Resistance is futile. If you hear these words you know to get as far away as possible. But if you hear these words you also know that trying to do so would be completely pointless. They have weapons far superior to yours. They have technology far superior to yours. And even worse: they can adapt to pretty much anything. They walk around, half-organic, half-machine, with pale, pulsating flesh dressed in hard armor. Their whole body is an arrangement of mismatched machine parts. And when they approach you they speak very little and walk with a slow, lifeless stride. What’s more they have flashing red lights that can scan you from every corner. They are literally the walking dead.
But that’s not even what makes them truly scary. Ever since Guinan’s warning in The Next Generation episode “Q Who?” we learned that we were dealing with an enemy far more deadly than anything the Enterprise D, or any Enterprise had ever encountered. We got a firsthand look at the Borg as a massive collective living inside a giant space cube, not as individuals, but as worker drones, much like bees, each one assigned to a specific task. And when they weren’t working they were confined to an alcove, wrapped up in coils and wires.
The Borg never speak individually when we hear them, but as a collective whole: a multitude of voices that identify solely as “we.” And the scariest part of them: they don’t conquer their enemies by destroying them. They conquer them by assimilating them. In Star Trek Voyager we learn through the liberated, but still functionally-Borg character of Seven of Nine that the Borg have, in fact, assimilated many species. Each one, once captured, is equipped with a designation. And each one gets swallowed up into the collective.
When the Borg assimilate you, as in the case of Captain Picard (later dubbed Locutus of Borg), you lose every bit of yourself as an individual. Your mind becomes tied to the collective. You lose the will to think, the will to reason, and more importantly the will to fight back. You are essentially made into a lifeless, but still living being without a conscience. The only conscience you have consists of hundreds of voices speaking inside you, telling you what to do. It’s almost like being a slave, except the Borg take away the vital thing that even a slave is left with: a will of their own.
In “Best of Both Worlds” we saw Picard-then Locutus turn against his Starfleet crew and become a ruthless killing machine. He orchestrated the deaths of many innocent Starfleet officers during the battle of Wolf 359, leaving a graveyard of ships in its brutal wake. Picard later laments in the next episode “Family” how he was powerless to stop it: how the Borg took everything away from him and turned it against his closest friends and allies.
What should scare you more than an enemy that can destroy you is an enemy that can take you and reduce you to less than a human: to suck your willpower and apply it to forces beyond your control. Imagine someone who can take you and make you murder your family. Not with reluctance, but full cooperation. And then take that and multiply it by a factor of hundreds, or thousands. Or, imagine that instead of murdering them, you take them and reduce them to the same state as you. Then you forget your parents. You forget your family. You forget your friends. You still see them, from time to time, but not the same as before. You see them as merely counterparts; other drones and designations in a mass, Orwellian collective.
If you’re a planet in the path of an oncoming Borg vessel, there’s really no way to avoid it. You can try to evacuate, but with their technology they’ll likely more than surpass you in speed. And to put up a resistance front would, of course, be futile. You could try and hide. And then hope and pray that once the Borg have finished assimilating your race, they don’t blow your planet to kingdom come. But even that would be mercy, compared to the years you’ll spend as a living corpse, strung to the will of a ruthless killing collective.