Disclaimer: Star Trek: Voyager and all characters therein are the property of Americans who are not me. No infringement of copyright is intended.

This is set post-Season 7 and is my 'feel good' ending to the show; I also try and provide as many plausible reasons for this alternative future as I can! NB – the 'main segment' of this story is sent ten years after the crew got back from the Delta Quadrant. Spoilers – entire series. Rating T/PG13 for odd risqué phrase.

NB –Certain chapters are longer than usual for my postings; however, to do otherwise would interrupt the flow of the narrative too much, so apologies.

ENCHANTED ENDGAME

Epilogue

"…the Borg much of a threat," countered Stephaine Riker, grinning as he flicked shut his locker door.

"That's because luckily for all of you my ancestors were there to kick Borg butt," retorted Lieutenant Eugenie Thomasina Paris, known by the self-admittedly highly appropriate nickname of 'Zanie', also grinning at her long-time friend to take any sting out of her words.

From behind them there came what sounded like a deliberately not-quite-quiet-enough derisory sniff; 'Phaine and Zanie both turned and eyeballed the guy ostensibly double-checking his nostrils' capacity to suck in air.

Unfazed by their dual scrutiny, Rhydian DiMarco drawled, "You're always talking a good game about your big, bad and scary Klingon side, Paris."

DiMarco was Earth-born, being mostly human of incredibly mixed American Indian, Celtic Caucasian and Oriental Nipponese descent, with a spicy infusion of DNA courtesy of a Ndiisi great-grandmother. He thus had silken obsidian-hued hair that begged to be stroked, eyes that were bottomless black-velvet pools of sensual promise, bone structure to die for, skin a perfect shade of Florentine gold and that indefinable Ndiisi sexual allure.

And he knew it. Aware of her own limitations in the looks department – gamine, freckled face, uncontrollably curly brown hair and, like most of the females in her family, vestigial Klingon forehead ridges – Zanie was not bothered in the slightest by her lack of conventional prettiness; instead she eyed him with the tolerant benevolence of a veteran pilot towards a promising but overconfident young gun. DiMarco had just been promoted from Lieutenant, junior grade to Lieutenant and was obviously feeling his pips.

"If you've got it, flaunt it." She loftily declared with an arrogant shrug.

"But I've never seen it, Paris," DiMarco claimed, ignoring the chuckles and ribaldry of the other pilots. "All those stories about not setting off Zanie Paris's Klingon side, but you've never so much as raised your voice in the past three years. I'm beginning to suspect that…" he paused dramatically, "…secretly you're a big softie."

Stephaine groaned dramatically and raised a hand as if to hold Zanie back. "Let me give Sick Bay a heads up to expect the body before you kill him."

Zanie, however, merely laughed, "You want me to hurt you, DiMarco? That's something you need to take up with your sexual psychotherapist."

That drew hoots and catcalls anew, but DiMarco curled his lip in a deliberately I'm-gorgeous-and-I-know-it provocation, "Scared that I can outfight as well as out-fly a member of the mighty Paris clan of super-pilots?"

Instead of retorting, Zanie deliberately folded her arms, and slowly looked DiMarco up and down with a deliberately exaggerated expression of thoughtful speculation that brought instant hush to the amused audience of the byplay. "Right now, Klingon honour forbids me from taking advantage of such an unequal opponent."

His eyes flared at that while several made nyeee-ooww crash-and-burn sounds. "How convenient," he sneered.

But she wasn't done; she let a slow, wide shark-like smile spread across her face and carefully dropped her voice into a lower, huskier register, "But you're pretty good, DiMarco. Keep practising and one day, you might even be good enough for me to fly you."

Whistles and catcalls erupted; Zanie smirked as DiMarco responded automatically to the blatant sexual entendre and the sensual speculation in her eyes, instinctively moving a fraction so he was closer to her than the other males -

"Try not to damage him too much, Lieutenant, he has potential. In a very short time he could be almost as good a pilot as you…and he's easy on the eyes." the Admiral added in a deliberately not-quite sotto voce enough aside to Lt Paris, her eyes dancing with wicked amusement.

"Admiral on deck!" Everyone instantly came to attention at the declaration, but Zanie Paris was too irrepressible not to respond.

"Yes, ma'am," as usual for her family, Lt Paris instantly caught on and as the Admiral walked past she conspicuously eyed Lt DiMarco with an archly thoughtful gaze, fighting back a smirk at the answering and heated challenge in Rhydian's eyes; she had the feeling the next few months were going to be a lot of fun – for one of them at least.

