STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS “Q-LOGY” (part two) by Jeff Stoneking © 1996 “What in the world is going on here?” Riker demanded as he approached the man dressed as an admiral. He personally knew the senior staff of Wadi Besor and this man was not one of them. It had to be an impostor. “Will,” the man smiled as he rose to his feet, “it’s a legal thing.” “‘Legal thing?’” Riker narrowed his eyes. “What are you talking about? Who are you?” “It’s this will,” the man said as he extended a scroll of paper. Riker looked at the scroll with suspicion. “What?!? That is what you are here for, isn’t it? To bury someone? This will was meant to be given to you.” Wordlessly, Captain Riker took the scroll of paper in his hand. He removed the gold ribbon that held the scroll together and rolled the scroll back. “To my friend William Riker,” the handwriting read, “I request that you give the eulogy at my funeral in the unfortunate occurrence of my death. Belovedly yours, Q.” “I am not playing this game!” Riker shouted as he shoved the scroll back into the hands of the man. “I demand to know who you are!” The man shrugged and smiled as he said, “You can call me Q.” “You’re Q also?” “Or Q too,” Q2 replied. “Whatever works for you.” “Where is Admiral Hetzett?” Riker demanded. “In due time, Will,” Q2 replied. “We have unfinished business to attend to. Q, or that is the Q you and the Enterprise crew have been acquainted with, has passed away. Kicked the bucket. Bought the farm, as it were. Being mortal usually ends up that way. At any rate, Q requested that you give the eulogy at his funeral.” “That would require me to say something good about the deceased one in question,” Riker replied. “You have the wrong man for the job.” Q2 rubbed his brow with weariness. “I know, I know,” he sighed. “Q wrote up 5,000 such requests to his ‘friends’ all throughout the universe. Every one of them has turned me down too. You were the last one on the list.” “I’m touched that Q remembered me,” Riker said. “Now, can you get me to Admiral Hetzett? We have an important matter to discuss.” “I’ll get you there, Riker,” Q2 said, “and you won’t even notice that any time had elapsed. You see, I can take you back in time if I need to. I have forever to wait for you to agree to giving the eulogy. You, on the other hand, might age a bit.” “I think I got a few gray hairs since this started.” Captain Riker’s patience was wearing thin. “To whom would I give this eulogy to?” Riker demanded. “If 5,000 different species wouldn’t give the eulogy then who is going to attend the funeral?” “Truthfully, the wake wasn’t well attended,” Q2 said. “Well, an Alterian gnat did show up. I have more hope for the funeral.” “Great,” Riker sighed, “I’m going to give an eulogy to bugs.” Q2 smiled and shrugged. “We do what we got to do.” “Give me some time to come up with something to say,” Captain Riker said. “Take all the time you need,” Q2 replied. “You said you can take me back in time if the need presents itself?” Riker asked. “Yes.” “Good.” Riker departed from the office, knowing that this was going to take some creativity to come up with something good to say about Q. *** The anomaly grew closer to Wadi Besor. On the view screen of the Enterprise, the string fragments appeared as a tattered garment. From the view of the Resolute, the string fragment anomaly was above them. Spevack B’kor had piloted the shuttle into the upper atmosphere of the planet and the anomalous fragment was enveloping the planet from above. “We have lost communication with Ensign B’kor’s shuttle,” reported Lieutenant Bridghis from ops. “The anomaly is wreaking havok with our sensors and communications.” “Data,” Deanna Troi began, “I feel a mass of great confusion, hurt, and anger. A myriad of emotions and responses are present within that anomaly.” “Sir!” Worf exploded. “The string fragments are tethering towards the Enterprise!” “Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Worf,” Data ordered. “Take us out of range of the anomaly.” It was futile to attempt an escape. The tethering strings of energy pulsed into and through the hull of the ship, shorting out computer systems on all decks. On the bridge, energy surrounded the crew, blinding most of them, and causing others to kneel in fear. Standing to his feet, Data walked towards the energy that was crackling near the view screen. Focusing his eyes, Data almost thought he could see a familiar form in the crackling energy. It almost appeared