- For other uses, see Assimilation.
Assimilation included the Borg's ability to procure everything they required, from personnel in the form individuals turned into drones to technology, by taking control of, and then analyzing and/or augmenting vessels and facilities with Borg technology. The Borg could also assimilate data by downloading and incorporating knowledge they gained form it into the collective, and could adapt most materials for their own use. (TNG episode: "Q Who?"; TNG movie: First Contact, VOY episode: "Scorpion", et al.)
When driven to desperation on at least one occasion the Borg have been known to bypass normal assimilation processes in favor of the more expedient process of "absorption", by which the Borg could quickly absorb, and immediately assimilate, anything they required. In 2380 a Borg cube began using the absorption process, in doing so it destroyed a Federation fleet in seconds at the Slaughter of Sector 108 and completely absorbed the planet Pluto. (TNG novel: Before Dishonor)
Assimilation of drones occurred in two basic steps. First a drone would use its assimilation tubules to inject nanoprobes into the victims bloodstream. The microscopic machines would attach themselves to the victim's blood cells, taking over cellular functions and rewriting the victim's DNA to begin replication. Once they had sufficient control, they would begin to replicate larger implants, some of which erupt through the subject’s skin. The flood of nanoprobes in the blood would turn the subject’s skin grey. (TNG movie: First Contact, VOY episode: "Scorpion", et al.)
Once the subject was under the control of the Collective via the initial nanoprobe assimilation, new drones would be taken to an assimilation chamber where additional cybernetic technologies would be implanted throughout the victim's body. This technology included a neural transceiver in the upper spinal column which linked every drone to the Collective, along with a neural processor placed just below the rib cage to store all information and instructions received from the Collective. Other standard surgical modifications include the replacement of one forearm with a mechanical armature, one eye with an ocular implant and covering the drone in protective exo-plating. (TNG movie: First Contact; VOY episodes: "Dark Frontier", "Unity", "The Gift")
Once fully assimilated, a drone was supported by the technology. It no longer needed to eat, though it did require regular regeneration cycles to receive an infusion of power and repair any damage. (TNG episode: "I, Borg")
As an alternative to assimilation, by directly injecting nanoprobes, the Borg have also used an assimilation virus - subjecting a planet to airborne nanoprobes which found targets and began assimilation. (VOY novels: Homecoming, The Farther Shore)
When the Borg decided to take a ship or facility, they would transport drones aboard and begin to augment it with their own technology. Initial assimilation included introducing Borg programming into the computers to increase efficiency, and often build physical alterations both inside and outside of the ship. (ENT episode: "Regeneration")
The Borg also had several specialized technologies to aid assimilation: Borg assimilator starships sometimes operated a special weapon called the auto-assimilator which transfer crew off of a targeted starship and facility and immediately assimilated them into drones, adding to the Borg’s drone pool and reducing the crew on the target vessel making it easier to assimilate with less resistance. Borg cubes, tactical cubes, fusion cubes and tactical fusion cubes could all be fitted with the holding beam which would prevent a targeted vessel from escaping while transferring drones aboard to assimilate. The cubes could also be fitted with the technology assimilation beam which also disabled the enemies engines but targeted unique technologies rather than personnel. The technology assimilation beam would analyze the technologies and then adapt them for use by the Borg. The Borg also operated a special facility, the technology assimilator, where assimilated vessels could be taken to for analysis and to examine unique technologies for deployment throughout the fleet of Borg cubes in local space.
Another facility, the Borg recycler, was used to assimilate materials from captured vessels. Assimilated ships could be ordered to the recycler where they would be broken down into their constituent parts for reuse in new Borg design ship and facilities. (TNG video game: Armada II)
The Borg also assimilated entire planets. By 2377 the Collective had introduced a specialized type of starship for the purpose, the Borg colony ship. Colony ships were fitted with special beam weapons which would first eradicate existing populations and planetary defenses and then transfer drones to the surface to assimilate the planet. (TNG video game: Armada II)
While the Borg typically overcame any attempts to resist assimilation, some species proved especially difficult for them. Species 8472 proved to be particularly difficult to assimilate, as their immune system was able to fight off assimilation, via nanoprobes, when they were first encountered by the Borg in the late 24th century. Eventually though, the Borg were able to assimilate the species, which the crew of the USS Enterprise-E discovered in 2379 when they encountered species 8472 drones from a Borg vessel which had traveled back in time. (VOY episode: "Scorpion"; TNG video game: Armada II; TNG comic: "Alien Spotlight: Borg")
Changelings also proved difficult to assimilate. When a Borg drone attempted to assimilate a Founder in 2376, the changeling was able to alter its form and crush the nanoprobes into a ball thus preventing them from taking over its cells. (DS9 novel: Lesser Evil)