Title: Bothered and Bewildered
Author: Elizabeth E. Carter
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 9 December 2006
Fandom: Star Trek Voyager
Pairing: Kathryn / Seven
Spoilers: Later season 4-7
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW06
Disclaimer: aramount owns all rights I’m playing in their yard with no copyright infringement intended. And to Terry Pratchett for the inspiration of the Nan Mac Feegals / Wee Free Men
Bothered and Bewildered
by Elizabeth E. Carter
Every story is told from a certain point of view. The storyteller generally picks one of their characters and follows them around, wherever they go, the audience goes. When the hero sails a starship we sail right along with them, when they spend time away from their safe places in a cold and dark realm of a dangerous land we spend the night there too, when they stare down the muzzle of a phaser, we don’t just run off and leave them there…
…but don’t be too proud for standing your ground dear reader, for if the phaser was fired, the hero would have been the one who would have been shot and suffering energy burns and possibly bleeding, not us. Of course if you are partaking of the story in a holodeck you could experience the effects of being shot but in this case the story is being told not photonically experienced.
In this particular story the point of view is taken from one that is rather vertically challenged. For the most part that is.
On the bridge of a small scout ship an intrepid captain studied the debris field with keen blue eyed interest. It looked like a pack of Hirogen hunters had engaged the Borg, with no Borg vessel in view it was clear the cybernetic race had been victorious the only evidence of their presence an orbiting Borg probe floating amongst the detritus.
Then something else caught the redheaded captain’s attention amongst the flotsam and jetsam was a ship she had never seen the like of before. It was peal white, a tear shaped saucer section and twin warp propulsion nacelles attached to an impressive hull.
Blue eyes narrowed as she saw the ship drift shark like towards the Borg probe. This could become very problematic, for the captain and her crew. After all they had claim first and the Borg Probe had components her ship was in dire need of. She couldn’t allow it to fall into the hands of another.
Perhaps it was best to talk to them first before they decided that they were going to pirate the debris field for their own purposes and take the valued warpcoils, data nodes and whatever else was of use and worth. But even if she were to open up a dialog she wasn’t going to do it blindly, there were precautions to be taken first. Besides it wasn’t outside the range of possibilities that this teardrop shark had taken out both the Borg probe and the Hirogen hunters.
*Hullo.* The voice came over the COM-system, *Ye hasnae got no ruffin means here? Cuzin ye do, we takn’ yer hull over keel. No matters if ye be big tuffie wi’ bigjob ship.*
The universal translator strained to make since of the garbled voice. What was more precarious that it wasn’t a garbled message but the manner in which the other was speaking that was making the universal translator want to crash. To the redheaded captain the voice sounded almost Gaelic in accent, as if the speaker had come from the deep thick woodlands of the Scottish Highlands in ancient earth.
“Mr. Kim can you pinpoint where the communications is coming from?” Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager asked of her young operations officer. She was a little surprised to even hear a communications after all Tuvok and Harry both confirmed that there were no active ships in the battle zone, that all ten vessels were either dormant or destroyed.
“Sorry Captain, I’m trying to clarify now, but whoever is sending out the signal is using the communications arrays of the dead ships to bounce their communiqué. Broadening the bandwidth now, even if their ship is cloaked we should be able to get a general idea where they are in relation to us.”
“Do it.” Her blue eyes studied the battle field as if she could with her eyes alone locate the hidden vessel. “Open a channel, I want to respond let them know we mean no harm.”
“Aye Captain,” Harry Kim said tapping a few controls on the console of his station, “Channel open now, Captain. Right now I can’t get a visual.”
It will do.” Janeway straightened her tunic before addressing open space as if the aliens would somehow see her.
“To unidentified ship, I am Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager. We mean no harm; we are just investigating what happened here, and the possibility of a salvage mission. Perhaps we can come to an understanding we are looking for a few components and we will be on our way.”
*Good th’n ye willnae get our way, we tae first then ye, bigjob.* there was a pause and what seemed to be muttering as if the speaker was trying to muffle the transmission. *I ken ye names. Mine be ‘Captain’, * there was more mutterings that Voyager’s bridge crew did not catch, *Cap’ain Sparrow clan Mircath o’ th’ Wyrdlings.
“Captain Sparrow Mircath, I would very much like to meet with you and your senior officers if that is possible perhaps over a meal.” More negotiations and open trade alliances have been made over a plate of food than any other forum. It was a safe neutral environment to start an introduction to one another.
*Mebbe, but thar be rules ta follow aboot this. We canna just away and hae a sit. A sit is better noo than arguin. Arguin nay get the findin’s.*
Janeway was positive…certain…fairly sure…moderately sure she knew what the other captain had just said. “Of course, we have no quarrel with you or your vessel and I’m sure we can come to some sort of understanding concerning particular items we might discover that have a mutual interest for both of our crews.”
“Aye, we findins things our peepers likes, we toss cabers if we needin’ same, same.” Again a muffled sound came from the background making Janeway wonder if Voyager blundered into a place it aught not to be.
Looking over her shoulder Janeway covertly signaled her tactical officer to prepare to weapons fire. Shields were already up, no captain would enter a battle zone even one that seemed to have gone inert without making sure her ships was protected.
“Captain, we are getting visual.”
“Put it on screen.”
Janeway stood near the helm wanting to make a good first impression on her alien counterpart. She had no idea what to expect but being a starship captain stranded in the Delta Quadrant combined with ambassadorial training had honed the woman’s diplomatic talents.
What came on screen was an almost familiar façade. The woman had dark red hair that was plaited down her back; her eyes were as deep crystal blue as any ocean on Earth, as was her skin. Her forehead bore a crest not unlike that of a Klingons’ and her ears were long and tapered reminding Janeway of Kes’s ears, if not a bit longer at the apex. Sparrow’s eyes were almond shaped and a bit big for her face making her look almost innocent like that of a child, her eyebrows pencil mark thin and upswept like a Vulcan’s.
If Sparrow was surprised by Janeway’s appearance the blue-skinned captain didn’t show it. In fact she smiled, showing off very sharp feline-sque incisors. Apparently the Wyrdlings had their own form of diplomacy.
Janeway smiled back hoping she wasn’t crossing some invisible line of posturing by showing off her own teeth. Sparrow’s stance was one of confidence if not cockiness. Like Peter Pan her feet were a shoulder width apart, her hands balled into fists that were firmly planted on her leather clad hips. She wore a yellow-brown leather tunic that was cut in such a fashion it resembled fallen leaves on a forest floor.
“You waits a wee while so I can hea talks and thinkin wi me crew. I thinkin ye wans ta be dooin same wi yer crew.”
Janeway politely smiled, hiding her amusement at the strange speech of her counterpart. “Yes, I think I would at that.”
*Right then.* and the screen went dark.
“They cut communications captain.” Harry said from his station smirking a little at the abruptness of the strange blue woman.
One ship over:
“Say whats on yer minds.” Sparrow addressed her crew who like her were dressed in similar leaf-like garments that could be considered loosely as a uniform.
Seven Wyrdlings gathered around the bridge’s command center and sat tailor style in a circle on the floor.
“Ach, we nae needs the maken talkin’s with the bigjobs we tak what we find anna skattle.” One burly male gave a quick answer. He had a round belly, his face covered in a white beard that was platted on either side of his blue jaw. His mane was likewise white and pulled back into a top knot.
“Nay, we shoo have talkins wi bigjob. I hear tale of em in tradin’ places, they be long way lost from their hoomes. Coald be use our helpn, and they migh hea stuffs to find, we coald use.” A dark haired female said firmly. Her name was LerriuQs she was younger then Sparrow by nearly fifteen years if counted on a human calendar. Her high cheekbones and sharply pointed ears gave her a very distinct elfin appearance. Her youth seemed exaggerated by the number of small rings piecing her ears.
“Wha if bigjobs wants to scraff?” a third Wyrdling commented, this one another male. His black-blue hair was kept shaggy though his goatee was neatly trimmed; his ears too sported several piercings, his arms were bare, sporting several zoomorphic-tribal tattoos. He was called Rinzler whether or not this was his true name wasn’t a certainty, but it was what he was called.
“Than we giv’ good scraff,” Sparrow said. “I dinna think they be scraffin, Lark. Nae problemo. LerriuQs be righ’ aboot bigjobs, I hears tales aboot how the Cap’ain, she dinged Quin o’the Borg.”
There was a round of ooh and impressive head nodding at this revelation.
“Kate-rin-Janeway hae done what no one ha’ ever don’t afore, not a squishy bigjob.” A third female named Ashtri said in new admiration for the alien captain. “We talkin to the tec-magus, and stargazers they mi ken things we dinnea aboot other places good for findin’ and takin’.”
“And for dingin’ the Borg, others make good traden to ken aboot how ta ding the Borg Quin..” the white haired Lark agreed, “I say still we tak first, then make talking with Kate-rin-Janeway. If she ding Borg Quin she can ding Wyrdling nae problemo.”
