DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. However, I sure wish that Paramount would create a new Star Trek series of good quality that would keep the idea alive so that we Fan Fiction writers don't have to do all the work. :)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: There are several sex scenes in this story. On top of that, sex is talked about. However, this story is not just sex (talk). It simply turned out to be a good base to build on other stuff. Note that this story deals with a relationship that has a more dominant and a more submissive partner. However, this is not Dom/sub by any stretch. This is merely two people that fit well together where BOTH people have an equal say in their relationship, just that they prefer to fulfill different roles in said relationship. Also, note, the Delaney sisters are in this story and they are close. Very close. So close that some people might have a problem with it, but rest assured it's not so close as some Voyager people would wish it to be. :P On a side note, Tal Celes also has a pretty decent role in this story. If you read some Voyager Fan Fiction, you will probably know her because she is very often featured as a supporting character. But when I was checking out her bio, I discovered that she has actually only been seen in two, count them, two, episodes. My point here is I find it interesting how some characters can just stick with you and appeal to so many; not just Tal, but also the Delaney sisters or Ro Laren. (Ro is not in this story, just using her as an example for this side note.) She was also in only a few episodes of TNG yet everyone pretty much knows her. But on the other hand, characters like Tuvok and Neelix are often nothing more than just mentioned because they are part of the main cast and therefore basically have to be mentioned. Strange.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mhw.weckseler[at]gmail.com

Twenty-five to Life
By H.W.


Chapter 21

Day 22. (Late afternoon)

An hour later there was a rather decent group of people in sickbay looking at the object lying on one of the bio-beds. Kathryn was there of course, as was Brika since this was most definitely interesting, and on top of that the end of a proverbial landmark in Urdian space. Only a split second after the object had been beamed out of the subspace tear, the tear had closed with a last small shockwave of gravity that was not strong enough to do any real damage, but had been just strong enough to send everyone grabbing for a solid object to hold onto until the ship stopped shaking.

B'Elanna and Seven were there as well. B'Elanna in case an engineer was needed, and Seven in case, well, in case her knowledge might be needed. Since they were in sickbay the Doctor was there as well of course. As was Tuvok and a four person security detail.

"So as I was saying," The Doctor finally ended is monologue, "I don't think that any more safety measures are needed. The Urdian hazardous materials system is quite impressive. If there is anything dangerous in there that can get airborne, which I doubt after this time, it will be sucked into the filter system under the floor before it can spread. Quite impressive actually, I,"

"Thank you Doctor," Kathryn interrupted. "Alright, Seven, have a look."

Seven stepped closer and let her eyes drift over the capsule. Not fining anything of interest, she increased the zoom of her Borg enhanced eye and did a second scan. Then she frowned. "Captain, there is a message here and here."

She pointed at two spots to the side of the object. "It is a scrolling micro text in different languages. Most I do not understand but I recognized two close enough to be able to read them. They are probably ancient dialects of species with a very old history that the Borg once assimilated. I would surmise that this object is at least six million years old."

"Really, what does it say?" Kathryn asked intrigued.

"It, ah, reads 'open here', Captain." Seven said hesitantly. She looked again at the spots under the messages. "I see very small indentations there that could be recessed buttons."

"Hmm," Kathryn said in thought. "Alright, Seven step back. Doctor, since you are using the sickbay holo-emitters and can't get hurt, mind pushing those buttons for us?"

A minute later the buttons were pushed and the object proved to indeed be a capsule, for the lid opened softly on a couple of hinges and pivoted away to the side slowly until it was hanging besides the bottom.

For a moment nobody spoke as all of them took in the object in the capsule. Finally one of the security members said aloud what they all were thinking. "Wow."

Inside the capsule was lying the female embodiment of perfection. Even though tastes differed from person to person, all of them, even Tuvok, felt that this was the most beautiful person they had ever seen. Her hair was so long that it reached well past her hips, and it was so deep and dark black that the lights sometimes reflected off it in a blue shine. Her skin tone could best be described as a mix between caramel, golden, and yet somehow ivory. In other words a color that wasn't physically possible, yet they were looking at it.

Even lying down it was clear to see that the body was one sensual curve flowing into another; and it was very clear to see, for she was nude. Noticeably body features seemed to be a mix between several Alpha and Beta quadrant species. There were the pointy ears from the Vulcans or Romulans. Though she didn't have any eyebrows, there were faint ridges above her eyes that gave the impression of eyebrows formed in the similar way as Vulcans or Romulans. The telltale spots of the Trill moved from the sides of her face down her neck, then over the collarbones to move partially over the sides of her breasts before dipping to the side and down her legs until moving over the feet. Her eyes were open and clearly had the piercing blue color normally associated with the Denobulan species.

Sooner or later, depending on who was looking, the eyes also drifted to the center of the woman's legs. Even though the legs were closed, one could still see the fine triangle shaped double ridges of flesh that were associated with the Bajoran species, and which was known to protect a third and extremely sensitive ridge which was the Bajoran's version of a clitoris. Her pubic area was completely sans hairs, which also went along with the Bajoran genitalia since Bajorans didn't have pubic hair.

And then this vision of perfection scared the living crap out of all of them by suddenly flexing its abdomen muscles and pulling herself into a sitting position. The eyes closed for a moment, only to open again and then blink a few times as if trying to get moisture back onto the eyeballs. Then she turned to the gaping group of people and looked at them for a moment before speaking up.

"Ah, Starfleet uniforms. Style issued from 2396 to 2373. So it's about 2370, measured on the Federation timescale."

