Cooperation xB Societal Behavior | Assimilation Tubule Employment, "Tethering"
Regarding xB usage of the Borg-wide phenomenon (and therefore xB-wide) of "Assimilation Tubules" and their reclaimed usage therein
No doubt the reader is already aware of the Borg-wide trait of “assimilation tubules” found within every drone, and I imagine the reader is also aware of how daunting the mere sight of them can be to the uninitiated (and even the already inoculated). These tubules, while varying in placement (and amount) per-drone by whatever assimilation template was used on them, are most commonly found on a single hand- erupting from either the wrists, knuckles, or just above the distal joints. In most circumstances, they are entirely unable to be removed, in part due to their deep integration within the xB’s nervous system and skeletal structure. If assimilation tubules are damaged outside the body, they typically regenerate within 24 hours (making the labor of their removal even more difficult), as the Borg-given purpose of these augments are “adapting over obstacle for the continuation of assimilation, spreading of Borg influence, and allowing direct interfacing with any surrounding technology.”
As expected, the xBs of Ohniaka III have not only reckoned with this irremovable piece of technology, but have also begun to diversify its employment. Most often, the invasive nature of tubules are nullified by the Cybernetics Division to prevent excess nanoprobe reproduction within an organic subject or technological interface, the "limbs" from thereon serving as either aforementioned interface hookups, or as emergency medical aid for those possibly in need of nanoprobes’ reconstructive nature. Tubules may also serve as a unique method of identification when inserted to an xB user interface, receiving updates, or downloading programs and information directly into their cybernetic matrixes. It is quite odd, knowing I have become accustomed to the hissing sound of their deployment, and yet I see how “aware of themselves” xBs become when utilizing their tubules around someone the likes of me- someone untouched by the Borg, and someone who will forever be alien to this cybernetic piece of themselves.
I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention the personal use of assimilation tubules within xBs beyond medical necessity and technological feats, instead rekindling old links between themselves as fellow xBs. The act of “Tethering,” as it’s come to be called, is not dissimilar to the Vulcan mindmeld, though it is not as profound or life-impacting as the trading/insertion of a Katra (see Chapter “▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇ ▇▇▇▇▇▇ ▇▇ ▇▇▇▇” for further reference regarding mental links and “▇▇▇▇▇▇ ▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇"). Tethering has a wide variety of uses, though there must be a certain level of trust and familiarity between the involved xBs to permit such a connection in the first place (i.e.: unless an xB is a declared Medical or Cyberneticist member of the Reclamation Project, the act of a random xB initiating a Tether with another xB is extremely frowned upon and akin to physical assault).
I have seen Tethering used as a means of non-verbal communication, xBs downloading files or programs from a friend, and even seen it employed during xB copulation to enhance their “pleasing” activities. To quell the reader’s possible curiosity, it is possible for an xB to Tether to and with non-xBs (as well as deliver these medical dosages), but the time allowed per-species before the nanoprobes flood a subject’s system and spark a null assimilation vary greatly, and must be preceded with extreme caution.
In my youth, I was once stung by a jellyfish; despite the highly unpleasant event, I can think of no better comparison for my personal experience with Tethering, sans all forms of pain or long-lasting neurological damage. As I wailed for an antivenom hypospray on the limestone beaches of Cornwall from my mothers, I felt what was the jellyfish’s “gift” traveling up my arm, through my veins and along my quickened pulse… Where as a child I felt pain, the experience of Tethering was far different, and dare I say enrapturing. My co-writer of this publication, host to Ohniaka III, and Tethering initiator Junction Horus, had a voice clear as day as he held my forearm, my eyes wide as I felt a shiver run through my body, the man suddenly so much more present in both body and mind. I could only remain Tethered for 21.18 seconds before a supervising Medical Relay had to administer a nanoprobe nullifying hypospray, but the experience was, reader, truly indescribable- especially to one such as myself, who will never know the billion-voiced presence of the Collective as wholly as they do.
My xB associates often spend long periods of time searching for words by which to describe the world around them. From both observing and experiencing Tethering, I could hardly imagine, dream, or fathom what kind of words they go “looking for” when that deeper level of connection from a ▇▇▇▇▇▇ ▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇ is involved.
SPECIES-SPECIFIC CULTURAL INCORPORATION
Within the overarching usages of Tethering, various xB species and diaspora communities have begun to incorporate Tethering into their respective peoples' customs. For instance (and to make good on my earlier comparison of mindmelding/Katra): I have witnessed Vulcan xBs utilize assimilation tubules when initiating mindmelds of both the diagnostic and cerebral sense, seen Klingons supply fellow “warriors in arms” nanoprobe dosages to keep the other fighting till their bodies gave out under the weight of their batleths, and I've been allowed into Bajoran xB spaces to watch them Tether for co-op meditations on their Pagh to their Prophets. And make no mistake; as is with the newness of the Alpha Quadrant xBs' culture, these traditions are being forged every day- to compliment the individual's continual growth and expansion on their ever-reemerging identities.
