"No sudden moves," Annika's mother always says. "Don't be scared. They won't pay any attention to us."
That's the rule. Annika believes it, even when the human eye in the ghostly face looking down at her meets her own, lucid. The other eye, the metal one, spins and whirs like a pinwheel.
It's dark. She can't see her parents – they're hiding, of course. Hiding and making no sudden moves. All she has to do is not be scared. But she is; and that must be why the Borg notices her. If only she'd been braver, they all would've stayed safe.
"Resistance is futile."
That's the new rule. This is a rule she can follow: do not resist. She obeys and in return she is no more. There is no longer an Annika Hansen to be afraid. There is no Annika to hate her reckless parents, to ache with guilt for their deaths. There are only the ghostly faces and the metal eyes like pinwheels; they are all one face, one shared metal eye.
The price is Annika Hansen. Seven of Nine has paid it. The Collective accepts it, high as it is, in return for their advice: resistance is futile.
"I would really pick a more human name if I were you," Kathryn Janeway says. "What's wrong with Annika Hansen?"
Annika Hansen is dead. Annika Hansen was a fool and a coward, daughter of even greater fools and cowards.
"I prefer my designation," Seven of Nine says. At least the Borg had been truthful: resistance had been futile.
"It might make it more difficult for the crew to accept you."
Seven believes this. She knows there will be a price for holding on to the past. But she's already given away one identity wholesale. This time she'll take her own advice.
"If you can't act like a human being, you've got no business in engineering!" B'Elanna Torres snaps.
"The captain ordered me to assist you."
"Assist. Not drive my best people crazy with your attitude."
"Ensign Richards was wrong. I merely corrected him."
"Yes, but you don't have to be so—" Torres makes an irritated noise.
Seven doesn't ask how the lieutenant thinks she shouldn't be. They're too alike: fractured along the same lines, halfway humans trying to be whole. Torres doesn't have any advice to spare. Maybe that's why Seven finds her company easy. There are no lessons here.
"Naomi Wildman," Seven says. "Do not be afraid."
The girl has wandered into her cargo bay. Her alcove, she assumes from Naomi's face, is intimidating.
"I'm not," Naomi says as Seven steps down. "What are you doing?"
"I was regenerating. It is necessary to maintain my Borg implants."
"Can I try it?"
"You are not Borg."
"Neither are you. Right?"
Seven reflects without answering. She watches Naomi jump up into the alcove.
"See?" says the girl. "I'm not scared at all."
This feeling, Seven thinks, must be regret. She hopes she hasn't taught Naomi Wildman not to fear the Borg.