To you and me, they are the little ponies.
To the Borg, they are species 14864.
It was a bright and sunny day in Ponyville. The last it would ever see.
Twilight Sparkle, her lavender coat gleaming in the morning sunshine, stepped gaily out into the street. Glancing over her shoulder, she addressed the tiny dragon standing in her doorway. "Now Spike, I'm off to help Pinkie Pie set up for tonight's party."
The dragonling's eyes lit up. "Oh! Lemme come along! I'm great at blowing up balloons!"
"Sorry, slugger, but I need you to reshelve all the spellcasting books I've been poring over. The pile on my desk is getting so thick I can't even see my desk any more. Besides, the last time you blew up the balloons you incinerated half of them."
"Yeah," Spike answered, "But the ones that survived became genuine hot air balloons!"
Twilight buried her face in her hoof, then said, "Don't worry, Spike, you'll have plenty of fun when the party actually starts. Now scoot!" The horn protruding from her forehead glowed a dim white, and her front door flew shut with Spike still inside.
Twilight trotted down the main avenue toward Pinkie Pie's house. I hate to shut Spike up indoors on a nice day like this, she thought, But this way I can surprise him at the party with my new spell! He'll really get a kick out of it. All I need is a chance to practice without him watching, and ...
A shadow stole over her. She looked up. This new shadow covered the entire street and every pony-house lining it. Other ponies came out of their homes and glanced around nervously. A few that were already in the street stared straight up, wide-eyed in terror. Twilight followed their gaze and stared straight up into the sun.
A square shadow completely blocked the sun. Square ... or perhaps cube-shaped.
The air boomed, as though the giant shadow were playing the atmosphere like a drum. It hurt to listen. But from out of that din came a voice; a flat, nearly monotone voice that bristled with artificial pings and pops. "WE ARE THE BORG," the voice bellowed. "YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED. YOUR BIOLOGICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL DISTINCTIVENESS WILL BE ADDED TO OUR OWN. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE."
The voice died down, leaving behind only the sound of screaming ponies. Panic filled the streets now. Everypony galloped slipshod in any direction it could, running over each other, overturning carts, taking whatever mad flight gripped them on the off chance that maybe, maybe, he or she might escape the coming catastrophe.
But this general mayhem was only the calm before the storm.
A yellow pony with tiny wings on her back, a friend of Twilight's named Fluttershy, found Twilight amid the chaos and galloped toward her. "Twilight!" she said in the almost-whisper that was her loudest voice. "What's happeni—"
She never finished her question. A greenish haze surrounded her, formed itself to her shape, and she vanished.
Twilight gasped, stunned into silence as her friend disappeared. Then, not a second later, another pony on the street shimmered green and dematerialized. Then another. And another. One by one, every inhabitant of Ponyville vanished from the face of Equestria.
And then, it was Twilight's turn.
The world around Twilight warped and sundered, and where Ponyville and its streets and houses had been just a second earlier there was now a hideous metallic grid bathed in sickening green light. It seemed to stretch on forever. The road she'd been standing on was now a harsh metal floor, punctuated by ladder-wells that went down, down, down through a mottled maze of floors and holes. At the bottom of this mile-high grid, she could just catch glimpses of a hazy blue disc stretching from horizon to horizon, specked with continents and clouds.
Equestria! The whole world, there below her! She must have been moved through space, into the giant cube!
As she gazed down on Equestria, too frightened to move, she saw something even more horrifying happening to its surface. Around the perimeter of an enormous chunk of land — was that Ponyville? — green beams lashed downward and carved deep furrows into the dirt and rock. It was hard to judge from this altitude, but the gaping chasms now being dug might be over fifty feet across. When the outline was complete, a wide, whitish beam spread out over the whole of Ponyville and, to Twilight's growing horror, began to tug. The entire town, down to a depth of over a hundred feet, wrenched itself loose from the bedrock and rose into the air toward her.
So these "Borg" had transported her and everypony in Ponyville into their space prison, and were now taking Ponyville with them. Was this what they had meant by "assimilated"?
A two-legged figure stepped out from the shadows in front of Twilight. She gasped. It was clad from head to toe in grotesque machinery, and what little exposed skin it had was a ghastly gray-white. One or two pieces of the machinery on its body buzzed and chittered, like they might pinch her, or worse. She turned to gallop away, only to discover that two more of these metal-clad monstrosities were already behind her. There was no room to run to the left, but maybe she could make it to the ladder-well off to the right ...
