Notes: I'm finding it very hard to believe I wrote this-- I hated "The Q and the Grey" with a passion, and I hated Suzy-Q. Recently, however, I realized that the main reason I hated the character was, a, she was introduced in an unbelievably stupid episode, and b, in fanfic she is never used for anything other than a foil for Q, usually to be jealous of Picard or Janeway or some stupid thing, with no life of her own-- except in some f/f smutfics where she still has no real personality of her own because it's a PWP and no one gets character development in those.

So I started thinking, how can I redeem the character? And somehow I crossed one throwaway line, intended as an in-joke aimed at the viewers, with an idea I'd had for explaining Klingon lack of headbumps in the TOS era, and got a vision of a character who has her own interests and her own personality outside of Q...and from that vision I could see a way to redeem some of the stupidities of Q and Grey and create a depressing story at the same time. :-)

Mistress of War

Call me Morrigan, call me Brunhilde, call me Kali, call me Pallas Athena. Call me K'Chehya, call me T'Akash, call me Shassas. I am the goddess of war, proud and passionate and deadly.

Call me Oppenheimer, call me Jetrel, call me Stavok. I am the maker of doomsday.

My son is a failed messiah, my lover the rebel has become the establishment. And I who won the war am hated, driven away from my own people, while he basks in the glory of the victory I won him.

I hate him.

I hate our child.

Be careful what you wish for, goes the saying. You might get it.

I have always loved war.

Why? There are so many reasons. It's so passionate, so alive in the midst of all that death. Mortals making war are connected to themselves, to their surroundings, to their comrades and to their enemies in such a profound way, that hardly ever applies in their petty little lives otherwise. And the qualities they show during war are so contradictory. So brave, so brutal. Such love of life and yet such valor in willingness to die for their cause, or for their comrades.

I like the warrior species best. Klingons, now, there's a species. I wish they hadn't been practically assimilated by his damn humans-- worse than the Borg, those are, though they do make great cannon fodder-- but at least they're better now then they were a century and a half ago, when I passed judgment on them for losing their way and becoming backstabbing, treacherous, dishonorable louts just like their human enemies, and transformed them to look like those enemies until they could prove to me they'd regained their way. Which they did, eventually. I don't object to them allying themselves with the humans; I am not a brute beast who loves only war, whatever you may hear. The fine arts of diplomacy, the energies poured forth as enemies struggle to get along with one another, those have a beauty as well, though it's a complex beauty and not as pure as that of war.

I am a warrior goddess. But I am not a brute animal, and I've always been a very respectable Q. Admittedly I had a bit of a dissolute childhood, but who didn't? As an adult, I never started wars, or interfered in conflicts for mere amusement, like some people I know (to be fair, he never directly started a war-- he just pulled elaborate stunts that occasionally led mortals to break out into fighting each other. Unlike our brat, who he has no idea how to control.) I would come into a conflict when I thought there was a good reason-- a lesson to be learned, an evolutionary direction that would contribute to the diversity of the universe. Many species who've actually managed to fight off the Borg for a short time, or even a long time, learned from me. Races who lost their way, who turned aside from their roots to become too much like their opponents, I judged. I was not always on the side of the strongest battalion. Sometimes the bravest called on me, and I would answer with a small amount of aid, just enough. A fortuitous tornado. A misfiring gun. A helpful fog. Just enough.

My people have always had great respect for me. Unlike him. I loved him once, when we were both children and wild, because he had so much passion and so much lust for life. He loved conflict as much as I did, although he preferred rebellion in all its forms-- questioning, challenging the social order, political maneuvering, political overthrow-- to out and out war. Over the years, though, we grew apart. Only our history together kept us returning to one another for comfort as we either grew bored with other Q (in my case) or pissed off lovers so badly they swore to get us exiled (in his case). Our interests drifted. He hated my lovely Klingons, I thought his humans were a virus. We threw him out of the Continuum and I let it happen-- he really was quite excessive. Afterward he claimed I betrayed him, and I didn't care. He was boring. He toed the line. We'd pruned his excesses at the cost of everything that made him interesting. I found some more interesting people to play with.

And then Q killed himself, and the war began.

Be careful what you wish for.

What I loved about war was how removed it was from my existence, how exotic. Death and destruction are the catalysts for glory and bravery. You can't be brave if you're omnipotent. Nothing can threaten you.

