The Assignment

by Christine M. Westing

Naomi Wildman gazed at the console with a blank stare, not reacting to nor even appearing to acknowledge the information displayed there.

"Naomi Wildman," Seven called out, seeing that the girl was paying little to no attention to her task.

Naomi looked up at Seven with innocent eyes and fluttered her eye lashes once or twice before Seven continued with what she had begun to say to the girl.

"Do you intend on helping me with my task, or are you simply going to stand there and stare at the console?" Seven demanded.

"Sorry," the Ktarian-human hybrid replied sheepishly.

"You seem preoccupied," Seven observed with concern in her voice.

"I guess I am," the girl admitted. "I've just been thinking."

"About?" Seven prompted.

"Well, the Doctor gave me an assignment, and I've been trying to think what topic I should choose to do it on."

"Elaborate." Seven withdrew her hands from the console that she was working at and placed them behind her back, indicating to the girl that she intended to give her complete attention to the child. Naomi followed Seven's lead and took her hands away from the console as well.

"The Doctor's been teaching me about psychology," Naomi explained. "More specifically, he's been showing me how certain events can have an impact on a person, and how that person might react inn that situation. He wants me to see exactly how events can have a psychological impact on a person, so he told me to research an event that happened on Voyager and how it affected the crew, then write about what I learned. He said that I can pick any event at all, but it can't be something that I have any memories of. He wants me to interview crew members who were involved in the event and therefore impacted by it, then write about it. But I don't know what event to pick."

"It can be any event that occurred on Voyager, as long as you have no recollection of it?" Seven asked.

Naomi nodded. "The Doctor said that it doesn't matter if I was born yet or not ­ just as long as it's something that I don't remember. He also said that I can't write it about when Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. He thinks that's something that I already know enough about and it would be too easy for me to write a paper on it. My only problem is that I can't think of any major event on Voyager that I have no memories of."

"Perhaps you should consult the ship's log to find an event that would interest you."

"I don't have any security clearance. I can't access the ship's log."

"Perhaps you should approach Captain Janeway and request permission to have access to the ship's log."

Naomi smiled. "I hadn't thought about that. Thanks, Seven."

* * * * *

Naomi sat in her quarters, staring at her computer screen, looking through the ship's log after the captain had granted her permission to do so. She had been looking for hours, trying to find something that seemed interesting to her. She hadn't had much luck.

"Stardate 51501.4," Naomi said slowly, reading one of the logs on her screen. As she continued to read on, she knew that she'd found her topic. She got up from her chair and left the room, intent on beginning her research.

* * * * *

"Neelix," Naomi said, "what you do remember about Stardate 51501.4?"

Neelix paused from his duties behind the counter in the mess hall. "The date doesn't ring a bell."

"Voyager encountered a species called the Hirogen. For a time, we were able to use some of their technology to receive letters from Earth."

Neelix's face suddenly showed signs of recollecting the event. "Why do you want to know about that?"

"That's the event that I decided to investigate for my assignment."

"Ah," Neelix said knowingly. "Does that meet with the requirements the Doctor gave you?"

"Well, it's an event that I don't remember," Naomi said. "I was pretty little back then."

Neelix thought for a moment, then said, "Naomi, maybe you should pick another topic."


"Well, there are some things that people might not want to talk to you about. Not everyone received letters with good news."

"The Doctor said that it can be helpful to talk with people about things that have had a negative impact on them."

"Well, I suppose that's right," Neelix agreed.

"Then you can be the first person that I interview."

"Well, I don't know. I'm a little busy right now."

"Please, Neelix."

"All right," Neelix agreed, knowing he could never say no to his goddaughter.

"Great!" Naomi cried. "I don't suppose you got a letter, huh?"

"No, I didn't," Neelix confirmed. "I did, however, deliver most of the letters to the crew."

"Really?" Naomi asked, her interest perked. "What was that like?"

