..About half an hour later...
"What is her condition?" Picard asked.
"It seems she is fading," Doctor Beverly said.
Picard looked over toward Ensign Bell. Then he looked back to Doctor Beverly.
"May I?" Picard asked.
Doctor Beverly nodded.
"Sure," Beverly said.
Geordi sat by the Ensigns's side holding her hand sitting on a chair. She is in intensive care right now with low life signs that are not normal. Geordi seemed to be generally concerned for her and the baby. Picard put one hand on the metal device connected to the biobed right over her chest. A glow emitted from Picard's hand then it drifted down through the metal right into her chest. At first a visible light color outlined her body making the form of a shield. Then it vanished. Doctor Beverly looked over to the screen where Ensign Bell's life signs are rebounding.
"It is a miracle," Doctor Beverly said. "Her life signs are..."
"Good job, Picard," Sam said, with a slow clap. "You made a choice. A easy one...But you seriously did not need to bring the shield back."
"That was a shield?" Picard asked.
Sam sighed, shaking his head.
"Oh, you are not even aware of Q powers," Sam said, once he stopped clapping. "Just think...Where do you want to go?"
"I have to think where I want to go?" Picard asked.
"Time is paused," Sam said. "But the continuum clock keeps ticking." He approached Picard. "Do me a favour and think where you want to go. You can think of a person. Think and you get what you want. That is the way of the Q."
"Fine then," Picard said. "...I will."
Q, Picard thought, Where is he?
Picard found himself in a gray building. There were two armed men standing at the door aiming their weapon like guns at his head. Shortly afterward Sam appeared wearing a jump suit that appeared to be the one from 2371 with a yellow shirt underneath. He wore shiny dark shoes that had silver markings on the side in the shape of a com badge.
"Lower your weapons,Q guards," Sam said as Picard stared at him. "What?" Sam looked down to his attire. "OOooh." Sam had a sheepish smile appear on his face. "Sorry," He rubbed the back of his head. "You are not suppose to see that."
Sam's attire changes to a pearly white shirt, a gray jacket, and gray matching pants. His shoes remained the same design. The guards lowered the guns to their sides. Picard can see empty cells with bunks and some of them had only one bed. It was unusual to see while hearing the guards apologize.
"Where are the inmates?" Picard asked.
"Oh Picard," Sam said. "You are not even Q so you cannot see them."
"I want to see," Picard said.
"Fine," Sam said, making a pair of golden glasses appear in his hands. "In the 1400's Chinese judges wore these while in court and they were seen, more less, as the sign of wealth bestowed upon the individual along with power over the years."
Picard took the golden glasses that felt light weight in his hands.
"It is surprisingly light as my combadge," Picard said.
"What did you think it would be?" Sam asked.
"Heavy," Picard said.
"I will take you to Q's cell," Sam said. "But put the glasses on, will you?"
Picard put on the glasses. The whole scenery changed before his eyes, in a way more than one. The bars were glowing pitch black and in between he can see glowing balls of light. It was much stranger than how he encountered the traveler and Q in their human form. More stranger than the form Q showed him in sick bay.
"You see," Sam said. "To those who are found guilty of a disastrous crime that the Continuum disapproves of; the convict is thrown here and they are rendered into usual real form."
"But Q was different," Picard said. "I saw a dark human being dark as night."
"That is the space version," Sam said. "The common form to see." He walked with Picard down the hall. "In that form; what is in our best interests is usually seen where our heart would be. In our typical form all you see is a floating ball."
"So...Q is a floating ball?" Picard asked.
"Correct," Sam said. "The main rules say we cannot intervene with a persons fate. It is their fate. It is fixed and can never be rewritten, but oh, Q has done the opposite by going beyond and breaking the rules."
"So, why am I not seeing you as a ball?" Picard asked.
"Because, Picard, the cells work differently," Sam said. "We may take solid form as we wish...But these bars prevent your eyes from perceiving them as human beings."
"I see," Picard said.
"Good," Sam said.
They continue talking until they came to a lone cell in a dead end. Sam put his hand on a wall. A blue glow emitted around his fingertips them it faded. It seemed to Picard that the Q used technology to keep their most disgraceful inmates out of sight. The wall opened up to reveal a hall without floating balls.
"He's the last one at the right," Sam said. "I will be waiting for you. You will need a lot of help getting back to your time...You are rather new at this."
"Thank you for the concern," Picard said.
Picard went into the hall and shortly after the wall behind him shut. The Q continuum must have no problem in making sure no one escapes here, or if there ever will be any escapees in the prisons life time. Picard walked down the spot clean hall. Five Q minutes later Picard came to a stop at a cell with glowing bars. On the lone bed sat a lightly glowing ball.
"Q?" Picard called.
The ball floated up over toward Picard.
'You shouldn't be here,' Came Q's voice from the ball. 'And those glasses are ugly on you!'
"Are you here because of what you nearly did?" Picard asked.
Q had a sigh.
'That is not the point,' Q's floating ball went over toward the right. 'The point is you have visited the only place in the universe that humans CANNOT, AT ALL, VISIT!'
"Q," Picard said. "I know you are enraged but can we talk about this?"