to be Jean Luc Picard. Extending his hand to the ghostly figure, Data simply whispered, “Captain?” Picard could only mouth Data’s name before the energy dissipated and the image of Jean Luc Picard likewise dissipated. Turning to Worf, Data said, “Analysis?” “There are reports of injuries coming in from engineering,” Worf replied. “Mr. Worf, did you see...?” Data began, only to note a befuddled look on Worf’s face. “Never mind. I’ll be in the ready room. Commander Troi, you have the bridge.” *** Aboard the Resolute, Ensign Dia worked frantically at the helm to avoid an oncoming energy pulse. “Report, Mr. Spevack!” she exclaimed. “The string fragments are tethering apart, disintegrating at ever increasing increments,” Spevack replied. He slammed his fist into the top of his screen. “Blast! Q, just show yourself and get it over!” “The energy is following us and increasing in speed,” Dia updated. “It has to be the Continuum,” Spevack replied. “Perhaps they are going to answer my request. All stop.” “Mr. Spevack, I must protest!” “Noted. All stop.” Though Spevack was of equal rank to her, Dia complied and brought the shuttle to a complete halt, orbiting above the vast ocean of Wadi Besor. If that energy harmed the shuttle at all, it was a long way down. “Shields up,” she said. The energy plunged into the hull of the shuttle. “Shields are ineffective,” B’kor announced, hardly surprised. The Q could penetrate anything. “The energy is penetrating the hull.” The energy culminated behind the two ensigns and took form; it was Guinan. “You have entered into the Continuum,” she announced. “You must join us or be destroyed.” “Guinan!” B’kor shot to his feet. “If you can allow us to contact the Enterprise...” “The Enterprise shall be dealt with in due time,” Guinan announced. “You would make a formidable Q.” Spevack B’kor stood in helpless silence as he felt a new energy pulse through the fiber of his being. He began to tremble tremendously and collapsed to the floor, ushering the aide of Dia Mausette to his side. It was futile. “Let him be,” Guinan spoke. “No!” insisted Dia. “Get away from him!” Spevack B’kor looked up with hard eyes into the soft gaze of Guinan. Somehow, he felt as if he was about to die, as if his body was going to explode with the power that was inside of him. In addition to that, he felt his personal identity slip away, melting away into a river of yesterday, as if he felt he were to be called by a new name. A name that could only identify him now. The name of... “Q,” Guinan said as she extended her hand, “resist no more.” A flash caught Ensign Dia off guard. As her eyes quickly refocused, she saw that both Guinan and Spevack were gone. She nervously recalled that Guinan had said that she must join the Continuum or die. She noted that the surface of the ocean was coming closer to her. She must’ve chosen death. *** As Data sat at the desk in the ready room, his fingers darted quickly over the computer console. On the screen, a new mathematical formula was being calculated. The chimes of the door then rang. “Come,” Data replied. It was Deanna Troi. “Data,” she began softly as she approached the desk, “I felt something on that bridge while the energy was striking the ship. I know you saw something that the rest of us couldn’t see. It was Captain Picard, wasn’t it?” “Counselor,” Data said, as he continued his calculations, “could it be possible that he’s still alive in the Continuum?” “I can only sense that he is dead,” Deanna confessed, “yet for a brief instant I felt as if he was trying to reach beyond his imprisonment of death, and I do believe he was using the Continuum in an attempt to do that.” “Ensign B’kor calculated an equation that confirmed this anomaly is the Continuum,” Data said. “I have downloaded all the mathematical equations on record in the history of Forchin, and I believe that there is an equation that will allow us to travel into the Continuum. It will take recalibarating the sub space fields emitters but it is just a matter of a few equations. It’s actually quite simple.” “To what end?” Deanna asked. “If we stay here, we will die,” Data replied. “If we move in the only way we can now go, we may find that Captain Picard has an answer that we need.” He finished working on the computer console and abruptly stood up. “Now I must take the helm. This will be a matter of instant by instant corrections to the equation if we are to be successful.” *** Frustrated, Will Riker crumpled another piece of paper and