CHAPTER 9: THE SURPRISE GUEST

"Amazing!" a voice laughed. "Such defiance! Such courage! Such HUMANITY!"

The owner of the voice was a teenage boy that appeared about their age, with scraggly brown hair and a cocky grin. He wore a Starfleet captain's uniform with a lightsaber on his belt. He looked Human--and yet, what Human could appear on the ship without warning like that?

The newcomer frowned. "Clearly you Humans aren't as smart as I thought. Don't you know who I am?"

T'Lor scrutinized the newcomer. She then looked out the viewport and saw that the Imperial ship was motionless in the middle of space. It was as if time had been frozen.

T'Lor forced back her confused emotions and pursued a logical explanation. Then she realized. The only beings in the galaxy that she had ever heard of with these abilities were the-

"You're correct, T'Lor," the strange boy replied, grinning arrogantly. "You win the big prize." Then, out of nowhere, a bouquet of roses appeared in his hand. He presented them to T'Lor with a flourish.

T'Lor ignored the roses. She narrowed her eyes and stared at the newcomer. "Then you are...?"

"Yes," the boy replied, snapping his hands and causing the roses to disappear abruptly. "I am a Q."





HISTORICAL INTERLUDE [an explanation for all the non-Trekkies out there]

The Q [plural] are an arrogant and EXTREMELY powerful alien race. They can alter time, travel to alternate universes, and generally cause chaos and confusion everywhere they go.

Generally, Q have a code of honor type of thing that forbids them from doing that. However, this particular Q is a teenager (YES, a TEENAGER). And if typical counselors and psychiatrists consider HUMAN teens to be moody and uncooperative, then they certainly haven't met THIS young Q. He gives a new definition to the words "mood swing" (a definition involving exploding planets and time-warps).

This teenage Q alone has destroyed the universe a grand total of seven times. His father Q has had to go back in time and fix the universe countless times, each time scolding his impulsive son for altering history. Once the father even had to turn his son into an amoeba as punishment (just think of it as the Q version of "grounding").

Q the Younger has cleaned up his act. Sort of. He still likes to occasionally meddle with the Timeline and teleport people from different eras into the same place, where they often fight, much to the amusement of the Q. As long as Q the Younger puts the teleported specimens back in their normal times (without any memory of what has happened, of course), his father lets him "play".

And now, back to Q's latest game...



"Kuuu?" Koby asked, struggling to pronounce the Human word and giving a short growl of confusion. "What's a Kuuuu?" "It's 'Q', my enormously stupid bipedal friend," Q replied arrogantly.

"Did YOU cause this?" Najen asked, standing up in order to be at a height level to the Q.

The Q grinned, "Yes, of course. Amusing, isn't it? People from two completely different galaxies, from entirely different times...I believe this has been one of my better ideas. Sometimes I impress even myself."

"That must not be too hard," Levek retorted, his voice cocky enough to rival even Q's arrogance.

The Q smiled haughtily. "Ah, Levek. A loyal young soldier of the proud Romulan Empire. Bah! Did you know that your people will destroy themselves within the next three millennia? You Romulans aren't nearly as clever as you think."

"Send us back, Q," James interrupted. "Just SEND US BACK."

"What? Is the little bipedal Human trying to act like Captain Kirk? Do you think I will send you back just because you ASK me to? Ah, Humans are so naïve."

K'Bhena whipped out her knife and pressed it to the alien's throat. "Do it!" she growled, pressing Q into the bulkhead.

Unfazed, Q simply snapped his fingers. Immediately, a cage appeared around K'Bhena.

"What is this?!" K'Bhena growled, banging her hands on the bars surrounding her.

"Well, I can't leave a Klingon savage like you unsupervised. It's just not SAFE. You understand, don't you?"

"LET ME OUT!" K'Bhena roared. "Release me or I shall cut out your heart and feed it to my brother's pet targ!"

"Now, now, K'Bhena." the Q chastised, shaking his head in a patronizing expression. "It's not the time for threats. Besides, I don't have a heart--not like the ones you bipedals have, anyway."

Cale finally regained his grip on reality. He ran forward and wrapped his hands around the alien's neck, choking the Q.

"YOU KILLED TALELA!" he screamed, too caught up in his rage to think straight.

Q snapped his fingers and immediately disappeared.

"Don't tell me I need a cage for you too, Cale," Q murmured, appearing at the other side of the cabin.

Cale, his eyes wild with grief, started toward the Q.

Q sighed. "Very well. I'll bring back the Jedi. I wasn't going to LEAVE her dead, anyway. I respect the Jedi; they are among the most evolved of your entire pathetic species--which doesn't say much, I suppose. Oh, well." Q snapped his fingers.

Talela appeared in the middle of the group. She gasped, looking around and seeing the Q. "What is going on here?"





"So this entire Void: the battle, the death, the fear--it's just a GAME to you?" Najen demanded, glaring at the Q.

"Yes," the Q replied. "You bipedal species are so...primitive. Why, a Q playing with you is like a Human child playing with...insects."

"We wish to go back," T'Lor declared, ignoring the Q's insults. "NOW, Q."