And just as she turned right and bolted for the ladder, another metal-shod two-legs climbed up it to meet her.
There was nowhere to turn. Her captors closed in around her on all sides. She tried to scream, but found that her throat had seized up in terror. A metal hand grabbed her, then a second metal arm placed itself menacingly against her neck and ... snikt! Twin talons shot out from the hand and impaled themselves in her neck. The pain lasted less than a second, and the probes withdrew an instant later, but they had done their duty. She could feel her blood buzz, feel her skin begin to ripple. Those probes had injected something into her. Something bad.
She looked down at her quivering legs in horror. Her lavender fur, and the very skin underneath, were growing paler and grayer by the second. Dark purple veins began to stand out, even in patches where no veins had existed before. New bumps protruded ominously beneath her skin. At the apex of her left front hoof, a sheath of dark gray metal sprouted and spread until it wrapped all the way around her leg.
But worse, she started hearing voices. No, hearing wasn't the right word for it. Detecting? Sensing? All she knew was that she was now vaguely aware of a million others — no, a billion others — swimming around inside her head, their voices all gibbering with some elusive singleminded purpose. Were these the voices of the "Borg"? How many of them were there?
She didn't have much opportunity to ponder. Her four assailants grabbed her by the legs and dragged her into another room. Whatever had been injected into her had also left her utterly limp. She couldn't struggle free. She hoped against hope that the effect would wear off with time. Was this what they meant when they had said "resistance is futile"?
As the new room came into view, a piece of furniture in the corner caught her eye. It was a flat metal table, with straps clearly designed to pin down anyone unlucky enough to be on it. And that was where her captors now dragged her. She could only gape with horror, desperately wanting to run but still unable to command her limbs to move. They were going to strap her to that table — what was it, an operating table? A torturer's rack? What new horrors awaited her?
She didn't have to wait to find out. A buzz saw came down and took her left foreleg cleanly off at the shoulder. She didn't, couldn't, so much as flinch in pain. In fact, there was no pain — the nerve deadening must have gone both ways. She watched her limb fall lifeless to the floor. Her foreleg. The constant companion and extension of her will since she'd been a foal. No amount of anesthesia in the universe could get rid of that sickening feeling in her gut as the full reality of this amputation hit her, as the fleeting view of her own foreleg cut off from her body burned itself into her memory. But her view of the leg was quickly obscured by another, mechanical foreleg the same size as the one she'd just lost. An unseen arm lowered this fake metal leg into place and pressed it to the stump where her severed leg had just been. Instantly, metal joined with flesh and her new cybernetic foreleg came to life on its own.
Various pieces of armor plating followed, pressed into place over her fur and grafting themselves directly into her skin. Then came the implant for her left eye. It bore down on her face with terrifying closeness until her left visual field blackened completely ... only to be replaced with what looked like a thermograph seconds later. An artificial eye. The real eye underneath was doubtlessly mangled and useless. Would they destroy her other eye too?
Then, she saw another buzzsaw descending toward her. But this one wasn't aimed for one of her legs, it was aimed for ... for ... her unicorn horn! The focus of what few magic powers she'd learned to master! She couldn't lose her horn, she couldn't! But before she could watch the buzzsaw follow its full, ravening course, another module attached itself to the side of her head and everything went black.
Then, everything went white.
Then, a whole new universe exploded around her.
These were the voices she'd heard only vaguely before. But now, she was really and truly plugged in. She could hear them all. Each voice rang out clear as a bell. "Antimatter plasma flow at five point three Planck masses per tick." "Shield harmonic checkin two-times-ten-to-the-forty-sixth Planck times since last, updating rotation." "Planetary surface materials in assimilation pipeline, harvest silicon but discard all carbon." "Species 14864 assimilation progressing." "Sensor sweep still negative for active targets this star system."
Billions of voices all at once, yet there was no confusion. She could follow every conversation simultaneously. It was like the biggest, most beautiful symphony orchestra Twilight had ever heard. Or was she still Twilight? This collective called her sixth of twelve, quarternary adjunct of Unimatrix seventy-two. She could assume this new slot in the grandest-of-grand symphonies any time she liked. In fact, it almost seemed irresistible.
But as suddenly as they'd started, the voices stopped, and the blackness returned.