“Is there something strange in your neighbourhood?” Well there certainly has been for the crew of the USS Tesla. While on patrol of the former Roman Neutral Zone investigating a natural disaster they find themselves plagued by un-explained accidents, strange goings on and the appearance of a charming and diabolical new shipmate.
With incidents on the ship reaching ahead Commander Tevek summons his Number One to the science lab to investigate further. In this humorous and potentially perilous post. Tevek and Illum come face to face with Q one of the universes greatest pranksters
Fully dressed in a duty uniform and with a thermos of Raktajino in hand, Tevek marched with purpose across the deck of the Tesla.
The crew had been in a state of readiness to fetch him after his little jaunt to the USS Eagle, but now that he was back the crew in the corridors and various stations throughout the ship were standing down.
While they were not at red alert, Tevek had ordered a security sweep of the ship and for key sections to be guarded. It was evident from the armed gold shirted men and women as well as the Marines that came jogging down the corridor in their fatigues that his orders were being carried out to the letter. If a Q was on the ship or at least watching them there was no telling what kind of havoc or mayhem might be coming their way and Tevek wanted them to be fully prepared.
He stepped to the side just in time as a fire team breezed past him weapons in hands. A disjointed chorus of “Commander.” Came from their mouths acknowledging Teveks presence as they carried on their patrol.
Turning the corner at a busy intersection Tevek came to the hatch for science lab one. At the moment it was kitted out for quantum physics studies, something Tevek had no doubt would be useful when dealing with a Q.
The door to the lab was a heavy metal hatch in a metallic teal colour with hazard markings. ‘Clearly meant to detract intruders…or keep something locked in’. Tevek thought as he prepared to face Illum. Their first encounters had been strained and with his recent movements, he hadn’t had the time to put it right yet. ‘But maybe a Klingon coffee would help.’ He thought to himself.
Like most sensitive areas on new ships the lab was a secure cabin, pausing for a moment Tevek gave chance for the sensors to acknowledge it was him. “Voiceprint authorization required to enter.” The mechanical voice of the computer called out while the sensors continued to scan Tevek. He smirked slightly. ‘Sounds back to normal.’ He thought after being called ‘Commander Pointy’ only hours earlier.
With his free hand, Tevek tugged his tunic straight and took a breath. “Access authorization Tevek Alpha 6 Lambda.” He stated. “Access Granted….Commander Pointy.” The computer heckled back. Even though it was speaking in a standard tone Tevek felt like the computer was laughing at him. He rolled his eyes and huffed as the doors slid apart.
Striding into the room he could have sworn he heard the computer complain about him rolling his eyes but he ignored it. There was work to be done. “Lieutenant Vigil, thank you for coming here in your off duty hours. I believe we have a ship-wide emergency.” He stated bluntly.
A hairpin was clenched between her teeth as she muttered in annoyance, “You’re telling me.”
Illum’s hands were sweeping over her scalp, finger-combing the long blonde hair away from her face until it pulled tightly behind her head. One hand kept the bunch together as the other snatched the hairpin and set it in place. Her hands fell onto the center console, as if in resignation.
When she looked back up to Tevek, there was a clear effort to conceal the irritation beneath the surface.
Pausing for a moment Tevek looked over Illums appearance. “Most becoming.” He remarked at her new hairdo. It was beginning to look more and more like an interstellar prankster was on board. He strode further into the room and placed the thermos down on a console, turning his back to the flask he stepped over and joined her at the console.
With a few swift taps of his fingers on the partially holographic controls, he brought up some of the reports from his quarters. “I had bought coffee but perhaps a barber would be of more practical use right now?” He asked mockingly, after all it was only fair he returned a joke after their first encounter in the turbo lift. But no sooner had Tevek said the word coffee a bright flash of light engulfed the thermos and turned into a tall glass pitcher of Mojitos and two cocktail glasses and a bright flowery ring of flowers appeared around his and Illums necks.
Tevek resisted the Human urge to moan and instead let out a long deep sigh. “I am to assume Lieutenant that you are no stranger to the odd events that have been occurring on the ship?” He asked trying not to let an aggravated tone appear in his otherwise calm Vulcan exterior.
