Friday, March 30, 2012

Transformers Feature: Reveal the Shield Special Ops Jazz

A couple of weeks ago, I featured a toy from the Reveal the Shield line without really getting into what the Reveal the Shield line was all about. There's really not much to tell. Reveal the Shield was something of a filler line between the line dedicated to toys related to the second live-action Transformers film and the then-still-upcoming line dedicated to the third. Its main gimmick was a return to using heat-sensitive rubsigns such as had been used back in Generation One and a few times since. This time, instead of being some kind of mark of "authenticity," the nominal idea was that you didn't know what faction the character was aligned with until you rubbed the heat-sensitive sticker revealing the faction symbol.

Yes, this was arguably the worst-kept secret of all time.

Even if the vast majority of toys in Reveal the Shield weren't homages to well-known Generation One characters, the packaging itself tended to give away the secret. Unambiguous faction symbols would still be visible just above the picture of the figure on the back, and often the character's bio would make mention of the character's allegiance. Jazz is a particularly egregious example. It has long been understood that the word "Jazz" is too common for Hasbro to easily defend as a trademark, and so they have taken to adding the word "Autobot" to such names for many toys in the recent past. They started to do better here, using "Special Ops Jazz" as the official name of this Reveal the Shield toy, but the bio on the back of the package gives away the game with the very first words... "Autobot Jazz."

As a modern toy for a classic Generation One character, Jazz is one of the better specimens out there. Not only are the vehicle (above) and robot modes unmistakably Jazz, but the designers tossed in a couple of "speaker" accessories that evoke the character's famous love of human music amazingly well. These can be deployed either in robot mode (as seen here) or in vehicle mode. When fans pleaded years ago for the classic toys to be re-released with modern toy-making techniques, this is the kind of thing they were asking for!

Unlike Windcharger, Reveal the Shield Jazz did see a normal retail release. But that didn't last long, as most of the Reveal the Shield line fell victim to the same aversion to restocking that caused Windcharger to be relegated to the discount stores. If you didn't pick up Jazz pretty quickly at the end of 2010, you probably had to go a Ross or similar place to find him several months later. However, this does mean that there is still an outside chance that you might be able to find this toy at such stores even now. If you can, I totally recommend picking it up if you haven't already. Jazz was worth the price that Target would have charged, but you'll actually be paying several dollars less than that if you can snag it at one of the discount chains. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ratbat: Teaching Kids to Conserve

It's no secret that children's entertainment often incorporates education about important values. This is certainly true today, but it was even true of the shows I grew up with. Some shows were more explicit about this than others. No one had to give themselves a headache wondering what values were behind shows like Captain Planet or The Care Bears, but I doubt anyone was truly surprised when a show like GI Joe offered public service announcements at the end of each cartoon, or when He-Man did much the same thing, with the added bonus of having the lesson be an important plot point of the preceding episode itself. Even shows that weren't quite so over-the-top about teaching life lessons would nonetheless routinely work them into the stories.

So it would hardly be a surprise for someone to point out that the Transformers franchise has a particular character who was a staunch conservationist. Waste was absolutely abhorrent to him, and he lectured on the need to save fuel at nearly every opportunity. What is perhaps more surprising is to realize that this proponent of the values of efficiency was, in fact, one of the bad guys! In fact, in the Marvel Transformers comic, Ratbat—who was introduced as the "Decepticon Fuel Auditor" (perhaps a minor deviation from the function of "Fuel Scout" that appears on the toy's Tech Specs, but it's widely understood that both were written by author Bob Budiansky, so I wouldn't worry too much about that)—actually rose to the position of Decepticon leader in his efforts to maximize efficiency among his people. And, almost without argument, Ratbat was the most successful leader the comic-continuity Decepticons ever had! Even Megatron never staged such a successful drubbing against his enemies as Ratbat managed.

Perhaps in this era of rising gas prices, following the example of an evil Decepticon doesn't sound like such a bad idea....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not-Quite-Transformers Feature: KO Minerva

A few months ago,the folks behind Reprolabels decided to launch an online message board. In order to encourage Transformers fans to give their new board a chance, they offered fans a free set of Minerva and Go-Shooter Reprolabels to anyone who either had the original Japanese exclusive toys (which are notoriously hard to find), or a recently-released knock-off set emulating either toy. I wasn't especially interested in Go-Shooter, but I went ahead with the KO Minerva, since it seems unlikely to me that Takara will ever get around to a proper reissue.

