Kathryn heard the office door swoosh behind her, then the “clunk” of an object hitting a table.
“Hi, there,” she said to her visitor, who was now leaning over her shoulder to look at the new holo-image on her desk. “So, how did the math quiz go?” she asked as she reached up to ruffle her son’s unruly hair.
“OK,” Quill said.
“Hey, Bud, I’m using that shoulder,” she said, gently elbowing him.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, straightening up. “Can I replicate some cookies?”
“Just one, and have some milk, too.”
“Ugh.” He didn’t like the taste of replicated milk. Neither did she, but fresh milk was a rarity in the Delta Quadrant.
“Try the soy; I tweaked the formula a bit.”
“Can I have some coffee in it?”
“All right, but go easy.”
The negotiations concluded, Kathryn watched the boy busy himself at the replicator, marveling for the millionth time at the idea of it: her son.
Quill, formally Quillan Kolopek Janeway. They’d debated his name for months. Honoring Chakotay’s father was a given. But she also wanted to honor young Q, and “Quinn,” the logical choice, was inappropriate, given what happened with that particular Q. However, Aunt Martha’s genealogy research offered a compromise: a great-grandmother’s maiden name.
Quill ordered a chocolate chip cookie — extra-large, and a glass of soy milk with coffee — small. As the cookie materialized, he closed his eyes and visualized the sweet floating in front of him. When he opened his eyes … yes! There it was, hovering just above the replicator pad. He grinned in triumph.
“Problem with the replicator, Quill?” his mother asked casually.
“No, Mom, I’m good,” he replied as he quickly snatched the cookie. “Gotta meet Michael at the Hydroponics lab … a science project. “
“Be back in time for dinner,” Kathryn replied as Quill scooted outside. She looked at the now-closed door for a long moment, and shook her head.
“Anything?” Chakotay asked as he slid back into the captain’s chair.
“No sign of Borg activity,” Tom Paris said. “Just normal communications with the fleet.”
The news did nothing to quiet Chakotay’s growing unease, nor did it make him feel like any less of a hypocrite.
He’d meant what he’d once told Kathryn: that Starfleet and the Federation needed to reach past the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. But when Kathryn became pregnant, he was seized by a primitive urge to get her and their unborn child out of the Delta Quadrant. Too much had already happened to Kathryn … to them … in this particular area of space. He was relieved that at the end of family leave, Kathryn declined another tour.
So their little family settled happily in San Francisco. They took jobs at headquarters, bought a house, adopted a dog, and enjoyed the seasons of their son’s young life.
Then the message came in.
It was a recording of Neelix … looking old and tattered. An attack on New Talax, he said. The Borg. What was left of his colony had fled to another system, about a light year away. He needed help … and had information about the Borg resurgence.
And he would only talk to Kathryn …. there.
The possibility of a resurrected Borg was not a notion that the Federation wanted to entertain. If they were out there, Starfleet had to eradicate them. And that task would fall to one who knew the Borg intimately … Admiral Kathryn Janeway.
So the order came down: Kathryn, and Voyager, would lead the Full Circle Fleet again. They would get Neelix’s information, then try to contact the Caeliar and ask their assistance in removing any Borg. Should the Caeliar not respond, then Full Circle was to “remove the threat.”
“So,” Kathryn asked as they walked toward Astrometrics, “nothing to report?”
“Very little,” Chakotay said grimly. “No Borg activity. And no one we’ve contacted has even heard of any Borg activity.”
Kathryn sighed. “I think all we’ve done is scare the hell out of the sector.”
That door sounded just a bit creaky, Kathryn decided as she walked into the room; she should mention it to B’Elanna.
Seven, however, paid it no heed; she was intently looking at a console. Kathryn waited for a moment, then cleared her throat.
“Good afternoon, Admiral, Captain. Can I be of assistance?”
Kathryn stifled her impatience. “You said you had something to report about New Talax transmissions?”
“Yes,” Seven replied, pulling up a holographic grid. “We have surmised that New Talax’s communications equipment had been destroyed. It is possible that this is not the case.”
Chakotay drew in a breath. “What have you found?”
“Evidence of a dampening field … here to approximately … here,” she replied, sweeping her hand in an arc along the grid.