“Sayin ta Kate-rine-Janeway we nea fear her even if she dinged the Quin o Borg.” Rizler suggested. “Sides Hirogen Hunters a’fear Wyrdlings, be tellin her this and she nea try and be tak what we be needin. If’n she scruff then she ken why even Hunters afear us.”
“I be hearin tale o’a bigjob cap’ian who dinged Quin of borg and took other Borg tec-magus for mate. I be thinking at time it be a drinkin’ tale told at pub, but mayhaps be same bigjob who dinged Quin Borg for her mate. They scruff over this borg tec-magus and Cap’ain wins over Quin Borg, ye ken why I be thinking nea but drinkin tale.” Lark commented after a fashion. “Now me thinking nea so much drinkin’ tale as telling true Kate-rin-Janeway be might powerful if she tak Borg as mate.”
“Me thins she be strange tak Borg as mate even if she ding Quin o’Borg, Still be goot to be keepin peepers on her for noo.” This came from a beardless male with hair that resembled a haystack, his name was Caig.
Wedge, another female sat close to Ashtir but had not said a word during the conference, she only sat and listened. But she was very good at it so the others let her be.
In the observation lounge aboard the Starship Voyager another crew, sat and conversed, each pondering what to make of the queer aliens that had called them out. There wasn’t a member of the staff that had not thought that somehow the Wyrdlings struck a cord of familiarity about them, but not exactly what. It was like a tune one heard a long time ago but had forgotten the lyrics.
“Seven, Neelix can you tell us anything about our new ‘friends’?” Captain Janeway said as she leaned forward, her body braced against the lip of the grey and turquoise conference table. It was fortunate that she had both resident Borg and Delta Quadrant natives available to draw upon when dealing with others of this area of the galaxy.
Having heard her name first, it was Seven who spoke first. “Species 127. The Wyrdlings are deemed unsuitable of assimilation despite the level of technology which is greatly desired. They are efficiently skilled as engineers and mechanics. However the Collective found their technology incompatible. The effort to make it so was deemed inefficient and excess of resources. The Wyrdlings seem to have assimilation skills of their own but in an individualistic way. They customize the technology to work with only the vessel they design it for. This makes them unsuitable.”
“I’m sure the Wyrdlings find it comforting,” Chakotay said dryly,” Must be nice to be unworthy of the Borg….”
“Commander I did not say unworthy. The Kazon are unworthy, the Wyrdlings are unsuitable.”
Janeway held her hand up to stall any argument her crew might start. Seven of Nine and Commander Chakotay had never fully seen eye to eye on anything, not since the first day Seven ended out on Voyager. During her first months on the Starfleet vessel Chakotay had wanted to terminate her. Now his resentment was like a pair of old rotting shoes too comfortable to be thrown away despite the stench and decay.
Ignoring the insignificant human, Seven turned her attention back to her captain. “They have two classifications of cloaking devices. One renders their ship ‘invisible’ to sensors and the naked eye working on the cloaking technology known to us, the other is a chicanery cloak with makes their vessel appear as either a friendly ship or one of greater size and mass than their opponent…”
“Or a chunk of floating space junk.” B’Elanna smirked. “Now that sounds handy and if we could make a deal with them we could use it and not break that Organion peace treaty that says Starfleet won’t develop cloaking devices. If they custom make it for Voyager, I think we should entertain the idea Captain.”
Janeway smiled at her chief “I appreciate your enthusiasm Lieutenant but I want to know more about them first. Seven, do you have anything else?”
The blonde titled her head slightly “The Wyrdlings are highly individualistic.” Seven reported with some distain in her voice, undoubtedly left over from her years with the Borg Collective. “They are even more individualistic than the crew of Voyager or the Maquis. They do not have a central government as you know it. Each ship has its own hierarchy, unlike other militaristic fleets they are a government unto themselves, even if they meet up with another ship of Wyrdlings they are more likely to enter into a conflict than open a line of dialog. Not unlike the early days of the Klingon Empire.” Seven’s blue eyes met with the chief engineer’s coffee colored orbs. “Each vessel is a clan vessel, and everyone on it is in some way related by marriage or birth to each other.”
“Great.” B’Elanna muttered, “Just what we need posturing overstated warrior hotheads. If that’s the case then they have house honor…’clan’ honor they hold in high esteem. But they will also adhere to inner clan rules.” There went her ideas for the chicanery cloaking device to be installed on Voyager.
Janeway nodded taking it all in, advanced technology the Borg Collective coveted but couldn’t have, and warriors with attitude that prized clan honor. “Neelix, have you had any dealings with them?”
“What I know isn’t first hand not even second hand, but the Wyrdlings are creatures of legend. Bad luck befalls those who cross them but if you give them welcome then they bring good fortune. Others say they live by a code ‘what is mine is mine what yours is mine too.’ Though they call it ‘finding and taking.’ Find it, need it, take it. Find it, take it, improve it and sometimes re-distribute it to those they think need it more. You would call them piratical ‘Robin Hoods.’ Scavengers A lot of huff and puff but not out right violent like the Kazon. Some have compared them to…grilla cats who like to build things.”
Voyager had come across the species of felines that resembled Tarrin raccoons and lemurs with the same mentality. A lot of hissing, spitting and fluffed up fur to scare off predators. Grilla cats also had a very keen fondness for shiny things, they stole things without malice or thoughts of profit but because it was shiny. If the Wyrdlings were of the same notion Voyager might be missing a few shiny objects if they allowed the aliens aboard.
‘Maybe we can tempt them with non-essential shiny bits.’ Janeway thought, her eyes fell on the silver ocular implant over a very beautiful Borg, ‘because there are some shiny bits I don’t want them near.’
“It would be prudent to opt to have this meeting aboard their vessel,” Tuvok said “or on neutral ground.”
The captain took a deep breath, “They do seem willing to ‘have a sit’ rather than battle it out over the field of detritus. I will remain optimistic about it but Tuvok prepare a security detail just in case. I don’t want to underestimate them.” Janeway thought of Jean-Luc Picard’s people first contact with the Ferengi and how badly it had gone. She certainly didn’t want to initiate an intergalactic incident more than she had with the Borg and Species 8472.
“I have a feeling that communications will be strained on this one people so try to be as diplomatic as possible,” her steel-gray blue eyes fell on other two women around the table. Neither B’Elanna nor Seven were known for their diplomatic skills. Her eyes turned now to both Tom Paris and Harry Kim both had a tendency to follow the Captain James Kirk idea about alien females. They were there to be bedded. “I think it best of we have no intimate fraternization policy, even if our ‘friends’ initiate it.”
“Yes ma’am.” Paris and Kim said in unison.
“Cap’ain Sparrow,” Lark seemed to be struggling with the new title their leader had claimed for herself. “… bigjob be callin.”
“Let’em talk.” Sparrow turned to face the main viewer of her bridge. Even if she had peach-pale skin, round ears and no cranial ridges Kate-rin-Janeway was not unattractive….for a bigjob. “Oi!” Sparrow greeted with a note of friendship in her thickly accented voice. “What came you Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway, aboot hae a sit?”
“I would very much like to have a ‘sit’ with you Captain Sparrow, I think we could benefit from each other, perhaps trade a little. I would welcome a chance to meet you in person. Is there a preference to where you would like to hold this sit? Perhaps your ship?”
“Nae possible Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway.” Sparrow shook her red mane. “There be rules aboot aliens on our ship. If you hae same rules then we hae a sit someplace else.”
The other woman seemed to hesitate for a moment before answering. There truly wasn’t a hospitable place in the debris-field to have a proper Sit and Talk but they would make do. Sparrow didn’t fancy eating in one of the floundering Hunter ships either but again they would make do.
“I would welcome you and your staff aboard Voyager.” Janeway flashed a warm but blunt-toothed smile.
“Aye, we maken call when we be ready ta transport.”
“Until then Captain Sparrow.”
The screen once more went black before going back to the view of the detritus of the former Borg-Hirogen battle zone.
“Apparently we are going to have guests.” Chakotay commented starkly.
“Is this a problem, Commander?” Janeway’s blue-gray eyes fixed the large wooden male to his chair.
“Do you think that is wise? A race of warriors who not even the Borg can assimilate and are pirates could be a serious threat to us. What if they decided they ‘found’ Voyager, need it and want to take it?”
“If we thought that of every race we met on our journey home we would run the risk of becoming xenophobic commander.” Janeway leaned over the arm of her chair her voice dropping in volume so only her first officer could hear her. “I am not going to allow them run of the ship. I am not as naive as you want me to be Chakotay. Neelix said they were piratical Robin Hoods we simply have to show them we’re not worth the effort to pick our pockets. I would like to think as a crew we came a long way from the incident with the Caatati, we won’t be so ready to be taken advantage of, besides it is our duty to meet new civilizations.”
“Of course Captain.” Chakotay relented; he knew when not to push Kathryn Janeway. It had been a hard lesson but in the five years he had known her, it had finally sunk in she wasn’t some woman who could be manipulated or controlled. She was a Starfleet captain who was mistress of all she surveyed. And the crew even the Maquis followed her orders; they had since their second year lost in the Delta Quadrant. She was a woman who had faced down the Borg Queen, a woman who had taken Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One as a lover. No, Kathryn Janeway was not a woman to be pushed.
