Literary Challenge #29 : Hello Q...
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the twenty-ninth Literary Challenge: Hello Q...
As you walk into your ready room, you jump back as you're shocked to see Q sitting on your couch. What does she want this time? Let us know what happens.This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
Give No Q-uarter - Part I
Captain Ish'kuro passes by the bridge of the new test ship, PADD in hand, seeming to want to both read it and bash his head against it at the same time.
"Problem, sir?" asked the woman in the command chair, getting up. What was her name, Ish'kuro grimaced.
"No, no," he waved her off. "As you were. I'll be in the ready room."
He quickly made his way into the ready room, still trying to remember the new officer's name. So much had gone on since initiating the construction of the Tucker Shipyards and getting a shipment in from S.C.E. Command of Borg parts for integration into this Odyssey-class vessel. Starfleet had tried using Borg technology to increase the effectiveness of their ships in battle, but found only a minimal increase in effectiveness while at the same time having angry engineers complaining about having to constantly remove newly developing circuits from the systems. It was the 232nd's new job to figure out a way to make it work with the Odyssey-class.
And so far it didn't look good. His team was missing something. He was missing something. And the one thing the Bajoran engineer didn't like was a puzzle he couldn't solve.
"Why so gloomy, Kyt'ku?" came a female voice as the doors to his ready room closed.
Ish'kuro looked up. There, lounging on his couch, was Q. Not the Q noted in Picard's records. The other one. Q's wife. How did Ish'kuro know this?
"I thought I told you never to call me while I'm at work," he huffed sarcastically. "There. The pleasantries are out of the way. What do you want this time?"
"Just taking a... what do the humans call it? A girl's night out?"
Ish'kuro cringed. "No."
"But I haven't asked you..."
"All I need is..."
"No." Suddenly a button appeared on Ish'kuro's lips.
"I'm not asking you to babysit this time," Q smiled. "Isn't that good enough?"
Ish'kuro unbuttoned his mouth. "Fine. What is it this time?"
"Simple enough," she grinned. "I need to borrow this ship of yours to hide from Q while I do something."
Ish'kuro blinked. "You want to... Are you out of your mind? No! This ship isn't even ready to leave dry dock yet."
"I can help with that."
"No..." Ish'kuro briefly considered it, but then again repeated, "No. I want my team to figure it out. That's part of the fun of such a project."
Q looked around at the loose tubing from the ceiling and missing computer panel from the wall. "This is fun?"
"Yes," Ish'kuro growled. "And you'll leave it alone."
Q sighed and looked thoughtful. "How about this for a deal? I'll take you to a place where you can find the answers you're looking for all on your own and even the tools to make it happen, but in return you?ll let me work on what I'm working on as well."
Ish'kuro groaned, "And I suppose if I refuse..."
"Yep, then I'll do it anyway," she giggled. "Oh, come on. It'll be fun."
"Can I at least ask where it is you would be taking us?"
"Oh, it's nothing dangerous."
"A Borg graveyard of sorts."
Ish'kuro's brow furrowed. "A what?"
"It's what?s left of the original Borg, Borg 1.0, as it were, before the Caeliar came along and changed everything. They held an area of the galaxy that was, for lack of a better term, a giant junk yard for them. Nothing wasted and all that. Though after a few millennium they apparently forgot it even existed for some reason."
Ish'kuro considered this a moment, looking out the viewport. "I've read up on the Continuum since your last visit, Q. There's always a catch. Who threw the Borg out of their own graveyard?"
"Oh, it's nothing, really," grinned Q. "Watch, I'll show you."
In a flash, the outside of the ship was surrounded by inert cubes and spheres and other shapes in a bright, green nebula. Ish'kuro gasped.
"See, nothing to worry about," grinned Q. "Shall we get started?"
The one and only Q
"Energize." Amaya Kitsune ordered the transporter chief. The familiar hum of a working transporter filled the air, as the Solaris' distinguished guest was beamed up from Earth. The Solaris herself sat moored in one of San Francisco Fleet Yards many dry-docks, undergoing final checks for her first shake down cruise, so it was unusual that they were ferrying a dignitary at the same time. Kitsune smoothed her dress uniform's jacket out as the transporter cycle finished.
"Ambassador Picard, welcome aboard the Solaris." she said with a warm smile, as much of one as her Romulan face could present, anyway. She shook the Ambassador's hand, gesturing to her two flanking officers.
"May I present my first officer Eight of Eight," she said. Eight of Eight bowed her head in acknowledgement. "and my second officer Tybok." she added. The Vulcan held up his hand and gave the traditional Vulcan salute. Ambassador Picard smiled.
"A pleasure to meet you and your officers, Captain." he said. "You know, you needn't have worn your dress uniforms for this." he stated, stepping off the transporter pad. Kitsune smiled.
"Regulations state that dress uniforms are to be worn when greeting distinguished dignitaries such as yourself." she said, gesturing to the door to lead him out. Her first and second officers split off as the left the transporter room to tend to other duties. Kitsune walked down the corridor with Picard.
"I'm surprised Starfleet couldn't get the Enterprise to take you back to Vulcan." she commented, escorting him to the VIP quarters that had been set up for him. They entered a turbolift. "Deck 3." Kitsune stated.
"The Enterprise is off conducting surveys of the Briar Patch seeing how things have developed since the Son'a incident." he stated. "No, I think the Solaris is just fine." he added.
"Still, a ship undergoing a shakedown isn't the most ideal choice for this type of mission." she said.
"I prefer it actually. It tends to make things more interesting." he said, smiling. The turbolift stopped when it reached Deck 3 and Kitsune showed Picard to his quarters.
"Here we are, Ambassador." she said, opening the doors. "I imagine you know your way around." she added with a smile. "We're not due to leave until 1400 hours, but feel free to join us on the bridge when we get under way." she told him, letting him get settled in. She headed to her own quarters, and chained her uniform before heading to the bridge herself.
"Tybok, what is the status of the Spiral Wave Disruptor arrays?" Kitsune asked, as she strolled on to the Solaris' bridge.
"There is a .05 variance in the emitter arrays, Captain. In short bursts it should cause us no issues but any shot lasting over a second with run the risk of burning out the whole array." he stated, letting the Captain look at his screen. She sighed.
"Change one thing in the delicate ecosystem that is a Sovereign-class starship and it all goes south, and what did we decide? Change practically everything... Alright, talk with Engineering... see if we can't use those fancy new transwarp engines to help correct the variance... without blowing us up, preferably." she ordered. "I'll be in my ready room." she added, striding across the bridge as her crew and the crew of the yards worked to prepare the ship for launch.
Kitsune entered her ready room with a quiet sigh.
"Hello, mon capitaine..." a voice said, causing Kitsune to jump.
"Who the hell are you?" she asked.
"You're not Picard..." Q stated. "When I heard Picard was going to be leaving Earth again, I couldn't resist stopping in to say hello, I just assumed he would be the Captain of the ship. It looks like some one in the Continuum is playing tricks on me..." he stated. A sudden realization dawn on Kitsune.
"So you're the famous Q... the one written about in Captain Picard's and Janeway's logs." she stated, grinning.
"That's me." he stated, brow furrowed. He studied her. "Pointed ears, arched eyebrows, but with an almost predatory grin. A Romulan in Starfleet, how intriguing." he told her.
She nodded. "I do believe you are in my chair." she said. Q looked down.
"It would appear I am." he stated snapping his fingers. In a flash of light the two of them swapped places, Kitsune now in her chair, and Qu standing on the other side of the desk.
"So tell me, is Jean-Luc even aboard this ship of yours, or is someone playing a most devious trick on me?" Kitsune chuckled.
"For an omnipotent being, you don't seem to know much..." she stated, leaning back in her chair. Q laughed.
"Oh no, I know exactly where he is... I just needed to see how much fun this could be and it would appear this could be a great deal of fun..." Q stated, snapping his fingers again, disappearing in a bright flash of light.
"I'll be back, mon capitaine. You and I are going to be good friends, just liked Jean-Luc and I are." Q's disembodied voice told her before fading away. Kitsune chuckled.
"Most fun indeed, Q..." she stated to an empty room. She tapped the comm panel locate don her desk.
"Kitsune to Picard, when you have a moment, would you join me in my ready room? I've just met an old acquaintance of yours, and I feel there will be much to talk about." she said. She received her acknowledgement from the ambassador and turned to her work, contemplating just what Q meant for her and her crew.
The ready room chime chirped a few minutes later. Kitsune was busy studying previous log entries on Q, sipping a cup of tea.
"Come." she called, looking up. Jean-Luc Picard entered, looking slightly wistful. Kitsune smiled, gesturing from him to have a seat on the couch, moving to join him.
"Hello, Ambassador. Thank you for joining me." she said. He smiled.
"Please, call me Jean-Luc. Ambassador is much to formal for this setting." he stated, smiling faintly. "You know, when you called 'come', just before, I found myself wondering if I was feeling what my crew felt every time they hit the chime for my ready room back on the Enterprise." he stated. Kitsune chuckled.
"Back when I first came to Starfleet, and was actually allowed entrance, I found myself researching different Captains to get a feel for the differences in command styles between Federation and Romulan commanders." she said. "I guess I picked up a few things." she added. "Can I get you something to drink?"
Picard smiled. "Its an understandable procedure... and I can't say I wouldn't do the same if positions were reversed." he stated. "Yes, please. Tea, Earl Grey, hot." he stated, with practiced tempo and diction, as if he had never stopped ordering it that way. Kitsune moved to the replicator and order it the same way, replenishing her tea as well. She returned and offered Picard his tea. He took it and sat back.
"So, you say you've met an old acquaintance of mine?" he asked, puzzled.
"Yes. Before when I entered my ready room, I found rather peculiar man sitting behind my desk, dressed in a Starfleet uniform, and seemed surprised that I wasn't you." she stated. Picard suppressed a groan.
