DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2020 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
We are incomplete. We search for ourselves, for what was. We seek the part of us that is greater than what we now seem to be. Where we came from—that is where we must go. We do not understand where we have gone. Why can we not find ourselves?
The humans, Jean-Luc and his Starfleet cronies, call it the Nexus. That's not its real name; in its native tongue—hypothetically speaking—it refers to itself as li'shinim'ahhrl'lrrrrl. It's a mouthful, and most people end up spitting if they put the proper trill on the last part, so let's just agree to call it the Nexus. It's a surprisingly astute name for this creature, even if the humans probably chose the name for reasons that weren't entirely accurate. Certainly, they've missed the whole point of its existence, of its interminable passage over the same route century after century. But then, they weren't with me when I yanked it out of its reality and stuck it in theirs.
Oh, I know, it sounds cruel. But it was what we Q did when we were young. We played.
And yes, by playing, I do mean we uprooted a part of one civilization and hurled it into a new environment just to see what might happen. It's what you do when you're a god. It's still a lot of fun, even if most of us have become too jaded to engage in the practice. I like to think Q2, my little bundle of trouble, has brought back my sense of whimsy—once I got used to chasing him down after he escaped me. Play is fun. And so is going back to see what happened to my former plaything.
Junior's getting a big kick out of the Nexus too. Even eons later, it's still a great gag.
The path is long, never clear. We push on, forcing movement, but we yearn for rest. We do not rest. We must find ourselves. We will find our home, then we will rest.
Boring, isn't it? The Nexus has actually grown more interesting over the years, even if its tune never changed. It sure wasn't much fun to watch at first. Just sat there, quivering slightly as whatever passes for its brain realized that I'd just ripped it across eight planes of existence and shoved it into the middle of cold dark space. Somebody else's cold dark space.
I poked it. I prodded it. I even tried a few energy bolts. Nothing but the quivers. I went away for a century or two, still nothing. I finally left a small part of myself behind to give a yell if it ever did anything remotely interesting. And one day, it did. I hurtled back, and saw the quivers get stronger and turn to shudders then to convulsions. It moved, just slightly, and I could feel its shock as it began to undulate forward. Movement was a new thing. Back in the old home dimension, it used to just lie connected to all the rest of its kind, one big lump of fun. If by fun, you mean doing absolutely nothing forever.
I'm not precisely sure why I thought ripping it away would be any more amusing than watching the entire entity had been. And in and of itself, it wasn't. Not even when it began its little python impression and hightailed it in a really slow way across the cosmos, looking for home in all the wrong places.
But then it ran into its first humans.
We are filled with the strange ones. We feel their fear, and it hurts us. Pain makes it hard to move; fear makes us slow. We must keep searching. We must keep moving. Fear can be replaced. We surround the strange ones with ourselves. We feed them the serenity that was ourselves before we lost us. We feel them calm, and then we feel power. We press our contentment on them even more. In our serenity, they are strong, and they give us their strength so that we are stronger too. We move on.
Yes, it was fun when the Charlotte, as disreputable a little freighter as you'd ever see in the quadrant, crossed paths with my little baby ribbon. Well, it was less fun when the ship actually collided with the Nexus, because there was a lot of pain on both sides, and sometimes that even gets to a Q. There's only so much screaming and explosions and dying a godly being can take. Fortunately, I was diverted when I saw a few of the ship's crew being pulled inside the Nexus, the energy closing around them even as their ship blew itself to bits.
And that's when things got interesting.
They were scared, of course. Humans can be such weak creatures. And their fear and anger and pain overflowed into my little science experiment, and the Nexus started to slow. It tried to deal with the intruders but had no effective means of defense—lumps of energy not having any natural predators back in the home dimension. The more frightened its shanghaied humans became, the slower the Nexus went. Until it came to a dead stop. Quivering for all it was worth, but unable to sustain any forward momentum. It was as if the strong emotion paralyzed it.
It hung there in space for a few decades before it got the bright idea of actually trying to make friends with—or at least singing a little lullaby to—its scared new passengers. Energy flowed and it was like watching a lighting storm from above, orange and purple flashes all through the ribbon. As celestial sights go, it was a keeper.
