Literary Challenge #52 : Hello, again, Q
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the fifty-second Literary Challenge: Hello, again, Q
As you walk onto the bridge, you notice The Chair is occupied... by Q. "Hello, again, Q..."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!
As I walk on to the bridge of my newest ship - the Avenger-class battlecruiser U.S.S. Sentinel - I notice that a security team is standing in front of my command chair, heavily armed. When I finally see past them, I notice an old "friend"...
"Q, what in the blazes are you doing on my bridge?! And get the hell out of my chair!"
"My..most sincere apologies, Captain Aubrey. I was hoping to get off to a better start than this! Before you have your "security" shoot me, I have a message of the utmost importance to give to you. Regarding the Solanae Dyson Sphere."
"The Solanae Dyson Sphere?! I tend to keep out of things like that, Q. Please explain to me AND my officers in the command centre."
"So what Q suggests - if we belie--"
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'IF' WE "BELIEVE HIM"?! I have NEVER been so offended by a Human before! Give me one reason why I shouldn't ERASE you from existence, foolish girl..."
"Because you'd have to find me a new tactical officer and first officer, Q.That's why. As you were saying, Commander?"
"Right, sir. As I was saying, if we believed Q why would he tell us that the Voth are being influenced by - potentially - the Iconians? It could be just another "test" of his, like with the U.S.S. Copernicus and the Battle of Wolf 359...what I'm saying, sir, is that we can't trust Q to tell the truth. At least not like a Vulcan."
"Noted, Commander. Has anybody else got any more concerns or obje--"
RED ALERT! WEEEOOOP! WEEEOOOP! RED ALERT!
"Computer, initiate ship-wide broadcast. All hands, this is the captain speaking: Battle stations. I repeat: All hands to battle stations! End broadcast. Sorry,Q. Looks like we'll have to continue this meeting later. Senior staff to the bridge and appropriate stations."
"Captain, it appears that a Voth ship set off the proximity detection grid. Defensive armour has been deployed, weapons locked and shields up."
"Thank you, Ar'ryv. Broadcast a communique to the task force: modulate shield frequencies to a rotation of 89.07 MHz. We are being engaged by a Voth assault fleet. Prepare the VATA for Tachyon Armament Projectiles, power to engines. Emergency power to shields, then rotate shield frequency.
As the turbolift slows to a stop and the door opens a look of astonishment washes over my face.
"Subcommander Locutus, what did you do to my bridge?!" "It wasn't me, it was him." says Locutus before raising a hand to point at my chair.
Before I can ask who my chair rotates around revealing Q.
"Great... Put my bridge back to the way it was" I say before grabbing the pistol at my side. After tapping the communicator on the side of the wall with my elbow I say "Transporter room, lock on to my chair and standby to beam it into space on my order." "Acknowledged." replies the transporter operator. "My bridge... Put it back to the way it was... Now.." "Fine... Romulans are no fun." says Q before snapping his fingers and restoring the appearance of the warbird's bridge. "Now then. The chair. Get out of it." I say before raising the weapon at my side. "Q, this might not kill you or even hurt you but I will shoot you if you don't get out of my chair!" After Q raises up out of the chair I say "That wasn't so hard, now... what do you want this time!" As Q begins to talk I lower my pistol and put it back in its place, "Klingons." "If you wanted Klingons then maybe, oh I don't know, gone to a KLINGON ship!"
As if on cue, an alarm on the bridge goes off.
"Commander, I am detecting a small fleet of Klingon ships." says Locutus. "Just freaking great... Lolu, hail the Regent unless it is on a patrol, it should be with the rest of the fleet. Maybe we can catch the Klinks before they get where they are going." "Aye. U.S.S. Regent, this is the I.R.W. Destrix, respond." says Lolu. "Response coming in, Commander." "Onscreen" I say before taking a seat in my chair. "Commander... What can I do for you?" says Admiral Roy. "Sir, our sensors have detected a small klingon fleet near our postition, we are currently under cloak, but should they detect us, we will need assistance. How soon could the Regent and the rest of your shiny new Avenger-class battle group be here?" "Let's see... Hmmm... Less than a day based on your current position. How many ships are we talking about here?" says Admiral Roy.
I stand up and walk around to my first officer
"We aren't getting a clear reading, sir, my estimate is 5, maybe 10. But we can't be sure at this distance, We could close to say an AU or closer and get a better picture. Honestly, Admiral. With our enhanced cloaking device, we would get a km off thier asses and they wouldn't know we were there." "No, that's to risky. I will contact the other ships under my command and be there in a day. If they move, follow them and contact us, what ever that fleet is doing so far out of klingon space, can not be allowed, Regent out."
"You're welcome" says Q, before flashing out. "If you ever see Q on this bridge, or anywhere on this ship you are to alert me right away, understood Subcommander?" "Yes ma'am"
Reverse Role Stf
Player: @%$& (/facepalm).
Player: I mean, what is it Q?
Q: Well I'll get right to it then.
Scene Changes to a new Borg STF where all players get to play with a variation of their own ship that is completely borgified visually, and with bonus borg consoles temporally added to your existing build, and you get to play against the feds ( pve or pvp setup). It's like Khitomer, only you're the klingons.
Upon winning, Q Gives you rewards and says something like "blah blah blah, now you know how it feels, you humans have a lot to learn about moot", and you return to your normal setup.
Player (second option): Nope.jpeg turn around and quietly go back into the turbolift.
Then maybe if you play it too much in a day, you get full assimilated, and then have to go through another borg STF to get free'd by the feds. I dunno. It would be a cool mini mission thing for the STF family.
NX01 REFIT FOR VA'S!!!!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Present day, USS Bonaventure
"Computer, resume recording."
"Working," came an odd, mechanical voice from the desktop. I shook my head, figuring it was after midnight. In order to keep morale up, I'd authorize theme weeks for Starfleet Heritage Month. Each major division comes up with a theme and makes the ship feel like it belonged in another era. I tapped a button on my desk, and the usual beep that paused a log entry had a secondary echo indicating activation. Not a surprise...Science did have this week, and it seemed they voted on the 2260's. I wasn't looking forward to the uniforms....but then remembered I could use that green wraparound...and L'naa is going to look great in those skirts.
A huge grin came across my face as that image imprinted on my brain...and was quickly replaced when I called up the menu plan for the wardroom. Gone was traditional Friday Surf N' Turf...gone was Nacho Wednesday...and gone was Midrat Munchies. Saturday was the Cap'ns Luau, featuring poi, poi bread, and poi pudding. Not good...if you say you like poi, yer Hawaiian or yer lying.
And no ice cream for dessert on any of the days.
Could be worse...they could have chosen 2281, and I'd have to wear a communicator on my wrist for a week. And those horrible uniforms...
Well, guess I have to add new rules for next year. Hitting the button to again resume recording, I said, "Captain's Supplemental Log, regarding shipwide morale events. New rule: replicators are not to be altered. End log, playback rules for these events."
The echoed beep sounded again, and the oddly voiced computer spoke. "Working. List of morale event rules:
Rule 1: no shipwide shutdown of artificial gravity.
Rule 2: hot water is never to be limited, particularly when H2O shower protocols are in effect.
Rule 3: "Apollo Bags" are *never* to play any part in proceedings. Ever.
Rule 4: Crossing the Line simulations will have no Royal Babies or hazing involving diving into decayed galley leftovers.
Rule 5: if simulating ocean going navies, no hot bunking for any ranks. Also, "Hollywood showers" are allowed and do not "detract from the experience.". The addition of minute amounts of jet fuel so the drinking water 'tastes authentic' is strictly forbidden.
Rule 6: if the ship from an era being simulated has a bridge systems status monitor opposite the viewscreen, the ship's true status is never to be displayed on that monitor, so that a threat doesn't see what's currently broken, as well as our current shield frequency.
Rule 7: replicators are not to be altered.
