"Lieutenant Matthews; give me something!" Captain Dante roared over the chaos of battle. Alarms were rigging and whirring from all stations. Gas and smoke were flooding the bridge. At his feet, Lt Commander Akran lay a charred corpse as a result from one of a dozen conduits bursting with explosive force.
"Sir that last hit disabled out weapons," choked the young woman from behind her console which now hummed defiance with each frantic stab of her fingers. "Their shields are down, I just can't" and she trailed off.
Captain Dante tapped his combadge. "Kinney, I need everything you got for a few more shots."
"Captain," a Tellerite junior officer Captain Dante didn't recognize interrupted. "Engineering took a direct hit. No one is left down there."
On the Captain's console, he watched the warbird slowly coming about. It was sluggish, having sustained heavy damage to its engines. It hadn't fired since its last pass but there was still a weapons signature. Akran must've hit their targeting system. They need to turn for a clear shot.
"Engine status?" the Captain called back turning to look Lieutenant Matthews in the eye.
"We have impulse only," she starred back with understanding.
Captain Dante turned back to his console. The warbird was half way through its turn. "Abandon ship LT. Both of you. That's an order."
The lieutenant hesitated. "Sir," she called. "I'd prefer to stay."
"Me too sir," called the Tellerite crewman from the engineering station. "We'd never outrun the blast anyway," and the Tellerite snorted a little laugh that made Captain Dante smile.
Captain Dante nodded and tapped the console twice. Ahead full. He rose from his seat and stared at the viewscreen. It was a void. There imagery was damage. He simply stared at the blank screen. Behind him, Lieutenant Matthews was whispering a prayer. "Our Father, who art in Heaven," he could hear her saying. The Tellerite crewman had joined her by the tactical console and was standing with his eyes closed. Captain Dante's console rang a warning. Then another. And another. They were becoming faster and closer together.
He was off his feet. Flying across the bridge. It was very hot. Everything twisted. There was ringing over the roar. White light amongst the pain.
Captain Dante sat in his command seat on his bridge. A bridge without leaking conduits or ruptured bulkheads. No sirens or alarms. The viewscreen ahead showed a star spotted empty space. He rose and to survey an empty bridge, confused. His console was black and lifeless. As were those at Ops and Tactical.
"Captain to all hands; report in," he said slowly. But his combadge rung an atonal failure to comply. The captain turned and walk the length of the bridge. The turbolifts failed to open at his approach and could not be pried. He stepped back from his attempt and straightened his uniform. "What kind of hell is this?" he muttered to himself.
"Captain, could I see you in your ready room?" It was an unfamiliar voice.
The doors slid aside to reveal a young woman in an Admiral's coat lounging on his couch. She held a model of a Rhode Island class ship. His ship, the USS Odin. She looked up at him and smiled. As he entered she popped from her seat. "Hello Captain. This truly is exciting."
"Who are you? What is this?"
"Why Captain, is that any way to address a superior officer." She tapped the pips on her collar and seemed to pout.
"You're no Admiral, this is not my ship, and I'm fairly sure that up until the moment I appeared in this farce, I was dead. So who are you and what do you want?" Captain Dante was angry, but he spoke with calm conviction.
"Fine," she frowned. Taking a step back she spun and threw her arms wide. "You can call me Q. And I have the privilege of being your Virgil in your descent."
"Oh, dear God, no." Captain Dante felt sick to his stomach, an impressive feat considering he was dead. His head hurt. And he began to flush with rage. He fought the baser instinct of throttling the girl with god-like powers. "How dare you?"
The Q seemed confused. She cocked her head and twirled silky blonde hair in her fingers. "Don't you get it? Virgil. And you're Dante. I'm..."
"I get the reference, Q. My life," the Captain faltered, "Or death, as it were; is not a
side-show for your amusement."
"But Captain, I only want..."
"What's the lesson?"
"I've read the reports from Admiral Picard. Even Captain Sisko and Admiral Janeway. You only show up when you feel the need to teach us a lesson. We're too small minded or violent or trusting. What lesson do I need to learn? Am I supposed to be full of regret for the death of my crew or come to a realization that I could've saved them all?"
The young Q sat back on the couch. She looked frustrated. Her brow crinkled and she stared at the model ship. "Captain, I'm not Q. Not the Q you're thinking of, at least. I just thought you could help me," she muttered sheepishly.
Captain Dante held his ground. He said nothing, but raised an eyebrow to indicate his interest. It was enough. And the Q smiled jumped to her feet.
"So what was it like?"
