The Tale of the Scorpion was an old Native American parable that went as follows:
- A scorpion was walking along the bank of a river, wondering how to get to the other side. Suddenly, he saw a fox. He asked the fox to take him on his back across the river.
- The fox said, "No. If I do that, you'll sting me, and I'll drown."
- The scorpion assured him, "If I do that, we'll both drown."
- The fox thought about it and finally agreed. So the scorpion climbed up on his back, and the fox began to swim. But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him. As poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, "Why did you do that? Now you'll drown, too."
- "I couldn't help it," said the scorpion. "It's my nature."
In 2373, Commander Chakotay recited the tale to Captain Kathryn Janeway as a warning against an alliance with the Borg. Janeway later used it as the code-word to initiate a backup plan when the Borg eventually turned against the USS Voyager. (VOY: "Scorpion")