Author's Note: This AU is based on the Voyager episodes "The Q and the Grey" and "Counterpoint". I am not responsible for the similarity of the villain's name to the Wookkie homeworld from Star Wars - it's canon, sue Paramount if you don't like it.
There is much to do after the end of the war – alliances to be forged, laws to be made or repealed, broken parts of what was once a continuous whole to be knitted back together, and he is needed constantly. As the ideological leader of the side for Change, he's been catapulted from the somewhat despised rebel outcast to one of the leaders of the Continuum. Really, it's a kind of grim joke. He always thought meetings of the Continuum were tedious, and now he has no choice but to sit through them, because it's his ideas that are reshaping the Continuum.
A trip to the mortals' universe would be a break in the tedium, but he can't afford to take the time. Still, he keeps a tiny part of his attention on Pandora, watching her grow. She doesn't do much; by human standards she might be something of a prodigy, but by Q standards she's quite useless, spending most of her time eating and sleeping and doing other, far more grotesque mortal things, and it's just as well that he never has time to visit because he really doesn't want to deal with that aspect of her. Let her mortal mother tend her mortal body. He's waiting for the Q parts of her to come to life.
And then one day he hears her call for help.
It isn't a word. It's a thought form, the way the Q communicate directly with one another, the transmission of an idea without speech to constrain it. But if it had been a word, the word would have been "Daddy!"
He doesn't even bother to excuse himself from the latest meeting, just flashes out.
Before he materializes on Voyager, he assesses the situation. Janeway is distressed, angry, fearful. An alien – a member of the Devore species, dressed in the uniform of an inspector – is holding Pandora. Q reviews the history, checking up on what's already happened before his arrival. This is the third time Voyager has been inspected by Devore warships for contraband telepaths. Janeway actually is smuggling telepaths to safety – the Devore send telepaths to concentration camps, a crime against evolution in Q's opinion, and he'd think highly of Janeway and her noble decision to rescue these people if it hadn't put his daughter in jeopardy. Since the inspector, Kashyk, can't find any telepaths, due to Janeway's clever trick of keeping them suspended in the transporter buffer in an immaterial state, he's made a closer inspection of Janeway's crew.
Q watches the Continuum's record of events, plucking Janeway's and Kashyk's memories of what occurred out of their minds and adding them to the record, as his rage builds. When the Devore inspection team scanned Pandora, they found evidence of an active psionic center in her brain – not active telepathy, but in their experience, only telepaths would have active psi. They demanded that Janeway give up her daughter for further study. Janeway has stalled, argued, pleaded, and all but done backflips to persuade Kashyk not to take the baby, all in vain. Facing the possible destruction of her ship, or the capture and relocation of all of her crew to concentration camps, if she doesn't comply, Janeway has allowed herself to believe Kashyk's lying reassurances that the tests will be non-invasive. She's already coming up with a plan to give the baby up to stall for time, and then put together a rescue squad, beam over, grab Pandora back and use Seven of Nine's knowledge of Borg transwarp corridors to make a quick getaway, figuring that the Borg are at the moment less of a threat than the Devore. And it would be a beautiful plan except that Q can read Inspector Kashyk's mind, and he knows that by the time Janeway launches her rescue operation it will already be too late.
Pandora is crying in the Devore's arms, wailing in her voice for her mother and in her mind for her father. Q materializes behind the inspector.
"Thank you, I'll take her now," he growls, using telekinesis to yank Pandora out of the Devore's hands. He could have used teleportation, but species with transporters have a framework to understand teleportation; telekinesis will terrify the Devore more. The man spins around, and his minions point their guns at Q. Q vanishes and rematerializes, baby in arms, next to Janeway.
He does his best to quiet his Q-speech down to a volume that won't deafen the tiny human brain, sending "shh, daddy's here" in as soothing a mindvoice as he can manage. It seems to work. The little creature shudders in his arms and clings harder, but her sobbing stops.
"What in the name of—" the inspector starts. At the same time, Janeway says, "Q!"
He grins at her. "Miss me, Kathy?"
She has, actually. The sense of relief he can feel coming from her is almost material; he's surprised she doesn't buckle to her knees from the intensity of it. But she doesn't show it on her face. "I had this situation under control," she says. "You didn't need to get involved."
