Past Perfect

Steven Donaruma
Star Trek: “Past Perfect”

The stardate, as always, was established in the Captains Log. The
increasingly brief log was given hours ago. Sadly not every log entry
signals the start of an adventure. The Federation Starship Voyager has
steered itself in a cosmic and mental void. Three months without a new
life form, friendly or otherwise. Seven weeks haven’t seen any interesting
anomalies or gaseous abnormalities. Every diagnostic has been run
threefold. The ship’s hull has been polished down to the slightest welt or
burn. Every conceivable hobby has been taken up, mastered, and dropped
like a re-read holo-novel. As Captain Janeway takes a half-hearted sip of
the last possible tea flavor the food replicators could molecularize, she
feels for the first time the true magnitude of monotony the forthcoming 72
year journey may hold.
There are large and conceivably infinite areas of unexplored space holding
new wonders and civilizations; this is part of what keeps the Federation
going. Yet it is also a fact that there are large areas of space that
simply seem to hold nothing. The Voyager is now in such a space. No
planets, no moons, no stars, not even a passing comet. Those on the bridge
simply sit and stare as the ship tirelessly puts light-years behind itself.
Every conversation already spoken, every head slightly tilted, every
breath, each blink even and relaxed. It is in such a trance that daydreams
occur. Slowly consoles fade and reform, filled by our minds eye with our
whims and fantasies. From the corners of our vision reality is still
observed, though mostly ignored. Ensigns pass by, screen displays come and
go, but nothing is enough to distract, to earn our focus. Yet in an
instant the whole bridge was distracted. It took a peripheral explosion to
awaken this crew from its day-sleep. And like anyone after a long nap,
response was sluggish and too late.
Later it would be argued how the planet could have gone unseen by the
entire bridge. Later still would be the answer. Now however the situation
is being dealt with. Gravitational pull is too strong, the ship is out of
control and already mere seconds from entering the planet’s atmosphere.
Readings are preliminary, and navigation manual, but the Voyager avoids
burning up on entry, and even manages a fairly graceful landing.

“We’re down,” reports a shaken Tom Paris wiping the sweat off his console
with a sleeve.
“Very good Mr. Paris,” responds a disheveled Janeway, her symmetrical hair
bun now undone, her uniform covered in hot Mindaliore Pekoe, she
nonetheless immediately begins trying to assess the situation. Looking
around the bridge she sees an equally disheveled, but unharmed and now
alert crew. “O.K. looks like break time’s over people. Mr. Kim, damage
report.”
“Minor structural damage, but it’s throughout the entire ship, it will
take a while to fully analyze integrity. The aft landing gear has been
partially severed, and may be unstable.”
“That’s our first priority, send a repair team to resupport the ship.
Injuries?”
“No casualties. Sick bay reports mostly cuts and bruises, as well as two
concussions and a broken arm.”
“Not too bad. Mr. Tuvok, what’s our surrounding, are we in any immediate
danger?”
“We’re on an M-class planet, with a humanoid population of roughly 700
million, and pre-warp technology. There’s a mountain ridge separating us
from the nearest population center seven miles away.”
“O.K., if they didn’t see our dramatic entrance, we could have a day or
two before anyone notices we’re here. Otherwise we’re in good shape,
except for a lot of questions. I want a senior staff meeting in one hour,
time for everyone to straighten up and prepare preliminary reports. ”

Janeway sits alone in the senior staff room, clean and primed. A cup of
coffee, black, sits balanced on one knee, untouched. Its effervescent
waves of steam are diminishing, ending their slow waltz-like dance over her
cup. Soon she will need it. Soon it will be backto business, back to
being Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Right now,
however, she is Kathryn Janeway, a woman far from home, enjoying a rare
view out of the ship’s thankfully large and plentiful windows.
