|Bait and Switch (series) story|
|"Liberation: A MACO's Tale"|
|Original post date:||10/7/2016|
The story opens with a framing device of Rachel being assimilated by the Borg in 2407, after the Battle of Vega Colony. In the last minutes before she is made a drone, the incursion of nanites into her brain forces her to relive memories from her life.
In June 2396, the 18-year-old Rachel is in Vienna, German Empire, on vacation with her family. She has been accepted to several colleges, including Starfleet Academy, and is struggling to decide how to tell her parents about her plan to go to the Academy and undergo officer training in an attempt to qualify for the MACO corps. Eventually she awkwardly tells her parents about her plans; her father is cautiously supportive, though her mother is more apprehensive.
In September 2398, Rachel is studying for a course on Romulan space tactics, when her roommate temporarily borrows their room for a sexual encounter. Rachel, finding a bench outside, meets a fellow soldier-in-training, a Kreetassian named Bev kree-Sanat, and agrees to share a study session with her. Rachel and Bev bond over their mutual dislike for a bad historical holoprogram and a professor who assigns too much work, and work out a deal to slit their homework over the rest of the semester, eventually (as Rachel's narration explains) becoming squadmates and friends.
In 2407, the Borg remove Rachel's armor and prepare to implant her with Borg plating and cybernetics.
In June 2403, Rachel is 25, and has spent two years on a combat tour before returning to Earth for a year of special-forces training. She, Bev, and two other MACO candidates finish the SERE training course in the upper third of passing times, qualifying for the MACO corps. Covered in grime, bruised, and bloody, Rachel thinks that she's never felt better. Meanwhile, in 2407, Rachel's body is standing in an alcove covered in plating, and she states in narration that she's never felt so naked.
While the Borg removes Rachel's hand without thought for her pain, attaching a cybernetic implant in its place, Rachel is forced to relive a mission to a Romulan planet in March 2405. Rachel, Bev, and their three squadmates attempt to defend an apartment building against Tal'Shiar assault troops after securing a Federation diplomat who had been stuck on the planet after conflict broke out between Romulan Imperial and Tal'Shiar forces and a local anti-Empire force. One of the MACOs is badly injured, but Rachel's squad manages to rescue the diplomat and extract from the situation after Rachel jury-rigs a phaser rifle into an antimateriel piece. The diplomat, grateful for the rescue, promises to help Rachel if she needs political aid in the future.
In January 2407, the Borg attack a Federation planet called Vega Colony. Rachel and Bev kree-Sanat volunteer for a highly dangerous mission to assault and destroy a Borg transmitter on the planet's surface. As Bev hangs back to cover her, Rachel charges into the Borg's base on the planet, using an antimatter grenade to break the transmitter. However, more Borg arrive, and Rachel is outnumbered; when her gun jams, and Bev isn't able to take down the Borg quickly enough, Rachel is knocked out, beamed to the Borg ship, and assimilated.
Rachel awakens on a table in a hospital gown, as a Section 31 agent and a rogue scientist argue about what has been done to her; the scientist has genetically-modified Rachel into an Augment supersoldier, and the agent is angry that he used a repurposed ex-Borg drone rather than a volunteer. The scientist, who had claimed that Rachel was being controlled by an implant in her brain stem, reveals that Rachel's modified body is capable of digesting and absorbing any foreign substance that enters her body. The agent, outraged at the doctor's incompetence and pointing out that this means that the implant itself will be dissolved by Rachel's own body, rendering it useless, attempts to kill Rachel, but she kills him before he can pull the trigger, then, still disoriented and enraged, kills the doctor just after he activates an alarm.
Rachel runs from the lab, finding a control center and discovering that she is in a secret asteroid base funded by the terrorist group Section 31. Confronted by a security team, she takes two of them down before she is wounded in the abdomen and forced to take cover. The surviving security men set the base's self-destruct and attempt to evacuate, but Rachel, discovering that she's healing incredibly rapidly from a hole in her gut, attacks and kills both of them, reaching the last escape pod before the base is destroyed. Horrified by her new status as an Augment, the illegality of her DNA in Federation space, and the grotesque adaptations that her body made in response to being shot with a phaser, Rachel is temporarily overcome before she is picked up by Breen salvagers. After the Breen take her back to their capital and buy her a ticket to the Federation-allied Cardassian Union, Rachel decides to disguise herself, attempt to pass as a Human, and get back to Federation space in an attempt to get herself reactivated as a MACO officer and reclaim her life.
Six months later, in August 2408, Rachel makes it back to Earth, still disguised, after multiple attempts by Section 31 to recapture her. She goes to the Federation diplomat, now an important politician, who she rescued in 2405, and calls in the favor that he offered her, requesting to be reactivated and sent back into space. The politician, after questioning Rachel to his satisfaction, agrees, and Rachel returns to the special forces and space.
The narration shifts to third-person. In 2411, Bev kree-Sanat is an allegedly retired double-amputee veteran living in Alvira City, on the Federation planet Kreetassia. Two Section 31 operatives arrive at her house and question her about the recent Iconian War and her connection to Lieutenant Rachel Connor. Bev denies knowledge of the war outside of the most basic details and claims that Rachel is assimilated; the agents demand that she leave with them, but Bev stuns them, revealing that she is an undercover Starfleet Intelligence agent. Complaining about the incompetence of Section 31, the Kreetassian resolves to get back in touch with her old friend.