The knock-off is a surprisingly close likeness of the original Minerva. Ignoring the entirely-different stickers (which I was going to replace, anyway), the most significant difference between the KO and the original is the black torso. All the other colors are a very near match. Another important difference is that the guns that form the "ears" of Minerva's head only have pegs on one side, which prevents them from sitting as flat against the head as the alternate pegs on the originals would have allowed. Mildly annoying, but beyond my limited kitbashing skills to do anything about, as was the final noticeable distinction between this toy and an authentic Minerva: the "plus sign" on the side of Minerva's chest piece.

The KO also comes with a couple of pieces which have no Minerva-accurate counterparts, and thus aren't pictured here: a sword and a green lightbar. The latter is perhaps a bit ironic, because although Minerva is supposed to be a rescue vehicle, which would actually need a lightbar, the effect is achieved simply by the red plastic of the main body, showing at just the right places on top of the vehicle by virtue of a hinge needed for transformation. No extra piece is necessary.

Anyway, back to the Reprolabels offer. In order to make sure that they were sending sticker sets to people who could actually use them, they asked that anyone interested send a picture of themselves holding the toy the stickers were intended for. So, after the KO arrived in the mail, I took advantage of my camera's remote trigger, took the required shot, and sent in the image.

I knew that it would be a few months before the stickers were actually ready to be sent, which gave me time to make the one major modification I felt the KO figure required to become an acceptable Minerva stand-in: that black torso simply had to be made white! I have a fairly small apartment, and my one attempt to get an airbrush set many years ago ended up with the airbrush largely unused and eventually thrown out. Rather than mess with that again, I intended to use a spray can. Looking up popular model varieties, I decided to use Tamiya for Plastics, which was the only acrylic model paint I could find that came in spray cans ready to use. Unfortunately, it turned out that none of the several hobby stores in my area had the Tamiya "Pure White" I needed. One vendor explained that this was due to the fact that much of Japan is still rebuilding from the tsunami damage of a year ago. I was willing to wait, but weeks came and went with no change. In fact, the stickers finally arrived and I still hadn't found the white paint I needed! I finally asked a fan who had painted his KO Minerva, and it turns out that Krylon Fusion is just fine for this kind of plastic, and is widely available! A couple of days later, my KO Minerva was finally repainted, reassembled, and restickered.

One of the reasons that Minerva is considered important to Transformers history is that she is the very first female Transformer to actually have a toy. Technically, this is because she is a Headmaster whose head component is female (in fact, in the Japanese Masterforce storyline, the main body—called a transtector—has no life of its own, but is a mecha controlled by the human Minerva*). This fact, coupled with the Japanese-exclusive nature of the toy, make authentic Minervas extremely hard to come by. If you manage to snag one at a reasonable price, consider yourself lucky!

*The transtector is granted life at the end of the series.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Transformers Feature: Reveal the Shield Windcharger

For anyone who's spent any meaningful amount of time collecting things, it is quickly understood that some items are harder to come by than others. Transformers are certainly no exception. Convention exclusives, "Lucky Draw" toys, items sold only in markets outside of the United States... these are simply an understood part of the hobby. The limited nature of such items means that no one has a 100% "complete" collection. That's not to say that some folks don't come pretty close, of course!

Reveal the Shield Windcharger is, by all accounts, an oddity. As the first new-mold toy designed to be the original 1984 Generation One character since the original,1 it's no surprise that it was heavily sought-after by Transformers fans. But unless you knew in advance where to look, the odds are you've never seen this toy at the store. This is not because it was a convention exclusive, or some "Lucky Draw," or even that it was marketed only outside of the country. This was—or perhaps it's safer to say "should have been"—a regular, mass-retail released toy. And yet it wasn't.

