Soulmates

`Soulmates’

A
seaQuest DSV/Star Trek-The Next Generation
Crossover Story

by
Shalee Stewart

The Mating of the Soul

There are times, when I gaze at you; and see myself.
You, who are the mirror image of my heart.
Are we linked by a means we could not foresee?
Funny — It’s pleasing, when you think like me.
But have we been as one before?
Have we stood together on some ancient shore?
Have we shared love and hate?
Have we always been united by Destiny and Fate?
Though the questions are asked, there is no need.
You and I are forever indeed–
Soulmates
Kaede Busche

Prologue
In the twenty-first century . . .
seaQuest-500 miles south of Guam
Depth 31780 and descending . . .

Captain Nathan Hale Bridger stood in the middle of chaos; a pillar of
confidence with his chin jutting out determinedly . . . hands clasped tightly
behind his back. Even as seaQuest yawed from side to side as it encountered
a seismic shockwave and the floor seemed to swell beneath his feet . . .
Bridger stood firm. His gaze remained centered on the picture that the
WSKRS were sending back.
“Report, Mr. Ortiz.”
“Captain . . . whiskers cannot penetrate beyond the vortex.” Miguel
Ortiz informed Bridger as he frantically tried to rein in Loner who had gotten
caught up in the sudden turbulence. A disturbance, not of the water but the
force that seemed to be powering the phenomena that had them in a choke
hold.
“Captain–” Katie Hitchcock nearly shouted to be heard over the in-
creased noise level caused by the emergency. “–we’re losing attitude con-
trol.” She looked up to lock her gaze with Bridger’s. “It’s pulling us in.”
“Helm, plot a course. Engines full ahead.” Bridger ordered as he felt
someone grasp his arm tightly. Glancing down, he encountered dark sable
gazing back at him. Kristin Westphalen smiled slightly; perhaps to help belay
her own fear as much as his. Looking beyond Kristin’s shoulder, Nathan saw
the shaggy blond head of Lucas Wolenczak. The boy, whose own bright blue
eyes were glued on the forward screens, giving them a backyard veiw of the
anomaly that seemed hell bent of sucking them in.
Suddenly, the deck bucked beneath Bridger’s feet . . . almost sending
him sprawling. Instinctively, he grabbed Kristin crushing her to him in a
protective gesture.
“Captain, the vortex is strengthening. We can’t fight it much longer,”
Commander Jonathan Ford reported as he helped Lucas to his feet. Over the
top of Kristin’s auburn head, Bridger met the gaze of each one of his crew . .
. before lastly settling on Communication’s Chief Lieutenant Tim O’Neill.
“Mr. O’Neill . . . open the emergency band. Send out a distress call.”
“Aye sir” O’Neill acknowledged as his fingers danced over his panel.
All the time, he knew the captain was asking the impossible. The anomaly
had wreaked havoc with their communications . . . they couldn’t transmit or
receive anything but the unearthly howling of the vortex . . . as it seemed to
intensify. “Captain . . . it’s no good. We still can’t break through the static.”
“Do the best you can, Mr. O’Neill,” Bridger shouted now as the
howling started to become a deafening roar. “Alright people . . . brace your-
selves . . . looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride. Let’s just hope there’s an-
other side to this thing.”
Nathan Bridger was never sure if anyone ever heard him, they all had
their ears covered and their faces were contorted in pain. Pushing Kristin
none too gently into Ford and Lucas’ arms, Bridger started toward the helm .
. . halfway he dropped to his knees . . . waves of dizziness were taking him
farther and farther from conscious. His last thought was simply . . . why–

In the 24th Century . . .
USS Enterprise-NCC-1701-D
Charting the Miragin System . . .

“Captain, I am picking strange energy readings from the sixth planet in
the Miragin system.”
“Define strange, Mr. Data.”
“Strange . . . that which is not the norm; an extraordinary occurrence; a
person or–”
“No . . . Data, not the literal sense of the `word’ strange,” Jean-Luc
Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise sighed. “Strange as in — what’s dif-
ferent about the energy readings?”
“Ahhh–” The golden-skinned android known as Lieutenant Com-
mander Data responded. “They appear to be temporal in origin, yet they are
periodic. We will have to move closer . . . for clearer readings.”
“Right. Helm, set a course,” Picard ordered as his second in command
leaned in a little closer to him.
“Captain, what do you think is going on?” Commander William T.
Riker asked.
“I haven’t the faintest idea, Number One.”
* * * * *
Several hours later found the Enterprise entering a standard orbit
around Miragin Six. The energy readings that had led them there were no
longer existent . . . instead they were picking up what appeared to be an
automated distress signal coming from one of the planet’s oceans.
“Mr. Worf, can you boost the signal?” Picard asked as he stood up,
automatically adjusting his tunic.
“Aye sir–” responded the Klingon, Security Chief as his fingers
moved confidently across his panel bringing a barely coherent voice over the
audio speakers.
“Mayday– Mayday– This is seaQuest. . . coordinates–” The distant
voice broke off only to pickup the loop a few seconds later. “Mayday . . .
mayday . . . this is seaQuest –”
“That’s enough, Mr. Worf.” Picard ordered as he glanced around the
bridge. “Comments–”
“Sir, I have checked all vessels assigned to the surrounding sector . . .
none carry the name — seaQuest.” Data reported.
“What about the planet?”
“Miragin Six is border line Class M . . . but is uninhabited.”
“Captain . . . sensors are picking a vessel, 11987 feet beneath the sur-
face of the southern ocean. Power readings are very low, but it supports a
oxygen atmosphere and there are intermittent life readings.”
“Should be safe enough for an away team.” Riker suggested.
Picard nodded.
“Make it so.”
“Data . . . Worf, you’re with me. La Forge to transporter room one.”
Riker ordered as he moved toward the turbolift.
“Proceed with caution, Number One. We still have no idea . . . who or
what we’re dealing with.”
“Aye sir” Riker acknowledged as the turbolift doors closed.

Chapter One
“Close Encounters of the `Impossible’ Kind”

Nathan Bridger came abruptly awake . . . the intense tingling sensation
he had felt before passing out, still seemed to be encompassing his entire
body as he tried to move. A soft voice of a woman . . . professional though
soothing . . . spoke to him as a firm but gentle hand was pressed against his
shoulder to ease him back into a prone position. His head throbbing Bridger
opened his eyes a crack and tried to make sense of his surroundings. He
could barely make out the forms of some his crew . . . lying like he . . . on a
platform of some kind. Then, a blue blur came close to him waving a device
of some sort. Again, he heard the woman who spoke to him earlier . . . giving
orders for him to be moved by what appeared to be orderlies.
“Alright . . . get them all to sickbay.” The woman obviously a doctor
ordered. Bridger then saw the doctor move way slightly to stand by the
stocky red blur of a man. He strained to hear what they said.
“This is the last of them.”
Bridger heard the man say.
“Yes, they’re in varying conditions. Some are completely comatose . . .
others simply unconscious . . . or in shock. There are also minor injuries . . .
probably resulting from whatever brought them here.”
“Still no ideas on THAT but we’re working it. Let me know . . . when
I can talk to one of them.”
“Yes Captain–”
Bridger heard the woman say as he felt himself being lifted and dark-
ness closed in on him again.
* * * * *
Doctor Beverly Crusher sighed softly as she pushed back her long
mane of red hair from her face. She stared at the screen before her. The tests
she had run on the people from the ship or more exactly `submarine’, they
had found in an ocean on a remote planet in an uncharted part of the galaxy
were yielding some interesting results. These people were apparently human–
“Doctor . . . he’s waking up.” An orderly promptly informed her as he
appeared in the doorway of Crusher’s office. She stood up, brushing past the
orderly to enter the main area of sickbay. Crusher tapped her communicator.
“Crusher to Picard”
The stilted voice of Captain Jean-Luc Picard came back to her almost
immediately.
“Yes Doctor–”
“The leader is regaining consciousness, Captain.”
“I’m on my way.”
The link closed automatically when nothing was said after several sec-
onds. As Crusher came to stand beside the bed of the man, she had spoken
with earlier in the transporter room, she watched and studied him as his eyes
fluttered open. They were blue . . . she noted . . . the deepest, darkest blue she
had ever seen. And his skin was really tan . . . not enhanced color by artificial
means but actually tan from spending hours in real sunlight. Slowly his gaze
focused on her and he muttered a name he had said several times before actu-
ally awakening.
“Kristin”
Beverly Crusher took his hand in hers in a comforting gesture.
“It’s alright. Can you tell me who you are?”
The man hesitated as his eyes bored into hers as if looking for some-
thing familiar. Then they softened just slightly as he spoke.
“Bridger. Captain Nathan Bridger of the United Earth/Oceans Organi-
zation. I’m in command of seaQuest. Where’s my crew? How long have I
been here? What’s the condition of seaQuest?” Nathan asked as his eyes
shifted around to take in his surrounding.
“Your crew is here, in sickbay . . . they’re being well taken care. You
are the only one to have completely come around. But I expect most of the
others to be waking up shortly. You’ve been unconscious for almost all of the
thirty-six hours you’ve been aboard. And I’m sorry, I don’t know about your
vessel.” Bridger nodded and edged himself into a sitting position . . .
strangely enough the bed seemed to recognize his intent and adjusted itself
accordingly.
“Who are you and . . . WHERE are we?”
“Doctor Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer and you’re abroad–”
“The USS Enterprise–” A male voice . . . deep, cultured and almost
British in its intonation . . . finished for Crusher. Bridger watched as a bald-
ing man, perhaps in his late fifties, wearing a uniform similar to Crusher’s
minus the lab coat and in maroon or red and black, came to stand rather close
the Doctor. “Welcome abroad, Captain Bridger. I’m Jean-Luc Picard, Cap-
tain of the Enterprise.”
Bridger accepted Picard’s proffered hand in a firm hold.
“This isn’t the Carrier Enterprise . . . is it?”
“No–”
“Then it must be a submarine?” Bridger insisted roughly then shook
his head. “But if that’s true–” He trailed off as he met Picard’s gaze. “So . . .
just where on Earth are we?”
“Captain, please understand. We’re not on a submarine . . . nor are we
on `Earth’ for that matter. You see, the Enterprise is actually . . . a starship.”
“Starship–” Bridger repeated dubiously. “Is that anything like a space-
ship?”
“Yes it is, and we are at this moment in orbit of a planet . . . that lies in
an uncharted sector of the galaxy.” Picard said instructionally.
“Your galaxy or mine–” Bridger quipped as he tried his best to cover
his confusion and almost blatant disbelief.
“I realize, Captain, that this may be difficult for you to comprehend.”
Picard ventured, knowing what the other man must be thinking. “Perhaps we
should start with the last thing YOU remember.”
Bridger sighed running his hands over his face and rubbing his chin
absently, taking brief note of the rough hair covering it. Then he slowly nod-
ded, realizing this was going to have to be a give and take situation. These
people didn’t appear to be a threat . . . after all if they HAD wanted to harm
him or his crew, they would have done so already.
“We were mapping a newly created ocean trench about 36000 feet
deep, running almost parallel to the Challenger Deep. Two miles wide and 5
miles in length . . . it left us very little room in which to maneuver. Seismic
activity was still intermittent in the area and we were on alert . . . carrying
just the barest minimum of crew, about twenty with support personnel, sci-
entists and officers.” Bridger paused, his face clouded with doubt and appre-
hension as he met the clear hazel eyes of Picard.
“We rescued twenty-two from your ship . . . including one dolphin.”
Picard related as he recognized the universal concern of a captain for his
crew. Bridger slowly released the breath he had been holding and continued.
“We had only completed half our survey, when WSKRS detected–”
“Whiskers?” Crusher repeated interrupting.
“Wireless, Sea, Knowledge, Retrieval Satellites . . . they’re sea-Quest’s
eyes and ears so to speak.” Bridger elaborated with a slight smile. Crusher
smiled back, nodding her understanding. “When suddenly out of nowhere the
WSKRS detected some sort of static anomaly behind us and closing fast. It
blinded us . . . no communications in or out . . . yet we still had visual
through the WSKRS and what we saw–” Bridger shook his head. “–was im-
possible. A vortex churning but not disturbing the water itself. There should
have been shockwaves immediately. There wasn’t.” Bridger again met
Picard’s gaze. “Until it started to pull us in . . . everything seemed to slow
down then speed up . . . we got tossed around quite a bit toward the end and
it all accompanied by a horrendous, unbearable howling. It was deafening . . .
it must have caused us to fall unconscious because after that I remember
nothing.”
“From what your saying . . . it appears that you may have encountered
some sort a temporal distortion. Which in layman’s terms is a hole in the
space-time continuum.” Picard stated simply as if he were speaking of an
everyday occurrence.
“Nothing like taking the scenic route.” Bridger mused humorlessly,
only to draw confused looks from Picard and Crusher. Nathan abruptly
reined in his sometimes eccentric sense of humor, instead focusing on what
Picard had told him. “A temporal distortion . . . you say. If that’s true . . . just
where in the hell are we? Or should I say . . . where in time?”
“On our calendar it is . . . Stardate: 48243.6, which is old earthdate,
February 24th, 2371.” Picard elaborated closely watching as Bridger’s eye-
brows arched high and his expression flashing from awe to bemused to con-
cerned . . . all the time shaking his head in an amazed but slightly confused
gesture.
Even though, Nathan Bridger was a man of the sea and had seen many
strange things, this by far being the strangest, he was also a valiant protector
to those under his command. Ignoring Picard’s expectant gaze, Bridger
flashed a look at Crusher.
“When can I see my crew?”
“Soon, but in the meantime you should rest.” Crusher soothed as she
glanced at Picard. Taking the hint, Picard stepped back with parting words.
“We’ll talk again, Captain.”
Bridger nodded.
“I’ll let you know, when your people start to awaken.” The redheaded
Doctor promised as she followed Picard. “Get some sleep.”
Bridger sighed and settled back, the bed again amazingly adjusting to
accommodate him. Then he watched through half closed eyelids as Picard
and Crusher moved off. Stopping briefly before the doorway that appeared to
lead to her office . . . the Captain and Doctor had a brief muffled conversa-
tion. They parted with the slightest touch of hands. Picard wheeled and exited
Sickbay. Nathan closed his eyes and willed himself to be still as Beverly
Crusher glanced in his direction . . . her sapphire gaze dwelt on him for sev-
eral moments before she finally turned away, proceeding into her office.
Realizing he could really do nothing at the moment . . . Bridger relaxed
and allowed his mind to wander. His thoughts focused back on what was
supposed to have been a routine mission . . .

“Nathan, this is such a grand opportunity.” Doctor Kristin West-
phalen proclaimed as she studied the visual on the wardroom vid-screen.
“To explore a trench so recently formed and to witness the effect it’s birth
will have both from a geologic and biological standpoint on this part of the
ocean. It’s a once in a lifetime occurrence, not to be missed.”
“It could also be very dangerous.” Captain Nathan Hale Bridger in-
sisted as he tried to keep things in perspective, despite his own excitement at
the prospects for exploration and knowledge gathering. “So, we’re keeping
the crew down to essential personnel only. That will leave us with about
twenty total in Science, Bridge crew and support.”
“I hope . . . that includes your CHIEF scientist.” Westphalen drawled
as she turned to face him.
“Yes . . . even though it’s against my better judgment . . . and per-
sonal feelings.” Bridger admitted as he snaked out an arm to curve around
her narrow waist pulling her close to him. “And as long as I let you stay . . .
I couldn’t say no to Lucas.”
“Oh yes, you could.” Westphalen chastened gently as she slid her
hands up his uniform encased chest to conform with broad shoulders as his
own hands ranged warmly over her back. Kristin gave herself over willingly
to the sensations evoked. Even through the sweater and T-shirt . . . Nathan
Bridger’s hands were legendary. Nathan ducked his head . . . smiling a bit
as Kristin’s lips parted under his at the slightest pressure. The kiss went on
and on . . . and on . . . until finally they broke apart both gasping for air.
“That was nice–” Kristin murmured as she dropped her head to rest
against Bridger’s shoulder.
“Um . . . yeah, I’d have to say, I agree.” Nathan intoned bending his
head to partake of her lips once more. A rather intrepid rap on the hatch . . .
stopped Bridger in mid-descent, “Whoever it is, I’ll kill’em–” He grumbled.
Westphalen chuckled as she pushed away, unconsciously straighten-
ing her clothes and running a hand through her hair.
“Are you going to let them in or should I?” Kristin asked as the knock
sounded again.
“Oh hell–WHAT?”
The wardroom hatch opened and Lucas stuck his head in.
“Everything okay in here?” The young man delved his bright blue
eyes sliding an amused glance over the flustered pair. Bridger and West-
phalen sent him identical chastening looks. “Yeah– . . . um, Commander
Ford says all launches are away and clear.”
“Well . . . why didn’t he–” Bridger stopped himself . . . at least a few
members of his crew had a little tact. “Right–” Bridger acknowledged
swiftly switching gears as he reached back and grasped Kristin’s hand to
pull her with him. “Let’s go exploring.”