It hadn’t taken the Wyrdling Captain long to contact Voyager once more of course for the transporters to work both ships had to drop their shields and in the consideration of the Wyrdlings they had to drop their cloaking device. The ship the crew of Voyager saw looming before them dwarfed them ten times over. The ship itself was an impressive construct a wedge shaped design reminiscent of the Borg geometrical vessels.
Janeway saw her lover’s silver implant rise when she laid eyes on the ship, her expression could be considered rueful to those that knew the former drone. “Something amiss Seven?” Janeway asked
“I believe the Wyrdlings are projecting their chicanery cloaking device, we are meant to be ‘see’ their ship as one of the Borg Collective, and yet I know this ship is not Borg.”
“She’s right Captain, it’s giving off warp particle emissions similar to the Borg signatures but not quite. If our sensors were not as sensitive as they are we could very well mistake them as Borg.” Harry reported.
Janeway smirked rather than frowned. “It appears our ‘friends imitate a number of other species of wildlife other than the grilla cats and raccoons.” She knew of a number of animal life that mimicked the appearance of their predators or larger such creatures to elude their own predators. Moths whose wings looked like the face of an owl, insects who looked like twigs, fish who looked like plants and so on and so on. It was a disguise of survival. Look like the biggest baddest thing that hunts you and you won’t be hunted as often.
The Wyrdlings made themselves look like Borg and their predators would scramble away. The Hirogen might not engage a Borg ship that made they own ship miniscule. There was no glory to a hunt if one of your pack didn’t live to tell the tale.
“A handy bit of technology indeed.” Janeway admired the alien’s ability to disguise themselves. She doubted she would ever glimpse the true Wyrdling vessel. “Alright let’s go greet our guests. Tuvok, Neelix, Seven you’re with me. Commander you have the Bridge.”
It was only after the three had entered the turbo lift that Seven turned to address her captain, “I would suggest Captain when speaking with them you monitor the volume of your voice.”
“I beg your pardon.” Janeway didn’t know if she should be insulted. “What’s wrong with my voice?” She had it on good authority that her lover found her voice rather appealing. In fact Seven had admitted she knew now what B’Elanna Torres meant when she said sometimes the right voice is extremely sexy.
Neelix’s spots turned a deeper amber embarrassed for his young Borg friend and Tuvok rose an eyebrow in his own surprise at the brash comment from Seven.
“I suggest further we all monitor the volume of our voices, the Wyrdlings have rather sensitive ears, I do not think it wise to damage them during First Contact. I suggest further all unnecessary traffic in the corridors be monitored for safety issues.”
“Seven,” Janeway turned on her young lover as they left the lift and made their way down to transporter room three. The older woman pinned the blonde with a sharp expression of well practiced patience. “Safety issues? Why didn’t you bring this up during the briefing?”
“I had attempted to do so, but was unable to complete the reasons why the Wyrdlings are unsuitable for assimilation.” She left it at that saying nothing that commander Chakotay had cut her off with his snide remark.
“Quickly tell me now. Do we need more security?” Janeway shot a glance to the Vulcan tactical officer.
“No it would do little good. Species 127 would be considered delicate in nature.”
“From what I seen they are anything but delicate, I thought they were a warrior race.”
“Indeed.” Seven commented.
“This doesn’t make any sense…” Janeway was cut off by the bleating of her com badge. Tapping it with a little more force than necessary she barked out, “Janeway here.”
*Captain Sparrow wants to know why the delay, Captain,* Chakotay announced bit amused. *Paraphrasing here but she said if we didn’t want to talk then they would take everything for themselves, oh and they don’t fear you even if you ah…‘dinged the Quin o’the Borg’.*
“It would be safe to assume your reputation precedes you Captain.” Tuvok commented
“Reply that we apologize for the delay and they can expect to be transported by us immediately.” Janeway’s lips curled slightly. ‘So they know about me and the Queen of the Borg.’ Looking to her statuesque lover she wondered what else the Wyrdlings might know.
“You know this is exciting.” Neelix clapped his hands and rubbed the palms together. “It’s not often one gets to come face to face with legendary creatures. By welcoming them I am sure we will have great fortune bestowed upon us. It is good luck to make friends with Wyrdlings.”
“That is highly unlikely, there is no such thing as good or bad luck Mr. Neelix.”
“Oh I don’t know about that Mr. Vulcan.” He patted the taller male on the chest, “you’ll see. I have plans to make a wonderful banquet on their behalf just to let them know we do welcome their company.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves Neelix, but stand by on the banquet.” Janeway spoke with approval. She turned to Ensign Jarvin who was stationed behind the transporter controls. “Do you have a lock on the Wyrdlings, Ensign?”
The ever familiar hum of the transporter came to life; blue-white light fizzled showing the vague outline of seven humanoid beings. When the transportation was complete, the four Voyager crew members stared open mouthed at their guests.
There on the deck of the transporter device were seven Wyrdlings.
Seven, six inch tall Wyrdlings!
Janeway spun around quickly pinning Jarvin with a look of fear had something gone terribly wrong with the transporter. But he shrugged helplessly “Captain I assure you it’s not a malfunction, they are the precise mass the transporter scanners targeted.”
Blue-grey eyes widened in astonishment of what this meant, Wyrdlings were a race of little people…‘creatures of legend.’
Janeway slammed her diplomatic mask on, her mouth turning into a smile of welcome. Her voice she recalled to keep it in a lower volume as not to harm the tiny ears. At least the term bigjob made complete sense now as did Seven’s comment they would be considered delicate.
“Welcome to Voyager Captain Sparrow.” She stepped lightly towards the pad dreadful that a wrong step could seriously injure her guests. No wonder Seven said they were considered unsuitable for the Borg. Whoever heard of a six inch Borg drone outside the toy department? She shot a small look to Seven that said, ‘you could have warned me they were Lilliputians!’
“Much thanks Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway.” The tiny woman smiled. She took a step forward, her hand coming to her waist which caused Tuvok to reach for his phaser. He didn’t lower it until he discovered the small disk the blue skinned alien carried was nothing more than a hover disk. Expanding to eight inches across it allowed the tiny woman to hover eye level with his own captain. “Makin’s talks better, eye to eye.”
Janeway fought hard with herself not to chuckle at the idea of tiny people on hover boards. If the galaxy won’t adapt to you, you adapt to it. Her smile lit up her face. “Indeed Captain. I’d like to introduce you to a few of my officers, “This is Mr. Tuvok my Chief of Security.”
The Vulcan tilted his head slightly in greeting, keeping his eyes on the other six Wyrdlings now climbing upon their own hovering disks.
“Mr. Neelix our Delta Quadrant representative and morale officer.”
“A pleasure to meet you, a true pleasure!” the Talaxian was positively glowing his smile wide and large. “We wish to make you very welcome on Voyager.”
The Wyrdling gave him a curious look a few of the males chittering with their heads pressed together their green eyes staring at the exuberant man.
Janeway moved to touch Seven on the arm, “And Seven of Nine my Astrometrics officer.”
Seven tilted her head Vulcan-like and kept as silent. After presentation Janeway noted that several of the tiny space faring folk shuffled their feet and looked not at the Nordic Amazon but at the Janeway herself with great awe. Kathryn might have been mistaken but it looked as if a few of the males seemed to puff out their chests a bit more making themselves appear more impressive. Another school of behavior came from the few of the females who stood with arms defiantly crossed over their own chests. Letting the captain know that on no uncertain terms were they going to be seen as intimidated by the fact she had tamed a Borg.
“We’ll meet the others soon; Mr. Neelix wishes to serve you a dinner in honor of this meeting of course if it is acceptable to you and your staff.”
Sparrow nodded, “We be hungerin’ soon Cap’ain. Feed the hungerin’in thine bellies an nea the scuffin o’er the findin’s”
Janeway was vaguely sure that the wee woman had said something like feed the hunger in ones belly and not the debate over the debris field paraphrased of course. “Yes that is my thought.”
“Aye goot enough.” Sparrow said, “Oi, I aught ta tellin ye who be we.” Sparrow shifted her hover-board with the ease of a stunt-thrasher of the sport. “Geryhair bes Lark, and thar be Rizler. The youngun is Lerriuqus, and the be-dangled one is Ashtri. Laird Lackbeard is Caig.”
Lord Lackbeard scowled at the title Sparrow had called him, he crossed his arms over his chest his face holding an expression of bad temper. He knew now the name would stick even if he grew a full thick beard like Lark.
“And Wedge, she nae like ta talk ta bigjobs much. She thinkin lots. There be the trouble sees the brain thinkin more than she so’times want it to. So she nae say things case her thinkin mak ‘ta’ers jitters.”
“Ye be sojers then all posh in ye coverins? Gots sojern training? Fightin,’ drinkin an’ findin land and callin’ it yourn?” A white bearded Lark asked.