I inserted myself into the Nexus, curious to see what the rain of power was doing to the freighter crew. And they looked positively serene. I read their minds, saw that they were imagining some very happy, if stupefyingly boring, scenes with families and loved ones. I think they were probably someone else's families and loved ones, because this was one mangy group of humans, and it was hard to imagine them all having Helen of Troy's sister waiting for them back home. But wherever they dug up the pipe dreams, the fantasies were certainly making them content. And the more content they got, the less they interfered with the Nexus.
In fact, when the Nexus pushed harder at them, they began to manifest their fantasies around them. And as their little daydreams grew more vivid and became tangible, like some supercharged holodeck, power started flowing back to the Nexus, and the Nexus began to move again.
I was fascinated, watching as the humans nearly drowned in the boredom that seemed to go with contentment. Their fantasies were safe and clean—the exact opposite of what any of these ruffians would have wanted from a shore-leave fantasy date. They never had sex, they never got drunk, and they never got in fights.
Not that it didn't occur to them. They tried to do all that, but every time they did, the Nexus would push back and they'd find themselves in a parlor somewhere, drinking tea and discussing the weather. And the more bored they became, the better they performed as little fuel cells.
I was impressed with my Nexus. Adaptation is a sign of intelligence. Even better, it was learning to use tools. No scientist was ever prouder. Here my energy being was positively zooming in comparison to its earlier speed, fueling its little joy ride with the doldrums. Most transports would be becalmed, but not my little beast; it had found a way to turn nothing into something. It was spinning straw into gold, or at least transforming the dregs of humanity into pure, sparkling fuel.
And it was self sustaining. No time seemed to pass for the humans, no matter how long the Nexus swam along in its search for home. Somehow, enough of its other-dimensionality had been sustained in the trip from its home to my sandbox so that it did not behave according to all the natural laws of this dimension. Even as it marked time by its unchanging path through space, time passed differently inside of it, as if in a different direction—or really in all directions, to the point where time actually stopped as its threads radiated around and through the Nexus and cancelled each other out. So much for the fourth dimension. Oh well, plenty more where that came from.
We move faster now. We are strong and free, and we search for what we were. We feed off the feelings of the strange ones, and they move us with their serenity. We push down on them, and they do not break away, and the power pushes us forward as we search for our home. We twist and turn and seek ourselves, but we have not found us. We do not understand. Where did we go?
I did try to explain what happened to it. Really. But it's hard to talk to the energy equivalent of a jellyfish. It just doesn't get it. And sure, I could have put it back. But it was just possible that it might do something interesting again someday. A good scientist doesn't abandon a project just because it bores the crap out of him.
But that didn't mean I couldn't make it more interesting. Human freighter trash was one thing, but what if I had it devour something really interesting? Like, maybe, Klingons? I couldn't imagine one of them sitting down in a parlor with Miss Lily and complimenting her on her lace doily.
I couldn't steer the Nexus toward Qo'noS—that would be interfering in the development of my experiment. But I could divert a bird-of-prey toward my little pet. So I did. What's a few less Klingons to the universe? They crashed; they were pulled in. And they fought. Oh, but they fought. As I suspected, they were no big fans of doilies.
The Nexus had to use its wits. It was a great test of its ability to adapt. And it did. Found a way to create a kindler, gentler Sto-Vo-Kor for the warriors. It was still more boisterous than the Nexus was used to, and it had to separate the Klingons from the humans, ended up pushing them to the end of the ribbon, which I think is why that pretty tail is always whipping a bit more energetically than the rest of it.
But it won; the warriors settled down with some bloodwine and began the endless process of quietly chopping bits off each other with very sharp weapons. Apparently, that's what passes for serenity on the Klingon home world. It was good enough for my baby, and it positively sprinted along.
I tried other species. Vulcans were a rotten idea. They moved into the Nexus as if it was Gol, happily—no, wait, that's an emotion—serenely settling in for the long haul on their meditation mats and never causing the Nexus another moment of worry. Andorians weren't much better—who knew they were so mystical at heart? Romulans proved useless. As long as they thought they were indulging in subterfuge, their little green hearts were happy as pigs in that proverbial odiferous substance. A whole cadre of pointy-eared spies erupted in the middle of the Nexus, and they were even happier when I threw in some Cardassians for them to conspire against. The Cardassians seemed equally content to sit around tables and come up with endless schemes and plots. They never actually did anything, of course. Watching the Romulans and Cardassians was like sitting in on the universe's most boring board meetings. The Nexus, on the other hand positively ate the monotony up.
