AOH :: GEIGER02.TXT|
"Q and A" 2 of 16
The blast from the Engineering hull bloomed
yellow and orange against the blackness of the
surronding space. Blossomed and -- stopped. The explosion
just hung there in space.
"Captain, I cannot explain it, but all
chronometers have stopped," reported Data.
"Captain, I sense a presence," said Deanna
Troi, who had been silent during the entire encounter
with the Xin. "It is not so much malevolent as
"No, it couldn't be...Not so soon after
last time. It's just not possible," said Picard.
"And why not, Jean-Luc? I've grown quite
accustomed to bailing you out of trouble," said
a man in Vulcan religious robes. He had just
appeared between Wesley Crusher's and Lieutenant
Commander Data's control consoles.
All of the Bridge Crew recognized him
instantly and groaned in unison "Q!" Everyone
except Worf, who just growled fiercely.
"What, you're not happy to see me?"
"Why should we be, Q. You've done nothing
but taunt us since we first encountered you!"
shouted Picard. By now, it was all Picard could
do to sit up straight in his chair.
"Yeah, why don't you get lost?" added
Worf's growl turned into a roar as he
launched himself from the Bridge's upper level.
A phaser appeared in his hand. He landed in a
crouch between Picard and Q and raised his phaser
to fire. An incandescent blue light erupted from
the phaser's muzzle and struck Q. The beam hit Q
full in the chest, causing his body to be enveloped
in a brilliant halo.
"Really, Worf, haven't you learned anything
from our past encounters? You know that won't work.
In fact, I'm insulted that I don't rate higher than
heavy stun." With a flick of his finger, more for
effect than because it was required, Q sent Worf's
phaser blast arcing back to its source. The
phaser couldn't handle the added energy so it
overloaded, sending Worf flying across the Bridge
to smash into the wall next to the Turbolift,
"Really, mon capitan, I expected anger
from Worf, but not from you. And you, Will. I'm
omnipotent, I can't get lost."
From behind him, Q could sense rapid
movement from Data's station.
"And just what do you think you're doing,
android? You of all peop-, uh, beings should know
that nothing you do can effect me," said Q.
"I was merely summoning Dr. Pulaski from
Sickbay to attend to Lieutenant Worf," replied
"Come now, Data, I find you and your
friends too amusing to allow you to be seriously
injured. Worf will be all right, but you'd better
summon the good doctor anyway. Your captain looks
ill. Probably overexcitement at seeing me or else
the accumulated nausea of seeing Worf everyday for
the past two years. Take your pick."
Picard had by now lost a lot of blood from
his head wound and was looking paler. He had been
trying not to show how weak he felt but it wasn't
working very well. He rose shakily to his feet
and confronted Q.
"I have had about enough of you and your
insults, Q," Picard said in a low, dangerous
whisper. "Surely, you in your INFINITE wisdom can
find something better to do than annoy me and my
"Okay, Picard, have it your way. I'll
just go blow up some stars or something. I'm sure
the inhabitants of the orbiting planets won't
mind. I'll tell them Jean-Luc Picard sent me."
And Q started to disappear in a column of rainbow
sparkles, an obvious exaggeration of the Enterprise
"Wait! Stop, Q! I already have twenty
two deaths on my conscience because of you, I
don't need any more," Picard yelled.
"Oh, how quaint. I do believe that you're
jealous. You don't want me to play with anyone
else but you."
"It's not that, Q. Obviously you're here
for some reason and I'd like to know what it is."
"Very well. I've come to stop you from
making a terrible mistake. If you look at the
viewscreen very carefully, you'll see that the Xin
ship was not destroyed. All the pyrotechnics
you've been throwing around have just made them
mad," explained Q. "And one of you science types,
especially the android or the boy," he said
indicating Data and Wesley Crusher, "should have
realized that since the ship is crystalline in
nature, any energy you expend on it is magnified
and stored until it is needed. The Xin captain
lied, Picard. This is no mere specimen collecting
mission, but an advanced raiding scout. Even now,
a fleet of over five hundred Xin ships is massing
at the edge of Federation space. This brings me
to the reason for my visit. I will help you
defeat the Xin."
"Why? Why help us? Every time you appear,
you torment us," said Riker.
"Because, if the Xin take over the galaxy,
most of Starfleet will be destroyed in the battle.
That includes the Enterprise. I've grown quite
fond of you. I like visiting with you. Besides,
I, too, hate to see the Enterprise in pieces. It
just doesn't seem right somehow. I will restore
the Enterprise if you promise to allow me to help
you defeat the Xin."
