An Uninvited Guest
Kathryn looked at the padd and then looked up at her assembled senior staff. They had gathered in the briefing room once again to try and make sense of just who and what the Scholar was.
Outside the window behind her was a large moon they were orbiting, only slightly smaller than Earth it had some plant life, but no organism higher than insects. Right now half a dozen landing parties were conducting a survey while searching for the elusive resources their guest had requested. Other scientists were pouring over the data from the disestablishing gas giant near by. According to what she had heard they thought it was on course to hit a small cluster of asteroids in the next couple of weeks. the result was predicted to be new sun.
All in all she rather be in astrometrics reading the results of the scans than what was on the padd 'Is this all he gave you?' she asked incredulously.
'Yes.' Chakotay told her between clenched teeth, he'd obviously read it too and felt the same way she did, for all the good it would do.
Kathryn looked around and began to read. 'Eternals, or as you know them the Q, exist as a multidimensional waveform, much like an iceberg what you see is only a small fraction of the true scope of the being itself. They flitter across time and space much like bumblebees or butterflies, only poking through into perception at points of their own choosing. Their ability to fold and manipulate matter is internalised, thus they can swallow physical matter into a portion of themselves, giving them ultimate control over both perception and experience.' She took a breath and threw the padd down. 'His "report" is nonsense. A Multidimensional waveform cannot even be seen but we're suppose to believe that Q, one of the most power beings in the universe can just absorb physical matter?'
'Not entirely nonsense.' Her Vulcan security officer spoke up. 'It does offer some interesting perspectives, if true…'
'That's just my point, there is no evidence, one way or the other. He could be lying, misleading us or even out right leading us into a trap. How are we doing with the resources he's asked for?'
Neelix puffed out his chest, as he always did when he had something to say. 'Well we've found just about everything he wants, we're still trying to find the gemstone, but other than that every thing's…'
'Gemstone?' B'Elanna jumped in, 'Why does he need a gemstone, can't he replicate one?'
'Urm, No. He says its for the same reason he doesn't like replicated food, but I didn't quite understand what he said.'
'Don't worry about it Neelix.' Paris grinned, 'Most of us don't understand half of what he says, the other half I don't think I want to.'
Kathryn was tempted to agree. 'Seven, any input?' She looked at the former Borg, who looked lost in thought staring out the window. 'Seven?'
'Can you explain why he would need a natural gemstone for his temporal sensor?
'A large gemstone.' Neelix added.
She seemed almost to frown. 'No. I have gone over what he requested and unfortunately my understanding is no more than it was before. Wood, tricorder components, parts of a base metals, the gemstone, the maitaniance kit for an anti-gravity sled.'
'An A-G sled?' Harry Kim asked. 'What's he need one of those for in a sensor array.'
Kathryn shook her head. 'I'm betting he just want's the plating. He's hardly going to be using the Anti-gravity motor for something. But wood?'
'Hang on hang on.' B'Elanna held a hand up. 'None of those sound like any ship based sensor I've ever heard of. Tricorder parts? He's not going to build a full scale temporal sensor array out of that pile of junk. He can't.'
'I think we need to redefine the notion of impossible.' Chakotay suggested. 'His technology and knowledge proves that we are like children in comparison. The fact he obviously scares the Q makes me even more nervous.'
'Same here.' Kathryn nodded. 'Alright, we do the only thing we can do. Keep watching. Tuvok I want you to shake up security, if he is going to try anything I want him off balance.
'Yes Captain.' The Vulcan nodded.
Good, dismissed.' Kathryn ordered. Looking down at her pads she pretended to rememberer something unimportant. 'Seven, a quick word. You might want to sit in on this Doctor.'
From the look Tom gave Harry no one was fooled for a second.
Kathryn waited for a moment as everyone left. 'I've heard a few rumours very recently, not to make you feel uncomfortable Seven but it's all over the ship. I have to ask, are you?'
'Am I what, Captain?'
While Seven didn't seem uncomfortable, Kathryn certainly was. A Captain didn't have any business bringing this up with a member of her crew. What they did amongst themselves was purely their own business. The problem was Seven wasn't exactly like every other member of her crew and stranded nearly half a galaxy way new members presented their own problems. It was only a matter of luck and good judgement that they weren't knee deep in children by now. 'Pregnant Seven. Are you pregnant.'
