The tube-fed device encasing Data’s right hand produced intriguing pinpricks of sensation. The face of the Borg had demonstrated her capabilities. Their capabilities. They were the reason he now saw through a human eye, the reason humid air affected the follicles of a flesh-covered wrist and patchwork portion of scalp. This experiment was a further display of their cybernetic knowledge, of altering synthetic parts to resemble what she termed inferior organic ones.
The acrid scent poisoning the air was his bioplast melting beneath the chemical concoction pulsing through the device. Beneath its metallic shell, supplied with translucent tubes of stolen and recycled blood, it stripped his hand to its wires and applied a delicate layer of human epidermis. His sensors could do little more than they were designed to: they registered the procedure’s pressure and heat. He could not feel pain, though he did not doubt her ability to make him feel whatever she chose.
“If you are unwilling to join us, I have many methods of extracting the code.” She tapped the small control panel at the head of the table with a black-clad fingertip.
Data peered up at her from his supine, spread-eagled position and met her gaze with a pragmatic expression. “None will succeed.”
She smiled like she'd accepted his unintended challenge. As she’d said, finding his weakness was only a matter of time.
High above, an amalgam of wiring, cables and electrical conduits weaved the support struts surrounding the warp core, encasing what had once been main engineering in a dark, jungle-like mass. A flick of her wrist prompted several to slither through the air with purpose. He had watched them before his captor showed her face. They delivered instruments to the Borg in mechanical, pre-programmed paths. They had carried her, a detached bust of meat and metal, to her armored body. Now they were alive, animated, lit by the blinking light the warp core cast through humid gloom.
A supple conduit coiled around a wall monitor, slowly tightening its grip like some serpentine creature choking its prey. The screen’s glass cracked beneath the rising pressure, the display beneath straining and flickering but holding on.
“I will destroy your Enterprise piece by piece until I get what I want,” she warned. Despite the promised violence, the credible threat, the words slid through her lips velvet soft.
As the conduit wrenched the monitor free, a shower of brilliant white sparks cascaded from the tear in the wall. The screen went black in an instant. It fell, smashed, glass splinters scattering across the floor. The Borg drone working on Data’s face turned in mechanical obedience and began collecting the pieces in a pale, mottled hand.
“I do not believe that,” Data said, watching the seemingly sentient conduits seek other things to destroy with interest. “You require the Enterprise for your mission.”
“Then I’ll destroy you, Data.” One of her enslaved tendrils crushed a support strut with a metallic crunch high above, her fist squeezing as pieces rained down. “I’ll break you down to your components, until all that’s left of you is a bundle of wires.”
“That is all I require to defeat you.”
If she dismantled him, she’d find his neural net in the same state Commander Maddox would have if he’d been successful in acquiring him. There was a part of Data’s memory record he could program to wipe if accessed by external factors. The code to the Enterprise’s computer was there now, cradled deep within that safe spot in his positronic cortex, tangled within safeguarding subroutines and syntactic algorithms. No matter how hard she tried, she’d never access it, and the longer she played this game with him, the more time he’d buy the Enterprise. If that meant the android equivalent of death, so be it.
Her visible frustration melted into a smile. “There are other ways of breaking you.”
The hollow, accurate positronic paths in Data’s brain surged, flowing with a sudden vitality and color that had him gasping. She’d reactivated his emotion chip again.
Fear. Its debilitating trickle tensed every fiber of Data's synthetic musculature, sapped his processing speed to a sluggish ticking over. It was hard to ignore the Borg flocking to the table and crowding in, peering down at him through ugly mutations of optical enhancement mechanisms and soulless, organic eyes. They began prodding him with cold, clammy fingertips and the sharpened instruments protruding from their bionic limbs. At her command—a minute lift of her finger—they sliced through Data’s uniform sleeve to access what she’d wordlessly told them to find.
“Data, how would you feel if I used your android body as a host?”
Data swallowed, attempted to smooth cracks of anxiety from his voice. “You do not have the power to do that.”
“I can do whatever I want with you. It’s high time you realized that.” The control panel trembled beneath her swift tapping. “Tell me, what am I doing now?”