As the woman was talking, Kathryn noticed that the words she heard and the lip movements were in sync. That meant that whatever she was saying was in the Federation standard language, and wasn't being translated by the universal translator receiver units implanted in her ears. These were implanted in every child born in the Federation at birth so that they could receive the translations sent by the universal translators on ships, public places, or worked into the com. badges.

Kathryn also couldn't help but notice that now that the woman was sitting up, body proportions had shifted some, so to speak. Even sitting up, her stomach made it clear that slender was a proper description. And now that her breasts were hanging down, they too proved to be a work of perfection. On size, Kathryn guessed them to be a full C cup, and on shape she guessed them to be flawless. The best and most perfectly formed pair of breasts she had ever seen, and that included the breasts of her wife. And as Kathryn was thinking this, the woman continued to talk.

"So they put me somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant? I'm amazed. I would have sworn that they would put me somewhere far away, considering how much I love some of the species here."

Then she frowned and pointed an elegant finger at Brika. "Hmm, wait a minute, that's an Urdian uniform. That's Delta Quadrant." The finger moved to point at Seven. "And those are Borg implants. That's Delta Quadrant too." The finger moved further and indicated the guard detail. "Also Urdian. Hmm."

Finally, Kathryn lifted her hand in a stopping gesture. "Wait a minute, why don't you tell us who you are and how you know standard Federation? Our guess is that you have been trapped in there for millions of years, so clearly you aren't any of the species you look like, nor should you be able to know anything of Starfleet."

"Look like? Oh you mean this?" The woman said letting a hand drift over her body, then frowning when the Doctor handed her a robe. Getting the hint, she sighed and put on the robe. "No, this is just something I threw together; I like the mix." She gave a sweet smile. "But beyond that, tell me yours and maybe I'll tell you mine. So, are you Starfleet, are we in the Alpha Quadrant?"

Wanting to get answers, Kathryn decided to surmise. "Yes, we are Starfleet, at least some of us. No, we aren't in the Alpha Quadrant. Our ship was pulled into the Delta Quadrant five years ago and we have been trying to get home ever since. Since you know the Urdian uniform; well, that's where we are. We are a few hours away from the Urdian Homeworld."

The woman's smile turned into a pout. Though even the pout looked simply adorable on the woman's features. "And when are we, was my guess right there?"

"Close," Kathryn admitted. "We are now in the second month of the year 2376, Federation timekeeping of course. As for the uniform, we know that they changed uniform style in Starfleet some years ago, but we never saw a reason to change ours. It would be a useless waste of resources that we never could afford until now. But, we have been discussing whether we should change to the new style once we continue our journey. A journey on which an Urdian Fleet will tag along with us, hence there being an Urdian Admiral here."

"As observer," Brika added.

"Now, since I told ours, how about you telling yours?" Kathryn urged.

The woman moved out of the capsule she had been sitting in until now, and proved that Kathryn's guess about the length of her hair was correct; it truly did reach just past her hips. Now that she was standing, they all got a good impression of how tall she was. Even barefooted she easily topped Kathryn and B'Elanna. Kathryn guessed her to be just as tall as Seven; one-meter-and-eighty-centimeters tall at least. And yet her body proportions gave the impression of a slender sculpture where an artist had spent months to research exactly what proportions should be to each other to create perfection.

The woman fiddled with the robe for a moment, giving the impression of stalling for time, which she was. Finally she looked up. "Since you are Starfleet, of that timeframe, you probably heard of the Q? Well, I am... was... am..."

She frowned. "Let's just say that I'm half Q. I once was a Q, but I was punished for a terrible crime and as such I was stripped of all my powers, with the exception of having a few minor things left to play with."

"Like being able to change your looks," B'Elanna spoke up. "Since you said you 'threw' that look together."

"And apparently still being immortal," Seven added while looking at the woman that looked not a day over twenty-five.

"Yeah," The woman agreed, letting out the word on a sigh. "That was part of my punishment. I was stripped of my powers, but left immortal, and with my brain still having Q abilities. Meaning still able to maintain all the knowledge I had as Q without my head exploding. That's why I know about the Federation and the timeframe. As you probably know, Q travel through time... hehe... all the time. I've been stuck there for a few years, yes. But I have been in this time before, and in the future, and in the past."

"And why were you left immortal and allowed to keep your Q mind?" Kathryn wondered. "Why not make you a full mortal, or kill you, or punish you but still leave you a Q?"

"So that I could live the rest of eternity knowing what I lost because of my crime," The woman said as if pointing out the obvious. "Even death won't show me mercy since I can't die. In fact, I'm not even sure if the end of time will finally show me mercy. If the Universe stops to exist, will I finally die, or will I survive even that and float around in nothing?"

The woman started to pace, noticing that the security people she was getting close to edged away from her. "Relax, I don't bite... unless asked nicely. I no longer have the power to turn you into a toad with the snap of my fingers."

As she paced back and forth the woman explained. "I was imprisoned in that thing there, and told that I would be placed somewhere where it would be millions of years before someone first has the technology to find me, and second has the technology to take me out. Since we Q know all of time that has been and is to come, it's obvious that they knew that you would find me."

Then she suddenly snapped her fingers, making a few people flinch. "Oh, wait, if you know about the Q, and you are Starfleet, and trapped in the Delta Quadrant, then I must be on the USS Voyager." She pointed at Kathryn. "Captain Janeway, Q really seems to like you."

Kathryn merely rolled her eyes before asking, "Care to tell us what this terrible crime was that you committed?"

