"In their collective state the Borg are utterly without mercy... driven by one will alone: the will to conquer. They are beyond redemption... beyond reason." - excerpt from a log entry by Jean-Luc Picard, "Scorpion, Part I"
The Borg are a race of cybernetic
organisms that are part organic
and part artificial
; they are one of Star Trek
's most popular villains. They exist not as individuals but as a single collective consciousness
that is controlled by a queen
. The "citizens" of the collective
are people who have been abducted from other worlds and forcibly assimilated
into the group. The Borg Collective is thousands of years old and has advanced well beyond Federation
science, although the majority of their technology has not been developed, but stolen (assimilated
) from thousands of other worlds. The collective has one goal: to consume technology in an effort to reach a state of perfection
The Borg collective is based primarily in the Delta Quadrant where they control a large expanse of space. A central complex, known as Unimatrix Zero One, is the "home" of the Borg Queen and her closest, toughest drones. From this central location the Queen is in constant communication with the thousands of Borg ships across the galaxy. These ships come in several forms (the most common being cube-shaped and sphere-shaped) and each ship is manned by thousands of drones. There are no centralized controls aboard a Borg ship, as the entire ship itself follows Borg design and is as one. Each ship is equipped with weapons and propulsion systems that have been developed and/or assimilated by the collective, including warp drive, transwarp coils, shields, a powerful cutting beam, the vinculum (which routes the collective voice around the ship), maturation chambers in which assimilated young are aged, and regeneration chambers in which drones recharge at the end of their cycles. This regeneration technology extends to the Borg ships as well, for any damage that is inflicted on a ship (a rare occurance, it should be noted) can instantly be repaired, almost as if the ship just thinks what it wants and then it happens. Both the drones and the ship also have the ability to adapt to new threats within moments of experiencing new dangers.
Borg drones do not reproduce sexually, but rather the Borg population increases by assimilating individuals from other cultures. This act of assimilation represses all personality traits and individuality, turning the poor soul into a mindless zombie. As such, drones refer to themselves with first person plural pronouns (for example, a single drone would say "We are the Borg" instead of "I am a Borg"). Assimilation also includes the implantation of a variety of cybernetic devices and modules designed to give drones increased visual accuity, physical strength, and other such enhancements. The collective consciousness is experienced as thousands of voices. It is possible to leave the collective and regain individuality, however only a handful of drones have been able to do so, and in each instance the drones were forcibly assisted by unassimilated people.
The first official contact with the Borg came in 2365 (stardate 42761) when Q tossed the USS Enterprise-D across the galaxy to system J25 in order to demonstrate how the Federation was not ready for what awaited them in space. The Enterprise encountered a Borg ship and, after initial scans, intrusions, and a battle that nearly led to the Enterprise being assimilated, Q returned the ship to Federation space. Now that the Borg knew of the Federation's existance, it was assumed that they would be coming. As part of a series of programs designed to prepare for the eventual Borg invasion, Starfleet organized several teams that would pursue new weapons and defensive strategies against a Borg attack. The fruits of their labors include phasers with a rotating frequency modulation and a new class of starship that was less an exploration vessel and more of a battleship. These Defiant-class vessels were overpowered and overgunned, making them volatile in combat as they could actually fly themselves apart. Three Defiant-class ships were comissioned: the USS Defiant, the USS Valiant, and the USS Sao Paulo (ironically these vessels would spend more time in conflict with the Dominion than with the Borg).
