Wolf 359

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Wolf 359

Post by geon » Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:40 pm

The Battle at Wolf 359 is one of the pivotal points in the interactions between the Federation and the Borg Collective in the Star Trek universe. This one encounter supposedly highlighted the great disparity in power between starfleet and the forces of the Borg. One Borg cube devastates a fleet of forty starships, with seemingly little of no damage. But is this really the case?

Let’s take a closer look.

A quick background to the battle will set the stage. Within a year of the initial Enterprise encounter with a cube, thanks to Q (TNG ‘Q Who?’) another (or the same?) Borg cube invades Federation territory, kidnaps and begins assimilating Captain Picard. Because of all the technical and operational data they absorb from Picard, the Borg are able to resist the Enterprises’ deflector weapon, and successfully defeat a full Federation task force.

Dialogue in the episode, TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds’ outlines the forces arrayed in the encounter and the location of the battle itself.
RIKER: I strongly recommend redeploying all available defences to protect sector zero zero one, Admiral.
HANSON [on monitor]: We're moving to intercept at Wolf three five nine. We'll make our stand there. How much longer can you maintain pursuit?
RIKER: Twenty two minutes if they stay at current speed. If we can't bring them out of warp, we'll do as much damage as we can before we have to disengage.
HANSON : Picard?
RIKER: Nothing yet, sir.
And
HANSON [on monitor]: Your engagements have given us valuable time. We've mobilised a fleet of forty starships at Wolf three five nine, and that's just for starters. The Klingons are sending warships. Hell, we've even thought about opening communications with the Romulans.
And

BEVERLY Then... we have abandoned all hope of recovering him.
HANSON In less than twenty-four hours, this armada's going to hit that Borg vessel with everything we can muster. Either they survive or we do. As for Picard ..A great man has been lost. Your Captain. My friend.
TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds’

The forces of the Federation (and allies) are moving to concentrate at Wolf 359 for the decisive showdown.

Later in part 2 of the episode, the Enterprise reaches the battle zone, only to find a mass graveyard of devastated Federation vessels. It would seem from this episode, that one cube met forty starships head on, and annihilated them.

The results of the battle itself are mentioned in a later TNG episode.
SATIE: It must have been awful for you, actually becoming one of them, being forced to use your vast knowledge of Starfleet operations to aid the Borg. Just how many of our ships were lost? Thirty nine? And a loss of life, I believe, measured at nearly eleven thousand
TNG ‘The Drumhead’

So, did one Borg cube really face forty Federation starships in one great battle and slaughter them?

We have only one actual on screen depiction of a part of the battle in the DS9 episode ‘The Emissary’. It depicts Sisko’s ship the Saratoga (a Miranda class vessel) and her actions in the engagement. In short, what we see is the cube initially engage a Miranda class ship (the Saratoga) and an Excelsior class vessel. Then two other ships, a Nebula class and an Ambassador class, warp in to join the fight. Just four Starfleet ships are seen fighting the cube. Where are the other thirty six? We know they later take part in the fight because their wrecks are shown in the debris field the Enterprise encounters when she finally arrives at Wolf 359.

Let’s go back to the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ dialogue.

SHELBY You realize, Admiral, that with the assistance of Picard, the Borg will be prepared for your defenses. TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

GEORDI: We should be back up in eight to twelve hours, Admiral. TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

RIKER How soon do we get underway, Geordi? GEORDI Still a couple hours... Commander Shelby can fill you in...
TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

SHELBY Reconstruction is proceeding normally... it's slow work. If we can nail down this shield generator problem, I agree with La Forge... we should be at operating capacity in two or three hours...
So we now have a time frame for the time of the battle. Before the Enterprise engages the cube, the admiral remarks;

HANSON: We're moving to intercept at Wolf three five nine……So, a number of ships are converging at this location.

After the Enterprise engagement,

HANSON In less than twenty-four hours, this armada's going to hit that Borg vessel with everything we can muster. Either they survive or we do. As for Picard ..A great man has been lost. Your Captain. My friend.
TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

So, in less than 24 hours, the starfleet armada will be ready to engage the cube. Does this then mean that not all the ships had yet arrived, or were still on their way to the staging area?

GEORDI: We should be back up in eight to twelve hours, Admiral. TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

This statement gives the timeframe the Enterprise needs to repair its damage and head to Wolf 359. Admiral Hanson’s statement of needing less than 24 hours is ambiguous at best. If it means slightly less than 24 hours (say 20-23 hours), then the Enterprise has a 12 to 16 hour window to reach the battlesite before the planned start of hostilities. But then, we have to factor in the travel time from the Enterprises’ current position to Wolf 359 itself.

Commander Riker’s statement that ;

HANSON Well, we'll miss you at the party.
RIKER The Enterprise will be there, sir. Maybe a little late. But we'll be there.
TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

May mean that they need slightly longer (say 13-18 hours to reach the planned battle site).

Yet events then clearly show that the action began way sooner than expected.