“Oh yes they are soldiers.” Neelix said happily. “Starfleet.” He tried to make the single word sound as impressive as he could. “We fought the Kazon, the Vidians and of course the Borg, Captain Janeway is an excellent leader…”
This got a rise out of the others who were now apprising the ‘bigjobs’ and whether or not they could best them when it came to a fight. And it didn’t seem the Wyrdlings thought that they would actually lose a battle. Wedge kept her yellow eyes pinned on Seven of Nine, more specifically Seven’s left hand.
“Neelix,” the captain’s smoky voice clipped the exuberant Talaxian short, “Perhaps it would be best if you return to the Mess Hall and start preparations for our banquet. And if you could along the way make a stop at the Bridge.”
Neelix’s crimson eyes looked at his captain is mild surprise, the Bridge was no where near the Mess hall in fact it was in the opposite direction and several decks up.
Janeway gave a very polite smile to the posturing tiny explorers as she pulled the Talaxian aside to speak with him with a modicum of secrecy. “Inform Commander Chakotay about the nature of our guests, and that any unnecessary travel in the corridors should be kept to a minimum.”
“Oh!” Neelix exclaimed now catching on to the captain’s peculiar request. “We wouldn’t want to cause an intergalactic incident by accidentally stepping on our guests.”
Janeway choked on her smile, “No we wouldn’t and…please tell him that I will personally throw anyone who so much as smirks at our guests in the brig for thirty days.”
“In that case may I suggest we keep Tom Paris as far from them as possible?”
The redheaded captain nodded. “Wise idea, oh and Neelix we are going to have to come up with some way to accommodate our visitors for the meal…”
The Talaxian snapped his fingers and grinned, “I got just the thing, Captain.” He pattered her on the back and dashed off down the corridor presumably to fulfill his captain’s needs.
“Captain…” Tuvok’s voice became edged as if he wanted to intervene on a security matter but didn’t know quite how.
Janeway turned to see what the fuss was, after all her back was turned only for a minute or two, but it was long enough for the Wyrdlings to become very interested in the computer terminal in the wall just past the transporter room.
The seven of them looked like they were assessing just how to take the kiosk apart to get at the components within. ‘They are like very tiny Ferengi,’ Janeway decided. ‘What is mine is mine and what yours is mine too…right…’ “Captain Sparrow I’m sorry for the delays, perhaps we should make our way to our conference room.”
“Hows aoot a shooe o ye tuffie ship? We not seen much like it a’for.” Sparrow asked. “How many tec-magus ye have runnin it?”
“Tec-magus?” Janeway struggled with the term the universal translator had kicked out. She took a look to Seven but the Borg didn’t seem to have an answer nor did Tuvok. “I am sorry I am not familiar with that particular term.”
“Ach, ye gots ta hae thems tha make this tuffie bigjob ship run proper like. Fixin, and findin parts.” Ashtir explained as she was speaking to a rather dull-witted child.
“Oh, Engineers” Janeway deliberately ignored the patronizing tone of the young female. “We have several. Voyager is a scout vessel with a high percentage of scientists to its crew manifest. Our standing orders are to explore new worlds and new civilizations.”
“Ta tak and plat ye flag and be Quin?” The lad called Caig Lackbeard asked bluntly. His hoverboard zipped close to Tuvok’s head as he pushed himself into the conversation. “Ye ding ot’er Quins and tak thar peoples and makin thine?”
“No.” Janeway shook her head, “No, the Federation is made up of many cultures all cooperating together, it isn’t an Empire. And we don’t hunt for territories, though if a planet is habitable but not inhabited by sentient species we may investigate further for Colonization but it is not the way of the Federation to simply take land from the native inhabitants. If you are referring to the Queen of the Borg that was an isolated incident she took a member of my crew. We don’t leave each other behind.”
Blue face turned to blue face, if feet could shuffle on hovering disks they did. “Thar be times when a Wyrdling go get lost and so’times be best they stay lost.” Sparrow said with the sort of guilt one has when they eat dessert several meals before dinner.
Granted there were a few times when Janeway felt the same way over a few of her crew members but there were day-dreams and then there was duty, the two rarely intersected.
Wedge continued to be silent, even as the others whispered and chattered about the computers on the wall, the turbolift and the many many closed doors they passed. A closed door was a temporary means to block one’s view from what was on the other side to Wyrdlings it was a deliberate invite, why else peak their curiosity so deliberately?
The bigjob Captain had lead them down to another place called hydroponics bay. It was impressive but Wedge thought that bigjob Kate-rine was not talking them to where Sparrow wanted to go like Engineering where the ship’s warpdrive was located. The Wyrdlings had their own hydroponics bay in fact Wedge had come up with a way to make their bay more like a terrarium. On their ship their cargo bay had become a massive greenhouse complete with a little stream.
‘Nea problemo make more greenins here. Proper greenins. With the hag’s help it would grow and grow and grow.’ Wedge turned her hoverboard so she sailed over the dozens of different plants. She reached out touching one of the blooming plants ripe with berries. She picked what looked like a raspberry which was nearly as big as her head and bit into it. When no protests came from the bigjobs she decided to eat the whole thing knowing that the others would eat one as well.
Wedge was surprised a little that Kate-rin-Janeway picked two of the berries and popped it into her mouth even as she gave the other to Sparrow. ‘Sharrin meager foods, they must be hungerin too. Okay fine, okay good makein more for em.’
Wedge whipped her hoverboard past the sun-touched Borg-bigjob to Sparrow who had a bit of berry juice dribbling down her chin. The older female whipped it away before she gave Wedge her attention. “Aye Lass what is it?”
“Ashtri goins back gettin Hag. She ken how ta makin better.”
Ashtri shuffled her feet on her board nearly making the hover disk falter; she didn’t want to leave this tuffie bigjob ship just to collect the hag. But Ashtri was the best choice after all she knew a thing or two about growing the greenins and the Hag was her twin sister.
The problem was Wedge thought too much, to have fun.
“Aye, ye go back Ashtri, get the Hag.”
“Excuse me,” the Cap’ain interrupted the small conference, “Is there a problem?”
“Nay Cap’ain, Ashtri needen go back to our ship for time,” Sparrow answered, “Nea fret none. Our hag might want ta lay her peepers on thine greenins tis al’
If tec-magus was an Engineer, hag must be a term for specialized science. Doctor maybe? Janeway was more than curious as to the excitement of the young female named Wedge had over their hydroponics bay. Perhaps it came down to the simple fact of growing one’s own food, but she doubt that was the issue, perhaps it had to do with one of the particular plants growing, the Wyrdlings had need of for whatever reason. But the commotion hadn’t started until Janeway offered ripe jup berries to the others.
“I’m sure transport can be arranged, I’ll have someone from….”
“Nea problemo,” Sparrow said quickly she turned from Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway to Ashtri. “Ye go get ta Hag.”
Ashtri touched a few jewels in the leather gauntlet at her wrist and promptly disappeared.
“You have personal transportation devices?” Wedge heard the Borg-bigjob speak, she wondered what the suntop female would think when she found out they were once components of the Borg, that clan Mircath had recovered.
“Aye, makin easier to go places.” Sparrow answered simply. “Ev’ry Mircath wantin ta go they can, nea problemo. Makin easy ta get back ifin ye not want ta stay in place ye be. Just push button and whoosh ye be goin.”
Tuvok looked alarmed for a Vulcan that is. If the Wyrdlings had personal transporters they could beam into any part of the ship with out so much as a by your leave from the Captain. This was going to be a serious breach in security. How could one monitor the comings and goings of people who were only six inches tall, eight at the most. There were latterly thousands of tiny places such small people could hide if they wanted to.
Janeway caught the look of concern in her security chiefs eyes and found it reflected in the eyes of Seven of Nine. “Captain Sparrow, it is our custom that if someone were to beam away or back to my ship I am notified. I must insist that if you wish to have anyone else beamed over that I am made fully aware of it. I do not wish to have one of your crew come to harm out of negligence.”
“No problemo.” Sparrow smiled brightly touched by the bigjob’s concern. But she didn’t have to worry; Wyrdlings were a sturdier than they appeared. It took a lot to harm one of them. And even if one did get hurt it was their own fault for being dumb enough not to avoid whatever hurt them in the first place.
Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway smiled once more her warm blunt-toothed smile. Perhaps when the Hag came back she might do something for the bigjobs’ voices they all seemed to be affected with something that made them all whisper. It must be a very strange affliction but the Hag had many special brews that helped that sort of thing.
The next place Kate-rin-Janeway brought them was a place for the ill. She called the place ‘sick-bay.’ Presumably to keep the sick at bay, but the place had no Hag present or Healer unless of course she was out preferring the healings on a sick bigjob.
“Computer activate the EMH.” The heard the smoky voiced Cap’ain order the air.
In the next moment a male with little hair appeared, “Please state the nature...” He paused for a moment when his leader started to speak,
“Doctor these are our guests the Wyrdlings.” She
The male there wasn’t there at all. Only Wedge moved her hoverboard forward, staring at the male with intensity.
“Captain?” The none-man looked from face to face of the Wyrdlings to his cap’ain. “Um…a pleasure to meet you.”
“He hasnea life, Sparrow.” Wedge said moving back to her leader’s side. Her voice not but a whisper, “Me thinks Kate-rin-Janeway be powerful hag. She calls on the air and makins spirits come.”