To lend further weight and proof to this former statement, I will recount the events that happened to a Trill Starfleet Ensign (with permission from all involved parties and officers)- whose actions may help the future development of Trill xB culture for generations to come.
The Tor Incident, late 2390
Within the first three months of my stay on Ohniaka III and six months into the maiden voyage of Starfleet's USS Pharagodia, the exploration vessel's crew encountered wreckage between a Borg scout ship and a Federation science research vessel, Captain Roger Caldwell taking initiative to explore the debris. Among others, the starship’s xB Counselor Lieutenant was brought on this away team for obvious contextual familiarity, as well as an unjoined Trill Medical Ensign who had just finished their thesis on cybernetics for Starfleet Academy. Exploring the two small, mangled ships, the Ensign found a Trill Borg drone that was actually carrying an assimilated symbiont that held its own, rapidly-fading lifesign. I am told that “with a fire in their eyes and desperation in their voice,” they pleaded with the team and their Captain that take the drone back and at least save the dying symbiont inside, offering their own body as a sanctuary host. Relenting under the acute moral dilemma that had all the grace and timing of a 20th century claymore, Caldwell relented despite the unknown nature of what this procedure may do to the Ensign, and allowed the operation to occur back onboard the Pharagodia.
From there, the situation only grew more complex. The xB Counselor Lieutenant, a Progenitor and someone the Ensign visited quite often as a therapist specializing in gender identity, recommended the now-joined Trill be brought to Ohniaka III (along with some reclaimed salvage from the two ships' wreckage). Even if it might not be the Caves of Mak’ala, the Ensign would receive treatment from xBs who knew how to properly stabilize them and their symbiont, as Trill doctors were most likely not as experienced in this department. For as the days ticked by and the Pharagodia charted course for the Ohniakan system, it was discovered that the now-xB symbiont had begun to adapt and “Tether” assimilation tubules deeper into the Ensign’s body from points of symbiont integration, and was slowly spreading their cybernetic influence into the non-xB Trill host.
The symbiont seemed to accept them as a host, thankfully, but the past lives and memories came roughly for the Ensign as they underwent both a mental and physical transformation into that of a tangential xB- even if the Trill never directly touched by the Collective. While I will spare details from provided accounts, it would be shocking for anyone to experience the sudden eruption of a “spider web” cheek augment with the feeling of bones and ligaments churning within, as well as sift through and try to sort what is your mind, the thoughts of your symbiont's past lives, or the billions of voices that echo within the remnants of every xB’s soul.
Thankfully, the xB Counselor was there to offer Tethering to the Ensign in turmoil- for both figurative mental health support, and the literal assimilation tubule kind unique to xBs.
Halfway into the journey, the Trill Symbiont Commission contacted the Pharagodia and demanded the symbiont and their host be brought back to Trill first, lest they possibly “corrupt the symbiont further than what the Borg had already done” by outside medical treatment. While the Cooperation is an ally of the Federation, it is not a member as Trill is, and therefore the Commission carried more priority in determining the fates regarding one of its citizens- much less a symbiont. This time, Captain Caldwell had far more time to weigh these political ramifications with their moral ones after having watched the Ensign’s progress firsthand, and made the offering that the Pharagodia had technology to drop off to Ohniaka III anyway (I am also told the Ensign made a passionate case for themselves by storming onto the bridge, interrupting a call with a very prominent Trill politician and begging their autonomy their own self to be seen and understood). By the time this week’s journey was complete and the Pharagodia arrived to offload salvaged Borg tech and dormant drones, the Trill was in dire, patchwork straits and went straight into emergency Reclamation Procedures- only kept stable by the vigilant watch of Sickbay and the xB Counselor.
It was here that finally, the Trill was fully able to recite all their host's former names, and properly assume the surname of their symbiont.
I was fortunate enough to meet this Ensign before the Pharagodia departed again. While Starfleet was none too happy and Captain Caldwell apparently had to pick up the political pieces, the crew I met told me that it was worth it. The Ensign, with a melancholy grin and an xB stare, told me that while this could mean incredible things for the future of Trill xBs, all they knew for now was that "the Pharagodia had another xB onboard."
“Now there's two of us. I guess technically three, depending on how you’re counting.”