“Does this dampening field have a Borg signature?” Kathryn asked.
Seven shook her head. “None that exists in our database, nor is it Caeliar. The origin remains unknown.”
Kathryn looked over at Chakotay. “And we’ve had no further contact from the asteroid where Neelix supposedly transmitted from?” He just shook his head.
She shook her head in return. “I don’t like this. Nothing adds up.”
“But someone wants us out here,” Chakotay said quietly.
“They certainly do,” Kathryn said grimly. She turned toward the door, then turned back. “Seven, find a way through that dampening field, will you? I’d hate to think I took you away from Hugh for nothing.”
“He has adapted,” Seven muttered as the door closed.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Kathryn asked quietly as they entered the lift.
“That we’re walking into a trap? I think the real question is who wants to spring it?”
Kathryn laughed harshly. “Take your pick, dear. We left a string of enemies from our first trip; a few more from the second.”
He waited, but it appeared Kathryn wasn’t going to elaborate.
“You know who it is, don’t you?”
“I can think of only one being who’s capable of doing all this. Actually, there’s only one being who hates me enough to do all this.”
She nodded grimly.
“It’s been nearly 10 years.”
“Time doesn’t mean much to a Q, though I’m surprised it took him this long.”
“So what do we do? Go home? Sit and wait for him to strike?”
Kathryn grinned wryly. “My dear, you of all people should know that I never sit and wait.”
“I can’t argue that point,” he admitted. “So what do you intend to do?”
“Tell the fleet there’s a change in orders,” she said as the lift came to a halt. “Since we’re in the neighborhood, let’s go to New Talax and see if Neelix is home.”
The trip to New Talax so far had been just as uneventful as the rest of their journey, save for a few odd happenings on Voyager On Monday, two rather large cargo containers mysteriously changed places. Two days later, Alpha shift’s breakfast was delayed because the mess hall chairs had been piled into a rather impressive tower.
“You wouldn’t happen to know just how those mess hall chairs ended up in a sculpture, would you?” Tom Paris casually asked his son over lunch.
Michael shook his head. “No, Dad.”
Tom raised an eyebrow. “Really, Dad, I didn’t do it. “
“OK, I believe you. But do you know who might have been involved?”
Michael shrugged. “Ask Quill.”
“Quill?” Tom echoed. “He’d have to have some help to do that.”
Michael just shrugged, leaving his father with a very uncomfortable feeling. Something odd was going on … and if Quill was involved, it could get a bit awkward.
“Chakotay to Paris, report to the Ready Room.”
Damn. “Michael, we’ll talk some more about this later,” Paris said as he got up to leave.
Janeway and Chakotay were huddled at the vid terminal in the Ready Room when he arrived. Janeway looked up and smiled. “Thought you’d like to be here for this,” she said genially, though he knew her well enough to hear the underlying tension in her voice. “Seven managed to break through the dampening field around New Talax.”
All he saw was a screen full of static, but then, a quick bend of light, and Neelix’s image popped on the screen. The Talaxian was clearly delighted to see his old friends.
“Admiral! Chakotay! Tom! This is a wonderful surprise! I had no idea you were back in the sector!”
Despite the bit of ice now lodged in her gut, Kathryn couldn’t help but smile. “Neelix, how are things there?”
Neelix knew Janeway pretty well, too, and he picked up on her concern. “Why, never better, Admiral. We’re all doing very well. So, what brings you to New Talax?”
“You did, Neelix,” she said to the Talaxian’s puzzlement. “We received a message … from you … that the Borg had attacked New Talax.”
Neelix shook his head. “No Admiral. I certainly didn’t send that message. Are you sure it was supposed to be from me?”
“It certainly looked like you, Neelix,” Chakotay said. “But it’s looking more like we’ve been lured out here for another reason.”
And to no one’s surprise, the screen went black …
“Red Alert!” Chakotay ordered.
“Come on, Quill,” Michael wheedled. “Tell me how you did it?”
“Did what? “Quill asked, confused. He usually had the observation deck to himself.
“Come on, you know,” Michael demanded. “The mess hall chairs. How’d you pile them up?”