"Eh, no. I really can't. Well, I can, but I can't." She waved her hand dismissively. "It's a Q thing. For a Q it's terrible, but not so terrible that I would be taken out of existence. But if I were to tell you, you would only snort and ask me if that is truly it. Something like what I did doesn't even deserve a reprimand in Starfleet."

"Then why not tell us what it is?" Kathryn persisted.

The woman sighed. "Because. Look, it's really simple. If I were to tell someone they would snort, and then wonder, 'hey if that is terrible, let's think a little further along that line'. And eventually they might come up with something that can actually hurt a Q. Besides, telling would violate my probation."

"Probation?" B'Elanna asked disbelievingly.

The forget Q spread her hands a little. "Well, I'm using words you can comprehend here. See, my punishment was the entrapment for a certain time so that I can think long and hard about what I did. Then the second stage of my punishment is to be released and then having to live the rest of eternity knowing that I never be a real Q again. But for the rest I can actually have a life that is more than just being in a capsule. I can interact, I can talk to people. If I tell anyone what my crime was, I go back to being incarcerated Q style. No thank you very much."

"For that they would need to know that you are out," Kathryn pointed out.

"Oh, they know," The woman assured. "Do you really think that we Q... I mean the Q are so stupid to put me somewhere without first checking the entire timeline past and future? They knew exactly that I would be freed today, just that they didn't tell me so that I couldn't start counting time until I was freed. You can bet your command that they'll check up on me. One of them might very well be in this room listening to us."

Suddenly she raised her voice. "Q? Q? You can come out now. Show yourself." She looked at the others as nothing happened. "Nope? Ah well, can't blame a girl for trying."

"Would you mind if I did some tests?" The doctor asked. "Run some scans since the previous scans didn't pick up any life signs in the shell. Maybe draw some blood?"

The former Q. "You can scan all you want; all it will show you is that I don't have life signs. I created this body from species where I like certain things from, and one of those species was silicon based. So, no beating heart, no blood flowing through veins."

"Maybe a tissue sample then?" The Doctor persisted.

The woman sighed, then suddenly grabbed a phaser cutter that B'Elanna had brought with her in case they needed to cut into the shell. She placed the cutter against her arm and activated it. For a moment sparks flew and then the beam was cut off again. The woman put the cutter down and showed her arm to the Doctor before spreading her hands a little again in a jerking gesture and making a unmistakable 'get it' face.

The doctor couldn't help himself and gingerly probed the arm, feeling it give under the pressure and feeling normal body heat. He informed the group in general of that, just before the woman batted his hand away.

"Stop that. I just told you I created this body in the way I want it. And while I love the indestructible skin, I also love to be soft and warm and pliable in all the right places. Get it? I can still feel, just that I can choose not to. I can enjoy a caress, just that at the same time even a space ship landing on me won't flatten me into mush. I picked what I wanted, and since that is still a lesser Q power it doesn't have to make sense; it just works."

"And what kind of powers do you have?" Kathryn asked.

"Hardly any," The woman sighed and pouted once more. "Basically I'm an indestructible immortal with the brain abilities to remember all the Q knowledge. Other than that it's really small things, like being able to change the way I look if I want."

"So you are basically a shape shifter?" Kathryn interrupted.

"Eh," The woman said waggling her hand a bit. "It depends on how much time I have. The others didn't mind me having that power, but they wanted to make sure that I didn't take the place from people in history and live them, basically. So I can change my looks, slowly."

She waved a hand at her hair. "A new color, a day or three. Growing the hair this long from stubs, about a week. Eyes, a day. Stuff like that. If you give me a month or so I could look like a copy of you."

"By which time we would of course already have noticed the changes, Kathryn said in understanding. Anything else?"

"Um, I don't need food to survive... though I love to eat and do get hungry. I will never get sick. Since I'm indestructible I am unaffected by outside situations like pressure. I can be in outer space, under water, on a planet. I can swim in metal eating acid, bathe in an active volcano. Small things like that."

Hearing that, the proverbial light went on in Kathryn's head. "If you still have all the knowledge of a Q, and you just also said that you been into the future. That means you could,"

"Nice try, but no," The woman cut her off. "I can't build things that haven't been invented yet. So I can't build you a transwarp engine capable of warp fifty and have you home in mere minutes. Well, I could, but I can't. That's part of the rules. If I were to do that, I would violate my probation. I would be back in that thing, and some Q would only snap you back here anyway."

"So what can you do?" B'Elanna asked.

"I've been told that I mix a really mean margarita," The woman said with a sweet smile.

B'Elanna rolled her eyes. "I mean, if you can't build us a warp fifty engine, what could you do, if you were so inclined? What is allowed, in that area I mean? Just for the sake of argument, if we were to say, we got you out of that thing, now why don't you help us a bit, how could you help?"

"Ah, well," The woman said slowly, "Basically, if it's been invented and in your possession I can work on it."

"Meaning?" B'Elanna persisted.

"Meaning, if you managed to get your hands on a transwarp engine that's broken and beyond your ability to fix, then I could fix it because it has been invented by someone, and it's already in your possession. So I'm not changing the future as such. Other than the fact that if I fix it you can use it, but if I don't fix it, you can't use it. But that can on it's turn be argued away by pointing out that if you have it, you would probably go looking for someone to fix it anyway. But if that engine has a design flaw that would make it impossible to sustain transwarp flight, then I can't change that design flaw, even though I actually can. That's pretty much the line."

"Is that not still changing the future?" Tuvok spoke up.

