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>> Star Trek fan fiction >> Paradigm Shift >> Its an Awful Life

Its an Awful Life

Phillip Reming sank deeper into the gloom of his darkened cabin on board the USS Condor. The fluffy cushions of his couch accepted his somber mood and did what little they could to comfort him. And comforting is what Reming needed at the moment. Pillows are nice enough, but were no substitute for a woman's comforting embrace. It doesn't matter what soft fluffy material they're made of, a pillow is still just a pillow.


Carefully, Reming picked up the stubby glass he had perched on the back of the sofa. A trace amount of the potent fluid still covered the bottom. Without hesitation, Reming knocked back the last drops. He contemplated the meaning of the empty glass for a moment. He could refill it, but that would involve getting up and walking all the way over to the replicator - a journey best not taken in his current state. So, without much of a care, he let empty vessel drop to the floor. It landed not far from his feet without breaking.

As the alcohol-laden beverage worked its magic on him, Reming hugged his pillows tighter and stared blankly out at the stars whizzing by outside his window. His mind shuffled though the events of the recent past.

Where had it all gone wrong? Well, at the very start, of course. It all seemed exciting at the beginning. A rescue mission to save his lost friends, Nick and Sarah. It seemed such a noble crusade. The mission that held so much adventure quickly turned into a long meandering parade of poor decisions and narrow escapes. Now here he was, charging around the Delta quadrant with a banged-up ship and a dysfunctional crew. And it was all his doing.

As he contemplated the seemingly endless string of mistakes that led to his current situation, a certain phrase seemed to echo in his mind. Something about the road less traveled. Where he had heard it, he couldn't remember. Perhaps, wondered Reming, the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. It leads to disaster. Those who take the path, never return. Perhaps the road less traveled by should have been closed long ago.

How could he fix the situation? What were the risks? Turning around and going back to the Alpha quadrant was out of the question. He and the others would be arrested and shot the minute they crossed back into Federation space. Skipping out on his own court marshal, stealing a Starfleet vessel (namely, the Condor), stealing top secret Federation hardware, destroying a secret military facility - the list of charges rolled on endlessly, like the credits at the end of the movie Titanic.

There was no turning back, that was for sure. He had no choice but to keep searching for Nick and Sarah. But even if he did find them, what then? They were assimilated. We're talking about the Borg, here - the very definition of a waking nightmare. How could Phillip even hope to save himself and everybody else, too?

The darkness of his quarters surrounded Reming. He found himself sinking deeper into the pit of depression he had dug for himself. How Reming wished Donna were with him right now. Unfortunately, he had screwed that up, too. Pimping her to a Ferengi for protection from the Feds. It's a wonder she didn't kill him straight away after that. Perhaps she knew his living with the guilt would be punishment enough.

Reming had to face it. His life was a mess and he had made it that way. Worse yet, he was in a position to be responsible for others around him. So, not only had he ruined his own life, but managed to ruin the lives of so many others as well. It was becoming all too much for Reming to take. After a long deep sigh laden with self-pity, he closed his eyes and silently prayed for death.

As Reming felt himself drifting off to sleep - the only peace left to him - a voice shook him into consciousness.

"You are a real piece of work. You know that?" said the voice with a decidedly sarcastic tone.

"Lights!" yelled Reming over the thunder of his suddenly pounding heart.

Without hesitation, the light's flared, blanketing the room in a wash of white light and stinging Reming's blood-shot eyes. After a moment of fierce rubbing and uncontrollable wincing, his eyes had adjusted enough to see.

There, standing before him was the imposing figure of a man. He was a tall man, clad in a Starfleet uniform. He was smiling in a manner that made Reming squirm. Finally, Reming managed to speak. "Who the hell are you? How did you get in here? I don't -?"

The man waved dismissively at Reming. "Calm your sputtering mind. I'm not a member of your crew, and I use the term 'crew' quite loosely. My name is Q. Maybe you've heard of me?"

Reming shook his head. "Ku? What's a Ku?"

"No, you idiot - Q! Like the sixteenth letter of your alphabet."

"Oh!" said Reming with a sudden burst of clarity. "You mean Q! And that's the seventeenth letter, by the way."