Engineering’s atrium ceiling shifted before Data’s eyes, sliding across his field of vision like wet paint. The warp core’s glowing segments would make an adequate focal point, blinking their steady, familiar sequence, but he couldn’t focus. Light, color and shadow spun out of view, reappearing as though he’d been flipped three-hundred-and-sixty degrees at speed.
Dread sunk its hooks into him as he answered her. “You are… altering my spatial orientation system.”
He fought it, fought her, stared determinedly at the revolving, kaleidoscopic mass of darkness smeared with flashes of warp blue, all too bright, then fading, distending, bending, vertiginous. His balance sensors fluctuated, under her control. An urgent, novel sensation flooded his chest — somehow, he felt nauseated. Closing his eyes in defeat did nothing to suppress the dizziness or the confusion. The Enterprise was no longer a starship; it was a ship that rocked and rattled on tides and surrendered to storm winds, threw its helpless occupants overboard.
As quickly as the movement began, all was steady again. Eyelids heavy, Data opened his eyes to find nothing but darkness. She had made him blind.
To his left, his uniform sleeve tore clean away. A pinprick of pressure pierced his unaltered wrist. Then another. Sharp, filament-thin points penetrated his bioplast, slid beneath with precision like archaic syringes seeking engorged veins. Another pressed in, a centimeter lower. Then another beside it. And then another.
Her voice broke him from his silent panic. “Would you like your sight back?”
He wasn’t sure he did, but he managed a nod.
As soon as she allowed his optical photocells to recalibrate, Data’s gaze snapped to his wrist. The Borg worked as a unit, passing electrical diodes into the hands of the Borg in charge of inserting them into Data’s arm like an acupuncturist. The optical sensor over this Borg’s eye was magnified, the lens tinted with an ultraviolet filter. Colored bulbs on the diodes’ tips lit once inserted, attaching themselves to Data’s wiring and becoming an external extension of it.
“Controlling your entire physical construction will take too long, so I’ll demonstrate with your hand.”
When the Borg slid what would be the last diode home, the LEDs blinked in a frenzy of red, green and blue. Energy crackled as the diodes worked together to reverse and re-route Data's circuit polarity. He felt ionic flow forking off in several directions, a miniature lightning storm trapped between his skeletal structure and bioplast. Heat built quickly. Electromagnetic energy hummed. Then everything settled and plateaued, the LEDs blinked in a steady sequence, and Data felt the loss of his hand. It was no longer his property; it was an eerie phantom appendage possessing no feeling, that sent no feedback to his brain, dead from the wrist to the fingertips.
If helplessness were an emotion, then Data felt it. But just as his emotion chip could respond to the stimuli presented to it, he could draw from it too, wade into depths within himself that were shallow without Dr. Soong’s final addition to his circuits. The rush of panic pulled at his confidence and determination to beat her, helped him remember why he endured. Starfleet. The captain and the crew. The Enterprise. Humanity.
The wrist restraint flew open with a weighty clunk. What was once Data’s hand was free. Free to grab at her, at the Borg, to attempt escape. But that’s what she’d want from him, how she’d teach him what he had lost, so he kept still, kept control of his emotional response as best he could.
Before he could answer, his hand twitched independent of his control. With a few taps of the control panel, she splayed out his fingers, straightening them until his hand trembled with the strain, the delicate webbing between them pulled taught. He observed with a mixture of fascination and despair.
“Imagine, Data,” she began, more tapping punctuating her words. “Being half Borg…”
Data’s index finger bent, knuckle joints folding in sequence until the fingertip touched his palm.
“Captured within a body you cannot control, that behaves however I desire it.” Bald excitement lifted her voice. “The assimilation you reject would be effortless in comparison.”
With his index finger straightened, she continued her demonstration with the middle finger, bending the digit with a graceful, measured motion while the others remained rigid.
“Like this, I could make you do anything I wanted. Kill your friends, torture the innocent, destroy everything you hold dear.”
“To what end?” Data’s ring finger bent as its neighbors had, another victim bowing to her dexterous display of control.
“To force you to choose the alternative.”
Data let consideration for her offer play on his face a moment, teasing her with it. Then, calmly, he said, “Your logic is flawed.” She curled his hand into a tight fist and he ignored it. “I would gladly endure an eternity of horrors if it meant saving humanity from extinction.”