I punched another button on my desk, shutting the system down. If it was the simulated year 2260 on my ship, then it was about an hour after bedtime, and since I've finally started sleeping normally again, I had no desire to be anywhere other than my rack.
Standing up, I reached over to the upper right side of my jacket an undid the clasp. 2295 week was officially over now, but undoing the clasp and letting it hang down was known as, "I'm off duty and headed elsewhere...don't bug me unless it is urgent." A great tradition...one that wasn't possible with our "Destiny" era uniforms. Walking over to exit my ready room, I paused to wonder who came up with these names...but that thought became the last thing on my mind as I walked on my bridge and tripped over something.
I thought I must have fallen down and hit my head a bit hard. I saw stars, but not from the viewscreen. These stars danced across my vision, and as I pushed myself off the deck, I became aware of what made that noise...and what I had tripped over.
A white duck crowned with silver feathers was staring me in the face, but there was a look of self-awareness in the eyes.
Again, it gave out a loud, "Quack!!"
I blinked a few times, looking around the bridge. The familiar sights of a Type-3 Odyssey bridge were replaced by the classic round shape of the original Constitution-class ships.
And there were a dozen intelligent looking ducks waddling towards me, each quacking at a different frequency.
The words came from my chair, currently occupied by a being with a face that I've seen too many times in the past year.
I brought my left hand up to my head and started to rub my temple. "Q...haven't I been through enough?"
"Try wait, cousin. You going to figga dis out garans."
Taking a deep breath, I counted to five, then as calmly as I could said, "Q, please stop speaking Pidgin."
A mischievous grin crossed his face, as he said, "But don't you think these ducks would appreciate it?"
"Q, I hate puns," I said, but I couldn't help myself from chuckling inside.
"Come now, Captain...that's how you most enjoy being greeted when you're home. Jean-Luc just 'loves' when I call him 'Mon Capitain.' I do believe that's how I'll greet each Captain from now on...in the manner they find most pleasing when they're home."
I shook my head, saying, "Those words coming from you are definitely not pleasing. You have to earn speaking that way to another person. And you haven't earned the right to speak to me in that way. Haole." I muttered the last word under my breath.
"And so the only ones to speak to you like that are your surfing buddies?"
I stood up straight, saying, "My Ohana. My family. Those of blood, and those who I choose to share my life. But I don't expect you to understand."
He frowned, admitting, "No, I guess I don't understand. Yet. Humans are just so....so...complicated. But ever so fascinating. You are fascinating, Nico. We've been chatting for a few moments and not once have you asked why I'm here...or why your bridge resembles a nest."
"Q, the one thing I have learned from you is that you'll tell me what you want to *when* you want to. And not one second before. So I won't demand to know what's going on." I paused a moment, then added, "I will ask you. Could you please tell me why you're here?"
Q shook his head, scowling. "I bet that you picked up the manners from your better half. How is she doing?"
"If you're referring to L'naa, I think she's doing better. But that's a question only she can answer." My face reddened, and I looked down to the deck. "And she's not my better half."
With a smirk, Q asked, "Do you think you're the better half?"
I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "That's not what I meant. We're not...uh....she's not..."
Q waved his hand, stopping my feeble attempt to explain the situation. "Hhhmph. Then you're denser than Bolian Fruitcake. Can't you figure out that you two are meant for each other? Why exactly aren't the wedding invitations out yet?"
It was my turn to interrupt him. "We...we've been through a lot. And we are not rushing into things."
The answer seemed to satisfy him. "Well....if Riker finally figured out to marry his true love...and to finally accept a ship of his own...then there's hope for you still. After all, you already have the ship part."
I looked around, noticing that the ducks were all standing behind me, staring Q down with eyes burning like an overloaded phaser. The white one I tripped over had tilted his head towards Q, looking like it would love nothing better than to peck at his face. "Q," I asked, "could you also please explain the ducks?"
"Quaaaack!!!" came the resounding chorus from behind me.
Q snapped his fingers, and the ducks vanished into white light. "Your crew, of course. Didn't you recognize the one you tripped over? The loudest, most obnoxious one?"
"Where are they now?" I asked, a bit of anger seeping into my words.
"I put them in the storage area by the port dorsal chevron connection. I'm getting tired of having phasers pointed at me every time I come to visit."
"Perhaps you could find a different way to announce yourself."
He looked amused, and said, "Would you prefer a subspace comm, or would an email suffice? Perhaps an engraved invitation on latinum bordered ivory bonded paper? Smoke signals? Maybe an elaborate orchestral number, and I appear during the crescendo?"
"Q, just popping into people's lives unannounced is considered very rude. At one time, people who did that...I think the term was telemaker, or something like that...they were actually put into arenas and forced to fight one another."
Standing up, Q smiled, and snapped his fingers again. His Starfleet Admiral uniform was replaced by red and black robes, with a squared hat atop his head. "Yes, I do recall that! I sat as a judge in these very robes to observe the trials! A very bleak time in humanity...one that Jean-Luc showed you've progressed beyond." He snapped his fingers again, robes now replaced by a gold Commodore's uniform, circa 2265, and my red jacket was gone, replaced by a tight green Captain's wrap from the same era. "There...now we fit into the decor," he said, gesturing to the obsolete bridge.
I shook my head slightly as I checked this new uniform. Hmm. Good thing there's no ice cream this week...I could stand to drop a few pounds. "Could you please tell me now why you're here?"
"I just want to see how you are doing."
Sighing deeply, I asked, "Seriously?"
Q looked genuinely hurt. "Is it so hard to believe that I came here to check in on you?"
Q returned to my chair and sat down. His voice took on a paternal tone as he said, "Nico, I told you a month ago that the Q can learn from their mistakes. Take ownership of them, and correct them. I did so."
"And I thank you for that," I broke in.
Q looked morose as he continued. "Part of taking ownership, I've learned, is remorse. I do feel bad for what you've endured...and wanted to see if you're doing alright."
I squinted my eyes at him, voice full of doubt. "Really?"
I leaned back against a red railing that surrounded the bridge pit. "I don't know what to say. This is just...so...so atypical of everything I've known about the Q. To tell you the truth...I'm not sure how to answer you. I have good days and bad days. Each day seems a bit better...then some day I feel like I've made no progress."
Q stood back up and walked over to the rail. "Yet they've given you back your ship. If you aren't at your best, isn't it negligent to put you in command?"
"Starfleet doesn't throw away any being just because they're not at their best. We're not a commodity that is simply replaced if broken....we have a duty to each other to be helpful. I trust my crew to do the right thing if I do end up permanently broken. " I walked over to the centre seat and sat down. "And I'm not beyond repair. And sometimes, things that have been broken are stronger than they once were."
Q wagged a finger at me, saying, "You haven't answered my question. How are you doing?"
A thought popped into my head. "Quid Pro Quo, Q. I'll answer your question if you answer mine."
He smirked, and raised an eyebrow, countering with, "Two questions, and it's a deal."
"Fine," I said. "The answer to your first question is that I'm doing better. It's a long way to heal, and there's an old saying. 'Inch by inch it's a cinch, yard by yard it's hard.' I look at my healing as a day by day affair. Looking at the big picture can be too daunting, so I take it one step at a time. So my answer is this: I'm better than I was yesterday, but not as good as I'll be tomorrow."
Q thought about that for a moment, finally saying, "That will do...for now. Your first question?"
I looked around, wondering how to phrase the question, but decided to just be straightforward. "Are you going to keep checking up on me...L'naa...Sotek?"
Again, Q looked genuinely saddened. "Yes, I will. I do want to make sure that all of you will be alright. But I will try to do so less...rudely." His expression changed to a mischievous one, and said, "My second question: have you and Blue Boo made up?"
Exhaling deeply, I thought about it for a while. "Repairing an old friendship can also be a long, difficult road. How about I leave it at there is a bridge being built where once ther was nothing but destruction?"
