Contact: djf_638 @ hotmail.com
Part: NEW, 9/9 (All Parts)
Codes: (P/T Implied), T, MP
Summary: Takes place 4 years post-Endgame.
Archive: ASC, fine. Everybody else, please ask.
Feedback: All feedback (minus flames) would be greatly appreciated.
Disclaimer: Well, Miral and her mommy and daddy
Author's Note: I'd like to especially thank my three excellent Beta readers, Angela, Kate and Sam. I'd also like to thank my RL friends who made cameos: Ethan (Lt. Frank Hall), Alex (Lt. Rona), Ariel (Lt. Arah Taval) and Xander (Crewman Reiss). Also, a very special thanks to Rob who was there for me throughout my efforts at writing fanfic.
Originally posted to alt.startrek.creative
* * * *
The quarter Klingon intently observed the different officers at work through open lab doors and transparent aluminum windows at every chance she got, which was a hard task, seeing as her mommy was walking at a pace that bystanders could describe as light speed. She had never been with her mother to work before, and was excited about the prospect of getting to see the place where her mommy spent so much time. Her mother, on the other hand, was more nervous than excited.
Torres had had serious doubts about taking her young daughter to such a busy
place, but unfortunately she had run out of options. Today Tom was off at a
mandated piloting re-certification and her usual sitters, Admiral and Mrs.
Paris, were both unavailable. The Admiral was in tenuous negotiations with the Romulans and his wife was visiting a sick cousin in
The pair negotiated their way to a widened corridor in which the noise of many children could be heard. B'Elanna pulled her daughter through a crowd consisting of multitudes of parents and their giggling, screaming and often crying children. The sight of all these children served only to remind B'Elanna of part of the reason for her nervousness in bringing her daughter to the base's daycare center. Memories of her very troubled childhood still haunted her deeply. Would Miral fit in with all these strangers? Would she make friends and have a good time, or would she be ostracized and alone as B'Elanna had been? Then she tried to calm herself. Starbase 515 wasn't Kessick. For one thing, there was a lot more diversity. While she'd been the only Klingon child surrounded by humans, here Andorians, Bolians, Vulcans and even an Orion were milling around in the crowd outside the daycare center's doors. Putting her own troubled thoughts at the back of her mind, B'Elanna led her daughter through the crowd.
Once out of the mob scene, they found themselves at the Starbase's daycare center. It was a large room with colorful walls on which familiar cartoon characters from many worlds were painted. Several little tables were lined up neatly in rows and huge quantities of toys were haphazardly thrown about the room. In one corner sat a large fuzzy rug with a high stool positioned at the end, looking out over the rug and back towards the main doorway. This was surrounded by a series of low bookcases that were filled with large children's picture book PADDs. Next to this area was a large fenced-in corner filled with the softer, larger toys intended for younger children. Across the room from this sat a series of painting easels.
As parents and their children started filling in, a large human woman with tied back brown hair, wearing a flower-print dress walked towards the door to greet them.
"Good-morning! Good-morning! How are we all doing today? Lt. Crawson, how are you and, oh! Little Emil! It's good to see you again today! Ensign Forbes, how's Frankie here doing today? Oh, my! A new face…"
The merry woman approached B'Elanna and Miral, an oversized grin plastered upon her face. "I haven't seen you two around here before, Lt. Commander…"
"Torres. And this is Miral. She'll be spending the day with you."
"Isn't that lovely? Hello, Miral, my name is Mrs. Browning! We're going to be doing some finger painting today, so why don't you go over there and put a smock on, we'll be starting once everybody's gotten settled here…"
B'Elanna stopped her daughter before she could run away too far. "Miral, I'll check in at lunch to see how you're doing. And be good…"
The little girl ran off for the easels, missing the end of her mother's farewell.
"Don't worry about a thing, Commander Torres. We'll keep her busy all day. We're going to be doing a little finger-painting right now, and then we'll clean up, have free play, a story, a snack and then a nap. Don't you worry yourself now; she'll be perfectly fine here!"
Doing her best to keep from being annoyed at the patronizing tone of the woman's last comment, B'Elanna kept a smile on her face and then walked towards the door, catching a quick glance of Miral donning a painting smock on the other side of the room.
* * * *
Miral was both bored and disappointed. Sure, the finger-paining had been fun and the story exciting and she had made some new friends over cookies and juice, but she was bored and disappointed nonetheless. She was bored primarily because even though there was a half hour long mandated naptime, she was far from tired, and in actual fact, she was still wired up and bursting with energy as always, no thanks to the sweet and sugary juice dispensed at snack time. Secondly, she was disappointed because she had wanted to see where her mommy worked. She'd heard stories at the dinner table for as long as she could remember. Daddy was always talking about his latest exploits flying and mommy continuously talked about building starships and the strange people that she worked with. Little Miral was, in fact, determined to see all of these things for herself while she was here. Unfortunately, she had discovered during free-play that the large doors to the nursery wouldn't open for her, no matter how much she moved in front of, walked into, asked of, growled at, hit at or kicked on them.