“Would you say the same about an eternity of pleasure?”
His head cocked. “Pleasure?”
The restraint snapped closed over Data’s detached hand. At her gesture, the Borg withdrew the diodes from his wrist with their usual speed. Physical feeling returned the moment the forced circuit broke, and he flexed his fingers in relief. The mechanisms in the table whirred and clicked and it began to rise, tilting him until he stood upright. She circled to face him, standing before the vertical android, his arms held outstretched.
“How cruel of your creator to build you in the image of a human, yet allow you to exist within this cage, never to experience pleasure.”
She reached an armored yet agile arm to his face and caressed the join where flesh met dull gold. The sensation was intriguing, mesmerizing, amplifying the stark difference between his original build and how she would have him. He inhaled deeply, his reclaimed fingers gripping the hard edge of their restraint.
“I have experienced pleasure.” If what he’d felt, filtered through his brother’s limits and drip fed to him when he behaved acceptably counted as pleasure. That pleasure was a morbid, unethical one: the pleasure of killing, torturing, of being superior, of another’s misfortune. Seeing his reflection in her dark eyes, he remembered how it felt to kill a Borg with his hands. Choking it. Throwing its body with such force bone and armor cracked.
“My emotion chip allows me to—”
“Physical pleasure, Data.” She wet her flushed lips with her tongue. “It is… different.”
The Borg huddling around the raised table, that showed no interest in its occupant's conversation and did not even seem to be aware of it, stepped away. One remained. It waved an instrument across the metal device surrounding Data’s right hand. It unlocked, creaking open.
Slipping his hand free, Data saw the true perfection of her transformational skill. It looked like any human hand, complete with fingerprints, blood-fed complexion, fingernails and cuticles, wrinkles and pores. As he turned his palm over to admire it, air brushed across it as her breath had his wrist. His face contorted as he held back a shudder. Indeed, the difference between this and her earlier demonstration was startling. The hand’s sculpted flesh ended abruptly at the wrist. Below that, the ugly borrowed flesh of her first experiment remained, stretched taut over alloy and wiring. Both held more feeling than his bioplast, but the hand offered an additional variety of sensations.
An untethered arm meant there was potential for escape. While some background algorithm calculated the various means, Data lifted the hand to his face and touched his jaw. She watched with wide eyes, a proud smile sliding across her lips. These fingertips did more than process, they felt: the temperature and smooth texture of his bioplast, the tactile wonder of exerting pressure against his lips, the depth of the thin seam between synthetic and organic that cut his cheek in two. But nothing could have prepared him for the experience of flesh against flesh.
“It’s magnificent, isn’t it?” she whispered.
Data’s mouth opened in a silent gasp, his back arching from the raised table as the sensation threatened to overwhelm his sensory responses. His respiratory program malfunctioned and reset. The new process stressed his every subsystem, so he closed his eyes, slowed his processing speed to a trickle to accommodate it. He stroked his cheek, whimpered when organic eyelashes trembled against his fingertips, and stammered, “Y-yes.”
“Touch me.” Her demand was syrupy, eager, hot against his cheek.
He opened his eyes to find her closer to him, studying him with an intense gaze as reflective as liquid mercury. Obeying, he reached out and touched her pale face. She turned into his palm, gaze fixed on his, and kissed it. Data flinched at the concentrated stimulation, quivered from crown to sole. Processes dropped away in his mind, froze up, lagged, shut down. She pulled the tip of his finger between the deep red of her lips and sucked. The skin perceived moisture, warmth, the flex of her supple, organic tongue. It translated them into physical pleasure, fed it back into his systems until it seared through each of them, white-hot and consuming. He was in its thrall.
She laved the pad of his thumb with the wet point of her tongue. Combing her fingers through his hair, she dragged them against his borrowed scalp. Pleasure layered upon pleasure, forcing its way through circuits and servos that were overheating from the burden of coping with it. There seemed no other way to release the energy her touches elicited in him than sound — he moaned, the sound alien to his ears. Fragile. Susceptible. Too human.
“Do you like this, Data?”
A remnant of some self-preservational code flickered in some seldom used positronic pathway. Under the chaotic haze of sensations he was not designed to experience or process, Data realized what she was trying to do: overload his systems. While he was offline, she would try to access his positronic net. She would fail, but all the while her attention centered on him, the Enterprise had more time to defeat her. The more he resisted, the more time she’d waste. The longer he could endure without shutting down...