Gone are the countless passing stars, the planets known only by their
class rating, and the big empty blackness she had lately come to think she
would never escape. Space was a source of both beauty and wonder to her,
certainly, but some things she had come to miss. The vista before her
summed up many of those things. Beyond was a field of golden long-grass,
slowly, rhythmically, rippling in wind. Surrounding the field, a forest,
old, tall, and green. Rising majestically to the left was the mountain
ridge, strong and brown with deep shadows hiding from a sun shining in a
big blue sky.
The sun: Kathryn slouches a bit in her chair as she feels its warm glow
on her skin. The room’s lights were off, and for the first time in quite
some time, it was lit naturally. There were two things she was convinced a
holo-deck would always lack. One was that while a similar view could be
recreated quite accurately, artificially, it could never deliver that sense
of awe, of tingling inspiration you get with actually being there. The
other was sunlight. She knows about the many studies of which the
scientists self-righteously boasted, stating that most plants actually
thrived under artificial sunlight, that it was less harmful to most skins
and easier on the eyes. Despite this, she knew that she needed a real sun
in a real sky. No civilization, she muses, would ever have worshipped a
synthetic sun.
Absorbed by the view, Kathryn is no longer on an intergalactic vessel.
She is at home, enjoying a long quiet morning. She is sure that this is
not just an M-class planet, but a planet with a name, a name she will thank
later for giving her these precious few moments of peace. Now she wonders,
why, and who would want to hide such a gift?
About her now, Kathryn hears quiet stirrings, whisperings, and the low
beeping sounds of notes being checked by her prompt and now present staff.
She closes her eyes and takes one last, slow, deep breath and then sipping
the now lukewarm coffee, Janeway turns to begin the briefing.

Throughout time, an amazing array of unexplainable, unimaginable,
sometimes terrifying, or sometimes too-good-to- be-true phenomena have been
observed by the eyes of the inhabitants of the universe. In every case,
while possibly stumbling with it at first, such phenomena are studied,
comprehended, mastered, and manipulated until they eventually lose their
phenomena status, and are left as textbook chapters boring increasingly
younger students. Yet despite such a history of mental conquest, whenever
new phenomena arise it seems to be in our nature to completely lose faith
in one’s own senses. Self-doubt may be easier than making still another
addendum in our version of reality, but it certainly doesn’t get us
anywhere.
Federation policy states that “In situations where reality may become
questionable, and emotions may cloud judgment, a third party, an impartial
mediator should (time permitting) be consulted.” Janeway knows that her
ship has encountered an as of yet unexplainable phenomena. She knows that
much of her crew, wise in the rules of the Federation, have already
discarded their own views and feelings, and consulted a third party, the
great mediator, the ship’s main computer. Knowing this, and somewhat
disappointed by this, Janeway decides to avoid starting off with any
questions of data compilations, scans, or sensor readings.
“So, who here noticed the ship heading straight into a planet at warp 6?”
In unison, all heads in the room turn to glance briefly at their respected
notes, then hesitantly back to the Captain.
“Good,” responds Janeway, standing up and placing her hands firmly on the
long conference table. “Now, while I won’t admit to being terribly focused
at the time, I am quite certain that not only did I not see this planet,
but that it wasn’t there to be seen. Does everyone here agree with this
observation?”
There are nods and agreements all around.
“If I may Captain, speaking as one who was not on the bridge,” Neelix
begins nervously, “at the time I was preparing the day’s lunch, a
delicious Pydian Spoot Casserole by the way, and the view from the mess
hall was as clear as any we’d been having lately. I bent down to select a
good sized bowl, and when I got back up, right there, big as life, was,
well the reason we ended up having sandwiches, which is a shame too
because…”
“Mr. Neelix,” Janeway smirked, “as resident expert on this side of the
universe, are you familiar with any stories of planets known to just appear
spontaneously?”
“Almost every civilization has stories of colonies, cities, or whole
islands disappearing, but never a whole planet, and as far as I can recall,
they’re never said to reappear.”