tossed it to the far side of the room. It was his 59th attempt at writing an eulogy for Q, and it was also the 59th time he felt as if he was bold face lying. To say anything nice about that renegade god was a bold face lie. Amazingly enough, he never seemed to run out of paper. There were always two sheets of paper on his desk. It was a trick of Q2’s, no doubt. “This is useless,” Will Riker sighed enervatedly, throwing down a fountain pen, the only writing utensil that he had been given to write his eulogy. “Q was enough of a pain in the neck when he was alive; I never imagined it would be worse when he died.” Will felt as if he was at the end of his strength. “Q!” he shouted into the air. He hated shouting to nothing to get the attention of someone who apparently could hear everything. A flash appeared to Will’s left and Q2 materialized, leaning against the desk. “Writer’s block?” Q2 replied with a smile. “I refuse to play this charade any further!” Will exploded as he pushed himself away from the desk and stood up, eyeing Q2 at eye level. “Well,” Q2 began apologetically, “I am sorry to hear that. You see, the fragments of your universe are falling apart. That is where I have been in the meantime-with the other Q-and we have determined that we are all dying anyway.” “What?” Will asked, eyes narrowing with unbelief. “It’s above your head, trust me,” Q2 replied, “but capable Q are working to solve the problem.” “Just exactly what is this problem?” Will inquired. Q2’s face became uncharacteristically solemn for a moment. “You,” he replied deadpan. “What on Romulus are you talking about?” Riker demanded. “Get me back to my ship and...” “Ah, not quite yet,” Q2 replied. “You may be the problem but you are also the solution. You need to write this eulogy, Will.” “Saint Paul couldn’t even find anything good to say about Q!” Riker yelled. “It’s futile.” Q2 shrugged. “Have it your way. Before I go, though, you must know this: if we can find at least one life form in this universe that can show appreciation for Q by writing a proper eulogy, we would restore his powers and the Continuum could work together again, restoring the entire universe to normal again. It’s up to you now, Will Riker.” Q2 flashed out of the room and Will shouted in frustration, picking up the remaining two sheets of paper off the desk, crumpling them, and throwing them to the pile of other paper. When he flashed his angry eyes back towards the desk, two more pieces were waiting for him. “Well,” a voice behind Riker said, “I believe this must be Wadi Besor.” “The Taecate?!?” exclaimed another voice, also familiar to Riker. “They are such an intolerable race! After all, they are the ones that killed me!” Riker turned around and gasped at the sight of Q and Captain Picard. “What the devil...?” “Number Two!” Q beamed. “Oh, it is so good to see you again! How about a great big hug?” “Will, what is going on here?” Picard asked. “It’s the Q,” Will said. “Again,” he added with disdain. “They are playing a game, threatening that the universe is in danger unless I find something good to say about Q in an eulogy!” “An eulogy for me?” Q was astonished. “Oh, really, you shouldn’t have gone out of your way.” “I’ll agree to that,” Riker said. Picard was incensed. “Q,” he began furiously, “if you have used your powers to do any of this or can use your powers to stop it...” “Picard, you buffoon,” Q scolded. “Are you a sophisticate or a primate? I told you that I lost my powers and I can no more make them come back than you could make yourself grow hair.” “I for one refuse to play this game,” Riker said, throwing his fountain pen to the far side of the room and taking the chair behind the desk. He promptly folded his arms and leaned back, smiling smugly. “I say if the universe is dying, let it die. Death is better than life with Q any day.” “You sentiments touch me,” Q mumbled sarcastically. “I don’t believe I have ever encountered a race so stubborn as the human race!” “I’ve never encountered a race so self centered as the Q!” Picard insisted. “To think that the life and death of the universe would hinge on whether or not an eulogy is written for you is ludicrous!” “Mon captatine, don’t you see?” Q asked. “This isn’t about which race is more superior or more worthy of veneration; it is about us working together for good.” Q leaned in towards Picard and whispered into his ear, “To tell you the truth, it has long been a concern of the Continuum that you are so unwilling to cooperate.” “You