Nathan Bridger sighed, so much for a routine mission. A rustling noise
caused him to open his eyes slightly. In the dim light of what must passed for
night on the `star-ship’, he saw Beverly Crusher speaking with a shorter, dark
haired woman possibly of Asian descent. The two conversed for several mo-
ments, after which Crusher left through the same sliding door Picard had ex-
ited through earlier. The remaining woman, apparently an assistant to
Crusher, cast a look in Nathan’s direction, then disappeared through another
door. He lay there until all was quiet. Quietly, having made up his mind
about what he needed to do, Nathan pushed slowly into a sitting position . . .
swinging his legs over the edge of the bed–
* * * * *
Beverly Crusher let out a soft sigh as she stepped through into her
quarters and the door slid silently shut in her wake. Moving on instinct she
didn’t even bother to turn on the lights in the main cabin as she moved to her
bedroom. Once inside . . . she called out to the computer. “Lights . . . half
normal illumination.” All her movements were automatic as she readied for
bed, tossing her uniform in the laundry disposal unit in favor of a pair of soft
green silk pajama’s. Then sitting down before the vanity to brush her hair . . .
Beverly allowed her thoughts to wander back to Sickbay.
Lost in her musings . . . Beverly failed to notice a shadow lounging in
the doorway behind her until he spoke.
“Now isn’t that comely sight. One would think you waiting for some-
thing.”
Beverly eyes followed the man in the mirror as he stepped up and pried
the brush from her hand. Taking over where she had left off . . . he carefully
pulled the brush through the radiant crown of riotous russet curls. Each
stroke was followed by a caressing hand.
“Not something . . . someone and it appears he has arrived.” Beverly
answered her voice a soft whisper.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard smiled at the redheaded woman reflected in
the mirror. His hazel gaze meeting with her sky blue one as he drew the
brush through her hair one last time before laying it aside. His hands slipped
over the now almost glowing mass of silken tresses to trail lightly her shoul-
ders.
“I thought perhaps, I may be intruding you looked quite preoccupied
when I came in.”
“I was . . . thinking about those people we rescued.” Beverly admitted
as she abruptly stood. Forcing Picard to take a step back as she moved past
him to stand before the viewport. It sported a tantalizing view of stars and the
blue planet they now orbited.
“I doubt . . . ALL the seaQuest people were in your thoughts at that
particular moment.” Picard suggested quietly. Beverly tensed at the remark . .
. then sighed softly.
“No . . . you’re right. It’s just–”
“He reminds you a little of Jack.”
Beverly gasped as she turned to face him.
“How–”
“Because I saw the resemblance too.” Picard admitted. “Perhaps . . .
not the same way you did but it was there all the same.”
“It was his eyes.” Beverly whispered in reverence. Picard nodded in
agreement as he watched Crusher wrap her arms about herself as if to ward
off a chill. “They such a deep and dark blue, it was like looking into a pool of
water . . . that’s bottomless.” Beverly continued softly.
“Yes . . . and his manner, so assured yet there was an essence of vul-
nerability.” Picard murmured. “Given another time and place . . . Nathan
Bridger may have been Jack Crusher.”
“With great difference . . . whereas Jack died young, Bridger has lived
to grow older in age and experience.”
“And apparently to love . . . perhaps a second time.”
“Yes–”
Beverly said in a low, slightly shaky voice. Picard stepped up behind
her to wrap his own arms around hers. Beverly sighed as she leaned back
against his broad chest, taking comfort in their closeness . . . and together
they watched the planet below do its endless dance in the vacuum of space.
* * * * *
So far so good, Nathan Bridger thought as his feet touched the floor.
Though weak, he was able to cautiously make his way toward Crusher’s of-
fice. Glancing about for signs of the nurse returning, Nathan then, stepped
behind her desk, he seated himself in the comfortable chair . . . before what
appeared to be a computer terminal. The compact screen was dark and there
was nothing that resembled a standard keyboard for input. “Okay, no key-
board, so how does the computer work.”
“This is a voice-command terminal . . . please enter code to interface
with Starfleet Medical Database.”
Bridger was taken aback as a slightly melodious, female voice seemed
to come from everywhere at once.
“Whoa–” Bridger whispered unconsciously adopting one of Lucas’
expressions. Then as he gained some control he asked. “Who is speaking
please.”
“This is the Main Computer of the USS Enterprise . . . Starfleet regis-
try NCC-1701-D. Main core install–”
“Thank you–” Bridger chimed in, cutting short the computer’s recita-
tion. Thinking for a moment . . . Nathan tried something. “Computer, what
kind of ship is this exactly and what’s her current complement?”
“The USS Enterprise is Galaxy Class Starship built at the Utopia
Planitia Fleet Yards, Mars. The fifth Starship to bear the name, the Enter-
prise was launched on Stardate: 40759.5 and is currently under the com-
mand of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Primary propulsion is fifth-phase
dilithium controlled matter/antimatter reaction. Cruising speed Warp 5.0 or
214 times the speed of light. Her complement at this time of one thousand
and thirty-eight . . . including family units and recent additions.”
Nathan let out a low whistle. `This place must be huge’ he thought be-
fore again addressing the computer.
“Computer, could you define recent additions?”
“Recent additions include . . . Ambassador Mutella Shahru of Rigel 5
and her entourage of 20. Lt. Colin Tariy’s parents and 3 siblings, 8 observ-
ers from Metaline Two, and 22 individuals of the vessel `seaQuest’ . . . res-
cued from the planet, Miragin six, of which we are currently in standard or-
bit.”
“And where exactly is that in reference to Earth?” Nathan asked as the
computer seemed to pause in its dictation.
“Miragin Six is located in the Miragin system. This system is virtually
unexplored. It is forty-five standard light years from the nearest federation
outpost. One thousand, nine hundred, seventy five light-years from the Sol
Sector.”
“I guess that answers that.” Bridger mused a bit ruefully as he rested
his chin thoughtfully in his palm. But it still didn’t answer the question of
how did seaQuest managed to get almost seven thousand light-years across
the galaxy and four hundred years into the future of a timeline other than
their own. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in temporal distortion or anomalies
of that sort . . . he had heard the theories, naturally. Though, all theories as
such were yet to be proven, at least in his time. Yet, it appeared that here in
this future, such a theory had it’s basis in reality and was almost common
place. Now, isn’t that a charming thought, Bridger mused. Never knowing
when you could encounter a force that could hurl you either into the past or
future . . . or even into another parallel universe. Bridger shook himself, there
was no sense mulling over things he couldn’t control . . . better to concentrate
on those he could. Again he addressed the computer.
“Computer, where are the seaQuest people, now?”
“The majority are in Isolation Ward Two.”
“Why isolation?”
“That information is not available.” The Computer stated flatly.
Bridger was taken slightly aback. It was the first time the device had refused
to answer one of his questions.
“Okay, you said the majority, who does that . . . exclude?”
“You, Captain Nathan Hale Bridger . . . and one sea-mammal. Com-
mon name . . . a bottle-nose dolphin known as Darwin.”
Bridger was stunned.
“You . . . you know, who I am?”
“Of course, it does.”
Nathan Bridger jerked his head up and found himself gazing into the
brilliant sapphire eyes of Beverly Crusher.
“Um . . . I–” Bridger stammered as his gaze became fixated on the
woman who lounged in the doorway to the office. She was dressed casually
in blue sweater and black leggings with arms folded . . . one shoulder pressed
against the doorjamb. She chuckled softly.
“Don’t worry, Captain Bridger. We expected your inquires.” Crusher
advised him. “That’s why the computer reacted to you questions. To a con-
cern extent that is, until the question became a possible security risk.”
“I see–” Bridger murmured. “So I was on a leash.”
“In a manner of speaking by allowing you to ask the questions. We
gained insight as to what sort of man you are. And what your priorities are.”
Crusher explained as she shifted position and took a few steps in the room.
“You actually surprised some of us.”
“Did I– How so?” Nathan Bridger asked intrigued somehow by their
interest in him.
“There were those among the command staff, who thought for sure
you would go straight for information about the ships armaments and classi-
fied design specifications. I for one . . . am happy, they were wrong.”
“And what is your professional opinion of what kind of man I am.”
Crusher canted her head to one side as she gave him a steady perusal.
After several minutes, she raised her blue gaze to meet his.
“I see in you . . . a man who simply cares without prejudice. Both, for
those under your command and those you have deeper feelings. I think you
will do almost anything for them, no matter the cost.”
“Then you would be right.” Nathan answered truthfully as he ran a
tired hand through his hair. Finally he asked the question he most wanted to
ask. “There was a woman aboard seaQuest. My chief scientist. I wondering
if I could–” Bridger trailed off unconcern of his position.
Beverly Crusher smiled at the man’s obvious reluctance to admit . . .
that he had feelings of the woman in question. `Now, he reminds me of Jean-
Luc . . . not Jack,’ Beverly mused to herself as she stepped forward and
placed a hand on Bridger’s arm.
“Come with me.”
* * * * *
Jean-Luc Picard stared impassively into his cup of Earl Grey. He
couldn’t get the image of Beverly Crusher of his mind. They had become so
close in the last few years. It seemed natural to take the next step in their re-
lationship. If it hadn’t been for dueling communicators . . . coincidentally
chipping at the same moment . . . they would have. Picard sighed Beverly
had been called to Sickbay and Picard himself had fielded a message from
Data. But . . . it seemed they just couldn’t get a break. Especially now, with
this newest dilemma with the seaQuest and her crew, it was doubtful to hap-
pen in the near future. Placing his cup on the desk . . . Picard rose and began
to pace his ready room. He had to admit to feeling a bit put out by the interest
that Beverly was showing in the seaQuest people, particularly her captain.
Pausing before the vertical viewport Picard sighed as he stared the planet
below. Then abruptly he wheeled and headed for the exit.

Chapter Two
“Submarine on the Edge of Forever”