"Oh, if only that were true."
"Sir, he reads off the scale," one of the inspector's goons said.
"All right. You, whoever you are. Surrender yourself and the child immediately, or we will shoot to kill."
"That sounds like fun," Q says to the Devore. "Why don't you try that?"
"Inspector, I wouldn't provoke him if I were you," Janeway said. "He's not a telepath."
"Our readings say he is."
"Your readings have no idea what he is. He's much more powerful than you realize. I think your best course of action is probably to apologize and get the hell off my ship."
"No, no, Kathy, I'm afraid it's far too late for that," Q says. "You have no idea what they were planning to do to Pandora, do you?"
"Fire," the inspector says, as if he thinks Q's distraction in talking to Janeway is going to give him a great opportunity. Q bends the phaser fire into a spiral until it manages to hit itself and explode in mid-air. Then he melts the guns. The Devore men scream as molten metal pours out of their gloved hands.
"Q, don't," Janeway says. "Let them go."
"Pandora doesn't want me to let them go. She wants to see the bad men who scared her get a time-out, Mommy."
"She wants no such thing. You want revenge. But you can be bigger than that, Q. You're a god. They're only mortals. You don't have to hurt them to prove you're stronger than they are." She reaches out to him. "Please give her to me."
"No. She wants her daddy right now. Mommy was going to let her get vivisected. I think it's going to take a lot of cookies to get you back in her good graces, Kath. And maybe a new teething rattle."
"Captain Janeway," the Devore inspector snarls. "You mated with that?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but yes, Q is the father of my child," Janeway says.
"Poor, poor pity party for Kashyk. He thought he was going to get some starship captain tail," Q says in a singsong voice. "But she wasn't putting out, so he thought he'd up the ante by taking her baby. Teach her not to sex up Devore inspectors for favors. Too bad the baby daddy was out of his league. In more ways than one."
Kashyk attempts to contact his ship. "Fire on Voyager," he gasps, still in pain from the melted gun.
"Kathy? Can you put his warships on your screen there? I want him to see this."
"Q, just let them go! You've beaten them; I think they can all acknowledge that. Inspector Kashyk, you can't beat Q in a fight. His species are virtually omnipotent. If you want to survive, you have to back down!"
"Were you not listening to me?" Q demands. He grabs Janeway's shoulder with his free hand, facing her. "They would have dissected her. It's too late for you to persuade me to spare them. Far, far too late."
"Dissected…" She turns pale. "Kashyk. Is this true?"
"Why don't you ask your telepathic lover?" Kashyk says, still snarling. "If he can read minds, he must know everything!"
"I do know everything, so your sarcasm is falling a little flat. Since Kathy hasn't really got a screen large enough in this ready room, how about I make one for us?" He snaps his fingers and manufactures a viewscreen, hooked into the same cameras that the main screen on the bridge uses. "Are you watching carefully, Inspector?"
Then he snaps his fingers and the Devore warships explode. One of the Devore, not Kashyk, howls and throws himself at Q. Q disintegrates him with a look.
Janeway shakes her head. "Give me the baby, Q," she says softly.
"Gladly." He hands Pandora to Janeway, by hand because the little girl is already shaken and a teleport or a telekinetic carry won't help. A primitive reflex of her human brain she'll have to get over, of course, but she's less than two years old. He'll let the human brain finish developing before he starts challenging it to become a Q.
"Well, Captain Janeway was right, it seems," Kashyk says hoarsely. "I can't stand up to you. But then, that only proves the rightness of our cause. Eventually, telepaths take over their own species, and then they dominate other species, with no more respect for sentient life than we'd grant insects. You can kill me, but it'll only prove I was right to fight the battle I've fought my whole life."
"I could kill you," Q agrees. "Too bad for you, I'm not going to."
"Q…" Janeway says warningly.
"What? What? Kathy, I like you and all, but do you seriously think that just because you bore me a child, you have the right to tell me how to do my job?"
"You're not doing your job. You're indulging in torture and petty revenge. I understand it, Q. If they wanted to vivisect our baby… I understand exactly how you feel. But it's still wrong."