"It doesn't matter," muttered Q dismissively. "But you have heard of me, right?"

"Sure, what are you, some sort of alien or something?" asked Reming, fighting off a yawn.

Q folded his arms and shook his head with disappointment. "What, you missed that day at the Academy? Don't you even read the briefings? Why do you think Starfleet sends them to you?"

Reming rubbed his head. "I'm imagining you, right? I'm hallucinating."

"This is too much, you know that?" said Q, angrily. "You're killing my ego! Wait, I'll help refresh your memory." In a voice loud enough to make Reming's head hurt worse, Q said, "Computer, please tell Mr. Reming who I am."

The computer hummed and beeped, then spoke in its usual monotone manner - "Q is the Federation designation for an impudent, self-superior and sometimes malevolent being from an alternate dimension called the Q Continuum. Beginning in 2364, the omnipotent alien being appeared in Federation space to tease, torment, and try Starfleet officers - especially Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise. From the reports and eyewitness accounts it is not certain that the remainder of his kind share his outlook. It should always be stressed that Q's apparent juvenile humor should never be mistaken for the amoral, unconscionable acts of which he is capable..."

"Enough, Computer," ordered Q. "Not the best of biographies, but I suppose it will have to do."

"Whoop-de-do," Reming slurred. "So, what is it, my turn to be bothered by you? What happened, you run out of other Fed starships to torment? Was the Condor your last stop or something?"

"Well, sort of, I suppose so. To be honest, I was board. So I decided to search for the sorriest self-pity wallowing creature I could find. And guess what?"

"You found me."

"Very good! Well, I guess the Academy isn't graduating dummies after all!"

Reming staggered to his feet. "Yes, I know I'm a loser," he said angrily. "I've gotten myself, this ship and all these people in deep. I know it, okay? How 'bout you help me out? Zap Nick and Sarah here and, while you're at it, send us all back home."

"Is that all?"

"Well, no. Make it so we're not executed when we get home," yelled Reming, tumbling back onto the waiting arms of his sofa. "And be quick about it."

"You don't really think all that would solve everything, do you?"

Reming sighed, "I guess you're right. I'd be back where I started, ready to make dumb mistakes all over again. Let's face it. I'm a failure at this job. I don't know what I'm doing half the time. All I've really managed to do is make everybody else's lives miserable. This whole ship would be better off if I never took command."

"You really think that? You really think your friends would be better off now if you weren't here?"

"Absolutely," said Reming with conviction.

Q smiled and rubbed his hands together vigorously. "Oh fun! Let's see if you're right." With a wave of his hand, Reming and Q both vanished, leaving behind the depressive confines of Reming's darkened quarters.

* * * * *

In a sudden flash, the two instantly reappeared in a place all too familiar to Reming.

"You know where we are, don't you?" asked Q.

"Of course I do. I'm not stupid, you know," said Reming, clearly annoyed. "We're on the bridge."

Indeed, it was the bridge of his ship, and yet, somehow it seemed different. First off, there were some physical changes - the light source seemed brighter and the consoles looked as if they had been recently upgraded. But the differences in the bridge weren't all superficial. There was something else, which Reming didn't pick up on at first. The bridge felt different, too. It felt friendlier. It felt happier. Was it his presumed absence that made the bridge seem more pleasant?

For the moment the bridge was empty, but just for the moment. Seconds later the lift doors hissed open and in strolled Carol Smith, a sense of purpose in her stride.

"Hey, Carol," yelled Reming from a shadowy corner of the bridge beside the lift doors. "Call for help. Got to Red Alert. Do something. We have an intruder on board. Get Donna, too! Carol, answer me! Carol?" To Reming's annoyance, Carol did not answer his cries for assistance. She whistled by him as if he wasn't even there.

"She can't see or hear you, my poor fellow," Q said in Reming's ear. "Nobody can. I've brought you to an alternate timeline. In this alternate timeline you don't exist."

"Oh I get it," said Reming in a whisper. "I think I saw this movie. Okay, I'll play along. Now what?"

"Just keep watching," said Q, angrily. "And stop whispering. Nobody can hear you! Understand? Nobody. Got it? You're not here. You're like a ghost or something."

