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Survival Instinct (episode)

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"Survival Instinct"
VOY, Episode 6x02
Production number: 222
First aired: 29 September 1999
120th of 168 produced in VOY
120th of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 168 released in VOY Remastered  
580th of 728 released in all
P'Chan, Marika Wilkarah and Lansor
Written By
Ronald D. Moore

Directed By
Terry Windell
53049.2 (2376/2368)
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Seven encounters three ex-Borg with whom she had been temporarily separated from the Collective years ago.

Summary

Teaser

Borg sphere crashes

A Borg sphere crashes.

2368

Dusk on an alien world. A Borg sphere streaks through the sky before crashing on the surface.

SevenAndSurvivingDrones

The surviving drones from the sphere's crash.

Night on the foggy, swampy world. A Borg drone walks through the mist. It is joined by a second, and then a third. Finally a fourth appears. The fourth is Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01. They gather near a dead drone. They assess their situation: their vessel has crashed, they seem to be the only survivors, and their link to the Borg Collective has been cut. Seven of Nine notes that the wrecked vessel's transwarp chamber will explode imminently, and leads the other three drones away from the area. They take the corpse of the dead drone with them.

Act One

Voyager at the Markonian outpost

Voyager docked at the Markonian outpost

2376, Eight Years Later

The USS Voyager has docked at the Markonian outpost. Captain Janeway has authorized a technology and culture exchange, giving the crew an opportunity for shore leave. The bridge is bustling with crew and aliens. Janeway is in her ready room, the room packed with gifts from different visiting alien delegations. Commander Chakotay brings another. Tuvok arrives, not with gifts, but a report detailing minor theft and damage of some ship's equipment and crewmembers' personal items, but Janeway, along with Chakotay, is nonetheless pleased at how things are going.

In Astrometrics, Seven of Nine, now a former Borg drone, is working. Naomi Wildman, enters and reminds her of their lunch date. Seven tries to delay it until she has finished, but Naomi's plaintive complaints that she promised makes her stop and agree. They leave together. Outside, the corridor is crowded. Naomi politely asks for space for them to pass, but her small voice cannot be heard over the din. However, Seven's loud, imperious command to "Stand aside!" gets them their required space and they proceed to the mess hall.

They sit together in the mess hall, observing the aliens mixing with the crew. Naomi begins identifying them by Borg species designations, but Seven sternly makes her stop, reminding her that both she and Ensign Wildman disapprove of this. The presence of the large crowd begins to disquiet Seven; she explains that crowds remind her of the Borg Collective. Naomi sympathetically suggests that they leave.

Lansor

Seven and Naomi's visitor.

They are about to do so when a burly, middle-aged man with a scarred face approaches. "Are you Seven of Nine?" he asks. When Seven guardedly affirms, he opens a case and shows her some Borg implants. Seven leaps to her feet, looking as if she has seen a ghost. She remembers the events seen in the Teaser. She identifies the implants as Borg synaptic relays from her old unimatrix, Unimatrix 01. The man offers them to her in trade. Seven agrees, takes them and quickly leaves. The man walks way.

However, he does not go far. He stands looking around. Then he mentally relays the following information: Stage two is complete. She has the relays. She's going to study them. In Engineering, a woman mentally receives the message and, also mentally, relays the location of Seven's alcove to him: Cargo Bay 2. A young man in a crowded corridor also receives the message. The three agree to rendezvous at the older man's position, and conspire to penetrate ship's security.

Act Two

2368

The four marooned drones extract parts from the corpse of the dead drone to build a com beacon to contact the Collective. Three of them bear resemblance to the three conspirators. But, as they work, severed from the hive mind, their personalities and pre-assimilation memories begin to reassert themselves. One begins recalling the religious beliefs of his people regarding the treatment of the dead. Two others ask him about it. Talk of individuality starts. But Seven of Nine sternly instructs them to cease the irrelevant talk; they are Borg, not individuals.

2376

Borg synaptic relay

One of the Borg synaptic relays.

Seven and Chief Engineer Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres examine the Borg synaptic relays in Cargo Bay 2, Seven's 'quarters'. Meanwhile, the three conspirators discuss their course of action, seated together in the mess hall. At first, they do it mentally, but then they switch to verbal communication. There is some contention over whether or not they should actually go through with whatever they are planning, but they eventually agree to proceed.

