Once upon a time, the Q bleeding energy and helpless before him had been a friend, a lover, a sibling, like every other Q in the Continuum. Q stared at the fallen entity, and if the weapon he'd wielded had literally been a gun and he'd had a physical hand to hold it in, both would be trembling. This would have been so much easier if he could have killed the other with the first shot. Then it would have been war, kill or be killed. Now he could murder a helpless, injured fellow Q in cold blood... or he could walk away, leaving the other to die slowly and in agony, or else be healed and return to the battlefield looking for revenge.

As he hesitated, unable to bring himself to do what logic and perhaps even mercy said he should do, the other Q lifted her head (metaphorically, anyway). "Are you proud of yourself?" she snarled, her mind-voice harsh with pain.

"That I shot you? Not particularly," he said. "I'd be proud of myself if I'd blown you to bits in a single shot. I might have to kill my fellow Q, but I'm really not all that happy about having to cause you pain. Not to mention what it does to my rep when I miss the kill spots."

"I don't mean me. I mean all of this. You started this war. Every dead Q is on your head. Are you pleased with yourself?"

"I started this war? Perhaps we're having problems agreeing on the definition of the word 'started', because I do not believe that word means what you apparently think it does. I didn't create the weapons. I didn't pull the trigger the first time. I didn't cause the first death. Or the second, or third."

"You did cause the first death." She laughed, bitterly. "Did you forget? You created this whole situation when you bound us to the ruling of a mortal that Q be allowed to die. You stood there and let him do it. You even gave him the poison."

"All right, I'll grant that. But at no point did that have to involve shooting at me or my fellows. We wanted freedom, not this chaos. None of us wanted to kill any of you."

If she had been a human, she would have coughed blood. "Funny how that worked out."

"You shot at us first." He was getting angry now. "We were defending ourselves."

"What you wanted would have destroyed the Continuum."

"And the Continuum's holding up great with a war splitting us down the middle, isn't it?" Abruptly he was sick to death of this war, of killing, even of having this argument. "Look. I don't want to have to finish you off. Our medics can probably patch you together, if I get you back to our side of the discontinuities. Give me your word that you won't return to the fight after we stitch you back up, and I'll try to help you."

She shook her metaphorical head. "I don't fear death nearly as much as I loathe the thought of you winning. You may as well destroy me, because you have corrupted the Continuum utterly and the only way I see to be what we were is to kill all of you. And if I have to live in the Continuum that you will remake in your image, if you win... no, I'd much rather die."

"Would you?" he whispered.

In cold fury, he shot her again, taking careful aim so as to completely disable her manipulative functions - her powers - without killing her. She screamed in pain. Q walked over to his fallen enemy and picked her up, smiling maliciously down at her as she glared helplessly. "I'll just have to make sure you live, then. But I can't have you coming back and fighting, now that I've taken you out. So-" He reached inside her, a swift and brutal violation, and yanked out everything she knew about teleportation, pulling the knowledge out by its roots.

"You can't," she whispered, hoarsely. "The others... they'll find me..."

"With this much of your energies lying around? Not likely. They'll assume you're dead." He wasn't a medic, but anything anyone on his side knew, he knew as well - he just didn't have the temperament to be gentle about it. Especially not right now. Ruthlessly he folded her pattern back over itself and stapled it closed with his own energies, sealing her energies inside her again so she wouldn't bleed to death from the wounds he'd left her with. She was too badly hurt to control her own ability to feel pain, and he did nothing whatsoever to alleviate the agony his quick surgery was causing her. The thought occurred to him distantly that someone on her side might hear her screams, but in this moment, consumed with cold rage, he didn't care. With a gesture, he opened a door to a pocket dimension, a realm suspended between the Continuum and the matter universe, and threw her broken form in. "I'm fairly sure you won't die, now," he said. "But I doubt you can heal those injuries on your own... ever. If I'm killed, you'll be trapped in here, permanently injured and unable to escape, forever. And if I live, and win... I'll let you out. And you can live in the Continuum I remake in my image... and come to me and mine to beg for the freedom you spit on now, if you want to kill yourself then. Or, if your side wins, you can live as a broken fragment of a Q, alone and imprisoned, forever, wishing you could die."

"You... should... kill me... now." Pain and despair made her thoughts slow and labored. "If I live... I'll hunt... you down. Even... if you... win. I'll kill... you."

He closed the door to the pocket dimension almost all the way, just enough that he could peer inside at her. "Oh, I don't think so. You forget, I've been cast into a prison like this, isolated from the Continuum while I was injured. If I win, and come to get you out, you'll be so grateful to me for rescuing you that you'll pledge me eternal allegiance. You'll do anything for anyone who saves you, by then."

"I'll... remember. Even if... I'm grateful. I'll still... remember... who did this... to me."

"You do that," he whispered, and stepped away, letting the door close so there was no longer any evidence - not in the current distorted mess that the Continuum's fabric was now, at least - that there had ever been a door. Let her cling to her hate. It would keep her alive. If she worked at it, she might be able to find a way to die, now that she was badly injured. She could tear open the battlefield stitches he'd put in her and bleed her energies away, if she wanted to do it badly enough. But if she did that, she'd never be able to get revenge on him for shooting her, tormenting her and throwing her in an oubliette... and he was fairly confident that her hate would keep her alive until he could get her back out.

And if he died in this war?... well, eventually she'd figure out no one was coming for her and find a way to destroy herself, assuming she hadn't healed enough to make it impossible to do so. But she would plead with the forces of chance to spare his life, no matter how much she hated him, once it sank in that her freedom was utterly dependent on his continued existence. And to be brutally honest, right now he didn't care if she hunted him down and killed him after he won... if he won. He'd probably deserve it by then. He probably deserved it now. But first he would teach her what it meant to be a prisoner in a hated existence, unable to die, willing to do anything for freedom. She would learn what it had been like to be the Q he'd let die, the one whose suicide had started this war. She would learn what it had been like to be him.

Notes: This story was written for the prompt community Realm of the Muse, for a "use these sentences" challenge. Out of a set of 26 sentences I used 4 - "You started this war", "I do not believe that word means what you think it does," "Are you proud of yourself?" and "I do not fear death nearly as much as I loathe the idea of you winning."

The title is a quote from the song by the Cure, "Killing An Arab", itself based on the novel by Albert Camus, "The Stranger".

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