The others shifted back nervously; hags were something to be very careful of. No Wyrdling would ever cross a hag, not with their magic they could conjure up. Besides they had the power of the Names and would use it against you if they were of mind to.
Kathryn heard the words spoke by the studious Wedge and smiled disarmingly despite the fact she didn’t like being called a hag. “He is a photonic being. He is as real as you or I, but a life from of light and photons.”
Sparrow moved forward starring hard at the EMH so much so he backed up uncomfortably. “He be real even though he hasnea life?”
“I am curious,” Tuvok asked “You can detect that the EMH isn’t alive how is this so?”
“Ah well we maenea have ken of the Ways like Hags but we ken Ways of life. Tis in our blood see.” Lark answered, “But yon healer be male bigjob, or oogly mistus bigjob.” The white haired male crinkled his nose.
Janeway brought her hand up to her face trying in vain to conceal a very large smile.
“The EMH is designed to be nearly atomically correct male. But he is a ‘healer.’ The sex of a physician is irrelevant, only their skills play any concern. The EMH is a very skilled doctor, I can assure you.” Seven of Nine infromed the hovering blue folk.
“Seven…thank you.” The Doctor said, “I doubt the Wyrdlings are interested in how anatomically correct I am.”
“You are not designed to have reproductive organs, Doctor so their assumptions that a male can not be a healer are irrelevant and not educable.”
“Seven!” Janeway interrupted “Perhaps its time to move the tour along.”
The Wyrdlings stared at the stammering none-person in awe; apparently life wasn’t the only thing this male bigjob didn’t have.
Janeway saw six faces looking at her expectantly and all of the males had skirted well away from the Doctor as if being near him would make some bit of their body parts fall off, they were all quite pleased to remain behind the woman cowering, and all three of them were using their odd little hats to cover up the junction between their legs.
Stifling a laugh as best as she could she started for the door, when she heard the one called Rizler approach Tuvok. “Ye got thine bits, Two-Vok? Sick-bay nea make em fall off?”
Vulcans were notoriously what the humans called ‘Victorian’, Janeway couldn’t help but wonder how her immensely private chief of security would answer the question.
“Yes I’m a fully functional male. Sick-bay will not cause an event as you fear to occur. It is a place for healing.” Tuvok’s voice became chillingly detached. Those who looked closely could see the jaw working, grinding teeth against one another.
All three blue-skinned males puffed out a great gust of relief. At three hats moved from their crotch to their heads.
“Ach good ta hear, good ta hear.” Caig sighed happily. It was bad enough three years had passed since he became grown and still no beard. He had no idea how he would be able to live if his bit fell off. He couldn’t imagine the name they would call him then. Lackbeard was terrible as it was!
“Ach, Cap’ain we nea seein many bigjobs, ye aught ta telling em nea fear us too much even if we be tuffies. We nea put a hurt on em.” Sparrow said with her hands balled on her hips looking very much like a blue-skinned Peter Pan. “Wrydlings be kennin ta be fearsome fightin warriors but we nea scruff em.”
Once more it took every effort not to burst out laughing at the posturing six inch tall woman. “With all due respect…I thought it wise move to keep accidents to a minimum.”
“Oh aye, I ken ye meanins.” Then promptly she went over to her crewmembers and struck each of them upside the head so hard the other five toppled from their hoverboards onto the floor. Each of them landed with an equally loud splat.
Janeway couldn’t help the gasp as she saw each one land hard on their heads, but Sparrow didn’t seem concerned at all. “We always try an land on our heids. We’re very resilient in ta heids ye ken.” Saying that she looked scornfully to her fumbling crew, “Noo ye listen ya lot! Thar be no scuffin Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway’s sorjins ye hears me?”
They all crossed their hearts with tiny blue fingers. “Aye, we promise on our names, Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway we nea scruff up ye sojiuns.” Each of them shouted.
Still stifling a smile, Janeway nodded then decided a different tactic she gave each of the sprawled five blue warriors a force ten glare and each of them darted back behind the lee of the threshold of a turbolift door. “See that you don’t.”
Sparrow looked as if she were about to crow in her pride. “Sees even kennin our reputations for bee-in tuffies, ye can put a trust in our oath. But ye nea use our names again us?”
“No, Captain Sparrow I won’t use your names against you.” Janeway didn’t fathom the reasons why she was asked such a question at first but the Wyrdlings seemed more relaxed when she affirmed that she wouldn’t hold it against them.
Wedge was the first to reclaim her hoverboard and in the air before the others had even found theirs. She moved to Sparrow and uttered something in her leader’s ear that Janeway couldn’t fathom.
But by the expression on sparrows face it was as if something suddenly dawned on her. “Ach is tha’ al’? No problemo. Lark, Caig be shown them we ceanea be squashed.”
Janeway was aghast. “No I assure you a demonstration isn’t necessary. I don’t want to try.
“Fair enough.” Sparrow said the looked to Tuvok, “ye heavier then woemen bigjobs lift thine foot, no worries elf-boy.”
Tuvok sucked a breath of air mustering all of his Vulcan patients to still his nerves. ‘Elf-boy indeed.’ “May I remind you, Captain Janeway has disinclined a demonstration?”
“Aye, she sayin she nea wanna do it but, ye not be her.”
Seven moved past the Vulcan and lifted her foot which Lark darted underneath, and she felt herself being pushed upwards.
“Seven!” Janeway was horror struck until she realized that her lover might as well have trodden on tritium plating.
“Now ta other boot.” Sparrow commanded,
“I will fall if I do.” Seven protested.
“Nea Lassy dinnea fash yersel’. We be good at this.” LerriuQs smirked. “Puttin’ thine trust on us.”
Caig had taken her other boot, making Seven stand upon two Wyrdlings. It was an extremely strange sensation to be moved backwards and forwards and her balance being kept for her. More strange was that she felt secure in the hold of the Wyrdlings. It was like she was once more wearing her Borg armored boots rather than those of Starfleet.
Janeway and Tuvok stared as they watched as the blonde flew a few inches off the ground down the opposite way and disappear. Wind rushed around her as the Wyrdlings sped down of corridors taking turns at breakneck speed. In seconds she had made the circuit of the deck and was back once more in front of her captain and crewmate. Lark and Caig dropped their cargo, each of them stood with balled fists on hips smiling broadly.
“I am humbled by your demonstration,” Janeway bowed her head to Sparrow and the five others “That was truly amazing.”
Tiny boots shuffled and faces looked down, blue cheeks became purple in a blush in such a way it reminded the captain of green ensigns offered their first praise by a commanding officer.
*Neelix to Captain Janeway, dinner is ready whenever you are captain.”
Janeway grateful for the distraction hit her combadge. “Not a moment too soon. Thank you, Neelix. ” She hit her combadge a second time “Janeway to all senior staff please convene in the observation lounge. Janeway out.” Turning to her guests, “Captain Sparrow, dinner awaits.”
The Wyrdlings gradually began to appear in the darken corners of the ship’s cargo bays, in engineering and in the mess hall. They didn’t obviously step out from behind things, and they certainly didn’t pop magically into existence. They appeared in the same way that faces appeared in clouds and fires. They seemed to turn up if you looked hard enough and wanted to see them.
When they appeared things started to disappear. At first it was things that could have easily been misplaced, a Data PADD here, a cup of coffee there, a spanner, a few plasma torches, rivets, wires, cables, a Borg data node, a spatula and a dinted frying pan, bits of string and a dozen gundark eggs. A bar of soap had also gone missing.
Dinner was an affair to remember. After hearing Neelix account on the guests Chakotay had called aside B’Elanna Torres, Tom Paris and Harry Kim relaying that the Wyrdlings were on average six inches high. And comments about size was not going to be tolerated and that they should try to school their expressions as much as possible.
It wasn’t an easy task.
Sitting on top of the conference table was a second table this one how ever was made of teak wood and richly designed. An elegant item of furniture for any child’s dollhouse. When Neelix said he had an idea how to ensure their guests were made hospitable, Janeway never imagined that the ship’s only child would play a crucial role.
Naomi Wildman had lent her dollhouse furniture as it would be proportionally correct, even the dishes used were proportional to the small hands of the Wyrdlings. Neelix had out done himself; he had made sure all of the dishes would be easily managed by their tiny guests.
Introductions were made all around; the Wyrdlings seemed to ignore the three new male members and became fascinated by B’Elanna. Both Caig and Rizler stated to rake through their hair with their fingers making their dark manes stand on end until they resembled a famous mid twenty-century German scientist. Ashtri who had returned from her errand saw B’Elanna and she too began messing her hair into a wild display.
Tom leaned over smirking, “I think you’ve got a few fans.”
B’Elanna began to look very nervous.
“Laidie warrior I ask ye set me ta task and I’ll finish it easy!” Rizler boasted.
“I can do any thin ye cae do and better and more, I cea fix any broken thing. Like ye I be a tec-magus, Rizlaer is only a finder.” Caig postured.
“She nea want two puffin lads, she be liking a lass who can do all that, and be makin the best mead an hunter, tec-magus and I be sister to ancient hag. I offer more.” Ashtri proclaimed.