In Cargo Bay 2, Seven, now alone, sets up one of the relays for a multi-polar analysis. The computer informs her that the analysis will take 5 hours and 17 minutes to complete. She decides to pass the time by regenerating. She installs herself in her alcove and goes into the cycle.

In the mess hall, the three conspirators, by tapping into the ship's computer through the relay, sense her regeneration. They begin using this access to reroute internal sensors. But, on the bridge, Lt. Commander Tuvok notices the change at his Tactical station when an alarm on his console beeps.

The three conspirators wait at a turbolift as its occupants disembark. When it is empty, they board. As the lift begins to move, the woman mentally has the computer halt it. The older man begins undoing the bolts on a grate in the car's ceiling. On the bridge, Tuvok alerts First Officer Chakotay of a power failure he has detected in the security grid. As the three conspirators make their way through the ventilation shafts and drop down quietly in Cargo Bay 2, Chakotay informs Captain Janeway of the detected security breach.

The conspirators move to Seven's alcove. The man unwraps a cloth, revealing some Borg components. The woman exposes one of her legs, scarred with Borg implants, revealing her to be, like Seven, a former Borg drone. The others are, in fact, former drones as well; they were the drones Seven was marooned with those years prior. The woman removes an implant from her leg, a Borg interlink nodule, and inserts it into the control console of Seven's alcove. The young man begins to worry about possible harm to Seven, but the woman urges him to remember that "if we fail, we'll never become individuals." The young man nods. He plunges his assimilation tubules into Seven's neck.

The older man, looking at the components in his hand, reports successful access of Seven's memory files. But they then note with alarm that Seven has become aware of them and is trying to wake up. Her eyes open and she angrily fights them off. Tuvok, accompanied by two of his security officers, enter with phasers and stun the intruders.

2368

Having removed the salvageable parts from the dead drone, Seven of Nine and the other three survivors have found a use for the organic remains of its body: food. Seven of Nine roasts the remains. The act, however, brings up pre-assimilation memories in her; memories of camping with her father as a child. The other three drones eat. But the act of eating, and the taste of the flesh, serves to bring more pre-assimilation memories to mind. Without the Collective to dam it, the stream of memories begins to grow. They each begin to remember their names, their species, and what they were doing when the Borg attacked and assimilated them. They notice with horror their implants and prosthetics.

But, unlike Seven of Nine they were all assimilated as adults. The sense of individuality that comes with adulthood is therefore nothing new to them. But to Seven of Nine, who was assimilated as a child and grown up as Borg, and therefore did not have that full experience of individuality before she was assimilated, this sense of individuality is terrifying. She angrily, and with fear in her voice, instructs the others to stop their conversation and not to speak until the Collective re-assimilates them.

2376

The three former drones lie in the Sickbay. Seven and Captain Janeway listen to the report of The Doctor, on their condition. Seven recognizes them; the older man was Two of Nine, Primary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01; the younger man was Four of Nine, Seconday Adjunct of Unimatrix 01; and the woman was Three of Nine, Auxiliary Processor of Unimatrix 01. Their real names are, respectively, Lansor, P'Chan and Marika Wilkarah. She tells this to Janeway and The Doctor. Wilkarah herself is Bajoran, a victim of the Battle of Wolf 359.

Lansor's implants

Lansor's marred body.

The Doctor reports that the removal of the their implants was badly botched. This is evident; their bodies are badly marred with scars and Borg implants. Their organs, he continues, were badly damaged by the procedure. He then shows them the reason for their ability to speak to each other mentally: the left parietal lobes of their brains were transformed into interlink nodes, linking them together in a 'mini-hive mind'. How this was done, he cannot say. Janeway orders him to wake them. She demands of them what they want with Seven.

They explain their situation: they are trapped in this link that holds them together. They discovered it when they were retrieved by, and re-assimilated into, the Collective, and were unable to break it after they escaped. Thus, even though they are no longer Borg, they are unable to be individuals. They dream each other's dreams and constantly hear each other's voices in their heads. The strength of the link is evidenced by their smoothly finishing each other's sentences, as if it were one person speaking. It is maddening, they tell them; they want it to end. Seven, they assert, has, in her memory files, the key to understanding how this link was formed, which could show how to break it. Seven tells them she cannot consciously recall anything relating to this, but she is willing to allow them to access her memory files in the hope of finding out. Janeway agrees and authorizes the procedure.