However, she was nowhere near giving up as she now saw the perfect opportunity for her escape. While pretending to be asleep with the rest of the children, she observed Mrs. Browning escape to a back room where she could be seen through the transparent aluminum window taking a long drink out of a small metal flask. The assistant sent to watch the sleeping children was sitting in the corner, totally engrossed in a PADD. In fact, when Ensign Forbes came and picked up little Frankie from the 2 years and under program, nobody had noticed Miral quietly slipping out of the door at her heels.
* * * *
The fact that nobody noticed the little girl slipping off through the corridors of the Starbase isn't that amazing for two reasons. The biggest reason is that Starbase 515 was an engineering station at Utopia Planitia. In fact, it is common knowledge that Utopia Planitia engineers are hell-bent on whatever their task is and that it often takes a red alert (or sometimes more than that) to jar their concentration away from their duties. As a result, all the officers that passed by Miral in the halls were either too lost in their own thoughts, too lost in the technical manual they were reading or too lost in the PADD they were working on to notice the four year old human-Klingon girl stalking the halls.
The second reason that it isn't surprising that Miral's presence in the hallways of a working Starbase went unnoticed is just because Miral Paris was quarter-Klingon. Centuries of instinct don't fade easily and something told the little girl that she should be stealthily creeping along the corridor wall, ducking behind every potted plant and through every hidden nook and cranny she could find. She had this sense that if her presence was known by the officers on the Deck that they'd be very unhappy with her and at the least send her back to the daycare center. However, since she still stubbornly held on to the thought that her mother would be overjoyed to see her, Miral kept stalking her way through the corridor until she found a turbolift.
Fortunately for her, unlike the nursery doors, the doors to the turbolift noticed her presence and she entered it without any problems. At this point it occurred to her that she didn't know where her mother worked on the Starbase, so she did what seemed to a four year old the most logical course of action. She asked the empty turbolift.
"'Scuse me, where does my mommy work?"
"Please restate parameters."
"My mommy! Where is she?"
"Please restate parameters. Specify name when requesting location."
Miral was catching on. "Where is my mommy, B'Elanna Torres?"
"Lt. Commander B'Elanna Torres-Paris is on Deck 15."
"Okay." Miral waited a minute for the turbolift to take her to her mommy. When nothing happened, she turned her attention back to the turbolift.
"Take me to my mommy, please," she asked in the sweetest voice she could muster.
"Please restate parameters."
Miral was now thoroughly frustrated with the obstinate turbolift, and so she now tried force. In her little voice she growled at the turbolift. "Take me to my mommy! NOW!" She paused for a moment's thought. "My mommy's on Deck 15. Take me to Deck 15!"
The turbolift finally took off towards its destination and after a moment, stopped at a deserted corridor.
"Thank you very much," Miral told the turbolift as she left it and skipped off down the hallway, entering in the first door she could find.
* * * *
* * PROJECT OMNI - OFFICE OF COMPUTER SYSTEMS SUPPORT * *
When Miral entered the room, it occurred to her that its inhabitants' mommies must always be very mad at them. Her mommy would never let her leave her room like they left this room, with their toys all thrown around and piled up in corners.
She couldn't see her mommy here. In fact, she couldn't see anything. The pile of junk littering the floor made doing so impossible, so she quickly scanned the room for a place where she could see over the debris. She found a wooden table to her left. Around the base was situated the same clutter that covered the rest of the floor, and on top of the table sat a series of three black boxes, out of which came scratchy music.
Miral made her way through to the nearby table and, standing on some of the stuff on the floor, she managed to scale the height. She pulled herself onto the table top and plopped herself down behind one of the three boxes. She stuck her head out from behind her hiding spot and could now see the room in its entirety.
Unfortunately, her mother wasn't in this room. Instead two figures sat, engrossed in work. The closest figure was a lanky human with dark hair seated behind a computer console. Nearby on a workbench, another human of similar build but with lighter hair was hunched over some half-built device. The second man would occasionally pick something out of the junk pile and connect it to the device, examine the combination closely and then put the new part back in the pile. Presently, he attached a different piece from the pile onto his device and a strange noise sounded from the device, followed by a shower of sparks.
"Arrrgh! Son of a… Yeow!" The man shook his hand violently and sucked his index finger.
The first man spoke up. "Not having any luck with that corrupt circuitry, Dave?"
"Ow! Yeah, Frank, I guess you could say that. I did some rewiring here, but it just exploded like a defective pack of sparklers… "
Lt. Frank Hall looked up from his console at Lt. Dave Forrester and gave a small chuckle. "Don't worry Dave; I'm sure you'll get it sometime."