"I am Locutus of Borg. Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward you will service us." - Locutus of Borg, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I"
On stardate 43989 the Borg arrived in Federation space and began assimlating colonies on defenseless planets. Their primary target was Earth, and so the Enterprise was dispatched to intercept the lone Borg cube. En route to the ship Commander Elizabeth Shelby, one of Starfleet's best and brightest from the Borg defense teams, was assigned to the Enterprise temporarily to aid in the crisis. Oddly enough the Borg seemingly betrayed their no-holds-barred attitude and turned their full attention to the ship, demanding that Captain Jean-Luc Picard transport himself aboard the Borg ship. Picard refused, of course, and after a firefight several drones beamed to the Enterprise bridge, created a distraction, and kidnapped the captain. Why their interest in a single human? The Borg recognized that they would need a single voice to speak for them as they assimilated the Federation. Jean-Luc Picard was chosen to be that voice. As such as he was assimilated, given the designation "Locutus of Borg", and led the Borg invasion against his own people. This type of assimilation appeared to have been a first for the Borg, for the captain had become part of the collective but, at the same time, served as a single outlet for Borg communications and acts. With their business with the Enterprise concluded, the Borg returned to their journey to Earth. The Federation dispatched forty-nine starships to an outlying star system, Wolf 359, to deter the invasion, but the single Borg ship destroyed them all and assimilated all of the survivors. Ships lost in the encounter include the Kyushu, the Tolsoy, the Melbourne, and the Saratoga (the ship of Benjamin Sisko, later of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). The Enterprise was not at the battle, having been disabled by the Borg following their previous encounter. The ship did catch up to the Borg en route to Earth and, during a mission to the enemy ship, the away team managed to abduct Locutus and ultimately the captain's repressed individuality made contact with Lt. Commander Data, uttering a single command: "Sleep." Data was able to use Locutus's connection to the Borg to force them all into regeneration mode, in effect puting them all to sleep. This forced regeneration caused the ship to self-destruct, saving the Federation from assimilation. Dr. Beverly Crusher was able to remove the cybernetic implants from the captain's body, and after a short recovery period on Earth he returned to active duty.
The crew of the Enterprise encountered the Borg again two years later, although this time they found themselves interacting with a single drone, the sole survivor of a scout ship crash. This lone drone had been severed from the collective and, free of the thousands of voices in his mind, he began to regain his individuality. Named "Hugh" by the crew, the drone began his time on the ship by threatening the crew with assimilation and leaving the ship as a friend. Unbeknownst to Hugh the crew planned to send the wayward drone back to the collective with a specific command that could have taken down the collective, but in the end they decided it was immoral to use a member of a race as an instrument of genocide. Hugh was returned to the collective where he was reassimilated.
Unfortunately for the collective Hugh's newfound sense of indivuduality spread to other drones in his unimatrix (group). Drones began to have conflicting opinions with the collective, and eventually the whole group was cut off from the hive mind. They wandered through space, confused and aimless, until they encountered Lore, a malicious Soong-type android, who established himself as their leader and began performing experiments on the drones to make them less organic and more cybernetic. In every instance these experiments caused brain damage and, eventually, death. On stardate 46982 the Borg faction attacked the outpost at Ohniaka III, drawing the attention of the Enterprise. While fighting a Borg at the outpost android Lt. Commander Data experienced a violent flash of anger. Eager to learn about emotion he was drawn into a plot by Lore, his evil brother, in which the friendly andriod was controled by negative emotions; the two planned to conquer the Federation. Lore's twisted experiments spread to several captured officers from the Enterprise, but in the end Hugh came forward and put a stop to the uprising before it could ever really begin. Lore was deactivated at the conclusion of these events and disassembled by his brother.
"Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours." - The Borg Collective, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I"
Things were quiet in the Alpha Quadrant
until stardate 50893
when the Borg sent yet another ship to Earth
in a quest to assimilate the planet. Captain Picard, now captain of the new USS Enterprise-E
, disobeyed a direct order to stay clear of the battle (his superiors were concerned that Picard would be unable to face the Borg after his previous encounters with them) and took command of the Federation
fleet, inflicting a violent assault on the Borg vessel. In actuality Picard knew where to concentrate weapons fire because he could hear the voices of the collective in his mind, an effect caused by his previous assimilated state. While the Borg ship was destroyed a group of survivors escaped in an "escape pod" - a Borg sphere - and traveled back in time to April 2063, the day before first contact
between humans and Vulcans
. The Borg planned to stop this historical event, making Earth all the more easier to assimilate in the future. The Enterprise followed the Borg back in time, however, and put a stop to their evil plans. This encounter is especially notable as it is the first time the Borg Queen
revealed herself to the Federation
, plus it is the first time that new assimilation technology was used on humans. The new assimilation process involved the assimlating drone extending a series of small tubule
from the knuckles which then inject nanoprobes
into the victim's bloodstream. These nanoprobes then assimilate the new drone from the inside out. Captain Picard and Lt. Commander Data managed to destroy the queen and her drones, saving the future. The remains of the Borg sphere crashed to Earth's north pole and became frozen in the ice.