Commander William Riker watched curiously as Jean-Luc Picard ex-
ited his ready room and without a word to `anyone’ on the bridge made
straight for the turbolift. Wonder what that’s all about? He mused to himself
as he cast a glance at Worf . . . who just scowled back as usual. With a shrug
Riker dropped back into the command chair as Data appeared on the bridge
for the shift change. Rising again Riker stepped forward to come face to face
with golden-skinned android.
“You’re early, Data.”
“Only two point six minutes, Commander.” Data answered simply.
“Right–” Riker drawled as he shifted gears. “Then you have the
bridge.”
“Aye sir– See you in the morning.”
Riker flashed an odd look at the android and then joined Worf in the
turbolift.
* * * * *
Nathan Bridger followed Beverly Crusher in silence as they went
through a maze of doors and short corridors. Presently they came to a door
that read. `ISOLATION WARD TWO, AUTHORIZED MEDICAL
PERSONNEL ONLY’
“Guess that means you.” Bridger quipped to Crusher.
“Yeah, I guess it does.” Crusher returned jauntily as she keyed in the
access codes and the door slid silently open to reveal a long corridor studded
with more doors and observation windows. “Now, you said, you wished to
see your chief scientist. Can you give me a description? There were three
women among those rescued, only one of which we could identify.” Bridger
looked at the Doctor for a long moment.
“Can I ask you something first?”
“Of course–”
“Why isolation? The computer wouldn’t tell me.”
“It’s simply a precautionary measure to protect your people from see-
ing or doing anything, that may be harmful to them or us.”
“I see–” Bridger murmured hanging his head.
Crusher touched his arm, “Come on, we’ll start with the first room.”
Bridger nodded and followed the red-headed doctor as they stepped up
to the first observation window.
“Crocker . . .” Nathan said as he saw the form on the bio-bed.
“Yes– M. Crocker, Security Chief . . . the badge on his uniform said.
It would help us to know his full name and duties.”
“Couldn’t you get that from our computer, seeing as you’re so much
more advanced than we.” Bridger said a bit suspiciously.
“Yes, normally we probably could but in the case of your computer.
What we got from it was fragmented badly. Most information on the vessel
and crew were completely gone. Our chief engineer and science officer think,
it was possibly the result of the anomaly.” Crusher explained.
“Right–” Bridger nodded absently as he looked again toward Crocker.
“His name is Manilow Crocker, duties include Security Chief, Helm officer .
. . and friend.” The last brought a small smile from Beverly.
“Mr. Crocker suffered a dislocated shoulder, broken wrist and a con-
cussion of the auditory organs, along with bumps and bruises. His condition
is stable . . . he’s under mild sedation.”
“Concussion of the auditory organs, you mean his hearing.”
“Yes, simply put he’ll have a slight ringing in his ears for a few hours
after he awakens. Most of your crew will suffer the same condition along
with various other injures.” Crusher explained watching Bridger’s expression
closely. Nathan nodded tugging on his own ear absently as he remembered
the disorientation he experienced upon waking.
“Yeah . . . I get the picture.” He mumbled as they moved on. Working
they way down the corridor, Bridger identified . . . Hitchcock, Ortiz, Shan,
Krieg and O’Neill. There were three doors left on the one side. Pausing be-
fore the first, Nathan glanced in the window and was almost disappointed to
see Ford. “That’s my executive officer, Commander Jonathan Ford.” Bridger
said with a sigh.
“Is something wrong, Captain?” Beverly Crusher asked softly, watch-
ing Nathan run an agitated hand through his hair.
“No . . . it’s just that–”
“You’re anxious to see the woman you asked about.”
“Yes–” Nathan murmured as Crusher stepped toward the next door.
Following her silently Bridger looked inside. His gaze widened and he re-
leased a drawn out sigh of relief. “Kristin–” He whispered.
“This IS your Chief Scientist and Medical Officer?”
“Yes– Doctor Kristin Westphalen.” Bridger met Crusher’s gaze . . .
blue on blue. “Is she alright?”
“She received quite a knock on the head, assorted bumps and bruises .
. . and although she’s shown no signs of awakening, her condition is stable.”
“I see.” Bridger answered in a low tone, sliding his gaze from
Crusher’s to focus on the woman on the other side of the glass. “Can I–”
“Of course–” Crusher responded quickly, stepping forward to key in
the entrance code, using the small touchpad beside the door. Soundlessly the
two panels slid apart. Crusher then motioned Bridger forward. Unconsciously
straightening the light-blue tunic he had been provided with along with
matching pants, Bridger stepped across the threshold.
For her part, Beverly Crusher watched with genuine curiosity as the
captain of the seaQuest approached the woman on the biobed. Bridger
seemed to hesitate at first . . . then slowly he placed his hand atop West-
phalen’s where it lay at her side. Using his other hand to tenderly brush a
wayward curl from the woman’s cheek, Nathan spoke softly.
“Kris– I don’t know if you can hear me.” Bridger paused glancing
back at Crusher . . . who nodded silently. “But if you can, I want you to
know you’re safe and everything’s going to be alright.” Nathan paused again
his gaze slipping from Kristin’s face to the readout above her head. He found
himself searching for signs . . . any sign, that she could hear him.
Beverly Crusher continued to stand silently in the doorway . . . but
now she was feeling a bit remorseful. She had not told Bridger the truth
about his people’s condition. The fact was they were ALL simply under mild
sedation like Crocker . . . not unconscious. Picard had told her it was neces-
sary, until they knew for sure who these people were. He didn’t want them
roaming about his ship. At the time it seemed a valid point . . . yet now as she
watched Nathan Bridger try to coax the woman on the bed into waking.
Crusher knew in her heart that all his actions were sincere and in the
woman’s case . . . loving. Making an abrupt decision, Beverly took a step
forward. But she was stopped in mid-stride by a hand on her arm. Glancing
over her shoulder, she saw who it was and joined them in the corridor.
“How’s it going?” Will Riker asked as he saw the look on Crusher’s
face . . . the indecision. “Beverly?”
“Will, I don’t know about this.”
“About what?”
“Keeping these people sedated . . . it goes against everything I am.”
“But the Captain–”
“I know, I know–” Crusher sighed running a hand through her long
red hair as she settled her gaze, not on Riker but on the couple in the isolation
room. “. . . but look at them.” Riker followed her gaze. “He’s begging her to
wake up. You can hear the love in his voice.”
“To keep them sedated is a matter of security.” Worf stated in a low
rumbling tone as he came to stand with Crusher and Riker.
“What about the matter of humanity?” Crusher challenged in a quiet
yet forceful voice. “All I would have to do is cancel the next cycle of drugs
and then, she . . . AND the others would awaken in a few hours naturally.”
“And then what? Allow them to roam all other ship, getting into all
sorts of trouble. I think, that’s what the Captain wanted to avoid.” Will Riker
advocated gently but firmly.
“Yes . . . but do YOU think it’s right.” Crusher asked, her sapphire
gaze sweeping over him.
Riker shrugged as he glanced at Worf’s scowling face. Finally, he
sighed his own bright blue eyes sympathetic, “Truthfully . . . no, I don’t.”
Beverly nodded, “I’m going to talk to Jean-Luc.” She said as she
stepped back into the room.
Nathan Bridger was speaking in soft tones, the fingers of one hand
gently stroking the silky hair that fell across Kristin’s forehead, when he felt a
hand on his shoulder. Glancing up he met Beverly Crusher’s gaze.
“Captain . . . this is Commander William Riker, the ship’s first offi-
cer.” Crusher said as she canted her head toward the strapping, bearded man
who stood a few steps behind her. “and Lt. Worf–” She continued indicated
the massive shadow that in the doorway. “Chief of Security.” A curt nod
from the shadowed man, acknowledged the introduction, while Riker ex-
tended his hand.
“Captain Bridger . . . a pleasure.”
“Commander, likewise I’m sure.” Bridger muttered as he accepted the
gesture of the handshake. Then turned attention almost immediately back to
Kristin who was mumbling inaudibly in her sleep.
“Captain, she’ll be in and out like that for several hours yet, maybe
longer before she actually awakens.” Crusher said gently. “There’s really
nothing you can do here.”
“I know but I’d like to stay a little longer.” Nathan looked up at
Crusher. “If that’s possible?” Beverly smiled and nodded.
“Alright, when you’re ready the Commander will show you to the
quarters you’ve been assigned. Then get some rest. I’ll see you in the morn-
ing.” Crusher said as she touched Nathan’s shoulder reassuring and with a
nod to Riker, exited with Worf in tow. Once in the corridor, she turned on the
Klingon. “You behave yourself, it’s obvious judging by his reaction. Bridger
never got a good look at you, so try not to shock him into a coma.”
“I will be gentle, Doctor.” Worf returned with a disgusted glance to-
ward the room. “Primitive as they are it’s doubtless, they have seen a species
as `unique’ as mine.”
“Right–” Crusher chuckled as she patted his arm lightly and moved
off down the corridor.
* * * * *
Jean-Luc Picard brushed a hand over his balding head in confusion as
he glanced around. Judging by the darkened atmosphere and strange looking
equipment . . . he obviously wasn’t where he was supposed to be. The last
thing Picard remembered was stepping into the bridge turbolift intending on
going to Sickbay, to tell Beverly he was rescinding his earlier edict of keep-
ing the seaQuest people sedated. They had every right to know the complex-
ity of their situation. And it wouldn’t be that much harder to simply restrict
their access to the ship . . . after all, these were military people for the most
part anyway. Though Picard wasn’t too sure where the dolphin fell into the
great scheme of things.
“You could try asking him.”
Picard pivoted to face the owner of that, all too familiar tone. His in-
tense hazel gaze bored into the laughing blue of the being, who was lounging
in what appeared to be a command chair.
“Q–” Picard muttered disgustedly, “I should have known you were
behind this.”
“Mon Capitaine` you wound me.” `Q’ drawled as he clutched at his
chest dramatically. “You would believe, I was cause of this interesting en-
counter with Bridger and his crew. You don’t have a very high opinion of me
do you.”
“No . . . and I would be right about your involvement.” Picard main-
tained staunchly. “The big question is–”
“Why–” `Q’ provided as he rose, straightening ineffectually the bulky
contours of the dark blue jumpsuit he was wearing . . . and pulling almost ab-
sently at the collar of the white turtleneck. “My dear Jean-Luc, I simply
thought that if you and Captain Bridger met you’d realize that you had much
in common. That you could learn a thing or two from each other.”
“In common . . . like what?”
“Like . . . state of the art vessels. For her time, seaQuest is the creme`
de la creme`, although their uniforms, definitely need a bit of imagination.”
`Q’ muttered as he finally grew tired of the uncomfortable jumpsuit. With a
snap of his fingers . . . his clothing changed into a Starfleet captain’s uni-
form, his usual attire whenever he visited Picard.
” seaQuest– So that’s where I am.” Picard mused aloud momentarily
ignoring the omnipotent being, who now seemed to be begging to spill what
he knew. Picard began to stroll somewhat casually around. He had to admit .
. . he was impressed. Then `Q’ suddenly appeared in front of him bringing
the Enterprise captain to an abrupt standstill. A humorless smirk sprouted
from the Godling’s lips.
“And there is of course, this penchant you and Bridger seem to share
for red-headed doctors. Which is by far the most intriguing aspect of this lit-
tle get-together.” `Q’ said as a thoughtful look crossed his face. “Although . .
. Bridger appears to be on the winning side in that particular respect.”
“What the hell . . . is that supposed to mean?” Picard demanded.
Q shrugged.
“Perhaps, you should ask the ever-loving Doctor Crusher, about that.
But then again–” `Q’ mused running a hand over the navigational sphere the
was between himself and Picard. “THAT would most likely reinforce her
opinion that you can be very obtuse about things sometimes, Jean-Luc.
Hmmm– Maybe I should just wait and see how things progress– because
whatever occurs, I’m sure it will be interesting.” With those last words `Q’
snapped his fingers and was gone.
“Q–” Picard started to say in a threatening tone, only to suddenly find
himself once again in the turbolift. Though this time he was with a very puz-
zled looking ensign and no sign of Q. With a drawn out exasperated sigh . . .
Picard gave the ensign a curt nod and exited the lift, leaving the young man
to ponder his own sanity.
* * * * *
The omnipotent one allowed a slow salacious smile to curve his as he
watched Picard stride purposefully down the corridor. In his transparent state,
`Q’ felt very much at ease and of course, even more powerful. Poor Picard
little did he know just how often `Q’ had observed him in this manner. Yet
perhaps it was better he didn’t. `Q’ mused as he followed the Enterprise
Captain into Sickbay. Obviously, the man was on a mission. The thought
struck an obscure cord in `Q’ and the Godling began to sing an oddly familiar
tune to himself yet he couldn’t quite remember where he had heard it.
`Du do dudu, do du dudu, do du dudu, do– Da dah dummm, da dah
dummm–‘
This was going to be more fun then he thought, `Q’ decided as he saw
Picard’s actions as he neared his final destination. The Godling chuckled
softy as the ever reserved Captain, ducked around corner as Riker, Worf and
Bridger exited the Sickbay Isolation Ward. Yesss, this WAS going to be fun.
* * * * *
Beverly Crusher was growing more annoyed than worried by the mo-
ment. She couldn’t seem to find Jean-Luc anywhere. Even when she asked
the computer for a location . . . she would get there, only to find that Picard
was already gone. It was making her wonder if he had ever been there in the
first place. Now, given the fact she had almost been everywhere on the ship,
that Picard was known to hang out . . . Crusher finally gave up. If HE didn’t
want to be found . . . FINE. Beverly thought pensively as she turned on her
heel and headed for Ten-forward.
* * * * *
After leaving Sickbay, Nathan Bridger walked silently next to William
Riker, still a bit wary of the Klingon Security Chief that trailed a few paces
behind him. Bridger had never seen such a face . . . and couldn’t help himself
from glancing repeatedly over his shoulder at the being. That was until
`Worf’ as he was called, emitted a low-almost primal growl that sent instinc-
tive shiver of fear up Bridger’s spine. Even so, when he caught the brief
smile that flashed between Riker and Worf . . . it did make Bridger almost
decide that maybe, the guy could grow on him.
“Captain?” Will Riker said innocently as he noted the indecisive look
on Bridger’s face.
“Hmmm?” Bridger answered absently as his attention shifted from
Worf to a passing female crewmember . . . who happened to be a Bolian.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes . . . I suppose–” Bridger sighed as the blue-skinned woman dis-
appeared. “This is just all very strange.”
“I understand.” Riker sympathized as a thought struck him. “Maybe
you would like to interact a bit with our crew. Get to know us, as we get to
know you.”
“Yes, I–”
“Commander–” Worf interrupted suddenly. “Doctor Crusher said–”
“Yes, I know, Lieutenant and I will take full responsibility.” Riker
countered. Worf muttered something under his breath causing Riker to arch a
curious eyebrow.
“Very well–” The Klingon finally relented.
“Good, then we’ll head for Ten-forward.”
“Excuse me, Commander–” Bridger inserted. “But maybe I could get
a change of clothes. I mean, whatever this Ten-forward is, I’m sure I’ll need
something a bit more appropriate.”
“Right–” Riker nodded as he noted Bridger’s Sickbay tunic. “Okay,
we’ll make a stop. Then we’ll introduce you to Guinan, she’ll make sure you
feel at home.”
* * * * *
Sitting alone at a table, near the large veiwports that lined the entire
outside wall of Ten-forward, Beverly Crusher stared idly outward at the
planet below. Never pulling her gaze from its thrall . . . she took a sip from
the drink before her. Still immersed in her own thoughts, Beverly failed to
take note of the group that had just entered Ten-forward.
But Guinan did.
“Commander. Lieutenant, welcome.” The dark-skinned bartender
greeted Will Riker, Worf and their companion with a dip of her head. The
movement almost upset the elaborate Magenta hat, that matched her robes,
perched precariously atop her head.
“Hello Guinan, a bit slow tonight, huh. Well, that’s about to change.
We need your best table. I–” Riker stopped abruptly as the woman took note
of Bridger. “My apologizes– Captain Nathan Bridger meet Guinan–”
“Captain, I’ve already heard quite a bit about you.” Guinan stopped as
both she and Riker realized Bridger wasn’t listening. He was staring.
Whether Guinan was his point of interest or the veiw afforded by the
lounge’s ports . . . or something else, was unclear to Riker until Bridger
moved.
Sensing a presence near her, Beverly Crusher looked up to meet the
abyssal gaze of the seaQuest captain.
“Captain Bridger, please join me.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” Bridger replied as he took the seat across from
Crusher. His gaze was again drawn to the window.
Crusher smiled at the awe reflected in the submarine Captain’s fea-
tures, “A bit overwhelming isn’t it.”
“Oh yeah . . . I never that I would be seeing the stars from this point of
view.” Bridger concurred as Riker, Worf and Guinan joined them. Nathan
looked a little sheepishly at Guinan.
“I apologize, madam, for my lack of response to your introduction.”
“Forget it, I can understand your reaction. Besides, it’s happened many
times before, once you catch a glimpse of what’s out there, it’s very hard not
to be drawn to it.” Guinan explained with a smile. “Now, what would you
like?” Bridger considered that for a moment as he glanced at the others. Riker
was holding what looked like a concoction of some sort, the Klingon ap-
peared to be heartily consuming, what looked and smelled like Prune Juice . .
. Nathan shook his head slightly and looked at Beverly.
“Um . . . I’ll have whatever the Doctor is drinking.”
“One more Scotch . . . coming up.” Guinan intoned at she excused her-
self. Riker arched a quizzical eyebrow at Crusher, who sent him an identical
look.
“Beverly, I don’t think I ever seen you drink anything stronger than tea
or wine. What’s the occasion?”
“Oh, let’s just call it . . . my liberation.” Crusher returned cryptically as
she downed the rest of the drink. “Guinan–” She called out holding up her
glass in a `filler up’ gesture. When she didn’t elaborate any further . . . Riker
simply shrugged and wandered off with Worf in tow. Crusher turned to
Bridger. “So, Captain, did you get the grand tour?”
“Actually, no, we came straight here after stopping off at my quarters
to change. I must say, those replicators are really something. All I had say
was . . . I wanted something similar to a pair of blue jeans and a white sweat-
shirt. Lo and behold . . . that’s what I got.” Bridger supplied as Guinan un-
obtrusively brought their drinks and left.
Crusher nodded in answer to Bridger’s statement as her sapphire gaze
raked over him. His clothes suited him, she thought. Casual, yes . . . but he
still had an aura of command about him. It made Beverly wonder, if Nathan
Bridger, Captain of a twenty-first century submarine called seaQuest . . . was
really so different from Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of a twenty-fourth century
starship called Enterprise, or maybe it was that SHE needed to think so.
Seemingly unaware of Crusher’s appraisal, Nathan eyed his drink curiously
and took a sip. It looked like scotch. Smelled like it, but it sure as hell didn’t
taste like it.
“It’s not `real’ scotch. It’s synthehol.” Beverly provided . . . seeing the
expression of disgust on Nathan’s face.
“What’s synthehol?”
“An alcoholic substitute. It simulates the intoxicating result of the real
stuff . . . it’s deleterious effect can be consciously shaken should a emergency
arise.”
“Hangover free alcohol. That almost makes it worth the taste.” Bridger
quipped as he took a larger sip. “Almost–” He choked out with a laugh.
Beverly chuckled in agreement.
* * * * *
Jean-Luc Picard felt very strange. But that wasn’t enough to keep him
from the bedside of the red-headed woman from seaQuest. Deep down,
Picard knew he shouldn’t be there . . . yet there was something about this
woman that drew him in. Something that made him want to be there, when
she first awakened . . . and that was why he had waited for Bridger, Riker
and Worf to depart without making his presence known.
Gazing down at the sculptured features of the woman, now identified
as Doctor Kristin Westphalen . . . Picard found himself being very protective.
His striking hazel gaze, slid over the slim form covered only by a blanket in
quiet appreciation. His hand almost naturally picked up hers holding it ten-
derly as he watched her face. Picard was quite sure how long he stood there
before the light of a hand on his shoulder brought his attention around.
Slowly, he refocused on the exotic features of Deanna Troi.
“Captain, are you all right?”
“Counselor–” Picard acknowledged her with a nod. “Yes, of course,
I’m all right.”
“Are you sure? I could sense your unrest all the way from deck two.”
Troi delved innocuously.
Picard eyed her suspiciously.
“Really–” He commented dryly.
Troi smiled slightly.
“Captain . . . I–”
Whatever Troi might have said was stilled by a soft murmur from the
woman on the bio-bed. Picard looked down a bit shocked by the fact that he
still held her hand.
“It appears, that she’s awakening, perhaps you should get a nurse.”
Picard advised as he watched gossamer lashes start to flutter and finally open
to reveal the darkest, deepest brown, no . . . sable eyes, he had ever seen.
They seemed to fix on him almost immediately but Picard got the impression
that HE was not the man she had expected to see.
Deanna Troi watched Picard for a few moments before she gave a
quick nod and turned to comply with his request, only to turn back suddenly
as she felt rather then heard Jean-Luc Picard’s gasp in shock. Troi shared the
sentiment as she saw the Captain’s hand was now clutching thin air.
Kristin Westphalen had vanished.
Picard’s shock turned to anger as Troi heard him growl.
“Q–”
* * * * *
Nathan Bridger had to admit he felt very comfortable in Beverly
Crusher’s company. Although, it may have just been the buzzing in his head
from the synthetic scotch, that was making him feel a bit mellow. It was also
true, that she reminded him a bit of Kristin . . . the hair especially, but there
were distinct differences. The main one being, they had been talking for over
an hour and had yet to argue any point. Nathan smiled inwardly on the other
hand, the battles he and Kristin had as annoying as they were at times . . . the
making up, was always worth any wounds either them of may have suffered.
“Captain . . . Nathan–” Crusher said as she noted his silence. “Are you
alright?”
Bridger smiled as she used his first name as he had requested, albeit
begrudgingly.
“Fine . . . Beverly, I’m sorry if I was distracted.”
“Understandable, I–” Crusher paused as she heard the insistent chirp
of a communicator. Looking over at the table occupied by Worf and Riker,
she saw that was the Riker’s.
“What’s happening?” Bridger asked as he followed Crusher’s gaze.
Then both were surprised when the two officers rose and came over to them.
“Doctor, that was the Captain, we’re needed in sickbay.” Riker
watched the puzzled expression on the Doctor’s face as she nodded. Then he
looked at Bridger. “Captain, you need to come as well.”
“Will, just what is happening.”
Riker glanced between the Bridger and Crusher as they exited Ten-
forward and moved in the direction of the turbo-lift.
“One of the people from seaQuest has disappeared.”
“WHAT–” Bridger almost shouted. “Who–” He began as he realized
Crusher was no longer with them, Bridger called out to Riker and Worf who
were a few paces ahead.
“Where’s Doctor Crusher?”
Riker stopped and stared at Bridger for a second then his gaze moved
past him and down the corridor they had just come. He tapped his communi-
cator.
“Computer . . . please locate Doctor Beverly Crusher?”
“Doctor Crusher is not aboard the Enterprise.” The female sounding
voice of the computer intoned.
“Damn–” Riker muttered as he ushered the stunned Bridger into the
turbolift . . . Worf brought up the rear.
“Commander, is it–” The Klingon started to ask. Riker nodded.
“Yeah– Q.”

Chapter Three
“In Days of Knights”

Kristin Westphalen awoke slowly . . . her senses noting the sterile envi-
ronment around her almost immediately. Which meant she was in some kind
of medical facility. The questions were– where was she . . . and how did she
get there and where was everyone else. Lifting remarkably heavy eyelids,
Kristin focused on her surroundings. Yes definitely, a medical center but it
CERTAINLY wasn’t seaQuest. And the man standing beside her bed holding
her hand was not Nathan. Suddenly the room changed, Kristin blinked, sure
that she was dreaming as she struggled into a sitting position for her sur-
rounding now appeared to be something straight out of the middle ages.
Raking her hands through her hair . . . Kristin looked down at herself.
“Good god–” She muttered pulling the blanket that covered her aside.
With slightly dazed effort, she fingered the delicately wrought, flowing silk-
like material of the gown she wore. Kristin’s mind was racing . . . this had to
be somebody’s idea of a joke, since when was something, that had to be out
of the Arabian Nights or a fairy tale, become standard Med-Bay attire.
As she tried to make sense out of things, Kristin slowly eased herself
out of the bed to stand a bit unsteadily. Once regaining her equilibrium Kris-
tin moved to a small alcove on one side of the room, that housed a mirror and
vanity . . . Kristin peered at herself. At least she thought it was her. The
woman in the mirror bore hardly any resemblance to the person she had last
seen staring back at her. Though still feeling a bit out of it, she found herself
automatically picking up the brush that lay on the vanity and began to style
her hair into something that befitted the gown. During the process . . . Kristin
paused several times, having the odd sense that something wasn’t right here.
She shouldn’t be doing this . . . she should– The thought broke off as she laid
down the brush and stood back to get a good look.
“Very becoming–”
Kristin whirled at the voice. Her eyes grew wide as she saw a man
standing the middle of the room, where no one had been seconds before.
“Who–” Kristin whispered.
“Lord Q, at your service, Milady.”
* * * * *
A dark, dank cold encompassed Beverly Crusher as she slowly became
aware of her surroundings. The last thing she remembered was heading for
sickbay but judging by the straw pallet and hard stone floor she lay on, this
sure as hell, wasn’t it. A dungeon . . . straight out of the middle ages, would
be a more apt description. Shivering, Beverly pulled the thin blanket that
covered the pallet as tight as possible around her freezing body. Of course,
the clothing that she wore wasn’t helping much . . . the tattered and torn
peasant dress was twice as thin as the blanket.
With a disgusted sigh, Crusher got her feet and began to pace. This
was a feat in itself, considering the size of the cell she occupied. Moving un-
der the single, barred, one foot square window . . . the only source of light . .
. and air to the cell, Beverly had to stand her tiptoes and grip the bars to look
out. The bright sunlight nearly blinded her after a moment she could make
out the only structure within her line of vision. The sight sent a bolt of terror
through her being . . . and though she had only seen there like in old history
tapes, Beverly Crusher knew exactly what she was looking at–
The gallows–
* * * * *
USS Enterprise

Nathan Bridger just stared in the polished surface of the marble and
glass conference table. He carefully avoided all the gazes of his newly roused
crew as he tried to fathom the story told to him and the others by Jean-Luc
Picard. Yet . . . there was no mistaking the fact that both — Kristin West-
phalen . . . AND Beverly Crusher had apparently disappeared from the ship.
“Cap–”
Bridger looked up finally to meet the blue gaze of Manilow Crocker.
“Yeah Gator–”
“Do you believe them?”
Bridger shrugged and ran a weary hand over his face.
“I wish . . . I didn’t.”
Crocker nodded, “Yeah, so whatta we do?”
“I haven’t the foggiest, this is Picard’s little show.”
“So, why isn’t he doing something?” Lucas Wolenczak demanded, yet
the quaver in his voice bespoke the same fear Bridger had. As he voiced his
anger, Lucas shoved up out of his chair and stalked to the window. Only to
stare unseeing at the spectacular starscape the veiw presented. Seconds
passed before he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“Lucas as hard as it is to trust in another person’s judgment, when we
care so much about Kristin.” Nathan voiced trying to keep the emotion he . . .
himself was feeling at bay. “But we don’t have a choice. Picard and his crew
have dealt with this `Q’ before, and have the best bet at predicting his next
move.”
“And they do that by doing nothing.” Lucas replied sarcastically.
“At the moment . . . yes.”
“Captain, what about seaQuest.” Jonathan Ford spoke out for the first
time. “We should check her out.”
Bridger nodded.
“I’ve already mentioned that to Picard, and you, Hitchcock, Ortiz,
O’Neill, Shan, and Crocker will be going down as soon as we’re finished
here. Along with Commanders LaForge and Data, to supply any needed as-
sistance.”
“What about Darwin?” Lucas injected as he was anxious to be doing
something . . . anything.
“He’s in what they call `Holodeck Five’.” Bridger responded as he
judged the boy’s intent, again gripping his shoulder in a stalling gesture as
Lucas started to move away from him.
“I’m going–” Lucas said as he shrugged out of Bridger’s grasp and
headed for the exit.
“Lucas, you can’t–”
“Who’s gonna stop me?” The young man demanded as the door slid
open before him. He’d gone about a half step . . . when he impacted against
something gold, black and very hard.
It growled.
Lucas stumbled back.
“What the–”
“You will stay.”
“Yeah right, whatever you say, big guy.” Lucas muttered under his
breath as he backed up smack dab into another barrier. This time strong
hands gripped his upper arms to steady him.
“Lieutenant Worf–”
“Captain Bridger–” The Klingon Security Chief answered, his dark
gaze passing fleeting over the seaQuest crewmembers, before returning it to
Bridger. “Captain Picard, would like to see you in his ready room.”
“Right–” Bridger responded as he released Lucas and stepped in front
of the young man, who immediately started to follow.
“Only Captain Bridger’s presence was requested by Captain Picard.”
Worf told seaQuest’s crew firmly as he took a stance that more than effec-
tively blocked anyone’s attempt to follow Bridger.
“Cap–” Crocker piped up.
“Hang tight, Gator. I’ll find out with Picard has come up with, then
we’ll go from there.” Bridger answered the plea in Crocker’s tone with one of
his own as he exited the conference room with the Klingon close at his heels.
When the door slid shut behind the two with a dull thrump, everyone
seemed to release a collective sigh.
“Geez . . . is that guy, the local poster child for birth control or what?”
Ben Krieg muttered aloud, drawing a chastening look from his ex-wife.
“Ben–” Katie Hitchcock said with a tense edge to her voice. “Give it a
rest.”
A reflective silence descended on the group. After several moments . .
. Jonathan Ford rose and began to pace, slowing circling the slightly curved
room in meditative muse.
“You know, there’s one thing I don’t get.” Ford said finally as he
paused before one of the veiwports. “Why were these two particular women .
. . singled out by this `Q’. What do they have in common?”
“You mean . . . another than the facts, they’re both Doctors . . . both
redheads . . . and both have intimate relationships with their captains.” Krieg
provided solicitously.
“And how do you know that?” Tim O’Neill asked.
“I asked that Data guy . . . you know the android. He said Crusher and
Picard are like this–” Krieg answered crossing his fingers to emphasize “. . .
just like Bridger and Westphalen.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“AND apparently, this `Q’ is rather fascinated with the workings of human
nature and is more than a little intrigued with Picard. Who seems to be the
recipient of most of the `being’s’ tactless shenanigans.”
“What is this guy? Some sort of voyeur . . . and if he doesn’t like what
he sees, makes things happen, so it becomes more interesting.” Ford returned.
“Yep, that’s about the size of it.”
“So, what does that mean for the Doc?” Lucas asked suddenly.
Krieg shrugged, “Only Q knows.”
* * * * *
In the 16th Century . . .