"So how's the debugging going?"
"Good. I've been at it for an hour and I'm almost done with the subroutine. One down, twenty four more left to go," he added with a grimace.
Dave chuckled at the sarcastic jibe, "Well, good luck, but I hope you aren't looking to trade jobs here. I'd rather be shocked than sit squinting at that terminal all day long."
Frank had heard this all before and let out an audible groan. "Okay, just don't give me the 'I'm a hardware person speech' again."
"I don't repeat things that much, do I?"
Frank chuckled again but then added with good natured sarcasm, "Nah, you don't, Dave…"
Meanwhile, on the wooden table and concealed behind a stereo speaker, Miral had quickly lost all interest in this room. It was clear to her that her mother wasn't here and the two occupants of the room were no fun at all. So she scrambled for the edge of the table and promptly fell off, smashing the equipment strewn on the floor.
Dave looked up from his friend, "What the hell was that?"
Dave walked over to the wall from where the noise came and was greeted by the little girl, who was rubbing her leg and grimacing.
"There's a kid here, Frank."
"What, a kid?"
"Yeah…" Dave examined Miral. "And you get three guesses as to whose kid it is."
Frank joined Dave and saw little Miral. "The Chief's kid? I didn't know she took her here today."
"I'm surprised she didn't leave her at the daycare center."
"You nuts? That Browning lady scares the crap out of me. She's too… happy."
Dave turned towards the little girl, "Are you all right? How'd you get in here…?"
Miral looked curiously at the man. "Have you seen my mommy?"
Dave turned back to Frank. "Yeah, Frank, you seen the Chief around today?"
"No, but Rona was telling me this morning that her friend in biotech said that the Chief has been raising hell over there… something gone wrong with the gel packs again."
Dave turned back to the little girl, "Well, would you like us to take you to her?"
Miral stared at the strange man. Her parents had drilled into her head many times that she shouldn't go with strangers, but was it different if they worked with mommy…? She settled her indecision with the reasoning that if she was going to find her mother, she'd do it herself. She furiously nodded 'no' to the engineer.
Great, Dave thought, she doesn't want to go, so I guess she plans on staying here all day. I've really got better things to do. "You really should let us take you to her," was all Dave voiced of his opinions.
"No. Wanna go alone."
"A Starbase is no place for a young lady your age," he said. "Come with us and we'll make sure you get to her all right." He moved closer to little Miral.
Certain that this strange man was coming to take her away from her family (as her parents had often warned her strangers did), the little girl stood in terror before loudly shouting, "No, no, no, no! NO!" She took off on her heels and ran for the door, clipping a table leg in her rush. As she ran down the hallway, the sturdy office doors muffled the terrible screeching noises made as the combination of a ripping vinyl disc and a falling stereo system filled the air, mixed with surprised shouts from the two rather unfortunate men caught underneath the avalanche.
* * * *
* * PROJECT OMNI - AUTOMATED SYSTEMS CONTROL ROOM* *
Running down the hallway away from the messy lab, Miral ducked into the next room she came across in an effort to escape the men whom she was sure were after her. The new environment she found herself in was vastly different from the last room. This room was neat as a pin, with no junk on the floor, no rickety wooden tables, no ancient stereo equipment and no things that sparked.
But all that Miral noticed (aside from the bit about no junk) was that it also contained no mommy. Determined to find her mother, she started to turn back to the door when it opened and two women walked in. Seeing the strangers, Miral jumped behind a console that stood near the wall and decided to hide.
A stocky Bolian woman strolled over to a console on the opposite side of the room and looked at its data. "Looks like Crawler 37 is down."
"Darn," the second woman (an Andorian) replied. "What did it get stuck on this time, Rona?"
The first woman, Lt. (j.g.) Rona, peered out the large window over the console and then checked another console. "Looks like it's some scaffolding this time around." She looked up at the second woman, "You wanna take it out this time, Arah?"
Lt. (j.g.) Arah Taval let out a chuckle, "Sure, I'll take it this time." She giggled as she walked over to a replicator on the wall, "I'll even bring it home in one piece for you."
Rona looked at her friend and then said with light deadpanned sarcasm, "Yeah, I suppose that would be all right… What is that?" Rona's attention was diverted by her companion's glass of a nauseating looking black bubbly liquid.
"The juice of the gods! A traditional Terran drink, it's called 'Kokakola' or something like that. Dave loves the stuff." The wiry blue woman walked over to a large desk-mounted console surrounded by displays. "He says it's loaded with caffeine."
Rona gave a snort closely followed by a grin and a slow shake of her head. "Programmers and caffeine…"
Arah sat down at the controls on the console and now cautiously maneuvered the controls. She bounced back in her seat when she was done, turning to Rona with a wry smile. "There! Crawler 37 is now unstuck,"
"Good! We can't lose another robotic painter in the scaffolding again like that."