"It is, and it isn't," the woman said. "Yes, whether or not you get home like, now, changes the future. But the point is, 'if' you have the engine, then you would look for someone that fixes it, right? So if I fix it, it's fixed, and if I don't fix it, you will probably eventually find someone to fix it anyway. Yes, it all changes the future. Whether I fix it or whether you go look for someone, the time you did 'this' where otherwise you would do 'that', it does change time, but it's all in the realm of potential roads you can take, so I can do it, no problem."

The woman shook her head a little. "But I can't make something for you that you don't have, or don't at least have building plans for. Simply for the fact that it would not stay with you. That warp fifty engine. Do you really think Starfleet would not take that and use it on every ship? Building that engine for you would change... well, pretty much the universe, or at least this galaxy. That is something I'm not allowed to do."

The former Q looked back at B'Elanna. "Why do you ask, you want me to replay my freedom by solving some problem you can't fix?"

"I'm just curious," B'Elanna explained. "Any kind of repaying would not be for me to decide anyway. The Captain is in change here."

"I know we are talking Q here," Kathryn said with a frown, "but that's still a strange rule."

"Not really, it's a smart rule if you think punishment," The woman disagreed. "I would have insisted on the same if I had to punish a Q. I am in a place now where I don't have my omnipotent powers anymore. So, if I wanted power again I would need to get it in the mortal way. And what better way than to build weapons and stuff that are millennia ahead of the time where they should be invented? So what they did is make up a rule that makes it possible for me to at the very best live in luxury because I can ask a lot of currency or favors or whatever, simply because people know that no matter what, if they come to me with something I can fix it. But I can never be more than that because I can't, or better said am not allowed, to invent something that would change the balance of power in my favor."

"If you are a Q, that means that you have knowledge of all species in the Universe," Seven pointed out. "Warp has been invented, but you would still be seen as a god by many species for being able to provide it."

The woman waggled her hand in an 'eh' manner once again. "Not really on both. There is also the 'you know damn well what we mean' rule. Well, I call it that. If I were to work like that then I could also give you a transwarp engine, since it has been invented by someone. But I can't because I know that they meant 'per species'. For you I can fix a warp drive, for the Borg I could fix a transwarp drive. But I can't build a transwarp drive for you because you don't have one. But if you manage to get one, I can fix it for you if it's broken since then you do have one. As for knowing all there is to know of every species in the universe..."

She shrugged. "We... I mean, the Q might be omnipotent, but they aren't all-knowing. We just know a lot because we have been around for as long as life exists in the universe. We were one of the first species that evolved, and the only of those first species that survived."

The woman made a show of whispering, even though everyone could still hear her. "We were actually mortals back then."

Then she continued in her normal velvet soft voice, "We are simply the result of evolution. Just that we had a head start of thirteen billion years. Just you wait, well, not literally you, but just you wait until Humans have evolved for another thirteen billion years. I have been to the future, you would be amazed at the beings Humans will become. You will put what the Q are now to shame, just that by then we also evolved another thirteen billion years and will be still vastly more advanced than you."

"Very well," Seven said before persisting, "but would it be a fair assessment to say that you know most if not all species in this galaxy?"

The woman waved a dismissive hand. "Oh, sure, that's easy. But before you ask, same answer as I just gave your Captain; no can do. I can't give you a nice and safe route to travel to get back to the Alpha Quadrant. It too would be changing the future."

"True, you cannot do that," Seven agreed. "However, building on your explanation of what you are allowed to do, would I be correct in stating that if we get into contact with a species, you can inform us about them? For instance, with the Urdians you would have been able to warn us about the trace element in their air since we did already have the ability to detect it, just that we did not wait for the results."

The woman laughed gently. "Ah, you got trapped on their planet? Gone wild and did crazy things? What, got married to a computer?"

"No, I merely fell in love with my worst enemy," Seven corrected, not at all upset about the comment that was clearly a reference to her Borg side. "And I am very glad for it. My be'nal and I are very happy together."

"Be'nal?" The woman repeated while waving a finger back and forth between Seven and B'Elanna. You mean you two, or are there any more people with Klingon heritage on board?"

"We two," Seven agreed before continuing. "So is my assumption correct, if we meet a species that we do not know, you can tell us about them. If they are open and welcoming to us, you can warn us about the fact that they are actually a scavenging species that is only after our technology. If our sensors pick something up that we do not recognize, you can tell us what it is, as long as the Federation, Borg, or Urdians have encountered it before at some point and is somewhere in one of their databanks, even if that data is not on the ship. If we find a piece of alien technology that we want to study, you can warn us about which button triggers the self-destruct."

"Well, yes," The woman agreed.

Seven turned to Kathryn before stating, "In that case, Captain, here is my recommendation for that position as Senior Science Officer for Voyager."

Kathryn lifted her hands in a stopping gesture. "Now wait a minute. We still have to talk about a lot of things here, like her maybe wanting to be on her way to somewhere else now that she is free. Or if we can even trust her; she can be a whole different species that is just doing a lot of talking."

"Captain, I am merely skipping a few unneeded steps," Seven pointed out. "As you can see from her body, and from what she has said, she likes the Alpha and Beta Quadrant of this galaxy. She has been trapped in the Delta Quadrant far from that place she likes; yet in a location where we could find her and rescue her with relative ease. And we are a space ship that is en route to the Alpha Quadrant."

Seven gestured to the former Q. "Since she does no longer have the powers of the Q of simply thinking herself to different locations, she will have to travel to the Alpha Quadrant if she wants to go there. She needs transport to the Alpha Quadrant, we need a person that is capable of understanding all aspects of science; from Stellar Cartography, over knowing the biological distinctiveness of species, to being able to read a report of a repair to the warp drive that is written in technical language. The result of this equation is simple."