RIKER How soon do we get underway, Geordi? GEORDI Still a couple hours... Commander Shelby can fill you in...
TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

SHELBY Reconstruction is proceeding normally... it's slow work. If we can nail down this shield generator problem, I agree with La Forge... we should be at operating capacity in two or three hours...
Given the initial estimate of 8 to 12 hours repair time, means the repair crews had been working at least 6 to 10 hours to arrive at this point. It is then that Data reports,

DATA'S COM VOICE Starfleet reports it has engaged the Borg at Wolf 359. TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds Part 2’

The battle was scheduled for less than 24 hours from the Enterprises’ engagement. Up to 10 hours later, while repairs are still underway, the cube attacks the starfleet ships at Wolf 359. This is up to 14 hours earlier than Admiral Hanson had planned.

In an earlier article, http://armadafleetcommand.com/onscreen/ ... opic&t=373

I speculated that the ‘Picard’ factor allowed the cube to engage small numbers of incoming starships before they could mass into a sizeable fleet. The onscreen battle in DS9 ‘Emissary’ and the dialogue in TNG ‘best of Both Worlds’ seems to back this up.

It’s certain that Picard/Locutus would have been monitoring all starfleet frequencies and communications. Given his knowledge of Federation battle tactics, weaponry and definite knowledge of the staging area and timeframe for fleet consolidation, it seems highly likely that he would have directed the cube to take out the fleet piecemeal as individual units warped into the area. This is what we see in the action in DS9 ‘The Emissary’. The Saratoga and Excelsior class are attacked before they reach the fleet area. Their ‘SOS’ messages draw in nearby units (the Nebula and Ambassador). As these are dealt with and cry out for help, more incoming units respond and suffer a similar fate.

Instead of one big head on clash involving one cube and forty starships, we end up with a number of smaller consecutive actions each involving a handful of ships and the cube. As more ships are destroyed and call for help, more incoming vessels are diverted from the planned concentration point to come to their aid. You eventually end up with an area of wrecked starships, which is what the Enterprise finds when it finally arrives at Wolf 359.

If, as some have suggested, the cube was powerful enough to easily take out a whole fleet, why then the smaller engagements? Because, as I have said elsewhere, the cubes of this time are not that powerful (these are my class 1 assimilation cubes). The action in TNG ‘Q Who?’ showed that in the right tactical situation (in this case a shield less cube), a Galaxy class ship can inflict some damage. Multiply this by forty starships, and a head on clash becomes extremely risky for the cube.

What then of the Klingon fleet being sent to aid Starfleet? We know that some Klingons have been assimilated into the Collective, because we have seen them in other episodes (for example General Korok in VOY ‘Unimatrix Zero’ and the Son of K’vok in VOY ‘Infinite Regress’). Is it possible that they were at Wolf 359 as well?

The answer must be no. There were no Klingon ship wrecks (at least none as far as I could see), in the Wolf 359 ship graveyard. Admiral Satie’s statement from TNG ‘Drumhead’, that 39 ships were destroyed hints that not more than 40 were engaged in the battle (hmm, I wonder what the ship was that DID survive…I’ll have to look into that later!)

Is it possible the Klingon fleet engaged the Borg after Wolf 359? Possible, but as there is no record of such a battle anytime during the episode, this idea must also be discarded. We can only conclude that it was still on its way to the rendezvous point when the battle started prematurely. In fact, the presence of this oncoming Klingon fleet may be one prime reason why Locutus began the action early in the first place. If forty starfleet ships were considered dangerous, a combined fleet of Federation AND Klingon warships (whose weapons and tactics Picard/Locutus had very little knowledge of) may have been downright unstoppable. The early initiation of hostilities may have been largely a way of defeating the Federation part of the fleet (which Locutus/Picard could do), before the Klingons joined in. The cube was subsequently destroyed later in the episode, over Earth, before the Klingon force could engage it.

So then, where did these assimilated Klingons come from? In TNG ‘Emissary’, the sleeper ship T’ong was sent on a long range mission of undetermined type. Could one or more of these ‘sleeper’ ships have encountered the Borg in their travels?

There is one final little problem about Wolf 359 I would like to bring up. In VOY ‘Infinite Regress’, one of Seven of Nine’s personas is a survivor of Wolf 359.

SEVEN: Please help me. I'm looking for my son Gregory Bergan, Lieutenant Bergan. Have you seen him?
JANEWAY: No, I'm afraid not.
SEVEN: From the Starship Melbourne.
JANEWAY: Melbourne!
SEVEN: I was supposed to meet him at Wolf 359 but Starfleet sent out a warning that the Borg were attacking that sector. It was too late for us to turn back. We were caught in a terrible battle. My ship was badly damaged. We had to leave on escape pods. I never found out what happened to Gregory. Please, I haven't heard from him in over three days. Could you check with Starfleet Headquarters?
JANEWAY: I'll see what I can do.
VOY ‘Infinite Regress’

Since the cube was destroyed at the end of TNG ‘Best of Both Worlds’, HOW did she end up in the Delta Quadrant on board another cube?