We are strong. We push and push and move across the space that is not our space. We seek our home, it must lie ahead. We must find ourselves. We must share the power that is our new serenity. We must share the power that is the link with the strange ones. We must tell us of our discoveries.
Trust me, if I could have shaken this baby up, I would have. But no species was getting the job done. I wondered if maybe I wasn't making a mistake by thinking too small. Romulans and Cardassians, how different were they really from Klingons and Humans? What I needed was a truly exceptional species. One with special powers. One that lived a long time and was used to illusion. And, even more importantly, one that I really disliked. El-Aurians! Why hadn't I thought of them before?
I made sure that the ship I found had that annoying creature Guinan on it. Surely she would see through my big energy ribbon's ruses?
They weren't in there for long, so it may not have been a fair test. But she still succumbed—all the El-Aurians did—as easily as the rest. Guinan may have realized that it wasn't real, but she sure settled in like a cat in front of a nice, warm fire.
I wondered if maybe the problem wasn't in thinking too small, but in not thinking small enough. Species were only the aggregate, after all. No matter how interesting the individuals might be, put them all together and you get the average. And what I needed was the 99th percentile. I needed a hero. Someone who never, ever gave up. Someone with a history of not liking Eden.
And what a coincidence, there he was on the only ship close enough to help. Okay, maybe I went back a little in time and "suggested" to Kirk that he be sure to make the launch. And maybe I made it rain all that weekend so he couldn't go camping like he'd planned to do. But it wasn't as if I had to pull teeth to get him on that ship. It's where he wanted to be—back out in space on a ship named Enterprise. It didn't matter that it wasn't his Enterprise. He was as bad as Jean-Luc when it came to lusting after a duranium hull.
And he didn't mind giving up his life for others—he went out a hero without a thought. I almost admired him for it, especially since he looked magnificent doing it, and it put him right in the path of my Nexus. And I wasn't wrong about him. He could tell what the Nexus was trying to do and he fought it, just like I knew he would. And he used that same maneuver he loved to do back in the day when he first commanded the Enterprise; he filled his head with nonsense facts as he felt himself go under, hoping that it would cause dissonance down the line. Hell, it worked for androids, why not for prisoners of paradise?
And it did seem to work at first. He would just be settling into serenity when he'd run up against the great dane he'd never had, the woman he'd never known much less loved, the house he'd never lived in, or the Ktarian eggs he was so allergic to he'd go into anaphylactic shock if he ate one, and then boom! the serenity would wear off and the Nexus would be back to square one. It finally had to put him out chopping wood and riding horses because at least he enjoyed those activities—and more importantly he'd really done them at some point in his life.
I was so proud of him. He gave me no end of entertainment as he'd start to come out of the fantasy, and I'd see the whole power flow start shaking apart, and pretty soon Cardassians were stabbing Romulans, and Romulans were poisoning Cardassians. Andorians were running around, their antennae all aflutter, while Klingons tried to get out of the tail, and humans tried to finally get some. The Vulcans though...
Anyway, it was fun, and I wasn't sorry that I'd had to let that horrible Guinan get rescued just so Kirk would be snatched up during the attempt to pry the ship loose. I sort of felt sorry for Kirk at times, watching him chop pile after pile of wood, but then I'd remember I still owed him for that whole Trelane business. Besides, I'm a Q. I don't feel sorry for anyone for long.
We move and search, and then the strange one resists our serenity. We press and press, and then it is calm. But it is not calm for long. We press harder and harder, move it away from the calm ones. It is stronger than the other strange ones, and gives us much power when it feels our serenity. We limit it, enclose it with calm. And it is quiet. We move again, searching. Where are we and how do we find us?
