Captain's log, stardate 471124.3. The Enterprise has assumed orbit around Albirus Four. Our mission, is to observe this young world as it cools and it's geography settles into place. A fairly routine scientific mission. The only fact that raises some concern is that Albirus Four has three moons- each in it's own orbit, which could make our own orbit somewhat complicated...
Seated on his recliner, in his quarters, Picard held his Kataan flute in hand as he listened to the tape Nella Daren had sent him.
The flute disappeared from his hands-
-to reappear in it's case on a nearby table. "Computer, stop playback."
The captain rose to his feet and looked all around for the one being he knew of that could accomblish such an act. He vanished-
-to appear on the Bridge. Before anyone could ask him how he got there,a voice was heard."Greetings,Captain. Greetings and Fleicitations to you all."
Having arrived facing the ship's dedication plaque, Picard turned toward his Ready Room and for a moment, thought he was skipping through time again.But instead of a being standing before him dressed as an Elizabethian sea captain, what appeared to be a human male stood before him dressed like a British officer straight out of the 19th century Napoleonic Wars."Please rest assured,Kind Sir, that I mean you no harm."
"Who are you?" Picard asked.
The being actually bowed."You may adress me as Squire Trelene."
Upon hearing this, Data tilted his head slightly as he began searching through his own vast memory. But for once, someone else beat him to it."I've read about you." Picard turned to Riker in surprise."Remember sir? My first year on board, I read all the old Enterprise logs. "He stepped up beside the captain as he went on. "If I remember correctly, the Squire here, seized the original Enterprise- then under James Kirk's command- while they were making an emergency supply run to Beta Six- it was still a colony then. He nearly killed Kirk and his crew before his parents stepped in and took his toys away."
Trelene had stood quietly throughout Riker's recital. He even nodded as the commander spoke."I admit all of it, sir. Every word you've spoken is true."
Surprise best described the expression on Picard's face. An old Enterprise enemy admitting his mistake? It was a novel approach if nothing else."So why are you here now- a hundred years later?"
"To put it in Human terms, Captain, I was grounded,"The Squire answered. "I was allowed to observe your Federation, but my parents refused to let me take part. Needless to say, with a century of time on my hands, I was able to do a great deal of thinking and I came to realize that my behavior had left a great deal to be desired.
"When my parents lifted their ban on my movements, I knew that the one thing I had to do immediately, was seek out the Enterprise- the current one-" he indicated the Bridge-" Since the original is no longer available and appologize for my actions."
Picard looked over to Deanna, where she had remained seated and saw her nod. He had no problem translating it. Trelene was being sincere. "And what do you expect in return for this apology?"
"To simply be allowed to visit,"Trelene replied."I still consider you humans to be a fasinating study."
Riker looked to Picard."While his methods left alot to be desired, his intense intrest was noted in the logs."
"Captain,"Trelene called,"Granted I did get off on the wrong foot, as it were with the other ship. But as you humans say, with age comes wisdom. I am simply asking for a second chance."
"Oh,please!" It was a hard, cynical voice that filled the air. "Jean-Luc, if you beleive this twit you're a bigger fool than I ever gave you credit for."
Picard closed his eyes and released a deep breath. Hoping he hadn't heard what he knew he had, he turned and opened his eyes to see him standing by the doors to the Observation Lounge, his arms folded across his chest in clear disgust.
"And who is this impertent fellow?" Trelene asked.
Picard sighed,hoping things wouldn't get out of hand and knowing better."Squire Trelene, this is Q- of the Q Continum."
Trelene raised an almost snobbish eyebrow. It was clear this new arrival didn't frighten him in the least."An entire race named after one letter? Not very imaginative is it?"
Riker was finding it hard to keep the smile off his face. Q on the other hand, stepped up to the railing and the hatred was clear in his eyes."I'll give you imagination!"
The Enterprise rocked and Geordi turned from his engineering station in shock."Captain the engines are- gone!"
"We are falling out of orbit,"Data announced."We will enter the atmosphere in one minute."
Q's gaze locked with Trelene's."You have that long to leave- or these people are dead."
That eyebrow rose again."My dear sir, you have yet to learn the lesson I learned a century ago. That one can not have everything one wants." The Squire then waved his hand as if waving the matter away.
Geordi stared at his screens in disbelief."Captain, the engines are back."
"We are also back in a stable orbit," Data added.
Q came down the incline, stopping only a few steps away from the Squire. An instant later, he vanished in an uncharacteristic clap of thunder.
Trelene met the Captain's gaze and Picard couldn't miss the excited gleam in the Squire's eyes."Oh it's so much more fun on the side of the angels, eh?"
Captain's log,stardate 471124.4. Our observation mission to Albirus Four continues despite the arrivals of both Squire Trelene and Q. Upon researching the Squire with Commander Riker's assistance, I have to admit to being leary of his continued presence.
However,I must also admit that since his arrival, he has behaved himself- something Q has never done.