She stiffened slightly, Kathryn wouldn't have noticed it if she didn't' know her so well. 'No, I am not Captain. As I understand it this rumour comes from a prediction by the Scholar, through Naomi Wildman.'
"Yes Captain, it seems that this Scholar chose to show Naomi something of importance. I still haven't been able to make much sense of what she has told me but there is some suggestion that they both had some sort of shared hallucination that involved Seven of Nine here.' the Doctor reported, 'Of course Mr Neelix happened to be there.'
'And there's no faster way to get a rumour started on this ship than to include Neelix.' Kathryn smiled. 'I can have a word with him if you want me to Seven.'
'Irrelevant, Mr Neelix would most likely find it impossible to refrain from his current actions. As for other people's opinions I find myself unconcerned, I have witnessed more than forty rumours begin on board since my arrival, twenty three have been in regards to myself and all have been incorrect.'
'I see.' Kathryn said carefully before standing up. 'Well I'll have a word with Neelix anyway, I don't want you to be singled out like that. Doctor, how's Naomi?'
'Perfectly fine.' the hologram told her. 'There was some odd synaptic readings shortly after, well what I'm calling an hallucination, but that's now faded. As far as I can tell there haven't been anymore side effects than you would after a particularly vivid dream.'
'And you Seven, I have to say I noticed you were distracted in there, I think everyone did.'
Again Seven looked uncomfortable and again you had to know her to tell. 'The possibility had not occurred to me. I find the thought, distracting.'
'Have to agree with you there.' Kathryn tried to be supportive. The idea of a pregnant Borg was not one she was ready to contemplate.'
Kathryn felt the beginning of a headache flair up. She tried to hide the tell tale wince. but it was obvious her chief medical officer had seen it. Silently cursing his creator, Dr Zimmerman, for being that good at his job she came to a decision. 'Alright, Seven keep trying to make sense of that inventory list, here take this too.' She handed the useless padd to her. 'See if there any clues in that. The Doctor and I are going down to the brig to have a word with the Scholar about this.'
That the Scholar had been given full quarters at the brig was hardly a surprise. That he hadn't complained once about the accommodation specifically was worrying. He'd spend hours insulting their technology, ideas and science out right calling them everything but primitive barbarians. Commander Chakotay had suggested that the reason was that this was where he wanted to be, the longer he stayed there the more likely that was right.
The Doctor didn't like that, after all who felt comfortable in a cell?
'So why don't you start at the beginning?' the Captain asked. 'What did you do to Naomi Wildman?'
The Scholar sat on the edge of his bed, shuffling six faceless squares of steel that he'd pulled out of his cloak. Occasionally flipping one over or around his fingers as if giving his hands something to do. 'Ahh so that is what this is about. As you're hologram will tell you she's unharmed. Maybe a little inspired, but that's no bad thing.'
'That's not what I asked.' The Captain pointed out.
'Haven't you learnt yet that an answer without context is just another question?' He sighed almost too fast to follow the squares vanished and he stood up. 'I can see, for lack of a better term, possible futures. Not likely ones, or likeable ones, but possible and I can work out just how possible. All my people can. Take you're Borg's future for instance. She is a young woman of child bearing age, interacting with others on a daily basis. Naturally she will form connections with male members of the crew. She'll grow closer to one than the others and things may develop. I'm sure I don't have to explain the process. Eventually the natural result occurs, now the human race is roughly fifty two percent female, thus any child is mathematically more likely to be female.'
The Doctor saw an obvious flaw in that logic, the same one he had seen since this idiotic rumour had started but kept silent. The Captain didn't. 'That's it? All this for a simple guess?'
'It's more than a guess, think of it more like cross between an educated hunch and a mathematical calculation. Of course I could be wrong.'
The Captain looked shocked at that. 'Really, the same way you could be wrong about the Federation.'
'Oh no, I'm certain the Federation will die. It's historical and mathematical inevitability, eventually all equations reach zero, all things end. The only question is when. It is entirely possible that Annika, or Seven as you call her, will die in an attack, or accident before having her child. Such is life, the Federation might not be alive in the same sense but it still exists in a finite universe, as such it begins and it ends.'
It was impossible for the Doctor to feel cold, or to feel the breeze from an open door, but the way the Captain shivered it wasn't hard to imagine that is what had just happened. 'That's why you say there is nothing you can do?'
'Exactly.' he smiled widely, even though The Doctor couldn't see any reason for him to. 'Now I need to have a word with you're hologram about some tools I'll need to borrow. You're energising equipment might be good enough for what you need but it's no where near precise enough for me.'