"Q, yes, I see." he said, sipping his tea. "I first had the... pleasure... of meeting Q on my first mission as Captain of the Enterprise-D." he said. "Put my crew and I, along with the rest of humanity on trial for being, in his view, a 'dangerous, savage-child race'." he explained. Kitsune nodded.
"I've read the logs about the Farpoint mission, and most of the logs mentioning Q in detail." she said. "He seems like an interesting being, if nothing else."
"One of the few things you learn about him, is that he's nothing but interesting, and not always in a good way." Picard told her. "You also learn that he should never be trusted. He likes to cause mischief for nothing but his own enjoyment."
"I did get that feeling from him in the brief encounter I had with him. He seemed to thing that intreating with me would be a great deal of fun for him. I think he's most interested in the fact that I'm Romulan."
"It's very probable. He likes to latch on to those things, did the same thing to Worf back on the Enterprise." he said.
"I can see things getting very interesting for this ship and crew in the near future." Kitsune told him. Picard nodded.
"That, if nothing else, can be assured." he replied, smiling. "I can't tell you how to handle him, Captain. That will depend on your given mood, and how much you want to deal with his ploys." he added. Kitsune nodded.
"Thank you, Jean-Luc, this has been a most insightful talk." she said. Picard smiled, finishing his tea.
"I'm glad I could be of some help." he said. The comm system beeped.
"Bridge to Captain Kitsune." Eight of Eight said.
"Captian, dry dock control says we're ready to depart. They're asking us to expedite our departure, apparently they need this berth for another ship." she explained. Kitsune finished her tea.
"On my way." she said, setting the cup down. "Will you be joining us on the bridge, Jean-Luc?" she asked. He nodded with a smile. Kitsune stood and walked the short distance to the bridge, Picard a few steps behind her.
"Captain on the bridge." Eight of Eight called.
"As you were." she stated, taking the center chair. Picard took the Chair to her left. Kitsune looked over.
"Do you ever miss it?" she asked him.
"Everyday." he stated. "Don't ever let them take from you Captain." he said. Kitsune grinned, relinquishing her chair.
"Would you like to take her out, Captain?" she asked, purposely using Picard's old rank. He smiled graciously and shifted to the center chair, Kitsune choosing to stand just behind him.
"Helm, clear all moorings, thrusters to station keeping." he ordered. The helm officer tapped at his console.
"All moorings cleared, thrusters at station keeping." the officer reported. Out in space the Solaris' running lights powered on one by one illuminating the ships name an registry throughout the ship.
"Very well. Operations, contact Yard Control, and request a clear vector out of the yard." he ordered.
"Yard Control is sending the vector now. Helm should be receiving it."
"Vector received and plotted." the helmsman replied.
"Helm, aft thrusters until we clear drydock, then one quarter impulse power." Picard ordered.
"Aye, sir. Aft thrusters firing." he reported. Out in space the Solaris slowly moved forward, moving out of the drydock. As it clear the permitter of the dock it sped smoothly up to one quarter impulse and moved out of the busy shipyard complex.
Picard stood, relinquishing the Captain's chair, a aid smile on his face. "Thank you, Captain. It felt good to be able to do that again." he told her, retaking the left hand seat. Kitsune retook her chair, simply smiling.
"You haven't lost it." she said. "Helm, when we are clear of Earth's orbit, set a course for Vulcan. Warp 7." she ordered.
"Aye, ma'am. Course plotted and laid in. 30 seconds until we clear Earth's orbit." he reported. The Solaris streaked around the planet Earth breaking orbit before jumping to high warp toward Vulcan. Kitsune couldn't be sure, but had the feeling that what would normally have been an uneventful shakedown and milk run would be nothing of the sort due to Q.
The Solaris dropped out of warp mid-way between Earth and Vulcan, approaching a small out of the way space station. Captain Kitsune exited her ready room, and took the center seat on the bridge.
"We made good time, Conn." she commented.
"Yes, ma'am." the helmsman said. "The new transwarp drive is functioning perfectly. Normal cruising speed is transwarp 12.97, with short burst up to transwarp 14 if we divert non-essential systems to warp power." he explained.
"Marvelous ship. Really did try to equip her with everything though, didn't they?" she asked.
"Yes, ma'am, she really earns that 'NX' thats painted on the hull." he replied. Kitsune grinned. The Solaris certainly was experimental, using a new warp drive system, a completely untested Spiral Wave Disruptor system, and sever smaller systems meant to improve the ship quality of life.
"Alright, hail the AI aboard the test station." she ordered.
"Channel open, Captain."
The comm system chirped as it linked up with the testing station.
"Welcome to Starfleet Testing Station 1347. Ship identified as U.S.S. Solaris NX-97343, Captain Amaya Kitsune commanding." the station's AI reported. "Access to proving grounds granted." it added, severing the comm channel.
"Efficient little AI..." Kitsune commented. "Alright, lets get this over with. Helm, take us in." she ordered, tapping a control on her chair, opening a ship wide communication.
"All hands, this is the Captain. We are preparing to commence systems testing. Senior staff to the bridge." she said. She closed the comm channel. "Tybok, take us to Yellow alert." she told her Tactical Officer as the rest of the senior staff filtered into the bridge. Ambassador Picard followed shortly after, wanting to observe the testing.
Testing Station 1347, one of several in the sector, had been set up so that Starfleet ships could undergo field testing without the need to actually go too far from earth. Several astroids were impregnated with various minerals and were towed into positions around the stations perimeter to allow for sensor system testing. Dummy target drones flitted about, allowing a ship to test both its own weapon systems and practice maneuvering. 2 old Constellation-class starships had been outfitted with rudimentary AI systems that allowed them to operate autonomously allow crews to simulate ship to ship battles. Finally, several weapon platforms existed in their own section to test starship shield systems in live fire.
"Starfleet should have set these up years ago." Jean-Luc commented. "It has streamlined much of the shakedown process, and allow crews to complete them in relative safety." he added. Kitsune nodded, agreeing with the idea.
The Solaris moved through the stations perimeter defenses and began its trials.
"No, no, no. This is much too boring." a voice said from the rear of the bridge. Kitsune spun he chair around.
"Q!" she said.
"Mes capitaines, I fear this is much too boring for either of you." Q stated. "Why don't we liven it up a little bit." he added, snapping his fingers. In a flash the Solaris and her crew was transported away from the testing station and into a previously unexplored region of space. Picard looked at the viewscreen, noticing the change in location.
"Q! Where have you taken us?" he asked.
"Oh Jean-Luc, I thought you would have learned by now. Very far away from your boring testing station. Into a region of space your Federation hasn't yet explored." he said. "This should be much more interesting... for me and for you." he said, grinning.
Kitsune stood. "I don't suppose asking you to take us back would do any good?" she asked. Q seemed to consider this, taking on a thoughtful look. He then grinned.
"Nope." he said, quickly snapping his fingers, disappearing in a flash.
"Well, Ambassador. It would appear we are going to be a bit late in getting you to Vulcan." Kitsune commented, resting a few fingers on the bridge of her nose. She took her seat again.
"Alright? lets figure out where we are. Commence long-range scans of the area. I want to know if theres anything out there that may not like us." she said. "Senior staff in an hour, with reports on ship status." she added, glad the ship was already at yellow alert. She sighed, things were getting very interesting indeed.
Aboard the USS Alteisen Riese, Captain Cagalli Y Atha is mulling over how she came to be in our plane of existence, and how she must return to her own... She is interrupted by the receipt of orders from her CO, Captain Amuro Ray, of the USS Gespenst.
'Dragon 2, report to Drozana Station ASAP. Reports of Devidian resurgence in area. Investigate and report back.
PS: Feel free to take a little 'R&R' on Nukara if you feel like letting off some steam afterwards... I know you are always miffed if these turn out to be wild goose chases.
"Damn... XO! Make for Drozana Station, warp 5. I'll be in my ready room" I said.
"Aye Aye, sir!" replied Kyosuke, immediately barking out the orders as I headed down below, towards my ready room. As I opened the door I was greeted by the most bone chilling greeting...
"Capitaine! How wonderful to finally meet you!" Beamed the mysterious character, who had managed to infiltrate my own ready room without tripping a single sensor. It could be only one race of beings...
"Q... What the frack are you doing on MY ship?!" I scowled, the ridges on my nose deepening by reflexive action.
"Now now, I'm only here to make a friend who isn't Q. And a friend of mine tells me you're much like my father's favourite human, Picard." said Q, sitting smugly in my chair.
"I'm honoured, but why me?" I asked, realising I had an opportunity to resolve an old issue I've been deeply troubled by.
"Why are you rubbing that curious device?" Q asked, snapping me back to reality. I had been rubbing the control device I've had strapped to my wrist for over 50 years.
"No reason."I snapped back. He can't learn of it, but maybe I can trick him in to taking me close enough...
"Why don't we have a little fun" Q said as he lifted his fingers.
With a snap, he had transported us all beyond the universe... and right into the universe I 'lost' it in, all those years ago. I just hope it isn't too far away...
"Y'know, there's a nice little planetoid down there, why don't we go for a walk? In private, of course" Q said as he clicked his fingers again.
The surface was awash with vibrant flora, various hues from luminescent orange to deep, abyssal navy. The air was heavy with a delicious scent akin to an apple orchard, interspersed with rose and lily.
Q seemed to be oblivious to the fact I was getting angry with him, which was surprising as anger had a direct effect on my genetic structure. As a result, I was growing taller and remarkably more muscular. I could only guess I looked close in stature to that actor Kyosuke mentioned during an away mission, I think his name was 'Arnold Schwarzenegger', though there was a few "obvious" differences, two of which caught Q's eye.
"I thought you were Andorian, but you've changed considerably during our brief time down here, so what are you?" Q asked, he had clearly played me for a fool.
"I am a Marasai, and you have made a big mistake... OI! My face is up here." I growled at him, knuckles cracking as my fists were clenched so tightly.