"That will do...for now," Q said. His face again took on a paternal expression, and he continued, "I hope that you'll finish that bridge before it's too late. Yours is a dangerous profession...and I think old Blue Boo would mourn for you if you fly into a supernova or get squished by a Black Hole."
"Whatever happens, happens, Q. Day by day is how I'm going to take things. Now my last question: Why did you turn my crew into ducks?"
A big grin came across his face, and he snapped his fingers, vanishing into a flash of white light. He was gone, as was the old bridge, replaced by the smooth lines of Bonaventure's slightly modified bridge. But his voice was clear in my mind as he said, "Because, cousin...I wanted to make sure you weren't still quacking up."
I'm glad Q left...because at that answer I started laughing...and nearly fell out of my chair when the turbolift opened and out ran Doc Irve, white feathers stuck to his forehead.
Q ? ?wa'DIch chavmoH,? Temporal Invader
General Gaardox MonG-DecH did not want to report for duty immediately after the immaculate victory. He had rested after the 'deck party' on bridge, so much reportage and communiques, kasqs of blood-wine had to be brought up to the bridge repeatedly, and the immediacy of the secondary crew was noted as they performed after the initial officer crew had won all battles, and they had been sworn the honor of this duty shift in sobriety while the officers before them had celebrated in their presence. In truth most of his senior officers were commanding on other house fleet vessels. Gaardox longed to communicate with family members, yet allies and friends must have had similar thoughts and they reveled as it was thier honor to do so.
This shift, first shift of the following day, no after party of course, which is humor from an earlier time in his career as a KDF officer. First shift would notoriously occur many weeks after certain victories as he recalled in his mind approaching the turbo-lift in my specialized Qu'Daj'Nej'Var battleship. This would be different, although Gaardox did spend an hour in communique with loved ones before the required rest period, an hour that was recorded and sent to family members, he only spoke in an ad hoc fashion to verify his survival and safety to his immediate family members and friends that he had closest ties with. Luckily his wife was who Gaardox had the directed recording with on a secure channel. Gaardox only could wish she was aboard, and yet, how could he, Gaardox had not slept for more than a few hours at a time in months. No this shift would be like yesterdays, with less fanfare, more pronounced diplomacy, more criticality, and too many actualized situation reports.
General Mongdech would be held accountable as a general for his deeds. First with the Chancellor for a debriefing, the actual most interesting and relieving communique, his office sent an encrypted message after the immaculate victory, however it was merely a hastily recorded proverbial protocol-nothing more. Gaardox was not planning to drag the Chancellor out of chambers, and as he was inundated with fleet communication at that time, in these situations he had found that he was usually fifth or sixth to be contacted by J'mPoc at 'First Shift.' Gaardox imagined he would be no less than third on this occasion.
Be that as it may, many dignitaries, generals, governors, house fleet admirals, chief trade representatives, and so on, you simply could not imagine, would inundate this day in his private quarters on this particular 'First Shift.'
"'Qu'Qapla ... Quue" The turbolift door slammed behind Mongdech, the general didn't know how he recognized the human, every officer in the detail bridge heard this stagnant greeting, not one officer so much as drew a blade. The Bridge of the 'BaQ MonGDecH' is usually quite vacuous. Kling do their duty and have not much noise to make upon most occasion if it is not celebratory in nature.
"HeH Dech Mong Qu-Qapla." How intriguing, this particular surprise had unique metaphysical properties that Gaardox could immediately attest to.
"Of course 'Q' is supposed to be much smarter than I," thought Gaardox. "I wouldn't choose to challenge this concept." Thnking again, Gaardox had not recognized his face from the Federation file, however, he had met previously.
"Oh yes, I have not yet returned to Khitomer, you?" 'Q' maintained a stance of witticism as was his custom.
"H'lija'Quuue'" Gaardox was beginning to prepare to use his diplomatic Terran language skills, the general's mind began reciting his consonant retinue.
Suddenly Gaardox HeH Het Mongdech was on a bridge of a ship that must not have been much larger than that of the 'Qul'DaQ,' on this particular deployment his second wife O'Wa'TaQ was on command duty of the House Fleet specialized Kamarag.
"It's called a 'Krynn.'" 'Q' murmured slowly, drawling the consonant thickly in Klingon. He was actually quite a handsome Klingon for a 'Q.' MongDech recalled a fantastic novella series he had read as a young cadet, the planet the heroes had saved had the same name as this model of ship.
"The Eureka moment, Quuue." Ew isn't much of a vowel or syllable in Klingon, more of an expression like "Er, um," or sometimes referent to numbers, such as 'an' or 'one.' It can be used to interject when making up unique compound verbs, or not to and explain plainly in painstaking formal or regal form, and sometimes slang. In the General's mind there was so much involved with the socio-dynamic metaphysics of this war that had not yet been addressed. Just in terms of revenge, the mind reeled at that in terms of Klingon philosophy, to say nothing of political science. This had been a very bloody civil war. There had been made so many new advantageous advances on record making prisoner taking battles. The first few weeks of battle were relatively bloodless, to speak least of all. It was not the first distinction that the Occupation Fleet had made for itself in this regard during this particular war, during the prior against the same foe, it had.
Suddenly 'Q' and General MongDech held blood wine and were surrounded by the VIP's that Mongdech was to contact, and they all held blood-wine, and still aboard this strange 'Krynn' vessel.
"QAPLA!" All aboard the 'Krynn' vessel had shouted while toasting before it was only an echo in an empty ship's bridge with one Klingon General MonG-DecH, and one very overdressed Klingon Q.
"You don't like my ceremonial uniform? Doesn't it strike you as opulent and indicative of my position in the Empire?"
"HeH-Hmm-Qu-'EW'." Mongdech replied crudely, not wanting his distaste to outdistance his sensibilities yet not wanting to show any support to the means of this endeavor.
"Hlja'vlegh Gaardox." 'Q' was yet patient. Mongdech decided to sip his blood-wine in rebuttal, slowly. Gaardox was yet patient actually. "There is little else to do I suppose. I told you on Khittomer that you needed to consider curbing your imagination. That did not hold much blood-wine with you apparently."
"Dalegh." The General had finished the wine and dropped the cup. He walked to 'Q' and took his cup, and drank it. 'Q' nodded. He finished and dropped that cup and just stood in front of him, in a deaf fashion.
He was gone in an instant and Mongdech was now surrounded by Klingons. Klingons with very refined features. Klingons with more than typical physical strength, Klingons who were apparently much more accustomed to being at least slightly more strong than the general, and were already quite well seasoned to be as such. There were even Klingon hybrids, Vulcan/Klingon, Romulan/Klingon, frighteningly enough, even Cardasian/Klingon, something he had only seen in images, and of course not a more refined future species. All of this was apparent to Gaardox, and like previously they encircled him with blood-wine in hand, aboard this 'Krynn' bridge and he as well. Sipping for the entirety, as he could ascertain, judging by the sparse simplicity of their armor, that Gaardox was among Klingons of the future. Perhaps they had a better immunity to the effects of this drink.
"He will torture us as long as there is a universe for him to do so in. We are at your service." Although these Klingons meant 'Q,' Mongdech had never heard a more common form of colloquial Klingon come out of any sentience's vocal chords.
"Daj. HA! 'be 'DaJ'Nej-Qot'VoM."
"Well indeed interesting, we may name the ship whatever you like for our service to you. For reasons that may seem obvious to you we are indeed at your service." Again, too polite to sound like an android, yet such perfect guttural infliction, and the inference was correct, or maybe a guess, Gaardox seemed to, or indeed had, 'caught Vom.' The fact that they seemed to maintain servitude to him must have been indicative of this yet Mongdech looked around at the bridge, sipping wine cautiously. He was in the same sector space, possibly the same location, or adjacent, yet no, he more than likely was no longer in the same century. He looked carefully at the group and walked in a circle, they were senior officers, most were of uniform age, near his or slightly younger, or older by no more than a few decades. It slowly dawned on him that that must have less meaning to them as their longevity would have more salience than his own. "We have had limited contact with Klingons from the 25th century, Lord Mong-Dech." Now this was disturbing.
