"We have deviated from our flight plan, crossed the neutral zone, disobeyed a direct order to return. Our colleagues obviously think we are insane."
- - Erin Hansen, on the pursuit of the Borg
Prior to the USS Enterprise-D's first encounter with the Borg, the Federation had little knowledge of their existence, based on encounters with surviving members of species that had been destroyed by them (such as the El-Aurians). However, empirical data on the Borg was very scarce. For example, there were descriptions of cube-shaped vessels, but no information on what Borg individuals looked like, other than rumors that they were cybernetically enhanced.
The Hansens' missionEdit
In 2353, Magnus and Erin Hansen petitioned the Federation Council on Exobiology to support them on an independent research mission to study the Borg. The Council agreed, providing them with a vessel, the USS Raven, despite security concerns expressed by Starfleet.
They made their preparations and, on stardate 32611, with Annika in tow, they set off. They made a stop at the Drexler outpost in the Omega sector, as recorded in the logs of the space station Deep Space 4. After leaving the station, however, they deviated from their flight plan, disobeyed direct orders to return and crossed into the Romulan Neutral Zone, effectively leaving the protection of Federation space. After tracking stray readings and sensor echoes for eight months, the Hansens were able to locate a Borg cube. The Raven trailed the cube, following it into a transwarp conduit all the way to the region of the Borg's origin, the Delta Quadrant.
The Hansens designed new technologies to allow themselves to study the Borg more closely and prevent the Borg from detecting them. They developed multi-adaptive shielding that made the Raven virtually invisible to Borg sensors, and bio-dampeners to mask their bio-signs while on Borg vessels. Magnus visited Borg cubes in person to observe first-hand the behavior and interactions of drones. He and Erin also transported regenerating drones onto the Raven for study. The Hansens became very well-versed and comfortable in their endeavor, even giving them nicknames such as "Junior" and "Needle Fingers." They continued exploration of the Borg for over three years, collecting ten million teraquads of data.
Then, in 2356 on stardate 32634.9, the mission came to a disastrous end. A subspace particle storm damaged the Raven's multi-adaptive shielding, putting it off-line for 13.2 seconds. The Borg detected the Raven and deemed it a threat. Pursuit of the Raven began and attempts to escape them by masking the ship's warp trail failed. The Borg caught the ship and assimilated the Hansens and their daughter, who later became known as Seven of Nine. The Raven itself was partially assimilated, but the Borg chose not to keep it, and it eventually crash landed on an M-class moon orbiting the fifth planet of a yellow dwarf star in the region controlled by the species known as the B'omar. The Hansens' field notes, contained in 9,000-plus log entries, were retrieved in 2374 by the Federation starship USS Voyager from the wreckage of the Raven. (VOY: "The Raven")