So, what happened? There were several factors, but perhaps the easiest to blame was the apparent lack of success selling toys related to the second live-action Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen. Windcharger was intended to come out late in 2010, between Revenge of the Fallen's 2009 release and the summer 2011 release of Dark of the Moon, which itself was responsible for putting a massive amount of product in stores everywhere. But with many Revenge of the Fallen toys still at those same stores, retailers weren't eager to be ordering too many new toys, certainly not as readily, lest they linger when the stores needed to have the shelves full of Dark of the Moon product. Another factor was that the "Scout" size class has been slowly fazed out due to issues related to rising production costs and inflation. As one of the last Scout-class toys released before the Dark of the Moon line came out, Windcharger was one of the casualties.

And Windcharger was actually one of the "lucky" ones! A few toys designed to come out just after Windcharger, such as a new-mold Rumble (or Frenzy, depending on who you talk to), were cancelled entirely (at least for the time being). At least Windcharger was known to exist, although by the time of BotCon 2011, it still wasn't being found in American brick-and-mortar stores, and so many fans bought entire cases (including many figures previously released) at the convention just so they could get the Windcharger figure2 (in fact, only one other previously-unreleased figure was in the Windcharger cases, and that one really wasn't in anywhere near as much demand).

Windcharger, and other toys intended to be released about that same time, finally started showing up shortly after BotCon, but only at budget department stores, especially Ross (to this day, I haven't seen any Windchargers at any stores besides Ross, but TJ Maxx and Marshalls did get a number of similarly hard-to-find toys at about that same time, and I'm told that a chain called Five Below had them well after Ross sightings started to peter out). When I first started hearing rumors of this situation last summer, I started regularly checking out every one of these stores I could find. In the greater Southern California area, that makes for a lot of stores! I actually started keeping a list, but by the time I hit a couple dozen distinct Ross stores, I finally stopped keeping track. This went on for many weeks throughout the summer. Then, around mid-August, I finally found one! Persistence does have its rewards (oddly enough, I found a second one at another store that same day, which I confess to promptly snatching up and selling on eBay to at least partially compensate for all that time running around and using gas)! Thus, Windcharger holds the record for the most effort I've ever put into owning a single Transformers figure.

1There was an Alternators Windcharger, but that mold was actually designed to be a new version of Overdrive, and then had a name change for the US market. Arguably, Alternators Decepticharge was designed to be Windcharger—or at least the head was—but the rest of the mold was the same one designed to be Overdrive, and Decepticharge ended up being a different character, anyway.
2Of course, there were those two lucky kids who got a Windcharger for free from my very own hands while I was volunteering Saturday morning!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In a World Where Fire Chiefs Drive Lamborghinis...

When quintessential movie trailer voice Don LaFontaine passed away a few years ago, perhaps the single most common thing that was said about him was his penchant for beginning his narratives with the phrase "in a world...". Especially in the science fiction genre, such a phrase helps to set up the important differences between the world of the story and the world in which we all live.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Video Game 30th Anniversary of the Month - Pac-Man (Atari 2600 version)

Although most of these monthly video game features will be about games you would have had to pump quarters into to play, the rise of the home console was an important facet of an earlier generation, as well. And since I can't properly feature Pac-Man's 30th anniversary this year (not that I let it go by completely unnoticed at the appropriate time), celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Atari 2600 home version (which, according to an article in the April 5, 1982 edition of TIME Magazine, came out this very month 30 years ago) seems to be the way to go.

Part of the reason that video arcades aren't as popular today as they were 30 years ago is because players can get a comparable gaming experience from the comforts of their own home as they can can from a dedicated arcade game unit. But back in 1982, the gap between what you'd find in an arcade game and what you could get at home was considerable. A number of compromises had to be made to accommodate then-affordable home console technology. Here are just a few examples:
  • The colors are much less distinctive (perhaps the most obvious issue being that all four ghosts in the 2600 game are nearly the same color—differences, if any, are hard to discern—vs. the four obviously different colors of the original version)
  • Instead of an ever-changing array of fruit bonuses, this version only ever uses a single "Vitamin" icon.
  • This version's Pac-Man can only face left or right, and never up nor down. 
  • The sounds are noticeably inferior when compared to the arcade version (although the sound made when a Pac-Man is caught by a ghost has since become recognizable as a standard "video game sound" in television shows all over the place, including some made much more recently!).
It is worth noting that, in these screen captures, only one of the four ghosts is ever visible. This isn't because the other three have been "eaten" or are otherwise disposed of. It's because the makers of this particular game couldn't figure out how to have four independent ghost sprites on the board simultaneously (a problem that was solved for future 2600-era Pac-family games). The designers worked around this problem by having each ghost strobe on screen one at a time so quickly that it gave the impression of four flickering ghosts on the screen at once. Effective enough, although all that flickering caused a lot of people eye strain (and possibly worse).*

