Yes, you knew I needed to have the last word on this, my greatest work: keeping an eye on this doddering collection of senior citizens who just can’t find their way to retire and get the hell out of the way of the next generation.

I remember when they were young. Uptight. Brash. Full of themselves and their righteous crusade to make the galaxy over in their image. Like puppies who had never left the yard, they had no idea of what their ambitions truly meant. They had no idea of the threats which awaited them in their tiny shielded cans of tinned meat hurtling between the stars.

So I showed them. What did you think of the Borg, Jean-Luc Picard? Your first impression of them left you frightened out of your minds. Good. It was as it needed to be. You had to learn that lesson early. Your biological and technological distinctiveness didn’t mean you deserved to rule the galaxy.

Not at all. Being good wasn’t good enough.

Over the time we have had together, we have laughed, loved, destroyed civilizations, and frolicked with machine intelligences on our holodecks, while pretending our efforts had meaning in the overall scheme of things.

By Wolf 359, you understood the nature of the challenge. Humanity is not ready. Not in the slightest.

By the Dominion War, the threat of your dissolution was so close. I never ate so much popcorn and stayed out of the war because of Captain Benjamin Sisko who didn’t appreciate my charms.

Captain Janeway didn’t accept my offers of help and thus they wandered across the Delta Quadrant learning, preparing, studying and their confrontation with the Borg was the beginning of the end of the naiveté of the Federation.

All of your rules, all of your laws meant nothing when it came down to the survival of your species. Just like I told you it would. You see, Jean-Luc, I am not a linear being. I can see your possibilities in ways you could not imagine.

But what broke you was the death of your mechanical man. You thought of him as a friend. You never forgave yourself for his death. His demise. His destruction as a sentient life form. You retreated to your world, to hide. To nurse your wounds. To discover your irrelevance.

Time passes and all men must relinquish the stage, my Captain. But you refused. You chose to have one last dance with destiny. I am glad you didn’t give up. The game was not done.

In your last adventures reported as part of your recent court martials we discovered what you did between retiring and the final efforts of the enemies of the Federation to destroy all that you knew, and those enemies used the very methods you perfected to destroy you.

As I told you would happen. As you moved into space, your best and worst aspects would come back to haunt you. Your treatment of Artificial Intelligence, regressive, primitive and completely unreasonable. Only the love of an android, created by an unethical madman seeking to prolong the life of his daughter would ultimately come to save your Federation.

Everything I said to you during your trial those many years ago were laid bare as the final struggles for your Federation came to your door.

SEASON ONE: Star Trek: Picard begins as an analysis of a dying man hiding in his home waiting for the end. Eschewing life, love or connection, watching the Federation moving away from your ideals of exploration and toward the expansionist xenophobes your people are so good at being.

An empire you helped expand. Guilt is a hell of a drug, eh mon capitaine? I couldn’t stand it. There was adventure out there and you were hiding making wine. Where was the Jean-Luc I remembered.

You just needed a push to see your work wasn’t done. Your politics and the nature of the Federation were no longer in sync and this became the most interesting part of the journey, as you sought absolution in the death of your friend and the secrets the synth community kept from all of you.

Once more into the breach, you gathered a new collection of tools and minions as well as drawing the strings of destiny tighter on your old ones. Seven of Nine, a former Borg, a brilliant scientist, a woman disconnected from both of her worlds, refuting the so-called perfection of the Borg and hated by the Humans she desperately hoped to remember in a better light. Humorless but intriguing just the same. Much like you, Jean Luc.

Recruiting war orphans, stray captains, and synths hiding secrets, you painted a world so far removed from what you knew, there was no way for you to return with this knowledge.

Your only solution was to die like the version of the Federation you believed in. Only then could you begin to be free. Believe it or not, I wanted you to be free. I needed you to see clearly one last time. To recognize there will always be threats beyond your comprehension.

You were reborn and the final steps of a plan beyond your awareness were laid. To understand those plans, you would need to go backwards to move forward once again.

IN SEASON TWO, I come to you, better dressed than your farming chic, and reveal to you a plan to destroy your society already underway in an alternative reality. Beautiful Laris: how could you turn away her advances? Do eighty year old Humans have so much attention they can turn away honest affections of a person who held you in such high esteem?

How could you know in just a few hours, you would find yourself onboard the Stargazer, a name to conjure by, and self-destructing to save the Federation from the Borg. Your time as Locutus of Borg made you certain of one thing, you would never become a threat to humanity again.

Too late. Fortunately for you, I showed up and sent you to the place where your war was already underway four hundred years in the past. What is it about that era that keeps you Humans traveling there to fix the future? It’s almost like there is an underlying message to the people of the period. Who would do that?

