." Willow definitely jumped when all her friends disappeared.
Drawing his own sword, Sean rushed her. "There can be only one!" he shouted, swinging the blade at her head.
Both swords were made in the holodeck. They were programmed to vanish before they could harm either person. But it turned out to not be necessary. Sean's blow was parried before it ever reached her. She stared at him in shock, her sword blocking his.
"Sean?" she asked weakly. "What are you, where are, huh?"
Willow Rosenburg sat in Sean Fogerty's quarters, waiting for Sean to return with the Captain. Lord, over twenty years had gone by since she'd gotten caught in the wormhole that brought her to the delta quadrant, and stranded her ship on a world with no atmosphere. Once her ship's oxygen stores had run out, she'd lain "dead" for at least a year before the Borg discovered her. She sighed.
Sean had filled her in on the events in the Alpha Quadrant since her disappearance, up to Voyager's own disappearance of course. It kind of blew her away. "Computer," she said, "Play something by composer Amos, Tori."
"Are you absolutely sure about this?" Janeway asked again. "You're both welcome to stay, you know that. And I hate losing a crew member." She alone had come to see them off. The rest of the crew, even the ones who knew about them were not there. The official report would say that the shuttle had been lost in a warp experiment, and the two were presumed dead.
Sean smiled, as did Willow.
"I'd certainly like to Captain." Sean said. "I'm gonna miss all of you. But me and Willow have some catching up to do."
"That and the Borg won't give up trying to get us." Willow added. The centuries had given her much more confidence in herself. "It's better for Voyager if we're not aboard. We've been around for a long time, and picked up some tricks. We'll be all right."
"Last one to get back to the Alpha Quadrant buys the Synthahol." Sean said.
"Sounds good." Janeway smiled. "If everything goes well, we'll meet you there. Godspeed."
"Thanks, you too."
Willow and Sean turned away after making their farewells, and boarded the runabout. "On the road again," Sean sang softly as they brought the engines online. It hadn't taken Willow long to familiarize herself with the advances made in recent years.
"I just can't wait to get on the road again." Willow joined in.
"The life I love is making music with my friends. I just can't wait to get on the road again." they sang together.
Voyager receded behind them as they took a slightly different route home.
"You know who the Borg remind me of?" Willow said as they entered warp. "The Cenobites." She shuddered slightly at the memory.
"Oh, I didn't tell you that story?"