"Awww… I wanted to go out in the EVA suit and pull it out off the hull of the ship this time. You get to have all the fun. Humph!" Arah turned her head in mock pouting.
Rona smiled, "Don't worry. I'm sure we'll need you to go out there sometime soon."
"Oh, goody!" Arah exclaimed with mock giddiness.
Rona walked over to a counter and pulled a damaged robotic painting unit off of a shelf and placed it on a nearby workbench. It was what was known as a POHPU, or Primary Outer Hull Painting Unit and served to follow behind the robotic bulkhead sealers via a series of optic sensors.
Rona examined the box that lay on the workbench, "Well, I'm going to work on POHPU 15. It's not quite ready to go out again." She opened a panel on the square unit's back and started prodding it with a hyperspanner. The box sparked and started to roll off the table on its own accord before Rona stopped it. "That's not good," she said.
"What's not good?"
"The sensors are going off for no reason." Rona dove into the box with her arm, "We must have crossed a wire here somewhere… Arah, can you get me a toolkit?"
Arah took a toolkit from a parts shelf and approached the workbench with Rona. As the two women sat down to work on the malfunctioning robotic painter, little Miral crawled out from behind her hiding spot and looked to see if the coast was clear.
"There! That should just about do it…" Rona groaned.
"Good as new!" Arah said and the two shared glances of triumph in their never ending battle of man against machine.
As Miral stealthily went towards the exit, the robotic painter's sensors detected her movement and initiated a series of electrical impulses through it's circuitry that resulted in the wheels taking off.
"Whoa! Where's it going?" Arah exclaimed as Rona gave the empty space on the workbench a puzzled look.
Leaving a trail of white paint behind it, the robot fell to the floor and took off after the little girl and followed her as she ran out the door.
"Maybe it's not quite as good as new after all," Arah commented.
Noticing the little girl the robot was chasing, all that Rona could do was turn to Arah and say, "Was that a little girl?"
"…I think you're right. How'd she get in here…?" The two friends and coworkers looked at each other before jumping up off the table and running after the little girl and the malfunctioning robotic painter.
Meanwhile, as Miral ran down the hall, she spotted an opening in the wall. She climbed into the open hatch to escape the mechanical monster and unknowingly entered the station's complex Jefferies Tube system. Meanwhile, the robotic painter continued swerving down the hallway, knocking into a crewman who promptly fell over and sprained his ankle.
* * * *
STARBASE 515 EDUCATIONAL COMPLEX, DECK 7
When B'Elanna entered the
She scanned the group for her daughter, but she couldn't find Miral. She approached the aid, a young human woman with short blonde hair, "Excuse me, Miss? Miss?" It took a moment for the woman to snap out of whatever she was reading and look up at the older woman.
"Oh, Commander. How can I help you?"
"I can't seem to find my daughter here. Do you know where else she could be?"
"You know, I don't know, but I'm new here. You should probably ask Mrs. Browning. I think she went into the back room a few minutes ago."
B'Elanna, though slightly irritated at the young woman's inability to help her, smiled and gave a quick "thank you" before walking to a door at the rear of the room. When she entered, she found Mrs. Browning sitting at the table, her torso lying on the tabletop with her head in her hands, fast asleep. As she went to wake the woman, she noticed the small steel flask resting on a chair next to the sleeping Mrs. Browning.
B'Elanna stared in disbelief at the flask, then at Mrs. Browning and then back to the flask. Employing every last sap of strength in her body to keep her from cramming the bottle down the woman's snoring throat, she knocked the offending flask to the ground before she brought her fist down on the table with a crash.
Rose Browning was awakened by the jolt to the table on which her head rested and opened her eyes to see a blurry figure in front of her. As the image cleared up, she searched her memory for the face, and finally finding it, spoke up.
"Oh… Commander. What are you doing in here?"
B'Elanna was fuming and strained to keep from injuring the woman whose breath carried the strong odor of gin. B'Elanna spoke with a calmness in her voice that was dangerous, "There seems to be a problem finding my daughter."
"What sort of a problem, Commander?"
"She's not inside the schoolroom. If my daughter isn't inside the schoolroom, then where could she be?"
"Uh… Well, there's nowhere else she could be. Maybe we should look again, you probably just mis-"
B'Elanna grabbed the shorter woman by her collar and physically lifted her up off the ground and against the bulkhead wall. "Now shut up and listen to me you gin-swilling *petaQ*," Torres sneered, "My daughter is obviously not in here and if she's hurt in any way because of your little luncheon here," she kicked the flask across the deck and into the bulkhead, "then a little hangover is going to be the least of your worries. Do we have an understanding here, Mrs. Browning?"
The stout woman could only nod her head furiously as B'Elanna unceremoniously dropped her back to the deck. B'Elanna turned towards the wall so that the woman wouldn't see the uncontrolled panic that was spilling out quickly at the thought of her daughter being lost and alone. B'Elanna didn't want to afflict that type of pain on her child. She didn't want her little girl to go through that. Ever.