mean cooperate as a race as when the Taecate killed you?” Picard retorted. “No!” Q insisted. “I mean the Q and humans, working side by side. I’ve told you time and time again that we have always had your best interest at heart. Haven’t you learned anything since your untimely demise?” “Like what?” Picard insisted. “I told you I could have been there to prevent your death,” Q said. “Geordi LaForge is also dead, which is a direct result of me being taken out of circulation. He died on Tagra IV when installing a field modulator to prevent a reactor overload. A certain Amanda Rogers had the potential to save him but I wasn’t there to help her realize her true powers. Will you ever see just how cursed your existence is without me?” “People live and die without you, Q,” Picard said. “Who is to say a reality without you is less valid than a reality with you?” “Enough of this,” Riker insisted. “This is helping neither of us! How can we get out of here? It seems that Q2 has locked me in here.” “I suggest that you get writing,” Q replied as he pointed to the paper on Riker’s desk. *** At the helm of the Enterprise, Data worked frantically to calculate the exact equation that would make travel to the Q Continuum a reality. “Report, ops,” Data said. “The energy string fragments seem to be reacting to what we’re doing,” Lieutenant Bridghis reported from ops. “They are closing in to our coordinates.” “They feel defensive,” Troi reported. “Sir,” Worf announced from tactical, “energy strings are penetrating the hull! Shields are ineffective!” “Remodulate shield frequency and see if you can find something to keep them out,” Data ordered. “I’ll need a few more minutes.” “Crusher to Data!” the doctor’s voice exploded over the com. “Data here.” “Commander, much of the crew are taking on Q like qualities, much like we registered in Guinan before she vanished from the ship, only it seems that nobody can handle the power that is taking over their body. I have death reports coming in from all decks.” “Acknowledged,” Data replied. “Sir, we must abort the mission!” Worf insisted. “The safety of the ship is your paramount concern and if...” Worf suddenly collapsed as an energy string plunged into his body. It was the Continuum attempting to bestow the power of Q on Worf, only to have Worf meet his death. “We must continue,” Data said. “While many may die now, this may be the only thing that saves the rest of the universe.” As Data worked at the helm, energy strings fragmented and composed themselves in front of him. Looking up, Data saw Captain Picard, but only faintly. “Captain!” Data gasped. In an instant, the image was gone. Returning to the equation, Data was determined to find a way to save Captain Picard. In the Engineering section, all was silent as a tomb, as the members of the crew had succumbed to a strange disease: their mortality failing to incorporate the immortality that was forced upon them. Within this giant casket, human eyes never saw the energy strings surging through the computer systems, equating and calculating as they went along, fighting to come to a concluding sum. The equation was designed to stop the Enterprise from entering the Continuum. Another faction fought against the Continuum, rebelling against the unity that made them strong, and it was sure that the house against itself was going to fall. “It must be stopped,” the Continuum spoke. “We will not allow it,” the faction replied, consisting of the Qs once known as Guinan and Spevack B’kor. “What you are doing is wrong; they are of no danger to you.” “They must not know us,” the Continuum insisted. “Their mission is to be aborted at all possible cost.” The war continued, and over a simple ship that would serve no purpose to either side. However, if the Enterprise were allowed in the Continuum, the remaining crew could become acutely aware of the weaknesses of the Continuum, as had Guinan and B’kor when they had become Q. It was in the Continuum that Guinan and B’kor had joined up with the collective conscience of the Continuum, realizing the truth of the words of a Q in his last moments of life in the Delta Quadrant, words that this Q had spoken to a particular Vulcan named Tuvok: “We may appear omnipotent to you but we’re not.” It was a weakness that the Q struggled to hide for millennia. Guinan had realized it before, but never fully understood it. As a member of a race of listeners, superficial species assume that she simply listens to people when they speak to