“Oh, leave him alone about the chairs, Michael,” Miral Paris said. “You just don’t want to be blamed for it.”
“Shut up, Miral,” her brother shot back. “Quill, I’m not going to get you in trouble. But I know you can make things move. I’ve seen you.”
“What? When?” Miral demanded.
“During science lessons the other day, I saw him make his book rise off the desk when Seven wasn’t looking.”
“Maj!” Miral exclaimed.
“Look, guys, I don’t know … I mean I can’t tell …” he stuttered before he was saved by the blaring red alert claxon.
“Khaless!” breathed Miral, who was facing the windows. The boys turned to see a huge ship looming just outside Voyager … larger than anything these three children of Starfleet had ever seen.
“Maybe we should go to the safe room,” Quill suggested.
Miral shook her head. “Won’t matter.” Michael, more curious than scared, ran to the communications board and turned on the ship’s intercom.
“Get the bridge communications,” Miral instructed. “It’s code 7421.”
“Ensign Franklin, what do we know about this ship?” Chakotay asked.
“No information, Captain. It doesn’t match anything in our database.”
“Helm,” Tom commanded, “prepare to take evasive maneuvers. Pattern Alpha Zeta Quad.”
“Going to dive under the ship, Tom?” They could hear a bit of a chuckle in Chakotay’s voice.
“Too big to go over the top,” Tom deadpanned.
“Captain … the rest of the fleet reports no response to their hails.”
“Mr. Ortega, open a channel on all frequencies,” Janeway commanded … a pause, then, “Q, I know what you’re doing. Stop this and show yourself.”
The response was a flash of light, followed by an impact that knocked the ship backwards. As he lay on the floor, slightly dazed, Quill could hear a cacophony of voices streaming from the intercom.
“Damage reports coming in …”
“Shields at 35 percent …”
“Captain, another hit like that, and we’ll blow apart …”
Miral helped him to his feet. “You OK?’ she asked anxiously. He nodded, and she went back to where Michael was sitting on the floor.
“I want Mom,” Michael whispered.
“She can’t come right now. You know that,” Miral whispered back as she put an arm around him. “We’ll be OK.”
“Captain, they’re powering weapons again.”
“Full spread torpedoes. Fire at will.”
Quill saw the light streaks as the torpedoes headed toward the monster ship. And to his surprise, instead of hitting the ship, they looped upward … and headed back toward Voyager.
The bridge crew saw it, too. “What the hell?” Tom swore. “Evasive maneuvers!”
In one horrifying moment, Quill realized what was going to happen. “No!” he cried, throwing his arms up in a futile effort to ward off the inevitable.
And in the next moment, the torpedoes turned again … straight up … and away from Voyager.
The ship rocked from the concussion of the weapons exploding above them.
And the monster ship vanished.
Miral and Michael stood looking at him, their mouths open. There was no sound from the bridge.
“Qu… Quill. What did you do?” Miral asked.
Quill shook his head. “I … I’m not sure.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Michael said, as he pulled his sister toward the door. “Come on, Quill.”
The young Parises were almost out when they heard a strangled cry from their friend. They looked back to see Quill seemingly stuck in place, banging his fists against the side of an invisible box.
“Kahless!” Michael exclaimed as he ran to his friend. He grabbed for Quill, but was knocked backward by a jolt. He lunged again, and managed to grab Quill’s arm.
But as he began to pull … Quill vanished.
Michael stood dumbfounded, just looking at his empty hand. Miral walked unsteadily to the communications board.
“Miral Paris to Admiral Janeway.”
“Miral? Are you all right?”
“Aunt Kathryn,” she said, ignoring protocol, “you and Uncle Chakotay need to come to the observation deck.”
“He did what?” Kathryn exclaimed. She and Chakotay had raced to the observation deck, fearing that Quill had been injured, only to find something much, much worse. And Miral’s report had just pushed the situation beyond comprehension.
“Are you sure?” she asked her goddaughter, squeezing her shoulders for emphasis.
“It’s true, Aunt Kathryn,” Michael chimed in. “Quill stopped the torpedoes. And it’s not the first time he’s moved something.”
“Michael, is that what you meant when you said to ask Quill about the mess hall chairs?” Tom asked.