Her eyes had moved from the thermos to Tevek, then back to the newly apparated drinks, then down to the frilly decoration garnishing her chest. “No… sir.” Her subdued response came. “I think I’m entirely familiar.”
She was still leaning forward over the console, her hands splayed across its’ surface when the subtle sound of a pin hitting the floor could be heard. No longer held back, her hair fell over her ears, around her neck, and over her face. The sigh that escaped her was slow and tired.
“Oh, dear.” Came a sudden new voice from behind her.
Illum spun on her heel, her breath caught in her throat, the hairs on her neck bristling. “Huh?”
The elderly dark-skinned figure was standing just beyond arms reach. He was dressed from the neck down in a fresh three-piece suit as perfectly white as clouds in the sky. Perfectly tailored to his form, the getup contrasted against his dark-walnut skin and hazel eyes. There was a hint of wisdom behind them as his eyes connected with hers, an ageless clarity in an aging visage.
The old man offered his hand towards Illum, and she could see in his palm the hairpin she’d hastily used and failed to properly place. Or did he make it fall? She wasn’t entirely sure.
His voice had a deep presence. It was soft and trembled in the lower register. “I think you dropped this.” He casually explained.
Tevek swiftly went to tap his comm badge, but an invisible force held his hand millimeters from the cold metal surface of his badge.
The old man smiled widely and made a tutting noise. Partly from amusement and party from disappointment, he shook his head. “Do you have any idea who or what I am, Commander Pointy?” He asked in a warm and aged voice.
Tevek fixed a stare of annoyed curiosity at the man. “I have a few ideas.” He suggested firmly as he tugged his hand at whatever was holding it in place. The man threw his hands up in the air letting go of Illums hairpin as he did. “Oh a few ideas…..Q was right I should have just gone back and paid Picard a visit while he was in his prime.” He exclaimed. The hairpin sailed through the air and landed in the pitcher of Mojitos with a delicate splash.
For whatever reason Teveks hand was now free. Finally able to relax his muscles he shook out his arm. “So you are a Q?” He asked in an unamused Vulcan monotone. The man bowed. “At your service, well you and your lovely pet first officer here.” Q replied jovially.
Tevek looked sideways at Illum and rolled his eyes to the sensor control pad on the console. It seemed that Q hadn’t noticed the subtle command Tevek had given with his eyes. Instead, he paced over to the pitcher of drink and fished out the hair. “Whoops, looks like I ruined our drinks!” He moaned as he flicked the hairpin dry and wiped it on his pure white sleeve. In an understated display of power, the crisp white suit didn’t stain. Instead, the hairpin just vanished.
“Maybe I can whip up something else?” Q asked with a mischievous glimmer in his eye.
As someone who spent a considerable amount of time in science labs, Illum was intimately familiar with the room’s layout and the console controls. She didn’t need to look in order to enter in basic commands, even a few of the more complicated procedures were second nature to her. Facing Q straight on, she let one hand fall from her hair to her hip, then let it drift behind her to the main console.
“Do you like Martinis?” Q asked, his eyes focussed on Tevek who shot back what could only be described as the Vulcan attempt at a dirty look. Q paused and threw up his hands. “Of course you don’t….damn pointy ear party poopers of the universe.” He muttered as he paced in thought. Spinning on his tiptoes he turned back to face Tevek and Illum. “I got it!” He exclaimed with a grin. Snapping his fingers another flash of light changed the pitcher into three glasses of water each with a lemon wedge. “H2O, the most bland and boring substance in this universe.” He commented with some disdain.
Curious to see how interacting with a Q would play out Tevek decided to join him. Calmly walking over he picked up a glass and tentatively sniffed the water. Sensing it was nothing but water he took a sip. He hoped his compliance would give Illum a chance to go about her work.
She timed the button presses with the natural beeping and sounds of the Science Lab. One to activate full-spectrum scans on a bio-specimen, and two more to change the scan radius from a quarter-meter, which was just big enough to scan a sample cylinder, to ten meters, which would encompass the entire room.