Another oddity of this version of Pac-Man stems from the fact that most video arcade games of the 1980s used a monitor in a "portrait" orientation (that is, more tall than wide) whereas most televisions in people's homes use a "landscape" orientation (more wide than tall). To accommodate this difference, the 2600 version of Pac-Man does a kinda-sorta rotation of the game board when compared to the original game. The tunnels are at the top and bottom—instead of on the sides as in the original—and the ghosts come out of their central "home" via the right-hand side—instead of from the top. Otherwise, the board on the 2600 version—seen here rotated, stretched, and superimposed over the original version—is almost entirely dissimilar to the original board.

It is reported that there were around 10 million Atari 2600 game consoles in use in 1982, and the geniuses at Atari—believing not only that every Atari 2600 owner would want this game, but apparently also that owners of consoles not even made yet would also want it—had 12 million Pac-Man cartridges made. This means that, although Pac-Man was the top selling Atari 2600 cartridge of all time (selling over 7 million copies), there were an estimated 5 million more copies that never sold, and the "poor" sales of the game are often cited as a leading cause of the crash of the home video game market in 1983. The irony of these two bits of data alongside each other is simply astonishing.

I probably sound quite negative about this game, but it must be remembered that I'm writing from the perspective of an adult who can look back with the hindsight of 30 years of history, and history simply hasn't been kind to the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man. But when I was a kid, this game was the whole reason I wanted to get an Atari console for my home, and I played it all the time once we finally got it (there's a story behind that, as well, but if I tell it, I should do so in a different post, as it's reasonably long). As ridiculous as the folks at Atari were to make more Pac-Man cartridges than consoles, they certainly had me pegged!

*This news article doesn't spell out that the offending version of Pac-Man was the 2600 version, but it does say the boy was playing at home, which indicates this version with a pretty high degree of probability.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Ten of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Nine, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Ten begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Ten

The Borg had waited for the ship on the other side of the star to emerge. Now, it finally had done so. They began pursuit. Suddenly, a message ran through the Borg collective consciousness. "'Resistance... is NOT futile?'... 'I am Hugh'...' If I could choose,... I choose to stay with Geordi!'...'Goodbye, Geordi. I will try to remember you....'"

What was this? The Borg did not understand these memories. And yet they originated with one of their own members. This warranted study.

For now, the task of assimilating the other vessel was most important. The Borg continued their pursuit.

But what were these... feelings?

As the Enterprise warped around the star, it was apparent that something was wrong. Data attempted to compensate, but before he could announce the danger to the captain, it was all over.

The Enterprise came out of the warp field, and the Borg were still there....

...But so was Dinar VII! Not Dinar VII, the barren rock, but Dinar VII, the planet. Apparently complete with civilization.

But before the crew of the Enterprise could deal with this mystery, they had to deal with the Borg ship.

Data spoke, "It would appear that we were again unsuccessful."

Then the Borg ship exploded.

The Enterprise assumed orbit around Dinar VII to find that their attempt to defeat the Borg had unpredicted results.

Data had used the ship's sensors to obtain readings from the planet. He arrived in the captain's ready room to report his findings. "It would appear," he began, "that the Borg chased us into the sun's gravity well, as expected. Instead of destroying the ship right there, however, their warp field joined with ours, with the effect of taking us backward in time, rather than forward. I managed to make adjustments to keep ourselves from being destroyed upon arrival, but the Borg, never before having attempted this maneuver, were unable to do so."

The Doctor broke in. "So, when in time are we?"

"According to sensor readings, we seem to have been taken back almost 400 years."

The Doctor leaped up. "That's it! This is what caused the two alternate realities. The destruction of the Borg ship coming out of the time vortex must have caused a rift in the space-time continuum, creating two universes!"

Picard pondered the information. "So, which universe are we in now?"

"I'm not sure," the Doctor answered. "But I know how to find out."

The Doctor and Captain Picard stood outside the doors of the TARDIS. Picard just stared.

"You mean to tell me that you travel through time and space in that?" he asked.