Michael nodded. “I saw him move a book,” he said earnestly, as the adults looked at each other … not quite sure they were hearing correctly.
Tom cleared his throat. “I think I should take these two to our quarters,” he said gently. Chakotay nodded his assent.
Kathryn sat down heavily and put her head in her hands for a moment. “We’ll find him, Kathryn”, Chakotay said quietly.
She looked up at him. “Oh, I know we’ll find him. It’s the other half of this I can’t comprehend.”
“I suppose it makes sense now,” Chakotay mused. “I’ve noticed that he tends to stare at things a bit too intently … perhaps he’s been trying out his abilities.”
“I noticed that, too,” Kathryn admitted. “But it never occurred to me that he could bend quantum torpedoes to his will.”
“I don’t think there are telekinetic abilities in my family,” Chakotay said. A lame joke, but it was better than trying to punch through the bulkhead.
“I doubt it came from you, my dear,” she said resignedly. “Hey,” she said to his puzzled look, “I’m the one who was blown into dust and reassembled. Maybe the new and improved me passed something along.”
Chakotay shook his head and turned to the window. Kathryn wasn’t going to listen to any reassurances at the moment. “Right now,” he finally said, “I don’t care if Quill got this ability from you, or if he learned it from a holocomic. We need to find a way to get him back from Q, if that’s who has him.”
He waited for an answer ….
“Kathryn?” he asked impatiently as he whirled to face her.
The room was empty, save for him.
He looked around, bewildered for a moment, then slapped his communicator. “Chakotay to Janeway. “ No answer.
Chakotay to Janeway … Kathryn, please respond.”
Nothing. He leaned against the table for a moment and cursed, then slapped his communicator again. “Chakotay to Paris.”
“Widen those search parameters. Admiral Janeway has disappeared.”
Kathryn’s eyes few open. It wasn’t a hallucination; that was Quill shaking her.
“There you are,” she sighed, pulling him into a hug. “Are you all right?”
“I’m OK,” he said as he pulled away and looked around. “Where are we?”
“I’m not sure,” she said as she sat up. There wasn’t much to go on. A grassy clearing near a rock-strewn hill. Likely not New Talax, but no place she could identify without a tricorder.
She hit her communicator. “Janeway to Voyager.”
“All channels. Janeway to the Full Circle Fleet.” Still nothing.
“All right, help your aged mother up,” she said, extending her hand. He laughed, which was the reaction she wanted. “Dad has three ships looking for us; they’ll find us soon,” she said reassuringly.
Quill didn’t answer, and she realized he was looking at something … or more likely, someone, behind her.
Somehow, she wasn’t surprised. “I had a feeling you’d show up,” she said, not bothering to turn around.
“Very perceptive of you, Kathy,” answered a voice she hadn’t heard in several years. “Then again, you always were one of the better specimens of your bipedal species.
She turned, ready to give him holy hell, but stopped in shock. Q … this Q … barely resembled the being she knew. He was stooped, his old-style Starfleet uniform hanging on a now-gaunt frame. His hair, now white, framed a deeply creased face … it was as if he had aged a millennium.
“Q!” she gasped.
He sneered at her. “Why Kathy, aren’t you pleased to see an old friend? “
“Mom, who is this guy?”
“He’s a Q … I’ve told you about them.”
Quill looked at the disheveled man, clearly puzzled. “Is he the Q … the one you said you named me for?”
“No,” Kathryn said softly. “This is his father.”
“Oh, how touching,” Q sneered again. “You named your son in honor of the boy you murdered.”
“That’s not what happened, Q. You know that.”
“What I know,” he roared, “is that it’s time you paid for your part in my son’s death.”
“Let me guess,” she growled back, “you impersonated Neelix and lured me out here, then tried to blow up my ship, all to take revenge on me? For an omnipotent being, you certainly went to a lot of trouble.”
“I thought it would be more fitting to have our little meeting here in the Delta Quadrant; after all, that’s where Q died. Though I have to admit, you being able to contact that little reptile did force me to step things up a bit.”
“Oh, is that why you tried to torpedo us?”
He shrugged. “I was merely trying to scare you off. But I apparently underestimated your shields.”
“So what’s your game here?” she asked impatiently. “Are you intending to kill me in front of my son?”