Your expansionist future terrified you. The Federation of your time was nothing compared to the parallel reality you found yourself in. Expansionist, xenophobic in the extreme, you were a murderer, a hero of the Federation, a genocidal human empire showcasing the very best of a frightened and unenlightened species.

All the things I warned you against were visible in the Confederation of Earth. Now with added Borg Queen. Inserting herself into your timeline, she proceeds to travel to the past in a final gambit to undermine your society.

What else could I do but give you a hand? Sunk costs and all. During this season we watch the birth of your precious android, the creation of positronic intelligence, artificial minds and the most insidious corrupter of machine intelligence in the history of the galaxy right there at the birth of the most dangerous creation in your galaxy.

Synthetic intelligence. With the help of the Watchers, a monitoring agency from a distant civilization, you manage to split your timelines, confounding Schrodinger by creating two versions of the Borg Queen, one sympathetic to you and one destroyed by dear Captain Janeway paving the way for the independence of synthetic intelligence based on her holodeck program, the Doctor.

Your Federation survives, the Confederation’s future lost to the temporal foam which surrounds the Federation’s problematic existence. A foam which shall be exploited one final time by yours truly. I sent you home and alas I was no more.

I looked good dying there didn’t I? You returned home confident of your Universe, sending the New Cooperative Borg on their way and went home to find Laris and love. Sickening. It was a good thing this was not the final act.

SEASON THREE is where we discover, being dead isn’t all its cracked up to be and you discover you are a father. Doctor Crusher vanished years ago and was lost to history until a distress call asks for you. Curiosity nets Riker to help you. Soon the old gang begins to appear once again, each tugging on a piece of a vast network of a conspiracy no one fully understands.

I like to think I had prepared you for this, I had given you everything you needed to understand your plight. I warned you everything your people do affects the people you do it to and how they choose to respond to it.

Every war the Federation fought, left bad blood behind it. Your enemies would gather themselves and in a moment of humanity, your most private moment, they seeded their victory within your corpus. Not the positronic gift from the synths. No, the meat corpus, dying from disease and old age.

Your son, Jack, hidden away to keep him safe, was in fact the final fuse of a Xanatos Gambit so beautiful, there was no way you could have prepared for it. I am glad I was not there to watch it, per se. Your geriatric friends rose to the challenge one last time and the youth of your Federation were corrupted with your technology, with your genetic technology, with the very tools you used to poison the Dominion, the same tools you considered using on the Borg, all that you were, came home to roost.

It would require sacrifice to overcome this challenge. You would pay with the lives of the people who failed to recognize the past is prologue. The leaders who refused to understand the ethical decisions you make have an effect on the next generation.

You crew, pacifist Worf, militant Rafi, repentant Seven of Nine, trauma-stricken Captain Shaw, rebellious Sidney, far-traveled Doctor Crusher, forward-thinking Geordi, and thrice born Data, the Lovers, Riker and Diana, came together one last time recognizing sacrifice was necessary and they were prepared to give everything to undo their contribution to this perfect plan.

And it was perfect. Well-crafted, almost flawless in its execution. Showcasing your arrogance. Your vulnerabilities. Your incredible persistence. You never saw it coming. A side note: Your space stations are incredible. 30 minutes against dozens of ships raining hundreds of torpedoes at it and though the loss of life was catastrophic, they avoided making this a pyhricc victory by not shooting back. They chose to die in the hopes you could save them.

No pressure. In those final moments, you and your crew were annoyingly loving, supportive and even I was moved by your efforts. All of that training. All of those ethical dilemmas. My work here was done.

Just like I told you it would. And you did exactly what you said you would do. You would give everything to save everyone. Humanity had learned a valuable lesson. As you sow, so shall you reap. I doubt this lesson will be learned by everyone, since Section 31 still exists, but alas a story for another movie.

Enjoy your retirement, mon captitane, you got the sendoff you deserved, saving the day one last time in a fabulously nostalgic fashion in that huge wide-bottom starship you affectionately called home while celebrating the joy of carpeting.

Our work done, we have allowed a new generation an opportunity to pick up and learn from our legacy. It is OUR legacy, Jean-Luc. I was there when you started, I am confident, Captain Seven of Nine, and that newly christened starship have everything in order.

I’ll see to it. Take Laris on a long vacation anywhere but that dreadful vineyard.

As for me? Maybe I’m dead, maybe I’m not. I am a notorious liar after all. (Queue that theme music, maestro. <Snap.>)

— Q (2023)



Thaddeus Howze
Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.