Q sighed. "I guess the fun is over. I'll send you back...in one hour." He immediately disappeared.

"An hour?" James asked. "Why the wait?"

Najen looked around, at the people from another galaxy, the friends she would never see again. She mournfully replied:

"To say goodbye."





Everyone said their private goodbyes. Najen could hear snatches of conversation every now and then.

"So, what sports do they play on Earth?" Cale was asking James. Despite their minor rivalry over Talela, Najen could see the two boys had a lot in common.

"Now," K'Bhena said, turning to Koby. "Tell me about Wookiee fighting methods. Your people sound like a race of warriors."

At the back of the ship, Talela was showing T'Lor her lightsaber. T'Lor slowly, deliberately moved the golden blade from side to side, a look of intense concentration on her face.

As for Levek and Akiran, the two most "deceptive" members of the team, Najen could see them talking in the cockpit. As to what they were talking about, Najen could only hear occasional phrases.

"A proud empire..." Levek was saying. "...but there is no shame...in you...see..." He sounded like he was giving advice.

Akiran was nodding seriously. "...I shall. Thank you."

Levek nodded back, and replied "...wish you courage...Jolan true...friend."

Then Q appeared. "Time's up, bipedals. Time to go back to your separate rat cages."

"Rat cages?" Najen asked, narrowing her eyes.

The arrogant boy Q shrugged. "Just a saying among the Continuum [the organization of all Q in the universe]. Stop your chitchat now; time to go."





"Good luck with your Rebellion," Najen said, solemnly shaking Cale's hand. "If there is anything we can do to help..."

"It's okay," Cale replied. "I wouldn't want you guys to break your Prime Directive. At the risk of sounding corny, I must say...the Empire is EVIL. They aren't fighting for the right side. And that's why they're gonna lose."

"Good ultimately wins out over evil," Najen said, echoing her Bajoran religious teachings.

She smiled at the Rebels. "My people had their own Rebellion a few decades ago. Against a species called the Cardassians, who had conquered Bajor, our homeworld. We won--as you too will win."

"With many glorious battles along the way," K'Bhena added, raising her fist in salute. "Qapla! Success to your Rebel Alliance!"

"Qapla," Cale replied, awkwardly returning the salute. Koby added a Wookiee war cry that needed no translation.

"You Rebels have great determination," Levek observed. "You will win," he stated confidently. "No one knows war like a Romulan--and so trust me when I say that you WILL defeat the Empire."

"T'Lor," Talela said, stepping forward. "I would like to give you this." She held out the metal tube that T'Lor had come to recognize as her "lightsaber".

"I cannot accept this," T'Lor replied, shaking her head. "It is yours."

"I can always build another," Talela replied smoothly. "You cannot. And so I give this to you. Use it well."

T'Lor reluctantly held out her hand and grasped the cool piece of metal. She held it reverently.

"Remember," Talela warned, in a serious tone uncommon for the cheerful young Jedi. "You must always serve the light side of the Force. Never submit to the dark, or your life will forever be governed by evil."

"I understand," T'Lor replied, her tone equally solemn.

"I trust that you will restore the Jedi order in your galaxy and pass on what you have learned."

"Of course. It is the only LOGICAL course of action," T'Lor added. She paused before continuing.

T'Lor raised her hand in a split-fingered Vulcan salute. "May the Force be with you, Talela--with all of you: Cale, Kobawcca, Akiran."

Talela returned the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper, Jedi T'Lor."

"Good luck," James added.

"Same to you," Cale replied. "After all, you have a war too. Against the 'Dominion'." James nodded a confirmation.

"Okay, enough with the sentimental moments," Q muttered. "Time to go back." He snapped his fingers.

Najen looked away from the Q to catch a last glimpse of her friends. She saw Talela, standing up straight with an aura of serene dignity about her. Koby was looking around nervously, his reddish-brown head cocked at a thoughtful angle. Cale had narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists, bracing himself for whatever was about to come. Akiran too was preparing, a look of hard determination in his face.

And then those from Najen's own galaxy. T'Lor, holding the lightsaber in one hand and a tricorder [a Star Trek scanner instrument] in the other. Levek, grinning cockily as if nothing in the world could frighten him. K'Bhena, her fist in the air, sending a salute to her comrades and friends. James, shouting one last question at the Q, something like "Will we ever see them again?" If Q answered, Najen never heard it.

Najen opened her mouth to say one last goodbye, but found it swallowed by a sudden rush of wind. Bright colors danced before her eyes, making her dizzy and exhilarated all at once. It was stranger than any transporter she had ever journeyed on; but then again, it wasn't any ordinary teleportation.

And then they were gone.





NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR: Whoever is reading this, thanks for sticking with me for so long. And whoever is lurking around and not reviewing--shame on you! *whips out lightsaber* REVIEW! *puts lightsaber away* Please?

This is NOT the end of the story. There is ONE chapter left, after which I plan to write a sequel. I'm not done writing the last chapter yet. You can expect it during Christmas Break. (If I get reviews asking me to write it sooner, I might reconsider.)

Thanks for reading!

May the Force be with you!

Live long and prosper!

And, of course, "qapla"!