Act Three

In Cargo Bay 2, Seven, Lansor, P'Chan and Marika use the Borg data equipment that Seven has to check their memory files. They each realize the same thing: there is a gap between the time they were gathered round the fire with which they roasted the organic remains of the dead drone and when they were again a part of the Collective. This is greatly frustrating to Lansor, P'Chan and Marika.

Captain Janeway is in her ready room disciplining two of her senior staff: Ensign Thomas Paris and Ensign Harry Kim. The two got into a street brawl on the station. She confines them to quarters with instructions to report to the Sickbay for treatment of their injuries first. When they have gone, Seven enters and reports the gap she and her fellow former drones discovered in their memories. She cannot understand; the Collective would not bother to wipe memories of re-assimilation from the minds of retrieved drones; new drones, yes, to further cement the destruction of their individuality, but not drones that already exist. Nor is there any advantage in linking the minds of three drones together within the hive mind, which is already one giant linkage.

Seven suggests a possible solution: she can link her neural interface with theirs, in effect, joining their group link. Together, they may be able to restore the missing memory data. This is dangerous, however; Seven may become trapped in the link with them. Also, she finds the idea of again being in a group mind very disturbing. But she greatly desires to help her fellows, former drones like herself. Janeway agrees to the procedure.

The Doctor is in Cargo bay 2 with Seven and the other former drones. He is there to monitor the link. But, he warns Seven, he will not be able to do much should anything go awry. She understands this. She enters her alcove. Lansor, P'Chan and Marika each take one of the other three alcoves next to Seven's. They all install themselves and the process begins.

2368

Seven of Nine has left the other drones. The beacon they have set up to contact the Collective has worked; a Borg vessel is on its way. But Seven has detected another drone some distance off in the swamp, severely damaged. She goes to attempt to render assistance. But to no avail; she watches as the drone convulses and, finally, dies.

This greatly heightens her fear. She rushes back to the other drones. But, on arrival, she finds that their individuality has now completely re-asserted itself. They angrily state that they have no intention of rejoining the Collective. Seven, even more frightened now, angrily and fearfully tries to argue, insisting that they are Borg, not individuals, with their primary function being to serve the Collective. But they will not listen. They decide to leave the area, getting away from the beacon and modifying their cortical nodes to avoid the sensors of any drones that come down to look for them. They scatter. Seven looks on fearfully. She appears to come to a decision, and strides after one of them.

She finds Two of Nine. She grabs his neck and plunges her tubules into it. He goes silent and stands quietly. When Seven moves away, he follows. She then finds Four of Nine. She comes up behind him and does the same to him. He becomes like Two of Nine and follows her. Lastly, she finds Three of Nine. As she screams and struggles, Seven plunges in her tubules. She becomes like the others. Seven asks them to state their designations. They do so, with no hint of their individuality. She asks them to state their purpose. To serve the Collective, they respond. Satisfied, she leads them back to the beacon.

2376

Seven awakens to find Lansor, P'Chan and Marika in her face. They are furious now, knowing that she is responsible for linking them together. Overwhelmed, Seven screams for help. Tuvok enters the bay immediately. The Doctor asks him for help in getting the three to the Sickbay.

Act Four

As Lansor, P'Chan and Marika lie sedated in the Sickbay, The Doctor sadly informs Seven that the link between them can be broken by removing the micro-cortical implants. These are the implants that she created in them to link them together. But doing so would kill them; they would have a month at most to live. The only other solution would be to return them to the Collective, where they would live, but as drones. The Doctor wants her opinion on what to do. Seven leaves to think about it.

She goes to Chakotay. As he himself was once temporarily linked to a mini-collective of former Borg drones, she considers him the best person to advise her on what to do (VOY: "Unity"). She explains the situation, and tells him about what happened that night. Without any air of judgment, he asks her why she did what she did. She thinks about it, and responds that her extreme fear of dying alone on that planet, cut off from the Collective, which was all she knew, got the better of her. Thus she forcibly linked them together so that they would remain together with her until they were re-assimilated. Her guilt over doing so is evident; because of her action they now have no choice but to re-join the Collective or die within a month. Chakotay tells her that that one month of individuality is much better than a lifetime as a drone. "Which would you choose?" he asks her. This allows her to decide.

She heads back to the Sickbay and tells The Doctor to remove the nodes. The Doctor objects, however. He tells her that it is his duty as a physician to preserve their lives for as long as possible, even if that means returning them to the Collective. He asks her if her decision is really to help them or to alleviate her guilt.