He had been called many things, mostly Mongdech, formal, polite or informal slang depending on your point of view. The beauty of most of the 'MongDecH' affectation was that he usually made a universality obvious and completely capable of being intelligible in doing so again, whether it was tactics, intellectual prowess, or esoteric mannerisms that would prove somehow relevant or viable. A respected crass methodological approach that was usually completely orthodox in its adherence to chaotic experimentation, and his namesake was completely urban in an unrespectable consideration. He was getting somewhat too aged and villainous to make light of such reality, but what these Klingons must know of him now, he could think of it and attempt to at least humor them all.
"Always a good ice breaker Gaardox," 'Q's' voice omnipresent voice trailed off.
"I have never expected to command a field promotion as LORD." Gaardox finally said. It was sadly true. He usually had his father's sword at his side at all times now. He had maintained this war with co-command in House Fleet, Occupation Fleet, and elite alliance members of the Honor Guard who were linked politically to him via the High Council, as well as old friends from the earlier civil wars. Gaardox Mongdech conceded to the fact that at his age fewer had seen either so much civil war or war at all to be plainspoken.
Laughter, rebellious, unscrupulous and unbridled. It was a trans-dimensional, trans-decadal coronation. MongDech mused with some glorification. These officers likely had wondered why Gaardox would have allowed himself the title, or how he had come to abide as such to such a reality. He had found a curious way to steal it for himself.
"Don't get ahead of yourself." Again 'Q' spoke, however, Gaardox could conclude that only he could hear this now.
"We had followed your history, we are all professionals of this field of research, you must assume some generalizations." An old and particularly seasoned handsome Klingon-who-had-aged-well remarked, his uniform markings indicated he was in command. "We cannot tell you our names. It is not allowed." The temporal Klingon had remarked.
"Pagh wejvam." Now MongDech had named the commanding officer of the 'Daj'Nej-QoT-Vom,' things were making a sharp turn now. "We must inhibit Tholian surveillance of the most circumstantial battles from this civil war now that it has finally finished. Can you put a holographic astro-metric and holographic chart tactical computer from the 24th or 25th century here?" Later he would have nick names for the entire crew of fifty mirror universe temporal Klingons, Gaardox was a personable general.
All put their mugs or cups (if you will,) down in front of them, some taking sips, and all sprang into action. Monitor stations were Klingoned, discussion ensued on the most proper considerations on such actions. It was quite quixotic and terrifyingly dizzy'ing, indeed MongDech was very in glorified by all of this activity. Before he could find a state of embellishment, the computer console emerged and he began scanning charts, making notations and, as it so happened agreeing or disagreeing with a series of preset notations. He had to assume that some of it was the officers at work and others were already programmed into the computer.
"In this case how do I tell of the origin of the notation presets 'Pagh Wejvam?"
"You will not be able to." Gaardox found a way to supersede that theory by using assumptive reasoning and doing a comparative analysis predicating historical analysis design philosophy using current popular philosophical political science analogy from his time, and his analysis of that based on his initial conclusions as a younger officer in the 23rd century to make his conclusions. Naturally Gaardox had not known that longevity would make such scientific conclusion in his time, also facts and events would dictate his decision making to this regard at this particular event.
Gaardox was aboard the USS Pathfinder, somehow this was obvious to him. A younger Captain Picard had spoken to an Admiral on the view screen. They were somewhere in the Romulan Neutral zone, Theta Eridani, he believed.
Before Picard had spoken he bowed at the Admiral and put his hand on his chin before putting his hand to his side and looking up at the view screen again.
"No, Admiral, I need to try reasoning with these factions in my own way-" he went on apparently reasoning his own design philosophy in regards with a diplomacy in the Tau Dewa between the Klingons and the Romulans, with Federation intent.
"You see, you see what you are doing? You see what is being done?" 'Q' said.
Now MongDech was again on the 'Daj'Nej-Qot'Vom' monitoring the console, his mind set, he formulated the telemetry also using his own design philosophy to configure interface with the ship computer. He knew he was no longer in the presence of 'Q,' for now. The view screen now showed a tactical Tholian fleet in a monitoring formation, one that would circumvent detection as well as allow for the best sensor linkage monitoring amongst them.
"Attack now." As his sense of glory superseded any known expectation or familiarity he had ever known, he watched as what would be at the beginning of an even longer war than the previous civil war that he had just endured. He had barely been aware that the ship board computer's link up with the older monitor console system had actually been automatically linked up with astro-navigational service. He had only assumed as much and then, his conclusions still catching up to his reality, torpedoes that looked like pulsar radio waves and what looked like a series of purple lightening emitted from the 'Krynn' Temporal starship and decimated the Tholians. Gaardox sipped quietly at his blood-wine and made the next serial computations regarding the battle maps and charts, projections, and determinations. Battle after battle had ensued. The Tholians were shrewd to monitor the minor conflicts of this Klingon civil war, but it would serve them no glory.
Battle after battle, each Tholian fleet seemed more and more futile. The fifty hour mark had passed. Gaardox required rest. He was escorted by 'Pagh Wejvam,' to quarters, sparse, yet comfortable. He looked out his window and strangely as light flashed during battles, he would for some moments at a time see in ultra violet or even the gamma ray spectrum as the Klingon physical reaction to the divinations of astral combat must somehow correspond visually. He went to sleep.
Gaardox woke to the smell of fresh meat and blood-wine. He used the shower to refresh himself. His dreams, his wives showed him much less mercy than usual, it had been extremely gratifying, if not factual, yet not all would seem to be at complete odds with reality today. He would inquire of his wives of such dream activity when the timing was right. An optimist Gaardox ate everything on the table. He performed his morning calisthenics, and walked to the turbo lift, or whatever movement device it was. MongDech liked the guillaumes he had seen in his quarters, the alloy was not known to him, and the design intricacies had varied complexity. As he entered the turbo lift he had noticed that the noise of combat had ceased yet the armor plating had covered his quarters now, he was not to notice his whereabouts.
Looking in the on bridge view-screen he could only assume that they were deep in the Gamma Quadrant. Then it dawned on Gaardox, telemetry had now rationalized surveillance by the Founders?
"Section, quadrangle five six two mark nine hundred fifty three million, six hundred thousand..." This was indeed further than the computations of MongDech. Pagh Wejvam took off a wire frame head gear that had little volume or density. "Psychic interlink with the ship board computer, nothing more Lord Gaardox." Damn, he had forgotten that he was a 'Lord' now. "This is the fifth interaction we have had with this faction, their temporal ships are a bit harder to deal with, however, certain temporal holding combat patterns of the Tholians revealed some bi-lateral connectivity with the Borg in this sector, we ARE in the Gamma Sector, we assumed an inner-link by the Founders. We are close to a solution." Some kind of pulse wave hit the strange vessel that suddenly appeared at least twenty kilometers away, and the ship vanished. "An irregularity, the solution is match, at your station Lord Gaardox MonG-DecH." Gaardox preceded to do a bilateral equation using a logic to design itself a paradox which would determine which Borg fleet members were now too close to witnessing the said paradox, or had inadvertently done so in relation to the Klingon civil war activity. Yet despite the fact that this was not his quadrant, Gaardox was more at home in his own century. This time the Captain made the command.
