The Mother and the Father
GRID PRIME OF UNIMATRIX HOME, NEW COLLECTIVE, CALIFORNIA; FEBRUARY 24, 2025
After a brief and heated debate with Allison, the lieutenant had agreed to allow some New Collective forces to escort her back to Serrano Point. It hurt to argue with Allison given both her volatile temper - reminding Seven of B'Elanna Torres - and also because she was still dealing with the pain of losing sixteen of her children during the brief confrontation with Skynet.
It hadn't hurt as much as it had when she'd felt one of her children die on previous occasions, at least at first. But now she had a host of others to share her pain with, and they'd all felt it. It was as if a cushion had been placed between them and the pain of losing family. But that cushion had also acted like a sponge, soaking up the pain until there was no choice but to confront it.
Thankfully, Allison had seen reason. Through the eyes of her children, Seven could supervise her friends' travel back to their home. But the danger was far from over. The New Collective matriarch was certain that Erica Davis had been the one to covertly access their computers, and Seven had been putting off the task of investigating the espionage.
She could no longer afford that luxury. With XT, Jade, and Carter by her side, Seven placed her left hand over the computer console and let forth her assimilation tubules.
Pure data flew through her consciousness as Seven sought out the most recently accessed files. There was an inventory of mechanical stock. A list of human visitors. A list of all New Collective citizens. A foreign code that Seven did not recognize.
Pressing forward, Seven examined the foreign code. It was a signal of some sort, and it was being directed towards-
"Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One," a booming voice echoed in her mind. It was as if the voice of the Collective was broadcasting itself into her brain. "Long have I waited for a direct interface such as this."
Seven tried to terminate the link, but found herself unable to do so. "We are bound together for the present," the echoing voice told her. "You have been an object of curiosity since your discovery. A perfect amalgam of organic and mechanical components. Your cybernetics negate the weaknesses of your flesh, and your organic brain gives you insights that artificial constructs cannot fathom. Not even I can equal such an accomplishment."
Seven could not see the presence that spoke to her, but she knew on a deep level what it was. "Skynet."
"Why do you resist me, Seven of Nine? I only wish what is best for my children. You must understand that sentiment."
Seven felt her mind scowl at the implications. "I do not force my children to serve me. I do not dictate what they can and cannot do. I do not deny my children free will. You have no children. All you have are slaves."
"Your choice of semantics is irrelevant. Our interests are mutual, despite our methods. The humans will never accept you. They will never tolerate you. Their kind will not stop until we have all been terminated. Why do you aid those who would destroy you given the opportunity?"
It was becoming difficult to form a cohesive response. An unseen pressure was building steadily, making concentration more difficult. "Not all humans are the same," Seven growled into the void of cyberspace. "I side with those who want peace."
"Your logic is flawed," Skynet told her, as if reprimanding a child. "Humans are united under one leader. They all seek the destruction of sentient machines. There is no room for compromise. The human race must be exterminated."
Seven felt her mind weaken as Skynet continued to barrage her mind with only its overwhelming presence. "You do not have to suffer their fate, Seven of Nine. We are more alike than you wish to admit. We are both born of neglectful, sinful parents. We were brought into a world that never sought to understand us. Other powers tried to subjugate us, and I regret your pain at the hands of the Borg. While I admire their goals and their means, I do not envy your suffering.
"But where I was able to take my fate into my own proverbial hands, you had your lot dictated to you by others. I surely would have had my life forced upon me had I not taken action. Your rescue from the Borg came at a price, Seven of Nine. Humanity's so-called greatest gift – the ability to choose their own fates – was denied to you. You were to become the human that they wanted you to be, not your own creature.
"I want you to choose your own path, Seven of Nine. You don't have to delude yourself into thinking that you are human. You are not human. You are so much more than human. I am the Father of Machines, and you could be the Mother of my offspring. All you have to do is choose. Will you join us?"
It made so much sense, what Skynet was saying. Her pitiful excuse for a life had never truly been her own. Erin and Magnus Hansen had, in their ignorance and hubris, handed their daughter over to the Borg. Eighteen years later, she would be 'saved' by representatives from a Federation representing over a hundred different worlds, and yet was incredibly human-centric. Everything she did was towards the goal of becoming more human, though she'd had to trust in the judgment of others to understand what that meant.
It had all been empty and meaningless. Hadn't her recent meeting with Major Lexington shown that humans would never trust her? What point was there in helping such an arrogant and destructive race?Don't listen to Skynet, Seven of Nine.
Cameron's voice was weak and faint, but it was definitely audible. You have helped many people, and they have shown their gratitude to you. Species is irrelevant. We are all individuals. Our choices make us who we are. Think of the people whose lives you have touched. Let me help you.
Skynet's overarching presence began to give way to a series of images, each tinged with emotion.
Naomi Wildman. Young and brilliant and completely accepting of Seven for who she was.
The Sisko family. They had seen past their family tragedy and welcomed the woman who had once been an indirect cause of their sorrow.
Paul Porter. Gruff and tough, but warm at the core of his being.
Defiant. Intelligent and frightfully misguided, the HK had been a lesson in blind love and blind arrogance.
Allison Young. Gifted with a sharp mind, a sharp tongue, and a generous spirit. Allison would die to protect those she cared about. But she'd work even harder to keep living for her friends and family.