At this point, Captain Picard, who had
been looking worse by the second, collapsed into
a heap on the floor at Troi's feet. All of the
Bridge Crew, those who were still conscious at
least, rushed to the Captain's side.
"Look's like you're finally first in
command, Number One," laughed Q. "I've disabled
the Turbolift carrying Dr. Pulaski and cut the
Bridge off from the rest of the ship. Your
captain will die soon. Agree to my terms and I'll
let the doctor save the Captain and I'll tell you
how to defeat the Xin. Do we have a deal, Riker?"
"Yes, though I'll probably regret this,
damn it, but yes, I agree," said Riker, reluctantly.
"I knew you'd see it my way. Okay, I'm a
being of my word. Zap!" With a flash, all the
Bridge personnel except Worf and Picard were
returned instantaneously to their proper stations.
In addition, Dr. Pulaski appeared in the center
of the Bridge, fists raised as if pounding on
something. "Let me out--What? Not you again, Q?"
"Just attend to your Captain, if you
please, Doctor, so that we may get on with our
"Excuse me, Commander, but my control
panel indicates that we have warp power available
to us, even though the secondary hull was
destroyed," reported Data.
"How is that possible, Data?" asked
"Simple, I undestroyed it. Matter is so
easy to manipulate if you know how. Don't worry,
the Enterprise is now fully repaired. No hull
stress, nothing," explained Q.
"Q, we must get the Captain to Sickbay
immediately. If we don't act now, he will die,"
said Pulaski urgently.
"Oh, I don't think so, Doctor. I have
faith in you. But if you insist." With a wave
of his hand, Q made Picard and Pulaski disappear.
"What have you done with them, Q?" asked
"Yes, where are they, and what about
Worf?" Riker queried.
"Why, they're in Sickbay, of course. And
as for Worf, he's thick skulled. He'll survive.
Besides, I like him better this way. The mighty
warrior, reduced to a helpless pile of flesh.
Still, to earn your trust, I guess I'll have to
remove him to Sickbay, as well."
"No, but I guess I'll have to live with
it," said Riker.
"Yes, you do, don't you," said Q.
"Alright, Q, what do we have to do now?
You've humiliated all of us on many occasions.
Just tell us what comes next."
By this time Riker was standing toe-to-toe
with Q and staring him straight in the face.
"Patience, my son," said Q, now dressed
in the raiments of a priest from Old Earth. "All
shall be revealed in the Good Lord's (mine
actually) own time."
In a flash, Q was clothed in the garb of a
big game hunter from Ancient Earth's African
"I propose a great hunt for a rare,
magnificent beast. One the Universe has not seen
the likes of for over half a century."
"Enough with the fashion show, Q. Out
with it! What do we have to do to save the
Federation?" Riker shouted.
"Temper, temper. All right, since you
insist on the truth, here it is. Fifty three
years ago, the last of a race of giant energy
absorbing creatures died. They were similar in
nature to the probe that nearly destroyed Earth
around Stardate 8000. I'm sure you have a record
of it in your memory banks. You must capture one
of these creatures and use it to attack the Xin
ships. It's really not so hard, now is it?"
"Hold it, Q. If these creatures have been
extinct for fifty three years, how are we supposed
to capture one?" asked Riker.
"Obviously, you must go back in time and
bring one back to the present. Come on, Will,
use the brain all non-Klingon Starfleet officers
are supposed to have."
"Q, I admit that on rare occasions, time
travel has been successfully achieved, but never
with a ship the size of the Enterprise. Our
chance of success is only one in six million,
three hundred forty five thousand, eight hundred
sixty three," analyzed Data.
"I know of no way, short of a miracle,
that we could even have a hope of success,"
"That's where I come in," said Q. "Just
as with the Borg, you need me. I will handle all
time travel. You need only concern yourselves with
hunting down and capturing the creature. That seems
a fair division of labor. Very equitable, I think,"
"If I agree, will you give us time to
prepare?" asked Riker.
"Of course, as much time as you need.
Just remember, time is stopped only locally. The
Xin fleet is still gathering. Your time is running
out. Decide, Riker!"
"Alright, Q. I agree, God help me, but I
must agree," declared Riker.
"Fine. Call me when you're ready and we
can get to work," said Q, fading away.
"You heard him. Let's get to work," said
Behind him, on the viewscreen, the explosion
had disappeared when the Enterprise was reconstituted
and the Xin ship could be seen clearly. Slowly,
imperceptibly, and unnoticed by the crew, it moved.
Just a meter, but it moved nonetheless.
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