“Hmm,” Janeway pauses, “the legendary Atlantis, if it ever existed, never
did rise again.”
“Sorry Captain, I’m not familiar with that legend.”
“I’ll tell you about it sometime. Now Doctor, while I understand that
history has shown that the mind works in strange ways, is it truly possible
that the entire ship has suffered some form of mass hallucination?”
“Well,” begins the doctor, (it is interesting to note that even though the
ship’s doctor exists only as a hologram, his balding head still manages to
reflect quite a bit of the sunlight cast into the room, causing a somewhat
distracting glare) “while mass hallucinations are possible, in my
professional opinion, they are far rarer than given credit for. In most
cases where the mind performs alterations to perceived reality, it is done
so to remove a painful or horrifying experience, neither of which I believe
the Voyager has encountered recently. Now, it would be more likely that
with the crew in a mentally languid state, as it were, for the mind, or
hypothetically, the collective mind to create a diversion for itself, some
type of entertainment. If it did, however, and this is the result, there’s
simply no way that I myself would also be observing this planet, and on top
of that, it would be impossible for all of us to be actually…” the Doctor
finishes by gesturing all around.
“Standing on it,” finishes Janeway. “So, let us assume that the entire
crew hasn’t lost its senses. Now,” sighing, “does the computer confirm the
existence of this planet, and likewise its non-existence just over an hour
ago?”
“Simply put, yes,” replies a somewhat disappointed looking Harry Kim.
“And Mr. Kim, does the computer also show that this ship did not somehow
jump through space to this planet, that it appeared to us, not we to it?”
“Correct, Captain.”
“O.K.,” Janeway clasps her hands together and begins crossing the room.
“Any ideas?”
“There’s Aldea,” B’Elanna notes somewhat eagerly. “An entire planet that
was cloaked.”
“Ah, yes,” adds a supportive Tom Paris, “it was encountered by the
Enterprise-C, back in…”
“No, Tom,” B’Elanna interjects, “I’m pretty sure it was the Enterprise-D.”
“Well, it’s hard to get all those ships straight,” Paris says defensively.
“Gee, you know it’s been a while, I wonder what letter they’re up to by
now?”
“I’m betting on F, that is if they’ve let that Will Riker in the Captain’s
chair,” adds Harry enthusiastically.
A brief alphabetical debate ensues. This lapse gives Janeway time to
ponder a disturbing thought. Having met Jean-Luc Picard on a few
occasions, she was quite impressed, hoping someday to be as good a Captain
as he. She was certain that only hell itself would allow that man to see
another ship hold the name Enterprise. And yet, it is a given, that even
with the best of Captains, most Federation ships barely see a whole
decade’s service. The Voyager, however, must last far longer if it is ever
to reach home. Janeway can never get a replacement ship, there will be no
Voyager A, B, C, or…
“D!” proclaims a defiant B’Elanna pointing at a data console, “encountered
the cloaked planet Aldea on stardate 41509.1.”
“If I may interrupt,” interrupted Janeway, “we’re not actually just
talking about a cloaked planet. Look out the window, there’s a sun in the
sky. I’ve counted three moons so far. There are other planets in this
system. This whole system, none of it, was present earlier. Cloaking a
whole planet is a task hardly conceivable, cloaking a whole solar system is
simply beyond, well anything. I need to know if there is an intelligence
behind this, and if so why did it bring itself to our attention, and what
are its intentions? Is it possible that the inhabitants of this planet,
who aren’t even warp capable, could achieve such a feat? If so, should we
consider them a very sizable threat and try to leave as soon as possible,
no questions asked?”
After a pause, Chakotay speaks, “My people believe that nothing that
reveals itself to you, good or bad, should go ignored. I think it would be
unwise to simply move on blindly.”
