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So the Borg are introduced to the Federation by Q, but the fact remains the Federation lives on the other side of the Galaxy, and aside from more possible encounters with Q / Caretaker like beings, the chances are they will never meet again.

So after the initial encounter, why are the Borg so interested in assimilating/destroying a culture that lives so far away? And I throw the word "destroying" in there for a reason.

The two possible reasons I can see are

  1. They see the Federation as a threat
  2. They are so impressed with the Federation that they are happy to travel tens of thousands of light years to assimilate them.

Now if it's the first reason, then why even bother? Surely they know they are just provoking the Federation by entering their space, would think if they just stayed on their own side of the Galaxy, there would be nothing to worry about.

If it's the second reason, then why in First Contact (the Movie) did they send Borg back in time to prevent the Federation from ever being born? This would destroy any opportunity to assimilate all the stuff they liked about the Federation. Sounds like something the Romulans might do, but the Borg?

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    "far away", well, for the Federation it's far away. The Borg got there within a year or so (I don't remember exactly). I also don't think those drones have anything better to do than to sit on some cube and travel someplace. I haven't read any novelizations, but from the TV show alone, I'd go with option 3) They don't see them as a threat and go the path of least resistance - those underdeveloped humans that are "not ready" (quote by Q) for them – Raditz_35 Nov 2 '17 at 9:32
  • @Raditz_35 - But if they are not ready then why not just ignore them completely? Especially considering the Borg are often shown to ignore what they don't consider a threat. – colmde Nov 2 '17 at 9:38
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    Oh I think you might be misunderstanding the whole thing. The Borg ignore individuals they do not consider a threat. They do not ignore an entire civilization because they don't see that as a threat. They do not understand the very idea of an individual and are not interested in assimilating individuals. – Raditz_35 Nov 2 '17 at 9:41
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    You're also assuming the Borg were singularly interested in Earth. Earth could have been just one of many planets they were actively pursuing. With several trillion drones in the collective, the Borg can pursue multiple campaigns simultaneously. – whatsisname Nov 2 '17 at 16:07
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    Didn't the Borg have a transwarp conduit right next to Earth (see VOY:Endgame)? That would reduce their travel time to next-to-nothing. – Mast Nov 3 '17 at 9:56
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There may be a clue in the ST:TNG episode Hide and Q (S1 Ep10):

Q: Well if you'll stop interrupting me. This is hardly a time to be teaching you the true nature of the universe. However, at Farpoint we saw you as savages only. We discovered instead that you are unusual creatures in your own limited ways. Ways which in time will not be so limited.

RIKER: We're growing. Something about us compels us to learn, explore.

Q: Yes, the human compulsion. And unfortunately for us, it is a power which will grow stronger century after century, aeon after aeon.

RIKER: Aeons. Have you any idea how far we'll advance?

Q: Perhaps in a future that you cannot yet conceive, even beyond us.

If the Q foresee humanity surpassing them in power, the Borg may have reached the same conclusion.

If humans are weak now, but might one day represent a threat to the Borg, it follows that the Borg will commit resources to neutralise us first. They would prefer to assimilate us; but if that proves impossible, from the Borg's point of view it is better for them to destroy us than the other way around.

Note that this is an example of (warning: TVTropes link) Humans Are Special, which is commonplace in SF but may not be realistic.

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    Read the warning; clicked the link anyway. – iamnotmaynard Nov 2 '17 at 16:32
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    That warning should be before the link; I'd absently opened it in a new tab yesterday, and I only just escaped the TVTropes loop -- all before reading forward to the warning. – Nic Hartley Nov 3 '17 at 21:48
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    @QPaysTaxes: Oh, very well. Edited. ;-) – Royal Canadian Bandit Nov 4 '17 at 14:42
38

1. Q himself answered your question in Season Two Episode 16 when he sent the Enterprise to encounter the Borg for the first time - "Q Who".

"The Borg are the ultimate user. They're unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They're not interested in political conquest, wealth, or power as you know it. They're simply interested in your ship, its technology. They've identified it as something they can consume."

— Q, commenting during a senior staff briefing

The Borg do not see the Federation as a threat, nor are they impressed with them as a society. They simply want their technology and have no issue whatsoever in sending a cube thousands of light years to get it, especially since they know that the Federation posed little threat to them.

2. Several years later during the timeframe "Star Trek - First Contact", the Borg have learned that the Federation isn't quite as weak as they first thought, and they have something more to offer then just technology. This is why they went back in time to try and assimilate Earth and humanity in the past.

BORG QUEEN (OC): What's wrong Locutus? Isn't this familiar?

BORG QUEEN: Organic minds are such fragile things. How could you forget me so quickly? We were very close, you and I. You can still hear our song.

PICARD: Yes, ...I remember you. You were there all the time. But that ship and all the Borg on it were destroyed.

BORG QUEEN: You think in such three-dimensional terms. How small you've become. Data understands me. Don't you, Data?

(Data is standing in a Borg cubicle)

PICARD: What have you done to him?

BORG QUEEN: Given him what he always wanted, flesh and blood.