"Death?" he said. "I'm not sure how to describe it. It hurt, but only in the instant. I'm fairly sure I was incinerated in the collision. It felt vaguely like swimming without knowing which direction the shore is in. Like being lost and off balance but still having a drive or a fight to get somewhere. It was like being five again and having no responsibilities other then just being in the moment."
"How can you be so casual? Aren't you afraid?" She seemed angry.
"Of course Q. But what can I do about it?"
The room flashed white and they were suddenly back on the bridge. It was full of smoke and drenched in red emergency lighting. They appear just behind lieutenant Matthews and the Tellerite crewman. Both were motionless. As was the smoke indicating that they were static in time. Q stepped forward and peered at Matthews who was seemed was mid-sentence.
"She's pretty. Don't you think she's pretty?"
"I'm married, Q."
The young Q peered closely at the lieutenant. "That's not what I asked," she said playfully.
"But fine. It's a shame you know, she really liked you. Did you know, at the very end, all she wanted was for you to climb the railing and hold your hand?"
"ENOUGH!" Captain Dante snarled and clutched Q by the arm, pulling her back and pressing her against the railing. "You've involved me in this little charade, but my crew is off limits."
Q was visibly indignant at being manhandled. "Careful Captain," she chortled, "You may already be dead, but I can... um..." She paused and blew a blonde hair from her eyes. "That sounded a lot less menacing out loud. Fine. Good. No crew."
"Just tell me what you want."
"Lieutenant Matthews," she started slowly and stepped slightly to the side and away from Captain Dante, "was praying. Up until the second she died." She motioned over to the Tellerite. "And he was calling to his ancestors asking them to 'prepare a place for him.'" She made little quotes with her fingers. "But you did neither. Are you an atheist, Captain?"
"I was thinking of my daughter, Q. Wondering what and who she would be. Wondering what they would tell her about me. I only got eight years with her."
"You didn't answer my question," said the young Q impatiently.
"I know. I never really thought about it."
"How could you not?" Q said her voice higher than it had yet been. She stepped toward the Captain. "Your kind gets one hundred years, maybe less. How can you not wonder what comes after? Aren't you curious now?" She seemed flustered. If she could she'd be flushed and sweating.
"Of course," said the Captain softly, "Why do you ask, Q?"
The young Q stared a lieutenant Matthews for a moment and said nothing. Then she looked, back at the Captain, seemed to adjust herself, and shone a fabricated smile.
"I just find it odd she said assertively. That's all." She walk toward him and began to circle him. "That so simple a man, so near the end, having died over something so trivial, wouldn't wonder what was the end of the tunnel." She made a full circle and faced him.
"You can't bait me, Q" the Captain said flatly staring her down. "I can tell this is personal for you."
"You know it was just a mistake don't you. Their ship was hit by an ion storm. Their sensors malfunctioned. They thought you were in Romulan space. Your crew and theirs died for nothing."
The Captain said nothing, he just stared at the young Q patiently, arms folded. He did the same thing with his daughter when she had broken a picture frame when she was five. She professed innocence, pouted, and stomped in defiance as if she had done nothing. But when she was tired, she confessed.
"You killed for nothing, Human. Died for nothing! How can that not drive you insane?"
"Are you dying Q?"
She looked shocked. "No. We can't... We can't die."
"But you can be killed. I read the reports, remember. What happened?"
She stared at the Captain, mouth open as if she were about to say something. But the emptiness hung there for a while. And Captain Dante waited. She looked tragic, not like an Admiral in a dress uniform, but a child playing dress up.
"Q..." she began, "I guess he would be your equivalent of a father. My father. He died. He died during our civil war. Q cannot die, but even immortal beings can kill each other. When he died, a star burst destroy a dozen worlds and everything on them. And then nothing. Like the void created by supernova, he was gone."
"I don't have any answers for you Q. I'm not a philosopher or a religious man."
"Neither was he. He was like you, a leader who died before his time."
The Captain smiled. "Q, if he was anything like me, then his last thoughts were of his daughter."
She smiled at him, and for a moment and maybe it was just a trick of the light, but Captain Dante could swear he could see a tear. He wondered if Q's could cry. If they felt as he felt.
"Captain Dante, thank you. You've been most," she smiled, "entertaining. If you would like, I can..."
"Thank you, Q. But I'm ready."
With a flash the bridge and the Captain were gone. Q stood alone, the model of a Rhode Island class vessel still in her hands.
Last edited by reddeadford; 10-07-2012 at 08:07 PM.
Reason: last fix