Q snorted. “You’ve already been dead once, Kathy. I doubt that holds much terror for you.”
“Regrets, maybe. Terror, no,” Kathryn allowed.
“Well, not to worry, my dear admiral. I wasn’t planning on killing you.”
For a half-second, she didn’t comprehend … then, she realized ….
“You’d kill a child, Q?” Kathryn gasped, horrified.
“You killed my son.”
“I did not,” she spat. “Your son was an adult. He made a decision to sacrifice himself to save you … .and the Continuum. Is this how you honor his sacrifice ... with murder?”
Q sneered. “There’s plenty of murder in your puny human history, Kathy.”
“So you’re going to drag yourself down to our level?”
He laughed harshly, but cut it short as he heard something outside of the two Terrans’ range. “Oh, bother,” he muttered, as Lady Q appeared.
Another shock: Like her husband, her hair had gone white, and her creased face no longer held the perpetual sneer Kathryn remembered.
She marched up to Q and positioned himself between him Quill. “Q, you have to listen to me…”
“Come to join the party, my dear? Finally ready to see our son avenged?” He swept his arms in a grand gesture. “But wait, our party is not complete!”
He snapped his fingers, and in an instant, Chakotay appeared next to Kathryn. Quill yelped with joy and flung his arms around his still-disoriented father. Kathryn managed to grab both of them, holding Chakotay steady until he got his bearings.
“Ah, Captain, welcome to our little party. “You’re just in time to say goodbye to your son.”
Chakotay spun around, momentarily taken aback at the change in Q. “What are you talking about?” he finally demanded.
“Revenge, mon capitaine,” he said mockingly. “Your wife took away the most important thing in my life, so I’ll return the favor. And you two can spend the rest of your lives tearing each other apart over it.”
“He’s not well,” Lady Q interjected.
“Be quiet!” Q roared at her.
“Listen to me, Q,” Chakotay said quietly. “You won’t honor young Q this way …”
“Oh, how tiresome,” Q snapped, waving his hand dismissively.
Chakotay fell to his knees, gasping for breath.
“Stop it, Q!” Kathryn and Lady Q yelled simultaneously, as Lady Q tried in vain to break the hold.
Kathryn ran toward Q in the hopes of knocking him off balance, but stopped short when something flew past her. It didn’t register what that object was … until Lady Q slammed into her husband, and both dropped to the ground in a heap.
Kathryn suspected that Lady Q’s flight wasn’t voluntary; but no matter; it was enough to break the hold, and Chakotay fell to the ground, wheezing.
Kathryn quickly moved back to Chakotay, who managed to nod to her unspoken question. She looked him over quickly, checking for any signs of injury.
As she tended to Chakotay, she could hear Q spewing a stream of invectives; likely aimed at his wife. But a moment later, Chakotay poked her, motioning for her to look over at the Qs.
She saw Lady Q on her feet, though a bit wobbly. But Q appeared to be pinned to the ground, flailing and cursing … but not at his wife.
She realized then that he was cursing Quill.
Kathryn gasped. Her boy … her baby … was standing with his arms extended, palms out, as if he were holding up an invisible wall. Considering what she’d been told, she shouldn’t be surprised. But still …
“I see you’ve leaned a new trick, Kathy,” Q growled.
“That’s no trick,” she finally replied, though what it was, she couldn’t say. “And I’ll thank you to stop cursing my son.”
“This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, you fool,” Lady Q yelled at her husband. “That boy is a Q … I’ve sensed something about him since he was born.”
“Preposterous!” Q snarled.
“Then explain this,” she commanded, waving a hand toward Quill.
Chakotay managed to find his voice. “Look,. I don’t pretend to understand what’s going on here, but my son is not a Q.”
“Perhaps I can help,” answered a disembodied voice.
Things apparently could get stranger, Kathryn decided; too bad she didn’t have a phaser.
Q, however, didn’t seem at all alarmed. “Oh, for heaven’s sake,” he snapped to the unseen visitor. “Who invited you?”
A pillar of light began to form behind the Qs, and as Kathryn and Chakotay watched, transfixed, the light formed into a familiar shape.