"Maybe you'll understand better if you see the inside." The Doctor and Picard went through the TARDIS doors.

Picard took one look. "This is incredible. Your ship cannot exist in our dimension and still fit inside that cabinet!"

"Very good observation, Captain. Actually, the TARDIS does exist in relative dimensions. The space in here is near infinite."

The Doctor checked his readings on the TARDIS console. He was still unable to receive coordinates. "It would seem that we are still in your universe. You can go back to your own time from here and find your universe back the same way you left it."

"Then how will you get back to your own universe?" Picard asked.

"I should be able to go back in time to a point just before we arrived," the Doctor answered. "If I enter the time vortex at the same time as the Borg ship explodes, I should be able to reenter my universe."

"When will you leave?"

"I really don't have any further reason to stay." The Doctor started adjusting his instruments. "Please say goodbye to everyone for me, Captain."

Picard headed for the TARDIS doors, "I am glad to have met you, Doctor. Without your help, our entire way of life may have been destroyed."

The Doctor gave Captain Picard a firm handshake. "All in a day's work. Goodbye, Captain."

"Goodbye, Doctor," Picard went through the TARDIS doors and found himself emerging from a police box once again. He took a moment for another silent thought of gratitude as the box vanished from his sight.

The TARDIS passed through the rift, and arrived in the Doctor’s own universe. The Doctor checked the TARDIS console for coordinates. Sure enough, he’d found himself in the late twentieth century: the year 1982 by Earth standards. Data had apparently been correct about his assessment of the Daleks and Cybermen disappearing by this time. Apparently, aspects of reality had been split by the rift. Some aspects continued to exist only in one reality, while other aspects would only be found in the other. Certain general truths, such as the reelection of Ronald Reagan, the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger, and the eventual movement of mankind into space, remained constants. However, as the time from the creation of the rift continued to grow in each universe, fewer similarities would exist.

One question continued to nag at the Doctor’s mind, however. If the rift was caused by the destruction of the Borg ship, how had the Doctor been pulled into it in the first place? Since the Doctor had been responsible for that destruction, a paradox had been created. How could the Doctor have fallen into a rift he could not have created until he had fallen into the rift? The Doctor had no answer. Undoubtedly, he would understand the true nature of the rift in time.

The Borg Queen considered this latest defeat. Twice now, the Borg had attempted to invade the Federation, and twice now they had been repelled by the same ship. When Jean-Luc Picard had been chosen to represent the Borg as Locutus, the Queen knew that she was choosing an exceptional specimen of humanity. But such ability to resist Borg domination was utterly unprecedented.

Still, this attempt was not a total loss. Before the cube's destruction, it experienced the phenomenon of time travel. Perhaps the technology and technique necessary to accomplish this feat could itself prove useful. Of course, it would take a while to work out exactly how to duplicate the process, as well as to research exactly what point of the Federation's history would be the most vulnerable target for a temporal attack....

The Queen smiled. Thanks to the strange being known as the Doctor, time was now something of which she had an unlimited supply....


A word about continuity: Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation will no doubt remember that the sixth season cliffhanger of ST:TNG, which takes place after this story, depicts emotional, individual Borg, having been affected by Hugh's reabsorption. These Borg were lost, barely surviving when Data's brother Lore found them.

So, how do I reconcile that fact with the idea that otherwise non-affected Borg might possess a Hugh-borne vulnerability? I submit that only the Borg ship that directly reabsorbed Hugh was affected directly by his individuality. The existence of the Borg Queen (first seen in the movie Star Trek: First Contact) and Hugh's recognition of Locutus both reveal that other Borg ships do indeed have knowledge of what happens elsewhere in the collective. This must mean that other Borg ships, not directly affected as Hugh's ship was, nonetheless hold potential access to that information indirectly, but this would only be information, not total experience. Thus I suggest that, for most ships in the collective, Hugh's personality was placed in an "inactive" file, where it would not directly affect the collective. K-9's accessing of Hugh's "inactive" personality brought it to the forefront of this particular ship's consciousness, but it was destroyed before it had a chance to suffer Hugh's group's fate

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Doctor Who and the Borg: Part Nine of Ten

Characters and concepts related to Doctor Who and Star Trek, and related marks, are trademarks of the BBC and CBS Studios Inc., respectively. This work of fan fiction is written purely for entertainment purposes, and is not to be used in trade of any kind.

