THE Q CONTINIUM
Whether encountered as an entire all-knowing race, or a single Q, the Q Continium seem intent on providing Federation starship captains and their crew with numerous difficult opportunities for growth and learning.
Starfleet first became aware of the Q Continium on the inaugural mission on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D to Farpoint Station in 2362.
A strange man appears on the bridge and hijacks the Enterprise`s captain, Jean-Luc Picard, and several other crew members. An irascible fellow, he claims to be part of an all-knowing super-race known as The Q that live in an extra-dimensional domain. Not terribly creative with names, he calls himself Q as well.
However powerful, Q`s extradimensional
abilities are flawed by an immature sense of play and curiosity. At
Farpoint, Q considers humanity too barbarous to expand any further,
and he sentences the crew of the Enterprise too death.
Luckily, Captain Picard manages to prove humanity`s worth in a Q-projected court, and the ship is reprieved. But Q promises to return again, claiming that the case has not been settled.
The biggest threat that Q imposes upon the federation is hurling the Enterprise some 7,000 light years into a first encounter with the dangerous Borg in System J-25. Proving his own childishness, this action was in retaliation for Picard`s refusal to allow him to join as a crew member.
The normally confident Picard finds his back
against the wall, and admits to the gleeful Q that he does need Q`s
help with the Borg. Q rewards him by returning the Enterprise to her
Another member of the Continium, known as Q2, removes Q`s powers as a punishment for creating pandemonium in the universe. A chastened Q appears without his powers during the Enterprise`s mission to Bre`el IV. He is seeking asylum, but is attacked by a gaseous Calamarain life-form.
Commander Data tries to help the defenceless
Q but is injured himself. However, touched by the android`s sacrifice
for him, Q unselfishly responds by luring away the Calamarain and
allowing the Enterprise to complete her mission. The Continium
restores Q`s powers - albeit on a probationary basis.
In 2369 the En Enterprise actually has its own member of the Continium , Amanda Rodgers, whose parents had defected into human form. The Continium has strong moral objections to her living among inferior beings. However, she is allowed to stay with the crew if she doesn`t use her awesome powers. But she is forced to do so to avert a planetary disaster, and opts to return to her own kind.
During the homeward journey of the USS Voyager , the crew encounter another member of the Q Continium. This Q has only one request - that he allowed to commit suicide. The original Q is quick to appear to chastise his fellow immortal for being unrealistic. The suicidal Q requests asylum, and Captain Janeway orders a special hearing to be held.
During the proceedings, the suicidal Q takes Janeway to a facsimile of the Continium, a mock-up for human sensibilities. It appears as a truck stop on a lonely desert highway where nothing ever happens. The members of the Continium there look bored almost to death.
The suicidal Q claims that his death will
spark new growth opportunities for the Continium, and even our Q
admits that boredom is a side-effect of omnipotence. Janeway rules in
favor of the suicidal Q, but with great personal reservations - and
awaits the next meeting with the Q.
Q AND CAPTAIN PICARD
The Q Continium is home to bear-omnipotent beings with incredible powers. They seem almost godlike to lesser mortals, but many of the individuals within the Continium have an arrogance to match their abilities. For many years, the Q Continium consider the human race to be an underdeveloped, barbaric people, due mainly to the horrific history of wars Earth once endured, but in recent times this impression has changed dramatically. One human more than any other is responsible for the instigation of this change : Captain Jean Luc-Picard.
Over a period of time, Picard has built up a complex relationship with one particular member of the Q Continium. The lessons Q has learned from Picard have changed not only his perception of the human race, but have had a far-reaching impact on the very nature of the Continium. In exchange, Q has given unprecedented help to Picard, his crew, and the United Federation of Planets. Although he is still prone to akin flippant insults about the human race, his respect is clearly much deeper than first impressions suggest.
Q first encounter Captain Picard in 2364, when he puts the crew of the USS Enterprise on trial for humanity`s grievous savageries. While Picard does not deny that the human race has been barbaric in previous times, he manages to convince Q that this period of human existence is long gone, and that the race is now far more civilised. Q`s perception of humanity is changed forever, ushering in a new period of fascination with these beings that Q comes to consider may one day evolve into a form of life even greater than himself.
Q`s interest with Picard and his crew continues, and after further run-ins he returns to the Enterprise in 2365. Q wants to become a member of the crew, claiming that he thirsts for new adventures to stave off the boredom of omnipotence; in truth, he probably hopes to increase his knowledge of his favourite mortals. Stunned at Picard`s refusal. Q decides to show the captain that while humanity may well be more advanced than he at firstly thought, they still have a long way to go. Q knocks the Enterprise 7,000 light years across the Galaxy, into the path of the Borg. Picard has no choice but to request Q`s help to escape, but Q is impressed with the captain`s admission that he needs assistance.
Though Picard is unhappy about the way in which Q opened his eyes to the dangers that await the Federation, he appreciates the advance warning. And Q`s actions may not be as selfish as they seem; being aware of the Borg at such an early date gives the Federation valuable time to prepare for their arrival. If Starfleet had been considerably greater. Q has given humanity a valuable advantage; clearly, he wants to see the race continue to develop.
Q gets an eye-opening glimpse of what it is like to be human when he seeks refuge on the Enterprise after being stripped of his powers by the rest of the Continium, who are unhappy with the way he has been acting. It is particularly interesting to note that when he arrives on the ship, Q claims that Captain Picard is the only friend he has in the universe, a claim which seems to be upheld by the number of enemies who see his vulnerability as an ideal excuse to attack. The Q has considered only Picard worthy of being granted his friendship is remarkable, and suggests that the imnipotent being appreciates many of the captain`s human qualities.
As a human, Q learns to behave, at least occasionally, with more selflessness and humility. It seems that Picard`s influence has taught Q to appreciate humanity`s strengths, a fact that will have important repercussions for the Continium in the future.
In 2370, Q reveals that the trial of
humanity did not end with Picard`s release from the courtroom in
2364, but has been ongoing since then. This time, Q helps Picard to
deal with the latest part of the test, by shifting him through time
until the captain understands the nature of an antitime anomaly that
threatens the very existence of humanity. It seems that Q`s
complex relationship with Picard will continue, and that in the
future Q will be both the captain`s friend and his enemy.
gives Picard a chance to relive an incident in his life that was to
have far-reaching consequences. While still a cadet at Starfleet
Academy, he is stabbed through the heart in an altercation with a
Nausicaan and almost dies.
Amanda Rogers, a student intern aboard the USS
Enterprise, turns out to be a member of the Continium. Though she
tries to remain in the human world, she eventually decides that she
should return to her own kind.
Even though he has partly created the problem,
Q tries to help Picard understand the paradoxical nature of an
eruption of antitime that has origins in three time periods.
Q accompanies Picard back to his youth, and is
pleased to see that, as a young man, the captain was more like Q than
Picard would care to admit.