PICARD: Let him go. He's not the one you want.

BORG QUEEN: Are you offering yourself to us?

PICARD: Offering myself? ...That's it. I remember now. It wasn't enough that you assimilate me. I had to give myself freely to the Borg, ...to you.

BORG QUEEN: You flatter yourself. I've overseen the assimilation of countless millions. You were no different.

PICARD: You're lying. You wanted more than just another Borg drone. You wanted a human being with a mind of his own, who could bridge the gulf between humanity and the Borg. You wanted a counterpart, but I resisted. I fought you.

BORG QUEEN: You can't begin to imagine the life you denied yourself.

PICARD: It's not too late. Locutus could still be with you, just in the way you wanted. An equal. Let Data go and I will take my place at your side, willingly without any resistance.

BORG QUEEN: Such a noble creature. A quality we sometimes lack. We will add your distinctiveness to our own. Welcome home, ...Locutus. ...Data, you are free to go.

References: "Q Who" synopsis from Memory Alpha

"Star Trek - First contact" movie transcript from chakoteya.net

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    that convo between the queen and Picard was the worst part of the whole movie. the borg were much scarier threat when they were just drones, no queen. – LincolnMan Nov 4 '17 at 16:58
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A ship pops out of nowhere in front of a Borg cube. Then after a brief tussle that ship vanishes. While they know about Earth and the federation from assimilating 7of9 and the border colonies, there is nothing in their databanks that explains this new warp drive that make the borg transwarp network look like a slow stroll.

They need to assimilate that tech in order to achieve perfection. Up to that point they have no way to know that there is no amazing space drive and the ship was flung around the galaxy by a god named Q.

So they send in a cube to assimilate the Earth and the Federation. They assimilate Picard and learn the truth. But they aren't going to turn around mid-invasion because of the mixup. They are already there. May as well go through with the assimilation.

Then they lose.

Now, this species that is friends with god, that went from having nothing that could stand up to the Borg, have developed enough tech to repel invasion in just a few months (years?). And the situation for the Borg will only get worse. Now they're a threat.

So to sum up: They didn't care all that much about the Federation. Then the Federation started doing a bunch of stuff that was actually rather interesting. That got the Borg's attention.

8

The other answers indicate that the Borg aren't threatened by the Federation, but I disagree. I think, during the initial encounter, that was the case - the Borg were simply interested in the technology & biology of the civilization like usual. It wasn't even the first time they had encountered humans or Federation technology. However, the crew of the Enterprise-D did something completely unexpected... they overcame a Borg cube.

Probably assuming the event to be a fluke (it was rare, but DID happen occasionally after all), the Borg then sent an even larger cube to invade Federation territory. Again, the Borg were defeated. It's probably at this point that the Collective began wondering what was going on - they were not used to encountering such resistance, at least not more than once.

On a third attempt, the Borg decided to defeat the Federation by manipulating the timestream - something which they had presumably done before, given that they knew exactly HOW and WHEN to do so on Earth. For the third time in a row, the Borg were defeated. At no other time had they encountered a race like this, and I'm sure it baffled them somewhat. In the Star Trek universe, humanity would appear to be the only race capable of such ingenuity & adaptation.

The Borg were apparently devoting much of their resources to an upcoming full-scale invasion of the Federation, but they were interrupted by contact with Species-8472, a race which was biologically & technologically the opposite - and therefore immune - to the Borg. Had the USS Voyager not managed to

destroy the Borg transwarp network upon returning to Earth,

it's highly possible that the Borg would have successfully attacked the Federation with overwhelming force.

7

The Enterprise was only transported "seven thousand light years" to system J two five by Q, so it wasn't the other side of the galaxy. They were mostly likely still in the Alpha Quadrant. The Q Who episode hints that the Borg is more active in this region, but also remember that a Borg ship had already been near Federation space when the destroyed outposts near the Neutral Zone. So it was just a matter of time before another Borg ship made it closer to Federation space.

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    It should be noted that if the officially available maps can be trusted, "Borg space" and both Starbase-185 and J-25 are pretty much at the opposite sides of the galaxy (well, not really, but pretty far, something like 60,000ly distance), so it's a surprising miracle that the Enterprise encountered a Borg cube there. As much as it's a miracle the Romulans weren't assimilated before the Federation (which would make sense, topologically). – Damon Nov 4 '17 at 16:53
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I don't think they are obsessed per say, if they were they would probably send in a fleet of cubes to assimilate Earth, the Borg seem to get around so at any one stage they are probably facing thousands of potential targets, they simply send a cube or more at a target. We know other civilizations have been hit by multiple and even hundreds of cubes in an attempt to assimilate them.

The Borg say in one Voyager episode that humans don't make good drones so their interest would probably be that the Federation has relevant technology, it is a big civilization so there are lots of drones and the Federation has beaten them numerous times, so here is a civilization that went from being completely devastated by a World War to being a super power in the Alpha Quadrant in ~230 years? If you think about it that is like going from a classical Greek culture to the age of sail.

I think the Federation peaks the Borgs curiosity because they are so adaptable and I think the Borg recognise humanity as the driving force.

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