On Deck Eleven, Deanna was showing Trelene around. Avoiding the high security areas, she decided to concentrate on the civilian areas of the ship."...This ship is really a remarkable accomblishment, Councilor,"the Squire noted as they passed an excerise hall where Lt.Worf was holding one of his martial arts classes."I've paid very little attention to the Klingons over the years,"Trelene noted as he glanced back at the hall."Perhaps that's an oversight I should correct."
Deanna gently touched his arm."May I offer a word of advice?"
The eagerness leaped from the Squire's face."Certainly."
"Keep in mind what happened the first time you approached humans,"Deanna said."Then spend twice as long studying the Klingons before you approach them."
The Squire considered this and nodded as they reached a pair of doors unlike any other he'd seen onboard. Stepping up to a control pannel,Deanna worked for several moments."Program complete,"the computer announced."You may enter when ready."
"Enter what?" Trelene asked.
Deanna's smile grew."We call it the Holodeck." She stepped up to the doors and they parted to reveal a grand Napoleonic ballroom- perfect in every detail.
Trelene's face was like that of a child's on Christmas morning."Oh! This is magnificent!" He turned to Deanna."May we have a dance? Just one?"
The innocent desire was clear and Deanna looked up slightly as she spoke."Computer, give us a waltz suitable to-no."Her eyes sparkled with a mischief of her own as she changed commands."Make it a full ball with guests."
An instant later, that's exactly what they had and the Squire was clearly overjoyed with the experience. He turned around completely, taking it all in, then he looked to Deanna."If I may?" His hand moved just a fraction and her uniform gave way to a ballroom gown suitable to the time and place.
An orchastra somewhere began to play and soon the two were gliding across the floor amid the color and pagentry of the early 1800's.
As they danced, there was one character present that the computer had not created. With a goblet of wine in one hand and a uniform covered with medals, Q watched as Deanna and the Squire danced. As he watched, his eyes narrowed in seething hatred. Draining the goblet, he set it down and walked out-
-non-stop through a bulkhead.
Eleven decks above, Picard was studying the ship's status reports when the computer terminal and every light in the Ready Room went dead. He reached for his combadge. "Picard to Bridge."
There was no answer. Rising to his feet, he headed for the door. It didn't open.
"I suggest you look out the viewport,Mon Capitaine." Q's voice. Yet, Picard knew he wasn't in the room. Crossing to the viewport, the Captain looked out to see one of Albirus Four's moons coming toward the ship."I've altered the orbits of all 3,"Q stated."Unless you tell that idiotic squire to leave, they'll converge and crush the Enterprise like an eggshell."
But threats have a tendancy to backfire and Picard had never been one to allow himself to be threatened easily. He hadn't stood for it the first time he and Q met and he certainly wasn't going to stand for it now."Then go ahead and do it,"he said."You'll probably kill everyone except the Squire."
There was no answer and Picard watched as the moon drew closer and closer.
It was gone.
The lights came up and he turned to see Q standing in the middle of the room."How did you know I was bluffing?"
The captain shrugged."Kill us and you'll have to find someone else to pester."
Q turned away."I don't understand you humans."
"What else is new?" Picard countered."I'm just surprised to finally hear you admit it."
"Everytime I try to bring a little color and adventure to your puny lives, you reject me,"Q said."Yet, you accept that...prattling dandy right away.
"I don't understand it."
For a moment, Picard could only stare at him in disbelief. This was the being that had the nerve to put Humanity through a seven year trial! "Then let me spell it out for you,"The captain said."The Squire appologised for his past actions the moment he arrived. You on the other hand, have done nothing but cause trouble since the first day we met.
"This crew has no reason to like or trust you."
Q turned to face him and his voice was all too calm."I can change that very easily."
A blinding glare washed out everything.
The waltz came to an end and Deanna took a deep breath. It'd been awhile since she'd gone dancing."I'm afraid we have to be going,"she told the Squire with a gentle smile."I have appointments scheduled for later."
Trelene nodded and watched as she turned to speak."Computer, end program." Conversation and the mix and mingle of people continued around them. "Computer, exit." The guests were starting to look at her strangely."Computer, arch."
None of the commands worked.Then Deanna noticed something else."These aren't holodeck characters- I can sense-"She turned to Trelene. "Why did you-?"Then she got a good empathic take on him."You didn't do this."
Trelene gently took her by the arm and led her over to one side of the ballroom."We are no longer on your holodeck,"He told her as he loked around."This is the real 1800's- courtesy, no doubt- of that most disagreeable Q."He shook his head."I fail to understand how your captain has put up with him for so long."
"Q does what he likes when he likes,"Deanna stated.
"That must end,"the Squire stated firmly. He met Deanna's gaze."It really must." He changed her gown back into her uniform."I suggest you prepare yourself, Councilor. While I've studied Earth's past, I've never been here. This may be a rather rocky trip."He then waved his hand-
-and they were on the Enterprise Bridge with the business ends of several phasers aimed in their direction. Deanna sought out Picard. "Captain-?"