"If she truly is who she says she is," Kathryn persisted.

"Hmm, your resident Borg has a point," The woman agreed before adding, "and you, Captain Janeway, have become very suspicious out here."

"No, I always was," Kathryn corrected. "Just that out here I don't need to uphold Starfleet's 'trust first' mentality so strictly as back home."

The woman waved her off. "Trust first is nonsense anyway. Trust first will get you killed, if you can get killed of course. I much rather prefer the 'me first and if that is sure I'll be nice to you' mentality."

"Which still leaves us with the problem of not knowing if your story is true," Kathryn pointed out. "And if it's true as far as you being a former Q, if you aren't out to settle some score in the Alpha Quadrant. Like destroying a planet or so. The Q like to do things big as far as I know."

The woman rolled her eyes. "Oh, come now. We Q don't hold grudges like that. We are above it all anyway. What could anyone have done to me for me to hold a grudge for millions of years and then still hold it long enough for me to travel back to the Alpha Quadrant and then get even? It's a waste of perfectly good time to have some fun."

"Um," B'Elanna said while pointing at the shell that had been the woman's home for those millions of years. "Not hold a grudge you say?"

The former Q looked at the device for a moment before turning back. "No, that's not holding a grudge; that's a punishment on the time scale of eternity. That's something completely different. A Grudge would be if after this time I now somehow wanted to hurt the other Q. But I don't. I did something wrong, they think. I had millions of years to think about it and still think that I was right and they are wrong. But now I'm out of there. Why waste another minute of my life trying to get even with them for something I can't undo anyway? Even if I got my powers back to travel back in time, I would still have spent millions of years in there. I won't get that time back no matter what. I may be immortal, but time lost is still time lost. No, now I'm out and now I can at least have some fun again; much more important."

"Fun like, oh, playing with the entire population of some planet?" Kathryn asked. "That's the Q kind of thing, isn't it?"

"No," The woman disagreed. "We merely like to do things. Normally we focus on individual people or groups. It's just that the big things kinda stick in people's minds. They don't remember or know about the thousands of times you walked amongst them on planets and just lived a normal life for a few years. They don't remember or know about the thousands of lives you saved because you were in the right place and were bored anyway. But, they sure remember you making their entire space fleet disappear, and that this... they think... killed thousands. But even then they leave out the little detail that the fleet was on way to a war and were about to go and kill millions."

"Ah, so you mean that the Q are merely misunderstood good guys?" Kathryn asked.

The former Q waved an irritated hand. "No, don't you get it? We aren't good or evil; we simply are. And because we live forever... well eternity is kinda boring if you don't entertain yourself. So we do. We have fun with people, sure. But the point is we aren't the ones that destroy entire planets because some minister was insulted by a former ally. We merely have fun with people. And yes, people died, but then, should I really feel sorry for someone dying that was just about to order an entire planet destroyed?"

"Hmm," Kathryn merely said.

Though she didn't say it aloud she didn't blame the woman too much for the things the Q did. Kathryn was great at perspective. She had seen some of the powers the Q had, and she understood only too well that if they truly wanted to they could terrorize the entire galaxy, if not even universe. But instead they contented themselves with 'playing' with individual people or groups. All in all the Q were actually pretty harmless... unless you had the bad fortune to be one of the people they played with. And even then you were almost certain that you would come out alive, almost.

"So," Kathryn asked after a moment. "Was Seven right in the assumption of the fact that you are interested in a lift to the Alpha Quadrant?"

"Well sure; it's not like I can walk there," The woman said, pointing out the to her obvious.

"You know, we once encountered another Q that had been punished by the others," Kathryn suddenly said as she slowly started to pace. "He called himself Quinn. And... and what's your name by the way?"

The woman looked surprised, if not shocked by the question. "I'm Q of course."

"Not according to your own words," Kathryn reminded. "Not anymore."

The former Q pursed her lips. "Hmm, that's true. How about, tell you what, you can call me Q'Vir, how about that?"

"Q'Vir?" Kathryn repeated. "What does that mean?"

Q'Vir smiled. "That depends on what planet you are on. I like it because it means fifteen different things in the languages of fifteen different species, and I like all of them."

"Q'Vir was the goddess of love for the Prekesm; species 2953," Seven spoke up.

The former Q gave her a dazzling smile and spread her arms a little to indicate herself. "Well, don't you think I do the name justice?"

"The other Q put Quinn in a comet," Kathryn spoke up. "Why him in a comet, and you in this contraption and trapped in subspace?"

Q'Vir rolled her eyes again. "Because he was not supposed to be found; I was."

"So you knew him?" Kathryn asked.

"Well sure. In fact, I voted for imprisoning him." Q'Vir tilted her head a little. "Ironic actually, don't you think?"

Kathryn couldn't help but pinch the bridge of her nose. "You voted for having him put in a comet, yet you have been imprisoned for millions of years longer than he was?"

"Well, yeah," Q'Vir agreed. "They of course brought me back into time so far that I had served my years of confinement before you found me. So, yes, I voted for imprisoning him. Of course the date that I voted for Quinn's entrapment was before the day that I was entrapped myself. But since my entrapment actually happened later, but was placed before, the result was that by the time he was entrapped I wasn't, even though at the same time I was, only I didn't know it yet since my entrapment hadn't started yet, even though I had already served millions of years of my time. Get it?"

The former Q frowned. "Why are you all rubbing your temples? Didn't you understand it? Want me to explain it again?"