“Kes!” Kathryn breathed as her friend appeared, looking much as she did a decade … no, make that a lifetime ago. “How did you know we were here?”
“I was called,” Kes said, as she glanced at Quill. She turned back to Kathryn with a mischievous grin. “He does look like his father,” she whispered, giving Kathryn a wink.
Kes slowly moved toward Quill, stopping a foot or so away. “Quill, you’re doing a marvelous job,” she said softly. “You can relax now … you have my word that Q won’t harm you or your parents.”
Quill looked anxiously at his mother, who nodded.
The boy put his arms down, and for a moment, Kathryn thought he would collapse. But he managed to stay on his feet, looking expectantly at this stranger who seemed to know him.
“I am Kes, from Ocampa,” she said gravely. “Your parents are very dear to me; your mother saved my people at great personal cost. And she saved me.”
She turned to the Qs. “Chakotay is right. This young man is human; his and Kathryn’s biological son. But he carries some of your son’s consciousness.”
“Are you saying he’s a host?” Kathryn whispered, shocked.
Kes regarded Quill for a moment. “No,” she said, “Q is not a symbiant. He is more like the spirit guides that Chakotay’s people acknowledge.”
She turned back to the boy. “I know you’re aware of him … does he speak to you?”
“Not really,” Quill said. “He … he’s just sort of there. But sometimes, when I think about things, they just happen. Like when the torpedoes came at us … and when this crazy guy hurt Dad.”
“I understand,” Kes said gently before turning back to the Qs. “A part of young Q’s consciousness escaped the anomaly. It found its way to me, and I kept it safe until the time was right.”
“Right for what?” Kathryn asked, not at all sure she wanted to know.
“The universe is balanced now, but there are ripples of disturbances to come. At some point … a person with great power and intelligence … and great humanity … will be needed. When Quill came to be … the choice was made.”
“Are you saying our son was created to be some sort of savior?” Chakotay demanded.
“No. He already was destined to do great things before the choice was made.”
“Who made this choice?” Kathryn asked.
“Actually, it was young Q. He had been reluctant … until he met Quill’s spirit. And he wanted to be near his godmother … the one being whose love he never doubted.”
Kathryn took a breath to steady herself. “Kes, he’s a boy … he didn’t ask for this. We didn’t ask for this.”
“Did you ask for Voyager to be swept into the Caretaker’s array?” Kes asked gently. “Few of us get to choose our destiny; we just get to choose whether we accept it.”
As she spoke, the female Q quietly approached Quill, finally kneeling in front of him. “Can I talk to my son?” she pleaded.
“It’s possible … but only if Quill allows it,” Kes replied.
“Mom?” Quill asked, bewildered, as Kathryn quickly moved to his side.
“It’s all right,” she soothed as she pulled him close. “You don’t have to, but it would be a great kindness if you did this. We’ll be right here, and Kes will protect you.”
Quill looked at the Q uncertainly, and finally nodded. She laid a hand on his cheek and gazed at him intently.
The conversation … if it could be called that … was going on at a telepathic level, Kathryn figured, but the emotions were openly displayed Lady Q’s face. Joy, relief, then finally tears. And despite her anger at Q, and her fears about Quill’s unchosen path, as a mother, she could appreciate what Lady Q was going through.
Lady Q broke the connection and turned toward her husband. As the unspoken words flew between them, Q’s mouth dropped open, and he managed to take two steps forward before he fell to his knees. “My son … Q,” he whispered.
Lady Q stood then, and squeezed Quill’s hands. “Thank you,” she whispered. She turned again to her husband, and in the splash of a second, her demeanor changed. “You believe me now, you fool?” she spat. “If you had killed this child, you would have killed our son.”
Q stared at her as the gravity of his actions sank in. He seemed to shrink; closing into himself as he finally curled into a fetal position and began to sob. Lady Q made no move to comfort him, but turned to Kes.
“I can’t help him … the continuum can’t help him; my son’s sacrifice has affected us all in ways we weren’t prepared for. We don’t … we don’t know how to cope with this.”
Kes nodded. “Come with me, and I’ll do what I can.”
Lady Q nodded and turned to Kathryn. “I would like to take the boy, too. We can teach him ...”