Behind her back Harry and Tom were laughing, gaining a glare from their captain and Sparrow as well. They tried hard to bring calm to them but the idea of three of the miniature warriors parading around for B’Elanna was hilarious. It would arm them with jibes for months to come. Even the three crewmembers who had volunteered to act as serving staff tried in vain to keep their composure.
“I challenges ye both ta duelin and then this wonderful bonny lass can see who be better mate.” Ashtri pushed both tiny men down, before she looked to the snickering Tom and Harry. “Anna I challenge ye both too, I nea a’fearin’ of bigjobs.” She balled her fists on her hips and jutted out a strong chin.
B’Elanna was flattered and knew it would fall to her not the captain to bring the situation under control seeing how even Janeway was struggling to keep a straight face. Tuvok was no help, Chakotay was helpless and Seven was too fascinated on how it would all play out.
“Ashtri,” She addressed the small warrior with calm and gentle voice. She reached out and softly touched the very small cheek with the pad of her index finger. “I am flattered by your offer and yes you’re right I do like um…’lasses’, but I can not take your offer because see, I’m already mated. But I take no offense, nor would she but I have to say no.”
All three heads hung, the males kicking at the table as if they were kicking a pebble, Ashtri looked as if someone ran over her kitten with a steamroller.
Janeway decided to take a step in before the whole mood became morose. “If we can all take a seat, Neelix is ready to serve. And I have something that we might all enjoy.” She moved to the trolley containing their dinner and took a large slightly dusty carafe. “This was acquired on one of our trading missions.” She tipped the container into miniature tankards and passed them out to the seven Wyrdlings before handing the bottle over to an ensign to finish pouring the rest of the drinks for Voyager’s crewmembers.
Another crewmember had served all the plates, the tiny doll-house sized first then the Captain’s staff.
“Aye ye sure ken how to treat a soul.” Sparrow said digging into her marsupial surprise after taking a hefty swig of Norvanian Grog.
If anything the Wyrdlings could certainly quaff their drink. By themselves they had drained a single barrel of the malted rum.
“Goot food and strong drink, make fat bellies, me thinks ye wan us ta hea soft heads?” Lark the curmudgeon of the bunch asked the Federation folks.
“Captain Janeway does not have to resort to subversive measures to achieve her goals.” Seven immediately defended her lover and captain.
Janeway places a soft hand on her lover’s arm enough to still the young Borg’s further outburst. “I am sure there was no inference meant.”
“Oh aye, just ob-sir-vate-in’ tis al’. Nea meanin nea harm. Nea Wyrlding speakin again a hag.”
Officers stifled their giggles of mirth as much as possible. Tuvok only rose an eyebrow Janeway’s face as it quickly turned to a shade of red, a color he knew had nothing to do with embarrassment but frustrations. Kathryn Janeway was relatively young in comparison to the longevity of her race. After all she was only forty-three. Tuvok’s eldest child was older than his captain.
Seven was positively frowning she didn’t quite understand the reference to ‘hag’ but it was at the expense of her lover, something the others found amusing but Kathryn was clearly offended.
The one called Wedge was watching her again as she had since she had arrived on Voyager. Keeping her gaze fixed on Seven the tiny woman leaned over to Sparrow and whispered as softly as she could in the other’s ear. All Seven was able to make out was a reference to hag and not knowing the meaning of it. Sparrow didn’t seem at all convinced of this.
“Wedge be tellin’ me thine people dinnea ken ye was bein a hag. But how ceanna they nea? Ye got the Ways of magicin’ Of course they ken you be a Hag.”
Chakotay looked liked he was about to burst a spleen trying not to laugh, Tom was quaffing a gulp from his tankard of ale and B’Elanna nearly bit through her lip, and poor Harry had to be excused from the table on the pretense he had to use the facilities. Neelix was choking on his own ale for he dare not look to the woman he respected and cared for dearly. Only Tuvok remained placid, as Seven was ready to bound to her feet and challenge the leader of the Wyrdlings to an outright duel on the behalf of her lover’s honor.
“Hag?” Janeway finally decided to clear the air. “You think I am some sort of witch, a magic user?”
There was a great deal of shuffling of feet and coughing from the small party of blue folk.
“Please Cap’ain, we dinnea mean no harm in speak of ye being a Hag. If’in thine people burn Hags we hep fight em off ye. Wyrdlings sidein always with the Hags.” Caig boasted. “We meant nea harm is sayin loud ye be Hag.”
“Aye, ew ken you be powerful hag, callen a bigjob ta life he heanea got, and then thar be the fact ye dinged the Quin o the Borg and stole away the Changling lass.”
“Changling!” this came as a blurted gasp from Tom. He looked from face to face of the crew members wondering which one of them was Changling from the Dominion.
“Aye.” Sparrow pointed to Seven, “She be Changling child nea? Stolen away as a babe by the Quin then stolen back by a Hag. Powerful Magic that be.”
Six other heads nodded exuberantly.
Janeway smiled “Changling child… you mean like the faeries?”
Six headed nodded eagerly.
“Captain?” Tom asked his eyes wide staring at the blonde Borg.
“There were stories I heard my grandmother talking about.” Janeway started to explain with the help of her hands. “As you know I grew up as a Traditionalist in Indiana. Some of those traditions go back to the O’Conners, my mother’s people and Ireland. My Grandmother used to tell my sister and I stories from the old days, the old ways. Going back nearly a thousand years. Changelings were children born of the faery but dying and switched with a human child. Sometimes those children lived a half life. Half mortal-half faery and they sometimes had magical ways about them. Sometimes a powerful druidic priestess would be able to heal the ailing child and would teach her the Ways…magic….” Kathryn smiled, “There were some faeries that called these powerful woman Hags out of the purest respect.”
Again seven blue heads bobbed vigorously and if not fearfully.
“It’s on account you be’in a hag we dinnea say our true names ta ye, incase you use it again us.” Rizler said shamefully.
“Or worse write it down!” LerriuQs spurted out. “Writtin be powerful Ways. Long time from now to then in time people be reading the words and knowin the past and known things they nea see or think. Writtin make names powerful making places powerful. Power over o’ters and can be use again em.”
Six heads bobbed this time.
“Ye bein a Hag Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway is why we all be agreein ta have ye be takin first o the stuff o flitterin aboot out thar.” Sparrow said reverently. “Ye be a stronger hag than Lumiya.”
“Aye!” Six voices shouted
B’Elanna managed to find her voice, her lips pulled back into an apologetic smile to her captain. “What if our captain wasn’t a…um…hag?”
Harry had rejoined the group in time to hear the explanation given by his captain about Hags and Changling children but he still had a very difficult time associating Janeway or Seven with either title.
“Oh that be easy noogh.” Caig said. “We have a contest. Caber tossin or bangin heids.”
“Yep tis fare contest tossin a caber.”
“Caber?” Neelix asked.
“A large post like old earth telephone poles,” Janeway answered. “I’ve seen it done; it is a show of strength. Whoever tosses the post the furthest wins. It is not an easy feat and not exactly like thrown a javelin in a decathlon.”
“And ‘bangin heeds’?” Harry asked.
Caig had decided to show the young bigjob exactly what the contest would entail besides he still fancied B’Elanna with cranial ridges as lovely as he had seen on any she-Wyrdling. Even if she had a mate he might be able to prove a male Wyrdling was worth her time.
Bounding up into the air faster than the humans could follow he smacked his forehead in to the center of Harry’s head. The poor ensign didn’t know what hit him or how he came to be on the floor, all he recalled was staring up at the ceiling of the mess hall and then passing out.
Caig turned with his hands balled on his hips, his blue lips pulled back reveling very sharp canines as he smiled proudly. “Aye, bangin heids.”
“Oh my god, Harry!” Tom bolted to the floor to his friends side.
Janeway glared at Sparrow and Caig who was still smiling but when he saw the scowl on her face he hung his head and shifted nervously.
“I dinnea mean to hurt the youngin bigjob.” He muttered sheepishly.
“Ach noo ye done it a’sure!” Lark growled, “Anna we was havein’ a goot time to, ye daft boyal!”
“Dinnea curse him, Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway. Caig is daft boyal and to dumb ta know bangin heids is nea a sport ta do at the table.” Sparrow pleaded then pushed Caig forward so that he stumbled over the doll-house furniture, “Ye better be makin amends idiot!”
Caig shuffled his feet and still looked down at his feet, “I’m sorry.” He said very much like a child caught doing wrong by their parent, and forced to apologize. “I promise not to bang anymore heids at ta table ifni ye not curse me. I williena pick on him nea more.”
“Tom how is Harry?” Janeway ignored the very abashed Wyrdlings, a smile teased the corners of her lips. She was a bit horrified to find that she found the situation a bit humorous.
“Mild concussion and he will have one hell of a headache but he’ll be fine.”
“Help him to sickbay. And keep me appraised of his prognosis. ”
“Aye Captain.” Tom took his friends arm up over his shoulder as Chakotay took the other, “Come on buddy, let’s get you fixed up.”
Harry only moaned.