* * * *
* * DECK 15 - PROJECT OMNI MAIN LABORATORIES AND WORKSHOPS * *
As soon as she left the daycare center, B'Elanna initiated a massive and frantic search for Miral. Station security scanned all internal sensors for biosigns pertaining to a four-year-old. Twenty-five came up, twenty-two of which were located in the daycare center on Deck 7, one at Station Ops (presumably the Commodore's grandson), one in the Deck 5 Officer's Mess and one in the Deck 15 corridor. B'Elanna frantically headed down to Deck 15, knowing her clever young daughter would probably be smart enough to find the deck that housed her office and the deck on which she'd spent the entire morning. She hit the hallway and ran a mad dash through the corridor, only to be stopped by a large pile of debris emanating from the open doors of the Office of Computer Systems Support.
"It's gone… It's all gone! Frank! It's gone!"
"So you lost an archaic 20th century audio device, Dave. Can't you just replicate a new one or something?"
"It's not that simple! That
wasn't just a phonograph. It was an NAD
phonograph. An NAD, man! Do you have any idea how hard it is to get one of those? Even with a replicated one, you
have to tune up the replicator patterns just right to get it to work like it
should. Hell, to get a decent one, I had to buy
it for 300 credits from some guy down in
"Forrester!" Dave's head snapped towards the door by the surprise appearance of his superior officer. "I'm looking for my daughter, Miral. She's about 3 feet tall, forehead ridges, blue eyes, curly brown hair. Have you seen her?"
"Hell, she was here all right! She even-"
B'Elanna cut him off, "Where did she go?"
"I think she took a left down the corridor."
Without another word, B'Elanna leaped over the debris pile that now stretched across the corridor, and took off down the hallway.
* * * *
B'Elanna's mad dash through the Deck 15 corridor was hindered once again, this time by a crisis in the middle of the hallway. Fearing the worst, that it was Miral and that she was terribly hurt, she shoved her way into the crowd and saw the limp figure of an Engineering Crewman sprawled on the floor, clutching his leg. Around him were splatters of what appeared to be white hull paint.
Rona was kneeling down next to the man, helping him up, "I'm so sorry… It wasn't supposed to take off like that…"
"What's going on here?!" B'Elanna exclaimed to the group.
"Oh, Chief," Arah exclaimed, "One of the crawlers malfunctioned and chased off after, of all things, a little girl. Crewman Reiss here got knocked over by the crawler.
"Miral! Where is she?!" B'Elanna was frantic after hearing that her young child was apparently assaulted by what amounted to a robotic paintbrush.
"That's the thing," Rona interrupted, "we can't seem to find her anywhere, I mean…"
While the lieutenant explained, B'Elanna noticed something odd out of the corner of her eye. It was an open Jeffries tube hatch, right next to the accident scene. Adding two and two together, she slapped her commbadge furiously.
"Torres to Franks," Without waiting for a response, she exclaimed, "I need you to do another check for four-year-old biosigns. NOW!"
"Okay, okay… uh… what the…?"
"Out with it, Ensign!"
"There's one showing up in Jefferies tube 37, section 15a. That's odd…"
Without waiting for another word, B'Elanna was inside the open Jefferies tube hatch.
* * * *
* * STATION JEFFERIES TUBE SYSTEM - TUBE 37 * *
On a Starbase, there are hundreds of
kilometers of Jefferies tubes. Sometimes these tubes stretch through decks
vertically, connecting everything from main engineering to Station Ops by
ladders. Other times, they go across decks, following countless kilometers of
ODN cable and millions of bio-neural gel packs. Sometimes, they even end at
dead ends, stopping at an important isolinear circuitry panel, a maintenance
point for a piece of crucial equipment, an access point for a main computer
data relay or even a critical EPS conduit hub. All in all, the Jefferies tube
system created a dangerous maze of pitfalls, corridors and dead ends that could
put even Earth's most famed haunted mansion, the
Miral walked upright through the tube, her head almost reaching the top of the shallow space. Luckily, she'd been able to escape the thing that had attacked her back in the last room she visited, but now she didn't know where she was and she defiantly knew that her mommy wasn't in here. But still she moved on, because though she would stubbornly never admit it, she was afraid of the thing that attacked her. All she knew was that that thing was back where she had come from and that it certainly wasn't in here.
Approaching an alcove on the side of the tube, she came across a bulky figure that was elbow-deep into some circuitry in the wall. Remembering the bad luck she was having with strangers today, she made an attempt to sneak by the man, but before she could, he pulled himself out of the wall and fell back on the palms of his hands. Letting out a deep breath, he suddenly noticed the little pair of blue eyes staring back at him.
"Whoa. A munchkin."