The tone of the room darkens as all ponder the possibilities and
ramifications. Amongst fear and wonder, in the back of their minds is a
faint glimmer of hope, that maybe these people could also have the power
and goodwill to send them back home quickly. One mind, however, is not
focused on any of these things. One has no hope of making the entire
journey, and no real reason to, since it is actually leading further away
from her home. Janeway notices the young Ocampan who seems to have
abandoned the seriousness of the room, and is slowly rocking in her chair,
grinning widely, even merrily out a window.
Kes, Janeway sympathizes, must be especially grateful for the view. Kes,
who with such a short lifetime, has been forced to spend her few years
either below the surface, or hovering over it, very rarely upon it. “Kes,”
Janeway breaks the silence, “I admire the view as well, but you seem to be
in especially good spirits, given our present situation.”
“I’m sorry Captain,” Kes replies softly, “but I’m getting such a strong
feeling from this planet, it’s hard to describe.”
“How so?” Janeway asks knowing that the Ocampa have heightened
sensibilities, that even the young girl herself doesn’t fully understand.
“It’s a feeling of just overall goodness, positive and moving, but
without, or at least with far less negativity or hostility than I’ve ever
sensed from a people.”
“This is good news,” says Janeway now standing behind her seat, “I’ve got
a bit of a positive feeling about this place myself, moreover I wouldn’t
mind getting off this ship awhile and stretching my legs. Commander
Chakotay, I think you’re right, it would be unwise not to see what has been
revealed to us. I want you and Tuvok to organize a small team and observe
the neighboring populace. Do not interact, if things still look positive,
then we’ll go in for a better look. Meanwhile, repairs are to continue
’round the clock, just in case.”

Equality of all the galaxy’s races, through both knowledge and technology,
is something the Federation has firmly supported since it’s conception. It
has made great efforts to stand by this belief, but it is true that there
are certain stereotypes that go unspoken, but remain the rule. Though
there are remarkable and somewhat disappointing similarities to be found in
all beings, it is believed that in the individual traits that temperament
can be prejudged. Few fear encountering a race with only enhanced ears
(enhanced from human standards of course) or nose bridge. Beings with blue
skin are highly sought on ships, as they are known to be highly skilled in
domestic fields. Though Janeway has tried to ignore it as fact, it is well
documented that races with forehead crests, with wide necks, or basically
the more modified, or “alien” looking, the more aggressive and therefore
the more cautiously they should be approached.
Janeway sees before herself a paradox. The scouting team has brought back
images of a race well fitting the aggressor potential stereotypes. The
people of this planet have a combination of features; distended “M” shaped
crests lining the forehead crossed vertically with a long diamond of short b
lack hair in the center, somewhat wider necks with very pronounced tendons,
and layered ears. Yet unlike most races with similar traits, these people
show no signs of being warriors. They seem very fond of details and
craftsmanship, of natural beauty, and color. Clothing is casual, but with
an air of formality or presentation, and lightly hued. Some of the women
wear veils, hiding their harsh foreheads, and most everyone wears high
ornate collars covering their necks and sometimes even ears. These
observations are in the crew’s favor if they are to investigate further,
many of the alien traits are covered up by the people themselves making for
easier assimilation. Janeway is informed that while the people are at a
certain technological level, it seems to be put to use only for
agricultural, medical, and entertainment purposes. No weapons of any real
caliber, were to be seen, nor was anything detected that seemed capable of
cloaking. Hoping to have found the missing link that could challenge the
old stereotypes, and needing to just go exploring again, Captain Janeway
decides to lead her team into the city for a closer look.

The team is beamed across the mountain ridge to an unpopulated rocky area
one mile from the city, and proceeds on foot. Wearing accurately
replicated garments, the crew required thankfully few prosthetics to
disguise themselves. Collars hide their more slender necks. Kes and
Janeway wear veils to cover their featureless foreheads, while B’Elanna
does well with her natural endowments.
Upon reaching the city’s perimeter they have but to simply enter the city.