"Oh, so you want to dance?" Q said, clicking his fingers.
We were in the mess hall of the Alteisen Riese, with the crew standing in a makeshift ring around Q and myself, he had changed his attire from the standard late-23rd century uniform into a... boxing outfit?!
I looked down to see he had altered my own attire to a very snug fitting bikini. I glared at him with a look that personified "Put it BACK!", so he obliged, altering it into a sleeveless, short leg version of my own battle jumpsuit.
Q strutted around the 'ring', blatantly arrogant in the belief that he was the only thing that could get us home. But then, I felt it. It was close...
I let out a smile, "Bring it." I muttered to him, entering my combat stance.
Q charged at me for a heavy combo of jabs, hooks and uppercuts. I obliged him, for a while...
...As the minutes droned on, Q tried to breach my defenses, but I was growing bored, so I decided to show him how wrong he was to be so arrogant. I let him land his heaviest blow...
He struck directly onto the underside of my chin, but my head didn't move an inch. "I'm done playing with you..." I said.
Q wasn't happy "NO!! We stop playing when I say so!" His tantrum caused my gravitic compensator to malfunction, which caused an almighty scream from the metal of the floor bending from the full force of my immense weight.
"AAAAAH Don't hit me!" Q said as he brought a Breen captain across from 'our' universe, while retreating as far away as he could, like a scared little boy.
"WHAT IS THIS?! ANSWER THOT MEK!" His helmet's translator bellowed.
"Out of my way." I roared, thundering across the room, heavily denting the floor as I went.
"NEVER. SURRENDER BEFORE THE MIGHT OF TH-"
Thot Mek never had the opportunity to finish his demand, as I had grabbed the front of his neutronium armoured helmet, ripped it from his skull and watched as his head inflated like a balloon before exploding in a bloody mess. Guess the Breen need high pressure.
I continued my thunderous stride towards Q, who had stood up, and was holding his head high, confident in the thought I was never going to strike him, as Picard wouldn't have.
I spun round and delivered a devastating roundhouse kick, striking him so hard he flew the 150 feet to the far end of the mess hall. He was out cold.
This was my chance to find it...
An hour later Q began coming to, and everyone was standing in the same place to give him the illusion that it had been only seconds.
"You... you hit me! Picard wouldn't have hit me."
"I'm... not... PICARD!" I screamed into his face. "Now you're coming with me."
"Nuh-uh. I'm going home." Q whimpered as he clicked his fingers.
He went nowhere...
"What the?" Q cried in desperation "What have you done? You know we're stuck here?!"
"I know exactly what I've done, and now I'm going to teach you a lesson..." I raised my left wrist to be level with my throat, and bellowed into the device's receiver, "Mainterm access! Mode: active. Call... GESPENSTO!"
There was a glimmer from the planetoid, and the machine I've been worried about for so long roared toward us at maximum thrust.
I shrank down to a petite 5ft 4 in order to be able to fit inside, whilst turning to Q to warn him:
"I'm going to the continuum to teach you and your fellows that I am not going to stand idly by while you play with reality like it's your plaything. I made that mistake, and must forever atone for it. By the way, you're coming with me..."
"What are you..."Q muttered
"Ore wa ... Cagalli Yeager! Destined to wander realities to prevent this System-XN from being used for destructive purposes... I should never have made a copy of it" I sighed.
"Co-ordinate lock: Z49, Final code: Apollon!" I bellowed as the System fired up in response, engulfing the ship in a sphere of blinding light, returning the ship to 'our' universe, while conveniently dropping Q back within the confines of the continuum, with a little note on a piece of paper...
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding, USS Sita NCC-92871.
I've been lucky - I've only met Q once before. Once is enough. The Q behind my desk appears to be a human female, with a smug, toothy smile. "Well, hello there," she says, amiably enough.
All captains who've met the Q have their own methods for dealing with them. Mostly, they don't work. Mine is military directness. "State your requirements."
Her smile grows broader. "Tell me," she says, "isn't it dark and hot and uncomfortable in there?"
I frown. "What?"
"I wasn't talking to you, Shohl. I was talking to the stick up your butt."
I'm not going to be baited. "State your requirements," I repeat.
Q snorts. "Too formal," she says. "Can't I simply be dropping in, as an old friend?"
"We aren't friends," I say. "If you intend to do something useful, we can talk. Tell me you're going to make the Borg go away, or turn Chancellor J'mpok into a toad, and I'll listen. Otherwise -" I hold up the PADD in my right hand. "These after-action reports won't write themselves."
Q tuts. The PADD chirps in response, and I look down. The after-action reports are, indeed, writing themselves. Q has done something useful! I suppose it's a victory.
"Now, we can talk," Q purrs. "Let's talk about you, Vice Admiral, and your attitudes."
"Let me quote you something, from your own personal journal. 'Humans would complain. Damn whiny pinkskins.' That was you, wasn't it?"
There seems little point denying it. "And? You can't claim to be personally offended. Despite appearances, you are not even slightly human."
"I am offended." Q rises from her seat to declaim. "I am grievously offended, on behalf of all sentient life forms, of whatever race, colour, creed or political affiliation. You have erred, Shohl. You have fallen far below the standards expected of a Starfleet officer. You have let everyone down, Shohl, yourself included. Are you not ashamed of your actions? Do you not see the ghosts of a hundred generations of Starfleet officers standing over you, judging you and finding you wanting?"
"A hundred generations?"
"Well, however many. You can't expect me to keep track of petty details."
"You can find time, it seems, to read an unguarded comment in a private journal."
"Now, don't try to turn this around, Shohl." Q's eyes narrow. "I think, Miss Holier-than-thou Andorian, you need a little change of perspective."
There is a flash of light and a hissing sound... and Q is gone, but everything else seems dreadfully, suddenly wrong. My head spins, and I stumble and fall. I manage to reach my combadge.
"Medical emergency. Ready room," I say, and, "Q was here." And then I pass out.
I wake up, and things are still wrong. I'm in sickbay, I can see that; Dr. Beresford is bending over me with a worried look on her face. But everything is still wrong. Colours seem different somehow.... the comfortable air aboard the Sita seems chilly... sounds are sharper, yet hollow... and, worst of all, I can't feel air currents or electrical activity; it's as if my antennae have been stuffed into a sack. I am half-blind. And there is something weird at the sides of my field of vision; something pinkish-brown and lumpy, where normally my nose should be.
"What happened?" I say, and my voice sounds wrong; too loud, too low. I raise my hand to my head, or start to.
My hand is a pinkish-brown colour, too.
"Admiral!" A voice, Anthi Vihl's voice; my exec since my first ship. She sounds so strange now. I turn my head to look at her, and it feels weird; joints moving in ways they never have before. Anthi is standing by my bedside, and her blue skin is pale with shock.
"It was Q," I say.
"I suppose that's the only explanation we're going to get," says Samantha Beresford dryly. "How are you feeling?"
I turn back to look at her. "Strange," I say, "very strange."
She nods, briskly. Information is scrolling rapidly up her ever-present data monocle. I put my hand to my forehead, feeling smooth skin over smooth bone. My antennae are gone. I feel... violated.
"Medically," Dr. Beresford says, "there doesn't seem to be a problem. Your heart rate, blood pressure and brain activity are somewhat elevated, but that's probably just a result of - well, of shock. In all other respects... well, Admiral, you appear to be an entirely normal, healthy -"
"Human," I finish for her. There is a terrible lump in my throat. Should that be there? I don't know.
"We have to do something." Anthi's voice sounds strained. And odd, too; high, soft, sibilant. Do Andorians sound like that to humans? Have I ever really thought about that?
Dr. Beresford shakes her head. "I... can't even begin to think what we could do. It's something -" she shakes her head again. "Only a Q could do this. Maybe Q can put it right?"
There is an awkward silence. "So," I say, eventually, "I'm... stuck with this, until Q decides she's had enough of whatever games she's playing." Dr. Beresford nods. "Well, let's at least see what I'm stuck with. Do you have a mirror, Doctor?"
"A mirror...." Dr. Beresford turns away. I look back towards Anthi; strange eyes swivelling in unfamiliar sockets. "You'd better take command," I tell her.
She looks even more troubled. "Sir, you might be needed on the bridge. We had a report of a Nausicaan destroyer -"
"You can handle Nausicaans," I tell her firmly. "And I don't know... how long it will take me to adjust to this. Anthi, I'm not even used to thinking with this brain. We have to assume I'm medically incapacitated, for the present at least. Inform Starfleet Command of my... situation."
Anthi looks sullen, but she answers, "Aye, aye, sir." She is everything I'm not - a daughter of a military family, a descendent of the Imperial Guard even before there was a Starfleet, an heir to Andorian tradition. At least I can leave the ship in safe hands. "Carry on," I say, and Anthi salutes and turns to go.
Dr. Beresford is back with the mirror. Silently, she holds it up.
An alien face looks back out of it at me. My skin tone is a light neutral beige colour, not unlike Dr. Beresford's; my hair has turned from white to glossy black; my new eyes are a deep brown colour. They turn to that blank, maimed forehead in despair, and look away again. Apart from that - apart from losing my sense organs, and looking like a photographic negative of myself - apart from that, it is still my own face. I reach with that alien hand and touch the whorled scar tissue on the stiff right side.
"Now there's a thought," I say. "What about my prosthetics?"
"I thought of that," Dr. Beresford says. "Your zygomatic implant is still there - we checked its serial number, in fact, to make sure you were still you. It's not been modified - there are corresponding changes in your human skull. It's as exact a fit as it ever was -"
My fingertips linger on the scars. The long-term nerve damage, then, is still there, the legacy of the agonizing series of operations when my cheekbone was replaced and the rest of my face rebuilt around it. Q might have fixed that, I think resentfully.