Her question was answered by a choir of 'no's'.

"Why don't you tell us instead why you voted for confining him," Kathryn urged.

"Because he is an idiot," the former Q said bluntly. "He,"

"Was," Kathryn corrected.


"He was. He is no longer alive."

"Blundering moron," Q'Vir cursed. "Let me guess, he finally managed to find a way to kill himself."

"He found a way to become Human and then committed suicide," Kathryn agreed and corrected at the same time.

"Told you he was an idiot. That's why I voted for putting him away. Where would we be if Q just go killing themselves?"

"At a civil war, which they also had," Kathryn said. "But they called a truce now."

Q'Vir's mouth actually dropped open. Finally she managed to say. "See, that's why he had to stay put away. I knew it. I just knew it. Once he got his way some of the others got inspired and thought that it was time to change things, right?"

"Basically," Kathryn agreed.

Now it was Q'Vir that started to pace again, forcing Kathryn to stop her pacing since there really wasn't that much room left in the sickbay.

The thought had come to Kathryn some time before to suggest that they move to the conference room. But she had decided against it because the stranger was talking. If it was one thing Kathryn had learned in the Delta Quadrant; if someone was talking you let them talk. Because if you suggested they move to a different place, chances were that the person used that time to think and would realize that they had already said too much.

"He never got it," Q'Vir explained. "He traveled all through the universe in his search to explore stuff. And once he had seen all the major stuff, he thought that it was now all the same so why keep living?"

"That was his argument," Tuvok agreed. "I take it you disagree?"

Q'Vir threw up her hands. "Of course I do. He never got it. He wanted to see it all, transported himself from one event to the other to see it."

"And what is the part he didn't get?" Brika asked. "Because I'm apparently also not getting it."

"He didn't get that all of that was the extra stuff. The cherry on the ice-cream. Sure, it's wonderful to see how two galaxies collide. It's beautiful, especially if you are at the center and have a first row seat. But if you've seen it you shouldn't rush to a second spot to watch another collision. Though we Q are immortal, we do notice the passing of time, hence my punishment. What you should do is go see something, and then not see it for a few centuries until the urge gets too big and then you go see it again. It's like that ice-cream I just talked about. If you just ate one, you don't go eating a second one right away. And if you did, surely you stop there because you really had enough now. But not he. He just ran after all of it, wanting it all now. And then he got bored of that because he watched a couple of hundred galactic collisions and then never watched another one. So he went and watch the creation of a black hole, and another, and another... and never watched one again. He thought he was exploring; he was just sightseeing. He never understood what the real exploring was."

"And that is?" Kathryn asked.

"To live. To experience," Q'Vir said almost dreamily. "To be amazed and entertained by it all. To see the beauty in a quasar, and to see the beauty in planting a garden and seeing the plants grow. To enjoy diving into the surface of a star, and to enjoy the wonderful taste of a well prepared dinner. Quinn never saw that. He only did the big stuff and then found the rest boring."

Kathryn lifted a hand. "Wait, are you telling me the Q also live normal lives?" She waved a finger to indicate the ship around her. "Which you would need to do here as well. If we take you along we expect something in return."

Q'Vir shrugged. "Fine with me. That's just the thing that Quinn never got. We Q... well, I mean, the Q can live until the end of time, and then simply go back to the beginning of time and do it all over again and live in a different place in the universe this time. And then do it again, and again, and again. If you do it right you can be busy every minute of that time. You don't only go and do the exploring that Quinn did. That you keep for vacations, so to speak. You live and have fun! You go to a planet and live between the people for some time."

"Play with them you mean," B'Elanna interrupted.

"Sometimes," Q'Vir happily agreed. "My motto was to have fun. All in all if people were having a good life, I just lived between them. I made friends. I grand you, I tended to be the one that pushed them on. I was the one that wanted to do a white water rafting session and roped my friends into coming along. I was the one that convinced my friends that diving off a bridge with just an elastic around their feet is the best thing ever. But the thing is, I call that exploring too. I explored how much fun it is to be invited to a birthday of a friend. How much fun it is to point out this cute guy to my friend at that birthday party. To be the best woman at a friend's wedding. Quinn never did any of that. In fact, he never had a single friend, mortal or Q as far as I remember. And yes, I also played with people. If things weren't that great anyway I took over. I have been Queens, Empresses, I have had entire planets worship me."

She lifted a finger and smiled. "But, they did so because I was better at the job than the people that were in charge before me. Quinn never did any of that either. And before you say it. Oh absolutely, people died because of me. Millions. But, billions lived because of me. So in the balance of it all I actually helped people. I just don't see why I shouldn't have fun while doing it. I enjoy life. I enjoy every minute of it and I'm thrilled to know that I still have my immortality and that I will be able to enjoy life for hundreds of billions of years yet."

"Quinn was turned into a Human," Kathryn repeated her earlier statement, mostly to notice a clear difference she was seeing. "But even once he knew that he only had a few decades left at most, he didn't portray your lust for life. He still committed suicide after a few days instead of at least living out this one life."

"Moron," Q'Vir repeated with clear distain.

"So let me clarify this," Kathryn asked. "If we agree to take you along, you will be perfectly happy to just be another crew member? To work for us? To take orders?"

"Sure, sure," Q'Vir assured. "As I said, I did live like that before. We really didn't whisk from one event to the next; we had all the time. Why not live some of our eternal time between others? Just don't be surprised if you find out that I'm a very active person that does a lot of stuff. Within your rules of course."

