by Veronica Jane Williams
"Naomi, where are you?" Samantha Wildman's voice rang out in the forest. She moved impatiently through the foliage which filled the forest and artfully skirted little puddles searching for her daughter.
There was no answer as she made her way to the pool where she knew she'd find Flotter and his friend Treevis. They would know, she was certain. Naomi had been introduced to the two favourite children's interactive characters by none other than her Uncle Neelix. Now she had even added her own little subroutines to the programme.
Samantha felt the humidity and cloying heat, and knew there would be some rain. That child! She was getting so precocious she would have set the computer to create lightning and thunder and rain at precisely the moment she would find Naomi. She had been fascinated the last few months with the rain showers, standing so that the water dripped from her eyelashes and lips, her thrown upwards. It was the only connection the child had to Earth.
"Come on Naomi, please," she said again as she reached the clearing and spotted Treevis where he was trying to offer the little girl some cover. Naomi sat on the ground, with Flotter bringing up the rear. Samantha saw the look in Naomi's eyes and felt a burn in her chest. Naomi was deeply distressed. Neelix was the closest person on Voyager she had to a father.
"Naomi is sad, Samantha," Flotter offered.
"Yes, she is very, very, very sad," a little raindrop piped up.
Where did that one come from? Samantha thought as she looked at the raindrop with little watery feet and hands. Flotter's little brothers and sisters?
"She won't speak to us, Samantha," said Treevis, his branchy arm going protectively around his little friend.
"She's going to let it rain soon, Sam, then she'll be all wet. Please tell us what is the matter?"
Samantha, after standing a few seconds watching Naomi's two friends try to comfort her, went to sit next to her daughter. Treevis rather theatrically made a space for Samantha to sit. How alike mother and daughter looked, he thought. And how sad the little girl. They tried all afternoon to cheer her up.
"Naomi honey, you know you should tell me at all times where you're going," Samantha admonished softly.
Naomi looked sullenly at her mother, then her eyes softened a little.
"But you can ask the ship's computer, Mommy," she offered sagely.
"I know sweetheart, but you know how Mommies are: We like to be told in person."
"I know, Mama. I'm sorry," Naomi said, her eyes filling with tears even as the rain started coming down.
"What's the matter, Naomi?" she asked, sensing already the child's answer. Neelix had been declared dead earlier that afternoon. He had been killed in a shuttle away mission and Tom had tried desperately to resuscitate him. They were all devastated, none more so than Naomi, who looked on Neelix as her very special friend.
"Yes, what's the matter, little friend?" Flotter and Treevis seemed to chorus, with the little raindrop in a small squeaking voice adding his little penny.
"Now I don't have a real friend anymore," she wailed as she threw herself in Sam's arms and sobbed brokenly. They were getting really rain-soaked, even though it was only holographic rain and she wanted Naomi out of it. The rain would stop as soon as they exited the holodeck. The little girl had added that extra routine to the programme. She sighed. Children! Only Neelix right now could handle her, Sam thought. He had such a wonderful way with Naomi, and this afternoon... Naomi had taken one look at her mother and ran off, her face puckering as she started crying. She had an idea where Naomi would head to and allowed her to be alone for a short while.
"Naomi," Samantha said as she pulled her daughter up and started to the holodeck entrance, "look." Sam pointed through the leaves to the holodeck entrances where Seven of Nine was standing, with Neelix next to her. Naomi spotted the two, but her eyes fixed on the little Talaxian and she rushed to him.
"Neelix!" she cried as he bent slightly to catch the child diving into his arms. Seven stood impassive as she watched the two, while Samantha smiled indulgently.
Sam watched Neelix soothe the little girl while the rain bathed them; really a warm little shower that seemed to rinse away the child's fears.
"I love you, Neelix," Samantha heard her say as they left the holodeck.
Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, Torres, the EMH, and other characters of the series, etc. are the property of Paramount Pictures. Other characters created by the author, will remain the author's property. All photos/images are copyright of Paramount Pictures, 1998, 1999, No infringement upon their trademarks or copyrights were intended. All stories are my own property, that Paramount or anyone else doesn't own. The stories and displaying of pics are intended for entertaining purposes only and not for any financial gain.
Links to the stories will require the author's consent.
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