"De-assimilate now, WE ARE KLINGON!" What seemed like centuries would now pass and very often Gaardox would go to his quarters, at sixty hour intervals, and he slept until he could no longer do so. He often waking up to the most garish and horrific battle fields in space that he had ever witnessed. To break up the monotony the crew would often dine together, and speak of their glory. Gaardox was not certain how he could be alive for so much longer, however he believed that some new technological advancement had slowed his aging process considerably. His memory also was very much improved. He remember everything that had happened on board the 'Daj'Nej-QoT'VoM,' although he often found it within himself to entirely forget 'Q.' Idle time was usually used creating stasis fields and secret transmissions describing the dangers of Borg, undetectable to Borg, yet somehow universal to all in these sectors. They often moved from one decade to another, yet this enemy was always Borg. Their evaluations of the Tholians and Founders had to be thwarted. Once in a great while they encountered another Temporal vessel, their first was Federation, and they compared notes, they were both on similar missions. Finally they were in Tal Shiar territory discretely removing Borg notification technologies, Gaardox was very excited by this process as they had spent centuries doing so by way of other species use of Borg technology.
The 'Krynn' vessel 'Daj'Nej-QoT'VoM' was a mirror-universe temporal ship. In their own universe these Klingons were minions of the Iconian Empire, an Empire that had grown to such power in the galaxy that the Borg were not used to defend it, or assimilate it, this is what had been the undoing of the Iconians in Gaardox's universe. The Borg were a technological mistake that had gone out of control, so much so that the fading Iconians in Gaardox Mongdech's universe had to rapidly cover their tracks or no trace of non-Borgified sentience could exist in the Galaxy. Upon finishing the last of the Romulan technological modifications they were forced to submit to a council review of the mirror universe Klingons by the mirror universe Iconians. A humiliating experience, these Klingons were no longer warriors in the eyes of these Iconians, and judging by appearances and behavior these Iconians were nothing like the Iconians from his universe. Yet in a strange way, the complexities of their reasoning indicated an unusual facilitation towards redundancy, one that was integrated into a political rhetoric which was as difficult to follow as it seemed to be unrewarding for the mirror-universe temporal Klingons. This paradox was further sustained by a casual acceptance towards what imminently seemed to be any acclamation of Gaardox's home dimension. While this was all fascinating, Gaardox MongDech could not configure any meaningful resemblance to this facilitation by the mirror-universe Iconians. Eventually it passed and they again headed into Gaardox's 'paradox of simplicity,' as one mirror-universe Iconian had mentioned referring to the General's home universe.
Back in his side of things this Temporal crew forged ahead and they finalized towards secretly tweaking shipboard computers of any breach of dimensional astro-physics that may have inadvertently been created by the paradox by the completion of the end of Gaardox?s recent Klingon civil-war. This was going to only take a few decades to complete, yet Gaardox was the least familiar with this kind of enlistment, and the temporal compliance it required. Mongdech exercised, ate, and dreamed much more than he ever had on this part of the temporal mission. His wives were more familiar to him than they had ever been, and the son-of Drex more often present with this dream family and the daughter of Mongdech, which had only happened irregularly before. Although he knew he and his wives wished that La'Tal would take this relationship very seriously, La'Tal seemed to understand the flimsy circumstances of this dream relationship and had simply decided to take it one step at a time. This new integrated consideration of the dream reality made his temporal duties more bearable. Although he always blushed when he looked first at his daughter's stomach and then her eyes, this was something that he had previously in this dream series had only held for his wives when his daughter was present, they had not been impregnated, he shouldn't expect his grandchild at this time either. It was sometimes difficult to hold onto realistic consideration during such events. Time would pass.
Now much later in the view screen was the battleship 'BaQ-MonG-DecH,' Gaardox, sighed heavily, "Please patch me through to my command structure." To great surprise to the Empire he took his meeting on bridge of the 'Daj'Nej-QoT-VoM.' He had to explain all circumstances, the appearance of a weird blood-wine ritual, a strange futuristic ship, his travels, and his mission, 'Q,' he had to tell of 'Q,' and his plans, which he had more than enough time to make considerations on. Factually also, although he kept it brief, he by now knew all too well the designations and designs of his command council, no decision was reached lightly. He would spend a year on Qo'Nos with his family and then together they would join Gaardox as he commanded the Krynn vessel, although Gaardox would never to use it in a physical temporal sense again, and when it was time for that, as it was agreed by the council meeting, during the 'First Shift' a now quite paradoxical and quixotic multi-present, multi-vector meeting, Pagh Wejvam and his crew would leave this time and space and he would take another year with his family until it was time once again for regular space governance, by way of a regular House Fleet deployment, a Fleet of which he was now Lord.
General Gaardox HeH Het MonG-DecH didn't mind this meeting, it was one step closer for him to his loved ones, no what he detested would be the following meeting with J'mPoc where he would describe to the Chancellor in great detail what the Klingon 'Q,' looks like, and that in fact the sentient anomaly was in fact an ally. Repetition was one thing, he would have to tell the same tale to the Chancellor, almost exactly, to speak of 'Q,' as a Klingon, he hoped the Chancellor had heard the tale from his council meeting members first. He would earn his right to replace his father's bat'lith upon the family mantle of his house.
Calculations in Wonderland
As Pithagoras walks onto the bridge, he notices his Chair is occupied... by Q.
Pithagoras: "Hello, again Q, glad to see you arrived at least a couple of hours ahead of my calculations. "
Q: "What fun would omnipotence be if you mere bipeds could just calculate the mystery out of it?"
Pithagoras: "For as far as it applies to such a vastly superior creature welcome aboard", making a bow and a swing with his arm toward the chair, "please feel free to use my chair for as long as you need, I hardly have use for it, but being potentially everywhere and anywhere at once must be very tiring".
Q looks at Pithagoras with a combination of a slime and disdain, a liberated borg attempting humor. The captain of this breen vessel renamed the U.S.S. Ramanujan, which is by the way a ship Q literally signed for, might just be the kind of entertainment Q is looking for.
Theatrically standing up making an even grander wave then Pithagoras did, Q replies: "Nonsense, I was merely keeping it warm for you, I know your leg implants must feel after a hard nights regeneration."
Pithagoras refusing to sit just, crosses his arms and looks Q in the eyes, remains silent for a moment too long, ensuring an awkward silence before continuing: "Either way, This ship is truly special, I must thank you again for all the autographs you gave me and my crew to trade with that big fan of yours. But we are on patrol, so before we start, I would humbly request that you return us in a time and fashion that would allow us to continue our mission without any negative effects".
Q: "There you go again, taking all the fun out of it. Would you just trust me, just this once?"
Pithagoras: "Well I trust there is a reason you came here, it's unlike Q to pop in just for a conversation. On that note, what would you like us to do today?"
Q: "Well, the thing is I seem to have misplaced a large chunk of Winter Wonderland."
Pithagoras: "Is it the Giant Snowman?"
Q: "Close, it seems someone found my secret hiding spot and has moved the snowmen."
Pithagoras: "All of them?"
Q: "Size isn't everything, I stored them in a special sub quantum containment field, quite hard to find."
Pithagoras: "The obvious questions is why haven't you just snapped your fingers and taken them back, or just create new ones.?
Q: "Create new ones? What kind of reckless fool do you take me for? No reason to make more of them when I already created them. As to why I haven't taken them back, the truth is I hid it so well it's hard to find even for someone with unlimited control over space and time. I could find it, it might just take some time and that would be, well, boring. And you and your crew do still owe me a lot of favors for helping you get this ship."
Pithagoras: "Agreed, we will try and find the snowmen for you, I have already had my science team examine the one I kept from last years event."
Q: "You what?"
Pithagoras: "I did say I was expecting you"
Q: "Not that, I'm perfectly aware of your limited potentials. You stole one of my snow men?"
Pithagoras: "I got one from the ferengi at the event, I thought you knew. About a week ago it started behaving weird like it was looking for something."
Q: "Has your science officer been competent enough to uncover the triaxilating modulation on the interlink frequency?"
Pithagoras: "Well yes and no, we used telemetry from nearby Starfleet ships to triangulate the signal after we found out how the snowman was being animated, but the subspace signal data is hard to align due to localized temporal differences far below what our differantiator can detect."