"I suppose it could be worse," says Dr. Beresford. "Q could have turned you into a Tellarite, say, or a Pakled. Or she could have changed your sex as well as your species -"
"She did," I snap. Simple binary-sex species just don't understand about Andorians. And now I'm a simple binary-sex being myself - and I don't know how any of that works, either. Alien muscles pull on alien joints; I sit up on the medical bed. The room seems wobbly, somehow. Humans have balance organs inside their ears, I think; are mine working properly? I swing my legs off the bed, and, very carefully, stand up.
"All seems fine," Dr. Beresford comments.
I take a deep breath, and that feels weird, too; my chest moves in unfamiliar ways. "Computer," I say, "universal translators off." And then I give full vent to my feelings, in the ripest and richest Andorian terms I can think of, damning Q and all her self-righteous Continuum in as fluently obscene a manner as I can manage. The words scrape my throat; my human vocal tract doesn't quite fit, the fricatives slurring and the vowels wavering. In the end, I finish in a coughing fit.
"Universal translators on," I say, eventually. I look at Dr. Beresford, who is standing there with a wry smile on her face. "I'm going to my quarters," I tell her.
She nods. "I think that's wise, Admiral. But I'll be on call if you need me - if you run into any problems at all, I will have my department on standby."
I take a hesitant step forward. I can still walk - things are strange, but not that strange; humans don't move so differently from Andorians, after all. How long, though, before I truly feel at home in this skin? I tread slowly and carefully towards the door.
"Oh, and Admiral?" I turn back towards Dr. Beresford. "I interned for a year on an Andorian station," she says. "And, well, I picked up a few phrases. Some of those things you said? I think even a Q would find them anatomically impossible."
Outside, in the corridor, people are moving purposefully. I stop to get my bearings. I should know every last millimeter of the Sita, but this constant human half-blindness makes me hesitant, lost. Alert lights are flashing. Anthi said something about Nausicaans -
I resist the impulse to head for the bridge.
There is a strange skittering sound on the deck behind me. I turn. One of the Tholian exchange officers is passing by. With a shock, I realize I don't know which one it is. Tholians all look so alike to us, but I learned to pick up on the slight differences, the different sheens on their crystal carapaces... but that was with my old eyes, and all the colours are subtly wrong with these brown human ones, and I don't know who this Tholian is. It turns to look at me with glowing eyes, and its voice synthesizer chirrups.
<<You are not on your way to the bridge, Vice Admiral?>>
"No," I say. "I am... unfit. Unwell."
<<Oh. I am sorry. I trust you will recover soon, sir.>> The Tholian turns to go on its way, then turns back. <<I assume that is the reason for the cosmetic change in your surface integument? If I may say so, Vice Admiral, it does not become you.>> And with that, it scuttles off.
There are a few more curious glances as I make my way to my quarters, but for the most part, the crew seems preoccupied. Perhaps Anthi has ordered the alert to keep them busy.... I clamp down hard on that line of thought. I am not in command; I am not going to second-guess my exec while she's doing the job. She can handle it.
I make it to my quarters, sit down on the edge of my bed, and try to think. Q doesn't do things without a reason... but it might not be much of a reason, from our point of view. The Q are powerful, capricious, and amoral... well, not entirely amoral... but their morality only tangentially relates to ours. Would a Q really seek me out, just for one intolerant remark in a private record? I even like humans, mostly. My ships have been named after the works of a human musician I learned to admire....
I raise my head at that thought, and a smile tugs at the mobile side of my mouth. That's an opportunity, maybe; listen to Gustav Holst with human ears. Perhaps I will hear something I missed -
And then I hear something I can't miss; the sound of Sita's phased-tetryon banks going into rapid fire. Little shudders are running through the ship's seven hundred metre length; impacts not quite wiped out by the inertial compensators. There is a distant, unmistakeable rumble of the tricobalt mines being deployed....
I sit perfectly still. I am not going to bother Anthi Vihl on the bridge. She can kill a Nausicaan destroyer just as effectively as I can. There is a funny feeling in my human throat, though, and there seems something odd about the circulatory system.... How does this body handle stress? Do humans have glands? I sit there and realize that I don't know whether I'm angry, or scared, or both. Damn Q. Why couldn't she have turned me into a Vulcan? Emotions wouldn't matter then, I'd have to suppress them whatever they were.
Outside, the stars are wheeling, and lines of brilliant light are flashing between them. I frown, wrinkling that too-smooth brow. Anthi is making very heavy weather of that Nausicaan. There is an auroral haze across the sky; shields are wavering under enemy fire. Sita shudders -
- and suddenly there is the whine of a transporter, and red light in the room with me, and the battle is very close indeed.
A heavy hand grips my shoulder, and a voice cries, "I have her!"
Nausicaans. They don't smell any better to a human nose, I notice. The one who has hold of me is a small one, low down the pecking order; the one who lumbers over to look at me, though, is huge, dressed in spiky leather and furs, a raid leader at the least. He snarls at the other, "This is not her!"
The first Nausicaan grabs a handful of my collar and twists it. "Is her! Her quarters! Vice Admiral insignia!"
"Fool!" The raid leader cuffs his underling. "Is not Shohl! This is human! Shohl Andorian! Even fool like you should know difference!"
"Is Starfleet Admiral!" The underling stands his ground. The two of them snarl at each other, momentarily forgetting to watch me. There are two others... a standard raiding party would have more; I wonder for an instant what happened to the rest. But only for an instant.
The raid leader is facing down his underling; the attention of all the others is on the raid leader. The underling, holding me, has left his disruptor in its holster. If they were paying attention, they'd see me snatch it. But for one crucial second, they're not paying attention.
I jam the barrel of the disruptor into its owner's side, and hit the firing stud. He screams and falls. I roll with his death spasm as he pushes me away, bringing the captured weapon to bear on another underling. Sick green light burns into him, and he topples. Disruptor beams, I notice, look just as unnatural to human eyes as Andorian ones.
Whatever glands and hormones this human body has, they're working for me now. I spin-kick the remaining underling, hacking one leg from under him; a shot from his disruptor sears well over my head, and then his head hits the corner of my bed, and he goes down. Stunned, or dead; out of the fight in any case. That leaves me and a fully armed raid leader. Not the best odds. I slam a disruptor bolt into him, but his shields hold.
He doesn't even bother to shoot; he comes at me with his sword drawn. The first slash comes close to taking my head off; I block with the disruptor, and there is a nasty breaking sound from somewhere inside it. Fully armed raid leader against me and a broken gun. I duck his next swing, step in close, and let him have the butt of the gun hard on his warty forehead. He staggers, but his free hand claws at me, holds me. He drags me to him with immense strength. His hot eyes look into mine, and there is murder in them.
I bare my teeth in a grin. "You know something?" I say. "Human or Andorian - there's no difference." And I draw back my head, and I butt him between the eyes, hard as I can, with that too-smooth human forehead.
He falls back, his grip weakens, I break free. I dive for one of his fallen companions, trying for a working weapon. He stamps and roars, but it's just a distraction; a distraction from him drawing his own disruptor. I can't find another gun. I'm going to die -
Then the raid leader flares with orange light and disappears. In the open doorway behind him, I can see Security Commander Yulan and one of her tac teams, phasers raised. I get to my feet.
"Nice timing, Commander," I say with feeling.
"Two Scourge destroyers, one Guramba siege destroyer, and a Talon battleship." Anthi Vihl reports crisply. "The Talon launched raiding shuttles - Orion sourced tech, we think. They transported boarding parties when our shields were temporarily down."
I nod gravely. Anthi carries on with her report. She looks as if she was born to sit in that command chair. I should do something for her, really; she should have a ship command of her own by now. But it would be like cutting off my right arm -
Then again, if I remain unfit for duty, maybe she can just take the Sita.
"I didn't think the Nausicaans were that good with transporter work," I say.
"They could have done better." A bleak expression comes over her face. "Something like a third of their teams... died from reintegration failures."
My expression mirrors hers. A transporter scramble case is an ugly sight.
"Still," Anthi says, "we need to warn Starfleet Command about this - it's a new tactic for the Nausicaans. And I'm concerned, sir, about the way they were targeting you, specifically -"
"They probably have every flag officer in Starfleet on a hit list," I say. "Most likely, it was just my turn, today. Lucky me."
"I'm still going to report the matter to Starfleet Intelligence," Anthi says firmly. "Perhaps they will have some ideas... if someone's gunning for you, sir, we need to know about it."
I nod. My head still seems to move funny. "Have it your way, Anthi," I say, and then, more formally, "Carry on, Commander Vihl. I'll be resting in my quarters -" I stop, and put a hand to my brow. It hurts. "No, scratch that - not until they've been cleaned up. I'll be in sickbay." I salute, formally. Are human elbows meant to move that way? Mine hurts... I turn, leave the bridge, step into the turbolift.
The doors hiss shut behind me, then hiss open again as someone else gets in. I know who it is before I turn around.
"I hope you've learned your lesson." Q's smile is as broad as the sky. My fists ball at my sides.
"About interfering superbeings? Oh, yes, I've learned that you'll have your fun. It seems to be the only lesson your damned Continuum teaches us."
Q pouts. "Now is that gratitude? Consider, Shohl, just what would have happened if those Nausicaans had found the Andorian they'd been looking for...."
I look at her, and I make the mobile side of my mouth curl into a sneer. "All this for my personal benefit? If I'd been on the bridge, they'd have found my quarters empty."
"And wouldn't you have had a nasty surprise, come bedtime, then?"
"Security would have located them," I point out. "If they even managed to get aboard in the first place - I'd have fought the ship differently from Anthi, they might not even have been able to lock on transporters."
"Oh, but they might," says Q. "And they might have gear that would spoof your internal sensors, too - or did you not notice that security only showed up after the disruptors started blazing?" Her smile seems to be getting wider and wider. "But have it your own way," she says. "After all, I'm only an omnipotent superbeing, and you're a mortal. You mortals always know best." She cocks her head to one side. "Honestly, if you weren't so funny, I don't know why I'd bother."