As pointed out by the previous team, there are no gates, outer walls, or
any protective ring about the city except for short simple fences,
presumably to keep the wandering livestock from entering certain areas.
They see no guards or watch, and proceed without interference or attention.
The city is quite impressive and beautiful. Nestled along the bend of a
river, it appears to be a center of commerce, but remains relaxed and
uncluttered. It gives the impression of a city on the verge of a
renaissance, but taking a brief pause to appreciate its simplicity. The
architecture is graceful while functional, retaining the gritty weathered
look of a hard day’s work. The structures compliment the landscape, and
are divided by many bright and open areas. The crew detects a definite
traffic flow of the cheery inhabitants, and follows. Moving freely amongst
the throngs they enter a large and ornate park in the city’s heart. There
appears to be some sort of holiday commencing. Many seem to be in costume,
and are acting out, or possibly reenacting out events. A sort of alien
patriots day the group decides. Caught up in the sights, sounds, and good
cheer of the people they almost don’t notice something else.
It is Tom Paris who stops at the sight as the others continue blindly.
Janeway upon hearing the Gettysburg Address recited, likewise does a double
take. Slowly they surround the small bearded boy in the tall black hat and
suit. The boy continues on inspired by his new audience, unconcerned with
their quizzical looks. Some of the specifics of the speech are different,
but nonetheless the human of the crew easily recognize a schoolboy
mimicking Honest Abe Lincoln.
This discovery leads to a closer examination of the local “founding
fathers.” Chakotay finds a fairly accurate Geronimo. There is a statue of
Aristotle (slightly alien looking), and plaques with familiar slogans
proclaiming; “That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger,” and to
Tuvok’s confusion, “Live Long and Prosper.” The more they look around the
more things seemed to resemble pages of their own history books. Neelix
swears the customer at the cotton candy stand is a dead ringer for Andquix,
the legendary trader, much revered by Neelix, who was personally
responsible for opening up much of the Delta quadrant to the Talaxians.
Then again, it is the man selling cotton candy that unfortunately bears the
most accurate resemblance. “At least we’llget some answers,” sighs
Janeway, “though it may be more trouble than it’s worth. Hello Q.”
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite Federation outcasts,” Q exclaims. “I was
beginning to think you weren’t going to leave your cozy little ship to join
us.”
There are mutual groans all around, several do an about-face, turning from
the blue-lipped omniscient.
Overly innocently Q responds, “what have I done to deserve such
intolerance? Why, I do miss the good old days when the Q were worshipped
and feared. Well, to make up for any hard feelings you may be harboring, I
have treats for all of you.” A jolly Q begins handing out cotton candy the
unenthused crew. “Something minty I think, for you Miss Ocampan.
Something stronger for the Klingon lady and her shipmates, with the
exception of these last two. Mr. Talaxian, Sir I get the felling you have
been longing lately for some spoot, correct?”
“Why, yes,” Neelix lightens up taking the flavored orange candy smiling
back at his quizzical comrades.
“And, last but not least,” Q grins wickedly, “for you Mr. Vulcan, plain.”
Tuvok, examining the wispy clean white confection asks blandly, “What, are
we to do with these?”
“Eat them, go on, have a good time for once. You deserve it.” Q snaps
his fingers and the concession cart disappears. He waves the crew off in
the direction of the main festivities, while directing Kathryn in a more
secluded direction. “Now run along kids, Mommy and I have some important
things to discuss.”
Q and Janeway walk off alone through the park. Janeway glances back at
her confused looking crew, and gestures for them to keep looking about.
“O.K. Q, now I’m sure that you’re behind all this, so tell me what’s going
on here. Why did this planet appear out of nowhere moments before we could
have collided with it, and why are its inhabitants honoring Lincoln and
other greats from other planets they couldn’t possibly know anything
about?”