They came to attention as the Admiral finished her impromptu inspection and congratulated them all warmly on their achievements and their presentation. Knowing when to make an exit as well as an entrance, Admiral Janeway left their crew quarters. Once the door had slid shut behind her to leave her in the empty corridor, she relaxed into plain old Teya, heartily wishing she could be a fly on the wall in the room she'd just left.

She started to walk briskly along the corridor but almost immediately had to slow to what she vainly persisted in terming her 'stately shuffle'. The doctor, interfering busybody, had demanded that for her heart she must only 'travel' by site-to-site transport, or else the consequences could be…Well, what did he expect from a 197-year-old, cartwheels and handsprings? Ridiculous, a whippersnapper two-thirds of her age trying to lecture her on her health – let him get this old first, then he could dole out trite clichés, and he wasn't even the Doctor.

Teya felt a different pang, one of her figurative not literal heart. She would have loved to have met that physician in the flesh, or rather holo-matrix as it were. But nearly 350 years after Voyager had made it home, just two years before Teya herself had been born, the Doctor had permanently deactivated his program following the death of an extremely elderly Vulcan woman named T'Ryn.

All through her childhood, Teya had experienced a deep disappointment, resentful with the typical self-centredness of the young as to why couldn't the Doctor have waited just a few years longer, until after she'd met him? It taken the understanding of age to sharpen her emotional 'sight' even as her physical eyes began to put their feet up a little!

But the death of T'Ryn had marked the end of an epoch for the Doctor, something a curious child such as Teya, with no concept of time, was unable to grasp. T'Ryn had been the last of the First Generation of children born to the 'Voyagers', the returnee crew. She had been the last surviving personal link to them, but even then, she had only been a partial one.

When Tuvok's last son, Turak, had undergone the Pon Farr, Seven had agreed to be his mate and indeed had coped far better with a serene Vulcan spouse than she would have done with a human male. T'Ryn had been the youngest of their children; however, she had been born essentially as part of the next and therefore removed generation.

Some of the Voyagers she had never known at all. When T'Ryn was just six weeks old, Tuvok had passed away, by far the biologically oldest though not the first to die of the Voyagers – earlier deceased included Neelix, though the after-effects of the Metrion Cascade used by the Hankorians in the war with the Talaxians had contributed greatly to his health problems.

When his illness was diagnosed by the Doctor as terminal, Neelix had begun making plans to go into a hospice, but Captain Janeway and Chakotay had taken him into their home where their children had given him a new lease of life, along with his goddaughter Naomi Wildman who had practically moved in. Incredibly one day a very elderly woman had just walked straight into the house – Kes.

She ignored all questions as to how she had managed to get to Earth and her own condition as Ocampans lived only 'nine' years according to the revolutions of their home world. She had never left Neelix's side until he died peacefully in his sleep a few days later. Still without satisfying anyone's curiosity, Kes herself had also passed away a week later, a peculiarly apropos ending, as Ocampans mated for life and in a strange way she had always been Neelix's mate.

Previous crewmembers had been granted special dispensation by Starfleet to be interred around Captain Janeway's plinth at the 'Voyager shrine', Neelix and Kes amongst them, and upon his death, Tuvok's Will had made the same interment instruction. Even now Teya sometimes wondered what Tuvok's Vulcan family had made of such sentimentality. But there again, Tuvok's death had been the end of an era to those of that period as T'Ryn's had been to the Doctor. Tuvok had been one of the last living links to heroes of that period, having in his own youth actually met the legendary Vulcan Spock, Captain James Kirk, Dr Leonard McCoy, Chief Engineer Scott, Captain Uhura, Commodore Chekov and Admiral Sulu.

By T'Ryn's childhood, she had missed and therefore could never appreciate the rich vibrancy of those early years of the Voyagers return, their private and public struggles to readjust and reintegrate. When T'Ryn was a girl, many of the Voyagers had been like Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay, who were aged professors emeritus more interested in being doting grandparents. Or were like Harry Kim, who by then was a widower, retired from Engineering Design to become a full-time classical clarinettist. He more or less continuously toured the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants, accompanied by his good friends B'Elanna and Tom Paris who had sold their San Francisco home when their children were grown to accompany him on the grounds that (as the history texts quoted Tom Paris) "'I've never let Harry go wandering the cosmos on his own and I don't intend to start now.'"