The subtle motion and button presses happened over the course of half a second, but Illum still worried that their opponent was omniscient as well as omnipotent. Outwardly, though, she was in her natural environment in the lab, easily passing the motion off as her hand sliding across the base of the console as she began moving away from it.
“Do you think me a fool?” Q asked without even looking in her direction.
Illum’s body froze for a moment, a fight-or-flight instinct trying to break free and take over. Her hands tensed, fingers giving a slight twitch. Starfleet’s basic weapon training was kicking in, telling her to draw a weapon, though she didn’t actually have one.
Q took a couple of what appeared to be menacing steps toward Illum and laid his hand flat on Q’s chest in an attempt to halt his advance. “Why would anyone consider you a fool?” Tevek asked plainly.
He set down his glass and moved to stand between Illum and Q. “Your species have visited our vessels before. Therefore you are aware our mission is to investigate life that may be different to our own.” He commented.
This seemed to placate Q who halted his advance and scratched his chin for a moment. Tevek seized this opportunity to utilize the computer and brought up a large holographic display of Illums scans. “As you can see these are routine scans so we can learn more about you.” He commented dryly. “Lieutenant, if you please talk Mister Q here through the scans.” He ordered hoping to avoid angering someone who for all intents and purposes had god-like powers.
There were three sets of data taken during the scan. The first was a scan of Illum, identifying her DNA as already existing in the system, negating her as a bio-specimen within the parameters set. The second scan was of Tevek, with similar results.
Illum swiped the first two sets away from the holographic display, showing only the scan of Q.
The third set of data was far more interesting. The energy Q’s corporeal body put out was like nothing Illum had personally ever seen. There was almost a subspace quality to it, like a small pocket of other-space existed inside their known reality.
She wanted to follow her CO’s lead, but before Illum could say anything of worth, she was cut off.
“Your… primitive,” He uttered with a self-indulgent grin, “attempts to understand me will get you nowhere, I assure you.” With a little eye-roll, he added, “Not that you won’t try again and again, anyway.”
Q fiddled with the velvet cuffs and straightened his suit’s bright white sleeves. He was suddenly uninterested in the entire affair, turning his back to the two of them as he sauntered towards the front of the room.
With a gravitas befitting someone of deific nature, he turned, and the whole room went dark. The floor, the walls, the ceiling- everything gave way to black smoke, which left nothing tangible in sight, save the bright-as-day member of the continuum, himself. All the sounds in the room faded away. No more beeps, no more humming of the engines, even their boots made no sound against the wispy darkened floor.
“I came to see,” The shining man’s voice boomed as he began, “what you lot were all about.” He scratched his chin once more before walking towards the two officers, again. “You can’t just believe everything that Q tells you.”
Illum got the impression he was referring to the one who liked hanging around Picard- the more well-known Q of the bunch. Her eyes narrowed as he approached, unsure what his intentions were.
As he walked past her, he eyed her, his gaze closer than it had ever been before. “He can be… boisterous and unreliable.”
Several more steps took him directly in front of Tevek. Q stood silent for a moment, soaking in the delicious awe his display had put into his audience.
And then it happened. The whole room full of blackness shook. Vertigo played havoc as all the smoke, like an hourglass suddenly twisted and slammed upside down, spewed away. Reality seemed to be breaking down.
Q looked annoyed, snapping his fingers several times. With each snap came a flash and a high-pitched noise. The scene altered several times, gravity changing a bit with each instance.
Finally, the science lab had reappeared beneath their feet. All seemed back to the way it was before, and the soundlessness of the void was replaced by the familiar sounds of the USS Tesla all around them.
Illum’s breathing was elevated, eyes darting downward, and she tapped the toe of her left boot on the floor several times, just to make sure she was really, truly back on solid ground. The tapping noise and resistance of the metallic floor against her foot was reassuring.
Tevek was trying to appear unmoved from Q’s display of power. He himself pressed the ball of his foot firmly against the deck plate and mindfully controlled his breathing and brought it into a steady and normal rhythm. Reassuringly he rested a hand on Illums shoulder and glanced at her offering what passed for an empathetic look then turned his attention back to Q his face turning back to the cold logical gaze of a Vulcan.