He surprised her and Trelene both by turning to Q."What should we do with them?"
"Kill them of course.What else?"
The Councilor turned her angered glare on him."What have you done to them?"
Phasers were raised as he answered."I simply showed them who their real friend was."
Trelene gently moved Deanna to one side as he spoke."Mind control is a very petty way of getting what one wants." He snapped his fingers."Don't you agree, Captain?"
Phasers were lowered as Picard glared at Q."I do indeed."
For a long moment, Q was silent as his anger boiled and then erupted in an energy discharge that slammed the Squire against a bulkhead! He stepped toward Trelene- only to find the captain in his way."Stand aside, Picard."
"Why? So you can commit murder?"the Captain asked."The great Q in a murderous fury- or is it jealousy?"
Q stared at him in shock."What? don't be absurd."
But the captain nodded and pressed on."Yes. You're jealous.The Squire has behaved himself- proven he's learned his lesson- that he's grown up." He stepped toward Q."He's achieved something with this crew that you never will- acceptance."
In two flashes, the Captain found himself moved aside as Q moved toward Trelene. But the Squire was far from helpless. He let lose with a charge of his own that enveloped Q, slammed him to the ceiling and then dropped him to the deck. The Squire watched him closely as he stood. "My dear Q, you have been most discourtious."
Q rose- slowly- to his feet as they squared off on opposite sides of the Bridge. Picard looked from one to the other."Squire..."
"My dear Captain, I suggest you keep everyone back."He indicated the First Officer."Riker knows this isn't my first duel." He turned to meet Q's glare and his tone became deadly serious."But it is one I intend to win."
With that, the crew could only watch- and hope they left the ship in one piece.
Trelene closed his eyes and his human form disloved as he allowed himself to revert back to his normal energy form. Q quickly followed suit, becoming a flashing, sparking, almost twisted ball of energy. Discharges leaped between them enveloped each of them and exploded around them.
Data was the only one still manning his post while all of this was going on. Now, he had to shout to be heard over the discharging energies fighting it out behind him."Captain, the engines are off-line and the moons are converging again. They will crush the ship in thirty seconds."
The ball of energy that was Trelene threw itself at Q and the intermixing life forces lit up the Bridge to the point that the crew had to cover their eyes.
The Enterprise vanished from it's orbit-
The three moons collided-
The Enterprise reappeared, clear of the star system.
There was a flash and Q fell to the deck in rags. An instant later, Trelene resumed his human form and while his uniform was in disarray, nothing was ruined. Riker caught him as his knees gave way."You saved the ship."
But the Squire shook his head."It wasn't me."
Riker looked to Picard."Then who-?"
"Don't tell me you've forgotten me, Will." Everyone looked toward the forward viewscreen to see what looked like a young human female standing in front of it.
Picard stepped toward her even as Q decided to keep his distance."Amanda. What are you doing here?"
Amanda Rodgers had been born and raised on Earth. It wasn't until a trip on the Enterprise, that she found out that she and her parents were Qs. She indicated the other one."The Continum sent me after him. Two months ago, he did away with an entire star cluster just because it blocked his view of Andromeda." She nodded toward the screen."He destroyed three moons just now- and would've destroyed you as well."She looked down at her one-time judge and Picard couldn't help feeling a sense of poetic justice as she passed sentence this time."I hope you've learned something from all of this,Q. Sooner or later, you're always going to run into someone better than you are." She looked to Picard."Tell Dr.Crusher I said hello."
Then both Qs were gone.
A heart beat later, a ball of energy appeared and hovered in front of the viewscreen. Trelene took a shaky step toward it."Mother? Why are you here?"
"Your father and I have followed your actions,Trelene."
"Have I done wrong?"He turned to Picard."Captain-?"
Picard stepped forward."Madam-"
"You need say nothing,Captain. I am not here to punish my son. On the contrary. His father and I are quite pleased with how he has conducted himself.
"Trelene, continue as you have today, and we will have no complaints." She pulsed and glowed for a moment more and then silently faded away.
Picard looked to the con."Data, what's our status?"
"Ship's status is nominal, sir. All three moons are back in their normal orbits."The android looked to his captain."Everything is exactly as it should be."
Picard sighed and turned to Trelene."Squire, as far as I am concerned, any debt you beleive owed has been paid. You will be welcome aboard this Enterprise whenever you wish to visit."
For a moment, Trelene couldn't answer as he took in the words he'd waited a century to hear. Finally, he nodded."Thank you, Captain." He looked around, nodded to the others and then turned to meet Deanna's gaze.
"I think my appointments can wait till tomarrow,"she told him.
He offered his arm."May we continue the tour then?"
Her smile grew as she accepted his arm."We might even get in another waltz before dinner."
As the two left the Bridge, crewmen returned to their posts,scans were resumed and both the mission and the voyage continued.