He snatched his hand away, clenching his jaw at the loss of her tongue. “I… I could not accept the extermination of an entire species in exchange for these sensations.”
She stepped back, composed and unconcerned by his refusal. “Perhaps you haven’t felt the best of them yet.”
In one swift movement, her hand sliced through the air and slapped him hard across the face. The flesh fused to his endoskeletal structure shifted under the impact, the miniature tubes beneath rushing to feed blood back to the surface after it had been forced away. Data jolted, shuddered. Humiliation burned in his core as pain's sharp sting spread through him. He gripped his restraints as a low groan shuddered through the air. He realized, belated, that it was his. Fascinating.
“Don’t you understand?” she purred, stepping up onto the table and pressing her body flush to his. “The intricacies of pleasure are infinite, and I have so much more to offer you.” Her tongue slid across his aching cheek, slow and tender and blisteringly warm. “I can allow you to feel satiated following hunger and thirst, the satisfying ache following exercise, the relief of scratching an itch or stretching a tired muscle. It isn’t just pleasure, Data, it’s the complex human existence you crave. If you join me, I will give you anything you desire.”
“I… I cannot accept. My duty is to—”
“To yourself.” She linked her dark fingers between those of his flesh hand and gripped tight. “This is not about humanity. Do you want to spend centuries merely existing at their side, when, at mine, you could truly live?”
“I...” Her fingertips dug into the back of his hand and he hissed through his teeth. Pain, again. Brilliant, captivating pain. So bright and so new he could barely form his refusal on his tongue. “I cannot allow my desire to be more human to supersede the lives of millions.”
He felt the disappointment in her body, the soft slump of her shoulders against his chest.
In a flash, she was back at the control panel, the table lowering Data horizontal again in a steady, hydraulic glide. A gesture of her hand and the Borg returned to crowd the table. “I’m growing impatient, Data."
All it took was a tap of the panel for the essence of Data’s physical self to strip away. In a moment, she had deactivated his motor controls and left him paralyzed, robbed of all tangible sensation. After all she had offered, he had never felt so empty, had never hated anyone as much as he hated her. The need to defeat her steamed through him. It wouldn't just be a personal revenge. It would be the revenge of millions.
She began circling the table with a slow, vulturous pace, weaving through the Borg with light footsteps. “You don’t understand what you’re refusing.”
Data could not respond, could not blink. He could not even follow her with his eyes — a patch of ceiling was all he saw, frozen, the odd conduit snaking through his field of vision while his organic eye watered. All he could do was listen, trapped within himself, and wait to discover what the Borg were doing to him.
Cloth ripped. Bionic instruments tapped and scraped like razors on metal. The edge of her dark shoulder passed through his peripherals like smoke as she returned to the head of the table.
“Were you designed to service humans sexually?” The question was casual, without the air of embarrassment that would no doubt cling to the voice of any human who might ask such a question of him.
Data’s speech processor reactivated and a word filtered through, cold and metallic. “Yes.”
She tutted. “Humans are such selfish creatures. Do you enjoy it?”
“On a number of levels, though it has been some years since I—”
“But never on a physical level.” Not a question. Almost an invitation.
Sensation and coordination flooded back into Data’s body. Craning his neck, both hands restrained once again, he saw that the Borg had cut away his uniform pants around his groin, exposing him. Those same diodes had been inserted into his abdomen, sprouting from his uncovered skin like a macabre pincushion. The LEDs were illuminated with a solid glow, but the electrical shifting he felt when he lost his hand was absent. Perhaps it occurred during his paralysis.
“Clearly, your creator made you anatomically accurate,” she continued, coming to stand at the table’s edge to stare unashamedly at his penis. “Though, it leaves something to be desired.”
Such a statement would dent the ego of any human male in Data’s acquaintance, but it only intrigued him. “Oh?”
“Do you feel this?” She ran her finger along the flaccid length of him. It registered as touch usually did to his bioplast: present but limited and detached — a sensor doing its job.