"Yes, right, whatever. I forgot." Reming said dismissively. He had heard everything Q was saying, but just barely. His attention was focused on Carol Smith who had just taken a seat in the Captain's chair.

"Hey Carol, what are you doing? You're in my chair!" called out Reming, frustration in his voice.

Reming was on his way to confront Carol when Q grabbed him by the shirt collar and yanked him back. "Listen to me very closely - She can't see or hear you!" said Q ferociously. "Try to keep up, will you?"

Reming wriggled free from Q's grip. "Okay, fine," he said. "I get it. I'm not here. I'm dead."

Q threw up his hands with aggravation. "No, you're not dead - you don't exist! In this timeline you never existed. I'm showing you what life would be without you in it. Now keep watching and no talking!"

With arms folded, Reming stood beside Q and did what he was told. He kept watching Carol. Presently, she was making notes on a small PADD. Then, as if suddenly remembering the time, Carol put down the PADD and quickly taped her communications badge. "Hey Michael, get back up here. We gotta get going soon."

"Acknowledged," answered Parks through the communications system. "I'm on my way."

Q and Reming watched as Carol stepped to the Operations console and flipped a few switches. "Attention Starbase 47. This is Captain Carol Smith of the USS Tree Weasel. We're preparing to disembark. Please make ready."

From the darkened corner where he stood, Reming gasped with shock. "She's a Captain?" Why? How?"

Q smiled devilishly. "Carol always felt trapped on board the Condor. er, I mean, Tree Weasel - and deservedly so. The Communing chip made this ship her own personal prison. But, after she found out how to remove the chip, she shed her depressive state. She felt empowered for the first time in her life. After she had the Communing chip removed, Carol went back to the Academy and became a Captain. As a matter of fact, when she got the chance, she took command the Tree Weasel. So, here she is."

"Amazing," said Reming with awe. "I knew she was depressed, but I never realize how despondent she was. Now she's okay? That's incredible," chuckled Reming, genuinely happy for her. "And she found out how to get the chip out, you say?"

"Yes, well, since you weren't around to take command of the Tree Weasel, and the Federation couldn't find any other flunky to take the job, they decided to abandon the Communing Project all together. Carol Smith worked tirelessly with Doctor Tedmoore to find a means to remove the chip from herself, and everyone else for that matter."

"You have got to be joking, Q." said Reming with cynicism. "She worked with Tedmoore? That's really tough to believe. She hates Tedmoore. I hate Tedmoore. Everybody hates Tedmoore."

Q narrowed his eyes at Reming. "You'd be surprised how people will put aside petty squabbling in order to work together for a common goal."

Just as Q finished speaking, the lift doors hissed opened again and onto the bridge strolled First Officer Commander Michael Parks. "Hey boss," said Mike, happily, "look who I found wandering around the corridors of Starbase 47 --"

Following not far behind Mike was the man he was referring to - Ensign Nicholas Smith. Nick stepped onto the bridge, smiling and laughing. "Hey, sis - I mean, Captain - sorry about that. I'm reporting for duty, too."

Carol looked up from her PADD and smiled warmly. "Hey, Nick. Good to see you. Take your station. We'll be heading out soon."

The sight of a living and breathing and laughing Nicholas Smith almost brought Reming to tears. "Oh my God - It's Nick! He's alive? I don't believe it! He's alive!"

"Well, why wouldn't he be?" asked Q. "When the Tree Weasel encountered the Borg, he had no Communing chip for the Borg to want. Carol found the answer to removing the chip long ago."

"But they still ran into the Borg?" asked Reming, perversely hoping not everything was sunshine and roses without him around.

"Oh yes, that happened," reassured Q, "and one life was lost. Well, I don't want to give it all away. Just keep watching. You'll see."

So Reming did just that. Feeling like an ethereal voyeur, he continued to watch the scene playing out before him. As Reming watched from an unoccupied corner of the bridge, Captain Carol Smith left her captain's seat and knelt down beside Nick, who, at this point, was seated in his usual spot at the helm. In a somber manner, Carol quietly asked, "How are you holding up?"

Nick choked back a tear. "I'm okay. The memorial was nice. I'm glad you were able to come, sis."