The Voyagers' children such as Miral Paris, Teya and Seven Janeway, Naomi Wildman et al were all grown up by the time T'Ryn was young, either with families of their own or established in their careers, like Tom Kim and Harry Paris, 'the two most vexing cadets ever to pass through Starfleet Academy', both eventual heroes of the Vidiian-Klingon War, and key players in bringing about peace, alongside Commodore Ayala, eldest son of Lt Ayala.

T'Ryn's formative years had thus been spent in the autumn and winter of the Voyagers' lives and there had been much that had passed her by. Before T'Ryn even reached adolescence, Kathryn Janeway was once again making her annual pilgrimage to her plinth alone, Chakotay her beloved mate buried there alongside Tuvok, her most trusted friend, now bereft of the two stanchions of her life.

The Parises and Harry Kim had all died in the same year; Harry and B'Elanna Torres Paris had passed away within weeks of each other, and a few weeks after that, Tom Paris had simply 'stopped'. He was unable to continue without the two people who had been the bedrock of his life for so many years, and quite simply he didn't want to. By then those who mourned at the Voyager shrine were ever fewer; Kathryn Janeway was of great age by then, jokingly attributing her longevity to a diet of pure caffeine.

She and Chakotay had moved back to San Francisco when their youngest child was grown and every October with increasing slowness she would make her way from her townhouse to the transport shuttle and alight at the Gardens she could no longer walk to from her home as she had done with Chakotay for so many years, even though her eyesight was by then so bad she had no idea that when she handed in her travel chit the shuttle conductor gave it back without having billed her – she was Janeway.

Until one October day when no figure was waiting at the shuttle stop. The shuttle waited and waited, until the passengers checked that the few Voyagers waiting at the shrine did not have the Captain already with them. Then the passengers had called at Captain Janeway's home, and found her in the kitchen rocking chair Chakotay had hand-carved for their fifth wedding anniversary; bundled up ready for the chill weather, she had simply sat down for a few minutes and closed her eyes eternally.

When T'Ryn had herself died of the great age typical of Vulcans, the Doctor had seemed to himself to be an anachronism. Her death made the Voyagers as legendary to that generation as Captain Kirk and his Enterprise had been to Kathryn Janeway's. They were larger-than-life figures of holonovels and documentaries, analysed historical personages in school and higher education history texts, but they were no longer 'real'.

Only one hologram, whose subroutines and memory circuits granted him perpetual and perfect crystal clear recall, remembered. He alone only had to close his eyes to relive sharply their eternal hope during their epic journey across uncharted space; he alone felt that reminiscent pride in recalling exactly how they had been willing to turn down Admiral Janeway's plan to return them to the Alpha Quadrant in favour of destroying the Borg hub even though they would be stranded in the Delta Quadrant for decades.

The Doctor was the sole being who remembered precisely what his memoirs had called the 'stomach-twisting, heart-clenching, blood-pounding, eye-burning indescribably euphoric depth of emotion that seemed to tremble through the very ship itself' as they destroyed the Borg sphere from within and surged through the wreckage, out, out, to see that glorious shimmering blue jewel of a world and the massed ranks of the ships that became their honour guard.

Voted the Alpha Quadrant's No.1 News Clip in every century since (which Teya only watched in private so nobody could see her cry) was the replay of the USS Voyager sweeping into land at San Francisco, the dusk as bright as day from the fireworks and celebratory crowds thronging the streets. A massed gasp of awe echoed as the Voyager finally set down on the landing pad, billions watching as groups of people began being beamed to appear around the ship. But those people had ignored the approaching phalanx of Starfleet Admirals and Federation High Councillors; they had seemed oblivious to their loved ones crowding the concourses as their fellow crew members beamed onto the landing pad.

The crowd had cheered when Naomi Wildman solidified into view holding her mother's hand and cheerfully waved at them, and even more so when the Doctor, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres appeared side by side, the latter holding a baby that gurgled and wafted its hands as if also trying to wave. Then a single transport beam formed and one final figure materialised on the landing pad – a slender woman of medium height.

"Captain on deck!" Tuvok had announced in stentorian tones.

…and instantly, every member of the USS Voyager crew came to attention and saluted their Captain – including the waiting Admirals.

Only the Doctor remembered those Voyagers, and only he grieved for them with a sense of personal loss their own great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren could not feel.

