(Four and a half billion years later)
As the sun bathed the home of humanity in cold red light for its final few hours, the last inhabitants fled the Earth.
At the spaceports of the Earth, the ships bearing the twin symbols of the Galactic Federation and Universal Alliance escaped the Earth's final doom. The long, sleek vessels, which still displayed the standard design of two nacelles and a saucer that bore mute testimony to the ancient designs of the United Federation of Planets, and the work of Zefram Cochrane, fled the cradle for the last time.
Humans, now masters of space and energy, were still susceptible to the ravages of time and destruction, life and death, because their life span had not yet extended to the same length as that of the Q or the Organians.
The captain of the last ship watched as the last of the refugees entered the ship. He was about to turn and begin the lift-off, when he suddenly spotted a lone figure walking calmly amongst the rubble of humanity's last home. Wearing a robe of white, and carrying a box, he seemingly glided towards the starship.
'Hurry up!' called the captain, not using his defunct mouth. His voice resounded through the stranger's mind.
There was no reply. 'I said, -'
'I have something for you, captain.' The stranger looked at the captain, silencing him. The captain stepped down the ramp, almost hypnotised by the stranger.
'What?' The stranger handed him the box. Caught up in an air of mystery, the captain stared at the object mystified.
'What is it?' The stranger smiled.
'A part of the past that I no longer have need of. Look after it. It is a favour I owe a friend.' The captain nodded mutely. He entered the ship. The ramp retracted into the ship silently, the door slid shut, and the vessel launched silently.
Q watched the ship escape. He was alone on Earth now. Soon, he would leave this universe in search of new adventure. The Continuum would still remain, empty, until the humans were ready to take on the new challenge of guiding the next races.
He paused for a moment, ruminating. He had one last task to perform, but he had plenty of time left to do that, far back in the past as it was. As he had approached his impending death, the great adventure the Q had been promised by Quinn, so long before, he had begun to appreciate how important time was. He had promised to do this task as he was about to "shuffle off this immortal coil", as some Q with a particularly bizarre sense of humour had been amused to put it, so that he would be able to relate better to what his task required of him.
Shaking his head, Q raised his hand and clicked his fingers.
As he vanished in a blaze of white light for the last time, the Earth disappeared in a hail of red fire and destruction. The last ship leaped into the crawl of warp speed, leaving the Solar system behind for the last time.
The captain sat aboard in the centre chair, thinking about the item given to him by the stranger. He simply sat and stared into the box he had been given, as the great ship entered into the relatively slow Ultra-warp speed. He knew that the beginning of the Galactic Federation had been saved by the brave efforts in a massive war of salvation. Maybe, one day, this item would relinquish its secrets and tell them more about the great Aralla War.
Data's eyes, dead these billions of years, stared back at him. The head, recovered from his burial place on Vegryo VII by Q, flew into the future, about to see the world he had helped create. Maybe they could reactivate him. Whatever happened, Data's life didn't seem to be quite over.
The immense vessel accelerated one last time, and vanished into a white gate of energy that led to the next Final Frontier.
The End of the First Book of the Final Reckoning