The presence of the Borg in Earth's past caused some changes to the timeline. On March 1, 2153 an exploration team working in the frozen north of Earth discovered the Borg debris and, unaware of the danger, reactivated several frozen drones. The drones then assimilated the explorers, commandeered a ship, and set off for the Delta Quadrant. Captain Jonathan Archer and his ship, the Enterprise, were dispatched to neutralize the mysterious aliens, but despite the mini-collective's escape they left many questions and wild rumors behind despite an attempt by Starfleet to classify information on the encounter. These rumors built over the years and, on stardate 32611 a husband and wife team of Magnus and Erin Hansen and their daughther Annika decided to investigate the rumors and hearsay. They took their ship, the Raven, in pursuit of what would later be identified as Borg activity. They followed a Borg ship around for several months, all the while invisible to the collective's sensors. Eventually they became cocky and reckless in their methods, leading to the family being detected and assimilated.
Over the years the Borg continued to expand their terrority and assimilate new species and technology. The collective eventually learned of a region known as fluidic space that existed in another layer of the universe. The inhabitants of this layer, designated Species 8472 by the Borg, were seen as ideal canditates for assimilation and attempts were made to invade their space. Species 8472 was more resilient than the collective anticipated, however, and a war broke out between the two species (with the Borg on the losing end of the battle). The Borg's saving grace was - ironically - a Federation starship. On stardate 50984 the USS Voyager, lost in the Delta Quadrant for nearly four years, came across the war between the Borg and Species 8472. Captain Kathryn Janeway approached the Borg with a compromise - the Borg would escort Voyager unharmed through Borg space and Voyager would give the Borg a series of modified nanoprobes that would destroy Species 8472. The Borg accepted this compromise and, at the behest of the captain, the collective assigned a single drone to speak for the Borg: Seven of Nine, Teritary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One. During the effort to construct a weapon aboard the Borg ship Species 8472 went on the offensive and destroyed the vessel. Just before the ship was destroyed the collective transported the captain, her security officer, Seven of Nine, and several drones to a cargo bay aboard Voyager. The captain was critically injured during the attack and, during her time in surgery, Voyager's first officer, Commander Chakotay, assumed command. He was against the Borg/Voyager alliance and terminated the agreement with the collective. The drones resisted, forcing Chakotay to blow open the cargo bay doors in defense. All but one drone was blown out into space: Seven of Nine. With the captain recovered she resumed command of the ship and reinstated the alliance. The collective was finished with such things, however, and Seven of Nine modified Voyager's deflector dish to open a passage into fluidic space. Once in the other realm Voyager fired the new weapon on Species 8472's bioships, causing complete destruction. With the war seemingly over, Voyager returned to normal space where Seven of Nine pronounced the alliance terminated and that the crew of Voyager would be assimilated. Planning on this eventuality Janeway and Chakotay instigated a power surge in Seven of Nine's cybernetic implants through the use of a neurolitic transmitter that Chakotay had acquired following a prior encounter with a group of ex-drones that were all linked together into a mini-collective, severing her link to the collective. The captain decided to keep the former drone on board where she would guide Seven into reassuming her humanity.
After a transporter malfunction fused The Doctor's holo-emitter with some of Seven's nanoprobes, a new type of Borg based on 29th century technology was born in 2375 aboard Voyager. This futuristic drone, away from the call of the collective, was an individual who came to call himself "One". At Janeway's behest One began to function and interface with the crew, but his curiosity about the collective led him to contact a nearby Borg ship via subspace communications. When One realized that the collective would destroy Voyager to get to him, he shut down his biological functions to save the lives of his new family.
On stardate 52619 Captain Janeway decided to go on the offensive with regards to the Borg and plotted to make a direct attack on a Borg ship in order to steal a transwarp coil that would enable Voyager to take a shortcut home. During the encounter the new incarnation of the Borg Queen took advantage of the situation to capture Seven of Nine from the Federation away team and add her recaptured humanity to the Borg's distinctiveness. The queen held off on reassimilating Seven; instead she tried to bend the former drone into willingly wanting to return to the collective. The crew of Voyager came to Seven's rescue before she could be reassimilated, igniting the ongoing feud between the queen and Janeway.
