First day at Starfleet Academy.
Greg Braxton carried his suitcases into the dorm a few minutes before the new cadets’ deadline to report. Not that he wasn’t eager to begin his ‘Fleet career, but he’d been busy with other important matters, such as a long and very pleasant goodbye to a girlfriend. He’d probably never see her again, but that didn’t stop him from getting the most mileage out of the situation.
He didn’t know anything about his assigned roommate except the guy’s name, Daniel Wilcox. Such an ordinary human name had come as something of a disappointment; he’d been expecting something far more exotic. The Academy had a practice of assigning roommates of different species to the extent that was feasible. The prospect of this object lesson in interspecies tolerance didn’t bother Braxton, who had grown up on a space station and had seen just about every race imaginable.
Well, almost, he thought, as the door to his new quarters slid silently open to reveal the extent to which the left side of the room had been converted into a jungle of unfamiliar computerized devices. Beyond question, this was the first time he’d seen a Borg drone up close and personal. Given that the Federation was still officially at war with the Collective, he hadn’t expected to see one, either.
The Borg in question, whose armor didn’t look quite like the pictures of drones that Braxton had seen, was busy attaching some dark metallic implement to his right foot. It took Braxton a moment to realize that the modifications to the armor had the exact shape and color of a cadet’s uniform, even to what looked like properly shined boots. Glancing toward the closet, Braxton saw another suit of armor in several pieces on the shelf, looking more like the standard external components of a drone.
“Your civilian clothes?” Braxton put down his suitcases and began to unpack a more conventional wardrobe.
“Something like that.”
The Borg spoke good English, without an accent, but the overly precise enunciation of the words indicated that it wasn’t his native language. Probably not a human rescued from the Collective, then. Although he looked close to human, it was hard to tell what he might be under all the cybernetics. More likely a Delta Quadrant species.
Weird way he’d rearranged his side of the room, too, with no bed or desk. God only knew what those alien machines were supposed to do. As long as they all stayed on Wilcox’s side of the room, Braxton didn’t particularly care. He wondered how the heck a Borg drone got a name like Wilcox, anyway. Didn’t the Borg all have numbers instead of names?
He could just imagine himself trying to explain all this to his mother when he called home. She’d been expecting him to room with a human, or perhaps a nice quiet half-Vulcan. Well, hi, Mom, guess what, my roommate is a Borg, but there’s no need to worry, I haven’t been assimilated yet.
And besides that, just how was a guy supposed to have a conversation with a drone? Forget all the usual talk about beer, sports, and women. Borg drones probably preferred to talk about computer engineering, if they talked at all. Might as well try to have a nice pleasant chat with the door frame.
Then again, it was never a good idea to jump to conclusions when dealing with an alien species. Couldn’t hurt to say something polite to Wilcox, after all.
“How do you like being at the Academy so far?”
The Borg turned his head with a deliberate motion and focused one eye that was paired with some sort of cybernetic visual implant. Braxton felt like an insect being studied under a microscope.
“These surroundings have been sufficiently configured to provide all required support functions. Additional information remains to be assimilated, however. It will take approximately three point two hours to download and cross-reference the contents of all first-year texts.”
Closing his eye, Wilcox stepped backward into an alcove along the wall. He stood motionless while the machinery hummed quietly around him. No doubt he was absorbing all data necessary to bust the curve in every exam for the foreseeable future. So much for polite conversation.
Sweet dreams, Braxton thought sarcastically, but he didn’t say anything out loud. For all he knew, even though Wilcox looked asleep, he might be automatically recording everything that went on around him. Or maybe one of those devices was. Braxton looked dubiously at the alien machinery again. And they really expected a human roommate to sleep in here?
He caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror on the wall. Clean-shaven, hair freshly trimmed, crisp new uniform, yeah, the look of a first-year cadet, all right. But the pictures he’d seen of Academy life never came with a background image straight out of a Borg cube.
“Welcome to Starfleet,” Braxton muttered.