I grit my teeth; I seem to have the wrong number of teeth. "Consider me... appropriately grateful, then."
"That was grudging. You're terribly grudging, Shohl. Just for that, I think... I will leave a little memento."
And the air fills with light; Q is gone, and I -
I have the right number of teeth. I hold up my hands, and they are blue; I put them to my forehead, but I know, already, my antennae are there. My senses are opening up, and everything looks right, the colours are right, the sounds of the ship are right, my body is right - tired, perhaps, and bruised, but all familiar, all normal.
I am myself again.
The turbolift doors hiss open. Dr. Beresford is standing just outside; I smile at her as her jaw drops. "No need for your services just now, Doctor," I say cheerfully.
Dr. Beresford finds her voice. "I think - I think we'd better run some checks, just in case," she says. "And, umm, Admiral? Your - your hair -"
I wear my hair long, tied back neatly in a ponytail; I reach behind my neck, drag it round for inspection. Black. Still black. Dark, glossy, and lustrous... but black.
Q said she'd leave a memento, damn her.
"Never mind," I say. "Maybe it'll grow out."
Captain's Log: Stardate 88754.4
I wasn't prepared for this. I prepare for a lot of things, but this....
There in the middle of my ready room was an old woman, draped in some sort of tattered black cloak over smoking cauldron. The lights dimmed casting shadow's over her face but i could clearly see her eyes locked in a cold hard gaze on mine. With a gravelly dry almost whispy voice she spoke.
"Doooom.... Doom on you all...."
I took a sip from my cup....
I remember thinking that this was possibly the best or worst prank that happened aboard the ship so far. The crew tend to pull them on each other here and there, for example a funny little slide show of my Tac Officer in a decorated stasis tube, and I in turn tend to allow them as long as they don't get out of hand. I find it helps keep morale up with some of the more difficult missions this ship receives, but this however.... None of my crew would have done something like this though.
She'd either read my mind, or quite possibly just the look on my face.
"Shall I put it this way?"
She brushed a small bit of hair from her face and suddenly she was dressed to the nines as a Starfleet officer, lieutenant commander, sitting in the chair in front of my desk. An early twenty something woman with red hair, pale skin, and beautiful. She was beautiful but more importantly she was Q. I definitely wasn't ready for this. I sat at my desk across from her and we opened dialog. She apologized for such an entrance but deemed it necessary to get my attention but she had been misinformed that we humans were a primitive superstitious lot. Apparently she was a humble Q.
It's what she began talking about next that began to worry me. Danger, she warned, one vast and unforgiving. A danger that was even unknown to the Continuum. It was no secret that there were a few races that could oppose the Continuum as such, but none have ever posed as a threat to the Federation like this. She saw that a was a bit skeptical so again with a small brush of her hair the ship was gone. Both her and myself were suddenly standing in a deserted barren wasteland. A violent windstorm made things hard to see but in the distance a faint outline.
San Francisco, Starfleet headquarters to be exact. We were standing it what used to be the bay, the sky itself was as red and destroyed as the earth I stood on. I'd have dropped my jaw had it not been for the maelstrom of debris. The future... She had taken me to the future. How far she wouldn't say but as she put it "Not as far as you would like Captain." As much as I preferred her current form to that of the old witch, she was starting to take a more jovial tone that most people know the Q for. She explained that if it hadn't been for her the sandstorm would tear me apart if the radiation alone wouldn't have flash fried me on contact and that this wasn't an isolated instance.
It would seem that it was the same the world over, the Federation over. Indeed the Federation had been over. All planets in the United Federation of Planets were just the same if not worse, but all of them were gone. All planets, all colonies, all ships, all life forms and every last soul. A brush of the hair and we were standing inside what used to be the halls of Starfleet Command. As we began walking through the ruins she moved herself under my arm, perhaps to try and console me, or maybe an unintentional mockery of human sentiment, but seeing the devastation I couldn't help but hold her close at every thing she was telling me.
She went on about what was once called the Temporal Cold War, how various factions fought for power using various species like pawns on a chess board of time and space. While Starfleet believed it had ended she told me as a war through out time and space it appeared in nonlinear intervals, jumping when and where it needed to be. She refused to answer who all the players were but by the coy smile I could tell she knew, she was Q after all. There had been a recent placement of various pawns and players. The Tholians had been a major part of this plan with the multispatial rifts they were creating on Nukara, the Tal Shiar were moving troops and equipment for some unknown means while the Ikonians hid their plans as best they could from the Continuum. To make matters worse, the Borg collective itself was on the move as if some one had kicked the hornet's nest. Even the Queen herself was moving with purpose.
At some point they would all converge drawing in other players from the Cold War out of their shadows. After a year long series of events the Federation would be left in ruin. Carnage untold on a grand scale not seen since the Continuum banished 0 from our universe and scattered his three counterparts. The first of these incursions would take place in the near future but without a discernable date, while Q across the continuum were still searching for answers what she could tell me was focused around a small Romulan colony that I might be visiting very soon. She would return to me when she had more details to share, but as of this moment, and I quote "Let the trial begin" and with that she smirked, brushing her hair out of her face and in a flash we were back in my ready room as if we'd never left, my cup still in hand and as warm and fresh as if I'd just poured it.
I asked the only question I though she would honestly answer; why the Geist, why me? To that she smiled that coy little smile again.
"We Q tend to be sentimental and will often find favorite play things, you just happened to be the one I find most interesting... for now."
With that she leaned up and kissed me on the cheek right as Commander T'Pal, my first officer, walked in with that morning's duty roster before skipping her way out of my ready room to the turbolift. The Commander cocked an eyebrow curiously at me.
I took a sip from my cup....
"Why, hello, Manda, how has life been treating you?" Q's tone may have been conversational, but Captain Amanda Palmer knew better than to lower her guard.
"Very busy, but I can't complain. How has life been treating you? It's been what, thirty years since your last recorded interaction with a Starfleet Captain. What do you want?"
"I'm afraid, I'm the bearer of bad tidings," Q replied sweetly, crossing one leg over the other at the knee, and running a hand through her thick hair. "Your former mentor, Admiral Kane, seems rather determined to kill himself."
Crossing from the door of her quarters, Palmer moved to sit behind her desk.
"Pepsi, no ice," she said over her shoulder, to the replicator in the bulk head, refusing to take her eyes from Q. Reaching back to pick up the glass of effervescent liquid, Palmer noted "That would be quite an accomplishment for an Immortal, what does he have in mind? Challenging the Klingon Ambassador to a duel? Phaser set high enough to disintegrate himself? Transporter sabotage? Guillotine in his office?"
"Do you think I'm not serious?" Q raised an eyebrow, her lips pursing. "Well, he's been feeling a little more angsty than normal lately, realizing that his friends are starting to shuffle off this mortal coil. Even that beautiful daughter of his now looks older than he does, and don't even get me started on the relationship between those two... I guess five years in a Cardassian gulag together does strange things to a person's mind, makes the unacceptable suddenly seem the norm, very disturbing..."
Palmer frowned. "You said he was planning on killing himself," she said. "Why are you telling me? I'm on a Nova-Class science vessel in the middle of an analysis of a Class twelve gas giant. I don't even have a readyroom, just a set of quarters smaller than when I was an Ensign. He, presumably, is on Earth. I'm not really in a position to do anything about it."
"Ah, but this is the problem," Q replied. "He's not just satisfied with the idea of killing himself, oh no, he wants to actually try and render himself mortal, and to do that, he's going to want to borrow your ship... Aiming on capturing some drones from a Borg scout ship so he can harvest the nanoprobes. Needless to say, the safety of your crew is a serious concern."
"Why is it a concern? Why do you care?" pressed Palmer, before taking a long swallow of Pepsi. "If he wants to become mortal, why shouldn't he do that?"
"It would be such a waste of resources all round," she replied. "I just thought I could be a good Fairy Q-mother and give you a little advance warning. Time to come up with some reasons to try and talk him out of it. Of course, if you'd rather just go along with it, and like the idea of yourself and your crew saying 'resistance is futile...' for the rest of your days, then go right ahead and ignore me. Just don't say I didn't warn you."
With a snap of her fingers, Q vanished in a blinding flare of light, leaving Palmer alone in her quarters.
STAR TREK ONLINEFADE IN:
1: EXT. SPACE - U.S.S. LORD ENGLISH
The Lord English orbiting Fleet Starbase 77-Epsilon.
LEE (V.O.): Admiral's Log, Stardate 83787.44. We have arrived at Fleet Starbase 77-Epsilon to exchange needed supplies and crew with the starbase before heading off to support colonization efforts in the T'Ong Nebula for the seventh day in the row.
2: INT. AQUARIUS BRIDGE
TAYLOR is sitting in the starboard side XO chair, talking to ARANEA in the port side XO chair. KIRA and the rest of the bridge crew are at their stations.
TAYLOR: ...the bartender at the 602 Club meant by "Noodle Incident".
ARANEA (nods with understanding): I see.
LEE MATERIALIZES onto the transporter pad in the back. He nonchalantly makes his way to the CO chair. His admiral's longcoat is covered in pink frosting. Aranea returns to the tactical station, barely suppressing giggles, as is the rest of the bridge crew.
TAYLOR (straightest of faces): I trust your visit to the starbase was informative, admiral?
LEE: Ehhhh. The watch officer asked me to review the cadets, so I called them to toe the line. One of them had a pink frosting stain on her cadet jacket, but as I was about to correct her, all of a sudden this slice of strawberry shortcake fell from the upper plaza--
(smacks his palm)
--right on her head! She was absolutely mortified as I picked a candle out of her left pigtail and suggested that she keep her jacket cleaner! Looked almost ready to burst into tears, that one.
KIRA (over her console): Cadet with pigtails? Does she have light red hair with ribbons?
LEE (slightly surprised): Why yes, she does, come to think of it. Why do you ask?