'Talk about what?' Q's ball floated over toward Picard. 'We have nothing to talk about!"
"I like to think otherwise," Picard said. "I was surprised to find a different Q arriving in my quarters."
'Exactly how I told you,' Q said.
"The last time I saw you in your human form was when we went to Altantis," Picard said. "I never met such unique marine life until then."
'I took you on thirty adventures with your aging ceased,' Q said. 'Admit it! you liked some of them.'
"I did not like all of them," Picard said. "But some, I did."
Q had a soft and fond laugh.
'Oh the fun we had,' Q mused. 'Before the continuum got to me.' His voice lowered. 'I am here for unleashing the Q collector to the Q continuum. Happy now?' Picard nodded. 'You can go now.'
Picard still did not budge.
"You didn't think it would land you here," Picard said.
'Yes,' Q said. "Only the criminals get sent here,' His voice lowered. 'Please...Just go.'
Picard didn't budge.
"Q, I am not leaving until I am satisfied," Picard said.
'Of what?' Q asked.
"That I have got what I wanted to hear," Picard replied.
"Did Ensign Bell mention me in her novel for being the inspiration for NightTrow?' Q floated back and forth. 'Has she?' He could hear the excitement in Q's voice. "I intentionally slipped out 'Mon Amie' meaning 'my friend' on her just to see if Ensign Bell really did convey back what she hears into her writing!'
"Q, I had to save her life using the power of Q," Picard said.
The ball stopped moving.
'He lowered it?' Q asked.
"Lowered what?" Picard asked.
Picard heard a sigh from Q.
'The shield, Jean Luc,' Q said, in a low voice.
Picard blinked at first.
"You are aware of this?" Picard asked. "For how long?"
'I can not believe a Q could actually pull it down, I tried and I could not,' Q went back over to the bed. 'Picard...I ask of you to go home...Back to your ship.' Picard could sense Q is looking up back toward him. 'I am currently serving a three year prison sentence. For now, and maybe onwards, you won't be seeing me for awhile.'
"Three years is not that long," Picard noted.
'To you it is not,' Q said. 'But to me...It will be.'
'You are Q,' Picard thought back. 'You can do anything.'
'This confinement of my cell prevents me,and I do not plan on evading the Continuum's punishment,' Q said, sincerely. 'I like how honest you are...But the only other way I will be getting out of this cell in less than your lifetime is if some Q screws up. The Continuum usually sends a trusted inmate out on a Q when they've blatantly gone against the rules on a very extremely important mission.'
'Trusted inmate?' Picard repeated.
'I am not trusted,' Q thought. 'I am in confinement. Trusted Q's are held back in the entrance in one single room where the bars do not allow to overhear their voices or see them. But when they speak; their voice is masked when speaking to other inmates through the peepholes.'
A light bulb went off in Picard's mind.
'I have an idea,' Picard thought.
'Jean-Luc, no!' Q thought.
'I haven't even told you my idea,' Picard thought.
Picard could sense Q is rolling his metaphorical eyes.
'I already know your plan,' Q thought. 'You are a predictable man.'
'Then tell me what it is,' Picard thought.
'Making Sam screw up by being an ass he is,' Q thought.
'That is not my plan,' Picard denied.
'Yes, it is,' Q thought.
'Is not,' Picard denied, once again.
It took awhile for Q to understand what Picard meant.
'No, you are not seriously considering---' Q started but is interrupted by Picard.
'Why yes I am,' Picard said.
'Picard, you are going to be considered a rule breaker by the continuum if you do this!' Q plead. 'Please.'
'Who says I am a rule breaker?' Picard asked.
Picard knew very well how to snap his fingers. So that's what he did. He reappeared out of the hall right back in the prison. Sam looked at Picard, oddly, as though trying to be sure if Picard is really standing there in the flesh.
"Q is very stubborn," Picard said. "Return me to my ship."
"As you please," Sam said, and started to snap his fingers when a red alarm went off. "Escapee?..." He lowered his hand looking to be at least complexed by it. "That is not possible. There hasn't been any escapee's since the vikings discovered America."
"Take me back," Picard said, once again.
"I will take you to the doors, Captain Picard," Sam said. "Follow me."
Down the hall they went. What little did everyone know except for Picard and Q; is that Q never did really escape. Q has been transferred to the public part of the prison where he is not that isolated from all the other Q's. He is actually in the cell where the 'trusted inmate' would reside and wait for the moment to chew out a Q who's screwed up.
Picard shared a little wave to one of the cells when Sam wasn't looking.
"We will find Q," Q guard one said. "Even if it means tossing the prison."
"And breaking the floor panels," Q guard two added.
"All right, Picard," Sam said. "Think of your Enterprise. I am sharing my energy with you."
Picard can feel more power traveling through him. It was beyond anything he had experienced. But the power was only momentary. Picard thought about the Enterprise and more specifically Doctor Beverly. The next Picard knew is that he is standing where he had been. Picard wished for time to resume and there it did.
This power was so great, but had to be used wisely over the next hours of the day.
Note to self, Picard noted, send in report of the other adventures Q had taken me on...Earlier.
At the moment then, Picard found himself missing Q.