her, but it goes much deeper than that with her. As a listener, she can listen to things beyond the normal perceptions of man’s ability. She has had an acute awareness of Q’s weaknesses for a long time, knowing that one Q alone is a pitiful and inexcusable form of life, and it has terrified the Q for as long as they had known the El-Aurians. It also grossly attracted them to this race of listeners that could hear the faulty heartbeat of the Continuum, and it was this attraction that drew the Continuum to the Enterprise in an attempt to bestow the powers of Q to Guinan. It was a similar attraction that drew them to B’kor. It was the race of Forchinians alone that handled the equations of the universe so well that even their holy books aren’t written in a readable language but are written in complex equations that only the mathematically advanced could understand. It was the Forchinians alone that had it within their ability to calculate an equation that would allow them to travel to the Continuum, every Q’s nightmare for it would mean that then outsiders would at once know how weak they were. So they chose B’kor to become Q, feeling that he and Guinan had tremendous potential to restoring the Continuum to its former unity. What they failed to foresee was that these two joining in a collective conscience had more potential for these two formidable foes of the Continuum to disrupt the unity even further. The battle in the engineering section ensued. Guinan and B’kor knew that the former glory of the Continuum couldn’t be restored by initiating new members, as they had tried to do once with William Riker, but it had to come from a reconciliation among themselves; it had to be that they came to a place that they realized that they had erred erroneously against themselves when they treated rebellious Q harshly, either by stripping them of their powers or by imprisoning them. They had done this enough that they now had lost their unity. On Wadi Besor, they were trying to force a mere human to perform a trick by getting him to write an eulogy for one of their fallen comrades but the proper eulogy was to be written for the Continuum, for it was the Continuum that was killing itself, and in turn killing the universe and its multitude of dimensions. On the bridge, Data took note that the members of his crew were now dead; he alone controlled the ship. He also noted that computer control was being taken from him by the alien energy that had invaded the ship, and that the energy was tearing with tenacity at the hull of the ship. He made his analysis, he did his diagnostics, but he came up negative on the result of his search for any sort of feeling for the situation. He didn’t fear, he didn’t want to run, he didn’t laugh, nor was he pleased; he was neither, simply devoid of emotion. He lacked the urge to act, an urge that simply had been programmed in him to benefit others, but there was no longer anybody else to benefit. He even doubted it would benefit Captain Picard to bring him aboard a ship that had no crew. It was a program that he erased 10.794 minutes ago. He simply watched. “Hull breech on deck five, section 7C,” the computer voice said. This meant nothing to Data. “Hull breech on deck fifteen, section 21.” No matter. “Emergency force fields are losing integrity,” the emotionless voice said as if it were giving Data the location of his cat. Data didn’t have a problem with that. “Inertial dapeners failing.” So? “Warp core breech in forty-three seconds.” Data simply stood and watched as the Enterprise plunged towards the crackling energy of the Continuum. The battle was won by the Continuum. As the Continuum departed from the ship, the Enterprise struck the impenetrable surface of the energy anomaly. In a brilliant flash, Data saw only fire and bright light in his last moment of awareness. Then, he was as the computer of the Enterprise: erased into oblivion, no trace of even a byte of information left of his existence; no after life for the soulless android. Then the Enterprise exploded into a brilliant ball of changing hues of fire and gaseous explosions. The anomaly remained intact. *** Captain Picard was disoriented. He had found himself on Wadi Besor with his first officer and he also felt his conscience taking on a new life among the Continuum. He had felt a physical presence on Wadi Besor but he also felt a part of him reaching towards the Enterprise. The need to reach was now gone, for he felt the ship was gone. Reaching out beyond