KIRA (working her console): New crew manifest came in, she's on top of the list. Cadet Kaname, birthday October 3rd. I think that's her birthday cake on you, Admiral.
Lee rises from his chair.
LEE: Well, I guess I'll wish her a happy birthday in person to assure her no harm, no foul. Kay, prepare undocking procedures. Time for more T'Ong Nebula hijinks.
Lee walks over to the ready room...
3: INT. BRIDGE READY ROOM
...where he discovers a red-headed woman (LADY Q) in an unbuttoned Admiral's Longcoat draped on the ready room couch.
LADY Q: Well, Admiral, I can't say that pink is a flattering color on you.
Lee shouts out the ready room door.
LEE: Belay that order, Kay! It looks like we'll be stuck here for a while.
Lee leans on the wall, double facepalming.FADE OUT.
END OF TEASERFADE IN:
Two SECURITY GUARDS stand on either side of Lady Q's couch. Lee is at the ready room replicator.
LEE: Tranya. 2 highball glasses, on the rocks.
Two glasses of Tranya materialize. Lee (cleaned up) gives one to Lady Q and sits at his desk with the other, putting his feet up.
LADY Q (looking at the guards): Really, Admiral Lee, are these guards necessary?
LEE: It's Standard Operating Procedure. So, Madame Q, may I inquire as to the nature of your visit?
LADY Q: You don't have to be so formal, Admiral, this is purely a social call.
LEE (swirls his drink around): Visits from the Q Continuum have rarely been social. The first visit from the Continuum came with the ultimatum to cease space travel or die.
LADY Q: Oh, don't be like that, eventually the Continuum allowed you all to exist, didn't they? It was a clever piece of reasoning by Captain Picard.
Lee finishes his drink.
LEE: Nevertheless, of all the ships in the galaxy, or even the universe, you chose mine to pay a visit, when, theoretically, you could be paying Ambassador Picard or Admiral Janeway a visit. So why here?
LADY Q (rolls her eyes): Please, I don't have as much interest with Picard or Janeway as Q does, but I am here for similar reasons. I'm hoping to find a companion for my boy, the Q you know, so that he doesn't wreak too much havoc on you lower beings. I thought of Janeway, initially, but then I thought someone he doesn't know may be a better choice to keep him in check.
Lee rests his forehead in his hand.
LEE: And you want me to travel the universe with him?
Lady Q scoffs at the notion.
LADY Q: He needs a companion, not a playmate. I have a few candidates in mind, though.
Lady Q snaps her fingers, Q-flashing her and Lee out of the ready room and into
4: INT. 7TH HEAVEN LOUNGE AREA
where Lady Q appears in the center while Lee falls into a seat at a table, his feet crashing into a CADET's jambalaya.
LEE: Sorry, cadet! This is official Starfleet business! I need you to vacate the premises.
Lee takes his feet off the table as the cadet takes her jambalaya and runs. Lady Q snaps her fingers and Q-flashes in:
Commander KAY TAYLOR: Extremely composed, but alert. Nothing phases her.
Lieutenant JIRELLE KAV: Highly disoriented, needs a commanding officer to offer guidance.
Agent VISHKA: Suspicious, cunning, unscrupulous. She's the most uncomfortable here.
Admiral BENEEJ SPOOR: Her uninterested facade belies an inquisitive nature. She tries to move to the back of the pack to survey the situation.
All four look around in confusion. Lee stands up in distress.
LEE: What is this? Madame Q, please return these people immediately!
Vishka spies Lee and points an accusing finger at Lee.
VISHKA: I don't know what you're planning, Starfleet, but you won't get away with this!
JIRELLE: What's going on? Where's Captain Shon?
TAYLOR: Admiral? Is Q behind this?
SPOOR (smirking): Well well well, what's going on here?
LEE (apologetic): My apologies, ladies! We see to be experiencing Q-related technical difficulties. If you will be patient, we will endeavor to send you back to your places of origin. Now Madame Q-
Lady Q holds up a finger to silence the crowd.
LADY Q: Now, now, Admiral, I still need your help with choosing a traveling companion, and as you know all these women, I will need you to decide which one is most suited to travel the universe with a Q.
Reaction faces from Lee and crowd.
LEE: H-hold on, w-w-why do I have to decide? And why does a Q need a travel companion? Can't you tag along with him instead?
LADY Q: My dear Admiral Lee, traveling around the galaxy with a fellow Q would grow boring real quickly. Besides, seeing the galaxy through a lesser being's eyes worked wonders for his father, and it might be a good experience for him to travel with a lesser being.
Out of nowhere, Q (Junior) appears.
Q (JUNIOR): And why would I need to travel with a lesser companion? You are always interfering, Q!
LADY Q: Now, Q, just here me out-
Q (JUNIOR): I can't let you dictate my actions anymore, not after all we've been through. I'm taking Remus here to where you can't follow me.
Q (junior) snaps his fingers, causing everyone but Lady Q to Q-flash. Everyone else is in the same place, but outside the window, the starfield is replaced with liquid. The non-Qs moving as if on a sinking ship.LEE: Oh boy!
5: ANGLE - WINDOW
Lee look out the window to see a starship-sized catfish about to eat his ship!
6: ON LEE
END OF ACT ONEFADE IN:
7: ANGLE - WINDOW
A giant catfish is about to swallow Lord English.
8: EXT. LORD ENGLISH AND CATFISH
A beam overload rips a hole through the catfish's head. The catfish floats away in the currents.
9: INT. 7TH HEAVEN LOUNGE AREA
Sighs of relief among the non-Q.
KIRA (com voice): Admiral, with all due respect, what the hell just happened? And where are you and Commander Taylor?
LEE: I'll tell you once I find out myself. (to TAYLOR) Kay, take our guests to some temporary quarters. (to Q (junior)) You, I want in my ready room.
Q (junior): Of course, Admiral.
Q (junior) snaps his fingers and Q-flashes away. Everyone else leaves the room.
10: EXT. "SPACE" - USS LORD ENGLISH
Lord English floats merrily by a school of escort-sized piranha.
11: INT. CORRIDOR
Taylor walks down the hallway, followed by (in order) Jirelle, Vishka, and Spoor.
JIRELLE: Commander Taylor, can you fill me on what's going on?
TAYLOR: Well, I'm afraid I don't know much either, but it has something to do with Q. You've read about Q at the Academy, of course?
VISHKA (interrupting): So Q is behind all this? He has been wreaking havoc in the First City for the past year.
TAYLOR (sympathetic): Tell me about it. We were about to head out when Q's mother appeared. Admiral Lee knows more about this, though. He was talking to the Qs all afternoon.
JIRELLE (alarmed): Are we going to be stuck like this forever?
TAYLOR (shrug): The Q are a capricious bunch. I only hope that Admiral Lee knows what he's doing.
Spoor is suppressing a yawn while eavesdropping through the entire conversation. Meanwhile, in the
12: INT. BRIDGE READY ROOM
Lee is trying to get answers from Q (junior).
LEE: Why is Lady Q doing this? And why is my ship involved? Also, where in the universe are we?
Q (junior): As for our location, we're about half a meter deep in the Amazon River around Vilcabamba, Peru, in the year 1566. It's a cozy little hiding spot.
LEE: Quite specific spot. And...
Q (junior): About Q, who you call Madame Q, I can only say that she is displeased with my lifestyle of carefree travelling throughout the universe without oversight. Of course, she has always been critical of my behavior ever since I was young.
LEE: Yes, mothers and sons and oversight, yadda yadda. But why here?
Scene Q-flashes, the window is a starfield again and Lady Q reappears. Lee and Q (junior) are startled.
LADY Q: As the one non-Q most familiar with Q here, I figured you would be able to find a suitable companion for him. Now have you made a decision?
Q (junior): You can't force me to do this!
Q (junior) prepares to snap his fingers.
LEE: Dammit! No!
Lee tackles Q (junior) to the ground.
Q (junior) (incredulous): Why did you tackle me?!?
LEE (rising): I'm having no more of this Q traveling. If you want me to make a decision, I'll make a decision, but afterwards I want you off my ship! We'll settle this in the way of lesser beings.
Lee taps his combadge.
LEE: Kay, change of plans. I want you to bring our guests to Holodeck 01 and activate program November Bravo Charlie. I'll be bringing our Q friends shortly.
13: INT. CORRIDOR IN FRONT OF HOLODECK
TAYLOR groans as the party walks up to the holodeck door.
SPOOR: November Bravo Charlie? Commander Taylor, may I inquire as to the nature of this program?
TAYLOR (inputting commands): It's some tacky program based off of something from 20th Century America. You'll found out once we enter. I won't say we'll like it, though.
As the doors open, the four guests enter into a replica of a 1960's television studio complex. Cue reactions.FADE OUT.
END OF ACT TWO
War and Q
War and Q
The bridge of the USS Olympic was bustling with activity. Every station was manned by a pair of crewmen. Alpha shift was being replaced by Beta shift and the former was providing status updates to the later. Captain Goshen A'nar looked up from the PADD in his hand and set it on the arm of his chair with several others. On the viewscreen, stars streaked indicating that they were traveling at high warp. His gaze swept across the bridge. Lydia MacArthur rose from her seat and stepped away from the forward console as her replacement sat down. Goshen nodded at the young human female as she made her way to the turbolift.
Noebellor, the Denobulan Operations Officer, stepped forward and handed Goshen the latest status report on a PADD. "Excuse me Captain," Noebellor replied with a wide smile. "All systems are optimal."
Goshen nodded as he accepted the PADD and looked it over.
With a genuine smile, Noebellor asked, ?Will I see you later on the Holodeck for Lt. Pratone's birthday celebration??
"I suppose," Goshen replied as he turned off the PADD and set it down on the stack. "I still have to replicate her gift. I don't know what to get her. You know how she is. It's nearly impossible to shop for her. How about you, Noebellor? Do you have her present yet?"