Janeway watched a moment longer before she turned her gaze back to the shuffling and nervous little blue people. All their faces were filled with fear and shame.
“I thought you gave me your oath on your name you wouldn’t ‘scruff’ any of my people. Considering you gave me aliases, I think that in light of the situation you Caig will give me your true name.”
“Ooohhhh!!” He fell down weeping.
“Aw laddie ye best be doin what she be wantin.” Lark said not unkindly. “We did give her our oaths. Mebe she thinking ye broke ye word dining the lad like ye did. He hea a heid like an egg, mebe ye broke it good. Ye gave her thine word laddy, best get it ov’r with.”
“Ye gonna use it again me!” the young warrior wailed.
“Ye called it upon thineself ye puloks, noo gea and dreen ye weird.”
Caig sighed got to his feet and shuffled with his head still hanging ready to face his fate. He swallowed hard and whispered so that only Janeway (and Seven because of her Borg enhancements) might hear, “Me name be Agnes. Mistus Cap’ain Kate-rin-Janeway.”
“Very well, mind that you do not break any more rules and I won’t write down your true name, but if you do there will be a reckoning.”
“Oh me honor and name.” Caig come Agnes vowed solemnly. His face slightly purple.
Caig dashed back behind Sparrow and Wedge. Very grateful that he hadn’t been cursed, but the idea the hag could use his name against him was terrifying. He decided right then and there to help make her ship better. If he did favors the hag might forget to call the ‘reckoning.’ He knew such a weird would be called upon all and it would be worse than bad, worse than worse.
“Captain Sparrow,” Janeway addressed the tiny leader of the Wyrdlings. “I want to thank you for the opportunity to retrieve the few components we need from the debris field first. We will take only what is needed, the rest we will leave for you and your crew to salvage.”
This cheered the Wyrdlings, each of them even the brooding Wedge brightened at the prospect. “Aye that’s fare as fare can be Cap’ain Kate-rin Janeway. And we be willin’ ta lend ye a hand at um….the ‘retrievein and salvagein. We’re good at it.”
Each of them puffed out their chests trying to out strut the other.
Kathryn Janeway despite herself control laughed warmly. “I imagine you are. Very well you may assist; we would welcome the chance to work side by side with Wyrdlings.”
This was received with rambunctious jubilation.
Janeway stood slowly “Ladies, gentlemen I think perhaps we will reconvene in four of our hours and start the process of collection of debris.”
Seven heads bobbed almost reluctantly, they wanted to start the salvaging right away. But four hours wasn’t that long to wait. They were very eager to prove to the bigjob hag they were a force to reckon with, and worthy of her attentions and thus fair-dealings.
It had always been thus, the Wyrdling, kin and kine had always made dealings with powerful bigjob hags, it was better with them than against them. And besides bigjob hags always had such wonderful things they allowed to be found and taken in exchange for work even if she didn’t outright say what needed to be done.
There was always stuff to be done.
After the Wyrdlings left, Janeway called her senior staff together for summarized briefing as to their thoughts on the strange little aliens.
“They are incredibly fast and immensely strong.” B’Elanna said her voice holding a sharp edge of wonderment. “What that Caig did to Harry…They are almost like miniature Klingons. It’s astounding.”
“You don’t have to tell me Lieutenant. Tuvok, Seven and I had a demonstration in the corridors that was unbelievable. We would be in grave error to underestimate them due to their stature.” Janeway recounted the incident in the hall.
“Captain I must point out that allowing them on our salvage operation is a high security risk.” Tuvok said.
Janeway held up her hand and shook her head.” They would tag along anyway. No the greater security risk is not inviting them along. At least this way we have a chance on keeping an eye on them.” She smiled ruefully. “As much as possible that is.”
“What about their assumptions you’re um…magically inclined.” Tom asked. “Is that wise to play into their delusions.”
“This isn’t any different then a playing Queen Arachnia.” Janeway’s face blushed a bit of at the thought of the memory. “Granted this is borderline crossing the Prime Directive, but they have warp capability, and some of their technology is more advanced than ours even if their presumptions of the universe around them isn’t on our level. And allowing them to think I am a ‘hag’ gives us an advantage we can use. This way they are less likely to be mischievous which I think is the greater danger than any weapon they might have. Fast, strong and mischievous is a very dangerous combination. Right now they are extremely hesitant to cross that line.”
“The Caretaker became a part of the mythos of the Ocampans, and there were the aliens Chakotay ran into who had a direct influence over several aboriginal people of the Earth, who is to say that ancient Wyrdlings haven’t been included in our histories? They fit the description of many fairies or little people not only of Earth’s cultures but Talax, Bajor, Trill, Klingon even the Ferengi to name a few. Perhaps if we treat them like our ancestors did they could be very beneficial to us. And we’ve seen their speed and strength and obviously their tenacious love for all things mechanical could prove to be very problematic for us, or beneficial.” B’Elanna said. “Like you said Captain I rather know where they are then running around causing trouble.”
“Lieutenant Torres is correct, I agree with the Captain. Left to their own devices the Wyrdlings could prove a very dangerous nuisance.” Seven said.
“They seem very eager to be of help Captain.” Neelix pointed out. “And willing to follow your lead, I think it would be unwise to vex them. I heard of ships that had done so and their ships were stripped clean of everything. We can expect them to ‘borrow’ things but because they respect you captain I doubt it will be anything vital.”
Kathryn’s red head nodded, “Taking that into consideration I propose that we deliberately leave things out that we will not miss if they are stolen. Locks might not keep them out, I will press my advantage and ensure they won’t take something critical.”
Over the next few days views of the Wyrdlings changed as people discovered missing items both personal and those used in a professional capacity. Some items had been returned improved and altered to such a degree that it was beyond its original purpose. Many crew members were happy as certain tools worked better, or equipment functioned at a greater proficiency than it ever had. Equipment that would need a team of engineers and hours to fix were repaired quickly.
Others of course had distaste and some equipment gone missing never made it back to them and more than a few people lost several personal items. Tom was the loudest of those protesting against the enhancements and thefts of the Wyrdling visits.
“Captain you’ve got to do something, they listen to you!”
“What did they take of yours, Ensign?”
Paris shuffled his boot much like Caig had done the other evening. “Well… um… very personal things… some collector’s items were stolen and others placed in um… questionable positions” His ears became a brilliant red.
“He means some of the Wyrdlings must have ransacked his action figure collection taking clothing and accessories. The antique GI-Joe dolls were placed into sexual reenactments.” Harry clarified. “Of my things they took reeds for my clarinets and cork grease. For what reason I don’t know. At first I thought I might have mislaid it but I found ingots of tritium in their place. It had to be the Wyrdlings, Captain.”
Janeway soaked it all in. All over the ship the story was the same. Something was gone missing and in its place ingots of metal were left sometimes it was actual gold or silver, sometimes it was tritium or even latinum, naquada or anamatium or transparent aluminum. Generally whatever was taken was replaced ‘traded’ with by something else. In the cases it wasn’t as in Tom Paris’s situation as well as the three Vulcans it was because they had spoke out against the Wyrdlings.
They had taken Tuvok’s kal-toe game and had somehow created a shape that extended beyond three dimensional space. At the centre a Moebius loop shimmered and took the brain places it wasn’t equipped to go. Presumably to make Tuvok’s brain ‘better’.
“B’Elanna anything of yours go missing?”
The Klingon shook her head, “Nothing personal but some tools from Engineering as I mentioned before. I laid into my crew because I felt they were careless, it wouldn’t have been the first time something like that happened. Today I found this.” The Klingon placed what looked like a model of a spacecraft. It had two convex wings jutting out from a central spherical center.
“Hey that’s mine!” Tom blurted out like a kicked sheep. “It’s Darth Vader’s TIE fighter.”
“It was left in Engineering, my office actually. Captain what was once antique plastic is now made out of permacite.”
“Permacite?” Seven frowned as she reached for the ‘toy’ in question “That is not unlikely a toy from the twentieth century Earth would be constructed out of this material.”
“It wasn’t. Somehow the Wyrdlings managed to change the composition of the toy on a molecular structure and changed the element entirely.”
“To permacite?” Janeway stared in awe. Of course any school kid of the late twenty fourth century knew that Permacite was an amalgam of permex and various light-reactive minerals added for strength. Permacite was usually employed where structures were subjected to high stress. Permex was a building material composed of minerals injected into polymeric plastic. Permex was extremely moldable, easy to prepare and very strong. In fact there were many homes hovercars and spacecraft such as probes and beacons made of the material. “For what reason?”
“Because they turned a toy into a fully functioning space craft. Before that thing weighed a few ounces now it weighs thirty kilos. It has miniature twin ion engines. Captain, the damn thing is space worthy. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if a Wyrdling could fly it. It has a fully functional nav-computer, tactical and ops, shields and weapons.”
Kathryn stared at the object in new appreciation. “Why would they do this?”
The Klingon shrugged, “I have no idea.”
“Perhaps because they wish to prove worthy of you Captain. They view you was a force of power, if they wished to remain of service they might wish to prove they are capable of the feat. This toy... spacecraft has phaser banks and ion-weaponry as well as Borg shield modifications.” Seven announced after she had inspected the small fighter.