Q: "I suppose you want me to just hand you a better temporal differentiator? It's always _".
A hand gesture from Pithagoras slienced Q, it's effect surprised both of the men: "I would not say no to that offer, but we already isolated the source to a degree, after having failed our initial attempts at enhancing our differentiator, we instead accessed increasingly larger number of ships and been able to overcome the temporal differences by using reversed omnidirectional field harmonic theory. Using said theory, we found a way to amplify the source. Allowing us to pinpoint the signal to a few thousand kilometers, which seems to originate from Andor.", pausing for a second, "Unless we inverted the polarity on the second axis, but that would take us to another Galaxy altogether and that would be unlikely as any mode of travel that powerfull would potentially destroy also the snowmen."
Q: "If you already knew this, why haven't you gotten my snowmen back yet?"
Pithagoras: "And ruin the surprised look on your face? That would, how did you put it? 'Take all the fun out of it?' ", a big smile appears on the captains face, "I've made inquiries with Starfleet bases on Andor, your snowmen are most likely in a snowglobe that was excavated from the fire caves on Bajor. It?s being studied there to establish it?s antiquity and origin. I already instructed them that you would flash by soon. I'm glad we were able to find so many answers to your mysteries, it should make my calculations far more accurate next time."
Q makes a theatrical angry face at Pithagoras and flashes away, presumably to the historical artifact research facitily on Andor.
Turning around Pithagoras notices his chair gone, still smiling, he waves towards the viewscreen pointed towards Andor:
"See you in a couple of months!"
"Would you look at that," Cadet Benn ch'Rmann gasped wistfully, peering out of the shuttle viewport as it approached the USS Vanguard on a low angle.
"Apparently, she has transwarp coils for slipstream drive," said Cadet Daniella Vorkuta, peering over the Andorian's shoulder, and taking in the slender form of the Eaves Class tactical explorer. "Our midshipman cruise could take us almost anywhere."
"That's nothing," replied Cadet I'K'rR'h c'r'nai, flexing from the waist to lean in behind her friends. "According to the specs, there are two class fifteen industrial tractor emitters installed. She could turn a moon into an asteroid field..."
As the shuttle drew closer to the starship, sunlight reflected blindingly off sections of the hull, and I'K'rR'h's black inner eyelids automatically snapped shut, as she continued to gaze upon the sleek vessel.
"Vanguard shuttle control, this is shuttle Musevini on final approach, requesting landing clearance and approach vector," said Lieutenant Simon Van Doren from the pilots' console.
"First of all, I want you all to know, that you are all here with my personal approval," Captain Amanda Palmer announced, as she looked over the three dozen third year cadets assembled in the main shuttle bay. "No one needs to impress me, because your records have already done so. All of you are here, because you have earned the right to be here.
"I run a fair ship, and don't display favouritism, as some captains have been known to do. I extend privilege to those who earn it, I discipline those who deserve it. Over the coming year, you will put into practice the skills you have thus acquired, as well as developing new skills. You are now no longer students, but serving officers, and any one of you may become responsible for the fate of the ship and all hands aboard. That is the burden and privilege which comes with being a Starfleet officer. I know you are all capable of shouldering that responsibility, or I wouldn't've approved your postings.
"That will be all, please report to your assigned duty stations."
The holographic view screen positively glowed with the cerulean maelstrom of the Vorlan nebula, bathing the bridge in its azure light.
From the command chair, Palmer observed the handful of cadets earnestly observing her officers and making notes on their PADDs. A nostalgic smile played across her lips, as she recalled her own midshipman cruise aboard the Ganymede.
"You have the bridge, Commander," she said as she rose from the command chair and walked towards her ready room.
"Aye, Captain," Commander Brandon Mayer acknowledged, turning the Ops console over to Cadet I'K'rR'h, who had been shadowing him all shift, and moving toward the central chair.
As she entered her ready room, Palmer stalled just inside the door, for sitting behind her desk, idly twisting her curly red hair, with a sly Cheshire cat grin, sat Q. Reaching out, she spun the ergonomic cream-colored ovoid form of Palmer's Verticoli hairbrush on the desk, which the captain snatched away from the enigmatic being.
"Give me that!" she snapped, cradling the hand-carved whalebone brush to her chest as if it were a newborn child.
"Oh, so rude!" Q observed. "Is that any way to greet your fairy Q mother?"
"What do you want?" Palmer demanded.
"I couldn't help but overhear that lovely speech you gave to the new recruits," Q said. "All that talk about responsibility and duty."
"An important part of any officer's life," Palmer said. "Something you would know if you had actually earned that uniform you're wearing."
"So you truly care about every officer under your command? From your senior staff to the lowliest cadet?"
"Yes, of course," lowering her hands, Palmer began to unconsciously tap the brush on her upper thigh.
"What if I were to tell you, that there was recently someone who came your way, in need of assistance, but you cast them aside?"
"I'd say that's nonsense," Palmer retorted. "Anyone who comes to me with a problem has my full attention and support."
"Oh really?" Q insisted. "Let's just see about that, shall we?"
She raised her hand, her fingers pulling together --
-- and in a flash of blackness, Palmer found herself standing in a room, Q beside her. She recognised that she was in the residential quarters on Spacedock, and fought the impulse to slap her comm badge.
"What's going on?" she demanded, as assorted S:CIS officers moved about the room in head to toe polymer coveralls, bagging and tagging items, mostly PADDs containing a variety of extreme pornography.
"Oh they can't see or hear you, Manda," Q said conversationally, as a suited technician passed clean through Palmer as if she was not even present. "Just take a peek in the closet.
With an uneasy feeling building in her stomach, Palmer leaned forwards, pushing her head through the closet door.
"HOLY S**T!!!" she screamed, recoiling in shock.
"Anything interesting?" Q enquired innocently.
Looking as if she was about to vomit, Palmer pointed towards the closed doors with a trembling finger.
"There is a naked man in there, hanging from a noose, with a f**king bag on his head!"
"Anyone you know?"
"What?! No! I -- Hang on..." with a sigh, Palmer stuck her head back through the closet door, and recognised Adam Cornish. "I declined his transfer aboard the Vanguard before we first launched. He had behaved -- highly inappropriately towards a female officer aboard the Phoenix. I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of him aboard my ship, and feared he may try something similar with one of my female officers."
"Well, after the Vanguard, he tried the Bedford, the Tiburon and the Endeavour. Each captain declined his transfer, but Commander t'Kazanak was particularly scathing after Captain Atreides' dismissal of Mister Cornish, although she clearly made an impression, as you can see."
Palmer looked down at one of the unbagged PADDs, and saw it showing an issue of Romulan Babes.
"I guess you're trying to tell me that if I had let this pervert serve aboard the Vanguard, he wouldn't be dead now," Palmer sighed. "That he was just a misunderstood soul who needed help."
"Oh he was sicker than an Orion Matron's playtime," Q said. "But just remember, that your duty of care extends to everyone you meet, not just those under your direct command. At least I didn't have to take you back to the road to Damascus so you got the message."
"Consider the lesson learned," Palmer insisted. "I'll be going back to my ready room now."
The sky was a featureless dome above them, grey and overbearing and so smooth that Joanne Roslyn kept expecting to see the team reflected in it. There was no single light source, instead a uniform dim illuminated everything, washing out shadows and colours. The ground was covered with grey regolith, a powder so fine and dense that it gave the impression of walking on a really thick carpet - if pieces of the carpet came off with each step. The dust clung to their trousers and boots, and Joanne could feel it settling on her skin when she rubbed her fingers together. Apart from their small circle of footprints, the ground was as undisturbed as freshly-fallen snow, and there were no geological irregularities of any kind. In the distance, the curvature of the horizon was clearly discernible, a constant reminder of the size of this world. With a comforting regularity, the bright shape of the Mutabor would rise above the hard line of the horizon, climb maybe a quarter of the sky and then dip again. From what Joanne heard from Commander Taallir during these short periods of communication, they still couldn't tell exactly what it was that their Admiral was standing on, or how it managed to have both a surface gravity of one perfect g and a very fresh, breathable atmosphere.