Carol leaned over and gave Nick a little peck on the cheek. "Oh, it was the least I could do."

"She saved us all, you know. I can't believe she's gone."

While Nick and Carol shared a moment, Reming grabbed Q by the arm and shook him like an exited child. "Who are they talking about, Q? Who died? Tell me!"

Q shrugged off the annoying little man. "Oh all right, I'll tell you. The person they're speaking of is Nick's one and only true love - Sarah Desert. When the Borg showed up, she did a bit of negotiating. Sarah offered herself, and the special knowledge locked away in her brain, over to the Borg. In return, the Borg promised to spare the Tree Weasel and its crew. The plan almost worked, too. The Borg (being the malevolent creatures they are) were about to break the deal and assimilate the entire crew of the Tree Weasel, anyway. Luckily, the USS Intrepid showed up and chased them off just in time. Of course, you lived though that bit in your timeline."

"Yes, but, in my timeline, the Borg took both Sarah and Nick. Me, and the rest of the senior staff were charged with gross negligence. Wasn't there a court marshal, or at least a formal hearing in this timeline, too?" asked Reming.

"Well, of course there was," snapped back Q. "At the grieving Admiral Desert's request, the entire senior staff was held responsible. Fortunately, some back-door dealings got most of the charges dropped. Only one person was left to bear the responsibility. Fortunately for her, that too is about to change."

"Who are you talking about? Who was held responsible?" asked Reming, already knowing in his heart who that somebody actually was.

Q looked down at Reming and smiled. "It might be better if I showed you." With a wave of his hand, both Q and Reming vanished from the Tree Weasel bridge...


...only to reappear somewhere quite different. It was a small room, about eight meters square, with no furnishings, except for a small bunk. The room was dark and drab and was filled with a foggy sense of profound despair.

"Yuck! What a depressing place. Where the hell are we?" asked Reming.

"Oh that's right, you never got here in your timeline, did you? Strange circumstances allowed you to escape all this. This place is a holding cell aboard Starbase 47. It is the temporary lodging for the only person held responsible for the Borg incident."

Reming looked around the small cell, and spotted a silhouette seated at the far end of the unkempt bunk. At first, he could not make out who it was. A few tentative steps toward the individual revealed the truth. It was none other than his once first officer and estranged lover - Commander Donna Reed.

At first Reming didn't recognize her without her usual steel-gray Starfleet uniform. The drab prison garb hid her best assets, which her commission uniform did so well to accent.

In her face Reming could see the inner pain she carried. He could see the streaks that marked the tracks of her dried tears. Reming knew her well enough to know how Reed must have blamed herself for the loss of Sarah, the Admiral's daughter, to the cruelty of the Borg.

"She was the captain of the Tree Weasel, you know?" said Q, blanketed under a nearby shadow. "It was her pleads of responsibility, along with other influences, that jailed her but let her crew go free. Carol Smith, her First, got the job as Captain of the Tree Weasel after the court marshal concluded."

"These 'other influences' you mentioned couldn't save her?" asked Reming, kneeling beside the withering frame of Donna Reed.

"The 'other influences' managed to save her from the firing squad, or the guillotine, or whatever form of execution your Federation employs now. Sadly, the powers that be could not salvage her commission. She was drummed out of the service - a Dishonorable Discharge, I think they called it."

"So, what you're telling me is, she ends up happier with me as Captain, right?" asked Reming, still searching for the silver lining of his own life.

"Well, not exactly," said Q, struggling to stifle his giggles like that of a prankster about to deliver the ultimate zinger. "You see, her benefactor - the 'other influence' that saved her from execution is on his way here now. Just watch."

Q stepped back a bit, allowing Reming to see a figure approaching the cell. It was a man, that much Reming knew, but the shimmering of the cell's force field door hid the man's identity. The mysterious man pressed a switch, lowing the field.

In an instant Reming knew who the mystery man was. The sight of the man sent a fit of utter shock plummeting like a rock to the pit of Reming's stomach. The man entering the cell was none other than Reming's nemesis - Doctor Edward Tedmoore.

Reming's face reddened, "You mean to tell me that this ... this... madman is the one who helped Reed?"