“Absolutely not,” Chakotay’s voice rang out. “Oh, no,” Kathryn added, eliciting a bemused smile from Kes.
“Not until he’s much older,” Kes told the Q. “Right now, he needs his parents. They have much to teach him, and his father is the one who can help him integrate Q’s presence.”
Lady Q looked longingly at Quill, then finally nodded and turned back to her husband, who was still crumpled on the ground. With a flash, both disappeared.
“Kes, I don’t know how to thank you,” Kathryn began, but Kes just shook her head. “It was the least I could do,” she said. “Now, maybe Q and the continuum will begin to heal.”
“By the way, you said you were called to help us. Did that call come from young Q?”
“It did,” Kes admitted. “And I did speak to him about that stunt with the chairs.”
Kathryn decided to let that go. “Could you come up to Voyager?” she asked hopefully. “We have a lot to catch up on, and I know Tom would like to see you.”
“I would love to see him, too,” she said, and Kathryn caught a bit of wistfulness in her voice. “But I should go.” She held out her arms to Quill, who, to his parents’ surprise, readily hugged her. “You are going to be a wonderful man,” she whispered to him as they embraced.
“I miss you,” Kathryn said she stepped into Kes’ next hug. “I’ll always be close,” Kes replied. “And don’t worry about Quill; he’ll be just fine.”
She stepped back then, and smiled at all of them as she was slowly consumed by the light.
The three of them … their little family … stood frozen for a moment, just taking in the silence. Then Quill slowly sank to the ground …
Both parents dropped to their knees with him; Chakotay’s hand on his communicator, ready to call for help. But Quill just shook his head, and looked up at his mother in amazement.
“Are you all right?”
He nodded. “Yeah, he … Q … just said something … for real.”
Kathryn and Chakotay shared a look. “And what did he say?” Chakotay asked.
“He said, ‘Ask Aunt Kathy if we can go home now.’ Can we?”
“Absolutely,” Kathryn sighed as she pulled her son close.
Kathryn turned from the window as Chakotay walked into their bedroom. “Is he still asleep?”
“Like a log,” Chakotay said as he pulled off his robe. “He seems to be taking this in stride.”
“That’s good,” Kathryn said, “because I’m certainly not. It was bad enough when I thought maybe I’d passed on something; now I find out that young Q’s parked inside his head.”
“I was just debating on how to introduce him to his spirit guide,” Chakotay said as he stretched out on the bed. “Now this.”
Kathryn nodded. “I’m happy to know that part of Q survived, but I do find this disconcerting.”
“More than Kes’ announcement that Quill will play some major role in the universe?”
“Oh, I’m not disconcerted about that; I’m scared witless. God only knows what’s in store for him.”
“Hmm … “ Chakotay replied. “What do you think your mother would have said if she’d been told that she’d be giving her daughter up for dead … twice. And that in the meantime, her baby would be dumped in a remote area of the galaxy, where she’d fight giant viruses and a host of other unimaginable horrors?”
“I think she’d be as scared as I am now.”
“Think she would have tried to stop you from entering Starfleet? You once said your father never believed in shielding you from life; I assume your mother felt the same way.”
Kathryn snorted. “I’m not sure she ever wanted me in Starfleet, but she knew better than to try to stop me.”
“So that means you’re not going to stop Quill from living his life, or fulfilling his destiny, or whatever we want to call it.”
Kathryn sat down on the bed next to him. “No … I won’t,” she finally said. “What frightens me is that whatever we do to prepare him, it won’t be enough.”
He pulled her down, and she nestled next to him, her head in its usual place on his chest. “We can’t prepare him for everything,” he said patiently. “All we can do is lay the foundation. The rest is up to him.”
“And Q, apparently.”
“Well, perhaps we can finish raising him, too,” Chakotay teased, as he gently began to rub her back.
They remained silent for a while, each to their own thoughts. “You know,” Chakotay finally said, “I don’t think we have to worry so much about preparing Quill to live an extraordinary life. After all, his mother’s life has been anything but ordinary.”
He waited a moment, but the only reply was Kathryn’s soft snore.
He chuckled softly. It had been a long day … and an extraordinary one.
“Computer,” he whispered, “lights off.”