Miral stood incensed; all thoughts of escaping the stranger now out of the question. She'd herd the term 'munchkin' before, and understood that it was generally meant as an endearing term of sorts. But that didn't mean that she had to like it.
"I am not a munchkin," she said, her arms crossed and her eyes giving a fair imitation of the 'death glare'. "I'll have you know that I'm four years old."
To conceal both the shock of seeing a child in a Jefferies tube and the amusement of said child flashing 'the glare', the man found it necessary to peer down at Miral and respond in kind with a glare of his own. Despite the man's glare, Miral remained unfazed. The man spoke, "Well, do you have a name, then? And how did you get down here anyway?"
Still standing with arms crossed, but now dropping the death glare, Miral responded to the man's question. "I'm Miral. I was looking for my mommy. But then these mean men tried to take me away from her and then this monster chased me, so I went in here." Resuming her four-year-old version of 'the glare', she looked back up at the man, "And who are you, mister? And whadda you doing in here?"
The man stuck out his hand, which Miral reluctantly accepted. "I'm Ethan. As to what I'm doing…" he gave it thought, unsure how to explain to a little girl what he was doing arm-deep in a wall panel, "Well, uh… Well, I'm fixing the computer."
"Oh," she said curiously, "Why?"
"Uh… well, um… because the computer is uh… sick. Yeah, sick."
"Mommy says that cheese makes the computer sick."
Ethan paused and thought about that comment. "Cheese?"
"Mmm-hmmm. Mommy says that the cheese is a fun guy and it makes the gel sick."
Fun guy? Gel? Sudden realization hit, "Oh… the gel packs. She's right, cheese can make the computer very sick, but that's not why it's sick today."
"Why 'zit sick, mister?" She gave Ethan one of the most blatantly innocent looks he'd ever seen. The thought of a sick computer intrigued her and she knew that the 'innocent look' would keep him talking.
"Well… the computer is having trouble talking to itself."
"Erm… well, 'cause one of these wires fell out and it slowed the computer down."
"Oh." Miral paused and looked away for a second before turning her inquisitive glare back to Ethan. "Why?"
"Uh… well, erm…" Ethan gave up in frustration. "I dunno. Maybe a rat ate it or something!"
Ethan had the sudden distasteful realization that he wouldn't be shaking this kid anytime soon. "Umm… okay…"
"Uh-huh. And he also says that they eat people."
"Uh, well I don't know about that…"
"And that they have big, ugly green teeth."
It was hitting Ethan just how weird this conversation was getting. He was hunched over in a Jefferies tube and talking to a little girl about mutant sewer rats that ate people. He looked down and mentally groaned. And still she talks…
"…but they don't scare me!" Miral flashed a wide grin, "I'm part Klingon!"
"Uh-huh… Does this mean that we're done talking about giant mutant rats?"
Ethan got back to work, ignoring the little girl who was standing next to him, staring intently. It then dawned upon him that there was, in fact, a four-year old girl next to him in a Jefferies tube! The repercussions started wafting into his head. A four-year-old could get themselves seriously lost, or even worse, hurt inside the Jefferies tube system. He decided that he'd have to be proactive in keeping this kid from killing herself. One wrong turn at the next junction and Tube 37 would meet Tube 12, which ran vertically from Engineering to Ops, featuring a 30 deck vertical drop.
"Umm… Miral, right?"
"Yep! That's my name, don't wear it out," Miral intoned, this phrase gained from watching too much TV with daddy.
For the life of him, Ethan couldn't figure out what on God's green Earth she was talking about, but then he remembered that he wasn't on God's green Earth at the moment, so he ignored the little girl's strange comment.
"Well… Miral… This isn't a very safe place for a young lady to be," His mind raced as to where the nearest hatch opened. "Ah! I know! You're looking for…"
"Yeah. What's your mommy's name?"
"B'Elanna Torres," she pronounced with a smile, proud for having learned her mommy's full name all on her own. With an even bigger smile she stated matter-of-factly, "My mommy is an engineer. A chief engineer!"
Ethan put the name to the face and he smacked his communicator, "Ensign Vaughn to Commander Torres."
The frustrated, frantic voice of B'Elanna Torres escaped from the device, "Ensign, I'm a little busy at the moment," she paused, "Actually, have you seen…"
"A little girl, part Klingon, blue eyes, light brown hair, blue dress?"
"Yes! Yes! Where is she? Do you have her?!"
"She's fine, Chief. I found her in Tube 37, Section 18c. We're at CDR 151-Bravo."
"I'm right behind you."
Moments later, B'Elanna Torres-Paris arrived at Computer Data Relay 151-Bravo and tearfully embraced her little girl, who was herself overjoyed to see her long sought after mommy.