Q looked at Reming with contempt. "I'm ashamed of you, Reming. Frankly, I don't understand why you have such hatred for this man."

Reming twisted his face, showing the fullness of his anger. "This man is a monster - he invented the Communing technology that trapped Carol Smith, and the others aboard the Weasel. He allowed people to be implanted with his dangerous experimental technology without knowing the risks."

"I concede that he is the inventor of the Communing chip - that much is true," said Q. "I'll also concede that he is somewhat of a dark figure in - much darker than you'd ever imagine. However, all that is in the past. When the Federation pulled the plug on his Communing experiments, he changed. He became a positive force in the lives of the people he experimented on. And as for Donna Reed, he became oh so much more."

"What do you mean?"

"Keep watching - you'll see," persuaded Q.

For the moments when Q and Reming argued, Tedmoore lingered at the doorway, staring at Reed. For a long moment, Reed hadn't even realized Doctor Tedmoore's presence. When Tedmoore stepped inside the cell, Reed finally looked up. She stood with surprise. As she their eyes locked, Reed's face reddened and her eyes welled with tears. Without the need for words, an understanding seemed to pass between each other's gaze. Still, it seemed, more was needed. Tedmoore spoke the words softly. "It's over, Donna."

Both Reed and Tedmoore became overwhelmed with joyful emotions. Donna leapt into the Doctor's open arms and the two embraced like only lovers could.

"Donna, what are you doing?! Get away from him!" yelled Reming in wrenching horror.

"They can't see or hear you, Phillip," reminded Q, as if scolding a child.

Panic stricken, Reming wrapped his fingers with clumps of his own hair. "Oh my God, don't tell me ..."

"Yes," said Q. "They're in love. The Doctor and Commander (ex-Commander) Donna Reed are lovers. Their wedding is planned for next week, back on Earth."

"Wedding?!" screamed Reming, more shocked than if he had clamped his teeth down an exposed power line. "What is going on here?!"

"It's simple," said Q. "Without you, everything happened differently. Because the Feds didn't have a patsy like you to push around, they were forced to end the Communing chip experiments. As everyone pulled together to figure out how to remove the chip, Donna and Edward here grew close. They had been in love long before the Borg came along. And it was their love that persuaded Doctor Tedmoore, using the last of his influence inside the Federation, to spring Donna from prison."

While Q droned on, Reming slipped deeper into a pit of shock and dismay. He could understand Carol Smith getting command of his ship. Hell, he could even work himself into being happy for Carol. But this - losing his girlfriend to his greatest enemy was more than Reming could bear. "Take me outa here, Q," said Reming dejectedly. "I've seen enough."

Q turned to Reming just as Tedmoore and Reed were leaving the cell, hand in hand. "You know, Reming, at the start of this strange trip, I was sure you were going to be wrong - that your life was a positive influence on the people around you. But, as it turned out, you were right and I was wrong. You're life really does suck."

Reming didn't look up at Q. He continued staring at the slate floor and listening to the rhythmic pounding of his heart, hoping that the next beat would be the last.

Q, feeling a bit sorry for Reming, made a generous proposal. "Come on, let me take you someplace that'll cheer you up."

* * * * *

In a flash, both Q and Reming vanished from the cold empty prison cell only to reappear, to Reming's dismay, in a room filled with happy people and raucous laughter.

Reming looked around the room with disgust. "Now where are we?"

By now Q had joined in on the celebration going on around him. He held a small beverage in his hand and a large grin pasted on his face. "This? Oh, this is what's known as a party - a Christmas party, to be exact. Don't tell me you haven't been to a party before."

The emotionally wounded Reming looked around. The place was filled with men and women - all human - dressed in colloquial clothing and generally having a good time. Most of the crowd gathered in small pockets of people. All were in jovial spirits aided by large amounts of alcohol.

Reming found an empty chair next to the garishly decorated artificial rendering of a plump green perennial woody plant. "I guess I'm not in a partying mood, Q."

Q was about to take a seat beside Reming when he noticed the man in the blue business suit dozing there. Without hesitation, Q tipped the man off the chair and onto the floor. The blue clad stranger stirred for barely a moment before falling back to sleep prostrate on the floor.