Sometimes I took mortal form and let myself feel pain, let myself bleed in battle. I fought beside great generals, and experienced the sensation of a mortal body's death. But of course the death of my mortal body never actually killed me. It was an exciting fantasy, but nothing could really harm me.

Wouldn't it be exciting, I wondered sometimes, if there really was something that could kill us? If there was some spice to life, some uncertainty? I wondered how I'd behave, if I could truly be threatened. I'd seen Q reduced to mortality before, and, well, most of them, including my esrtwhile lover, turned into complete spineless sniveling puddles of terrified jellyfish. I vowed that wouldn't be me. If it ever happened. Which, I believed, it never would.

It didn't begin as a war. It began as a movement for change, for growth. My first love was at the forefront of it, shouting the mantra "Change or die! Stagnation is death!" and waving Q's death in everyone's faces like a bloody flag. The usual suspects decided to silence him again, and found to their chagrin that they couldn't get a quorum. There were too many Q who agreed, or who disagreed but didn't think he should be thrown out of the Continuum. Too many Q who stood by his side, demanding change, and if all of them were to be excised, what sort of bloody discontinuity might befall us all?

He was in his element, the passionate rebel again. And I wasn't sure I believed in his cause-- it seemed to me that Q had been a sick aberration, a pattern that had gotten twisted up so that he would seek death. I didn't see the philosopher's decision to die as anything but an illness, one we should have tried to heal rather than giving in to him. But I had to admit that having a cause made my on-and-off lover far more interesting, almost enough to interest me in involving myself with him again.

And then he started courting me.

I've never really been able to say "no" to him. Well, for a millennium or two, sure, but he and I have always been one of the only constants of each other's lives. We always forgave each other-- I'd expected him to wait a lot longer to "forgive" me for not standing up for him when we threw him out of the Continuum, but I had known it would happen eventually. We always came back to each other. It wasn't any sort of grand passion, nothing my Klingons would sing opera about. In many ways it was quite boring, actually-- we knew each other so well, we found each other very predictable, and that was why it never lasted very long before we broke apart to find other interests, other interests or mortals or Q to do. But it was comfortable. In lives that thrived on conflict and change, we were anchors of stability for each other. And in the chaos immediately preceding the war, I think any Q who could find comfort in the embrace of another did.

When the faction in power found they couldn't silence Q or the other Qs who thought as he did, they did something none of us could have predicted. They couldn't attack, couldn't kill-- for billions of years, one of the fundamental truths of existence in the Continuum is that it takes the entire Continuum to kill a member. We must sever them from the Continuum, and if you try that by yourself, the backlash will do you as much damage as it does your intended victim. It was impossible for us to kill each other, let alone have a war.

But they found a way.

They discovered a way to focus the energies of the Continuum so as to violently disrupt the pattern of the target without damaging the surrounding fabric of the Continuum, and bleeding the backlash energies into the space occupied by mortals. Star systems would blow up when the weapon was used, but that hardly mattered. Any member of the Continuum could use the weapons. Suddenly billions of years of peace and immortality were shattered by those who had only wanted things to never change, and thus they changed things forever.

I think Q had suspected something like this would happen. He didn't know, of course. There was no way he could know. The Continuum had already been fragmenting, factions shielding their thoughts from each other, making us discontinuous and unstable. But he, who had once been sentenced to death by the Continuum and then blackmailed with that experience into threatening another Q with death, guessed they would try to silence his side by killing them or expelling them from the Continuum. So he needed me. He wanted the comfort my presence could give him, but even more, he wanted my experience with mortal wars, my fascination with valor and bravery and tactics and blood and weaponry, to assist his side.

I didn't mind. We all use each other. What I did mind was when he broke off his courtship of me and his role in the battle to go try to persuade a human woman to bear his child. This struck me as, well, frankly, unbelievably stupid. It wasn't so much that he desired the woman-- he did, but much less than he desired some other humans. It was that he believed that a child would win the war, that the existence of a new infant Q would be such a harbinger of change and transformation that the enemy would simply be forced to give up, having lost the ideological war. I knew better. No one ever quits fighting because their ideology has been shattered. War has a life of its own. And the same reasons why he couldn't use the Youngest for his goal-- the fact that she was raised among humans and therefore considered tainted by them-- applied to his plan to have a child with a human. He thought that these humans actually had qualities the Continuum needed. I did mention he's obsessed with them, didn't I? I mean I love my Klingons but I'd never consider making one a Q, or mating with one. Having sex, sure, but reproducing? He was out of his mind, and I told him so, and we played out a little pageant of jealousy on his humans' ship because I wasn't about to admit in front of them that the reason I was enraged with his behavior was that it was tactically stupid. You don't insult other Q in front of the mortals.

