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Three children collided with Q in a corridor of the Starship Ecclesia. Q yelped, startled. Immediately he recognized the meta-humans—Janeway and Paris’s kids of an advanced evolution, abandoned on the planet where they were born (or perhaps hatched; Q didn’t like to think about the details).

That had been a while ago; he had forced the crew of the Ecclesia to take them in after he had altered the offsprings’ genomes out of boredom. Here they were: Newt, Liz, and Cat. At least, that’s what he had nicknamed them based on what they looked like when the crew of the Ecclesia had found them. Now they appeared to be ordinary human children.

“Shouldn’t you three be with the rest of the children?” Q asked. He couldn’t believe what was coming out of his mouth. He sounded like a parent.

Liz pouted. “We heard you were on board, and we wanted to see you! Don’t you want to spend time with us?”

“No.” Q turned away, but Cat grabbed him and did not let go no matter how hard he tried to shake her off. You’re becoming soft, Q, he told himself. You would’ve blasted these kids out of existence by now even if their mother were here to see it. He looked down at the girl, whose petulant expression was just like her mother’s. Especially if—

“Tell us a story, Q!” Newt bounced on his toes. “Captain Flores said you’re omnish . . . omni . . . you know everything and you’re immortal! You must have lots of stories, right?”

Q scoffed. “I don’t waste my time with . . . stories. . . .” His voice faltered as he saw the eagerness shimmering in Newt’s eyes. Soft, Q, so soft.

“Something cool must have happened to you,” said Liz.

“Tell us about our mother!” Cat demanded.

“Or Captain Picard!” Newt added.

“Or the Q-niverse!” Liz exclaimed.

“It’s called the Q Continuum, not the Q-niverse,” Q snapped.

“Well, it should be called the Q-niverse,” said Liz.

“No, it shouldn’t,” said Q.

“Yes, it should,” said Liz.

“No, it shouldn’t,” said Q.

“Yes, it should,” said Liz.

“No, it shouldn’t,” said Q.

“Why shouldn’t it?” asked Cat. “Give us one good reason Q Continuum is a better name than Q-niverse!”

“Yeah!” Newt exclaimed. “One good reason!”

Q could teleport them to said dimension right then and there, with no regard for their (frankly low) chances of survival. He could return them to the planet where they started their lives and abandoned them there. He could erase their noisy mouths clean off their soft, squishy little faces, faces that were the cleverest little remixes of Janeway and Paris. Soft, so soft.

Q sighed. “Well, I wouldn’t expect you mortals to understand,” he began, “but a universe is for lesser beings. The Q get a continuum because we’re better than you.”

“If you’re better than us,” asked Cat, “then why do you visit us?”

Q hesitated. He wasn’t really going to tell them, was he? . . . Yep, yep he was. “The Q Continuum can get . . . boring. It is boring. We’re all bored there.”

“Why?” Newt asked, his full and undivided attention on Q.

“We’ve figured out everything. We’ve done everything. But mortal beings, especially human members of the Federation like you and your parents, are so hopeful and optimistic. You keep doing things. You keep trying things. You have so much to discover, and you want to discover it on your own, without the help of the Q.”

"So . . . what you’re saying is, we’re fun!” Liz grinned.

Q sputtered.

“We’re fun! We’re fun!” Liz chanted.

“You’re fun, too!” said Newt. “You show up out of nowhere and you do funny things to the ship and sometimes you make other fun people appear! Like that yellow pony!”

“That was all to annoy—” Q began.

“So now that we’ve said that we’re fun and you’re fun,” Cat said, placing her hands on her hips, “tell us a fun story.”


“Do it!” the children chorused.

Q sunk his face into his hands. How had he managed to lose a battle of wills with three human children?

“Oh, all right. Walk with me to the bridge, all of you, while I tell you how I managed to get an android to laugh.”