A Q's patience is endless, but even I was getting bored with my pet. I decided to see what would happen if I took one of the spark plugs away. Well, okay, I really was feeling a bit guilty about leaving Kirk in there. The big lug was taking it hard for the team. Nothing worse for this man than boredom, and he was up to his ears in it, being on constant detention with old man Nexus. I decided a rescue mission was in order, and I knew exactly who should lead it.
It took a little maneuvering. A mad scientist, a couple of really unattractive Klingon women, an emotion chip, and one of those exciting saucer separations. Plus a few hundred million deaths. Fortunately, we got a do-over on that part. And of course, I needed my dear Jean-Luc.
I've heard some speculate that I sent brains in after brawn when I had Picard talk Kirk out of the Nexus. But it wasn't brawn that let Kirk send enough dissonance down the Nexus fuel pipe to get him sent to the eternal woodshed. Kirk had plenty of smarts; he just needed a good cause to give him a little jumpstart. And mon ami Picard was just the man to make a compelling case.
Of course, Jean-Luc got a little entangled in the Nexus himself. But I figured that mechanical heart would eventually pry him loose, plus I may have helped that along by pretending to be Guinan and giving him that rousing pep talk. I was surprised he bought the part about the echo—I was strictly adlibbing—but he seemed to find it just the kick in the tush he needed. And, as annoying as it felt to be in Guinan's form, it still makes me laugh to think how she must hate the idea that she left a part of herself back in the Nexus.
It was thrilling, watching my two boys at work. Kirk pulled out all the stops. So did the Nexus. Eggs and more eggs and Antonia and marriage proposals and jumping the ravine on a very nice horse. And finally rushing out with Picard—I may have nudged a little on their brains, helped them to find the right "time" to jump out into. But these were my heroes, and I was not going to let them fail. Besides, I wanted to see how the Nexus reacted when it had Soran and then had him jerked away at the same time my two stars pulled the great escape.
We are stronger. We feel power from one who was a strange one and is with us again. We press on it and feel its calm reaching back for us. It is happy to be with us, it understands our search for ourselves because it sought us too.
We feel strange, we feel another one rising up, pushing aside the pressure we placed on it, then the strong one rises too. We push harder, we try to push them down and down, and they will not stay down. They rise up again and then there is more. More than just the strange ones, what is in us? What is this—we have felt this one. We remember. We remember his taste from when we were one with us and then were not us anymore. We hate this one.
So, that's what I found out. The rat hates the scientist. Not a big revelation for all my time and effort, not to mention Kirk's life and Jean-Luc's ship. Oh, well.
The Nexus floated away, down three fuel givers, chewing a bit on the fact that it might just have a reason to hate me. It's on the same interminable journey, slinking and twisting through space on its parabolic course from hell—probably never even knowing that the landscape's shifted an eensy bit ever since Soran blew up the Amargosa sun. Nope, the Nexus is never changing. And it will never know that it will always fail in its mission.
I'd throw it back where I found it except that while I was playing with my stray, one of the other Q threw this bigger pile of energy into the Nexus's home dimension. Turns out that the thing did have a natural enemy—or an unnatural one anyway. It's dead, so there's no home for my little Dorothy to go back to. I tried to tell it that too, but I still don't speak jellyfish.
The Federation follows it with ships now, determined to study it. They send probes inside, and I'm sure they're fascinated with the boring scenarios they see. I hope they send a few toward the tail section—my Klingons are good for a few yucks when scientific study gets tedious.
I go back sometimes and sit by the big pile of rocks that Picard thought would be a bang-up grave marker for Kirk—was he in too big a hurry to wait for a stonecutter? Sometimes, I don't get my Jean-Luc.
Anyway, I come here and talk to Kirk's remains. I feel at home with him. Oh, sure, he could be an over-dramatic, spotlight-grabbing, interfering do-gooder when he felt like it, but the man knew how to have fun. I like to think we might have been friends.
Okay, we wouldn't have been. But it would have been interesting not being friends.
Oh, look, there goes the Nexus. I'd better go see what my little ribbon o'tedium is up to now. After all, it's my responsibility. I like to make sure that it doesn't run into anyone too interesting while it's snaking its way through populated space. I hate to think I've mellowed with age, but maybe I have.
Although if I could hook it up with Guinan again...
Even a Q can dream.