"That's where you're wrong, Kathryn," he says softly. "I am, in fact, doing my job." He turns toward the Devore inspector, who is at least trying to face him bravely, though the pain in the man's hand from the burns left by the molten phaser makes it difficult. "You see, I sat in judgement on your species, and you passed," he says, still talking to Janeway. "That was my job. And it is still." He smiles at the Devore. It is not a nice smile. "I am vested by the Q Continuum with the authority to pass judgement on mortal species. And I hereby declare yours to be grievously savage, and a dire threat to the evolution of the sentients and pre-sentients of the Delta Quadrant. Forgive me for failing to notice your rapacious behavior before, but the Continuum's been a little distracted lately. Now, however, you have our complete attention."
"What…" Kashyk can barely get the words out. He turns toward Janeway. "What is he talking about? Judgement on my species?"
"It's what he does," Janeway says, holding Pandora close and rocking her. "I'm sorry. I've done my best to talk him out of it."
"You – you can't! Please, my people have nothing to do with this! Do what you want to me, but leave the Devore out of this!"
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Kash," Q says in his best imitation of the computer from the Terran entertainment film 2001, although Janeway probably won't get the joke and Kashyk certainly won't. He leans down into the man's face. "Your people have been standing in the way of evolution – not only of your own species, which is crime enough itself, but you block the evolution of other species as well. This cannot be permitted."
"Captain. Do something," Kashyk pleaded. "There are three trillion Devore in the galaxy!"
"Yes, there are," Q says. "But I'm betting that number's going to drop real fast." He stands up, drawing himself to his full height. "For your crimes against other species, I sentence the Devore to be confined to your original homeworld, indefinitely."
"Wait. How can you… three trillion people can't all fit on our original homeworld. We have colonies, bases, space stations and starship cities. We can't possibly all go back."
"Well, if it were up to you, I suppose you wouldn't." Q snaps his fingers. The Devore in the room, all except for Kashyk, vanish. He'd send Kashyk home as well, but he's not done twisting the knife. "But now you're all there. All except for you, and you'll be joining them shortly." He smiles coldly, sardonically. "Whoops, looks like three trillion can't all fit. I'm predicting mass murder to break out in a day or two, famines in a week, plague in a month. Don't worry, after a couple of years of massive die-offs I'm sure you'll reach equilibrium with your planet again." He leans forward again. "There is now a force field barrier around your homeworld. No energy will enter except for the light from your sun, and none will leave but the heat and light from your planet. No matter can enter or leave unless a Q sends it there. You are confined to your homeworld, all of you, until you learn to stop killing your telepaths. When the population of the Devore species is majority telepathic, you will be permitted the stars again."
"No," Kashyk whispers. "No. You can't do this."
"I just did."
"Q, please," Janeway says. "Not three trillion on a single planet. Look, Pandora's safe. They didn't kill her, they didn't hurt her. You can afford to show them some mercy. Let them have some of their colony worlds, something to ease the population pressure. Give them the breathing space to reduce their numbers naturally, through population control, not through famines and plagues."
"Oh, you think famines and plagues are unnatural?"
She sighs. "You know what I mean, Q. You're just being vicious. I do understand how you feel, but there are probably billions of innocent children, no more complicit in the Devore's crimes than Pandora is in anything you or I have ever done, on that planet. For their sake, show some mercy. Please."
He wants to be a god of wrath. He wants it so badly it's all he can do to control the urge to kill the bastard who touched his daughter, horribly, and then resurrect him so he can kill him again. But Janeway manages to make him feel small and petty, somehow. "Oh, all right," he says irritably. "I'll let them have the entire solar system, and I'll move all their existing space stations and starships back into the system. They can have whatever they can terraform in their own star system."
"There's only one planet besides our homeworld that can be terraformed in our home system," Kashyk says.
"Well, I guess you're going to be moving a lot of people there, then."
"What about the Devore telepaths?" Janeway says. "If you lock them up with the rest of the Devore, isn't that punishing them for being the victims?"
"You're pushing me, Kathy," Q says warningly. He sighs. "Fine. The Devore telepaths have all been sent to that sanctuary world you were trying to get to. But, the genetic potential is still there in your species, Inspector. Telepaths will be born. How you treat them is going to have a lot to do with how quickly you get back out into space."