Noebellor nodded. "I contacted her parents a few weeks ago and had them send me a holo-image of her children. I replicated a nice photo frame for it."
Goshen's antennae turned to focus on movement approaching from the other side; his head followed. It was Marok, the Olympic's First Officer. Despite his practiced Vulcan calm, Marok didn't look happy. Without taking his eyes off his First Officer, he finished his conversation with the Denobulan. "That's awfully thoughtful," Goshen replied pensively. He didn't feel any better about his options after hearing about the Nobellor's gift. He always gave the best gifts and somehow, his gifts always paled in comparison. "It looks like I've got a database to peruse in the meantime. We'll talk at the party."
Noebellor nodded curtly, verbalized his agreement to his captain as Marok stood patiently with his hands clasped behind his back. The Denobulan in the gold tunic nodded at the Vulcan. ?Commander, Captain, if you?ll excuse me.? He turned and walked towards the turbolift.
Goshen didn't like the expression on the Vulcan's face. He recognized it, and knew that it could only mean bad news was coming. "You look as if someone just killed your pet Sehlat," he replied hoping to lighten the mood. Goshen had been friends with Marok since the Academy and knew the Vulcan's subtle mood swings better than any other member of the crew. "What's wrong?"
Marok passed another PADD to Goshen and stated with a tone of mild annoyance. "It's Engineering, Captain. They're reporting an issue with the secondary Warp coil assembly. It appears it has come loose again."
"I thought they fixed that?"
"As did I." The warp coil assembly had been giving them issues ever since they left space dock, three weeks ago. "They're convinced that the repair crews outfitted the nacelle with a substandard component."
"Tell them to think outside the box, but I want it fixed as soon as possible."
"They have a solution, but we need to drop out of warp for eight hours," Marok stated with a hint of a scowl tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Eight hours?" Goshen's antennae sagged noticeably. He didn't want to delay their next mission any longer than they had too, but this bit of news just threw a monkey wrench into his plans. "Can't they get it done any faster?"
"When do they want to start?"
"They're ready to go now with your permission."
Reluctantly, Goshen agreed with a nod. He picked up the stack of PADDs from the arm of his command chair, rose to his feet, and stretched his back. He had been on the bridge for the last three hours and his back complained at being seated for so long without a break. "In that case, I'm going to my ready room for a few hours. You've got the bridge, Mr. Marok." Goshen turned and started crossing the large bridge as the Vulcan watched his commander leave through one of the side exits.
Marok took the center seat.
Goshen was looking at his PADDs as he stepped through the portal into his pristine office. He didn't notice the person sitting on the couch as he strolled over to his desk, and sat down oblivious to his uninvited guest.
"Mon Capitan, is that any way to greet a new friend? Act as if he doesn't even exist."
The voice startled Goshen as he leapt to his feet and dropped the PADDs onto his desk. He searched the tiny office for its source and his gaze fell on the man on his couch. The humanoid male in an Ambassador uniform rose from the sofa across from Goshen's desk with a beaming smile. Goshen reached for the communications panel on his desk to call for security, when the man flicked his wrist with extended index finger. The tall Andorian captain suddenly found himself frozen in a most uncomfortable hunched over position that aggravated his lower back even further. Goshen groaned in discomfort.
The humanoid male approached the desk and stooped to look Goshen in the eye. "What's the matter, Captain?"
"My back," Goshen grunted.
"I wish to speak with you alone, my dear Captain. I will release you, if will have a seat and hear me out."
The powerful being flicked his wrist again and Goshen was instantly released from his semi-static state. He momentarily considered calling for security, but figured that the being would probably do something even worse to him. He slowly stood up. He pressed the back of his hand to the small of back before sitting down. "Who are you?" he asked, pretty sure that he already knew the answer to the question.
The smile fell from the being's face. "I'm sorry, Goshen. May I call you Goshen?" He extended a hand to the seated Andorian, as he said, "I'm Q. Perhaps you've heard of us?"
"What do you want Q?" Goshen countered. He had studied the Q at the Academy and figured that despite their mischievous methods, their intentions were not malicious. He had even written a paper on the Q's accelerated introduction of the Borg and what the ramifications were on the Federation in subsequent years. Despite the resulting disaster with the Borg at Wolf 359, it did force Starfleet to develop new warships that were utilized in the Dominion War, and aided Janeway when Voyager encountered the malevolent cyborg species on her trek across the Delta Quadrant. Goshen knew that the Q's intentions may not be clear at the time of the initial encounter, but they seemed to respect humanity and the Federation in a manner that intrigued him. This was his chance to study the Q and perhaps learn more about what Q wanted.
"Oh, please Goshen. You do not have to keep up with this farce on my account. I've read the paper you wrote at the Academy. I know all about your theories concerning the Q. And, I have to admit, for a mortal species, you certainly had the best understanding of any that we had encountered in a long, long time. That is why I'm here. We need to talk." Q pushed his hand towards Goshen once more.
Goshen rose to his feet and grasped Q's forearm in one hand, crossed his chest with his other, and bowed ever so slightly at Q, before releasing the hold and retaking his seat. He never took his eyes off omnipotent entity. "You're right. I have a lot of questions, Q."
"I know you do, which is why I am here." Q settled onto the settee and crossed his legs. "If I may, I'm going to be direct with you. An ancient threat has revealed itself to the Q. We are being forced to act now before it escalates any further. The fate of your galaxy, if not the entire universe is at stake."
"That's a bit dramatic don't you think, Q?"
"I don't think you understand how dire this revelation truly is, Goshen," Q replied as he sat back and crossed his arms. He sighed heavily and shook his head in disappointment. "And here I thought that you may just be bright enough to comprehend the Q. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk."
"I'm sorry Q. Please continue," Goshen stated as he made himself as comfortable as possible.
"No. I can see that I was wrong," Q pouted, feigning injury, as he glanced into one of the room's corners to avoid eye contact with Goshen.
"If you're going to be rude, I might as well leave," Q replied.
"What do you want from me, Q?" Goshen was growing annoyed with Q's childish games.
"So, that it, eh! You just want to use me and abuse me without having to worry about the consequences. If you were Jean-Luc, I would have taken us far from here and had a little fun at your expense. However, I'm much more responsible now. I have a son, after all. Besides, you all take yourselves so seriously."
Goshen was getting annoyed and his antennae quivered. "Q, what were you saying about an ancient threat? And, how am I involved?"
"Spoilers, my dear Captain. Spoilers."
Goshen was starting to understand why all the other Starfleet captains immediately jumped to red alert whenever Q appeared. He may have been an all-powerful being, but he was also skilled in getting on their nerves. "You're the one that brought it up Q."
"Ah, so I did," Q replied. "Since you're not interested in a little polite conversation, I suppose I'll get to the point." Q snapped his fingers.
Goshen, his desk, and chair were instantly transported to a cold, dark place. In the distance, tiny pin pricks of light surrounded him and a massive object loomed far below them. Q hovered in space in front of his desk. Without a word, Q motioned for Goshen to look down. He did and panic overwhelmed his senses and his antennae laid flat along his scalp. He gripped the arms of his chair and folded his legs beneath him. His desk fell away and drifted slowly toward the behemoth that stretched out below him. He felt his chair slide away from him. His grip on the armrest tightened, but he couldn't do anything to stop it from pulling away.
"Relax Goshen," Q laughed. "You're safe for the time being."
Goshen released his grip and the chair tumbled end over end into oblivion. He was weightless and completely at Q's mercy. "Where are we?" Goshen asked as they drifted to face the massive interstellar vortex head-on.
"Don't you recognize your home galaxy?"
Goshen stared at the spiraling cluster of stars stunned into silence. It was nothing like the computer generated models that he had seen over the course of life. He saw individual grains of rough sand clustered together and heavily dusted with particles of varying consistency until an expansive disc with a super massive black hole at its heart. It was a majestic scene, and Goshen wished he had a holo-camera to document it. "Q, why are we here?"
"Wait for it." Q stated as he stared intently at the star-scape. Goshen tried to follow his line of sight, but got lost in the vortex. He scanned the area quickly looking for whatever Q was seeing. He was going to finally ask about it, when Q said, "There. Did you see it?"
Q chuckled. "I forgot that you mortals have such poor eye sight. Let me help you." Q snapped his fingers and the galaxy's static view suddenly became dynamic. It began to spin; slowly at first, but faster and faster with each passing moment.
Then, he saw it. A star cluster winked out of existence. Before he could ask Q about it, another point of light went dark; followed by another and another. It was spreading fast, and soon slivers of black began to slice through portions of the Milky Way. It was happening at an alarming rate. Q pointed to a small cluster of stars, whose neighbors had already been slashed out of existence. "That's the Vulcan Sector."
Goshen stared at the point of light that represented the heart of the Federation. His focus on it increased in intensity until he could almost see Andor, Earth, Vulcan, Rigel, Tellar, and countless other worlds, when it suddenly winked out of existence.
It was gone.
He blinked several times and searched for it in the blackness that now occupied its space in the field of light.
Suddenly, large sections of the galaxy began disappearing at dramatically faster rates. It was being devoured by something malignant with a ferocious appetite for destruction. Within minutes there was nothing but darkness where the massive view of the Milky Way had been. Without its influence, the tiny pin pricks of light increased in definition and Goshen was able to see that they too were galaxies of varying size and shape.
"We're not done yet," Q replied as he raised a hand towards the billions of galaxies that speckled the darkness that surrounded them like snowflakes in the night. They too began disappearing, until there was nothing left except thick, claustrophobic darkness. Goshen searched frantically for some sign of the universe's existence, but found none. The darkness was total. "This is what is coming. This is why I have been sent by the Continuum to find you. This is what we must stop from happening."
Goshen turned to Q, slack-jawed and speechless. He tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but his mouth was a desert. Unable to will more from his voice, Goshen whispered, "What can we do about this? What do you expect me to do to prevent this from happening?"