The Captain looked at him sceptically. 'There are two armed guards outside the door.' She announced. 'and several still at key sections of the ship. Contact Mr Tuvok on the bridge if you want anything.' A curt nod to the Doctor she left.
After a moment the Doctor stood there, trying to decide if he should ask the questions he wanted answers to. He didn't get a chance. 'Of course I lied to her, the captain I mean.'
'Annika is barren, there are at least four Borg implants that have completely destroyed her ability to reproduce. Not to mention the handful of other implants that have inhibited basic things like the desire for companionship, compassion and even simple curiosity. That the Captain even thinks of her as human is almost amusing.'
'That they are inoperable, at least at you're current level of technology? Yes of course.' The Scholar shrugged. 'I'm not an idiot.'
The EMH was lost, if the Scholar knew why the prediction wasn't true why try to defend it? why make it and why did Naomi still insist it was real. With all those questions the only thing he could do was ask; 'Then why?'
The Scholar took a deep breath and closed his eyes. 'Because Naomi saw more than she ever should. It wasn't just a possible future, but part of Annika's ideal future.'
'I don't understand, what do you mean Ideal, and part? You're not making any sense.'
'Of course I'm not, You're a trick of light trapped in a matrix of forcefields and ever shifting programming. I'm talking of metaphysics, transversing possibilities and probabilities. I might as well be explaining holophotography to a blind man.' He put his fingertips together and seemed to focus on the middle distance. 'Imagine if your creator chose to become a warp field expert instead of focusing on holograms. Someone else would probably invent your program eventually. Maybe not as good, maybe not as effective or maybe a lot later. What sort of effect would that have on this ship? How many would have died?'
'You have a point to this I suppose?' the Doctor asked.
'Oh yes, a very good one. Would you're creator have lived up to his potential? would he have enjoyed his life?'
Dr Zimmerman was the for most expert on holograms in all the Federation. From what the Doctor knew of him he was also somewhat of an eccentric, if passionate about what he did. He said so.
'So we can say he has fulfilled his ideal destiny, or at least a part of it. There was always a chance that he could have become a Doctor himself. Instead he made you and you're existence has gone on to effect others and those others have gone on to great things. The best possible future for all of humanity.'
'I'm following you.' He was, sort of.
'So some futures are desirable others aren't. Some are good for all, some for a few and even more for no one and the decisions we make decide the future. In small ways and big. That tiny, blonde, child has the potential to change everything. To save even more lives. She will make Annika happier than she can possibly imagine and her impact will be great.'
The Doctor tried to calculate just what he was begin told. 'You saw an ideal possible future, Naomi saw it with you and now you're telling me this because?'
'Well I don't see an ideal future, more all of them.' The Scholar shrugged helplessly. 'The good and the bad. I see the innocent and helpless suffering. The struggles ahead, the necessary pain and the cruelty of joy. That little girl must be Hologram. one tiny thread in a greater tapestry. Her legacy and yours will be a slim sliver of hope one day.'
The Doctor shook his head. 'No, this is not possible. You're telling me that years in the future a child that cannot be born will save the Federation?'
The Scholar snorted with laugher. 'No, you've made the same mistake. the Fall of the Federation doesn't mean a bad thing.' suddenly a bright grin spread across his face. 'As one empire falls another rises, For one thing to start another must end. The Federations end will eventually lead to a renaissance of science, exploration and discovery. New ideas and new understanding. Greater than even the heady heights of sentient holograms and replicators.'
'And Seven's child will be part of this new renaissance?'
'No, but she will be a Rallying point. What she does and what she learns can help.'
'Why tell me this?' The Doctor asked. 'Why not Seven or the Captain?'
You're the ship's doctor, you need to do the surgery. That and Seven of Nine trusts you, you have some measure of her personality and of common sense. I'm not going to be here much longer and I need to put the wheels in motion somehow.'
'All this is to help us? why?'
The Scholar sat down. 'I'm already facing some pretty serious charges back home. My presence here alone has caused ripples in the timeline, both back and forth you can't begin to see. This won't limit it, but perhaps it might help direct it.' he sighed. 'Get back to your sickbay Doctor. You have the knowledge that it's possible, that should be enough for now. Trust your instincts and the future will take care of itself. It usually does.' With that he closed his eyes, dismissing the Doctor.
End Chapter Nine