So he had shut down his program perpetually, transferring it to an inoperative mobile emitter and ensuring he couldn't be reactivated, leaving an explanation playing on a repetitive loop on his console for his assistant to find, as he had no 'estate' as such to bequeath. The Doctor's closest Alpha Quadrant friends had been Dr Lewis Zimmerman and Commander Reginald Barclay; the former had created the Doctor, and the latter had tirelessly devoted his efforts to helping them get home. By special order of Captain Janeway for these facts, both been granted 'honorary' crewmember status and buried with everyone else at the Voyager shrine, but neither had had any immediate biological family or direct descendents who might inherit.

By special Executive Order of the United Federation of Planets following his self-deactivation, the Doctor's mobile emitter had been placed within Kathryn Janeway's grave, the Voyagers finally united together again, though by that time period their resting place had long been a tourist attraction rather than a shrine – something that perhaps only underscored the wisdom of the Doctor's decision.

As she paused yet again to catch her breath, Teya clucked her tongue in irritation at herself. Daddy used to call her his 'little worrier', and here she was. She was sure that Zanie Paris and that Rhydian DiMarco would turn out a fine couple. Her matchmaking instincts had always been more 'on the nose' than not and she had the proof - T'Ven, Tuvok's great-great-whatever granddaughter through Seven and Turak, had actually run a statistical analysis of her 'romance radar' when they'd attended the Academy together and with (for a Vulcan) impressed surprise had noted a 90 percent accuracy rate.

Yet here she was second-guessing herself already; even more ludicrously, she knew her ancestors had made it through and yet she was worrying about the Voyagers. Her doctor would be calling her a silly old woman if she let that slip. But then she'd always been too over-imaginative for her own common sense to control sometimes. When her father had told his children stories of the Voyagers and their descendents Teya had listened each time with bated breath and rapid pulse, even though she knew the generally positive outcome.

Not that the Voyagers had been magically immune to age, illness and accidents by any means, but considering what they'd managed to survive in the Delta Quadrant, they were pretty sharp when it came to spotting trouble brewing long before even the most perceptive people and equally nimble at 'getting the hell out of the way'. Useful skills they combined with a tendency to think 'outside the box' and which they'd taught their children.

That had enabled them to sometimes succeed with a high-risk gamble where others would fatally hesitate or vacillate. Those qualities had enabled Captain Tom Kim to win the defining battle of the Vidiian-Klingon War for the Klingon's Federation allies (using the multi-attack-vector capable ships based on the Prometheus prototype that the Romulans had once tried to steal), helped because he had one of the best pilots in the Alpha Quadrant not only flying his attack trio but sharing such synchronicity of thought that he anticipated the Commodore's intentions – Commander Harry Paris.

But the battle had been won at a cost; Commodore Ayala's brother had been killed outright in the battle, as had one of William and Tal Telfer's daughters, Ekaterin, and one of Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay's daughters, Lieutenant Commander Amelia Earhart Janeway. Tom Kim had been seriously injured in the battle, requiring his left eye, ear, arm and leg to be replaced – after the Doctor had performed the most frantic 'field surgery' ever. It was a testament to the man's character that even from his sick bed, he inveigled his best friend and assorted Voyager friends and relatives into an audacious plan to strike a peace accord with the Vidiians whilst they were in disarray. The plan had worked, and Captain Kim had become one of the youngest Admirals in Starfleet, but he remained what he self-derisorily termed a 'desk jockey' for the rest of his life.

"Of course everything turns out fine; never fear, we are here!"

Teya turned at the bombastic declaration to find two men standing side by side in the previously deserted corridor. Tall, with dark hair and eyes, they looked like identical twins, and were wearing command-level style Starfleet uniforms. Or rather, what had been the style about five hundred years before.

"Q!"

They beamed at her fatuously, utterly impervious as she tried her most intimidating "I-am-the-Admiral-and-I-rule" glare. Teya knew all about this pair! One was the Q, life's bane of the great Jean-Luc Picard, the other was his son, Qb; together they had equally been the bane of the Janeway-Chakotay clan for the past five centuries.

The spring of the eleventh year after Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant had come uneventfully almost everywhere, an insignificant season in an unimportant year – until pandemonium had erupted over London one bright spring morning. The entire city had suddenly turned bright pink – every brick and tile, every leaf and grass-blade, every flower and bird and beast, even the River Thames itself. At the same time fireworks had begun to explode and massed angelic choristers blasted triple-note heralds on golden trumpets while it began to rain rose petals and the very stars themselves had seemingly contorted to spell out: 'HELLO GIRLS!' in the sky.

