We are Borg.
She barely feels the final connection as it slams into the connection port still buried firmly in the bone of her spine. By then, she is already experiencing a strange elation that has come along with the more expected expansion of conciousness. It turns out that joining a Collective, even a ruined fragment such as the one in this devastated Cube, feels more than a little like a strange form of homecoming.
But being Queen is new. Systems blossom in her mind. Controls and understandings that she has never accessed before, or even imagined. All coming on-line and integrating into her sense of self at an inhuman speed.
She is becoming.
She is becoming every drone.
She is becoming the Cube.
We are Borg.
Full awareness of the drones completes first. She is now both singular and also tens of thousands of minds and bodies which await her command.
So much power. Can she really control all of this at once? Does she really have what is needed to do whatever it takes?
Helping has become a habit, for sure. But has she overstretched herself this time?
(And why is she still here? However, now is definitely not the time to notice and further consider the paradox of retaining self-identity while so fully submerged in a Collective. Will there ever be a good time to consider that?)
WE ARE BORG!
She notices the systems that are not yet available to her. Some that were destroyed in the devastation of the Cube. Those others that the invasive Romulans have subverted to allow their parasitic infestation of her domain, in the name of their scientific curiosity.
Time passes infinitely quickly and geologically slowly. Each second is an aeon that vanishes before she can even register it, as she fights to reassert control and bring proper order to the systems, re-routing around the damage and deliberate interference.
Before she can complete the task, they strike.
Death cascades through the Collective. Each drone ripped away from her is a little piece of her consciousness dissolving into nothingness.
She feels the loss of every one.
Sweat drenched. Throat raw. She wakes to the sound of her own anguished scream still echoing off the bulkheads.
"Shit," she mumbles, hoarsely.
It's a good job that the rooms are well insulated from each other. Bulkheads made to keep compartments vacuum proof don't allow the transmission of a great deal of sound between spaces. The many little modifications that Raffi has made to the triggers that cause the EMH to manifest are a boon, too. Rios may have shouted and stomped theatrically around the bridge when he finally noticed them, but later he quietly asked if Raffi would extend them to cover his own quarters.
She kicks back the covers and tries to stand, pushing off the bed slightly too hard with her augmented hand onto long legs that tremble all too humanly. Full control is difficult when her body somehow still feels both vast and multiple. Her skin feels too small to contain her own flesh, even as it tightens further with the goosebumps caused by the cool air of the cabin over over heated and over sensitised skin.
"Lights!" she calls out and the computer impassively obeys her request.
This is not the first time she has been ripped from sleep by the dream. She has already slipped into a routine. A set of simple, unremarkable, and necessary tasks that help to ground her back into the moment. Into her body.
Into her humanity.
What’s left of it, she thinks.
The ends of her damp hair tickle her bare shoulders as she pads across the communal area of the small ship towards the small but well equipped gym, but she barely registers the sensation. Through the act of showering and dressing, she has forced herself to shift focus away from her body and towards the tasks she will be asking it to perform shortly. Maybe that's why she doesn't notice that she is not alone.
The voice is rough with both sleep and concern. The questions it poses are multiple and layered.
Her implants allow her to precisely locate the origin, and she turns to find Raffi seated in the shadowy gloom of the ship's night-time cycle, feet bare with a blanket around her shoulders.
She hopes that the other woman can't hear, as she can, the bone-deep weariness in her acknowledgement, or the tinge of fear. But they've spent enough time together now that she knows there are precious few things she can actually hide from Raffi Musiker and her preternatural ability to see patterns in all manner of scattered data.
"You dreamed again, didn't you."
A statement, not a question.
There is little point in denying it. Raffi has already seen her screaming nightmares first hand. Has held her close as she sweated and shivered in the aftermath. Has even held her hair and whispered consoling words, despite her own squeamishness, on the occasions that her stomach turned itself inside out in reaction.
"Raffi, what are you doing out here?"
She asks the question, as she steps closer to the other woman, although she already knows the answer. Raffi has determined some pattern or spotted some tell. She's here to confirm her hypothesis.
"Oh, you know," Raffi says attempting a light tone, "there's that amazing bed in my quarters, but sometimes it's just so much better to sleep out here on a hard chair instead."
Seven quirks an eyebrow, wryly. Raffi stands, and moves closer to where Seven is motionless on the deck. She offers the blonde her hand.
"You never know who you'll run into in the middle of the night."
Seven closes the gap, accepting the offered embrace and more.