“Milady, my foot.” Kristin Westphalen retorted, her sable eyes flash-
ing. “Just where the bloody hell am I?”
“Ah direct, I like that in a woman.” `Q’ answered her with definite in-
terest in his tone. Yet he DID take a step back as Westphalen pinned a with-
ering look on him and took a step forward. “Alright–” `Q’ said holding up
his hands before him, to stop her advance. “You are an intricate participant
the little soiree I’ve cooked up to help an old friend of mine overcome his in-
hibitions. And this–” He gestured around with his hands. “–is Fotheringhay
Castle, England, circa February 1587–”
“That’s insane–” Westphalen murmured as she walked to the window,
to find herself looking upon a large courtyard, walled in battlements and tur-
rets and towers. The stench from the multitude of peoples and animals . . .
wafting up from the confined spaced below, forced her back. Kristin leaned
heavily against a large high backed chair as she tried to catch her breath.
“I’m sorry about that.” `Q’ said with a commiserating smiling. “I do
tend to get a bit, too realistic in my endeavors.”
Westphalen shook her head to clear it.
“You said I was a intricate participant just WHO, I am I supposed to
be.”
“Why . . . Elizabeth, of course–” `Q’ incited. “Don’t you know your
own history.”
“Elizabeth–” Westphalen repeated as she met the Godling’s bemused
blue eyes. “You mean as in `the first’, I’M supposed Elizabeth Tudor, Queen
of England. That’s impossible. This whole thing is IMPOSSIBLE.” She
nearly screamed the last word.
`Q’ shook his head.
“Nothing . . . is impossible, my dear. As you will soon see–” With `Q’
snapped his fingers. Instantly, they were in a dark, dank, airless place.
`A dungeon’ was Westphalen’s first thought. Her second was . . . how
the hell did they get there and what was the purpose. Then she saw they were
standing before a heavy iron door. Kristin watched wordlessly as `Lord `Q’,
procured a key from the guard standing nearby and opened the door himself.
She couldn’t help noticing the way, the ruffian in soldier’s garb, kept his eyes
downcast as if fearful . . .
“He is–” `Q’ whispered to her. “A commoner must never meet the
eyes of his Queen. Such insolence would mean his death.” He took careful
note of Westphalen’s reaction as he pushed the door open, holding up a torch
to flood the cell with illuminate.
“My god–” Kristin whispered as she was sure, she saw a rat scurry for
cover. Yet, her gaze was immediately drawn to the form, which lay on the
room’s poor excuse for a bed. She took a hesitant step forward, almost im-
mediately the form sat up, brushing a riotous mass of red hair back from her
face. The woman looked at Kristin for the briefest moment before shifting
her gaze.
“Q–” Beverly Crusher hissed, rising to stand rather unsteadily. West-
phalen instinctively put a hand on her arm to stabilize her. Crusher shrugged
it off. “What the hell have you done now, Q?” She demanded.
“I thought . . . you might want to meet your executioner.” `Q’ muttered
dryly. Both Westphalen and Crusher stared at him. Comprehension dawned
on Kristin.
“Good god, if I’m Elizabeth the First, that’s would mean she’s sup-
posed to be–”
“Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland–” Crusher finished deadpan as she
glared at `Q’. “Very imaginative Q, and where does Jean-Luc fit into this?”
“Who’s to say he does?” `Q’ answered facetiously as he brushed his
fingertips against the brocade of his doublet, while eyeing the two women.
“Don’t give me that it always involves Jean-Luc.” Crusher retorted.
“This Jean-Luc, is he the friend, you want to help over come his inhi-
bitions?” Westphalen asked but somehow she already knew what the answer
would be.
“Inhibitions–” Beverly repeated with a groan. “You don’t give up do
you. Now . . . I see why I’M here, but what about `Elizabeth’ here?”
“My name is Kristin–” Westphalen muttered rather indignantly.
“Beverly–” Crusher returned in a like tone as she turned to look at the
slight, almost diminutive woman decked out in Elizabethan finery. Beverly’s
blue eyes widened in recognition because for the first time since they had
entered the cell, she got a good look at the woman with `Q’. “God . . . you’re,
Nathan’s Kristin.”
“You KNOW Nathan. Where is he? Is he safe? What about seaQuest
and everyone?” Westphalen questioned as they both momentarily forgot
about `Q’.
“Yes, to questions one and three. Four is, they’re fine and the answer
to number two may take a bit of explaining.”
At that moment, `Q’ jumped in.
“I suppose, I’m overdoing things a bit here.”
“Don’t you always?” Crusher responded flippantly.
`Q’ ignored the outburst.
“As I was saying, I’m going to allow you to ladies to get to know each
other a bit. But only because, I have to initiate the next phase of my plan. So,
on that note I will bid you, adieu.”
And he was gone.
Kristin was stunned by the act.
Beverly just shook her head.
“Bloody bastard–”
“Son-of-a-bitch–”
Both women muttered simultaneously under their breath as they ex-
changed looks of anger.
“How does he do that?” Westphalen asked.
“That’s another story.” Crusher said with a shrug as she looked around
her cell. “Um . . . do you think, you can use your queenly influence to get us
the hell out of here.”
Westphalen nodded and stepped to the door.
“Guard–”
“Yes, your majesty.” The man responded as he cowered before her.
“Um–” Kristin racked her brain for the appropriate words. “Lady
Mary, will be accompanying me back to my rooms.”
The guard nodded.
“Do you wish an escort?”
Kristin thought about it.
“Yes–”
“Then allow me–” The guard gestured for them to follow. As they
moved out of the deeps of the castle, Beverly leaned forward to whisper to
Kristin.
“You’re very good but why the escort.”
“I got here the Q way, so I have no idea . . . where `my’ rooms actually
are . . . and of course, this should arouse less suspicion, then `Elizabeth and
Mary’ wandering around together like best friends.” Kristin murmured over
her shoulder with one eye on the guard.
“Yes . . . you’re right. It’s better to have it look like, you’re attempting
to make a final gesture of kindness, in that these are my final days.”
“Exactly–” Kristin murmured. then she added in a rueful tone. “I just
hope `history’ doesn’t repeat itself in this case.”
* * * * *
USS Enterprise
Back in the 24th Century . . .

Nathan Bridger trudged behind Worf dogging his steps, as they
crossed the Enterprise bridge, in a way that was almost annoying to the Klin-
gon. They were just descending the ramp on the left side of the semi-circle
that formed the command area when Bridger came to an abrupt halt. His dark
blue gaze slowly swept the bridge . . . finally landing on the dark-haired
woman seated to the left of the Captain’s chair.
“That isn’t very nice.” Bridger said quietly then turned and followed
Worf into the Ready Room.
* * * * *
“What the hell, was that all about?” Will Riker asked his bright blue
gaze resting on Bridger and Worf until the door slid shut.
“He knew I was there.” Deanna Troi said simply, a mixture of appall
and interest on her face.
“Bridger. He’s telepathic.”
“More empathic like me. That’s how he knew I was trying to sense
something from him, he could feel my presence in his mind.” Troi shook her
head at Riker’s questioning look. “The ability is undeveloped, he uses it
sparingly almost with a hostility behind it and mostly just to build walls.”
“Build walls?”
“He’s been hurt, Will. Bridger uses the walls as a shield from others . .
. and to protect himself. And when I tried to scale one of those walls–”
“You got knocked off.”
Deanna smiled, “Mmmm . . . more like walking into a bulkhead.”
“Okay, so now what?” Riker asked as he watched Troi start to walk
away.
“Now, I’ll try a more subtle approach.” Troi said cryptically, as she
paused at the ramp leading to the conference room.
“Meaning what exactly.”
“It’s time a certain young man was reunited with his dolphin.”
* * * * *
Nathan Bridger stood before black-lacquered desk and gazed unerr-
ingly at the man seated behind it.
Ignoring Bridger for a moment, Jean-Luc Picard gave Worf an almost
imperceptible nod of dismissal before meeting the other Captain’s eyes un-
flinchingly. Their gazes locked. Finally, it was Picard who looked away and
stood. Moving around his desk, he went to the foodslot.
“Captain Bridger, would you care for something?”
“No . . . thanks–” Bridger answered tonelessly as he wandered the
room. Picard ordered a cup of tea and watched the other captain, who had
stopped to study his model of the `Stargazer’.
Bridger’s engineering instincts had kicked in as he took in the graceful
design details of the model starship. Unable to help himself he reached out a
hand and trailed his fingers lightly over the one of the warp nacelles.
“Beautiful . . . isn’t she?”
“Yes . . . and hard to imagine, that it could ever fly.”
“Oh, she flew and very well. The queen of her day, Stargazer was my
first command.” Picard said as he came to stand next to Bridger.
“I envy you, Picard.” Bridger admitted dropping his hand and turning
to face the other man.
“You shouldn’t.” Picard murmured as he met Nathan’s hard blue gaze.
“I’ve had the fortune to see your ship and I very much impressed by her.”
“You’ve been to seaQuest . . . when?” Bridger demanded although you
couldn’t hear it his tone. The darkening of his eyes foretold his entreat.
Picard’s own hazel gaze narrowed ever so slightly as he responded setting his
tea mug aside.
“Earlier before the doctors were taken. It WAS curtsey of Q . . . but I
must say, it was much more than I expected it to be. A marvelous feat of en-
gineering.”
Bridger inclined his head slightly in acknowledgment of the somewhat
veiled complement, while his expression remained puzzled.
“This Q took you to seaQuest . . . why?”
Picard gave a shrug then yanked down on his tunic as he turned and
walked a short distance away, before looking back at Bridger.
“Apparently, it was to show me, a bit of your circumstance. We ban-
tered back and forth . . . then he said something, in answer to a question I
had, that I still don’t quite understand.” Bridger arched an eyebrow and
waited. “He said I should ASK the Dolphin for the true answer. But I can’t
see how I could possibly do that.”
Nathan Bridger’s stoic face broke a wide smile.
“I do, Captain.”
“You do?”
Bridger nodded and made a motion toward the door.
“Would you allow me to show you?”
“By all means, Captain.” Picard answered with a smile of his own and
the realization, that perhaps he and Bridger COULD be friends and allies.
“Although, I wouldn’t put it past Q to make sure, we don’t get what we want.
He’s not exactly what you might call . . . a benevolent being.”
Picard words were barely out of his mouth, when a blinding flash of
light bespoke his coming. `Q’ appeared before the two Captains oddly
dressed in Elizabethan courtier garb.
“Au contraire, Mon Capitaine . . . je amicus humani generis.” The
Godling extolled rather enthusiastically, sweeping his purple plumed hat from
his head in an overtly lavish gesture.
Picard laughed. Though it was a hollow sound, Bridger noted.
“YOU? A friend to mankind. Since when?” Picard challenged. “For
was it not YOU, who put US on trial for the crimes of humanity upon our
first meeting.”
“Water under the Bridger.” `Q’ noted with a nonchalant shrug as he
replaced his hat and turned to Bridger and said. “Pun intended.”
Nathan Bridger looked at Picard with mockingly shocked expression.
“THIS is your tormentor. This overrated . . . overdressed peacock is supposed
to be an all powerful super-being. Forgive me but I just don’t see it.”
`Q’ actually looked crestfallen.
“You don’t see it.” He repeated and looked to Picard. “Does this man
have a deathwish?” Picard shrugged and leaned back against the wall, his
arms folded across his chest as he realized what Bridger was doing.
“Maybe some people need a little convincing.” Picard murmured.
“Ahhh . . . a demonstration of my unlimited power. What a grand
idea?” `Q’ proclaimed with a snap of his fingers and they all vanished.
* * * * *
In the 16th Century . . .
Fotheringhay Castle

Kristin Westphalen breathed a great sigh of relief as she pushed the
great oaken door to her, er, Elizabeth’s chambers shut. It effectively cut off
the protests of the gaggle of ladies-in-waiting outside and then leaned heavily
against it.
“Good heavens, I had no idea being a queen was such a pain in the a–

Beverly Crusher chuckled as she started to ransack one of trunks in the
solar. Finally, she pulled out a simple dark blue dress. Walking over to the
mirrored dresser she spoke.
“You should try being a deposed, condemned queen.”
“Mmmm . . . I get your point.” Westphalen answered as she moved
from the door and plopped down in a chair. All the while watching Crusher
as she held the dress, she had chosen from the chest, in front of her. Then
waited as Crusher stepped behind the screen, that stood in one corner of the
room, before speaking, “So, I’m listening, tell me about what’s happening
here.”
“The short or the long version–”
“Short . . . please. There’s no telling how much time we have.”
“True–” Crusher concurred as she stepped out from behind the screen
attempted to somehow make the dress she had donned comfortable. She
pulled and yanked on the tight bodice as she took a seat next to Kristin. “Al-
right, to begin with, um . . . you do realize that this isn’t Earth or even your
time.”
Westphalen nodded.
“I surmised that much, so where exactly am I.”
Crusher sighed.
“In a fantasy, created by an omnipotent, extremely annoying being that
goes by the name of Q.” Disgust was obvious in Beverly’s tone. Kristin
hedged a commiserating smile.
“Wonderful sounds like Ben Krieg multiplied by infinity.” She re-
marked only to get a quizzical look from Crusher. “Sorry . . . please go on.”
“Alright, perhaps I should tell you, that although this appears to be the
sixteenth century, I am from the twenty-forth whereas you–”
“Hail from the twenty-first . . . okay, I’ll buy that, but only because it
makes some of what I thought I saw when first awakening make a bit of
sense.” Westphalen said as Crusher continued. When the Enterprise doctor
had finished, a deafening silence encompassed the two women. A silence that
was broken by a sharp rap on the door to the solar.
“Yes–” Kristin called out in her most queenly tone. The door immedi-
ately opened and one of the ladies-in-waiting came in. Sweeping into a low
curtsey the woman spoke.
“Your Majesty, word has come from Wallasey. The ships of Sir Walter
Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake have landed. They are enroute.”
Westphalen exchanged a glance with Crusher, then answered the prone
woman before her.
“Very well . . . prepare for their arrival, and have tea brought us here.”
“Yes, your Majesty.” The woman nodded once in acknowledgment as
she slowly backed out of the room. Once the door was closed the gazes of the
two red-headed women met. Sapphire on sable.
“Are you thinking what I am?”
“Mmmm–” Kristin nodded.
“Jean-Luc and Nathan have most likely been cast in the roles of Drake
and Raleigh. It would provide just enough irony for Q.” Beverly observed.
“So, what do we do?”
Crusher shrugged as a smile curved her lips.
“I guess, we wait for our Knights in shining armor to come rescue us.”
“Hmmm . . . that’s all well and good. But perhaps we should have a
backup plan. Just in case.” Westphalen advised.
Crusher concurred and they began to plot.

Chapter Four
`A funny thing happened to me . . .’

Sometime, Q knows where–

Nathan Bridger had to blink three times before the scene before him
became clear. It seemed `Q’ had brought, him and Picard to what appeared to
be an older submarine. Something straight of the sixties, the nineteen sixties
in fact, judging by the cut of the khaki uniforms on the officers and white
capped enlisted personal. One of those ensigns caught sight of `Q’ and com-
pany.
“Admiral Nelson. Captain Crane.” The young man shouted in warning
to a ruddy faced older man and a younger black haired man who were
standing near the helm. Before anyone could react `Q’ piped up.
“Oops . . . wrong sub–” The Godling offered up as he snapped his fin-
gers again. The trio vanished from the scene, leaving the crew of the subma-
rine `Seaview’ to ponder their sanity.
* * * * *
USS Enterprise

Lucas Wolenczak gave an exasperated sigh. He was about ready to
climb the walls. And he knew every other person in the conference room felt
the same way. Finally he had enough, and made beeline straight for the door.
It opened automatically . . . sensing his approach.
And again someone stopped Lucas’ exit. But it wasn’t the Klingon.
No . . . this time, his obstacle was much better to look at.
“Mr. Wolenczak, just the man I came to see.” Deanna Troi said with a
smile.
“Mmmee . . . what? I–” Lucas stammered even as Troi shook her
head.
“No, you didn’t do anything. I’m here to take you to see your friend
Darwin.”
“Really”
“Oh yes, he’s very anxious to see you.”
“What about the rest of us?” Jonathan Ford asked as he came to stand
behind Lucas.
“Commanders Data and LaForge are waiting for all us of in Trans-
porter Room 6,” Troi supplied as she gestured toward the exit. Ford nodded
and took the lead. The rest of the seaQuest crew filed out, followed by Troi
and Lucas.
Lucas glanced sideways at the Betazoid as they walked down a short
corridor to a turbolift, where they were joined by Riker and Worf then down
another corridor. As they stepped out of the turbolift he asked. “Is there any
word on Doctor Westphalen?”
“No . . . nothing on her or Doctor Crusher,” Deanna responded quietly.
Lucas noted the disturbing quality in Troi’s tone.
“You were friends.”
It was statement not a question.
“Beverly is the closest friend I have on the ship, next to Will.” Troi an-
swered as she glanced back to where Riker was conferring with Data and
Ford as they walked.
“Will?”
“Commander Riker, we go back quite a ways. We–” Troi trailed off.
“Counselor . . . Deanna, are you are all right?” Lucas asked as the
woman swayed slightly on her feet. Lucas steadied her with a hand on her
shoulder.
“Captain Picard . . . Bridger. Q–” She murmured.
“What about them?” Riker asked concerned by both Troi’s words and
her unsteady appearance but he already knew the answer all too well.
“Q’s taken them.”
“When? How?”
“Now, it just happened. I’ve been monitoring them.”
Lucas gave her an astonished look. Troi smiled slightly.
“I’m an empath . . . I can feel emotions.”
“And just what were you `feeling’ from Captain Bridger, before he
disappeared?” Jonathan Ford demanded.
“And Captain Picard?” Worf added.
“Amusement mixed with annoyance. Mostly it’s from Captain Picard,
Bridger’s harder to read but the same emotions are prevalent.” Troi answered.
“Sounds like the Cap, don’t let’m see ya sweat.” Manilow Crocker
drawled with chuckle that was joined briefly by the seaQuest crew. It died
quickly as Hitchcock drew a breath and asked.
“Do you think they’re in any real danger?”
“Q is malevolent but not violent. He plays with people and it suits him
more when you DON’T adhere to his rules.” Geordi LaForge provided with a
smile of his own.
“Sooo . . . you mean, he gets bored quickly.” O’Neill prompted cau-
tiously.
“Oh great, the perfect playmate he makes up the rules, AND expects
you to break them. So, what happens when you play his game . . . and don’t
cheat.” Ben Kreig asked.
And to everyone’s surprise, it was Data who answered, “Q will un-
doubtedly pick up his toys and go home.”
* * * * *
Fotheringhay Castle

Kristin Westphalen chuckled softly at Beverly Crusher’s last remark.
“You’re sure, this will work?”
Crusher shrugged, “Got me. But what choice do we have?”
“None, it seems. At least from what you’ve told me about this Q.”
Kristin took a deep breath and stood up, walking over to the narrow opening
that served as a window. After a contemplative moment she turned back to
Beverly. “Okay, I’m in. Let’s just hope this works.”
* * * * *
seaQuest
In the 24th Century . . .