Kathryn frowned. "I think I remember reading something once about a young woman that served on the Enterprise under Captain Picard. It turned out that she was actually a Q and that she didn't know this because her parents had died when she was a kid. It turned out that the parents were actually two Q that were living on Earth and doing the normal life thing."

"See," Q'Vir said with a smile. "We do it all the time."

"How can Q die?" B'Elanna asked. "Quinn had to specifically be stripped of his powers and then turned into a Human before he could die. And you have been stripped of most your powers and still can't die."

"No idea," the former Q admitted. "I never heard of that. It must have been before my time," a grin "or after. Want me to explain it to you? Didn't think so."

"Alright, then on the other side," B'Elanna persisted, "How can someone be immortal, and yet age? How can the girl go from baby to grownup if time has no effect on you?"

"Who says it doesn't?" Q'Vir countered. "Sure it does. It's just that, well, a body has to get adult before you can start having babies. It's just that once we reached a certain point we don't age anymore. Doesn't change the fact that I'm still billions of years old."

"So the events with the girl must have happened when you were trapped," Kathryn clarified in an effort to get her answer. "I think the report said that it turned out that their death was actually an execution by the other Q."

Q'Vir thought about that for a moment. "Hmm, you say that the kid didn't even know that she was a Q. Was she born on Earth?"

Kathryn nodded. "Yes. After it was found out that she was a Q, Starfleet went over her history with a fine tooth comb. The child was delivered by a Human doctor and all was on file."

"Well, there you go then," Q'Vir merely said. When the others looked at her in confusion she rolled her eyes and explained. "One of the few rules the Q have; no making babies outside the Continuum. If Q started to do that then soon there would be millions of them and the Universe would be too small. Point of being a Q is that you can be pretty sure that you never will meet another Q when you are outside the Continuum. Unless they seek each other out. But with millions of them instead of the few thousand that there are now, they would intrude on each other's playgrounds and... eh, that's not good. So, my guess is that the other Q found out about them doing the dirty and killed them for it. But since the kid wasn't really to blame they let her live."

"They killed their own because they copulated?" Seven asked in disbelief.

Q'Vir snorted. "Hardly. Sex, in all kinds that the universe has to offer, is one of the things that makes life fun. Believe me, Q have plenty of sex. With each other, with other species. No, that's not the problem. The problem is getting pregnant. A Q, and even former Q like me, has to deliberately choose to get pregnant. We never can have 'accidents'. So they deliberately broke the rules and had a child outside the Continuum, and were dealt with accordingly."

She shrugged. "I would probably have voted yes on that too. If they wanted a kid that bad, they should have gone back to the Continuum and have it. After that they could then have gone out and pretend to be normal people."

"And talking about living between normal people," Kathryn said, realizing that she had sidetracked. "If we do take you along, can we be sure that you would not try to play with us?"

"Define play," Q'Vir said with a grin. "I love to have fun. So I would definitely not go hide in some corner. You can be pretty damn sure that I'll be out and playing around in the social life on the ship... or ships, you did say that this was a Fleet. But no, you don't need to worry. I won't go and try to play boss over you all or play you against each other."

She sighed. "Look, it's simple. I want to go back to the Alpha Quadrant. You are going there. I can travel there by hopping on ships that happen to travel a little in the right direction at a time. But I much rather stay on one ship, or better said on one of the group of ships, that travels there in a straight line."

Suddenly she smiled. "One of the biggest plusses to that is that I can actually hang around the same people for the entire trip. So I can truly get to know them and then I can play, play as in having fun with people that I like and that like me. Besides, as I said before, part of my punishment is that I can't use the powers I do have left to work myself up to become too influential in an area. Even if I was to stay on some planet here I wouldn't win anything. So tracking along with you to the Alpha Quadrant is just my thing. Once we will get there I'll see what I'll do next. But, I do have some conditions."

"Such as?" Kathryn asked.

"Such as the fact that I do have knowledge like none of you can match. As such I am a valued person. Let's say on Starfleet level a Captain valued person with quarters and privileges to match that." Q'Vir once again waved her hand dismissively, even before Kathryn could react. "No, I don't want a title as Captain. I just want the stuff that comes along with such a position normally. Like also not having to go sweeping the corridors and all that fun stuff."

Kathryn looked at Brika. "That would really be more your department."

"Well," Brika said thoughtfully. "We don't have any experience with the Q,"

"So you think," Q'Vir interrupted with a smile. "I can guarantee you; a civilization that exists as long as yours, I bet several Q have paid you a visit. Just that you don't know it. After all, I know all about you, well your people. You think 'I' ever been here before? That knowledge has to come from somewhere."

"We don't have any experience with the Q that we know of," Brika corrected. "So I don't know if Q'Vir truly has the knowledge that would justify such special treatment. But if she does then I would be willing to allow it on the condition that she becomes not just Voyager's Chief Scientist, but the Fleet's Chief Scientist. Whose work place is on Voyager of course, where she will also join the Senior Staff. Just that on top of that she will oversee the Fleet's scientists."

"Oh, come now, I do want to have some time left for fun," Q'Vir objected.

Brika dipped her head. "And I'm not talking about doing all of the work. I'm talking about basically keeping track of the major things going on, and to be the person people come to if they have a problem they can't solve. Delegate, not accumulate. Kinda like me actually. I'm the Admiral. As such I don't literally give every Captain in this Fleet their daily orders. Instead I supervise. I step in if some of them have disagreements. I make final decisions if there are more camps. Stuff like that. Actually, most of my task is to supervise. Since you claim to have such a high knowledge of... everything. I think that you would spend more time on physically doing things then me simply because for some things you would be the best person for to build or oversee something. But overall it should be normal working days. On the plus side, in that overseeing capacity you wouldn't be bothered with the small daily stuff. Isn't that what you want?"