Again, in VOY ‘Unimatrix Zero’ we meet another Wolf 359 survivor existing in the Delta Quadrant!

SEVEN: I know you. Your name is Laura. You're human.
LAURA: I was assimilated at Wolf three five nine. It's good to see you again, but you look out of place. Your cybernetic implants.
VOY ‘Unimatrix Zero’

How did she get there?

In the case of the ‘Infinite Regress’ episode, we might argue that Seven’s memory of this individual was taken from the whole Collective’s consciousness, except that the episode clearly shows that the disruption is affecting only that one cube with the malfunctioning Vinculum. The individual drone is present on that particular ship.

So how do we explain this?

I can think of only one explanation. The assimilated survivors of Wolf 359 were sent back to the Delta Quadrant (perhaps via sphere), for further assimilation (remember they are still using microcircuit fibres at this time). This would have happened just after the battle itself, and before the cube again encountered the Enterprise.

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Post by TurboC » Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:13 am

No sphere aperture was apparent on the cube in Best of Both Worlds. The writers just messed up in Unimatrix Zero. At that point in the Star Trek franchise, canon and fact checking weren't what they used to be...

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Post by geon » Mon Jul 13, 2009 1:50 am

Yes, TurboC, perhaps this is too early for spheres in the cubes. Maybe a scout cube (as seen in TNG 'I Borg') arrived to ferry them off. And I agree that the writers 'have done it again' with their inconsistant writing - sometimes this seems like an unsurmountable obstacle!!!! But we keep trying!!!

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Post by RSE_Dissy » Mon Jul 13, 2009 2:07 pm

the ship that survived was an excelsior class USS Righteous (however u spell it), Q saved it in a computer game called "BORG" heh
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Post by marhawkman » Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:13 pm

Hmm... I have to agree with the idea of the Cube at 359 sending them off. How do we know the Borg didn't have some sort of Shuttlecraft equivalent? It makes more sense to assume that they DO. Granted they probably aren't very large (like the sphere), but sticking several dozen people into one of the Enterprise's shuttlecraft is doable.

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Post by MG42 » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:43 am

But why should the Borg use a ship to transport the assimilated crews to the delta quadrant? If eleven thousand people were lost, it's sure to say that the biggest part of them was kill during the fight ... not assimilated.
And even those who were assimilated already shared their knowledge with the Borg. What is the point in using a ship for such a small number of drones?
The Borg assimilate whole planets even whole races like the El-Aurians.

I think this was just totally messed-up by the authors ... it even happens in Star Trek.

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Post by Martok » Wed Jul 15, 2009 12:35 pm

MG42 wrote:But why should the Borg use a ship to transport the assimilated crews to the delta quadrant? If eleven thousand people were lost, it's sure to say that the biggest part of them was kill during the fight ... not assimilated.
And even those who were assimilated already shared their knowledge with the Borg. What is the point in using a ship for such a small number of drones?
The Borg assimilate whole planets even whole races like the El-Aurians.

I think this was just totally messed-up by the authors ... it even happens in Star Trek.

Warning! Mostly baseless speculation follows:


I've long held the impression that the Borg seem to have a special interest in humanity. What exactly that is and why that might be, I've no idea (at least not offhand). If that's true, however, then they may have wanted to bring back as many live "specimens" to the Delta quadrant as they could.

I've no idea if that hypothesis is anywhere near the mark, so feel free to take it with as many grains of salt as you're comfortable with. Still, I think it *is* a possibility.
Last edited by Martok on Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Torrad » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:25 pm

Martok wrote:
MG42 wrote:But why should the Borg use a ship to transport the assimilated crews to the delta quadrant? If eleven thousand people were lost, it's sure to say that the biggest part of them was kill during the fight ... not assimilated.
And even those who were assimilated already shared their knowledge with the Borg. What is the point in using a ship for such a small number of drones?
The Borg assimilate whole planets even whole races like the El-Aurians.

I think this was just totally messed-up by the authors ... it even happens in Star Trek.

Warning! Mostly baseless speculation follows:


I've long held the impression that the Borg seem to have a special interest in humanity. What exactly that is and wy that might be, I've no idea (at least not offhand). If that's true, however, then they may have wanted to bring back as many live "specimens" to the Delta quadrant as they could.

I've no idea if that hypothesis is anywhere near the mark, so feel free to take it with as many grains of salt as you're comfortable with. Still, I think it *is* a possibility.
The borg are humanity from the distant future. So corrupted in our own self-importance and moral values we've become nothing more than automatons bent on assimilating others into our own collective thought process.

I am of course joking, but B&B would probably have written this as an end-game ST episode if they'd been given the chance ;)

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Post by marhawkman » Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:15 pm

I personally think that it's normal proceedure. the Borg don't just wipe things out. They try to absorb them. I suspect that it was done as an insurance policy in case the Cube was deestroyed. They hadn't seen humans before, this insured that they had adequate time to examine samples.

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