himself, he knew that the rest of the universe was gone. Had it come down to this? Had the Q chosen to save Wadi Besor only to destroy it last in a terrible display of treachery in reply to the Taecate killing one of their own? Or had the Taecate already been annihilated? He only found himself in the room again with William Riker. “Unsuccessful?” Q said to himself in astonishment. Picard and Riker exchanged puzzled glances. A flash appeared before them, and a man appeared that two-thirds of the occupants in the room recognized. “The unity is disbanded,” the man announced. “What...?” Riker began. “Who...?” Picard started. “Q!” Q smiled when he saw Q2. “I just came to tell you that it is over,” Q2 announced. “The Continuum is in its last moments of life.” “Impossible,” Picard insisted. “Believe it,” Q2 replied. “Unity has been destroyed. Since the rebellious faction has been introduced, it has been a down hill slide. With unity dissolved, there is no Continuum. No Continuum, there is nothing governing the unity of the universe and all its various dimensions. And you all have Q to thank for it.” “Figures,” Picard grumbled as he glanced over at Q. “Mon capitaine! Don’t believe him!” Q said in defense. “Little ol’ me responsible for such destruction? I think not! After all, it was you, beloved Q Continuum, that stripped me of my powers. If anybody is responsible for the ruining of unity in the Continuum, it is you, my beloved brethren.” “And you know why we stripped you of your powers, Q,” Q2 replied. “It was because of your rebellion, for instilling in the heart of the Continuum that their powers could be used frivolously, for self gratification. Oh, we stripped you of your power all right, but only in an attempt to teach your students a lesson. But other Q joined in the rebellion even after you were gone, some rampaging uncontrollably throughout the universe and giving the Q a bad name. The most radical would rebel to the point where we had to strip their powers and then they turned and killed themselves. They never forgot you, Q, and the last hope of the Continuum was to see if there was any appreciation in the heart of any species for you. If there was, we would have restored you, but there was none. 50,000 species had been contacted and asked to write your eulogy and there was none to be found. Alas, poor Riker, the last man at the end of time, will be confined to this room for an eternity, forever cursed with two pages of paper waiting for a kind word to flow out of his pen about you, Q. I suspect that there will be none written but, if any truly kind words are written, his curse will be ended. “We even attempted to initiate other members in to the Continuum, but the most worthy of becoming Q were the ones that despised you the most, and the ones that rebelled the worst. We just excommunicated the last of them.” Picard knew that he spoke of Guinan and B’kor. “To where?” “Back wards in time,” Q2 replied. “Of course, the destruction of this universe will backlash through space, time, and dimensions, and will eventually take their lives, but their punishment is fitting. We Q consider it a relief to be finally rid of our immortal lives while they will have to keep running back in time as fugitives while their just reward will eventually catch up with them. It is now time.” “Time for...?” Picard asked but never finished his sentence. He was returned to his after life, where he cringed once more to see Q, knowing that both of them were cursed to spend the rest of eternity together. Somehow, he felt Will received the better curse. Wadi Besor remained in an expanse of nothing. It remained only to mark the grave of where a Q once died, and also where the Q Continuum ultimately met their demise. It was the final tomb. On its surface, some centuries later, Will Riker remained, a man without death, yet wrinkled and gray, his hair and beard trailing to the floor. He was at his desk, two pieces of paper were in front of him, and all he had to do to break his curse was to find something good to write in an eulogy for Q. The pages remained blank, his fountain pen remained full, and the crumpled pieces of paper of begun and failed eulogies had been cast into the vast sea of this ocean world, where the paper absorbed much of the water. The paper tossed had been countless, and only a few lakes and rivers remained on the planet. *** The last road to travel makes for no turning back. There were no forks to choose from, no turn offs or detours