"Locutus," Sleeping Beauty slurred to her prince. "You've come."
"My Queen," said Picard.
The Borg Queen reached out her hands and he took them, helping her to move out of the regeneration alcove. "We'll be together forever," she said.
Fooling the Borg "Hugh" while he was detached from the collective was one thing; fooling the Borg Queen would be another - unless there was a period of disorientation when a new Queen awoke to the old Queen's memories. Picard and the Doctor had had no way of knowing before she was awakened whether this would be the case. But apparently there was, and it wouldn't have to last long.
"My Queen, we have an emergency." Picard looked over to the Time Lords, and the Queen followed his gaze. "The Time Lord you left yourself in charge to has betrayed you. And in his instability he has allowed a rival Time Lord to challenge him for his position."
"Locutus," said the Queen, troubled. "I can't hear you."
"The Time Lord battle drowns me out," Picard said, "as it immobilizes the collective of this entire ship." The drones in Picard's sight were as motionless as the Time Lords engaged in their mental duel. Luck was with Picard; the Queen didn't refute his guess why they should be so quiet. Maybe he was even right. "They are too powerful to assimilate. You must expel both Time Lords from the collective to defeat them."
"Too powerful?" The Queen's brow lowered with some of the old Queen's confidence.
"Until you are secure in your new body," Picard assured her. "For now, they must be expelled. And," he added with more inspiration, "the Master's time capsule with them, for everyone knows Time Lords link telepathically to their TARDISes."
"Yes," said the Queen. Picard's luck was holding still; apparently the old Queen's memories included that fact, lending verisimiltude to his ploy to get the Master's TARDIS disconnected from the cubeship.
The Queen shut her eyes and concentrated. Almost instantly Picard saw the first manifestation of her mental actions in the collective. A host of communication cables - not too dissimilar from the ones crisscrossing the deck on the Enterprise bridge even now - of their own volition, snakelike, pulled themselves out of and away from a regeneration alcove right next to the Queen's. That alcove would be the Master's TARDIS; unlike the Doctor's, its chameleon circuit functioned, disguising and camouflaging it wherever it went.
Picard turned his attention back to the Doctor and the Master, even as the Queen must be doing. For a moment nothing happened. Then the Master fell to the deck with a cry.
"He had no will left," said the Queen. "He was easily cast off."
"And the Doctor?" Picard asked. The Doctor was quite pale now, still frozen in the attitude and expression he'd been left with after he'd last spoken.
"He still struggles," the Queen said. "He'll be expelled soon - if he survives."
Struggles? Picard wondered. It had only been Picard's story that the Doctor was after the Borg power. ...Hadn't it?
Or was the Doctor now genuinely attempting to supplant the Borg Queen, with some idea of remaking the Borg into a force for good?
At the thought Picard knew that this was exactly what the Doctor was, with typical Time Lord hubris, trying to do. He crossed to the Doctor in one stride and struck him across the face as hard as he could. The Doctor's head reared back, and with a groan the Time Lord collapsed as the Master had done.
"Doctor!" Picard called, kneeling at his side. "Doctor!"
The Doctor blinked and looked up to Picard. "Thanks, Captain. I needed that."
A noise distracted them. Looking up, Picard saw that the Master no longer lay where he had fallen. He had vanished; and the noise was that of his alcove-disguised TARDIS vanishing into the Time Vortex.
"Locutus," said the Queen, with more than Picard liked of the old Queen's malicious charm, "I still can't hear you."
Before Picard could answer, the Enterprise transporter whisked him and the Doctor away.
"Status!" barked Picard, standing as they materialized on the bridge.
"The Borg ship no longer enjoys temporal grace," Riker said, "as of about two minutes ago."
"Moving in on us," Epstein reported from con. "Weapons and tractors are having no effect on us."
"Datalinks with the TARDIS are still nominal," LaForge said. "The Enterprise is still safe in the temporal grace of the Doctor's TARDIS."
"I pulled you out," Riker explained to Picard, "since it was obvious our victory condition was met."
"Your timing was exquisite," Picard said.
Crusher was scanning the Doctor with a medical tricorder. "You have a lot of inert Borg nanites in your system. All dead. The Master?"
"Got away in his TARDIS," said the Doctor. "He's learned his lesson, I'm sure. He won't try this again." He bounced to his feet as casually as if he'd been on a stroll in the country. It ticked Picard off.
"You!" he yelled at the Doctor. "You're no better than the Master!"
The Doctor looked hurt. "Captain, think of what the Borg could be if I could have seized control of the collective from -"
"You didn't listen to a word you said to him," Picard barked.
The Doctor nodded with reluctant admission. "I suppose I did bite off more than I could chew," he said grudgingly. Then he smiled and punched Picard lightly in the shoulder. "Good job I asked you along, isn't it?"
The bridge bubbled with sarcastic responses, all cut off at a noise from the main screen - the same noise that had distracted Picard and the Doctor earlier. The Borg cubeship was vanishing, and despite the lack of medium in space to transmit sound, the auditory signature of Gallifreyan time warping was quite distinct.
"You said they couldn't build their own TARDIS with the Master gone!" Riker accused the Doctor.
"Oh, Commander," tsked the Doctor. "Here we sit in orbit around the very planet where time travel was first discovered, and the first thing you think is that the Borg went into the Time Vortex of their own volition?"
The bridge officers looked at the multicolored sphere on the screen that was the transduction forcefield around Gallifrey. "What will the Time Lords have done with them?" Data asked.
"Taken them for specimens," said the Doctor. "A fate I wouldn't wish on anyone else... There are no Borg in this time zone, not in this part of the universe - the Time Lords wouldn't've let them wander around free in any case."
"Then the Borg of my time now have no Queen," said Picard.
"Don't count your queens before they're hatched," the Doctor cautioned. "I'll wager she didn't live this long by having only one backup system. Remember she survived the cube destruction at Earth too. I suspect she'll be back."
"So," Picard broke the silence which followed this announcement, "had we better." He waved the Doctor toward the observation lounge where the TARDIS waited to take the Enterprise home.
The Doctor nodded and strode off as Picard resumed the command chair. But before he entered the lounge he spun around, grinned at Picard and said, right here in front of his officers and everyone, "I couldn't have done it without you, you know."
"Thank you, Doctor," said Picard; and knew that the last of his demons were put to rest.
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