“Yes, yes, but, first things first. Did you know that these headdresses
are only worn by virgin females on this planet? A convenient disguise, but
you don’t want to attract any attention to yourself.” Q removes the
headdress and smiles. “Ah, much better, and don’t worry about the
disguise, nobody will notice, so long as you’re with me. Come to think of
it, I should have warned that Ocampan of yours, she’s going to be very
popular very soon. Anyway,” sighing, “you’ve got your fellow back on
Earth, correct.”
“Thanks, and yes, I’m glad you’re keeping that in mind this time.
Speaking of which, how’s your new family doing?”
“Oh, I couldn’t be happier with the little tyke,” says Q genuinely
beaming. “You know, it’s the cutest thing, he’s been altering the beat of
pulsars into music, something akin to your own Rachmaninoff I believe, but
of course, quite superior.”
“Being a doting dad seems to suit you,” Janeway grins, “and if I may ask…”
“Oh, her,” Q answers prematurely, “she’s just fine.” Q’s face quickly
drops into a serious pout. “She just needs her space, that’s all.
Unfortunately her space seems to be 18 trillion miles away, three
dimensions over, and seven and a half million years into the future.”
“That’s too bad,” Kathryn sympathizes, twisting her brow, trying to grasp
the Q’s relationship.
“Well, she’ll come crawling back, I guarantee it,” Q brightens and takes
her hand, “but, if she doesn’t…”
Janeway takes her hand back and quickens her pace. Q likewise speeds up,
eager to apologize.
“Time for answers Q.”

“You’re looking at the Kisdoro, one of the most savage races ever observed
by the continuum. 700 years ago they were a far more advanced civilization
than what you see today. Now, most every advanced mortal race comes to
fear it’s own power, believing they themselves may bring about their end.
Many, including your own have come close, but these people are the ones who
actually did it, literally blowing themselves back into the stone age.
Their numbers were cut from nearly a billion to just a few hundred.
Divided and conquered, their society fell apart. As the generations passed
no information was shared, the art of storytelling was long before replaced
by the destroyed data banks, all records and historical data were lost.
They were a scattered race with no name, no identity. In stepped the Q to
conduct a unique experiment. Posing as elders, we slowly integrated
ourselves and proceeded to feed them a false, more honorable past. Rather
than use the great history of the continuum, we decided to create a more
tangible mortal history, mixed from all civilizations. We took a race on
the verge of extinction, and tried to save it with a new sense of pride and
honor.”
“To allow the experiment to act itself out uninterrupted or undisturbed,
the Q decided to “hide” the planet, and surrounding system. Being in such
a remote part of space anyway, the loss went unnoticed. I felt you and the
Voyager crew might be good for some input, so I let you in on the secret.”
“Without much of warning I may add”
“Guilty, yes,” Q shrugs sheepishly, “but you all seemed so dreadfully
bored, and I know how lonely open space can be. So,” proudly gesturing
outward, “what do you think?”
“Beautiful, yes, does it have a name?”
“The city is called Cyldalia. The planet itself had been previously known
as Titcho, meaning ‘upon that which we tread.’ Now however, they call it
Oyandad, ‘starting point.'”
“An improvement, yes, but how do you know that events, no matter how
catastrophic, wouldn’t have turned around on it’s own, that these people
would have risen above their disgraceful past by themselves?”
“We are Q, we know. You’re sentimental, a perspective we do lack, but I
assure you there was no turning back for them. Amongst the countless
possible futures known only to my kind, there is not one of redemption.
No, they never saw the error in their ways, and they persevered in their
own self-eradication, always regrouping smaller and smaller numbers, always
fighting, always dwindling. Those who did not fight, were lost to disease
or hunger. They were like animals, robbed of every instinct, but to fight
and kill, even when there were no longer any sides to the battle. This was
a planet where everyone was a Hatfield, and everyone a McCoy.”
“I guess if there was no other way, life is better than death.”