“Impressive,” Tevek commented bluntly. “but it doesn’t answer the question, why are you here?” He commented, his eyebrow slightly raised out of curiosity.
Q looked a little sheepish and rested against one of the myriad consoles that were dotted around the room. “It’s simple really.” He sighed. The being fixed an equally curious gaze at Tevek and Illum. “You primates may be primitive and whizz around the universe on rickety barges powered by antiquated and dangerous engines but I envy you.” He stated.
This remark piqued Teveks curiosity and nodded for Illum to continue her scans. “Envy us?” Tevek pushed. Q nodded sympathetically and stepped forward resting a hand on each of their shoulders. “Humans…….and Vulcans.” He conceded. “Well, now you’ve discovered Quantum travel you’re standing on the precipice of a new generation.” He remarked proudly like a parent recounting their children’s accomplishments. “I’m old and I just wanted to witness one last historic moment……before well you know.” He trailed off.
Tevek paused for a moment and again looked at Illum. “Before you die?” Tevek asked. But Q just laughed. “Yes, Mr. Tevek I suppose in your primitive interpretation. Yes before I die.” He remarked with a deep breath. Tevek looked unmoved and unsympathetic, for him this was an exercise in both scientific discovery and intelligence gathering. “A moment please.” He stated plainly and turned to Illum. He placed an arm around her shoulders and whispered close to her ear. “Lieutenant are you alright?” He asked, his first real moment of concern for his first officer’s well being creeping in.
She nodded, a bit shakily, her breathing back under control. Softly, she replied, “I’m alright.”
Tevek nodded an acknowledgment and glanced quickly back at Q who smiled and waved. “From your scans, can you determine if Q is indeed dying?” He asked in a hushed tone.
Her head shook a negative. “We just don’t have enough data on the Q. The fact that we can kinda detect him at all says… something, though, don’t you think?”
Tevek bowed his head in thought for a moment and awkwardly removed his arm from Illums shoulder. “Indeed.” He stated plainly before glancing back over at Q who was sat perched on a console. The strange being happily swung his legs and attempted whistling to himself, he kept stuttering and stopping as he made a hash of the tune ‘My darling Clementine’.
He turned back to Illum. “If Q promises to behave I see no reason his presence should interfere with our orders!” He stated plainly. “Do you concur……Number One?” He asked trying to use more Human vernacular, hoping it would make Illum feel more comfortable.
She nodded, “And maybe we can learn more about him while he’s around.”
“Agreed, while he is aboard carry on with active scans. This may be an invaluable data-gathering opportunity for Starfleet.” He acknowledged before turning back to Q. “Q given that you will go where you want and do as you please, I assume you will be remaining with us?” Tevek asked bluntly.
Q nodded slowly with a slightly mischievous grin. “I’ll be staying, but I promise I won’t do anything that interferes with your little tug boats mission.” He replied.
Tevek remained unconvinced but given the fact they still did not understand the extent of Q’s powers he was left with little choice but to accept the situation. His stoic gaze rested on Q. “I promise! Scouts honour!” Q stated enthusiastically in response to Teveks hard gaze. With a flash, his outfit changed to a boy scouts uniform and he gave the three-finger scouts salute.
Teveks eyebrow quirked a little, unamused and unimpressed with Q’s behaviour and he looked back at Illum. “Very well Lieuten…….Number One. We will proceed as ordered.” He said calmly. While Tevek spoke Q vanished in a flash of white light returning the lab and thermos to their original condition as well as erasing Illums scans. The only evidence of his mischief that remained was Illums hair was still long and volumous.
“I don’t know about you,” She stated as she side-eyed her CO, “but I’ve got a date with a pair of scissors…” Her hands swept up her hair behind her ears, again, “or maybe I’ll just get back to sleep.” She said as she thought better of wasting any time on something the Q might just snap his fingers to do all over again. “See you at Alpha Shift?” She turned back towards him after reaching the doorway, an attempt at a smile half-baked as she walked through it and out of the lab.
Tevek nodded. “0700 We have a briefing scheduled.” He reminded as he too made his way out of the lab.