Again, Joanne wished she had her tricorder.
Everything had happened so fast, Commander Corspa Eide hadn't even had time to grab a phaser, and that said something. One moment, they'd been well on their way after a biannual maintenance check, and the next, he had been on the bridge.
Dressed in a red 24th century uniform, looking impatient and like all those pictures in the Starfleet databases had been taken just yesterday, he had looked at them, calculating. Joanne's first instinct had been to get angry - what was that stunt with the Borg, all those months ago - but then her mind had helpfully supplied half-forgotten content from compulsory evening lectures on near-omnipotent beings at the Academy. Never challenge the entity. He hadn't let her form a response to his appearance anyway, just raised one arm and snapped his fingers.
Behind her, somebody sneezed. Joanne turned around and looked at her small team. Q had just dropped random members of her crew on the surface of this object, giving no clue as to his intentions. Corspa was there, for which Joanne was immensely grateful, rubbing her nose. The other three were Nurse Koan, whose blue Bolian skin stood out starkly against the grey surroundings (contrary to Corspa, who just looked pale), and two young Human crewmen from teams usually working deep in the bowels of the ship, both in worn yellow engineering coveralls, looking scared.
Koan looked from Corspa to Joanne. "We should return to the ship as soon as possible, Admiral, before we breathe in more of the regolith."
Corspa nodded, sniffing quietly. "If I didn't know better, I'd say we're on the moon - Earth's moon. I'd recognize this stuff anywhere."
Joanne frowned. "This sort of material is very common. How can you be sure?"
"The taste and smell are very distinctive," Corspa said, then sneezed again. One of the crewmen offered her a piece of tissue.
"It doesn't matter," Joanne said. "We've got enough of it on us to get it analysed in the lab. Let's beam back up next time the Mutabor comes around."
Everyone nodded eagerly, relieved at the prospect of getting back to the relative safety of the ship. They were on edge, still waiting for something to happen, something that would explain why they'd been dropped here. Was this a test? A game? Would something burst out of the dust the second they made a false step?
But the greyness around them remained unchanged as they waited for the Mutabor to complete its orbit around the small world, and as the transporter engaged, Joanne felt a deep uneasiness settle in her at the thought of leaving their footprints etched in the dust on the otherwise unmarred surface.
After the transporter had gotten most of the dust off their clothes, they had samples taken of the rest and then, at the insistence of her chief engineer ("This stuff gets everywhere"), they went through a quick decon. More than half an hour went by before the Admiral and Commander Eide returned to the bridge, which showed no signs of Q, and where Joanne finally learned more about the strange object she'd visited.
"It actually has the exact dimensions of Earth's moon," Ensign Banks explained, prompting Corspa to wiggle one antenna at Joanne, "meaning it's possible that it was built by humans. However, our sensors cannot penetrate the surface, so we don't know if the high gravity is caused by its mass or a piece of machinery inside it. The atmosphere is, most likely, artificially created and contained. The artefact shouldn't have one, not out here."
Joanne turned around from where she had been looking at schematics and data on the viewscreen. "And where is here, Ensign?"
Banks took a deep breath, and Joanne became aware of the tension in the room for the first time, too thick for it to be just because of Q's sudden appearance. When Ensign Banks answered, her usually so collected expression gave way to an open helplessness, betraying her age.
"We are out of the plane of the galaxy by some sixty-three degrees, and above it by almost ninety-three thousand light-years, Admiral."
93,000 light-years. A cold fear clawed its way up Joanne's spine. Ensign Banks was still talking, but her words came to Joanne like she had thick wads of cotton on her ears, meaningless and mute. Q could probably send them back home in an instant, but what if they failed to do whatever he had brought them here for? Was the entity that malevolent? In a flash of quiet hysteria, Joanne remembered how, as a child, she'd thought the journey of the Voyager was the ultimate adventure, and had spent hours pretending to be Captain Janeway, guiding her crew home through the vast unknown. Now she knew with crystal-clear certainty that she could not do it. There wasn't even anything out here in the galactic halo, no planets, hardly any stars, just tons of hot gas, that could help get them home.
When she realised that the bridge crew was expecting some sort of reaction from her, she fought her way through the numbness on her mind and schooled the expression on her face into something vaguely confident. She was still struggling for words when Taallir saved her.
"But that's not even the most interesting part," he said, "look."
Joanne turned around towards the viewscreen just in time to see it light up, the picture taking her breath away.
The Milky Way filled the screen, surrounded by the deep black of intergalactic space. But it looked different from the composite images they had, and different from similar spiral galaxies they had seen - it was milkier, embedded in a dim sphere of stars, giving it an almost orange glow. The central bulge was bigger, nearly a quarter of the disc's diameter, and awash in warm, yellow light. The spiral arms seemed thinner, bright blue threads wrapped tightly around the core, and were dotted with individual stars, like grains of salt on the picture.
"That's... that's not our galaxy," Corspa said.
"But it is!" The fear had fallen away from Joanne at the sight, replaced by calming awe. Her mind was taking in the colours and returning numbers, information. "It is, but over seventy million years in the future."
Corspa threw up her hands and returned to her station.
The data they were getting was invaluable, Joanne knew. When they returned home, it would entertain scores of physicists for decades, herself included. In her head, Joanne was going through cosmological models and theories that now were shown to hold true for a time-span of several tens of millions of years, while at the same time trying to clamp down on her excitement. She took the immensity of what they were seeing as proof that Q would take them back home, since it was unlikely that he cared about things like temporal directives. It made Joanne wonder. Was there still civilization, after all this time? Had the galactic community endured throughout the millennia, or was the little artificial moon they were still orbiting the last remnant of humanity?
Taallir was now pointing out different features across the galactic disc, massive bubbles of hot plasma and supernovae, sketching out the history and fate of the galaxy. Corspa was still doubtful, so he told her that the Milky Way's nearest neighbours, the Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda galaxy, were exactly where they should be, taking into account their known motion and the expansion of the universe.
Joanne was only half-listening, her eyes darting back and forth over the screen, feeling more and more like Q had given her a great gift.
"But why," Corspa said impatiently, addressing what Joanne should have been most concerned about, "why are we here?!"
At that, Q popped back into existence. He was now wearing the Admiral's coat that Joanne favoured, pacing back and forth in front of the viewscreen. There was none of the usual "dangerous playfulness", as it had been described in the notes on him, but instead his eyes were too bright, his gestures too wide. Once again, Joanne felt inadequate, consciously resisting the impulse to shrink back when he walked up to her.
"Do you see it?" He was walking around the bridge, looking at each crew member in turn. "Can you see it happening? Why is this happening?"
His obvious haste, his confusion, scared Joanne. Weren't the Q omnipotent, all-knowing? What could possibly provoke such a reaction? He seemed to come to a decision then, looking almost disappointed. With a shake of his head, he raised his hand again.
In a flash of light, they were home.
Joanne had only been poring over the data they had collected for about an hour, after having been extensively debriefed by Starfleet Command, when the message came in.
A second ship had been taken across time by Q, and brought back. Over the next few days, a steady trickle of ships was flung into the future, only to be returned shortly after. Each captain reported the same Joanne and her crew had seen; a galaxy of ageing stars, watched over by a relict covered in moondust, and the entity Q becoming more and more distressed over something that no one seemed to be able to figure out.
When it stopped, there was some more speculation, but even that died down after a while. Maybe the clue was hidden in the sea of data they now had, maybe not. The greatest thinkers of the Alpha Quadrant came to the consensus that, although there certainly was some great discovery to be made, it would happen so far downstream that there was no rush to get to the answer now.
After all, there was time enough to worry about it.
