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I just finished watching Star Trek: Voyager and it occurred to me that the Borg (especially with the transwarp hub that Voyager destroyed) could have assimilated the Alpha Quadrant with waves of ships.

In episode 26 of season 4 (Hope and Fear), Arturis mentioned how the Borg surrounded their entire system with a thousands of ships. I thought this reference was surprising as that was really the only instance of the Borg acting collectively to assimilate a species beyond the incident with fluidic space.

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This could be a case of hyperbole - even one Borg ship, with its humongous size, is a terrifying prospect, so any number of them beyond one would likely be exaggerated. Which is not to mention that he makes no reference to what size those ships are - we only see one massive cube and one somewhat massive sphere in the Alpha quadrant, but it's possible they have smaller ships –  Zibbobz Mar 25 at 14:13
There was a "Borg scout" designed for an episode or film - I unfortunately can't remember which one - which would have been a shuttlecraft-sized Borg vessel. –  James Sheridan Mar 26 at 0:28
@JamesSheridan the Borg Scout was used in I, Borg - a TNG episode. –  HorusKol Mar 26 at 0:39
@HorusKol: Thanks for that. –  James Sheridan Mar 26 at 0:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

This is a known plot hole. Unfortunately, any answer requires some speculation.

There are several theories, the best of which is that the Borg, aware of the time-loop created by Star Trek: First Contact, were attempting to keep the timeline intact up to that point, with a plan to attack in force at a later date.

There is also a theory that after the events of Regeneration the Borg sent their nearest ship to Earth in an attempt to quickly kill off the nascent Federation. Bear in mind, several hundred years worth of travel may not be out of the ballpark for a ship travelling from the Delta Quadrant, assuming the Borg were at a lower level of technological development when they received the message than they are by Q Who. This is especially the case if the cube is stopping along the way to assimilate useful technology and replace its used-up drones with new stock, as may be implied by The Neutral Zone. The follow-up attack may have been the next-closest drone.

It's also highly-likely that the Borg, while considering the Federation both worthy of assimilation and a possible threat, have more problems back home in the Delta Quadrant. After all, it is not unheard of for the Borg to bite off more than they can chew, and there are other species in the Delta Quadrant that could pose significant threats to the Borg. It is probable that the Borg only act in concert, as in the war with Species 8472 and the assimilation of Species 116, when they see a considerable threat. Humans don't yet qualify.

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Hoshi's statement at the end of Regeneration was that the message sent would arrive in about 200 years, IIRC. So it took them only about about 20 years to arrive in Federation space. –  Izkata Mar 25 at 11:44
Thanks for that. Still, 20 years is a reasonable length of time, assuming that the Borg didn't go off half-cocked, and actually probed the area first, which The Neutral Zone indicates they did. My other points still seem to stand. –  James Sheridan Mar 25 at 12:04
I'd add one more reason to this: Arrogance. –  Tango Mar 25 at 15:25
@Tango: Great point. –  James Sheridan Mar 26 at 0:25
@JamesSheridan: Feel free to go on and include that if you want. –  Tango Mar 26 at 8:10

Because they might lose.

Sending thousands of ships to assimilate one species risks the loss of all those ships even if the Borg expect success. The risk would vastly outweight the potential reward. Consider that the Borg cube that decimated Starfleet at Wolf 359 wasn't supposed to fail, but it did. Humanity might have other tricks up their sleeves. The impossible geometric pattern attack that Picard balked at using in the TNG episode "I, Borg" could have disabled all Borg everywhere. An armada of Borg cubes may not discover their vulnerability until it is too late. Hence the more subtle strategy of detonating a biogenic weapon in Earth's atmosphere which risks much less but retains all the potential rewards of conquest.

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They do.

In the Trek novels "Mere Mortals" and "A Singular Destiny" the Borg send a fleet of over 7000 cubes to attempt to assimilate the Alpha Quadrant. At the cost of thousands of vessels they eventually establish a toe-hold in the quadrant and, before their eventual destruction (courtesy of the Caeliar) they wreak havok on Klingon empire and kill over 63 billion sentients.

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That's dubious canon, considering there are many other novels that contradict that story. It's also a terrible series, so let's hope it's ret-conned out of existence along the way. –  James Sheridan Mar 26 at 0:26
I believe the way Trek cannon works (or has worked prior to the re-boot) is that, if it is not on television it does not exist. With the exception of The Animated Series, it has been my understanding that only one or two episodes of that program were considered canon. Those written by Original Series alumna D.C. Fontana. –  Hikaru Ichijyo Mar 26 at 4:15
For the record, I heartily agree that the books are completely non canon. –  Richard Mar 26 at 6:21

It'd be inefficient.

Although the wrong universe, let me motivate this in Adams's words:

Space, is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space [..]


In addition, the Borg have an almost religious attachment to efficiency (and perfection).

They are constantly in the process of assimilating new species (as shown in Scorpion) --- it's routine. There are enough of those in the Delta quadrant to keep them busy (space is big, remember?), so it'd be inefficient to dispatch an entire armada of cubes to take care of the relatively insignificant Federation on the other side of the galaxy. The time that this would occupy all these cubes is time that the same cubes cannot be flying around assimilating other species.

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