* * * *
* * STARBASE 515 - DECK 15 OFFICER'S MESS * *
Mother and daughter were seated at a table in a windowed corner of the Deck 15 Officer's Mess, the remains of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a plate in the center of the table. The tearful and happy reunion had quickly turned into a stern lecture and B'Elanna was now going over the finer points of why one should not go off on their own when in a strange place, "… and what if Mr. Vaughn hadn't found you? What if you'd gotten lost, or hurt?"
Miral was surprised at the lecture. At first the thought that she'd get in trouble never occurred to her, but then after some careful reflection, it made sense. But what really surprised her was that mommy wasn't angry at her like the time she broke the living room lamp with daddy's pool cue. Instead, her mother was much calmer, and though she wasn't angry, even Miral could pick out the worried and slightly strained undertone in her voice.
"…if you'd fallen in those Jefferies tubes, you could have been seriously hurt and I might not have been able to find and help you."
At her mother's pause in the conversation, Miral looked up with slightly teary blue eyes and sniffled. "I… I'm sorry." She looked down at her shoes, her legs now crossed and swinging under her chair.
B'Elanna crossed over to the other side of the table and lifted her daughter up to her eye level. "I don't ever want you to do anything like that again, Miral Katherine Paris. Do you understand?"
Miral nodded slowly and then hugged her mother. Lifting her eyes for a second, she noticed Lt. Forrester and Lt. Hall eating at a table on the other side of the room with Lt. Rona and Lt. Taval.
"Mommy! Mommy! Look!" Miral outstretched a little forefinger and pointed at the table. "That's the men, mommy! The men who tried to take me!"
B'Elanna turned her head to see who her daughter was pointing to. Seeing Dave and Frank, she realized that this was going to be quite an interesting story. On the dangerous scale from Barclay to Khan, Forrester and Hall fell somewhere between Barclay and a Tribble. Groaning mentally, she started off towards the other table with Miral, determined to find out what they had done this time.
Dave was sitting at the table, animatedly talking and gesticulating with his hands as Frank, Rona and Arah listened with faint interest. "So, then I offer to take her back to her mother, and man, I tell you, this kid took off like rocket. Hell, I still can't figure out what the hell was up with that. But now, on her way out, she knocked the table and as soon as she was out of the office - BOOM! The whole stereo fell! All 300 credits worth! Isn't that right, Frank?"
Frank looked up from his club sandwich, "Yeah, sure Dave. You know, this story is getting kinda old."
"Sorry, Frank. You guys all know that once I get interested in something…"
Rona took over the conversation, "Well, with us, it was far more surprising. One minute, we're working on a malfunctioning crawler, and the next, it takes off. And as it heads for the door, we see this little girl running off ahead of it. Strange." Rona took another sip of her root beer.
All four heads shot towards B'Elanna's voice, finding her standing in front of the table with little Miral clutching her neck.
Arah spoke, "Oh, hi Chief!" Uneasy silence followed.
Scanning the faces of the four officers, B'Elanna turned her head towards the smaller head resting on her shoulders. "Miral has something she wants to say to you. Go ahead."
The little girl's head popped up, looked at her mother's face and then at the four people. "I'm very sorry." She didn't know what she was sorry for, but the look that her mother had flashed her was one that told her to apologize.
The uneasy silence returned until B'Elanna turned towards Dave and Frank. "Dave, Frank… would you mind telling me why my daughter is convinced you were trying to kidnap her?"
Arah and Rona verbally groaned. They were going to have to listen to the whole story all over again, weren't they?
THREE MONTHS LATER…
The USS Discovery floated gracefully outside Starbase 515, her newly finished hull connected to the station with several construction boons and two spidery docking gates. Once the primary hull sections of the vessel were in place and rudimentary life support online, the starship was moved here from the station's massive construction bay. Here, sitting proudly alongside the station like an infant whale with its mother, construction crews would finish building the Discovery. First installing the remaining crucial components, the crews would then add additional bulkheads to create quarters for up to 200 personnel before finally installing such niceties as carpeting and furniture.
And through one of these spidery docking gates, two figures purposely strode into the vessel. Miral was finally getting her tour of her mommy's job site.
The pair had entered though the starboard docking gate and B'Elanna led her daughter through the unfinished deck towards main engineering. For her part, Miral merely looked around wide-eyed in awe. Since the bulkheads that separated rooms had yet to be installed on this deck, Miral was staring at one of the biggest open spaces that she had ever seen. Spotting four men at work on the other side of the ship, Miral stopped and pointed. "What are they doing, mommy," she asked with childlike awe.
B'Elanna's gaze followed the finger to the construction crew. "Those men? They're making somebody's cabin."
"Can I see?"
"They're awfully busy, Miral. I don't think that they have time to…"
"Pretty please with a cherry on top?" She flashed her mother the 'innocent' look.