"Why?" Kashyk asks. "I understand, we threatened your daughter and you want revenge. But why do you care so much what we do with telepaths? Are you afraid that in our research into defeating the scourge of mind-reading, we'd have found a way to defeat you and your kind someday?"
Q opens his eyes wide, making an exaggerated expression of disbelief, for several beats before letting his face go hard again. "In a word? No," he says, imbuing the sentence with disgust and dismissal. "You would never have been a threat to us. But it is the destiny of any sentient species which survives the first stage of its sentience to eventually cast off its material form and become pure energy, and the first step of that process is usually telepathy. You are destroying the other species in this part of the galaxy by purging them of the genetic potential to evolve into something that can transcend matter. And let me say that after what I've been through recently, the concept of killing people to preserve a status quo that avoids your personal fears and prevents evolution and growth is even more horrific and disgusting than I used to find it, and it's not a concept I was ever a fan of. If you were pruning only your own species, the Continuum would find it reprehensible but not criminal. But you are a danger to others, and so we take action, and pass judgement."
He teleports suddenly to directly behind the man, and whispers in his ear. "I'm sending you home, Inspector. And my advice? Don't have children. Your world will be a hellhole for the next several generations… and besides, I might come looking for a little personal payback."
And then he sends Kashyk to the Devore homeworld.
Janeway is clutching Pandora tightly. Her eyes are very, very hard as they look at him. "So. The Continuum intervene when a species is destroying other species? News to me. What have you done about the Borg lately?"
"Don't even start, Janeway. My patience is very thin right now."
"Your patience? You just condemned billions of people to die! You put me in the position of having to beg and plead with you for the tiniest bit of mercy toward people I personally despise as much as you do, and in the end, even an entire solar system isn't large enough for three trillion people without massive die-offs. And your justification is that they were retarding the evolution of all the people around them. Well and good, but what about the Borg? Why do you take action against the Devore and not them? Does Pandora need to get assimilated before you step in against the Borg?"
"What, are you asking me to annihilate the Borg?"
"No, I'm asking you to acknowledge that what you just did wasn't your job, it wasn't justice, because if it was you'd have done it to the Borg! You wanted revenge because they terrified Pandora and they would have killed her. I'm glad to see you love her, Q, but this is wrong. You don't annihilate an entire species because one member of it threatens your baby."
Q puts his hand to his head. "I don't even want to get into explaining how wrong you are and in how many different ways," he says tiredly. "So I'll make this very quick and use very tiny words for your tiny human brain. Don't presume you know the role of the Borg. The Borg don't eliminate either genetic potential or collectively acquired knowledge; all they eliminate is the role of the individual, and the individual isn't relevant to the progress of evolution. I may, personally, not be a big fan of the Borg's evolutionary pathway, but they are not necessarily retarding the growth of other species. The Devore are."
"How can a species grow once it's part of the Borg?" Janeway demands.
"Well, it grew into the Borg. Duh. I realize that from your perspective there's a big difference between a species that's not part of the Borg and a species that is, but from the perspective of the Q things look a little different. And I don't have to justify myself to you anyway."
"No, I suppose you don't. But I'd prefer to be able to tell Pandora that her father's people, the people she's destined to join when she grows up, the people who apparently consider her some kind of messiah of peace, are not monsters."
"Is that some kind of threat?"
"She's going to be able to read my mind someday, Q. I'd rather she didn't read that I think her father is morally bankrupt."
"You think what you want. You're a primitive, underevolved, pathetic little life form and I'm sure that once Pandora realizes how much better she is than you, she'll ignore all of your idiotic little opinions."
"Just like Amanda Rogers ignored all the idiotic little opinions of the humans around her?"
"Amanda's parents were idiots. My daughter won't be such a fool."
"I hate to tell you this, Q, but when children are raised by a mother, and their father isn't there, they depend a lot on their mother's opinion of their father to form their own ideas. If I think you're a monster, there are good odds Pandora will agree."
"Well, then, am I a monster in your oh-so-important opinion?"