Quickly as he could, Q sat down beside Reming, and in a fit of spontaneity, took his tiny drink and dumped it over Reming's head. To Q's disappointment, Reming barely noticed. "You know," began Q, "you have a right to feel down in the dumps. After all, seeing all your friends back on the Condor, excuse me, Tree Weasel, living better lives because you're not there has to be quite a blow."

"I feel better knowing that you understand," said Reming, his words soaked in sarcasm.

"Of course," continued Q, "There is at least one person suffering because of your absence."

"Who might that be?" asked Reming.

"You, of course!"

"That's just stupid," said Reming loud enough to turn the heads of one or two confused partygoers. "What right do I have living my life if my life brings so much misery to everyone around me?"

"Don't try to be so noble, Reming," barked Q. "Who do think you are - Margaret Thatcher? What if I told you that you're life is about to have a greater impact? Just look at the damage your tiny Condor ship caused in the Alpha quadrant with you as its Captain! At the moment I appeared in your quarters, , your face was flickering on the PADD of every Federation captain and displayed on the wall of every two-bit mall security guard and everywhere else in between."

"Yeah, as a criminal," added Reming with disdain. "My friends are better off without me. Hell, this universe is better off without me."

"Yes, you're probably right. Even the Borg are better off without you," said Q, patiently waiting for Reming's self-pity clouded mind to register that last part.

Finally, Reming's synapse fired. "What? What do you mean, the Borg are better off without me? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Suffice to say, in the near future, you and your little ship of fools are going to make life very difficult for the Borg. Are you sure you want to miss all that?" Q let the thought dance around Reming's mind a bit, before letting the spot light fall on door number two. "Or, if you want, I can relocate you to a new life. Consider it a kind of loser relocation program. The choice is yours."

"Really?" asked Reming, excitedly. "You'd let me live a different life?"

"Well, a boring life - if that's what you want. It won't be one of space exploration. It will be much, much, much duller."

Reming considered the offer. The choice was tantalizing to him: either go back to his life and maybe make a tiny difference against an oppressive foe. It was funny. Somehow Q had a way of making a confrontation with the Borg sound almost exciting. Or if he chose, he could live a life of blessed mediocrity. Reming sat quietly, considering which offer to take. The idea of actually swinging a sword at the terrible dragon and actually making it to flinch had a kind of appeal. But the Borg were not some mythical foe. They were real and terrifying in their uncaring ruthlessness. It wasn't only his skin he was considering, either. If he took the easy way out, not only would he be a winner, but so would all those he held dear. How could he even consider going back?

After some moments passed, Reming finally spoke up. "I know what I want, Q."

"It's about time. What's your decision?"

"I choose to be relocated to a new and boring life - a life where I won't have to worry about the lives of those around me. A life where I'm not the one making the tough decisions. I want a life of constant boredom, please!"

"You do?" remarked Q, not really that surprised. "But what about the lovely Ms. Reed? You really want her to live a life away from a starship and in the arms of your enemy? What about the Borg, at least? Doesn't the idea of going twelve rounds with the Borg, and maybe, just maybe, coming out ahead excite you at all?"

"No, not really," said Reming, smiling. "If Donna is happy with Tedmoore, who am I to take that away from her? And the others - Carol and Nick - what right do I have taking away their happiness? As for the Borg, they just terrify me, plain and simple. I'd much rather skip any confrontation with those guys if I could."

"Are you absolutely sure of this? I can't change your mind?"

"No - you can't. Why? You're not backing out of your end of the bargain, are you?"

"No, not at all," said Q, waving his hands at Reming. "I will keep my side of the bargain. If a life of boredom is what you want, then that is what I'll give you. No strings attached."

"And Donna, Nick, Carol and the others will go on to live the happy lives you showed me?" beamed Reming with wide eyes.

"Oh, absolutely! Yes of course! I promise," lied Q.

"Then that's what I want," said Reming with confidence. At that moment, he was so happy, he almost wept with joy. "Give me my meaningless life, please!"