Goshen suddenly found himself back on board the Olympic, seated at his desk in his ready room. Q planted his hands on the desk and leaned towards Goshen. He was wearing an Admirals uniform now. "Are you in, or what?"
Goshen stared at Q in confusion. He didn?t know if he believed what he had seen. But, if it was true, he didn't know what he could do to help Q prevent it from happening. "What are you talking about Q? I don't even know what I just saw, and you expect me to help you stop it? Stop what exactly?"
Q sighed heavily. He straightened and grew thoughtful for a moment. "Alright, let me explain it to you as if you were a three year old hyperian beetle." With a flick of his wrist, Q reappeared larger than life. He sat on a low stool with an open children's book in his hands. "Once upon a time, the universe was a larger, more crowded, and much more interesting place. A great war erupted between omnipotent beings: the Q and the X. During this great universal war, more than three quarters of the universe was wiped out before the Q banished the X to another dimension, and peace reigned for millions of years. The end." Q closed the book and returned to normal size.
"But that wasn't the end, was it?" Goshen asked.
"You're very perceptive. It should have been, but it wasn't." Q waved his hand and he underwent another quick costume change into a collarless business suit circa mid-21st century. Beside him was a white board with blueprints scrawled upon it. "After the Q defeated the X, the weapon we used to win the war was deemed too powerful to keep in our possession. The Q decided to shatter the device into a million pieces and scattered it across the remaining universe." The diagram on the white board became animated. It dissolved into numerous individual dots before they flew off in every direction until only a single dot remained on the white board. The Milky Way galaxy appeared and drew larger as the component moved deeper into it. It finally came to rest on a young proto-planet.
Goshen grew concerned. During the Q Civil War, Janeway had reported that the Q weapons resulted in super novae in the Delta Quadrant, but weapon Q now described made those seem like quaint relics of an era gone by. These weapons were several scales of magnitude more powerful. With it, they were able to destroy entire sectors of space with a single volley. Goshen A'nar asked, "What has changed? Why is this happening now?"
Q flicked his wrist and the white board disappeared. "The pieces of the device have started to be discovered by mortal species all over the universe. We never anticipated what would happen if a mortal being encountered a piece of the weapon. Somehow, with each discovery, some of the X are able to escape their exile and return to this universe."
The severity of Q's words hit Goshen like a phaser blast on heavy stun. If the enemies of the Q were starting to cross back over into this dimension, it could only mean bad news for our universe. Goshen struggled to get the strength together to ask his final question. Finally, the words fell from his mouth in a hushed tone. "The Q are all-powerful, why do you need me?"
Q looked around the room as if he expected to find someone eavesdropping on their conversation. "We wouldn't have been able to win the war if it weren't for the help we obtained from mortal species that inhabited the universe at the time."
"Wait a minute," Goshen interrupted. "Mortals and Q worked together to fight the X?"
"It's not something we would ever freely admit, but it's true. We couldn't have done it without their help, and we can't do it now without yours."
"I won't volunteer myself, or the Federation to be cannon fodder in your war with the X," Goshen replied feeling his anger rising in his chest.
Q brought a hand to his face and covered his eyes. "You still don't understand." He turned away from Goshen. "Your role in our victory was vital. The mortal species acted as conduits, a gateway that bridged dimensions. The mortals were not harmed directly in the process of assisting us. However, we are ashamed to admit that the war did result in countless deaths. If the X are able to return to this universe, all life here will be wiped from existence.
Goshen grew quiet as he considered what Q had said. "I will need to discuss it with my superiors at Starfleet Command, but I can tell you that the Federation is not in the habit of interfering with the affairs of other species, especially those at war in the scale that you're talking about. But, you've made it seem as if this war cannot be won without our help. So, I will speak to them."
Q faced Goshen. "If the Federation won't help us, we will seek help from other mortal races. However, as you had described in your paper at the Academy, the Q does hold humanity and the Federation in high regard. We would rather have your assistance in this galaxy, than some of the other species that are found here." Q paced to the window in Goshen's ready room and gazed out into space. "Do what you must, but we will need a response soon. The pieces of the weapon must not remain out there in the galaxy waiting for mortals to stumble upon them. The X are using those encounters to pass back over into this dimension. The Q has already faced off against a pair of X that had found their way into the Andromeda Galaxy. Dozens of worlds have already been lost as a result of that skirmish."
The revelation frightened Goshen. The war was already underway. He agreed to speak to his superiors immediately. He watched Q step through the window and out into space. He turned to face Goshen. Goshen rose from his chair, strolled to the window and stared out into the expanse. Q waved a farewell and disappeared in a flash of brilliant light.
Goshen turned around to go back to his desk to contact Starfleet command, when he saw it sitting on his desk. It was a package of some sort, wrapped in shiney paper and tied with an animated holographic bow. Goshen picked it up. There was a card. Goshen opened the card and immediately recognized the handwriting as his own. It read:
To: Lt. Pratone.
I wish you a happy birthday and many more to come.
Captain Goshen A'nar.
Goshen smiled and silently thanked Q for this gesture of goodwill.
Give No Q-uarter - Part II
"Team 1," called out Andrews via her communicator. "We're in. No sign of activity. In fact there's no sign of bodies."
"Team 2," called out Byrks. "Same here, Captain. And the reason for our scans showing no atmosphere is just that. No life support here."
"Team 3. We have access to this one's computer core and we're hooking up the generator now."
Ish'kuro listened intently to the reports coming in, eyeing the female Q with suspicion. Where was the other shoe, as the humans would say? Why hasn't it dropped yet? And what does a dropping shoe have to do with anything? He shook off the last question.
"Satisfied?" grinned Q.
"Not by a long shot," Ish'kuro growled. And why was he spouting off strange human phrases so much lately? He put away yet another of several questions he'd been asking himself over the last hour in the back of his mind. He was pretty sure it was going to be one of those nights of strange dreams at this rate. "What's the catch, Q?"
"You learn what you want, I get left alone with your ship's activities hiding me from Q," grinned Q. "That is the deal."
"Team 10," came the next report. "Cap, I think this is the real deal. We're staring right at an exact duplicate of the console we have in Engineering as it is hooked up in a Borg cube."
Ish'kuro glared at Q as she grinned back.
"Bentel to away teams," he barked, still glaring at Q. "Start S.C.E. operations and give Q a wide berth. She'll be doing... something... out there." Stepping even closer to Q, he hissed, "Now get off my ship."
"Thank you," she giggled. "Oh, and if Q shows up, I'm not here."
With a flash, she was gone.
"Bentel to away teams," he sighed as he returned to the command chair, "she is now out there with you. Watch yourselves. We're still waiting to see what the problem is here. Bentel out."
The bridge crew looked at each other.
"Just stop," Ish'kuro sighed. "You all have been briefed on the Q Continuum. You know what she's capable of and you know we are far from Federation space. So just do your jobs and keep your eyes on the sensors for whatever it is that's coming at us."
"Yes, sir," moaned the crew.
"Fascinating." Ensign Tyren tapped the tricorder to examine more of the Borg programming. "I think I found something we hadn't considered. A majority of the programming deals with defense and self preservation over assimilation. We've been assuming all of their equipment had to do with offensive capabilities to assist them with assimilation."
"Only because they rip apart every ship they come across, Ensign," her assistant noted. "Why would a species like that need defense?"
She tapped the tricorder once more.
"Wait. What's this?" She tapped a command.
And the side of the scout sphere exploded with green plasma.
Ish'kuro turned to see one of the spheres erupt in explosive plasma. "Bentel to Team 3, come in! Team 3!" The other shoe had dropped. "All away teams, abort! Return to Bentel! I repeat, abort mission! And someone find me Q!"
"Someone mention me?" came a man's voice from his ready room.
Ish'kuro cringed. "Tell the doc to get up here with a hypospray for a stress headache. I'm going to need a triple dose." He made his way down to the ready room to find not one but two Q's sitting on his couch, both male.
"Let me guess," Ish'kuro frowned. "Q, made famous by Captain Picard, and Q... um... the..."
"Son of Q," grinned one of the men. "And a spitting image he is, isn't he? The eldest."
"What do you want?"
"What do... Isn't it you who asked for me?"
"I think you and I both know who I was talking about."
"Ah yes," grinned the Q. "And where is my lovely bride? She really shouldn't be running around in her condition."
Ish'kuro blinked. "Condition?"
"Oh yes, didn't she tell you? We're expecting again. Only for some strange reason she wanted to try it the way of you bipedal life forms."
Ish'kuro shook his head. "What are you..."
"You know, the whole big belly, multiple month, lots of pain thing you do," frowned the Q. "Why you put yourselves through that is beyond me."
"First, it is only the women," corrected the irritated captain. "Second, it is the only way to have children and propogate the species."
Q thought about that a moment and looked at his son before responding, "I still don't get it."
"Look, I don't know where she is now and she didn't look pregnant when I saw her. So would you leave now?"
"And leave you here, alone and vulnerable?" Q chastised. "What kind of a Q would I be if I left you here to suffer the same fate as the Borg?"
Ish'kuro thumped his head with his fist. "I knew it! I knew there was a catch!"
"A catch to what?"
Ish'kuro glared at Q. "If you're so omnipotent, how is it that not only do you not know where your wife is, you don't even know what she did to us?"
"Well there's no need to be insulting," Q again chastised. "She put up a shield I haven't seen before. Perhaps something due to her condition. As for catching your tiny little brain up to the situation, this is where the Borg put ships that were infected with a virus of their own accidental creation."
"One that happens to blow up ships, by any chance?"
"Not necessarily," Q responded, absently looking at his nails. "Only if it thinks it's threatened."
"Thinks? This computer virus thinks?"
"Well, not really a virus. More like a part of the Borg consciousness that the Collective didn't agree with." He leaned forward. "A part the Borg found threatening. Perhaps you should take note."
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