“Captain, think about it,” B’Elanna was excited, “a small ship like this could get very close, sensors might read it as space junk and dust. It could get close to an enemy and strike them, like virus attacking a healthy body. And before you know it this little bugger is inside your own vessel and attacking from within. One hell of a way to destroy your enemy, especially if it’s a surprise attack.”
The one thing that hadn’t been touched was Seven’s alcove. Janeway suspected it had more to do with the respect of Seven as a ‘changling’ child than it did of the fear that wee-folk believed the redheaded ‘bigjob’ to be a hag endowed with magical powers.
“Seven, B’Elanna you two seem to be implying the Wyrdlings want to join us in an armada.”
“Indeed I am.” Seven said. “They have gone to great lengths to prove their measure to you and to the crew.”
“Oh yeah? Well you and the captain never had anything taken from you.” Tom snapped, furious that his collector’s items had been pilfered and ransacked.
“No, but they decided all the plants in my ready room, and quarters needed to grow.” she pointed to the corner were a fern had taken residence along the entire bulkhead. “I can’t keep the damn thing trimmed, and my quarters started to look like a jungle.”
“Can’t you just threaten to curse them so they go away?” Tom whinged. “I’m not the only one that feels this way.”
Janeway thought of those measures but she knew not only from her grandmother’s tales, but from Neelix that angering or insulting the wee-folk wasn’t something to be done lightly. She knew that a continued relation with the little-people would be strenuous but what could she do? Holy water? Where does one get Holy Water in the Delta Quadrant. Iron? Wear one’s clothing inside out? Clovers? No it simply wouldn’t do. Then something less forceful...something to get the Wyrdlings attention. Something newer, shinier. Better.
“Mr. Paris I won’t threaten them. They might engage in very unorthodox trading measures but from the reports anything they have taken has been replaces, by something else often times with something we can use to a greater purpose. To others gold might be a commodity of wealth rather than an element in electrical works like our com-badges. Yes they are at times an inconvenience in their well-meaning endeavors but it isn’t enough to warrant declaring them an enemy force.”
“Captain in their defense, the help I’ve gained in engineering with the warp-coils and drive systems has saved me and my team hours of work. In fact they made it possible to upgrade the effeminacy of all our systems to peek levels. Look at this.” B’Elanna handed the captain a data-PADD. “These are schematics for a slip-stream drive, these are for transwarp modifications. The latter we can do now.” B’Elanna said hopefully.
“I also have schematics for some amazing technology. The Wyrdlings know of way to create a stable wormhole.” Seven handed over a data-PADD with the schematics for what looked like a very large ring made of the element the Wyrdling s introduced to Voyager’s crew as naquada.
All faces turned to the Seven, Janeway’s eyes danced in hope, Harry’s face was glowing.
“They claim they have used them before, and I have no reason to doubt them, Captain. May I remind you of Tuvok’s underestimation of their intelligence and they proved how keen of mind they are.”
The three Vulcans on Voyager and the resident Borg as well as the Captain were still trying to figure out the kal-to puzzle. It had them all completely stymied.
“B’Elanna I want you to run simulations and if you’re still hundred percent convinced this is viable, do it.”
“You got it captain.”
“As for this gateway, Seven I want you to find all you can about it, Harry go with her keep me informed. Even if there is only a slim possibility it will get us closer to home I want to entertain the idea.”
“Aye Captain.” Harry beamed, the idea of home took away any ill feelings he might have had vicariously on the behalf of his friend.
Seven only smiled a very faint smile that only Janeway could detect. “As you wish Captain.”
“Tom. I rarely say this sometimes if is only to myself, but suck it up,”
Three days more:
Things still went missing.
Things still appeared.
Plants grew wild.
Small dashes of blue were still seen zipping and zinging about on hoverboards
Boisterous laughter and merrymaking were heard aboard.
Exclamations about how wonderful this thing worked or that thing was better.
Complaints that this or that was taken were made but stilled when a new discovery was found the stolen items’ place.
The kal-to still went unsolved.
Crewmembers could be seen talking to one Wyrdling after another. There were more than three hundred of the wee-folk on their ship which turned out to be half the size of Voyager. A scan from Ops reported over a thousand lived on the Wyrdling ship.
Wedge still watched Seven closely.
Ashtri Caig, and Rizler still strutted about trying to impress B’Elanna hoping she might be tempted but they never openly made romantic overtures. Though she suspected the space-worthy mini-star fighter was the Wyrdling equivalent to flowers or chocolates.
The blue folk still avoided Sick-bay and the holodeck after an incident with Tom Paris’s Captain Proton program. Five Wyrdlings had accidentally walked into the middle of the program the helmrat was running and thought they had died, as they were monochromatic. They were very cross with the idea. Oh not that they thought they were dead, but they missed out on all ‘the drinkin’, feastin’ and fightin’ to them the after life was rather dull and prosaic, nothing like what they were promised. When the laughter came from the bigjob Helmrat the Wyrdlings grew nervous. At his exclamation he knew how to rid himself of the ‘Blues’. He explained that death on Voyager brought you to this world of black and white where you fought Chaotica and Queen Arachnia but there was no drinking, or feasting to be had and only Captain Proton was allowed to be the hero and fight.
Then one day things stopped disappearing.
Things stopped appearing.
The mess hall was suddenly quieter.
Zipping and zinging of hoverboards had stilled.
Boisterous laughter wasn’t to be heard.
The Voyager crew felt like mourners at their own funeral.
The Wyrdlings made no note of leaving, no hails of goodbye. Suddenly they were gone.
Three days passed thus.
The kel-to game was still unsolved.
“Why did they leave as they did so abruptly?” Seven asked of her lover as they lay in large bed.
Janeway was tracing the lines of the mesh covered left hand slowly as she often did. It was a touch Seven came to anticipate with a warmth and joy. It was called ‘just be cause touch I love you touch.’ It was one of Seven’s favorite touches.
“I’m not sure, at first I didn’t notice their visits dwindled. Even when I spoke to Sparrow she wasn’t sure either, only saying that it was taking more ‘lasses and lads to harvest the findins’.”
“But you’re not sure?”
“I have my suspicions that Mr. Paris had something to do with it, but if he did he was careful not to go against regulations or cause a stir in the Wyrdlings enough for them to become hostile towards us.”
“Perhaps it as you said earlier, they might have found something shinier and it gained their attention.”
“I hope it is the latter.” Janeway turned so that she could crawl onto Seven’s body, straddling her. “I admit I miss their company, they seemed to bring a bit of life to routine. I know many found them a nuisance and are grateful they are gone, but I think others like Naomi Wildman, Neelix and even B’Elanna will miss their company.”
“What of you?” Seven lifted an ocular implant that was promptly kissed by her lover’s soft lips. “You did not seem to displeased they considered you a hag. I am curious that is not a flattering term.”
“To us no. But to them it was a station of respect. Infinite diversity form infinite combinations. As a Starfleet Captain I was trained to adapt so some anthropological aspects of alien culture as not to insult them and make a successful First Contact. And when you deal with the fair-folk its best to accept their idea of respect than to shun it. Neelix was right, with the skills and talents they have, they could have done serious damage to Voyager. They stripped that Hirogen frigate in less than an hour; I hate to see what they could have done to my ship.”
“This was why the Borg came to be interested by them, but as you have seen they were unsuitable for assimilation.”
“Thank the Heavens for small favors.” Janeway paused then giggled at her own joke. “It would have been disastrous for the Quadrants if the Borg somehow managed to do so.”
“I doubt ‘we be Borg, ye will be ass-sim-lated, ye ceanea resist tis futile,’ would have been as effective hailing as the Borg standard.”
Janeway burst out laughing, “Oh Seven, whoever said you ‘dinnea hea’ a sense of humor were dead wrong.” Her lips met those of the blonde. Her expression changed from mirth to wonder.
“I wonder though why Wedge kept watching you, she was intrigued, I might even cross the line and say infatuated.”
“She believed I was a Changling child.”
“My grandmother would say the fact you were stolen away by the Borg, then again by me is a powerful legacy. If I didn’t know better I would say Wedge wanted you because of that.”
“She wouldn’t have tried to steal me away as I was yours and she feared you as a hag to even try.”
Janeway nodded to her lover’s words. But what did the Faery-folk do with stolen babes? Were all the stories true? If so what would the strange little Wyrdlings have in mind if they ever had a Changling child?
Nearly a year later, five children were recovered from a damaged Borg cube. Only four would remain with Voyager. Of the fifth, the infant who Seven had rescued and sent to Sickbay to heal, she would never see the tall blonde nor her tiny collective again.
Janeway saw the small blue figure of Wedge take hold of the infant, and vanish through a miniature wormhole that had reopened in sickbay. Wedge smiled victoriously at the Voyager ‘hag’ just before she and the baby disappeared. She had stolen a child from the Hag who stole it from the Borg Quin who stole it from her big job people. Wedge had triumphed.
The Wyrdlings now had their own Borg Changling child.
And the future was a wide open story yet to be told.