"So be it, Reming. I will. But be warned. You believe you'll be happy in a dull and boring life, but you may not be. When you finally come to your senses and beg me to change you back to your old life, I will not help you. You'll be stuck in a boring life for the rest of your days. Do you understand me?" In truth, Q knew Reming would most likely be most happy in a boring life. However, by lifting him out of his universe would result in ripples in the timeline so far reaching that even Q in his most reckless days would not even think of doing. By scaring Reming well enough, he half-hoped Reming would agree to return to his own timeline. Clearly he underestimated Remings resolve.

"Oh yes, yes. I understand and I don't care. I'm tired of living a life as an meek captain on a tiny starship wandering around space and generally making my life and the life of everyone around me a living hell. Carol, Nick, Mike and Donna deserve better - and so do I."

"You will come to regret this decision - I promise you," scolded Q. After speaking those final foreboding, but empty and largely ignored words, Q snapped his fingers. In an instant, Reming was gone.

Q was a very bad omnipotent being, even he would agree. But even he kept his promises. Still, there was the matter of Reming's timeline and the unimaginable harm to come to it if Reming was forever erased. The young Reming, unqualified as a captain and barely competent as a human, had more effect on the Universe than he could ever know. However, there was Q's reputation to consider. He couldn't just dole out promises and not keep them. All was well. There was a way to satisfy both sides of the equation. Even before Reming made his choice, Q knew what he would do. He would have to bend the rules a bit, of course. Bending the rules was one of the hallmarks of his questionable reputation anyway.

* * * * *

Phillip Reming sat up with a jolt. In a panic, he looked around. He was in a bed. The bed was in a small room, cluttered and dirty. All the while, a loud buzzing filled his ears. "Red Alert! Red Alert!" he yelled out of reflex.

When no one came running and no computer voice announced itself, Reming forced himself to refocus. The room he was in was quite different from his ship's quarters. It looked terrible, as if a small tornado had recently blown though. Clothes and empty food wrappers cluttered the floor. Through the poorly hung blinds brilliant beams of sunlight poured.

Finally, still in a bit of a daze, Reming followed the loud buzzing sound to the source. It was coming from a small black box beside his bed. With his fist, Reming pounded the box. Thankfully for Reming the buzzing stopped, only to be followed by tiny chattering voices.

"... and the I-295 is blocked bumper to bumper for six miles. In other news, the President announced new stricter security measures at all railway stations..."

Then, like a bolt of lightening, Reming realized what was happening. "It wasn't a dream! That Q guy actually did it! He gave me a new life! Oh God, I hope it's as boring as he promised it would be, too!" Turning his eyes up to the heavens, Reming shouted with glee, "Thank you, whoever you are! Thank you for my new boring life!"

And, as Reming wallowed joyfully in his new bright future of mediocrity...

* * * * *

...somewhere, in a parallel universe, there streaked a little starship

The void the little ship plummeted across was a dangerous one. And like an arrow fired blindly into the air, it arced ever farther toward uncertain lands. Although the territory of space it left was no longer welcoming, the dark province it now traveled held even greater dangers. These dark woods of space it traveled through had a name: Quadrant Delta. And the wayward ship journeying bravely into that forbidding sky had a name, too. Etched atop the leading hull of the tiny ship was its name: "Condor."

Somewhere, inside that little ship, there was a darkened cabin. The particular cabin in question was commonly called the Captain's Quarters. Beyond the cabin doors the room was empty. Well, not quite. The darkness concealed the single occupant well. In the slightly unkempt quarters sat a man, feeling as empty inside as the room looked and as desperate as the void beyond his window. The man's name was Reming.

Phillip Reming sank deeper into the gloom of his darkened cabin on board the USS Condor. The fluffy cushions of his couch accepted his somber mood and did what little they could to comfort him...

Read more from Paradigm Shift and Christopher Filippone.
Michael Sweeney
Paradigm Shift
Borg Like Me, part deux, part two
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Episode Thirteen - Deep in the Delta Quadrant the Condor crew find an exploded Borg cube. With help from The Resistance they take action to find their missing crew in Borg space! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder why it took 10 years to write 44 pages. Second half of Story One of Three in the Delta Story Arc

Evil Must Be Opposed.
-- Vedek Yassim,

(DS9: Rocks and Shoals)
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