Literary Challenge #52 : Hello, again, Q
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Join Date: Nov 2012
10-15-2013, 10:40 PM
"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
bridge were replaced by the classic round shape of the original
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.
." 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
. 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.
. 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
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
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.
Last edited by masopw; 10-15-2013 at
. Reason: Typo corrections.