Nathan Bridger glanced quickly around.
`Finally’ he thought, `after three tries, we’re on seaQuest. He had
really begun to wonder the last try, he really didn’t care for standing on the
conning tower of the `Red October’ while the sub cruised into a pristine Ca-
nadian inlet. Nor for that matter was Nathan none too impressed, making a
pitstop on the nineteenth century `Nautilus’ complete with the enigmatic
Captain Nemo. No . . . this was his domain, well, almost for he would have
preferred the bridge but it was seaQuest nonetheless.
“Alright, Q, now where the hell are we?” Jean-Luc Picard demanded
as he took in his surroundings. With shrug, `Q’ deferred to Bridger.
“We’re on seaQuest. Science Section, Seadeck 4 to be exact.”
“Where you see living creatures kept in little jars and barbaric experi-
ments are all performed in the name of science.” `Q’ said with a circus
barker’s subtlety. “Playground of `Wonderboy’ . . . and the perfect late night,
or day, rendezvous spot with your favorite doctor.” `Q’ drawled delightedly.
Bridger threw the Godling a disgruntled look as a loud splash drew their at-
tention to the moonpool. “OH . . . and of course, also the home of the re-
vered and mysterious . . . DARWIN.” The last word was trumpeted with a
flourish of a purple plumed hat as the dolphin in question, arced out of the
pool with happy chatter.
“Bridger . . . Darwin home.” Darwin proclaimed just before his en-
trance dive sent a wall of water surging out of the moonpool. Bridger know-
ing what was coming held Picard back out of range, such was not the fate of
the vaunted `Q’. As within seconds, the Being was sodden of the tip of his
plumes to the buckles of his shoes.
“In coming–” Bridger announced deadpan and glanced at Picard. He
was grinning. Nathan quirked a satisfied smile as he realized Picard had
known just as well as he did that all those little side-trips they had taken . . .
weren’t mistakes. But simply `Q’ demonstrating just what he was capable of.
Nathan pulled on a straight face as he turned to Darwin who had glided to the
surface . . . and was gazing at the three men, through one beady black eye.
“Bridger . . . play–”
Nathan looked at the dolphin and noted something . . . he could under-
stand Darwin and he hadn’t turned on the Vo-corder. Bridger looked to
Picard, who tapped the gold badge on his chest.
“Our communicators, contain universal translators.”
“It translates . . . dolphin.” Bridger mused as he touched his own
badge, given to him aboard the Enterprise. He had forgotten he was wearing
it.
“It translates . . . intelligence, if a language has a pattern, it has a base
to draw from.”
“Like Darwin’s clicks, whistles and whines–”
“Or the guttural syllables of the Klingon. To the computer it’s all the
same, a pattern is sign of intelligence.”
Bridger shook his head amazed. “Don’t let Lucas take that thing apart .
. . I gonna have a tough enough time as it is getting him away from the 24th
century.”
“Funny man . . . play.”
`Q’ gave the dolphin a dirty look, “Careful my fishy friend, you’d
make a good tuna substitute.” The being threatened as he snapped his fingers
and was instantly dry. And to both Bridger and Picard’s chagrin, they had
joined him in almost identical costumes, save for color. Picard was subjected
to a Forest Green from head to toe and Bridger, Royal Blue.
“My god, this is worse than being in room of drunken Orions and An-
dorians.” Picard muttered feeling a bit like a clown.
“Yeah, when does the high wire act start?” Bridger commiserated as
leaned over the rim of the moonpool, careful to keep his plumes out of the
water as he ran a hand along Darwin’s head.
“Gentleman, if you’re ready, we have a court date.” `Q’ informed
them, while purposely ignoring the banter between the two captains.
“Picard–” it sounded like `Pickerd’ through the translator. “. . . play
with Darwin.”
Both Nathan and Jean-Luc stared at the dolphin. They hadn’t said the
Enterprise captain’s name aloud.
Picard chuckled softly.
“Thank you, Darwin, but it seems we have a previous engagement.”
Darwin answered in a series of untranslatable clicks and whistles as he
ducked beneath the water, bidding good-bye with flick of his tail. Bridger
straightened and faced `Q’.
“Alright, let’s get this over with.”
“Aye aye, Captain–” `Q’ returned with smart salute and snap of his
fingers. The three fancy dressed men vanished from Seadeck . . . leaving
Darwin to ponder just how they did that.
* * * * *
William Riker looked around with an awed look on his face.
Even the second time around, the bridge of the seaQuest WAS impres-
sive as well as functional. Riker took special note at how the submarine’s
crew moved out to their positions . . . and proceeded to do systems checks.
LaForge, Troi, Data, and Worf stood with Riker out of the way on the raised
platform of the Dolphin Access Port, noone spoke.
It was several minutes before Jonathan Ford turned to Riker, “Well,
everything seems to check out. What’s next?”
“I–” Riker began just as there was a splash and an excited chortle be-
hind him. Lucas Wolenczak elbowed past the stunned group and leaned over
the rim of the Access pool to greet Darwin.
“Hiya Fishface . . . where ya bin?”
“Darwin see Bridger”
“Where?” Demanded Riker, before anyone else could speak. It took
him a moment to realize JUST WHO he was talking to. “Did that fish just
talk?”
“Yeah . . . and he’s not a fish,” Lucas drawled indignantly.
“Lucas–” Ford chastened quietly.
Lucas gave him a semi-annoyed look then sighed resignedly as he gave
them a shortened explanation of Darwin’s seemingly extraordinary ability.
When he finished the entire Enterprise crew seemed to nod at once . . . then
they all turned their attention back to the dolphin. Who it turned out, was
waiting patiently at answer Lucas’ question. The young man repeated the in-
quiry.
“Darwin . . . where and when did you see the captain?”
“Seadeck . . . almost now, before here.”
“What was that?” Geordie LaForge asked puzzled by the dolphin’s
strange reply.
Lucas smiled, “He means `the captain was on Seadeck . . . just a few
minutes ago. Darwin saw him just before coming to the bridge.”
“Then why didn’t he just say that?” Worf demanded.
“A dolphin’s thought processes, do not run along the same route as
ours. He knows WHAT he saw. But not quite HOW to express it . . . so that
WE understand.”
Riker nodded, “Can you ask him if he saw Captain Picard, too?”
“Darwin, see Picard and Funny Man,” the dolphin chirped up before
Lucas could answer. “They talk to Darwin . . . then gone in bright light.”
“They vanished–” Crocker repeated disbelieving.
“That’s Q’s usual MO.” LaForge provided. “He’s all theatrics . . .
coming and going in a flash of light.”
Idle conversation continued about `Q’ his motives and deeds . . . while
unnoticed Data walked up to the Access Port to observe Darwin a bit more
closely. The dolphin floated on the surface, watching the android intently
through one beady black eye.
“Tinman . . . play with Darwin?”
“I do not think, now is an appropriate time for such an activity.”
“Why?”
“Because, we must search for Captains Bridger and Picard. We do not
know where Q has taken them, or the Doctors for that matter.”
Darwin seemed to consider this for a moment and slapped his til
against the surface of the water. Sending it sloshing over the rim of the tail.
“Darwin, know where Bridger and Kristin are.”
“How could HE know that?” Worf demanded.
“Apparently, HE knows a great deal.” Deanna Troi offered up, “Per-
haps . . . Q is leaving us a trail of clues.”
“Using a dolphin as the messenger is a little farfetched even for Q.”
LaForge answered.
“BUT . . . not entirely, out of the ballpark.” Riker added as he turned
to Ford and Lucas. “Can we trust Darwin?”
“Yeah . . . of course, we can.” Lucas jumped in to answer before Ford.
“Hey Dar, are the Cap and Doc close by?”
A series of clicks and whistles preceded the Dolphin’s reply.
“Yes–”
“Are Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher with them?”
“Yes . . . all together.”
“Where?”
“Above–”
“You mean, on the surface?” LaForge asked.
Darwin made a sound that almost sounded like a laugh.
“Yes–”
“Mister Ortiz, can you get us a whisker veiw and do a sonar sweep?”
Ford asked turning to the Sensor Chief.
“On it, Commander,” Ortiz returned even before Ford had finished his
request. A few moments later, Ortiz looked up from his board. “WSKRS
can’t penetrate the surface and sonar is inactive.” Ford muttered under his
breath, while to his right, Will Riker made a similar effort . . . and was also
stopped cold.
“Riker to Enterprise”
Nothing came through but static as Riker repeated his request. The
others tried with the same results.
“It would seem Q is limiting our opinions.” Data observed.
“Slowing us down, ya mean.” Ben Kreig assessed quietly.
“But why just slow us down. Why not just stop us cold?” Katie Hitch-
cock questioned.
LaForge shrugged, “Who knows. Q plays the game his way, there are
no rules.”
“So, what do we do, then just sit around here?” Lucas Wolenczak of-
fered up. All he got was a couple of shrugs and murmurs. About to tell them
what HE thought . . . Lucas was brought to sudden silence by the figure that
appeared in a flash of light before him.
“I believe, I can answer that question, my young friend.”
* * * * *
Fotheringhay Castle

Kristin Westphalen and Beverly Crusher were at odds with themselves.
By their very natures, both were disinclined to sanction the deception they
were perpetrating, but when one had no other choice, both women KNEW
they could rise to the occasion. Glancing back at Beverly, Kristin noted the
other woman making good on her role of the condemned queen, presenting a
downbent head and moving at a dejected pace. Flanked by a man-at-arms on
each side of her, Beverly raised her head ever so slightly to wink at Kristin,
when the other woman glanced back at her. A smile graced Kristin’s lips
fleetingly and the small group stepped into the great hall of the castle. Imme-
diately, a steward stepped up to prostrate himself before Westphalen.
“Your Majesty, all is in readiness.”
“Excellent . . . carryout Lady Mary’s sentence.”
Marcus, Steward of the Castle seemed to hesitate. Westphalen’s eyes
narrowed.
“You wish to say something.”
“I . . . well yes, my queen. Should not we wait for Sir Francis and Sir
Walter . . . perhaps, they would wish to be present?”
Kristin released a long sigh of frustration outwardly. Yet, inwardly she
had hoped for this just bidding a little time until . . .
Yet.
“I think not.”
Marcus looked at her strangely.
He had begun to notice how oddly the queen was acting. First, she had
placed the Scottish Queen in the palace dungeons to await execution; only to
free `Mary’, HERSELF, and then bring her cousin to the Queen’s own
apartments, where they had stayed for several hours ‘alone’ together. `Eliza-
beth’ had provided clothing and food for her cousin . . . but then less than an
hour ago, the Queen had called for a review of `Mary’s’ crimes. Marcus
didn’t know what to think as `Elizabeth’ continued to glare at him. Finally,
he pulled himself together.
“Your majesty, shall I call the Black Hood?”
Kristin Westphalen breathed a slight sigh of relief, whatever Marcus’
problem with her, he appeared to have over come it. She shared a hidden
smile with Beverly Crusher as she remembered something about their con-
versation concerning their respective captains. Kristin spoke forcefully.
“Make it so.”
Marcus the Steward, give a curt nod of ascension and bowed out of
`Elizabeth’s’ presence. The Queen waved her entourage aside as she stepped
beside her `cousin’.
“Well, so far so good.” Westphalen whispered.
“Yes, but how far are we going to have to take this.” Crusher mur-
mured back, her blue gaze avidly watching the goings on around her.
“I’ll stop it before it goes to far.”
“I hope so, I’d hate to lose my head. I’ve just gotten my hair the way I
like it.”
Kristin chuckled soundlessly as their attention was drawn to the far
end of the great hall by a bellow and the sounds of scuffling feet.
“I insist you unhand me, I have cause to be here.”
“And what cause be that, sir?” Westphalen asked as she approached
the slight old man still in the grip of the guards. Kristin waved them off and
the old man fell to his knees at her feet.
“Please, my Queen, have mercy. I come only for the sake of my fam-
ily. That they not be punished for deeds done by me.” The man beseeched.
Kristin glanced behind her at Beverly with a question in her eyes. `Was
this Q’s doing, a diversion perhaps?’ Crusher just shrugged and Kristin
turned back to the old man.
“What is it you’ve done?”
“I stole back my cow.” The man said quietly.
“To feed your family.” Westphalen provided perceptively in a soft
voice.
The old man looked up surprised.
“Yes . . . oh yes, twas our only means to live.”
Marcus suddenly appeared at `Elizabeth’s’ side to mutter covertly to
her.
“He had no means in which to pay his taxes. The animal was taken in
lew of payment, along with all other assorted livestock on the farm.”
“Which left us with nothing. How you feed a family of eight on roots
and berries after such a bad year of crops. No wheat or oats or rye. Nothing
to lay store. Tis the like for all who work the lord’s land, yet we are still
taxed.”
“Taxes must be paid, there MUST be no quarter.” Marcus exalted as
he gestured to the guards to take the man out. `Elizabeth’ stopped him with a
withering gaze and raised her voice for all to hear.
“Honor and compassion MUST come before the greed of the state.
This man and all his peers are exempt from taxation for a period of two
years. Beginning a fortnight ago.”
Marcus looked appalled but slowly nodded as the Queen gave him an-
other dark look, whilst she accepted the old man’s overzealous thanks as he
was firmly but gently escorted from the hall. Then all turned to the opposite
end of the room as drum beats heralded the arrival of the executioner. The
Black Hood came carrying his headsmen’s ax made of honed French steel.
Beverly’s gaze sought out Kristin’s. They met briefly in silent understanding
as `Mary’ squared her shoulders and advanced toward the block. Without a
moment’s hesitation `Elizabeth’ moved to the raised dais at the end of the
Great Hall and seated herself in the chair, appearing more than ready to give
the final command. When all was ready, `Elizabeth’ raised her right hand . . .
all the while knowing, that to let it drop would mean the end of a life.
Not just A life.
That belonging to her equal . . . not only a Queen in her own right, but
more correctly, a colleague and new found friend. Several hundred years not
withstanding. Kristin cursed inwardly and the weight of her deed weighed
heavily on her . . . and her arm.
She cursed herself and most of all . . . the being called `Q’.
“Did someone call my name?”
In a brilliant burst of light, HE appeared, flanked by two other simi-
larly dressed men. It took her a moment to realize . . . who they were. Kristin
bit back a hysterical laugh.
“Oh what wonderful timing, my lords. You’re just in time for the main
event.” Marcus the Steward gushed as he hurried up to the three men, their
arrival not moving him a bit.
“In time for what?” `Sir Francis Drake’ also known as Captain Nathan
Hale Bridger demanded unable to believe what he was seeing.
Marcus barely resisted the urge to rub his hands together as he pulled
himself up to speak in a more dignified tone.
“The execution of `Mary Stuart of Scotland for the crime of treason
against the English crown.”
“Q. Stop this. NOW” Jean-Luc Picard in the guise of `Sir Walter Ral-
eigh’ ordered in his best captains voice as he came to stand directly in front
of `Elizabeth’. While `Drake’ made a beeline for `Mary’ pulling her up and
behind him as he faced off with the castle man-at-arms. Together the four-
some backed up onto the dais, to survey their situation. Picard glared at `Q’
who still had not responded to his request. In fact, the Godling seemed to be
in some sort of trance. Picard’s own thoughts were scattered as the room dis-
appeared around them.
`Q’ snapped out of his revere straight into a seething rage at the abrupt
departure of his prey. He stomped his foot hard on the concrete floor in the
obvious throes of a tantrum. Then much to the shock of the `Elizabethans’ in
the room, `Q’ stomped himself straight into the floor and disappeared from
sight.

Chapter Five
“Yo, ho, ho . . . and a bottle Synthehol”

seaQuest

Lucas Wolenczak stared.
He blinked . . . and shook his head . . .
And stared some more.
Everyone else seemed to have been struck dumb . . . even Data. Lucas
pulled himself together to finally ask the figure’s identity.
“Who are you?”
“I am a friend of a friend. But you may call me Trelane. Squire Tre-
lane.” The impish man, dressed as a French courtier answered jauntily.
“Are you a `Q’?” Will Riker demanded suddenly finding his voice.
“You could say that, I suppose. But to be more precise . . . I am the
`Q’. The first and by rights the only.” Trelane proclaimed as the melodious
strains of a harpsichord, playing a seventeenth century waltz, filled the bridge
of seaQuest.
“Then what is Q. Our Q, I mean.” Geordi LaForge asked curiously.
“HE . . . is a fraud. A pretender. Not worthy of being called a `Q’.”
At the moment, a yell pierced the air and `Q’ fell through the ceiling.
He hit the metal deck with an `oomph’ escaping his lips. The Godling shook
his head and tried to regain his focus.
“Weel, lookie here `It’s raining men’ or is that Q’s.” Ben Kreig
quipped.
`Q’ swept a disgruntled glance in the Lieutenant’s direction while he
climbed to his feet brushing debris from his once fine attire.
“Hey, no comments from the `Peanut Gallery’, puhlease.”
Kreig only grinned as Ford stepped forward.
“Welcome to seaQuest–” The XO said formally as he extended his
hand. `Q’ stared at it, thrown off a bit by the Commander’s nonchalant be-
havior. Regardless he accepted the gesture, failing to notice that as he shook
Ford’s right hand, his left was zeroing on the Godling’s jaw. `Q’ was sent
sprawling back straight into the arms of Miguel Ortiz and Manilow Crocker.
“Bravo–” `Trelane’ chirped clapping his hands mirthfully and contin-
ued to do so even as Worf lifted him by the scruff of the neck off his stool.
Worf looked at Riker for the word. The Klingon grinned evilly as Riker gave
a thumb’s down. With the slightest of movement by Worf, `Trelane’ from
himself flying through the air . . . only to land with a `sploosh’ in the Access
Pool. `Q’ joined him a moment later. Both came up spitting water. Riker and
Ford came up to the rim.
“Alright gentleman, now that we have your attention.” Riker said with
complete seriousness. “Can we discuss the matter of Captain Picard and
Doctor Crusher?”
“AND Captain Bridger and Doctor Westphalen?” Ford continued the
question. The two `Qs’ looked at each other then at the Commander. Seeth-
ing with contempt, `Trelane’ lifted a sodden arm to invoke his wrath.
Nothing happened.
`Q’ tried to snap his fingers.
Same result.
“It would seem as though, the close proximity of the two Q to each
other have temporarily canceled out their powers.” Data observed clinically.
Riker smiled as he rested his arms on the pool’s edge.
“Well . . . well, what a revoltin’ development.”
“Indeed and it’s all Trelane’s fault.” `Q’ accused hitting the water and
sending a wave of wet stuff over his fellow ex-omnipotent. “If you hadn’t
interfered.”
“If I HADN’T intervened. Your subjects would still be in the boring
little scenario you cooked up. I just gave them something better to do.” Tre-
lane defended as he returned `Q’s gesture with a cascade of his own.
“And that IS?” Ford asked. `Trelane’ glared at him for a moment then
lifted his gaze upward. Something clicked in the minds of the ensemble.
“Ortiz . . . the whiskers, can they?”
“On it, Commander.” Ortiz answered as he made a dive for his con-
sole. Likewise, the rest of seaQuest’s officers. Their Enterprise counter-
parts following them. That left `Trelane and Q’ to rescue themselves from the
Access Pool but not before Darwin had made them pay . . . er, play.
Under the masterful hands of the Sensor and Communication Chiefs
Ortiz and Tim O’Neill, the main viewscreen glowered into life. The image it
presented was awesome. Pulled straight from the past and a nineteen thirties
`Swashbuckler’. All those gathered on the bridge could do was sit back and
watch the scene unfold.
* * * * *
In the 18th Century . . .