And then he absconded to the Continuum with the mortal woman he wanted to mate with, and I recognized that not only was he an idiot, but he was a big enough idiot that he was going to get himself killed. I didn't want to see him die-- and I realized then that I didn't want to see him lose, either. The Continuum he was a proponent of, a place where growth and change were possible, was far more interesting to me than the stagnation I'd endured for millions of years. I hadn't actually chosen sides up to that point-- I'd let him romance me, but I'd made it clear I was neutral. The moment I realized he had shifted back into the Continuum into a trap, though, I knew whose side I was on. It was painfully ironic that I couldn't actually go in to rescue him-- the disruption to space caused by the weapons was temporarily blocking my ability to access the Continuum at all, let alone go there.

That was when I had my brilliant idea.

The weapons the enemy used could only be wielded by Q, obviously. They involved focusing the energies of the Continuum in a way that only parts of the Continuum could manipulate it. This rather limited the manpower available on both sides, and the rebels were losing, having gotten the weapons rather late in the game-- the Youngest had betrayed her mentor, a Q on the side of stability and order, to bring my Q the weapon and join his side, and of course once the rebels had one weapon they had as many as they needed, but the limiting factor was still how many of them there were. Most Q were sitting out the war. But there have always been those awed by the power of the Eldest, and there have always been those who desperately loved Order, and there were plenty who despised the Youngest and the taint they believed she stood for, and there were plenty more who saw Q's act in letting Q kill himself to be the catalyst for why the Continuum was burning, who would fight him because they hated and blamed him, and fight his entire side for that reason. His side-- my side, now-- had a serious shortage of Q, and thus was doomed to lose.

I have not spent my entire existence studying war for nothing.

I created a new weapon.

Q himself had gotten humans proven to be sentient by our standards-- something that many of the spacefaring little bipedal mortals are not. I had never tried to prove Klingons sentient, because really, they aren't, much as I love them. They don't have the ability to expand their minds to understand the true nature of the universe around them. Some humans do, more of them every century. And any sentient species could, in theory, channel the power of the Continuum. It was how Q had been able to give powers to a human, how Q and Q had been able to reproduce in human form and produce a Q child who came to her power in human adulthood; humans were sentient and could focus the power of the Continuum. So could Vulcans, and there was one of them aboard this ship too, as well as a lovely half-Klingon, half-human little girl who combined all the spark and fire of my favorites with the genius of true sentience.

I worked with her and with a few other humans to find a way to actually bring the ship into the Continuum, to use its technologies to bridge the dimensional barriers. It shouldn't have been possible, but what can I say? I was motivated. My best friend was about to be executed and the side I'd just joined in my own mind was about to lose. There was plenty of free energy lying around from all the supernovas, and I wasn't completely crippled-- I could give them a little push.

But my great innovation was the new weapon.

It was a brilliant idea. I still think so. Create weapons that mortals can use. After all, once in the Continuum they could be killed by Q weapons, so why not let them return the favor? Since they were not part of the Continuum, they would keep a very low profile, and only Q who were actively looking for them would see them, and who would be looking for mortals? And they were used to death, trained to war, wouldn't desert under fire like many of our kind did, and most importantly, there were a lot of them. There was no end to the number of sentient mortals I could bring into the Continuum to man the weapons! Oh, admittedly, too much use of the weapons would derange their little mortal minds as the energies they were channeling spilled out into their brains and fried them, but who cared? There were plenty more where they came from. And Q's side, my side, would have no compunction against using mortals. We went around declaring them sentient. We amused ourselves with them. We slept with them when we felt like it. We brought them to the Continuum. The other side would be horrified at the notion of tainting the Continuum with the presence of mortals-- even if they got my improved weapon, they'd never use it. They'd have to bring mortals to the Continuum, sentient mortals there of their own free will, and how many of them actually had relationships with mortals outside of being untouchable gods? It's not free will if you go into battle because God told you to, and it doesn't necessarily mean you're sentient either. In fact it generally means you're not.