Returning to the panel at the table’s head, she took control of him again. The diodes flickered. Data felt a twist in his inner circuits, then the same sensation he felt when he first pulled his hand from the device to find a perfect flesh replica. It concentrated in his groin in a flood of heat and awareness and… his breath caught in his throat... she activated his sexuality program. Panting, he felt every millimeter of movement as his penis swelled and shifted, nudging the diodes while it dragged across his belly before finally standing erect.
“You see, Data, you don’t even need flesh to feel its pleasures. I can force your neurological pathways to feedback whatever sensations I choose into your positronic brain.” She stood at his side again, eyes sliding over his fully-erect penis. “The flesh is aesthetic, because you value it.”
Reaching out, she wrapped her hand around the smooth shaft of his erection, fingers curling one by one until it was enclosed in her fist. Her soft grip—the kind of touch he might not even register under normal circumstances—cut him to his core.
“Oh—” His head tipped sharply, eyelids snapping closed.
Pleasure thumped beneath her touch, threads of electrical energy throbbing in time with the warp core’s flashing column that bathed the scene in electric blue. His smooth bioplast translated touch differently to the grafted flesh: slightly less intensely, its sharp edges dulled, but the feeling reached further, spread down his legs, through his abdomen, until he felt it pool in every part of him. It crawled beneath his scalp, resonated like a bass note in his alloys, and with every breath he drew, he inhaled the sensation deeper, losing himself to it.
Her voice dripped through the fog of pleasure. “Do you like it?” She seemed to already know what his answer might be.
Mouth shaking with effort, he managed, “Very much.”
“I could make this flesh and blood if you wanted,” she whispered, stroking her fist to the base of his erection and squeezing the solid width gently. “Image what it would feel like, engorged and sensitive.” Her hand drew along the length of him to the pale tip, her barest movements making Data writhe on his back, claw at his restraints. “All you need to do is join me.”
“Your attempts – to entice me – will be unsuccessful.” Panted breaths punctuated Data’s words, as did the heavy thud of his skull against the table. She continued stimulating him, the pleasure building, sending him into a fit of irrepressible shivers. “I was – ah! – not meant to process… these sensations.” He ground his jaw together, arched his hips, struggling like a pinned insect. “You will – overload my interface – and… destroy what it is you wish to possess.”
“Don’t you ever stop talking?” Clearly, she wasn’t going to be taken for a fool. If she overloaded him, she’d fix him.
Data heard a scurry of movement high above. A thick rubbery conduit slithered lightning-fast from the pocket of darkness and before he could close his mouth, it pressed into the cavity, snug as a cork in a wine bottle, silencing him. Another drooped low and swept across his cheek almost tenderly, soothing him as he bit into the rubber, teeth imprinting.
An image flashed through his mind. Her on her back. His teeth sinking into her throat. Was he killing her or fucking her? Which did he desire more? Which disturbed him more?
She scraped the sharp points of her armored knuckles along the blood-fed half of his face while returning to the control panel. The improvised gag muffled his vocal reaction.
A tear that had gathered at the corner of his blue eye slid down his temple into brown curls that didn’t belong to him. He needed her touch, the sensations she gave him that he would never feel again after this encounter. He needed to get out of her clutches, away from her meddling, avoid the kind of cascade failure even she couldn't fix. He tried hopelessly to break the clamps at his wrists but was met with the kind of searing pain that washed away all logical thought. The flesh coating his hand couldn’t take the pressure his android strength could exert. It split, borrowed blood pooling into his palm as the skin hung in tatters. He bit into the rubber, sobbing while a second tear streamed down the side of his face.
A drone approached, sealed the broken skin with one of his many inbuilt tools, then walked away.
“Be patient,” she snapped, entering something into the control panel.
A millisecond later, Data felt her hand encircle his erection again. But she remained at the head of the table, both hands busy with the controls. The sensation returned even stronger, so great he could no longer move against it; he was leaden beneath the weight of her invisible touch, and all he could do was accept it. She understood that, so when she released his android hand and took it into her own, she did so confident that he would not attempt escape.
“I am not even required to touch you for you to feel it. Do you understand now, Data? There is no one in the universe more adept at altering you. You’re drivers, software, a collection of ports and servos, no match for the trillions of synaptic pathways in a human brain. Nowhere near as complicated as assimilating a living, breathing body into the collective.”
