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Lt. Cmdr Robin Hopper: What Goes Around Comes Around (Part 1)


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I've had a lot of good emails in my inbox today, and here's ANOTHER ONE that knocked my socks off. I love the little glance back at baby Hopper, I love the final mic drop, I love ALL of it. @Robin Hopper I cannot WAIT for part 2!!

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((Flashback – Hopper Homestead, Theta VII – 2377))

 

Staring out the window at the grey clouds that loomed overhead, Hoppy felt angry, though she couldn’t quite put a finger on why… Though she knew it had something to do with Mama. She wasn’t angry at Mama, not really – or at least, not about any particular thing that she had done or said. In fact, it was more what she had not done that made the little girl feel as gloomy and turbulent as the stormclouds in the sky. 

 

Normally, on weekend mornings, Mama would wake her up early with a packed bag and the two of them would sneak out on a walk through the soy fields to Edel Creek – a tributary that ran down from the reservoir and fed the Boundary River, which ran through Port Hibbing. There, they’d sit under a big tree and eat breakfast together, away from the new baby which had so unfairly overtaken her parents’ attention. But today, Mama hadn’t come, and Hoppy was left stewing in her room, watching the clouds roll by – a sullen indication of the waning hours of morning.

 

When her door opened, she was surprised to see Ansyra, her Mavai, who normally attended the little salt vampire they swore was her baby sister on weekend mornings. Hoppy rolled over on her bed and stared defiantly at the ceiling.

 

Hopper: What are you doing here?

 

Ansyra: Don’t take that tone with me, young lady.  ::Softer::  We didn’t see you downstairs for breakfast. I thought you might be brooding. We don’t want you going hungry.

 

Her mother reached to the small table in the hall and retrieved a plate with some fried potatoes and a little bowl of yogurt with granola and fruit – Hoppy’s favourite. So, it was bribery then. Her little stomach rumbled and she relented to at least sitting up and engaging Mavai in eye contact.

 

Hopper: I guess so…  ::Taking the plate, setting it on her lap::  …And I’m not brooding. I’m just angry and sad at the same time and I don’t want to talk about it.

 

Ansyra: Kinolaisi, that is brooding.  ::Sitting beside her on the bed::  Is this because Mel didn’t take you adventuring this morning?

 

Hoppy nodded, nibbling at her toast – but refusing to enjoy it out of spite.

 

Ansyra: ::Sigh::  I told her it was silly to shelter you from it. Human maternal instincts are so overdeveloped…  You know why you are named ‘Robin’, don’t you?

 

Hopper: After Mama’s brother.

 

If she hadn’t been so preoccupied with definitely not enjoying her toast (already three-quarters finished) Hoppy might have preceded her obvious statement with a big “Duuhhhhh”.

 

Ansyra: That’s right… Uncle Robin.  ::Wrapping an arm around her daughter, in a very atypical gesture::  And you know that we lost him some time ago now, before you were born?

 

Hoppy nodded. Everybody knew that.

 

Ansyra: Well, she may not forgive me easily, but I don’t intend to coddle you. You’re old enough to hear this. Your uncle died ten years ago. Today.

 

Robin stopped chewing, and looked to her Mavai with wide eyes. Mama had never really liked to talk about it. Few topics were truly taboo in the Hopper household – but talking about her namesake was never a welcome subject. She’d never really understood why. Death was a part of life, she was six years old. Plenty old enough to understand that now… Even so, the toast in her mouth suddenly felt very dry, hard to swallow.

 

Hopper: … So, Mama’s sad today too…  ::Furrowing her brow::  I didn’t know.

 

She hadn’t realized. She’d thought Mama was just preoccupied with the baby. She never thought that she might be sad about something herself. That she might be having a gloomy morning. Too gloomy for a walk and a picnic breakfast. She hadn’t even known it was the anniversary of her uncle’s death.

 

Ansyra: I know.  ::Shaking her head::  Mel doesn’t like to talk about it. For her, the grief is still too near… But I believe you are old enough to hear. Maybe then, you’ll be a bit less hasty to jump into the stormclouds just because Mama doesn’t dote on you for a day, hm?

 

Hopper: ::Nodding, guiltily::  Maybe…

 

Ansyra stood, and walked across the room, lifting Robin’s datapad from her dresser and tapping at the screen, removing the child safeties.

 

Ansyra: I’m going to teach you about the Battle of Wolf 359.

 

 

((Present – Borg Cube – The Badlands, Alpha Quadrant))

 

Rounding a few more bends, Hopper and her company came upon the sight of the two changelings and their escort of Borg drones. They were entering some sort of massive chamber filled with snaking draped wires and conduits – so busy, it almost looked messy, but there was a certain order and logic within the chaos that spoke to some sort of larger purpose.

 

The group stayed out of sight, watching from the shadows and from behind masses of cabling, as the procession reached their destination. A shadowy figure, bathed in dim green light, hung from the ceiling like some sort of hideous religious effigy – but she was alive, it seemed, if grotesque. The two changelings, no longer in guise as members of Amity’s citizenry, now appeared in more generic Starfleet Intelligence uniforms.

 

Changeling 1: It wasn’t easy, but we managed to recover the artifact you requested. Your drones have assessed it and determined it remains fully operational.