I'm proud of my innovation. I am. It won the war.

Agreeing to have a child with Q won the ideological battle, as he'd hoped, in a far less stupid fashion than his original plan to have a child with a mortal. No one could accuse the new Youngest of being tainted as the Second Youngest was; our baby was Q to the core, conceived and borne in the Continuum. And yes, after we'd terrified the enemy side into submission with our numbers, after I'd done the unthinkable and brought a ship full of more than a hundred sentient mortals, all armed with Q-killing weapons, into the Continuum, then they were prepared for surrender on ideological grounds as well. Baby Q cemented the victory that my weapons won.

Everyone forgets that.

Everyone wants to forget.

I didn't want the war in the Continuum. It's one thing to enjoy war among mortals, quite another to have it tearing apart your home. We have never entirely recovered from the bloodshed, from the sudden uncertainty brought by the knowledge that your fellows in the Continuum could actually pick up a weapon and kill you with it. But if there was going to be a war, well, I would be brave under fire, and I would use my skills to win it. Because the longer the war lasted, the greater odds that the entire Continuum would dissolve, and there would be no more Q Continuum, only a number of discrete warring entities that would tear mortal space apart in their conflict. No one wanted that.

My quick and decisive action in devising a weapon so devastating that no one wanted to face it ended the war. And I also participated in the creation of the child.

But everyone remembers it as him ending the war.

I suppose that's only natural. The original conflict, which started the war, was his idea. He was one of the leaders of the movement. The mortals were his pets, not mine. The baby was his idea, though I certainly helped.

But they do remember my role. They remember that I gave the power to kill Q into the hands of barely-sentient animals. They remember that I tainted the Continuum forever by authorizing mercenaries to shed the blood of Q. It doesn't even matter that the mortals didn't actually end up killing anyone-- it's the principle of the thing.

I brought death from outside to the Continuum.

Nothing has ever killed Q except the powers within the Continuum itself. The Q philosopher who decided to kill himself discovered the hard way that no power outside of the Continuum can do that. Even I couldn't have devised a way to kill Q outside of the Continuum. But I devised a way to bring death into the Continuum from outside, to empower those who are not Q to kill Q.

And for that, they'll never forgive me.

I had to more or less abandon my son to the tender mercies of his father, who by the way is incompetent at child rearing and irrevocably corrupted the boy's pattern with far, far too much of his own, and who would have had the kid taken away from him and raised by competent Q if not for his important role in the war and his powerful role in the Continuum now. How could I stay? Even for the sake of my son, how was I expected to spend my time surrounded by people who saw me as the Bringer of Death?

They'd never have voted to strip me of my powers, of course. The Q are not completely ungrateful, and the faction of change have too much of a hold in the power structure now; they know who they owe their victory to. Besides, I think they're terrified I'd bring in a battleship of Klingons and arm them with Q-killers that even I in mortal state could use. (Foolish Q, most Klingons could never use the weapon. I'd bring Romulans instead.) And I am the mother of the Youngest, which-- more in principle than in actuality, given what a screw-up his father's made him into-- gives me status. So I was never afraid, never concerned they'd kill me or throw me out.

But we can't truly hide our emotions from each other. And I'd had a fairly high status all my life, and the respect of my fellow Q. I wasn't like my mate, who was constantly committing excesses and getting reprimanded, starting stupid debates with fellow Q, or disobeying the Continuum. I had been well-liked and respected, before.

Now he, who was always the Continuum's whipping boy, is the loved and respected one, and I am practically an outcast. I spend my time in voluntary exile so I don't have to hear what they think of me, so I don't have to see myself as the unclean bringer of Taint and Death. I disowned my own son because I couldn't bear to see what he was becoming, his father with no restraint, myself with no ethics, and be powerless to do anything about it given the disparity between his father's status and mine. Q kept demanding that I help him raise the boy and then found fault with everything I did, while I could clearly see that everything he was doing was obviously wrong, but when the Continuum took his side because he was the Bringer of Peace and I was the Bringer of Death, what could I do? Let the Continuum clean up its own damn messes. I don't even care anymore.

And I live in hope that someday, in a few million years, they'll have forgotten. Someday enough of the scars will be healed, and they can embrace me again. I can go home.

But we have long memories. Somehow I don't think it will happen.

I hate them all.