* * * * *

Naomi sat in the mess hall, keeping watch over everyone who came in. Neelix had provided her with a list of the crew members that had received letters from home during the time period in question. She was ready to pounce the first crew member that came in who was on her list. She also intended to interview some members of the crew who hadn't received letters, but she wanted to talk to at least one person who had received a letter before launching too deep into her research.

The door swung open and her eyes fixated upon it, just waiting for the officer to stride in. Tuvok appeared and Naomi glanced down at her list. He was listed, all right! Naomi leapt up and intercepted Tuvok just as he was leaving the counter with a tray of food.

"Hi, Mr. Tuvok!" Naomi cried out.

The Vulcan glanced down at the girl who was now following him to a table.

"Hello, Miss Wildman. Do you require assistance?"

"Yes," Naomi replied. Tuvok sat down at a table and the girl sat across from him. "I'm doing an assignment for psychology class. The Doctor wants me to interview members of the crew about an event that happened on Voyager and what impact it had on them. So, I'm interviewing people about when we were able to receive letters from the Alpha Quadrant using the Hirogen's technology."

"I see. You may proceed."

"Neelix said that you got a letter from your family."

"That is correct. I received a letter from my wife."

"What did it say?"

"The letter informed me of many things, but little of relevance."

"Well, what was the most important thing that it said?"

"My eldest son went through Pon far."

Naomi dissected the information for a few moments. She knew enough about Vulcan physiology to know what that meant. "You mean you're a grandpa?"

"Correct," Tuvok replied.

"Well, didn't that make you happy?" Naomi asked.

The security officer stared at the girl with a look that told her she should already know the answer to that question. She immediately interpreted it and got his point loud and clear. Of course it didn't make him happy; he was a Vulcan!

Naomi had a feeling that Tuvok would not provide her with too much helpful information.

* * * * *

B'Elanna Torres glared at the child as if the Ktarian's request to speak with her about the incident with the letters from home was the worst thing that the girl could have said.

"Did I say something wrong?" Naomi asked cautiously, seeing that she'd somehow managed to ignite the anger that was held with the Klingon.

"Naomi, never ask me about that again," B'Elanna said angrily.

"So, you don't think that you'd be able to talk with me at a more convenient time?"

"No!" the Klingon yelled.

"Okay," Naomi said, her voice barely above a whispered. She decided not to pursue the issue any further.

So far, she wasn't having much luck in her research.

* * * * *

"My parents," Harry Kim said. "I got a letter from my parents."

"What did it say?"

"That they were happy to know that I was alive. That they were proud of me. That they love me. You know, all the stuff that parents say to their kids."

"How did you feel about getting the letter?"

"It made me happy. Very happy."

"Do you think that getting the letter had a long-term affect on you?"

Harry thought for a moment. "Yeah, I'd say that it did."

Naomi smiled. Finally she was getting somewhere.

* * * * *

"I got a letter from one of my old Maquis friends."

"And what did it say?" Naomi asked, hoping that Chakotay would be able to provide her with some relevant information.

The commander stared back at the girl as if deciding whether or not to disclose the information to her. Finally, her puppy dog face got through to him. He took in a deep breath and prepared to divulge all relevant information in the name of research.

* * * * *

A sad look fell over Captain Janeway's face as Naomi asked her question regarding the letters from home. Naomi immediately became afraid that she'd upset the captain.

"Did I say something wrong?" Naomi asked. She didn't want a repeat of the incident with B'Elanna.

"No, Naomi," the captain said. "I was just thinking. The person that I received a letter from was Mark, the man I was going to marry."

From the sound of Captain Janeway's voice, Naomi knew that she should be prepared to listen to another sad story similar to the one that she'd heard from Commander Chakotay. Maybe interviewing the crew about this particular event wasn't exactly the best idea.

* * * * *

"Did you get a letter from home?" Naomi asked after explaining her assignment to Tom Paris.

"No," he said slowly. "Yes."

Naomi looked at him, confused. "What do you mean?"