to another road. There was only one road remaining and this was the only road to travel, and it was upon this road that Guinan now found herself. Disembodied, cast away from the Continuum for rebellion, Guinan stood only with B’kor. Their choices had been made, their destinies secured. “This is the road that Q had taken when he was cast out of the Continuum,” Guinan said. “This is the road all Q take at the end of their immortal lives. It is here that we chose what we will become to live the rest of our lives.” “We could become human?” B’kor asked. “We can become whatever we want,” Guinan replied. “We must, however, choose to become Calamarain.” “Calamarain?” echoed B’kor. “Whatever for?” “You shall see,” Guinan said. And they were cast backwards in time. *** Stardate 43559.1: “Mr. Worf,” Captain Picard said as he tapped his com badge, “hail the Bre’el IV science station.” “They’re standing by, Captain,” Worf responded over the com. Captain Picard stood in his ready room with Commander Riker, the periled world of Bre’el IV and their deteriorating moon in sight just outside his window. They had finished discussing whether or not Q was telling the truth that he had been stripped to being human, and Captain Picard was determined to forgo with their mission at hand as if Q were telling the truth. The captain reached to his personal viewscreen on his desk and swiveled it to where he and Riker could see it. Activating the screen, Picard brought up the two inhabitants of Bre’el IV that had been in communication with the Enterprise regarding their moon. “Yes, Captain Picard?” the alien sitting asked as his view screen was filled with the image of the captain and his first officer. “I’m sorry,” Picard began reluctantly, “but our first attempt to restore the moon to its proper orbit has failed.” The alien breathed a heavy sigh and swung his head down in heavy disappointment and showed signs of the stress of the situation. Looking back up, he breathed desperately, “We have less than twenty-five hours before impact, Captain.” Commander Riker leaned in slightly and said, “Our chief engineer is looking for ways to reinforce the tractor beam.” “So there is hope,” Picard added immediately, “but if you have an evacuation plan...” “We have already started moving people from the coastal areas of the western continent,” the alien reported. Picard nodded. “We are going to make another attempt shortly. Picard out.” Reaching down, he deactivated his view screen. Riker turned to Picard and said softly and gravely, “I’ve got to tell you: Geordi is not at all optimistic.” Suddenly, a strange noise surrounded the two officers. Beginning to look around, all Picard and Riker could see was a brilliant, but not blinding, white light. “What the devil...?” Picard began. The two officers promptly walked to the bridge and found the same white light emanating from everywhere there as well. “Data?” Riker asked as he approached the second officer at ops. Data replied, “Sensors are showing broad band emissions, including berthold rays.” Riker was momentarily alarmed. He had known that berthold rays were deadly to carbon-based life forms if found in high concentrations. “Lethal?” “No, commander,” Data said. “Over all exposure is under 75 rems, very low intensity, more like a soft medical scan. I would speculate the we are being probed.” Outside the ship, the Calamarain, an ionic cloud of energetic plasma, still remained undetected. Infiltrating them at that point were new Calamarain, and these were the transformed former members of the Continuum, B’kor and Guinan. At first, the Calamarain sensed no deceit. Aboard the vessel that they were seeking after was an entity that had toyed and tormented them throughout the centuries. It was Q, and in human form. Guinan had already discussed it with B’kor before they joined the other Calamarain. They were to set out to stop the Calamarain from harming or from taking Q, which would only lead to the jeopardization of the Continuum at a later date. The Calamarain went for the ship. Going ahead of them were the new members of their cloud, yet the other Calamarain gave little notice to this as they sought to bring revenge on an old, old foe. As the Calamarain entered the brig, Guinan and B’kor were already there. A war ensued over the slumbering former demi-god. Tapping into the strength she received from the others, Guinan held the forces of the Calamarain at bay. They only hovered over Q’s sleeping body, unable to touch him. “Who