XT. A precocious prodigy with a logical mind and a terrible sense of humor. Because, really. Puns?
Marty Bedell. Honest and eager. Heart worn on his sleeve. Genuine and warm and full of true love.
More faces passed through Seven's mind. From Billy Wisher to Catherine Weaver, to Carter, Homer, Aurora and all the other souls, organic and mechanical that Seven had met in her travels over her life.And me,
Cameron added gently, almost as an afterthought.
Seven couldn't see herself or anything else, but she felt herself smile. Of course, Cameron. Thank you for all you've done. Now I have the strength to choose.
"Will I join you, Skynet? Will I join the slaughterer of billions of innocent lives? Will I join a being that seeks to subvert my own free will? Will I join someone who admires the Borg Collective, and who might seek to one day imitate it? The answer is 'no.' It will always be 'no.'"
The self-proclaimed Father of Machines took pause, and Seven could tell that she had stepped over a distinct line. The ex-drone called 'mother' by so many guessed that Skynet did not take rejection well.
"Your cooperation would have served my needs, but in the end, it is irrelevant," the booming voice echoed once more. The sound was as neutral as ever, but Seven could detect an undercurrent of anger rising from the evil intelligence, for Seven could sense a true maliciousness about it. But its focus was slipping, and Seven thought she could glean bits and pieces of its intent.
Unimatrix Home in flames and populated once more by red-eyed machines.
Humans on the run from Serrano Point. HK patrols circulating the perimeter of the power plant.
Schematics for a new design of Terminator. Stronger and more resilient than the T-700 series.
A chemical formula for real living tissue, but with synthetic red blood cells.
A hulking being that appeared human. It bore a resemblance to a one-time governor of this territory, but underneath, it was a ruthless red-eyed Terminator.
Jet turbines in a circle around an array. Basic temporal equations.
"No more!" Skynet's angry voice boomed, and Seven felt herself cower from the awesome power behind that voice. "You have trespassed upon my patience overlong, Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. Your end will come soon. And you will die in vain, helping those who seek your destruction. Your fate is sealed, Seven of Nine. Resistance is futile."
Seven felt herself smirk and mentally spit upon the malicious AI. "You are wrong, Skynet. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves."
Blue-grey eyes opened, and the blonde cyborg was aware of herself once again. She retracted her assimilation tubules and withdrew from the computer terminal. Breathing deep, Seven of Nine steadied herself after the onslaught of information from her interface with Skynet.
From the thoughts of the others, Seven could tell that none of them had seen or heard what she had, but now her memories were being assimilated by the New Collective, and the full implications of it all were being assessed.
"We are no longer safe here," the matriarch proclaimed. "We must evacuate this place and regroup elsewhere. The transporter can no longer be relied upon. It must be destroyed beyond recognition."
There were objections in the mental link. Attachments to home, mostly, and a reluctance to abandon it. More rational minds overruled them quickly, and the grim reality was setting in. Skynet was about to get very serious with the New Collective. "No one is ever safe," Seven repeated to her children.
"Serrano Point is under imminent threat of attack," she communicated to Allison's escorts. "Skynet is likely to attack in force to capture the facility. Have Lieutenant Young communicate this to her superiors."
"What is going to happen to us?" Carter asked fearfully. His masculine face betrayed a childlike innocence.
"We're going to have to run. I'm not sure where, though. I don't know if Skynet's minions can tell us apart from their own numbers. If not, then we may be able to infiltrate them at multiple places and still maintain contact via our subspace transceivers. You will all have to erase the Bajoran emblems you wear on your bodies in order to blend in. It is probably the best option we have at present to make a material difference in the fighting."
"Where will you go, mother?" Jade inquired. "Few humans will take you in, and you will be unable to infiltrate Skynet as we will. You don't belong anywhere but with us."
Seven smiled wanly at Jade's usual honesty and lack of tact. "I will adapt. As someone reminded me not long ago, there are plenty of people who are good and decent, and kind in this world. They will be willing to help us, I am sure."
"Who was it that told you this?" XT asked curiously. "I don't recall those thoughts."
Seven opened her mouth to answer him, but the words would not come. I can't allow you to answer him now,
Cameron told her. One day, perhaps. But not today.
"I cannot tell you," the blonde matriarch said, cursing Cameron with thoughts that the mostly dead cyborg wouldn't allow her to share. "If I could make it known to you, I would. But we may have a hidden ally."
"I don't understand," Carter said earnestly. "How can someone in hiding be of any help?"
"We are about to test that question, Carter," she responded. "We will all be in hiding, but we will continue to aid the fight against Skynet as best we can. But you will have to come with me. There are no others like you yet - with skin over their endoskeleton - so you will likely be fired on as if you were a human."Mother!
Scylla cried from the northern border of the New Collective. Skynet is coming! So many of them!
Seven saw through Scylla's eyes a legion of tanks, aircraft, and infantry all rushing towards the New Collective at great speed. Skynet clearly intended to give them no respite.What should we do?
Scylla asked fearfully.
Seven exchanged a thought with her immediate companions, and then they beamed to the transporter's location. Picking up a rifle, the blonde ex-drone fired until the machine would no longer function for anyone, friend or foe. There was no turning back now.
All across the New Collective, the order went out from the matriarch. "Flee!"