The conduit withdrew, black rubber dragging against his pale lips as it coiled back into the rafters. Free to breathe through his mouth again, Data tried to cool his internal motors with deep, rasped breaths. The pleasure she fed him was exhausting, unrelenting, as though his every component part was seizing up and slowly shutting down. Whatever program she’d entered at the controls continued pumping him with the phantom touches, impossible hands caressing him, warmth and friction that did not exist feeding into his positron matrix through her skilled, remote manipulation.
He gasped when he felt penetration, unable to tell if it was real or programmed, as though one of the smooth optical cables that were an extension of her had crept between his parted thighs and slipped inside him just to prove that it could. He felt an enveloping warmth surround his erection, sliding up and down too fast and too tight. Soft lips kissed every inch of him, blew warm breath over exposed and clothed skin. He was full of her, overwhelmed by her to the point of breaking down. She stroked his hand to soothe him.
“Give me what I want, offer yourself freely, and I will give you the sum of my knowledge, the extent of my cybernetic expertise.” She kissed the back of his hand, linked her fingers with his. “Join me, Data. Become my counterpart in perfection.”
He jerked a nod, screwing his eyes shut. It was all too much, too intense. “Yes!”
She stood, triumphant, dropping his hand so it hung limp over the edge of the table before gliding with light, satisfied steps towards the panel. “Well done.” Data hoped her next command would be putting an end to this force-fed pleasure. “A small reward for your courage.”
Data groaned as a component of his sexuality routine clicked into action, out of his control. The function was, in his experience, purely aesthetic, connected to his fluidic systems and activated to end an intimate encounter. But nothing within him operated in its usual capacity under her control.
The two occasions he’d activated the function previously, the collecting of liquids was a slight, barely perceptible pressure low in his abdomen. Now, that pressure focused and built with great intensity, sucking all the sensations she’d given him into that one, intimate place. He wailed, ground his teeth, strained and quivered against the wave of rising tension that left his muscles twitching, edging closer to their limit.
She allowed the release. A golden-hued imitation of semen spattered onto Data’s abdomen, bursting free as ecstasy swept through his circuits, reverberating in a blinding rainbow of physical sensation that could not translate to emotion. His cognitive functions erupted in a glittering cloud of confetti; fragments of logic scattered; his consciousness plunged into sublime oblivion, as dense as an exploding star, threatening to...
Blinking awake from an internal reboot, Data felt the warm, honey-thick liquid slide down the shaft of his erection and shuddered. It had been seconds. Mere seconds of swirling, dizzying bliss. Yet somewhere within those seconds he’d felt her hand reach out to him in the chaos and he’d taken it without deceit.
“Thank you,” he panted, leaden with exhaustion she was no doubt feeding him.
“The first of countless new experiences for you,” she said, excited at the prospect.
The wrist and ankle restraints unbolted and swung open. Freed, Data sat up slowly, nervous and on guard. A trio of Borg drones approached. One removed the diodes from Data’s bioplast – the sensitivity vanished instantly. Another held out a pair of black Starfleet uniform pants; Data didn’t want to think too hard about their provenance. He was grateful that he didn’t experience shame, but his inbuilt sense of modesty snatched the cloth from the third Borg so he could wipe himself free of golden fluid without assistance. Now he was no longer under her control, he deactivated his emotion chip with instant relief. Finally, he could think clearly again.
“Get dressed,” she said, as he stepped free of the table. “There’s work to be done.”
He nodded. A way of continuing the ruse of surrendering to her without arousing suspicion had to be found. As he pulled on the uniform pants, her head snapped to one side, eyes glazing as messages entered her mind from the collective’s network.
“Locutus…” The tubes feeding into her crown twinkled beneath translucent skin, suggesting deep thought.
“Is something wrong?” If his emotion chip were active, Data was certain he’d be unnerved by her sudden change in focus.
She didn’t look at him as she waved him away with her hand. “Go stand with the others.” She spoke absentmindedly and without passion.
A drone took Data by the arm and led him to one of the alcoves lining the walls. Complying, he took up the position, standing erect in one of the pods like the neighboring Borg. For all they knew, he was one of them now.
Brushing a loose curl from his forehead and straightening his back, he devised a new plan.