Nathan Bridger took a step to steady himself as the deck pitched under
his feet. The broad expanse of sky above and metallic clash of swords told
him, he wasn’t on seaQuest. Bridger looked down at the woman who,
dressed in dark blue gown with it’s deeply scooped neckline giving him quite
a view of the creamy cleavage, clutched at his arm. The redhead felt his in-
quiring glance and met it squarely with sapphire blue. Beverly Crusher held
Nathan’s dark eyes briefly before returning her gaze to the battle that raged
amidships.
As half-unfurled sails flapped in the rising wind, Jean-Luc Picard was
in his element. With sword in hand, he backed his inept opponent over the
side. Glancing over his shoulder, noted the progress of his second. Kristin
Westphalen was handling herself like a fencing master. Very obviously, she
was well acquainted with the weapon as she artfully disarmed the scourge of
a pirate that lunged at her. Picard had to admit, Kristin fought as well as she
looked beautiful. Dressed in tight black breeches, matching thigh boots and
blousy white ruffled shirt that was only partly laced up. It offered a tantaliz-
ing glimpse of the golden-tanned skin beneath. Picard found himself swal-
lowing hard as he rejoined the fight.
Kristin deftly disarmed another pirate, while lending a glance around
the deck. Colorful bandannas and the glint of steel seemed to be everywhere
as ruffians continued to stream over the side of the ship. Having suddenly
appeared in the midst of the battle royal, Kristin had reacted instinctively. She
allowed adrenaline and long hours of practice to work for her as she wielded
her cutlass. It had only taken her a few moments to adjust to the weight of the
weapon that also required a broader stroke . . . then a fencing foil. Kristin re-
alized the fight was far from over as someone bumped into her from behind.
A quick glance over her shoulder, told Kristin more than just the man’s iden-
tity. She and Picard were now back to back defending themselves as they
were completely surrounded.
Beverly touched Bridger’s arm to redirect his attention, which had
drifted to the pirate ship they had been anchored to. Now, Nathan followed
Beverly’s hand as she made an unspoken gesture. The color drained from his
face as he saw the plight Picard and Kristin were in on the main deck of the
Clipper. Nathan’s hand tightened on the hilt of the sword which hung at his
side.
Sword.
Bridger’s mind finally registered it’s presence then as he drew the
weapon . . . lifting it high, he tested the weight as his gaze fell on the rigging.
A seemingly endless array of ropes hung above his head, some of which ap-
peared to have purpose and some not. Yet, an idea began to form.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch . . .

The crews of the Submarine seaQuest and Starship Enterprise . . .
watched helplessly as the scene on the surface, continued to unravel. There
had to be SOMETHING that they could do to help their friends.
“Any suggestions, Commander?” Riker asked as he came to stand
next to Ford.
“I was hoping you had a clue.”
“Nope . . . but I think, I know who does.”
Both Commander’s gazes unerringly fell on the two dripping `super-
beings’.
`Q’ was the first to glance up.
“What–” The Godling demanded, wringing fussily at his once fine at-
tire. Riker jerked his head toward the viewscreen, while simultaneous ad-
justing his tunic. `Q’ arched an eyebrow and directed his gaze in the direction
Riker indicated. A sly smile spread across his face. “Mmmm . . . I’m im-
pressed, Trelane. For once you’ve shown some imagination.”
`Trelane’ smiled and bowed in acknowledgment.
“I, thank you, sir.”
“I don’t believe this–” Lucas exclaimed throwing up his arms. “The
Cap and Doc are in deep shit and we’re being entertained by Mutt and Jeff.
Gimme a break, will ya.” He looked at Ford and Riker. “Why don’t we just
surface? One look at seaQuest and all those pirate guys will be headed for the
horizon.”
“Lucas–” Ford began grasping the boy by the shoulders and shaking
him. “You’re brilliant.”
“I know–” The boy affirmed cockily. Kreig flicked him on the of the
head with his hand. “Ow–” Lucas muttered and stayed quiet.
“Out of the mouths of babes–” Crocker muttered a broad grin splitting
his face as he gave Worf, an over-exuberant slap on the back. The Klingon
gave him a murderous look. Crocker’s face fell as he hurriedly went to stand
next to Deanna Troi who was by Katie Hitchcock’s Engineering station with
Geordi LaForge.
“Empty ballast tanks, fifty percent. Mr. Shan, ahead one-third . . . and
begin ascent.” Ford ordered.
“Aye sir–” Chief Helmsman William Shan acknowledged. The great
ship gave a lurch and began to lift off the bottom of the alien sea. Slowly . . .
majestically she rose. Around the bridge everyone held their breath, gazes
centered on the view being sent back via the WSKRS. Then without warning
seaQuest gained momentum . . . and her angle of ascent sharpened alarm-
ingly.
“Cut speed! Trim her angle! Nose down!” Ford shouted above the hor-
rible sounds of the superstructure straining against the forces battering her.
Hitchcock and Shan worked fanatically at their station. But the engines kept
accelerating and the helm was locked.
“Commander–” Ortiz shouted as they were all thrown from their seats
and sent tumbling across the deck as seaQuest burst from beneath the surface
like a missile. Riker braced himself between two consoles as he thought he
heard Deanna Troi mutter–
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
* * * * *
Topside

On the main deck of the Clipper ship, the swordplay suddenly stopped.
A rumbling, that had begun moments before, became a deafening roar.
Scurvy pirates, fearful one minute ago, now cowered like beaten dogs. Jean-
Luc Picard with Kristin Westphalen at his side could only stare at the unnatu-
ral sight. Nathan Bridger however, was to busy looking for a safe place to
land as he found himself sailing, literally, through mid-air. It wouldn’t have
been a bad Errol Flynn imitation, if it hadn’t been for the woman who
clasped herself onto him at the last minute. Beverly Crusher’s added weight,
and Bridger’s unlearned talent for making like Tarzen had them flying too
low. Strafing pirates and supply barrels they landed flat on their backs di-
rectly in front of Picard and Westphalen. Bridger opened his eyes and fo-
cused on the sky or more specifically the huge object blocking it from veiw.
It took him a moment to register, that he was looking the underside of
seaQuest. Bridger held his breath and waited for her to calve in two from the
stress on her hull.
She didn’t.
seaQuest in all her glory arced beautifully out of the water. Like a dol-
phin . . . in play, the submarine flew over the high masts of the Clipper, de-
positing drenching downpour of water upon the decks and its inhabitants.
seconds later she plunged back from whence she came, slicing perfectly
though the brackish surface.
The Clipper and the Pirate ship it was lashed too, rolled dangerously to
the side in the wake of the diving submarine, the Clipper miraculously
righted itself. This was not the case with the Pirate ship. Swamped by the en-
suing deluge, she strained at the moorings holding her to the Clipper. Bridger
was spurred into action.
“All hands . . . make for the lashings! Cut us free or we’re all lost!”
Bridger yelled above the foray. Picard was the first to react with Kristin and
Beverly at his heels . . . the rest of the crew followed and were hacking at the
mooring ropes with their swords. The pirate crew appeared to be in shock
and did little or nothing to prevent them from taking action. When all was se-
cure and the Pirate ship was gone beneath the waves Bridger turned to the
others. “Please tell me that WASN’T seaQuest, I just saw come flying over-
head.”
“Okay . . . I won’t tell you.” Kristin drawled. Nathan gave her a dirty
look. Kristin smiled slightly and stepped back to join Beverly as Picard ap-
proached.
“You can be sure Q had a hand in that little display.”
“Do you think the my crew was aboard?”
“If it had entertainment value for Q. Oh yes.”
“Jean-Luc, you know me too well.” In a brilliant flash, the irritating
excuse for a god, appeared on the deck beside them. Within seconds he was
followed by both seaQuest and Enterprise officers as well as an unfamiliar
gaudily dressed man. All the pirates and sailors pertinent to this local had
vanished in the same moment.
“Unfortunately.” Picard deadpanned in response to `Q’s statement.
“So, Q, does this mean your little lesson is over?”
“Is everyone alright?” Bridger asked as he stepped up to Ford, while
keeping one ear tuned to the conversation between Picard and `Q’.
“Yes captain, a bit shaken. It’s not every day that seaQuest takes to the
air.”
“That’s true enough.” Bridger nodded with a slight smile.
“Is the lesson over?” `Q’ repeated as he started to pace the deck before
the two crews. “Well, I suppose that depends. Have YOU learned anything?”
“Can I ask you something, before I answer that?” Picard requested as
he gave the Godling and his apparent compatriot a slow perusal. `Q’ simply
nodded. Picard smiled. “Okay, first who’s your friend and secondly–”
“How’d you get so wet?” Bridger finished as he picked up on the En-
terprise captain’s line of assault. `Q’ had the abashment to look sheepish.
“He is Trelane, a colleague, I suppose you could say and WE were . . .
ah . . . caught in a moment of weakness.”
“Mmmm . . . it happens to ALL of us, I suppose.”
“They took a dip in the `D-O-P’ on the bridge.” Crocker offered up.
“Yes, and they swim like stones.” Worf stated humorlessly.
“How would you like to become shark bait, Woofy?” `Trelane’ threat-
ened only to jump behind `Q’ as Worf took several menacing steps toward
the diminutive Godling. Eruptions of laughter . . . snickers . . . and verbal
cajoling followed the exchange. Worf glowered at `Trelane’, who red-faced
looked as if he was going to explode.
“Enough! Everyone quiet down.” Bridger yelled above the noise as he
moved to stand toe to toe with `Q’, Picard was right at his side. But before
even a single word could be exchanged, angry FEMALE voices filled the im-
posed silence. The group of combined crewmembers, parted to reveal the two
red-headed doctors embroiled in a heated shouting match.
“What the bloody hell are you talking? I never led a hand on your pre-
cious Jean-Luc.” Kristin Westphalen defended in an apparent response to a
taunt from Beverly Crusher, WHO came right back in kind . . .
“Lying witch! I saw the way you looked at him.”
“ME! What about the way YOU were hanging all over Nathan? You
can’t tell me, THAT was innocent.”
“It was!” Beverly shot back.
“Look– You– you . . . cosmic floozy! I have absolutely, no interest in
your Captain Picard. ONE Captain in my life is quite enough, thank you.”
The argument continued to escalate as Picard and Bridger traded per-
plexed glances . . . yet neither was dumb enough to step in. That was until
row became physical. Kristin caught a handful of Beverly’s hair as the other
woman delivered a glancing blow to Westphalen’s cheek. In moments, they
were rolling on the deck surrounded by the crews from seaQuest and Enter-
prise. Picard and Bridger stepped in and pulled the hellcats apart. Nathan
looped an arm around Kristin’s waist and lifted her bodily off of Beverly
prone form. Picard was nearly too late in HIS efforts, for as soon as Crusher
was free of Westphalen’s weight . . . she lunged to her feet and went flying
toward Nathan and Kristin as the former attempted to keep a hold on his
charge. Jean-Luc caught Beverly just seconds before she made contact and
hauled her back from temptation.
“CEASE”
That single word came out like a thunderclap and `Q’ was a bit sur-
prised himself at the result as he snapped his fingers. The two female com-
batants stopped their struggled to stare at the Godling, both breathing heavily
as they stood in the restraining embrace of their respective captains. In a
blinding flash, everyone, the whole kit’n’kaboodle were transported to the
bridge of the Enterprise.
“The lesson is over, students. Now, it’s time to see what you have
learned. In seventy-two hours, I shall return . . . to grade your performance.”
Then `Q’, omnipotent prankster, judge and jury to mankind vanished
with `Trelane’ in reluctant tow. Silence followed the abrupt departure of the
two `Q’s’, that was until a muffled giggle was heard. Then a low chuckle, fi-
nally all out laughter from what would have appeared to be the least likely of
out the assembled group– Beverly Crusher and Kristin Westphalen. With
Jean-Luc Picard and Nathan Bridger exchanging bewildered looks over the
tops of russet heads, the two women embraced in triumph.

Chapter Six
“The Best of Both Worlds”