Q, a Sphere, and a ticked off Dinosaur
After successfully completing a raid against Orion Pirates on Nimbus, I've been ordered to DS9 to deliver the stolen goods where they can be returned at a later time. As of now, I'm on my way to relieve my temporary XO of night watch, as well as give the bridge crew a well needed rest.
On stepping off of the turbolift, I find myself on a dark and empty bridge. Immediately I know something is wrong, as the night crew shouldn't have abandoned their posts yet. A low feral growl could be heard from across the room, my hair instantly standing up on the back of my neck from the unnatural sound. A sharp claw came at me before I knew it, I dogged it, only to vanish back a into the shadows. I took a quick shot at the shadows, hoping to hear something, only for the lights to go back on and to find myself in a normal, empty bridge. "Bravo, my friend, I toss you into the dark unknown, and you still fight" said a voice form behind me. I turn to see Q sitting in my chair...MY CHAIR.
I fell to my knees, as I beheld the most atrocious sight I could ever behold. "What..whhh...." I stumbled to find the words, "Why would you harm a perfectly could chair Q!" Said entity was sitting in a chair, but not just any chair, the spot where a command chair once was, was now a bean bag chair on the floor. "A bean bag chair...are you insane Q, that's the worst thing you've ever done to me...topping the time you stole my stash!" I seethed. Q chuckled at my antics, which only worsened my mood.
"I just tossed you against an unknown enemy, and all you worry about is that I changed your precious chair into a bean bag chair," he said standing now, shaking his head, "Seriously, Gregs, where is your priorities?" I was crawling into a ball at this point, as the chair was the only thing I loved about this ship, after a year of commanding it, I had just gotten it to fit me. Q sighed and snapped his fingers, turning the monstrous filth back into the beautiful, and comfortable command chair. After practically killing Q in a hug, I choose to sit back in the chair as fast as I could, before he changed it back.
Sighing I got back to the important matter. "Why did you send an unknown reptillianoid against me Q?" I asked. Q had a look I could only place as puzzlement on his face.
"How could you possibly know it was reptilian, it was hidden in the darkest shadows of the bridge!" he said in mock annoyance, "You couldn't have possibly gotten anything from one attack!" I turned to Q with a smirk.
"I saw the arm had a scale-like pattern, the growl had intermediate clicks, and almost a slithering sound to it like a Gorn, plus when your a telepath even while hidden I could sense it's simple mind" I told Q, knowing he already knew these things. I merely wanted to get past his rude comments so I continued. "I want to know what sending that thing against me had to do with why your here" I said.
Q looked at me almost dissapointedly. "Now Gregs, I'd never would have thought your time in the Alpha Quadrant has made you forget your home..." He replied.
I narrowed my eyes at him, merely trying to figure out what he meant by that, when I heard him snap, and found myself in a tropical jungle.
Second Officers Log: Sharvan
At 0800 hours, we had lost contact with the bridge crew, only to find them reporting in at their respective rooms, also having lost contact with the Captain around the same time. As first officer Zinuzze is on personal leave to Trillius Prime, I have assumed role as acting captain while my counterpart is missing. Let us hope that this issue will resolve shortly...as they always seem to.
Oh how I hate Q, loathe him, and utterly despise him in all regards, as he left me alone in this forest. The Voth of course, pointing his antiproton pistol at my back, seems to think I can understand him, while the Dankanasaur, the one word I could understand, probably in thanks to Q, I recognize as a bigger version (three times) of what Q pitted me against a few hours ago. Oh yes did I mention I had wandered two hours before stumbling onto this lone Voth and his pet. The scratches are minimal and the gash in my right shoulder will probably heal nicely in another hour or so without medical attention. I forgot how high and mighty the Voth were, looking down on other species with their superiority complex.
From what I could tell, we where in an enclosed biosphere, a ship possibly, or a huge construct the size of a planet... oh @?#$. I mentally banged my head on a tree, it should have been obvious, the Voth, the giant jungle, the dinos, the metal walls, I was in a Dyson Sphere! In Voth Space! In the Delta Quadrant! I was sooooo in trouble, and was kicking my self over not noticing it sooner. Ah well, I'll probably learn why I'm here soon. Here's to hoping.
An hour of walking, trudging, falling, and almost drowning later, I found myself in an encampment of Voth making, makeshift, yet showing its age. Among the scattered technology of the camp were a few scientists scanning the various plants and technologies on in the sphere. None of them seem to see me, instead focusing too much on their studies.
The Voth lead his pet back to its holding place, and motioned for me to follow him into one of the structures. He taps a small device within his room then turns to me. "Welcome Starfleet Captain, I am of the Voth, as I believe you are aware warm-blood," he says, "I have questions as to why you are here and I expect you to answer them." He is blunt, he knows who I am, and seems to be familiar with Starfleet rank and structure, I deduce he must have been one of the Voth to come into contact with Voyager in 2373. I decided to humor him. "My first question, did voyager make it home after such a long journey?" he asked. I nodded, and he immediately relaxed his posture, as if he had a immeasurable weight on his shoulders removed. "My second question then, is how are you here, even if Voyager made it home, how could your people have reached this quadrant in a mere thirty earth years since we had last contact?" he said. I pondered what to tell him in this case, because while it was 'classified' everyone with the right clearance knew of the U.S.S. Callisto and its mission to the Delta Quadrant.
"Truthfully, I was brought here by an entity of immense power (with an ego to match), left here, and then I kind of ran into you" I said, deciding to tell the truth. The Voth's skin changed color, almost paling to what it was.
"Then you are in much trouble, if you are alone with no way back, you are stuck here," he said, "And while my excavation team is loyal to me, I fear your presence will cause dissention, possibly getting me thrown into another profession as the least punishment, or both of us thrown into a mining camp on some backwater planetoid." He paused, hesitant at first, then turned to me. "I'm sorry Captain, I've probably been rude to you, not even asking your name, or me telling you mine," he said apologizing, "My name is Tova Veer, head archeologist of the excavation of an important discovery, possibly the proof we need, to prove the Distant Origin Theory, that this sphere in space, once held our ancestors the pre-Voth civilization." I nodded, remembering reading up on the Voyager encounter in my academy years, though it was a bit sketchy. "I can give you a small shuttle, perhaps you can use it's subspace drive to..." I stopped him there.
"I'm sorry Tova, but I cannot allow you to risk your life in behalf of helping me, besides once I'm finished here, I'm quite sure Q will be my ticket home" I told him. He asked how I knew Q would send me back. I smirked. "Q and I have a unique friendship, he gets me where and when I need to be, and I don't try and kill him every time he messes with me, not that I could harm him if I tried, there is always a lesson he wants me to learn" I tell him. He nods, then turns around and digs through a mound of paperwork on a desk in the room to pull up a P.A.D.D. of sorts, a Voth device, which he hands to me.
"I believe Captain, that this is what you have come for, two letter sit in this device, both for a friend of mine, a Commander Chakotay if you know of him" he says. I remember Chakotay, but no longer as a commander, but as an Admiral. I took the device, then told him I would deliver this for him. Then a Voth scientist popped into the room. And I mean out of thin air.
Then it hit me who it was. "Well Captain, it seems you've got an idea of what you needed to know, or at least some of it," Q smiled mischeviously before turning back into his regular form, surprising Tova, and annoying me, "But I believe it's time to go." He snapped his fingers and I found myself back on a full bridge, and Q's chuckling on the wind.
After being informed of what had transpired in my absence, Icommended my crew, befoer choosing to retire for the evening. Once back in my quarters I decided to forward the letters to Admiral Chakotay, only to find the Voth device gone from my possesion. Instead I found a handwritten note from Q, explaining he already gave the device to Chakotay, and that he thanked me for humoring him with those hours of misery he watched. I so need a drink from my stash of ale. I fear though with the growing discovery of the Dyson Sphere on our end, we may come into contact with the Voth sooner then we thought.
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