are you?” they asked Guinan. “It doesn’t matter,” Guinan insisted as she held her ground, holding off the Calamarain. “You must not kill this man or harm him.” “A traitor in our midst!” one of the other Calamarain insisted. “We must take care of these traitors before we can continue with our plan!” another Calamarain said, to which the other fully agreed. Taking B’kor and Guinan from the Enterprise, the true Calamarain absorbed the ionic energy of the traitors into their own selves, leaving them dead, detectable now only as space dust at best. *** Guinan, off duty and soaking in the beauty of the Arboretum, noticed something slightly awry. She gazed over at Spevack B’kor, who was fixing his attention on planting seeds he had received from Forchin. He had complained about the lack of ripe Forchinian tropical fruits aboard the Enterprise, stating that replicator technology had a far way to go. This was Spevack’s attempt at eliminating that problem. However, as he planted yet another seed, his eyes lost their lock on his work and he looked up at Guinan. There was something awry. “Guinan,” Spevack B’kor acknowledged with an incline of his head. “What brings you up here?” She had entered the Arboretum after B’kor; obviously he had not noticed her presence. “It’s peaceful up here,” she replied with a smile. “It’s one of the few places one can go aboard the Enterprise and forget that you are in space. It’s a nice retreat.” “There is the holodeck,” B’kor offered. “Oh, I don’t go into the holodeck much unless Jean Luc or somebody else might invite me along for an adventure. I prefer to relax in more realistic settings,” she replied. Spevack B’kor could sense unease in Guinan, as if she was making small talk but there was something charging through her mind at that moment that caused her to be detached from the present. Her eyes didn’t stay in contact with his eyes but followed up and out the window. B’kor turned his head and looked out the window. It was just a starfield. Turning back to Guinan, B’kor asked, “What is it?” Guinan shook her head. In a moment’s breath, the feeling was gone. “I don’t know,” she sighed. “I guess it was nothing. Nothing at all.” *** Captain Picard sat in his ready room, looking over routine reports of the day, when a flash appeared in the chair in front of his desk. He knew who it was before he looked up. “Q!” he shouted irately. “Mon capitaine,” Q smiled, “just checking up on you.” “What brings you here, Q?” Picard probed. “Exactly what do you want?” “Only to share with you, Jean Luc,” Q said, still smiling. “You see, I had the most wonderful opportunity to review key events in my life. I think you would be most interested in knowing just how much you and your crew have come to mean to me.” “I am not interested in...,” Picard began. “Interested or not, you’re getting it,” Q said. He waved his hand and in an instant a rush of understanding flooded into Picard’s mind. At once, Picard knew of an alternate reality just as if it had happened to him. Picard was stunned for a moment. He put down the pad he was examining and looked at Q with astonishment. “Q...,” he began to say. “You don’t need to say it, Captain,” Q said. “Q,” Picard began again, “I-I appreciate...” “Yes, Jean Luc, I know,” Q said. “You have learned your lesson well, but I came to share more with you. I just wanted you to know how I have come to appreciate the humanoid race. It was one thing when that android of yours saved me from the Calamarain but it was something else entirely different when I came to realize that two members of your crew lost their lives to save me. You and your crew have my deepest gratitude.” And with that Q was gone in a flash. *** In the Arboretum, Guinan paused. She had been helping B’kor with his planting and she paused to look up, hearing a familiar voice in her ear that B’kor didn’t seem to hear. “In due time,” the voice said, “I shall repay you the worthy reward.” It was Q and he was greatly grateful. Listening intently to the undetectable, Guinan could hear a peaceful heart beat within the Continuum. She heard the cries of others that had lost their lives in another reality, and she heard that back lash of destruction was going to come back and destroy her. However, Q and the Continuum had stopped the back lash, and ended the path of destruction. For saving his life, she heard in her unique sense, Q saved her life, and yet there was a reward coming. She smiled to herself, and much to the bewilderment of Spevack B’kor.