To go back and read Part Eight, click here, or to go to the beginning, click here. Part Nine begins after the jump.

Doctor Who and the Borg
by Mark Baker-Wright
Part Nine


Captain Picard watched the image of the star in front of him one more time. Hours had passed, and nothing had happened. The Borg were quite capable of waiting out the Enterprise indefinitely. It was only a matter of time before the Enterprise would have to move, and be destroyed.

Picard's concentration was interrupted by the hissing of the turbolift doors. He looked around to see the Doctor walking through. The Doctor's face looked bright and cheerful. How did the man always seem to stay so happy? "Captain, you never told me that you actually had a Borg on this ship before."

Picard was confused. "We have been invaded by the Borg several times in the past, I don't see what you are getting at."

"I'm referring to a Borg that one of your crewmembers named 'Hugh.'"

Picard still didn't quite understand. "Hugh was the lone survivor of a recent Borg survey team. We were going to use him to help destroy his people, but some ethical questions came up as Hugh seemed to become an 'individual.'"

"My point exactly," the Doctor pointed out. "Hugh began to develop a sense of individuality that was alien to the rest of his people. He learned the concepts of 'you,' 'I,' and 'friend,' instead of the collective 'we.' Hugh was then re-assimilated into the Borg collective. Your records indicate that you don't know what happened to Hugh after that."

"While I admit that we had some small hope that the Borg might learn some of Hugh's individuality for themselves, we always assumed that if and when the Borg located that part of Hugh's new identity, his memory would be erased. Hugh would then have lost that sense of himself."

"But what if the Borg collective does still retain part of Hugh's experience?"

"We've asked ourselves that question, as well, although the fact that our adversaries remain out there, as implacable as ever, would seem to argue against it. But even if it were true, how could we make use of that information?"

"I've met up with many creatures that have created a symbiotic relationship with computers, yet the Borg seem unsurpassed in their ability to perform near-instantaneous computer calculations. When we tried to time jump using the sun's gravity, the Borg would have only had the merest fraction of a second in which to correct their course and escape. I'm convinced that what separates the Borg from other computer-related species I've encountered is their utter lack of individuality. Indeed, they seem more like an insectoid race of my acquaintance than anything remotely humanoid. Any computer that had to cope with competing thoughts in its memory would not be able to respond that quickly. Individuals would have differing ideas of what course of action to take. They would have to start asking 'which option do I choose' before changing course. The Borg must have eliminated even this basic sense of individuality. Acting as a single unit, the collective would make their corrections first, perceiving the danger, saving any questions of 'what happened' and 'why' for later."

"That would again seem to argue that the Borg did not retain Hugh's sense of individuality."

"But suppose that the Borg simply put Hugh's consciousness into an 'inactive file,' if you will. The ideas would still be there, but they would not interfere with normal operations."

"So how do we access this 'inactive file?'"

The Doctor just smiled. "I think I've got just the thing!"

The Doctor entered the ready room followed by K-9. "Captain, allow me to introduce K-9, my robotic assistant."

K-9 wagged his tail for a moment.

Captain Picard looked down at the strange, metal dog. "How is this going to help us with the Borg?"

"When I was on the Borg ship earlier, K-9 was able to communicate with the ship for a moment. After having left us alone on their ship for several hours, that contact apparently alerted them to my presence. Anyway, K-9 now knows the communication makeup of the Borg, and can search through their data banks for information regarding Hugh's experience with the Enterprise. Once he finds it, K-9 can then get the Borg to focus their attention on that piece of information. On Hugh's individualized personality. If my theory is right, if we try the same technique as we did last time, the Borg will be too preoccupied as they explore the implications of that information to avoid being destroyed."

"I can only hope that you're right, Doctor. Make it so."

The Doctor and K-9 set up in engineering. Geordi made a last check over the ship's engines, then tapped his communicator. "Captain, we're all set down here. With the exception of K-9's communications link, everything should work exactly the same as before."

The Captain's voice came through the communicator. "Good. Tell the Doctor to begin."

K-9 extended his antenna and established contact.

Geordi spoke into his communicator again. "Beginning breakaway sequence."

To Be Continued...

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