The cacophony had only been stopped when Kathryn Janeway appeared at the doorway of her London townhouse and furiously declared that unless the two Qs desisted immediately, they would not be the godfathers. That had brought an instant cessation to the extravaganza, but had forced Teya's ancestress, despite some serious misgivings, to make Q and Qb godfathers to her newborn twin daughters – whose birth had caused their antics.

Actually it hadn't been that bad. The original Teya and Seven had thought the world of their omnipotent godfathers, who had come in very useful at the "I-want-a-puppy/pony" stage. Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay had also taught the Q continuum a thing a two by insisting Q pull his weight in the babysitting dues. They had even made Q's mate, the female Q, broody again after she declared them 'utterly charming' and gleefully noted how they drove her mate and her son to distraction, omnipotence or no.

However, the Qs had for whatever reason not only expanded the role to encompass all of Kathryn Janeway's children, but seemed to have decided that 'godchild' was a hereditary position. So for the last five hundred years, various descendents of the 'indomitable duo', as Q termed Janeway and Chakotay, had experienced sudden visitations (according to their recipients always at the worst possible moment) by Q and his son. The last such unwelcome surprise had occurred just over 120 years ago to a distant cousin of Teya's, a warp drive engineer named Richard Meygesi. Occasionally other descendents of the Voyagers had also received unwelcome visitors; Major Paris Torres HammondammHamm, a great-grandson of Tom & B'Elanna Paris had famously threatened to shoot them, and the Qs particularly liked to drop in uninvited on Tuvok's descendents with the express intention of checking they were 'still depressing and tedious'.

"What are you doing here?" Teya demanded in her most repressive tone.

"How could we pass by when our favourite goddaughter – this century – was worrying her snowy head about such inconsequentialities!" Q stepped forward and threw an arm round her shoulder, ignoring her stiff body to give her a 'matey' hug.

"Relax, Teya Two…or is it Three now pops?" the other Q began uncertainly.

She narrowed her eyes. "I am the fifth Teya Janeway."

"Whatever…" Qb dismissed, "…anyway, relax. Your romance radar is still A-OK. Little Zanie – yeeuch how cutesy is that nickname? – and her testosterone-overloaded friend will live happily ever after."

"Give or take three years or so." Q amended.

"Three years?" Teya dug in her heels as they shepherded her along the corridor. "It takes three years for them to get together?"

"Are you kidding, that room was practically drowning in the flash flood of pheromones," Qb snorted derisively. "She jumps DiMarco's bones two weeks from now. She decides why not have a fun fling with the fun guy before she finds the real deal."

"Amazingly Mr Musclehead does have more between his ears than his skull and he figures out her game plan and decides to make some modifications." Q grinned. "It'll be fun to watch…" he rolled his eyes at her glowering expression, "tut-tut, what a face! Look, it will be fine, they procreate like bunnies for the next decade adding ever more 'Parisian' DNA to the gene pool."

"Eh, Parisian, very good Q." Qb praised.

"Look…!"

"We're here to grant your dearest wish!" Q declaimed theatrically.

"You're going to just leave?" Teya blinked in surprise.

He glared, "Second dearest wish. Cinderella – you shall go to the ball."

She groaned as he snapped his fingers – that was always fatal – and was forced to take a step back as she was hit in the face by a…climbing rose bloom?

Bringing the wafting frond into focus, Teya looked around her in alarm. She was certainly no longer in Starfleet HQ, but outside. Flanked on either side by the Qs, she appeared to be in some sort of garden. There was a wall immediately behind her and flagged stones under her feet, while yellow lanterns cast pools of light. But there didn't seem to be any immediate danger.

Laughter broke into her examination and she saw about six feet away humanoids – a tall, austere-looking blonde woman was talking to a youth with a strange ridged nose and…

That bald pate and round face was recognisable anywhere – Voyager's Doctor! With speechless astonishment, Teya feasted her eyes on the group of people. There was another group at the doorway leading into the house, including a blond man and a slender, pretty brunette who bore a strong resemblance to Zanie Paris except that she had fully developed Klingon brow ridges rather than mere vestigial 'bumps'.

"It's them…" she breathed, taking a few steps forward.

"In the flesh!" smirked Q. "Or rather, they are. This is the tenth anniversary of Voyager's return home. Feel free to browse and ogle, they can't see us, hear us or detect our presence, not even Miss 'I am Borg' over there or that irritating Itchy boy."