“I’m surprised, you don’t sound so sure of yourself. I wouldn’t think
there would be any doubt.” Q directs Janeway to a bench, as she sits her
elbow chips a bit of paint off of the wrought iron armrest. Peeling away
the paint she reveals the rusted metal beneath.
“This isn’t real, it isn’t their doing. You just glossed everything over,
they need to know the good and the bad.”
“Oh, they know it, they just know it differently, and with a happier
ending. In fact, there’s going to be a battle reenactment in half an
hour.”
Indeed Janeway saw that a number of older citizens were grouping, donning
dated militia garb to begin their simulated assault on the park’s large
open field. Encircling the field, eager crowds were gathering, and
encircling them were concession peddlers hawking snacks, noisemakers, and
patriotic trinkets. “And this is how they’ve overcome their past?”
“Isn’t being entertained by past travesty a sign of coping? We taught
them to learn from mistakes instead of literally beating them into the
ground. Thanks to us they’ve redeemed themselves from extinction. Doesn’t
that merit some revelry on both out parts?”
“I don’t know, Q. History is something that just shouldn’t be tampered
with. It bothers me to know that the Q’s meddling can go to such an
extent.”
“By your reasoning would you have told the Christmas spirits to have left
Scrooge to his lonesome miserable death? I assure you, that our meddling,
is limited only to urgent situations.”
Kathryn pauses then responds, “I’m not saying that what you did wasn’t the
right, or good thing to do. I’m sure these people would thank you if they
knew, but deep down we all need to make our own mistakes. These people are
celebrating a lie.”
“Truth and history are quite distant concepts. My dear Kathy you know as
well as I…, well not as well, but you mortals simply can’t fully perceive
reality as it happens. You can’t ever fully understand what’s going on,
its all open to interpretation. Then you must try to remember, document,
weed through conflicting ideas and contradiction, then let it erode over
time, all-the-while reinterpreting it repeatedly from an irrelevant future
with all new views and opinions. Truly, I feel you should be proud if your
history is even relevant after going through such a process, but you can’t
accept it as truth.”
“I’ll admit to having memories that I can’t be sure happened exactly as I
recall, but I don’t think it really matters. We don’t cling to our
histories by the word, but we do need something to hold on to. One can’t
build without a foundation. We know that our history evolves, and
understanding it may never be in our grasp, but I feel it goes along with
any type of exploration we do, we have a need to keep looking, even if you
see it a futile.”
“Futile, no, but let’s take for an example, your once American President
Richard Nixon. In his own day the man was considered one of the more
disgraceful even laughable presidents. Later however, his policies and
tactics of foreign diplomacy become the backbone of the Federation. Now he
is revered, his name carved over the doors of more federation schools than
any other president. Who’s to say a later generation won’t take offense
with him for some new reason, and with chisel, banish him once more? You
have your foundation, but it is laid in a tumultuous sea of change. What
good is it to leave your footsteps in the sands of time, if later you can’t
identify the tracks, or recognize the path? I don’t know how you can
handle it.”
“Aside from giving us a sense of struggle, of achievement, and letting us
know our existence isn’t being wasted, it keeps us guessing. Perhaps it is
the questions of the past that will give us the answers for the future.
I’d hate to think that all we do is just for amusement, not just for
ourselves, but apparently for the Q as well, who have made for a captive
audience.”
“Ah, yes, there’s nothing like watching your kind trying to grasp the
nature of the universe. Mortals are an oddity to us, you refuse to believe
that nothing is beyond your grasp.” Q looks around quickly as if checking
to see if they are being watched, and lowers his voice. “I’ll make a bit
of a confession. I’m glad I brought you here, it has been most revealing.
We Q are of course all knowing, but in matters concerning the minds of
those we observe…” Q pauses. Janeway gives an expectant look along with
half a grin. Q, looking down, whispers, “we lack…full understanding.”