 

Borg Queen: Show it to me.

 

The male changeling held aloft some sort of device. Robin did her best to get a good look at it, but from this distance it was hard to guess at its purpose. 

 

She raised her tricorder, trying to get a reading that would tell her more about the object. She was picking up more Thelomium-847 now that they were in range of the changelings along with…  oO high-energy quantum resonance signatures? Oo  If that were right, then the implication was some sort of signaling device, capable of changing the states of many receivers simultaneously using a unique data string or code of some sort by manipulating quantum entanglements. The Borg were definitely masters of mass networked communication platforms – what made this one so special?

 

Changeling 1: You’re lucky. This may well be the last one in existence.

 

Well, that at least partially answered Robin’s question.

 

Changeling 2: Starfleet and the Federation have made a habit of stopping at half-measures. Their obsession with studying their enemies is a weakness. Now it will be their undoing.

 

Borg Queen: The end.

 

There was a strange quality to the Queen’s voice, that Robin couldn’t quite pinpoint. She sounded… old, tired, but filled with venom. Not at all what Hopper had been expecting, given the limited knowledge they had about the Borg and their Collective. The general consensus had been that, while Voyager’s neurolytic virus had delivered them a terrible blow, the Collective would eventually rebuild itself, species by species, planet by planet, ship by ship. But the way she spoke now, the Queen sounded almost like she were more intent on revenge against the Federation than about rebuilding… 

 

The ship shook again, and in an instant, the tone of the conversation shifted. The changelings weren’t so boastful now.

 

Changeling 1: There’s another problem – it shouldn’t have been possible, but somehow we were followed through the conduit. You said that wouldn’t be possible without a Borg transceiver.

 

Robin’s eyes flicked to Flint, and she could see she was not the only one. Many of the liberated Borg, or “XBs” as they were known colloquially, were left with more than just scars. Often times, there were certain ‘pieces’ of that cybernetic heritage that could never be safely removed. Flint’s optical implant was obvious… but did he also have a Borg Transceiver in his skull somewhere?

 

By the grim look on his face, Robin couldn’t help but wonder if this was news to him as well.

 

Changeling 2: And now we find out this cube is under attack by a Starfleet vessel.

 

Borg Queen: It is of no consequence.

 

Several of the drones in the entourage suddenly turned, facing directly towards Hopper and her group. Robin gulped. Whatever was about to happen, it wasn’t going to be pretty…

 

Iko: ::under her breath:: I got your backs.

 

Hopper: ::Nodding at Iko::  I think our welcome here is up. Time to go.

 

Robin stood, and turned around to leave, but found the door they had entered through sealed off by some sort of shimmering green forcefield.  oO Ohhh crap. Oo  She pun back around, once more facing the Borg matriarch and her henchdrones. The Changelings too. 

 

Things were not looking good. But she still had faith in Captain MacKenzie and the team of Starfleet Officers with her. If Robin could just stall things long enough, they may be able to find a way to break through the Borg’s transport inhibitor, net them a way off of this Cube.

 

Changeling 2: Well, you are persistent!

 

oO Stall… Stall… Oo  What other option did they have but to engage?

 

Hopper: ::Stepping forward, eying the encroaching circle of drones warily::  Well, you interrupted the hell out of my dayplans – without even booking an appointment. I figured I’d pay back the favour.

 

oO Am I really back-talking a Founder? And the Borg Queen? Oo

 

Savel/Esma: Response?

 

Sadar: Vai-net, look!

 

Vailani: What you thinking? 

 

Sadar: A change of tactics?

 

There was chatter behind her (thank goodness), but Robin didn’t glance over her shoulder. Instead, she kept her eyes fixed on the scene in front of her. No doubt the other officers with her were trying to work out solutions, find any way to break free from the impending doom encircling them. For now, at least, her job was to buy them that time any way she could.

 

oO If Captain Janeway could do it, so can you… Oo

 

Hopper: Things seem to be slipping a bit around here, your majesty. Security, housekeeping…

 

Almost in response to her taunting, a sudden forcefield erected around them, creating a circular snare that they stood little-to-no chance of escaping. Robin just hoped that it meant the drones, too, would would off their advance a little longer.

 

Beck: You'd think they could get at least a little more creative when springing a trap. Try to make it interesting so we don't just die of boredom.

 

Robin glanced at the doctor, admiring his addition to the delaying quips. She had no doubt that he was just as terrified by the situation they were in as she was. Giving him a small grateful smile, she steadied herself and turned back to the alien beings looming ahead of them – just in time for the Queen herself to address them.

 

Borg Queen: Robin Hopper! You’ve been causing quite a disruption here.

 

Nothing could have prepared Robin to be spoken to, singled out by name, by the embodiment of the Collective itself. If it hadn’t felt so menacing, so wrong, so infuriating, she might have felt honoured. But those twisted lips had no right to utter that name.

 

Robin pursed her lips, doing her best to contain her rising fury. It was assimilation, nigh-impossible escape, or death in the attempt. Not a tremendous array of choices. But she wasn’t about to lie back and roll over just because the Borg were intimidating. That was simply not in her nature.

 

Hopper: Resistance runs in the family.

 

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