In the 24th Century . . .
Holodeck Two, USS Enterprise

Twin suns beat down steadily, their warm heat lulling even the most
hardy into relaxation. Turquoise waves washed gently up onto a golden beach
as seabirds greeted each other in an azure sky. And life was good.
Rolling over onto his side, Nathan Bridger gazed down at the woman
curled next to him on the blanket. Trailing his fingers lightly across one
smoothly tanned arm, he felt the skin beneath his touch quiver slightly as
beauty awakened. Gossamer lashes fluttered open and felt himself drowning
in dark amber pools.
Kristin Westphalen smiled as she woke to the face of the man she
loved staring down at her. Nathan smiled back as he leaned down and kissed
her. Kristin’s arms came around his neck bringing him closer. Nathan felt her
lips part beneath his . . . and the kiss deepened. Her hands moved over his
shoulders as the full length of his body covered hers, pressing her into the
soft sand. It was only when shadow passed over them did the kiss break.
Nathan abruptly rolled away from Kristin looked up at the culprit, an an-
noyed expression on his face.
“I apologize for the intrusion, Captain.” The android Data expressed, a
highly inquisitive . . . or so it appeared, in his golden eyes.
“It’s alright, Data.” Kristin assured him as Nathan assisted her to her
feet. Brushing the sand from her white sundress and dragging a hand through
tousled auburn curls, Kristin glanced down the beach to where the crews of
both seaQuest and Enterprise had assembled. “What’s going?”
“A surprise. Commanders Ford and Riker request that you join them.”
“Of course, they do.” Nathan muttered. For which he received, a
punch in the arm from Kristin.
“You behave.” Kristin hissed near his ear.
“What fun is that?” Nathan mumbled in retort. Stuffing his hands in
the pockets of his white slacks, he began to trudge up the beach, kicking at
the sand with his bare feet.
“Ssshhh–” The woman next to him chided as she tugged on a hanging
shirttail, before slipping an arm around his waist. Nathan responded slinging
an arm possessively across her shoulders. They exchanged a promising smile.
Data looked from man to woman, an almost perplexed look on his
face.
These Twenty-first century humans were very intriguing indeed.
* * * * *
Jonathan Ford couldn’t keep the smile from his face as he watched the
approach of seaQuest’s Captain and Chief Scientist with Data trailing a dis-
tant third. They certainly looked as though they belonged together, excluding
the android, of course. Glancing around at his shipmates, Ford noted that they
too heartily approved of the pairing. It also occurred to Ford, that the ro-
mance had been going on far longer than he, himself had realized. Although,
others among the crew seemed less surprised. Ford made a mental note to be
more observant in the future. It just didn’t do for the second in command of
seaQuest, to be so much in the dark about the ship’s goings on.
“They do look a bit annoyed, don’t they.” Will Riker commented.
“Yeah, the captain especially.” Ford concurred with the `Enterprise’s’
first officer.
“Well, hopefully they’ll understand, it’s all for a good cause.”
Ford nodded as Bridger and Westphalen joined the group.
“Well Commanders, what was so all fired important?” Nathan Bridger
demanded without preamble.
“Captain, we apologize.” Deanna Troi said quickly. Her serene de-
meanor an instant quell to Nathan’s somewhere ruffled feathers.
“Yes, please forgive us, Kristin.” Katie Hitchcock implored to West-
phalen.
“We think we’ve come up with a way to satisfy Q and get you and
your crew home.” Riker explained as everyone gathered around. “But you
need yours and Dr. Westphalen’s assistance.”
Kristin smiled and whispered something to Nathan, who nodded.
“Alright, what’s the plan?”
* * * * *
Sitting on the edge of a small dock that jutted out into a sheltered la-
goon with bare feet dangling in the water, white slacks rolled up to the knees
. . . Jean-Luc Picard felt like he had been given back the life, he never had.
Glancing sideways to behold the woman, who sat companionably next to
him, her head pillowed against his arm as one wet foot caressed his calf,
Jean-Luc released a deep sigh. Yes, life was very good.
Beverly Crusher smiled, wrapping her arms around Picard’s waist as
she leaned closer to him. Her smile broadened as he shifted slightly to facili-
tate her movement. Jean-Luc slipped around her shoulders as gentle finger
traveled across Beverly’s cheek and he pulled her even closer.
“This is nice.” Beverly whispered as she looked to meet Picard’s
penetrating hazel eyes. He smiled at her.
“Mmmm . . . very–” Jean-Luc concurred, gently touching his lips to
hers. They enjoyed the kiss for long minutes . . . that was until they were
forced apart by a deluge of cold water. “Merde–” Jean-Luc exclaimed as he
scanned the water below his feet for the culprit. Picard saw him immediately-
– `seaQuest’s’ dolphin.
“Picard and Beverly play–” Darwin tittered happily at the couple,
complimenting them with a toothy grin. While, Picard looked distinctly per-
turbed, Beverly leaned down to trail a hand in the water. Darwin obliging
swan up so that her fingers brushed his head.
“Why doesn’t he go away?” Picard complained climbing to his feet.
“Come on, Jean-Luc, be nice. This is a remarkable animal.”
“Annoying is more like it.”
Beverly shook her head and addressed herself to the dolphin.
“Nevermind him, Darwin. He’s just jealous.”
“Wha– ME!” The Enterprise captain blustered.
“Yesss . . . YOU.” Beverly said as she stood up and faced him.
“You’re still upset about the interest I took in Nathan.”
“I’m NOT.”
“You are too . . . and I think it’s sweet.”
“I am NOT– sweet?” Picard muttered dumbfounded. “Why?”
“Because . . .” Beverly began as her fingers gently caressed his cheek,
her blue eyes were almost tranquil as they gazed into Picard’s. “It shows you
really do care about me and what I do you. AND not just because I’m a
member of your crew . . . but because you love me.”
“I-I do–” Jean-Luc pronounced, his voice husky with emotion. “I do,
love you, Beverly.”
“Good . . . I didn’t want to be the only one.” Beverly whispered as
Picard’s arms came around her drawing her close. But Beverly stayed the
movement, bracing her hands against his chest as she stared at him with in-
quiring eyes. “The question now is . . . what are you going to do about it?”
Picard smiled.
“Well . . . I guess, we get married.”
“You mean it?”
“Beverly, I would be very flattered if you consented to become my
wife.” Picard stated in very best diplomatic intonation. But before Beverly
could answer, an unwanted intruder broke in on their moment.
“Excuse me, sir.” Data ventured quietly. Picard gave him a deadly
look, that faded only slightly at the innocent expression on the android’s fea-
tures.
He sighed.
“Yes, Mr. Data, what can we do for you?”
Beverly held out a hand as she stepped between the two.
“Just a minute.” She faced Picard. “Jean-Luc, if I agree to your `re-
quest’, will you promise that intrusions like this will never happen.”
“Beverly, I will make it my personal crusade, to stop us from ever be-
ing interrupted by anything but an extreme emergency.” Picard proclaimed
eloquently.
“Alright–” Beverly began cast a jaded glance at Data. Then she
brought her gaze back to Picard. “I accept your proposal.”
“YES–” Jean-Luc shouted to the wind as he swooped Beverly up into
his arms and twirled her around. If it hadn’t been for Data, they would have
gone off the end of the dock into Darwin’s watery domain.
“Captain, Commander Riker requests that you join him and the rest of
the crew.” Data said as soon as the Enterprise Captain and Doctor regained
their composure.
“Sure he does.” Picard muttered distractedly as Beverly whispered to
him. A smile spread across his face. “Fine, we’ll go see what the good com-
mander wants.” For the second time in an hour, Data found himself trailing
behind a couple bent on just getting things over with so that, they could get
back to what they had been doing before being interrupted. The next few
hours should be interesting indeed.
* * * * *
The word of Picard and Crusher’s approach passed quickly through
the assembled group of seaQuest and Enterprise crewmembers. When the
pair were close enough to touch, the throng parted to reveal their surprise.
There in the shrinking light of setting suns in a large clearing of palm
trees, several hundred feet up on the beach from water . . . were all the mak-
ings of a seaside island wedding. Complete it seemed with Bride and Groom.
Like something straight off of `Fantasy Island’, Nathan Bridger and Kristin
Westphalen, dressed in white with a lei of red resting on their shoulders,
stood facing each other before friends old and new. All grouped around the
couple wore flower leis around they’re necks, and fresh petals littered the
sand. They also, appeared to be waiting for something.
Jean-Luc heard Beverly inhale sharply as she took in the scene.
“It seems, THEY had the same idea as we did.” Picard whispered in a
low voice.
“Mmmm . . . I’m not so sure.” Beverly murmured as she caught Kris-
tin’s eye and saw something akin to mirth reflected there. “Looks to be more
like a `shotgun wedding’ to me.” Then added as the circle of bystanders
closed behind them. “And I don’t think Nathan and Kristin are the only in-
tended victims.”
“You mean–” Picard started just harpsichord music filled the clearing
and a brilliant flash of light heralded another’s arrival.
“Well done, Jean-Luc.”
“Q”
“In the flesh, so to speak.”
“Don’t forget the entertainment.” `Trelane’ piped up from behind his
keyboard.
Picard glared at the Godling.
“This ISN’T going to work, Q.”
“I don’t see why not, you’ve already come this far . . . why not just
complete the mission. I do so love a good cry.” `Q’ pouted, pulling out a lace
hanky to dab at his eyes. “Besides, I didn’t think up this little masquerade. It
was your loyal crew. Who, unfortunately had little faith in you.”
“Number One–” Picard said directing his gaze on Riker, who
shrugged.
“What can I say, sir? I’m a sucker for romance.”
“And you thought to give US–” Picard answered indicating Crusher
with a nod. “. . . a little push in the that direction.”
“Yes sir, though it seems we’re a little late. You seem to be doing quite
well in the romance department.” Riker said with a smile as he saw the blush
creeping up Beverly’s cheeks.
Picard glanced at Crusher and smiled as he took her hand in his.
“On the contrary, Will . . . your timing is impeccable.”
Everyone including `Q’ did a double take as the ever stoic Jean-Luc
Picard gently led Beverly Crusher forward to join Nathan and Kristin.
“Today is a perfect day for wedding.”
`Q’ looked appalled staring at Picard as if he had grown another head.
He stepped between the two couples.
“Have you lost your mind, Picard?”
“No, Q. Only my heart.”
“Oh Jean-Luc–” Beverly murmured as she pressed closer to him.
“Oh pleeeasee– Just stop it, you’re making me sick.”
“But I thought, this is what you wanted, Q.” Nathan Bridger remarked
as he caught the glint of amusement in Picard’s eye.
“Yes. Er . . . no, I only wanted Jean-Luc to see that there’s more to
your pitiful little life, than just being a starship captain.”
“AND you think I didn’t know that, Q? You’re wrong, I’ve always
known what my life COULD be like, but it takes two people to make a solid
relationship.” Picard spoke quietly, running a hand tenderly over Beverly’s
hair as she rested her head against his arm. “Sometimes, it’s the two people
closest to the situation, that are the last to see the truth and what they may be
missing.”
`Q’ seemed to consider Picard’s words appearing to be more than a
flustered by the Enterprise’ captain’s sudden insightfulness. The Godling
threw a helpless look at Kristin and Nathan.
“Don’t you see, Q.” Kristin started gently. “This entire masquerade
was not necessary. Love . . . true love, always finds a way. Most times with-
out the help of outside forces.”
“You’re saying, I should have butted out and let nature take it’s
course.”
“Yes–”
“But what fun is that?” `Q’ and `Trelane’ complained in tandem.
“Think of it as the ultimate mindgame . . . or teaser. Or simply call it
`destiny’. If love is in the fates, it WILL manifest itself. The wait is part of
the game . . . and the end result makes everything worth it.” Deanna Troi
provided perceptively.
`Q’ nodded.
“I believe, I understand.”
“Well . . . I don’t.” `Trelane’ muttered. `Q’ gave him a disdainful look
then smiled at the two couples.
“Will you allow me perform on last bit of magic?”
“Only if it doesn’t involve . . . medieval locales–” Picard answered.
“Or pirate ships–” Beverly added.
“Or elaborate costumes–” Kristin chimed in.
“Or–” Bridger began. `Q’ held up his hands.
“Okay, how about I just give you 24 hours of peace to say your good-
byes before I send `seaQuest’ home?”
Both crews exchanged triumphant smiles.
Picard and Bridger spoke in unison.
“Deal”
The Godling harumphed and vanished in a flash.
`Trelane’ grinned cockily as he thought he’d been left to his own de-
vices. His glee was thwarted a second later as a disembodied hand appeared
and clamped on to the back of his shirt. `Trelane’ emitted a yelp as he was
hauled backward into a portal of light, that seemed to wink at the assembled
group before going out.
No one spoke for a long moment as they all held their breath, waiting
for the sky to fall. It was Data who broke the silence.
“It appears . . . Q has spoken the truth.”
“Alright–” Lucas exclaimed, slapping Ben Kreig in the back exuber-
antly. Cheers followed the outburst as tension was released. When things qui-
eted all attention was turned to the two couples in the center of the group.
“So, what do you think?” Bridger asked Picard as Kristin tightened her
grip on his hand.
“About what?” Picard inquired just as Beverly whispered something to
him. “Oh . . . yes, I suppose it would be a shame to waste the opportunity.”
“Then you’re game?” Nathan asked with a smile. Kristin gave him a
miffed look. “Sorry, sweetheart.” He murmured then let her in on things. “It’s
just– I mean as long as things are ready to go. Why couldn’t we–”
“Just go ahead and get married.” Kristin finished.
“Uh . . . yeah–”
“It would hardly be legal.”
“True . . . but we can always, do that when we get home.”
Kristin seemed to ponder this for a moment as she exchanged a look
with Beverly. Then she brought her gaze back to Nathan’s almost pleading
dark eyes. Slipping her arms around his neck, Kristin whispered to Nathan,
“So, when does the honeymoon start?”
Bridger just grinned and kissed her soundly.
After two brief ceremonies held before friends and nature . . . or what
passed for natural on the Holodeck, the two newly wedded couples endured
at rather chaotic reception. Sometime, during the course of the celebration
they slipped out . . . Nathan and Kristin first, followed shortly thereafter by
Jean-Luc and Beverly. That left the rest of the gathered witnesses to ex-
change knowing smiles before continuing the party late into the night.

Chapter Seven
`This Side of Paradise’

USS Enterprise
Captain’s Quarters

Jean-Luc Picard smiled.
It was silly, but he couldn’t help it.
A gentle rustle brought his attention to woman curled against him.
With titian curls spread after his shoulder and across the pillow they shared,
Beverly Crusher, no make that . . . Picard, appeared as like an angel in the
gentle grip of slumber. He continued to gaze at her as she shifted, coming
slowly awake . . . the soft sigh she released as she opened her eyes, went
straight to his heart.
“What ARE you smiling at, o’husband of mine?” Beverly teased.
“Nothing–” Jean-Luc replied still smiling.
Beverly shook her head as she edged up to lay half across his chest, her
fingers gently tracing the square line of his jaw. Jean-Luc gently brushed his
hand over her hair before cupping her face, the pad of his thump feathering
over her cheekbone. Beverly placed her hand over his and smiled back at
him, her eyes stilling questioning.
“I am so glad, I’m here with you.”
“And that makes me happy, because I would not when to be anywhere
else at this moment.” Beverly professed and she leaned forward to press her
lips to his.
* * * * *
seaQuest
Captain’s Quarters

Nathan Bridger smiled.
It was silly but he couldn’t help himself.
Gazing down at the woman, who lay curled intimately against him . . .
Nathan found for the first time in a great long while, he felt truly complete.
Reaching a hand, he tenderly brushed a damp auburn curl from Kristin’s
cheek before leaning over to press a kiss to the spot where it had lain. The
newly wedded Mrs. Nathan Bridger released a deep sigh as her eyes fluttered
open to bestow a languishing look on her husband. A husband, who was hers
in every sense of the word . . . except one. An oversight that would be cor-
rected at the earliest opportunity.
“How are you doing?” Nathan whispered with a smile as Kristin
stretched lazily and returned his smile.
“Mmmm . . . fine. And you?”
“Oh, fine and dandy for an old married man.”
“Not so old.” Kristin murmured as she tightened her hold on him. Her
hands feathered over the solid muscled plains of his shoulders and back as
Nathan nuzzled her neck trailing kisses along her collarbone. Curious hands
and lips explored boldly as both gave in to growing arousal. Thoughts of any
other kind were soon lost to the sensations invoked by passion plight.
* * * * *
USS Enterprise
Ten-Forward

“Straight . . . jack high.”
“Damn . . . beats my two pair.”
“Sorry about that, chief.” Will Riker said as he scooped his winnings
in a growing pile.
Manilow Crocker grinned, “No problem, Commander. The night’s still
young.”
Riker returned the grin, and began to deal out the next hand.
Picking up his cards, Jonathan Ford glanced over at Deanna Troi, who
appeared to be lost in thought.
“Counselor, is everything alright?”
Deanna smiled. Being an empath, gave one certain insights.
“Oh yes . . . everything. Everyone is just fine.”
“I take it you’re sensing something . . . interesting going on else-
where.” Riker solicited with a cocky grin.
Troi gave him a dirty look, “Get you mind out of the gutter, Will
Riker.”
“She would not tell us, even if she did know.” Worf proclaimed as he
placed his bet.
“SHE doesn’t have to tell us anything.” Ben Kreig ventured tossing a
couple of chips in the kitty. “We all know what going on and with whom.”
“Right– So, let’s just play cards.” Ford said as he upped the anti by
two hundred. The gesture drew groans from Tim O’Neill, Miguel Ortiz and
William Shan and went on to circle the table.
Crocker tossed in his cards as he threw a glance toward the bar, “Gui-
nan, another round. It’s going to be a looonnnggg night.”
* * * * *
seaQuest
Sea deck

“Data play–”
“Thank you, Darwin, but I am needed back on the Enterprise.”
“Thanks for showing what to do with the Vo-corder, Mr. Data.” Lucas
Wolenczak said as he patted the dolphin’s head, then turned his gaze on the
golden-eyed android.
“The modifications I showed you, should not effect the timeline.” Data
began technically then cocked his head to one side. Lucas could almost hear
the wheels turning as the android shifted tracks. “And . . . it was my pleas-
ure.” He pronounced evenly, though the sentiment was devoid of any emo-
tion.
Lucas smiled and extended his hand.
“Right–”
Data tried to mimic Lucas’ expression as he accepted the young man’s
hand. Lucas tried to choked back laugher at the garish toothy grin, the artifi-
cial lifeform produced. Finally, he couldn’t contain it. Loud chuckled filled
sea-deck. Leaving Data wonder once again about humans.
* * * * *
USS Enterprise
Main Engineering

“Geordi, these engines are remarkable.”
“Best, there is, we’re always making improvements.” Geordi La Forge
said as he and Katie Hitchcock crawled out of a Jefferies tube.
“I know about that. I mean, how a boat performs tells alot about how
he’s maintained.”
“He–”
“Yeah, it’s a gender thing.” Katie said, her tone almost to serious. She
sighed. “I guess, to me it was always sexist to constantly refer to any type of
vessel as she. I just couldn’t being myself to do it where seaQuest is con-
cerned.”
Geordi nodded understanding.
“And that makes you a good engineer. It shows you take your work
very seriously.”
“Thank you, I do.” Katie returned with a smile. “And thanks for the
tour. Even though I may not remember it.”
“Who can say . . . but any rate, you’re welcome.”
Katie nodded as she followed LaForge out of Engineering.
“Geordi, do you really think Q will send us home?”
LaForge turned to the young woman and was startled not for the first
time by the brightness of her eyes. Even through his visor with life aura
pulsing around her, she looked too beautiful. For a moment he wished, she
could stay with him or he could go with her. It was a thought he didn’t voice
aloud when he answered her question.
“That’s the one good thing about Q . . . he ALWAYS keeps his bar-
gains.”
“Mmmm . . . that’s good.” Katie sighed as she stared at him for a mo-
ment. “But I almost wish that weren’t the case.”
LaForge nodded and captured her hand. A smile curled his lips as they
walked and he thought to himself.
“I know what you mean.”
* * * * *
seaQuest

“Well Captain, we’re ready here.”
“I wish you luck, Captain.”
Jean-Luc Picard’s visage said from the bridge main viewscreen as
Nathan Bridger and crew awaited `Q’s’ arrival. At Nathan’s side stood Kris-
tin, her hands wrapped around his arm. Lucas Wolenczak stood just behind
her with Katie Hitchcock and Ben Kreig. On the opposite side, Bridger was
flanked by Jonathan Ford and Manilow Crocker, both had dark circles under
their eyes attesting to a sleepless night. Although, the same could be said for
Nathan and Kristin . . . though the cause was completely different.
“Captain, we’re powered up. Everything is a go.” Ford reported as he
got nods of accent of Tim O’Neill and Miguel Ortiz.
“Helm is answering.” William Shan piped as seaQuest slid gracefully
through the alien waters of Miragin Six.
“Thank you, Commander.” Bridger acknowledged as he returned his
attention to Picard. “Captain Picard, we’re under way. My thanks to you and
your crew.” For an instant, Nathan caught Beverly Crusher’s gaze. She
smiled and curled her hand around Jean-Luc’s. Picard smiled back and
looked back to the image of Bridger, only to meet Kristin’s soft sable eyes.
Jean-Luc swallowed and cleared his throat audibly before speaking.
“May God speed you on your journey.” Picard intoned as at the pre-
cise moment `Q’ appeared on the bridge of the Enterprise.
* * * * *
USS Enterprise

“You rang.”
“You took your own sweet time.”
“I had to make sure, everyone GOT what they needed.” The Godling
said solicitously, he meaning very clear.
Picard’s reddened slightly.
“Would you just get on with it.”
“Oh, very well.” `Q’ said in an exasperated tone as he snapped his fin-
gers. A second later a brilliant burst of multi-colored light filled the bridge
viewscreen. When it faded . . . seaQuest was gone.
“Is it done?”
“Oh yes, they’re back where the started. Though, one of them is car-
rying a little `extra’ baggage.” `Q’ hinted mischievously, then he was gone.
Riker glanced from Picard to Crusher.
“What did he mean . . . `extra’ baggage?”
Beverly Crusher-Picard smiled as she folded her arms and made a
rocking gesture.
“You mean–” The realization of what Beverly was implying hit Picard
like a thunderclap. He stumbled over his next words. “They– Do they know
yet?”
“Odds are they’ll know soon enough. Then again, so shall we.”
All eyes became riveted on Beverly, who just keep smiling, while the
Captain of the Enterprise slapped a hand to his forehead and slumped into
the command chair . . . speechless.

Chapter Eight
`Stranger things have happened . . .’