"Oh, that does sounds tempting," Q'Vir agreed with a smile. "Do the fun stuff and being called in when others can't manage it, and in return for that not having to deal with the small stuff. Alright, so what kind of proof do you need that I know what I'm talking about? Want me to do an essay on something?"

"Something like that," Brika agreed. "One moment."

She walked into the Doctor's office and a moment later she came back with a medical PADD. It was the same in function and form as a normal PADD, just larger so that there was a bigger screen in it. She spent a moment to search and open a file on the Fleet network. Then she showed the PADD to Q'Vir. "Here, why don't you tell me what you would do to bring this up to Fleet standard."

Q'Vir shook a finger at her. "Not nice trying to sneak in an extra test."

"What are you talking about?" Brika asked confused.

"Fleet standard," Q'Vir repeated. "That right there is a test all by itself to see if I know what I'm talking about. Or more to the point, that I know just what the standard of your ships is at this point in time."

"I didn't even think of that," Brika confessed. "But, good point." She lifted the PADD a little to indicate it. "So?"

Q'Vir looked at the screen for a moment. "Hmm, the best you can do is scrap it and use the materials in the building of a new ship."

With a frown because of the strange answer, Kathryn leaned over and peeked at the screen. Well, she had to agree with Q'Vir about what to do. On the screen there was a scan of the dilapidated ship that they had found Ina on.

Brika nodded. "That's what I would do if it was my ship. As it is, the problem isn't mine anymore because the owners have it for sale. But let's pretend that we had to fix it so that the people on it could continue to live there. So, what would you do?"

Q'Vir looked at the image for a moment and then pulled up the scan that accompanied it. "May I?" She asked as she already took the PADD and put it down on one of the bio-beds so that she had both hands free.

She brought up the touch screen keyboard of the unit and slowly started to type. But as she typed and apparently got used to the keyboard, or the typing, she quickly became faster until her fingers were moving so fast that none of the onlookers could keep track of which 'keys' were touched on the screen.

Kathryn nodded to herself. She guessed that this was how the Q did it when they lived between mortals. The typing was fast, faster than anyone else in the room could probably master, including Seven with her Borg enhancements. But still, it was doable. She was certain that there were some Urdians to be found that could type just as fast because years of professional typing had trained them that way. In other words, it was amazingly fast, but you knew it was possible and therefore would just assume that the person typing was good, but not much more than that.

"There," Q'Vir merely said after about five minutes of typing.

Brika took the PADD and looked at the list. Then she went down a screen length... and another, and another. She frowned and handed the unit to Seven. "What do you think?"

Seven had a look and after a moment only said, "Impressive."

"That good?" Kathryn asked amused, knowing that 'impressive' was a word that Seven rarely used. For the blonde, something had to truly impress her before she used the word.

"Very," Seven assured. "I believe that it is listed on importance so that if there is only a limited budget that at least the life threatening things have been repaired."

"It is," Q'Vir agreed.

"And not just that," Seven continued, "she also included alternatives. For instance, she suggested that the entire warp drive is replaced by an Urdian shuttle engine, which would be better than the engine used in the ship and use only one quarter of the power. But if that is not doable she lists the steps needed to bring the existing warp engine up to equal level of an Urdian warp engine."

"I thought you weren't allowed to make things that people didn't have," Kathryn pointed out.

"Then you weren't listening," Q'Vir said bluntly. "I can't make things that you don't know how to make. I said I can build something from blueprint if you have the blueprint. Now, the people that own that ship might not have Urdian technology, and therefore I might not be allowed explain to them how to get their engine to that standard. But the Admiral there clearly said 'up to Fleet standard'. And since the Urdians have warp engines that are that reliable and have that speed, I can improve that crappy engine to that standard. But, not further. For instance, since the Urdians don't have transwarp I can't tell you how to improve an Urdian engine to the point where it can consistently and reliably travel at transwarp."

"The engines can be improved to that?" B'Elanna asked. "I thought that wasn't possible. At least not possible as to where you can travel at transwarp for more than a few minutes."

"Sure it's possible," Q'Vir disagreed. "The Urdians just haven't discovered yet how to do it. It will be..." She wiggled her hand back and forth a little. "Eh, about two hundred years before they manage it."

In the mean time Seven had been reading the list again. "I believe that Q'Vir wanted to prove to us that she has more than just engineering knowledge. She also describes a few other things. Like covering the fields of biology, exobiology, stellar cartography, and medical."

"Medical?" The Doctor asked.

Q'Vir waved a dismissive hand before anyone could reply. "Don't worry, I don't want your job. I don't like the sight of blood; always makes me cringe."

More than one set of eyebrows shot up at that.

As Q'Vir was saying this, Seven had handed the PADD to the Doctor who was looking at the medical entries. He didn't speak up, but Kathryn did notice him nodding his head a bit several times, clearly in approval or from being impressed. She decided that she didn't need to ask him for details, for now.

"Admiral," Seven spoke up once more as she took the PADD back from the Doctor. "This list is very extensive. I myself would only have thought of half of this, at best. And even then only if I had at least a day of time so that I could also start thinking about what else I could possibly do to it."

Brika nodded her head in thanks. Then she looked back at Q'Vir. "In that case, why don't we move to the conference room so that we can discuss housing and the likes with you?"

Part 22

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