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I remember reading an article (which I can't find anymore) which states the following (much non-canon incoming).

  • The Borg wondered how the heck the Enterprise D made it to system J-25. (After assimilating the Hansens, they didn't expect to find a Federation ship there.)
  • Upon trying to assimilate the Enterprise to learn the answer, it just vanishes in a flash of light.
  • Thus begins their long trek to Earth to assimilate that technology, an ultimately fruitless endeavor since no Federation ship ever does something remotely similar again.

Obviously the above is AFAIK, not canon, but in canon (or even beta canon) do we know what the Borg thought of that encounter?

  • 2
    I would imagine they scanned for the Enteprise, then marked it down as probably being a transient spacial anomaly of some description. – Valorum Mar 5 at 15:05
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    Presumably after assimilating Picard in Best of Both Worlds, they learned what happened... – Rebel-Scum Mar 5 at 15:07
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    They were all like huh. Where'd they go. – Paul D. Waite Mar 5 at 15:40
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    Who knows, maybe the Borg were used to ships from other parts of the galaxy appearing to them and then disappearing because Q kinda got some sick joy out of doing this. – user255577 Mar 5 at 17:26
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    "17 of 5689 reporting. The cosmic entity Q appears to have magiked yet another craft into and out of our space. That darn Q!!" – NKCampbell Mar 5 at 19:59
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That's what makes the Federation interesting to Borg in the first place.

While we have no outright confirmation in the canon (not that I know of, anyway), I think we can assume that the ability to teleport away is something that interests the Borg (assuming that the Borg weren't aware of the Q at this point, they can't know at that point that Q was responsible).

First, we do know that the Borg prioritize their victims based on how valuable an addition a species would be.

They neglect the Kazon:

Seven: The Borg encountered a Kazon colony in the Gand Sector, grid six nine two zero.
Neelix: Were they assimilated?
Seven: Their biological and technological distinctiveness was unremarkable. They were unworthy of assimilation.
Neelix: I didn't realise the Borg were so discriminating.
Seven: Why assimilate a species that would detract from perfection?

(VOY: Mortal Coil)

They actively pursue Species 8472:

Seven: They are the apex of biological evolution. Their assimilation would have greatly added to our own perfection.

(Voy: Scorpion, Part II)

My theory is that the Enterprise disappearing like that dramatically bumped the Federation on the Borg's bucket list.

We know that this kind of long-range transportation technology is of great interest for them. I don't have the transcript, but in PIC: The Impossible Box, we see that the Borg assimilated the Sikarians - a species which has the technology to transport you over up to 40,000 light years, as seen in VOY: Prime Factors. They use this technology as an emergency exit for their Borg Queen. The encounter with the Enterprise happens before the assimilation of the Sikarians, so the ability to disappear into thin air is therefore very attractive to the Borg.

We also have some kind of confirmation that the Borg put a lot of effort into finding the Federation. In fact, they arrived much earlier in the Alpha Quadrant than expected:

SHELBY: My priority has been to develop some kind, any kind of defence strategy...
RIKER: Obviously nothing we have now can stop them.
SHELBY: We've been designing new weapons but they're all still on the drawing board.
HANSON: We expected much more lead time. Your encounter with the Borg was over seven thousand light years away.

(TNG: The best of both worlds, Part 1)

To sum it up: In vanishing like that, the Enterprise put the federation high in the "to be assimilated" list, because they seemingly either controlled a critical part of technology/ability, or knowledge on where to find it.

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    This feels like headcanon without anything from the Borg's POV to back it up. We already know that the Borg knew about the Federation and it's likely that the Borg already knew about the Q. – Valorum Mar 6 at 10:11
  • I'm sorry to hear that you don't find this convincing - I think that this would be more convincing if we had more proof than the quote from "Best of both worlds" to go on. My thinking is: It's unlikely they simply ignored such an event, and if they didn't, then what did they do and what evidence do we have? – Philipp Flenker Mar 6 at 10:44
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    Do we have proof that the Borg are aware of the Q at that point though? – Philipp Flenker Mar 6 at 11:07
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    "they are aware of the Q, since they assimilated Guinan's race long ago" - how does the latter imply the former? Do we know for a fact that many El-Aurians, in particular some of those that did not manage to flee, but were evacuated, also knew about the Q, as Guinan (apparently an individual who had been roaming the galaxy centuries ago, before returning to El-Auria) happened to? – O. R. Mapper Mar 6 at 11:35
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    "HANSON: We expected much more lead time. Your encounter with the Borg was over seven thousand light years away." The problem with this logic is that there was already a cube wandering around in the Romulan Neutral Zone a year prior to Q's intervention. (TNG Neutral Zone) Even ignoring how overpowered the borg became with hyperspace conduits - 7000 light years does not buy much time when the Borg can do Warp 9 the entire trip. 8 years.is being generous. They got a year to prepare when the Borg could have attacked at any time. – lucasbachmann Mar 6 at 16:50

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