"My father sent a letter, but we didn't manage to download it before our link was disconnected. All that we managed to download was the to and from line."

"Oh," Naomi said, thinking about what Tom was saying. She'd been interviewing numerous members of the crew over the past few days and she'd heard stories of letters from family over and over again. Tom was the first person she'd interviewed that had gotten a letter but didn't know what it had said. "How did you feel about getting a letter, even though you didn't get to read it?"

"I'm not sure how I felt about it at the time. I hadn't seen my father in a long time, even before Voyager got lost in the Delta Quadrant. We weren't exactly on good terms. But, it was a letter from my father, and that means something, even if I didn't have a close relationship with him. Now, I think that I'm happy to know that I got a letter from him, even though I don't know what it said. But I'd give anything to know what that letter said."

The girl thought for a few moments. She looked down at the padd in her hand that contained the data she had collected over the past couple days. She stared at it for a long time, deep in thought.

"Naomi?" Tom asked, seeing that the girl was acting in a strange manner. "Naomi, are you all right?"

"I'm fine," Naomi said, her voice sounding distant and not focussed.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah," Naomi replied slowly. "Excuse me, Tom. I have something I have to do."

The girl got up and walked out of the mess hall without saying another word. Tom stared after her.

"Well, that was odd," Voyager's helmsman said.

Tom Paris got up and walked over to the counter at the mess hall where Neelix stood, busily cooking that day's dinner.

"Neelix, has Naomi been acting strange at all lately?"

"No," Neelix replied. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, she was interviewing me and then she suddenly starting staring blankly at her padd. I asked if she was all right, and she said that she was. Then she said she had something she had to do and walked out without saying another word. That doesn't seem like her."

"No, it doesn't," Neelix agreed. "But she can be unpredictable at times. You don't think she's ill, do you?"

"No," Tom said. "I wouldn't worry Neelix. Forget that I brought it up."

* * * * *

Naomi walked into her quarters, knowing that she would find her mother there. "Mom!"

Samantha Wildman came from her bedroom with a smile. "Hi, honey." She noticed the look on Naomi's face and frowned. "Naomi, is something wrong?"

"Mom, can we talk?" Naomi asked.

"Sure, honey. Let's sit down and talk."

Naomi sat down on the couch and her mother sat down next to her. "What's wrong, sweetheart?"

"Mom, did you get a letter from my father when Voyager was receiving letters from Earth?"

"No, honey," Samantha said, surprised that her daughter had asked such a question. The girl had almost never spoken of her Ktarian parent before.

"Oh," Naomi said, sounding a little disappointed.

"But that doesn't mean that he didn't send one. The link was terminated before we downloaded all the messages. Your father could have sent a letter that didn't get to us in time."

"Yeah," Naomi agreed.

"Naomi, is there a particular reason why you're asking?"

"Well, everyone was talking about getting letters from their family and how happy it made them, even though not all the letters contained happy news. And then Tom was talking about getting a message from his father. He said that he wasn't really close to his dad, but it was still special to him to get something from his dad. And it made me realize that even though I've never met my father, I think it would be special to me to have gotten a letter from him. Listening to everyone talk about the letters they'd gotten made me want to get one, too."

Samantha put her arm around her daughter, realizing how Naomi must feel to have never met her father. The two had never really talked about him much before. "How would you like me to tell you something about your father?"

"Could you?" Naomi asked hopefully.

"Sure, honey. I can tell you anything you want to know."

* * * * *

Naomi sat down ready to write up her report on her experience. She looked down at the directions that the Doctor had given her. "Write a paper on what you have learned." It said nothing more, and nothing less. There was no format given for her to follow, and no specific content that she had to include. After thinking about what she should write, she came up with the perfect idea:

"After researching about when Voyager received letters from Earth, I have learned many things. I've learned a lot about how the event affected members of the Voyager crew in different ways, but the most important thing I've learned is more about myself..."


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