"Humans: we were just like them. Flawed, weak, organic. But we have evolved to include the synthetic, and now we use both to achieve perfection." - The Borg Queen, Star Trek: First Contact
A rare beneficial encounter with the Borg came in 2376
when Voyager came across a damaged Borg cube that was populated by only a few young drones among a sea of dead Borg. After a minimal conflict, the Borg children came to realize that the collective had abandoned them, judging them to be damaged and not worthy of retrieval. The drones transported to Voyager and allowed The Doctor
to remove the bulk of their cybernetic implants, mirroring the procedure done to Seven of Nine
previously. The children regained their individuality and gave up their Borg designations for their actual names: Icheb
, and Azan
. Eventually all but Icheb
would leave Voyager for new homes; Icheb had a chance to return to his homeworld later in the year
, but returned to Voyager after it was revealed that Icheb's family had given him up for assimilation as part of a plot to destroy the Borg, for it was Icheb's altered blood chemistry that had disabled the original Borg cube in which he was rescued.
Sometime following this encounter the collective became aware of a rare mutation in certain drones that allows these drones to experience a state of individuality during regeneration. These affected drones experience a dream state known as "Unimatrix Zero" in which they return to their normal behaviors and appearances. Drones that are affected are able to communicate within Unimatrix Zero, and once the collective learned of this phenomenon the queen began to eliminate drones that were able to experience it. A drone who went by the name of Axum before assimilation reached out to Seven of Nine aboard Voyager through her remaining Borg implants on stardate 54014 in order to plead for her help in taking down the collective from within Unimatrix Zero. Seven reported the request for help to Captain Janeway who, seeing the chance to start a Borg civil war, decided to assist. The Borg Queen, meanwhile, had found a way to enter the Unimatrix Zero environment and learned of Janeway's plan to interfere in a Borg matter. After Janeway refused a "friendly" offer to back down, the queen allowed an away team consisting of Janeway, Tuvok, and Lt. B'elanna Torres to beam aboard a Borg ship where she then ordered their assimilation. The away team was outnumbered and outgunned; they were indeed assimilated. The queen noticed an oddity, however: the personalities and experiences of the away team were not added to the collective. The new drones retained their individuality thanks to a special injection prepared by Voyager's emergency medical hologram and now, having unlimited access to the Borg ship, Janeway prepared to unleash the injection to the collective which would allow drones with the Unimatrix Zero dream state to retain their individuality outside of the realm. Once the queen learned of this plan (thanks to Tuvok who had partially given in to the collective's call) she began destroying entire Borg ships to kill the few drones with the mutation. Janeway and the queen negotiated a surrender to stop the killing of thousands of lives, and the captain issued a covert order to Voyager: "Unimatrix Zero must not continue to exist." That was the signal for the drones in the dream state to purposefully destroy Unimatrix Zero. Once freed of the dream state the mutated drones retained their individuality in the waking world and several were able to take control of the ships they were imprisoned on. Voyager took advantage of the queen's momentary confusion at the loss of many voices in the collective and beamed the away team back to Voyager where they were unassimilated.
The Borg were dealt their largest defeat when an elderly Admiral Janeway traveled back in time to stardate 54973. She brought advanced Federation weapons, such as ablative armor and transphasic torpedos, from the future with her, and when the Borg Queen assimilated her she discovered that the admiral had been injected with a specific pathogen that brought chaos to the collective's perfection. The queen literally fell to pieces and Unimatrix Zero One exploded in a massive series of fireballs. While this was occuring Captain Janeway and the crew of Voyager were using a Borg transwarp hub to take a shortcut back to the Alpha Quadrant and, during their journey, they destroyed the hub, eliminating the Borg's ability to use transwarp conduits in the Delta Quadrant. It is unknown if the collective survived these incidents or, if it did, what state the drones are in at this time.
"You can't outrun them. You can't destroy them. If you damage them, the essence of what they are remains - they regenerate and keep coming. Eventually you will weaken; your reserves will be gone. They are relentless." - Q, "Q Who?"
The Star Trek: Voyager Companion