Janeway sits down. "I don't know." She takes a deep breath. "You say you have good reasons for doing what you did. God knows, I didn't like what the Devore were doing to telepaths… and I'm grateful you came to Pandora's rescue. I had no idea they intended to kill her, not so quickly. I was going to hand her over and then launch a rescue mission—"
"It would have been too late, wouldn't it have?" She looks up at him. "That's why you're so angry. She's genuinely mortal. Has the Continuum forbidden you to bring her back if she dies?"
"The Q can't bring the Q back, Kathy." He walks over, holding his arms out to take the baby. "Let me have her for a moment."
Janeway hands her over. Pandora is quiet now, almost sleeping. She perks up in Q's presence. "This mortal body she occupies… this is an incubator. Her Q essence is growing within. Destroy the mortal body, and the Q-self is too fragile, too incomplete, to survive. She'd just disintegrate, and a Q is too complex for another Q to restore. I could save the mortal body, but I can't save the baby Q… if I had to resurrect Pandora because she'd been murdered, she wouldn't be a Q anymore. She wouldn't be mine anymore. You could have a baby back, but it might as well be a clone, because the original child would be dead."
"Held hostage to mortality. It must terrify you."
"Well, I may not be allowed to intervene to save you, not that you'd necessarily thank me if I did, but I am permitted to protect my daughter. So no, it doesn't terrify me. Usually. My power should be sufficient to protect one baby human."
"But you wouldn't have been nearly as angry or frightened if the Devore had threatened me. Or Picard. And you'd just have laughed if they'd threatened you. Even though your power can protect her, you're still… well, you're still her father, I suppose."
"I suppose many human fathers would do the same if they had the power, yes."
"But that's the thing. The Devore are terrified of telepaths because it leads, in the end, to power like yours. And you could do this to three trillion people, all but a handful of whom were innocent of the crime of threatening your daughter, because you love your baby and you got scared. It's admirable to love your child, Q, don't get me wrong, and it's understandable to want to hurt people who threatened her. But Kashyk was right. You just justified his life's work." She shakes her head. "You say that the Devore were retarding evolution, and personally, I want to believe you that evolution has a point to it, that we're all going to become superpowerful beings with magic powers and immortality someday. Except, you haven't really used yours very well, have you? I mean, you see the point to evolution as making sentient beings into something like the Q, but the Q just nearly destroyed the galaxy with that war you and I stopped by having that baby. If you can be so small and petty as to have a civil war, why are you the end point of evolution, and who gives you the right to say that no one's allowed to protect themselves from their neighbors or their own kind becoming like you?"
"So it's all right to murder innocent people for the crime of being born telepaths?"
"I don't know, Q. Is it all right to murder innocent people, indirectly by turning their entire planet into a concentration camp, for the crime of being born Devore?"
He shakes his head. "Why do I listen to you?"
"Because you know the Q don't have all the answers. That's why you came to me to have a baby. And speaking of baby, can I have her back now?"
"Oh, but she's so cute. She's trying to grab my teeth." He play-chomps Pandora's exploring finger, and she giggles and gets it out of the way. "No, no, q-ling. Daddy's teeth are not for forcible extraction by baby fingers. Here, Mommy wants you anyway."
He teleports Pandora into Janeway's arms. She squeals with delight. "'Gen!"
"No, we're not teleporting again right now. Daddy's gotta go home." He looks at Janeway. "I'll check in on them and see what I can do. I have to keep them locked up so they learn to stop killing their telepaths – or other people's telepaths – but I don't have to leave them entirely to their own devices. I can do what I can to prevent uncontrolled die-offs, make sure they have enough resources to survive their punishment more or less intact as a species. Try to facilitate them changing their behavior quickly so I can let them out on parole."
"Thank you," Janeway says. "I appreciate that you're willing to listen to me on this."
"Well. We're stuck working together for the next sixteen years or so, right? I suppose I can't go have a baby with a human because I wanted to bring human traits to the Continuum and then whine that I don't like it when humans act human."
"No, that would be rather hypocritical." She smiles. "Pandora, can you say 'bye-bye' to Daddy?"
Pandora waves. "Bye-bye!" she says, quite clearly.
Bye-bye, he sends back telepathically – if she's already starting to demonstrate active psi, then the sooner she's trained to receive telepathically, the better—and waves.
And then he returns to the Continuum.
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