But she responds by using him as an example; once he was confined to the Sickbay, and limited only to the original emergency medical protocols he was first activated with. Thus he was like a drone. Now he can go anywhere and his program has grown to encompass much more than what it used to be. If he had to go back to "being a drone again", she asserts, he would resist. Lansor, P'Chan and Marika have the opportunity to be free, independent individuals, even if it is only briefly. They would choose that over being drones again, as would he, and as would she. The Doctor is moved by the logic of the argument. He agrees to remove the nodes.

Act Five

Lansor, P'Chan and Marika, the nodes removed and the link broken, are in the mess hall, looking out the windows. They revel in the newfound silences in their heads, save for each's own mental voice. Seven is standing apart from them quietly.

Lansor, P'Chan and Marika Wilkarah

Free at last.

They decide on what they are going to do with the time they have left. Lansor decides to stay on the station and spend the time meeting new people and doing new things. Before he leaves, he looks at Seven. The memory of what she did shows in a flash of anger on his face, but that is replaced by a look of gratitude. He departs. P'Chan decides to leave for an uninhabited planet a few light years away. He wants to spend his time among nature. He holds no grudge against Seven, telling her his people do not believe in doing such. He wishes her well and leaves. Finally, Marika tells Seven she would like to stay on Voyager for as long as she has left. Unlike Lansor and P'Chan, she does hold a grudge against her. But, she tells her that, though she cannot forgive her, she understands the reason for her action. Seven accepts this.

Voyager has resumed course and is at warp speed. Seven is in Astrometrics. Naomi Wildman joins her. She has heard about the events that have occurred and has come to offer Seven some close company. Seven is glad for it.

Log Entries

  • "Captain's Log, Stardate 53049.2. We've docked at the Markonian outpost and agreed to mutual visits, so I'm allowing shore leave to anyone who wants it. Commander Tuvok has objected to taking on too many visitors, but security issues aside, I'm looking forward to a cultural exchange, and making some new friends."
  • "Captain's Log, supplemental. Seven of Nine has decided to undergo the procedure that will link her mind with the other drones. Despite the risk involved she feels an obligation to help these distant cousins."

Memorable Quotes

"It's never a good sign when the patient feels the need to comfort the doctor."

- The Doctor, to Seven of Nine


"YOU stay here and be reassimilated, if you want to. I won't."

- Marika Wilkarah, to Seven of Nine


"Doesn't it look like Christmas morning in here, Commander?"
"You have to admit, the generosity of our guests is very impressive."
"As is their proclivity for criminal behavior." (Presents PADD) "This morning's security report."
(Reads) "Broken ODN line, some missing personal items, damaged scanner relay. All in all not that bad."
"There is a second page to the report."
(After reading further) "Well, some of these incidents are a little more serious, but on balance, I still think we did the right thing."
"There is a third page."

- Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok, regarding the Markonians' gifts in Janeway's ready room


"We wanted to broaden our understanding of alien cultures and ..."
"Skip the recruiting speech. You were looking for a bar."

- Paris and Janeway, who isn't buying his explanation of how he and Kim got arrested after a brawl on the station


"It's got me by the hair!"

- Janeway in reference to a rather large plant


"The biomatter is ready."
"It tastes similar to a bird I once ate..."

- P'Chan and Marika Wilkarah (as a recent drones) eating the camp fire roasted remains of another borg drone, apparently referencing the old "chicken tastes like everything" joke.

Background Information

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

References

Ansha; assimilation; Bajoran; bird; Borg; Borg alcove; Borg sphere; Brothara; Christmas; cortical implant; cortical processor; Dornar; Excalibur, USS; Federation; Hansen, Magnus; Inavar Prime; interlink module; interlink node; Kinbori; Markonian; Markonian outpost; marsupial surprise; memory cascade; microcortical implant; Morphinian; multi-polar analysis; nanoprobe; neural interface; neural link; neural shock; ODN line; Orendal V; Orendal system; parietal lobe; pizza; Planet 1865-Alpha; power conversion matrix; scanner relay; Shivolian; Species 571; synaptic relay; tennis; unimatrix; vine; Voyager medallion; Wildman, Samantha;


Previous episode:
"Equinox, Part II"
Star Trek: Voyager
Season 6
Next episode:
"Barge of the Dead"

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