“Well, thank you Q,” Janeway smiles while trying to look sympathetic. “I
know that was hard for you to admit. Don’t be embarrassed either, we’ve
known all along that the Q are far from perfect.” She quickly puts a
finger over Q’s lips before he can respond. “Now I don’t want to ague, but
I need to ask you one last thing. If the Q ever do make this planet’s
presence known, don’t you think they’ll eventually meet another race, and
realize that they share similar pasts? Right now, I myself could provide
proof that Abraham Lincoln was a human. Can they remain peaceful while
suspecting that their cherished past is nothing more than a fabrication?”
“From what we’ve seen, there is no such thing as proof in the minds of
mortals. You can always find some way of explaining everything away.
Whenever a people find evidence, no matter how concrete, going against a
time honored belief, they simply ignore the new and stay comfortably
ignorant with the old.”
“I can’t believe that.”
“Well, who’s to say we took from your history. What if I could prove to
you that the history of Earth is nothing but a similar fabrication, that
old Abe Lincoln was actually a Ferengi.”
“That’s just not possible.”
“I prove my point.”
Janeway puts her hands on her hips, but keeps her composure.
“Congratulations then, you’ve succeeded in creating a utopia”
“Not quite” and with this Q snaps his fingers.
FLASH
Janeway finds herself alone with Q high on the mountain ridge overlooking
the city, sitting on a checkered blanket. A picnic basket and bucket of
Champagne is placed by their side.
“Lovely view, isn’t it?” asks Q looking not at the horizon, but into
Kathryn’s eyes.
“Q…” begins Janeway, but is cut off.
“A utopia, maybe, but like an oasis it can’t save the desert.” With that
Q snaps his fingers again.
The vista turns into a sea of red and black, smoke and fire.
“The past?” asks Janeway, now standing.
“Sadly no,” responds Q, his arm over her shoulder. “Although quite
brutal, this is nothing compared with how things looked when we found it.
This war lies a bit ahead, and was fought over something completely
different, but equally inane. Something about which end to crack an egg,
if memory serves.”
“If my memory serves, Q, that was Gulliver’s Travels. Now you didn’t
begin feeding them fiction did you?”
“No, no, you’re right, that was Liliputia, I’ve mixed up my microcosms,
but you get my point. Ah, now I remember, this was started over a dispute
whether a certain cute furry tripedal species called Mongats should be
eaten, or domesticated. Sometime Kathy you’ll really have to explain to me
why if life is so important to you mortals, you’ll fight to the death over
anything.”
“I really don’t always understand it myself, but perhaps we mortals are
more passionate about things.” Janeway quickly regretting speaking of
passion with the enamored Q, adds “so I guess this is a failure for the
continuum, and if so, I assume there can never be a true utopia.”
“Not one that will last anyway. These people go hundreds of years without
a major skirmish, not bad, even if they had our help. And yet, even on
their own…”
Snap!
The explosions become fireworks.
Snap!
Riots in the streets.
Snap!
Serenity
Snap!
Hostility
Snap!
Peace
Snap!
War
Snap!
Reconstruction
Snap!
Destruction
Snap!
Kathryn takes Q’s hand. “Let’s stop here. I think I get the point.”
“Yes, you truly can’t have one without the other. All things must change,
or there can be no life. While these are things your kind may have already
thought of, we with the means do like to test things from time to time, and
we do find that the greater truths are just that. There can be no love
with out hate. And so…” Q takes her other hand, “while you may find me
less than desirable now…” He leans forward.
Janeway leans back and..
Snap!
…finds herself aboard the Voyager, a bit flushed, but immediately
assessing the situation. The ship is again in space, but now a space less
empty. The system’s sun is reflected in waves of blue and green by the
planet below. The planet and its fellow celestial bodies continue their
steady rotation. Like the hands of a clock they mark their place in time,
only now for all time, they are there for all to see. “Mr. Paris, put us
back on course to home.”
“The ship is already en route captain.”
“Very good.”

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