B'Elanna looked down at her daughter, whose blue eyes were wide open and whose eyelashes were being batted at an incredible rate of speed. She was both insanely persistent as well as terribly cute while being insanely persistent. B'Elanna knew just where she got it from. "Fine, but only if you promise to be good."
The pair walked over towards the group, daughter practically dragging mother. "Ensign," B'Elanna flagged down the group foreman, "you have a visitor."
Ethan Vaughn turned his head towards the pair as Miral recognized the face and exclaimed, "Mr. Ethan!"
Ethan was taken aback for a minute before he recognized the little girl. "Hey, the munchkin!" She scowled. "Sorry, I forgot- you're four," he replied with a good natured smile. "How's it going, kiddo?"
B'Elanna decided it was time to diffuse the ensign before he degenerated into inane babble with her daughter. "Mr. Vaughn, Miral here wants to see what you're doing. Do you think you could show her?"
"Sure, we're running ahead of schedule," Ethan took the little girl's hand and led her into the group. "Here we're putting up a wall. This is going to be somebody's cabin."
Miral scrunched her nose. "It looks awfully uncomfortable."
Ethan let out a chuckle. "Well, when we're done it'll be very comfortable. Come over here, what Mr. Mortimer here is doing is really cool. See what he's doing with the wall, well he's…" Ethan's voice trailed off as he walked Miral over towards the man in question, who was bolting the primary wall structure into the deck in preparation of wiring the wall.
B'Elanna stayed behind a little, watching as the older man showed her daughter how circuitry was laid inside the wall. She gave herself a secret smile. Deep down, she'd always been afraid that her daughter would experience a repeat of her own troubled childhood- never fitting in, always being friendless and always feeling alone. But Miral had never had any problems making friends and had always had Tom's strange easygoing way with people. Fitting in was never a problem for Miral and for that B'Elanna thanked whatever gods were listening. Her eyes rested back on her daughter, who was now visibly restless. Apparently watching Crewman Mortimer seal modular bulkhead panels to the deck had lost any interest it had previously carried. Seeing her daughter so initially interested in the work of the construction crew made her feel proud in some strange way and for some reason made her eager to show her daughter just what she did all day.
B'Elanna approached her daughter and Ethan, who were starting to walk back. "Miral," she said, taking her daughter's small hand, "I think it's time we said goodbye to Mr. Vaughn. He's got work to do."
Miral gave a wave with her hand as she was led away. "So, you thought that was interesting?"
"Uh-huh. It was neat."
"So, do you want to see what Mommy does?"
"There's nothing that I'd like better to do."
The pair headed aft, towards the empty shell that would someday be Discovery's main engineering section. For now, B'Elanna was her daughter's best friend and hero. It wasn't something that a parent could do often, as a child always needs a parent rather than a best friend. However, right now B'Elanna was content to take both the role of best friend and hero and thrive on the sheer enjoyment of seeing her young daughter hanging onto every one of her words with eyes wide in wonderment and awe. And right now, Miral was content to let her mother be her hero, reveling in the sheer joy of having her mommy talk with her.
As they walked, B'Elanna started telling Miral about some of the more exciting things that went on at work. And Miral listened as B'Elanna explained to her just what it was like to build a starship. And as she listened, Miral realized that her mother's stories were more exciting, exotic and even more alluring than the kind of stories that other people told. But then again, not everybody was her mommy.
* * * *
Part 0/9: Introduction
"Take Your Daughter to Work Day" has been a month and a half in the making. The story stems from the fact that as a frequent lurker (more recently a poster) on the PT Collective Archive and boards, I found that I liked the stories of Tom and B'Elanna with kids. So I figured I'd do a Miral Paris story. And since I'm a big time techie (I'm a senior in high school and have been taking the computer curriculum for the last three years now as well as having been a founding participant in my high school's robotics club) I thought I'd let her wreak a little havoc on my own kind.
I've given the story a P/T romance paring. There is actually no Tom in it personally, but rather it's B'Elanna and Miral. And you can't have Miral without first having a P/T romance. I also felt obligated as it was reading numerous stories on the PT Collective Archive that partly got me inspired to write this piece.
The story will be posted in 9 parts. This will occur all at once to facilitate easy reading of the story.
This story may possibly be posted to Fanfiction.net in the near future as well. In this case, it will be posted in serial, one chapter a day over nine days.
FEEDBACK AND ARCHIVING:
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, since this is my first foray into the world of fan fiction. Also, if you want to archive it, as it says in the header, email me with a request. I'll probably say yes, but then again it's nice to know where you're story is being posted. And please, no flames.
For those of you who don't know what an NAD is, it's a very expensive, very good British stereo turntable.
Also, for the record, my friend Ariel would like to make clear that even though the character based off of her (Lt.
Arah Taval, see author's note) enjoys Coke, she herself prefers spiced cider with caramel.
So, since I myself don't like long Part Zeroes, without further ado, I present to you "Take Your Daughter to Work Day".