In the 21st Century . . .
seaQuest-500 miles south of Guam
Depth 31794ft

Nathan Bridger just laid there. It was all he could do until the ringing
in his ears subsided. Slowly, with more effort than should have been neces-
sary, Nathan opened his eyes. Focusing, his gaze fell upon the face hovering
so closely to his own. Kristin. She smiled at him and leaned even closer to
touch his lips gently with the soft fullness of her own. The muzziness of Na-
than’s mind left him in that moment with the abrupt realization of their loca-
tion. Sounds of the bridge coming back to life, had seaQuest’s captain gently
pulling away from Kristin and climbing to his feet.
Nathan glanced down into Kristin’s questioning eyes as she still knelt
on the deck. Giving her a hand, he brought his wife–yes, his wife . . . to
stand beside him. Searching the bridge, Bridger located his executive officer.
“Commander Ford, what’s our position?”
Jonathan Ford scanned the instrument panel before him for what
seemed like a very long time, before he turned to face his captain. An expres-
sion of pure disbelief, was etched on the XO’s dark features.
“Sir, we are back almost EXACTLY where we started, with two ex-
ceptions.”
“And those being–”
“We are now resting on the ocean floor, AND according to computer
data have been in this position for only five hours and thirty-seven minutes.”
With that response, Ford showed that he had spent jjuuusssst a little to much
time with the Enterprise’s android Lieutenant Commander.
“Captain!” Tim O’Neill called out urgently. “Nautilus is hailing us on
all bands. They’re in a standard search pattern.”
It took Bridger only the briefest of moments to remember, that Nauti-
lus was the name of the spotter submarine assigned to keep tabs on them. It
now sat poised ten thousand feet above them, and was not the one of nine-
teenth century novels.
“Tell them, we’re fine.”
“Nathan, they’ll want a explanation.” Kristin said softly.
“I know, I just need to think of one.” Bridger muttered rubbing the
back of his neck absently.
“We could just tell’m the truth.” Manilow Crocker ventured with a
bemused grin.
“Yeah, and then find ourselves residents at the UEO funny farm. I
don’t think so.” Ben Kreig threw in.
Despite, the apparent seriousness of the situation and everything they’d
been through, Bridger found it hard to contain a smile. His crew was one of a
kind.
“I suppose, THAT really wouldn’t be sssooo bad.” Nathan whispered
as he caught Kristin’s hand in his own. “As long as we had adjoining padded
cells. It COULD get quite interesting in fact.”
“Nathan–” Kristin chastened with tolerant look to mask the mischie-
vous glint in her eyes.
“Captain–” O’Neill chimed in. “Nautilus is asking if we need assis-
tance. They confirm we’ve been out of connect for almost six HOURS.”
“Tell them, we’re assessing damage and will advise.”
“Aye sir–”
“Five hours– Nathan, could it all have really happened in that short of
time? It seemed like days.” Kristin said in apparent disbelief.
“Captain, it happened. Didn’t it?” Krieg insisted uncertainly.
“Yeah, it must have.” Lucas concurred.
“Hours will seem like days.” Nathan murmured almost to himself.
“Cap–” Crocker asked as he noted the wheels beginning to turn.
Bridger shook his head.
“It’s nothing really . . . just a line I heard once. From movie or some-
thing–”
“It’s easier to explain away a few hours than a few days. Our travel
agent seems to have taken that little detail into account.” Kristin ventured.
“But how many more has he anticipated? We don’t want to go plung-
ing into something that may have already been fixed for us.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Crocker said skillfully supplying the
needed analogy.
“Right. Let’s get things checked out.” Bridger ordered breaking off
from the group gathered around him and making for the clam doors. Up until
that moment they had been closed, secured for the emergency. Now at
Bridger’s command, they opened to reveal the shocked faces of Joshua Levin
and the other ten remaining crewmembers aboard. Levin himself had a crow-
bar in one hand and a med unit in the other.
“Captain– Thank god, we thought. No contact . . . you–” Levin
spewed out in a jumble.
“Easy doctor, everyone’s fine.” Bridger told him calmly. The long-
haired medico took a moment to visibly compose himself as his gaze traveled
over the group behind the Captain.
“No adverse effects from the pressure leak. What about injuries?”
“No– We’re a little shaken but–”
“Nathan–” Kristin whispered harshly grabbing Bridger none to gently
by the arm. “I don’t think `they’ remember what happened to us.”
Nathan stared blankly at her for a moment. Then it dawned.
“Doctor, we’re a little disoriented, can you us tell what’s happened?”
“We were disabled by a seismic shockwave. There was a hull breech,
near you. We’ve been out of contact with the bridge for over five hours.”
Levin informed them. Bridger listened with a less than rampant ear as Kristin
extrapolated into the other.
“Oxygen under pressure, transmitting high levels of nitrogen to the
brain. Nitrogen narcosis. Very nice. Neat. Tidy.”
“Q was very clever but I get the feeling he’s not QUITE done with us,
yet.” Nathan muttered back.
“Captain?” Levin prompted as he caught the exchange between the
two. Kristin took the lead.
“Joshua, what’s the condition of the rest of the crew?”
“As you can see, we’re fine. But you–” Levin eyed her critically.
“Kristin, you’re not looking so great.”
“I’m fine.” Kristin murmured brushing a hand across her damp brow.
Both Bridger and Levin caught the gesture. Kristin frowned at the looks they
gave her. “Really. It’s just a little warm in here, that all. Oh, for goodness
sake, stop looking at me like that.”
Genuinely concerned now, Nathan gently pushed her toward Levin.
“Kristin, why didn’t you go to Med-bay. Then, we–”
Levin broke in.
“I’d like to check everyone out, Captain.”
“Sure . . . as soon as we’ve got a handle on things here. I’ll start send-
ing people down.” Bridger acknowledged with a curt nod to Levin and a re-
assuring smile flashed to Kristin as she resignedly allowed the younger doctor
to escort her from the bridge. Then, seaQuest’s captain turned back to his
crew. “Alright people, let’s get this tub back on an even keel, so we can head
for home.”
* * * * *
It was a good six hours before Bridger could make it off the bridge,
and find out what was happening in Med-Bay. seaQuest was well on it’s way
home. There had been no real damage other than the mysterious hull breach
near the bridge and forward compartments. It seemed that `Q’ had done his
homework. They were back in the 21st century, apparently none the worst for
wear.
None except, that is but Kristin. Nathan was truly a bit worried, he was
unsure as to whether her condition was real or feigned for Levin’s benefit. He
hoped the latter.
* * * * *
Joshua Levin could not keep the smirk from his face as Nathan
Bridger breezed into Med-Bay. Lucky for the young doctor the captain’s
thoughts were elsewhere. Struggling to pull on a professional countenance,
Levin addressed Bridger.
“Captain, I’ve been waiting for you. You’re the last to be examined.”
“Yes doctor, I know.” Bridger muttered as he submitted to Levin’s
prodding and poking. After the exam was finished and was pronounced fit,
he asked the question burning so greatly on his mind. “So, what’s wrong with
Kristin?”
“Hmmm– Oh well, she’s fine . . . for the most part.” Levin replied ab-
sently. The frown on Nathan’s brow deepened at the doctor’s obvious eva-
siveness.
“That wasn’t my question, Doctor.”
Levin sighed and stepped away.
“I think, you should talk to her. What needs to be said, shouldn’t come
from me.” Levin could feel the daggers being shot at his back as he quickly
got out of the room, leaving seaQuest’s captain glowering in his wake.
* * * * *
Kristin Westphalen-Bridger–at least as far she and Nathan were con-
cerned, if not in the eyes of the law–hummed softly to herself as she absently
dangled her fingers in the water of the moonpool. Darwin repeatedly tried to
gain her attention by swimming and grinning her or chattering loudly, but to
no avail. It was obvious, even to the dolphin that the woman had something
on her mind. Kristin smiled to herself as an image was reflected back her
from the smooth surface of the moonpool. At the same moment strong arms
slipped possessively around her waist and a familiar voice deep, masculine
rumbled in her ear.
“What are you thinking?”
“Mmmm . . . do you really want to know?” Kristin murmured her rich
intonation was pitched low and sultry as she straightened and turned to face
her inquirer. Her hands moved warmly over well-defined chest muscles. “Or
are you just making conversation?”
“Conversation wasn’t exactly what I was thinking about making.”
Nathan Bridger drawled back as he drew her closer. His mouth took proces-
sion of hers as she lifted her head to meet him. With deliberate slowness, they
exchanged a kiss that left them breathless.
“Mmmm . . . that was nice. What’s the occasion?” Kristin murmured
as they parted.
“I was hoping, you’d tell me. Levin intimated that you had something
to convey to me.” Nathan impaired as he gently brushed a stray lock of
auburn hair from her face. “I mean, you ARE alright. He said you were.”
Kristin smiled tenderly as she saw the true look of concern reflected in
Nathan’s dark blue eyes. Taking both his hands in hers, she brought her sable
gaze to his.
“And he’s right, what I have is nothing nine months won’t cure.”
“Nine months?” Nathan repeated not quite getting it.
“Actually, a bit less than that.”
“Uh huh . . . ummm, Q doesn’t have anything to do with this does
he?”
“Nooo–” Kristin murmured but then she thought about it and
shrugged. “At least not that I know of.”
As the implications of what Kristin was saying sank in, Bridger mouth
dropped open in shock.
“Kris, are you really–”
“Mmmmhmmm–”
“When? How?”
Kristin smiled and slipped an arm through his as she steered him to-
ward the hatch, “Come with me and I’ll explain it to you in infinite detail.”
Nathan Bridger, once again found himself at loss for words. Mutely, he al-
lowed Kristin to lead him off Seadeck.
In the moonpool, Darwin flashed a toothy grin at the humans as he
rolled over several times. `Q’ had let on dolphin in the baby secret before
they had left the twenty-fourth century. Of course, Darwin had already felt
that something beyond him was happening to his friends. Now, left to won-
der about the Bridger-Westphalen progeny and `Q’s’ roll in the outcome,
Darwin dove beneath the surface to await the future.
* * * * *
Eight months later . . .
The Continuum

“Well Trelane, are you ready for the show. It’s about to start.” `Q’
asked as he reclined back in his easy chair, a can of beer in one hand and a
remote control in the other.
“Yeah, so who are we going to see first?” `Trelane’ questioned as he
sat down in the chair next to `Q’ a bowl of pretzels in his lap and peered at
the wide-screen TV before them.
“Oh, I thought we’d tune in on my old friend Jean-Luc.”
“Alright, I’m ready.”
`Q’ nodded and pushed a button and the TV flared to life.
* * * * *
In the 24th century . . .

Captain Jean-Luc Picard had watched in stunned silence as his wife
quite efficiently brought their son into the world. Now, just a few hours later
he felt as though it had been a dream . . . a wonderful, life-fulfilling dream.
There was no way he could think of ANYTHING, that could compare to
what he was feeling. And to think, that he owed it all to `Q’, well that was a
bit more than Picard could handle. Yet, as the squealing bundle that con-
tained his son was placed into his arms, Jean-Luc Picard decided perhaps
`some things’ you just have to accept, no matter the source.
Doctor Beverly Crusher-Picard saw the emotions play across her hus-
band’s face with quiet awe. In the months that had past since the encounter
with seaQuest, she and Jean-Luc had to accept many things about each other
and their impending life together. `The recent addition of their son, should
only prove to strengthen their love.’ Beverly mused as she observed the en-
trance of Will Riker and Deanna Troi into Sickbay. They were followed mo-
ments later by Data, Worf and Geordi LaForge.
Troi was the first at Beverly’s side as Riker hovered near Picard.
“You did it.” Troi imparted joyfully as they exchanged a hug.
“I had a little help.” Beverly maintained as she gazed at Picard and
Son.
Riker clamped Picard on the shoulder as he peered at the baby, “Con-
gratulations Captain–”
“Thank you, Number one–”
“Captain, have you thought of a name?” LaForge asked as he, Data
and Worf approached.”
“We can’t decide, but are open to suggestions.” Beverly said as Picard
passed the boy to Deanna.
Riker immediately appeared at her side as he looked at Picard with a
devilish grin on his face, “How about . . . William? It has a nice ring to it,
don’t you think?”
Beverly had to suppress a chuckle, when Picard’s eyebrows arched
high at the suggestion.
“Choosing a name for one, so small is difficult.” Worf intoned as he
peered down at the child. “For you do not know, what sort of man he will
be.”
“Thank you, Worf, but that doesn’t matter. He can be anything he
wishes.” Beverly said quietly, fatigue was beginning to become evident in her
voice.
“But do you not wish him to be a good man.” Data asked.
“Of course, and also compassionate, strong and wise. But again, it’s all
up to him. We as parents can only teach him so much.”
“If we can instill a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong.
We’ve done all we can.” Picard finished as Deanna passed his son back to
Beverly. The moment his mother’s arms gathered him close, the baby began
to fuss and nuzzle. It was obviously feeding time. One by one their friends
filed out leaving the new parents to themselves.
“You know, I have a name.” Beverly said as soon as her son was
greedily consuming his meal. “That is, if it’s okay with you, Jean-Luc.”
Picard had to drag his eyes from the spectacle of Mother and Child to
look into his wife’s questioning sapphire gaze, “I can’t answer until you tell
me.”
Beverly smiled slightly, “I was wondering if, we couldn’t name him . .
. Nathaniel. I mean, if it wasn’t for–” she stopped, looked at Picard with un-
certainty.
“Yes, if it wasn’t for our friends from seaQuest with a little help from
Q, we probably still be tip-toeing around each other.” Picard finished as he
picked up on Beverly’s sentiment. A smile spread slowly across the starship
captain’s features, “Nathaniel Howard Picard . . . sounds noble, perhaps he’ll
be a Scientist or Poet–”
“Or maybe, a Starfleet officer like his father.” Beverly finished re-
turning her husband’s smile.
Picard nodded, “Could be–” The new father watched tenderly as his
wife’s attention span grew shorter and shorter in the hour that passed as they
discussed their son’s future. Before, he knew it Picard saw that Beverly had
drifted off into a much needed slumber. After a couple of moments of ob-
serving them, Jean-Luc gently separated mother and child, Beverly never
stirred. Taking his wakeful offspring into his arms, Picard settled back into a
comfortable chair near the bed. Taking the opportunity, the captain inspected
his son. Marveling at the perfection of one so tiny, he almost missed the di-
minutive birthmark on the baby’s right thigh.
“No, it couldn’t be–” Picard told him self as he got up and moved to
find better lighting to get a good look at the birthmark. It took a moment to
realized what the mark was supposed to represent. “Q–” He muttered as the
meaning of the tiny blemish in shape of a dolphin playing with star, dawned
on him. Picard looked into the baby’s face and was shocked to see `Q’ star-
ing back him.
“Got ya, Jean-Luc–” The Godling regaled as cosmic laughter echoed
in Picard’s ears.
* * * * *
Back in the continuum

“Brilliant–” `Trelane’ gushed, “Bravo, old friend.”
“Please, enough already–” `Q’ accepted the praise true to form. “I’m
blushing.”
“What ARE you going to do for an encore?”
“Let’s find out.” `Q’ said as he changed channels with remote control.
Soon they were looking at new rather primitive locale and another newly cre-
ated family.
* * * * *
In the 21st Century

“If you had listened to me, we’d be in a nice safe Med-bay right now.”
“IF I’d chanced to listen to you, we wouldn’t be having this ridiculous
conversation.” Kristin Westphalen-Bridger hissed as another contraction
gripped her. They hadn’t planned on this happening, there was supposed to
be two weeks left until the baby’s due date. So, they and the members of the
crew who recalled the encounter with `Q’ and the Enterprise, had decided
against Bridger’s better judgment to spend the day on Nathan’s island. But
instead of staying in the nice newly renovated beachouse, they had went to
the other side of the island, where Nathan had spent the two years before
taking the command of seaQuest. The straw hut, proved to be a poor choice
of a birthing room, when Kristin without warning into strong active labor.
Nathan Bridger stared at his wife, “What’s THAT supposed to mean?”
Kristin shook her head, “Forget it. I don’t know what I’m saying.” She
leaned back against the wall of the hut as Katie Hitchcock wiped her brow.
“Okay–” Nathan answered as he glanced at Lucas. “How’s her pulse?
Blood pressure?”
Lucas did readings as he conferred with Joshua Levin over the open
Comm-link, “Pressure elevated slightly . . . contractions coming 2 minutes
apart now.”
At that moment, Ben Kreig stumbled in the hut, a sauce pan in one
hand, a bundle of towels under the other. Tim O’Neill and Miguel Ortiz were
right behind him carrying blankets, a camp light and two five gallon pails of
water. The occupants of the hut looked at the sorry lot in disbelief.
“Ben, what’s the deal with the water?” Katie Hitchcock asked
“Aren’t you supposed to boil water, what a baby is born?”
Nathan could just shake his head and Lucas looked shocked.
“Ben, that’s only in the movies.”
“Oh, well, I’d better tell Crocker, Ford and Shan to forget about the
fire then.”
“No–” Kristin spoke up. Nathan gazed at her in disbelief. Kristin
shrugged, “It’ll keep’m busy.”
“Right–” Bridger agreed, “Look, leave the blankets, towels and ONE
pail of water. Then get out.”
The men hurriedly complied and left just the four of them in the hut.
“Um Cap, I really don’t think I can do this.” Lucas began and Kristin
was taken with another contraction.
“Lucas, you’re the only one, who has had advanced medical training.”
“Yeah, but not THIS advanced.” The young man retorted, yet he did
everything that was necessary as the moment of birth grew closer.
“Hey, I know you can do this. I’m right here with you.” Nathan as-
sured him.
“Okay, if you’re finished with encouragement, I think it’s time.” Kris-
tin muttered through gritted teeth.
The sun was just beginning to set, when a loud wail was heard from
inside the hut. The sound brought Krieg, Ortiz, O’Neill, Manilow Crocker,
William Shan and Jonathan Ford, all to their feet simultaneously. Long min-
utes passed before Lucas emerged followed a few moments later by Bridger.
In the Captain’s arms was a squirming form wrapped in a large fluffy towel.
“Congratulations Cap–” Crocker exalted slapping Bridger on the back.
“What is it?” Kreig asked getting straight to the point.
“It’s a baby and she’s a girl.” Lucas informed that rather proudly.
Nathan smiled, “AND her name is– Jeanelle Katherine Bridger.”
“Wow, that’s a heck of a handle.” Ford said as he leaned forward to
get a better look. The others crowded in beside him. When everyone had ex-
pressed their best wishes, Nathan returned to the interior of the hut to await
the launch that was enroute to them.
Three hours later back on seaQuest, now enroute back to Pearl, Nathan
Bridger had his wife–now legally–and daughter comfortably settled in his
quarters. Kristin had refused to stay in Med-Bay after Joshua Levin had pro-
nounced, she and the baby fit. Bridger found himself still marveling at how
quickly one’s life could change. A few hours ago, hell, a few months ago, he
and Kristin were safely ensconced in their beachouse on Oahu. They had
brought the picturesque cottage, a couple months after the incident at Chal-
lenger Deep. Every free moment thereafter had been spent in preparation for
the baby’s birth. It was far from an easy adjustment for either of them, to
suddenly be planning a life together . . . and have a baby. Now, that BABY
was here a living person in their world. Nathan shook his head in awe as he
kept a vigilant watch over his wife on his the bunk with daughter tucked in at
her side as both slept fitfully. Or so Nathan thought, until he found himself
looking into languishing sable eyes.
“What are you thinking?” Kristin asked before Nathan could speak.
Bridger shook his head, “Just how very lucky I am to have you.”
Kristin smiled as she shifted herself and the baby, “What time is it?”
she inquired finally.
“1800 hours– Hungry?”
“Mmmmhmmm–”
“Good, I’ve got supper on the way down.” Nathan told her as the baby
started to whimper.
“Looks like someone else is hungry too.” Kristin said as she pulled
back the blanket to get a good look at her daughter. Nathan dropped to his
knees before the bunk and gently ran a hand over the soft auburn down that
covered the infant head.
“She takes after her mother in many respects.” Nathan murmured,
“She’s has your nose and hair color. Although, I can’t think where she got
those green eyes from.”
“I think, I do–” Kristin answered as she drew the blanket back further
and turned the baby slightly on her side. “It’s probably the same place she got
this–” She pointed to the tiny mark on the infant’s left thigh.
Nathan squinted at the blemish that was barely visible, “Is that what I
think it is?”
“Mmmm, a reminder of our little adventure in the 24th Century, I sus-
pect.” Kristin mused as she traced the outline of the birthmark with her finger
. . . the image, a dolphin playing with star.
“So, Q has gotten the last lick in after all.” Bridger muttered a bit per-
turbed.
Kristin looked up at him, “Has he? Somehow I get the impression, we
haven’t heard the last of Q or our friends on the Enterprise.”
Nathan looked thought for a moment.
“Hmmm . . . you may be right. Perhaps, our little Jeanelle has a soul-
mate of her own in that distant future. It would only be fair, that’s where we
discovered ours.”
Kristin smiled as she touched his face bringing his attention to her. She
spoke softly as their lips touched, “Only Q knows for sure–”
* * * * *
Epilogue
The Continuum

“Well, what did you think?” `Q’ asked as he turned off the TV.
`Trelane’ shrugged, “Not bad for an old `Q’. Is that all there is?”
The Godling harrumphed, “Shows how much you know.” `Q’ said in-
dignantly, “Haven’t you ever heard of a sequel.”
`Trelane’ raised an interested eyebrow as the window into the contin-
uum, faded to black–

THE END

Wireless Sea Knowledge Retrieval Satellites
A seaQuest DSV/Star Trek-The Next Generation Crossover Story
`Soulmates’
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