Teya wasn't paying attention; she looked at her own ancestors as Chakotay held his wife's coat for her. In the lantern light his rugged handsomeness and that tattoo gave his face a sinister cast, but Kathryn Janeway smiled at him as if he were Michelangelo's David. Teya stood entranced as the group made their goodbyes to their hosts, finally leaving the house quiet again.

"It's incredible," she breathed, feeling tears prick her eyes. "To actually be able to see them as they were then…"

"Of course, we're the Q, incredible comes as standard." He buffed his nails on his uniform.

"Where are they all going?" she asked.

"Oh to their homes, that sort of thing. I think at this time they were all living on Earth. Apart from that hirsute Talaxian at any rate; he preferred one of Earth's lunar cities, said it reminded him of home. Good thing, considering how he moulted everywhere."

"We need to get out of here!" declared Qb suddenly.

"What's wrong?" Teya turned sharply, but there was no apparent threat.

"Nothing," retorted Qb and then jerked a thumb in the direction of the couple passionately embracing a few feet away, "but in six minutes and…17 seconds – B'Elanna Torres will become pregnant for the third time, and some sights are more even than a Q can stomach!" he snapped his fingers –

- and they were suddenly on a main sidewalk in the city itself. A little further ahead, a familiar group of figures separated, some heading towards the shuttle port, whilst Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay began to walk along arm in arm. Instinctively Teya followed her own ancestors, wishing she could run and accost them and ask them all the questions bubbling up inside.

"Ah, ah!" Q chided. "Look but don't touch, all breakages must be paid for! Or do you really want an hour long lecture from your illustrious forbears on the Temporal Prime Directive. Trust me, Janeway can quote it verbatim." He pulled a face.

"You just dropped in to show me this?" Teya demanded suspiciously.

"Actually we have a proposition for you." Q admitted.

"Hah-ah!"

"Don't take that tone with me young lady." Q chided sniffily. "Besides, you'll love it. We'd like to offer you an all-expenses paid vacation…with us."

"I don't understand?" Teya frowned. "You want me to join the continuum?"

"Hardly," Q rolled his eyes, muttering something about 'minor bipedal species' under his breath that she didn't catch before going on, "Isn't it true that you've always been more into your family's history than most of your relatives? Haven't you always wanted to see their time for yourself? That's what we're offering. You've dedicated your life to service of your world and your family. You have no mate or children to hold you back, why not?"

Teya hesitated. It was tempting. Her battalions of nephews and nieces had, quite rightly, never loved her more than their own parents and she had never felt any biological urge to reproduce, happy to vicariously experience parenthood at a distance through her siblings.

"I'm still a Starfleet Admiral. I still have responsibilities…"

"Actually, you don't." Q looked slightly sheepish.

"What do you mean?"

"When we appeared in the corridor behind you we startled you –"

"Yes, you gave me a start," Teya conceded.

Qb stepped up and put his arm round her shoulder with a pained expression, "Actually we gave you a stop."

There was the sound of clicking fingers, and suddenly Teya was back in the corridor, but again she wasn't alone. A large gathering of people were standing over…her. Teya looked down at her own form; she was lying on the corridor carpet, not sprawled but straight, as if she had decided to lay down for a brief nap. One of the paramedics shook her head and carefully laid some sort of cloth over Teya's upper torso and face. At the forefront of those standing Teya saw Zanie Paris, rigid with her hands clenched and tears swimming in her eyes. Rhydian DiMarco gently laid his hand on her shoulder and instead of shrugging it off the young woman instinctively leaned into the support – yes, they would be fine.

"I'm dead."

"As a dodo," Q said cheerfully.

"So you took my soul out or something?"

"Dear me, how fanciful…no." Q rolled his eyes. "You're intact, body and soul. In the instant before you keeled over – your heart by the way – we…how can your primitive understanding comprehend? Let's say we yanked your consciousness out."

"Come on, what do you say," urged Qb.

"I've only just found out I'm dead!" she protested.

"Pshaw!" Qb waved that away. "Come on, think of it. Wouldn't you love to be on the bridge of that ship with Harry Paris and Tom Kim? Don't you want to have a ringside seat back in the Delta Quadrant and watch great-great-whatever granny Kathryn go one-on-one with the Borg Queen? You don't have to stay forever! We're offering you the chance to kick back and relax a while. Consider it a well-earned vacation."

Teya bit her lip; yes, she would love and yes she did want…"Well…"

"It'll be fun!" the Qs assured her in chorus.

And it was.

© 2005 Catherine D Stewart