The Coffee Nebula Board is for the discussion of Star Trek: Voyager and other sci-fi/cult shows. This is its Archive of episode discussions, top ten lists, fan fiction, and other miscellaneous musings.


Fractured Fairy Tales


Once upon a time, there lived a handsome young pilot who flew a pretty little ship named Voyager. The pilot was called Tom by his mortal friends and Helmboy by the few Q of his acquaintance.

One day, Tom knelt by a bulkhead, dutifully cleaning the plasma manifold and whistling a happy tune. As he worked, he reminisced about the days not so long ago when he had been the Captain's fair-haired boy, her personal reclamation project, and how, with her constant encouragement, he had earned a modicum of respect and admiration as the pilot of Voyager.

But that was before the Species 8472 debacle. After the Captain returned to the ship from the Borg cube, she started spending more and more time in the holodeck with the privacy lock engaged. In her absence, First Officer Chakotay had assumed almost exclusive authority on the ship, imposing his own ideas about ship's operations and elevating Ayala and Harry Kim, whom he treated like his own sons, to positions of responsibility. Furthermore, Chakotay no longer made any attempt to conceal his dislike for the ship's pilot, and he assigned Tom to do most of the scut work on Voyager, in addition to his regular piloting duties.

Despite his considerable work load, Tom kept his good humor. This was due primarily to the fact that 1) he lacked the emotional depth and complication to be truly miserable for any prolonged period of time, 2) as unpleasant as the situation was, it was still a damn sight better than prison, and 3) he was in love.

This last factor accounted for his current good mood. Morale Officer Neelix, figuring, and rightly so, that what the crew needed to keep their spirits up was fraternization and lots of it, had decided to take advantage of the Captain's absence and host a masquerade party.

Tom was thrilled. By carefully rationing his consumption of Rogaine, he had saved up enough replicator credits for a WWI flying ace costume, complete with simu-leather jacket and long white scarf. He was convinced that the sight of him in such a dashing ensemble would finally melt the icy heart and win the affections of the Princess of the Power Couplings, B'Elanna Torres.

Lost in the pleasant contemplation of an evening in leather with the Klingon of his dreams, Tom didn't notice the approach of Ayala and Harry, until he suddenly had the sensation of being stared at and looked up to see the two men standing over him.

Ayala nudged him with his foot and said snidely, "Hey, there, Captain's pet." Harry, standing slightly behind Ayala, said nothing, but made a face and stuck his tongue out at Tom, who sadly contemplated his former friend. Tom had taken Harry's defection to Chakotay pretty hard. Up until the time they had spent together in that Akritarian prison, he and Harry had been the closest and most faithful of friends. Tom wasn't really sure what had happened to change that. Perhaps Harry had taken that whole "This one is mine!" conversation the wrong way. . .

Tom's thoughts were interrupted by Ayala's raised voice. "I said, you owe me 30 replicator credits, Paris, and I want them now."

Tom spluttered in surprise. "But, but, Ayala, you said that I could have until next week to pay you back."

Ayala grinned meanly. "I changed my mind. Hand 'em over, Tommy boy."

Harry spoke up for the first time. "And you owe me 20 credits."

Outraged, Tom rose to his feet. "I don't owe you any credits, Harry!"

Harry replied snottily, "You do now. Chakotay says so. Now, gimme." Harry held out his hand.

Tom slowly pulled out his last 50 replicator credits. He looked with wide, pleading eyes at his two crewmates and said, plaintively, "But it will take all my remaining credits to pay you. I won't be able to replicate a costume for the masquerade tonight."

Ayala shrugged. "Too bad, so sad. Besides, you can't go anyway. Chakotay says you have to clean all of the windows on Voyager this evening."

"All of them?!" Tom asked in disbelief.

"All of them," Ayala replied, taking 30 replicator credits from Tom's outstretched hand. "See ya."

Harry, grabbing the other 20 credits, chimed in, "But I wouldn't wanna be ya." Both men laughed and elbowed each other in high good humor as they left Tom alone with the plasma manifold and his thoughts. The forlorn pilot slumped against the bulkhead and slid down to sit on the deck, close to tears. He stayed there for quite a while, thinking wistfully back to the good old days, when, armed with only the most rudimentary technical knowledge and a flashy grin, he had repeatedly and single-handedly saved the ship and crew from almost certain doom and had basked in the glow of Harry's unconditional admiration.

Fortunately, Tom was not given to wallowing in self-pity, and he soon picked himself up, dusted himself off, and went to look for window cleaning supplies.

Sometime later, as he stood polishing the viewport in the observation lounge, Tom heard the familiar whine of a transporter signal and turned to see Tuvok materialize right in front of him. Tom stared uncertainly at the Vulcan, who was wearing something white and diaphanous and carrying what looked suspiciously like a Klingon painstick with a silver star stuck on one end.

"I sensed that you had a problem, Mr. Paris," Tuvok said solemnly. "May I be of assistance?"

"You *sensed* that I had a problem?" Tom asked skeptically.

"Oh, very well, Lieutenant. I was doing routine surveillance over the ship-wide net of closed circuit security cameras, and I overheard your conversation with Mister Ayala and Ensign Kim. Now, do you want my help or not?"

Tom hesitated and then launched into an epic recounting of his tale of woe -- how he missed his mom, er, the Captain, how he couldn't go to the masquerade, because he had to clean all of the windows on Voyager, and how, even if he could go, he didn't have a costume with which to impress B'Elanna.

Tuvok listened patiently and then thoughtfully pondered what Tom had said. "Lieutenant, I do not believe that I can help you with your first problem and, quite frankly, would not attempt to do so, even with the help of a team of mental health care professionals. However, I may be able to assist you in resolving your other difficulties. Logically, there is nothing to prevent you from attending the masquerade party tonight."

"But the windows ... ", Tom began.

"... are self-cleaning," Tuvok finished, "as is nearly everything else on this ship, with the possible exception of the toilet in the men's locker room, but do not get me started on *that*."

Tom tried again. "But I don't have a costume. . ."

Tuvok interrupted again. "You are a fairly presentable young man, Lieutenant -- for a human. Even I, with my Vulcan imperturbability, would concede that you have extraordinarily fine gray eyes and lovely small feet."

Tom, startled by the compliment, blushed. Tuvok continued. "Just tie on a black silk mask, rub a little Brut behind your ears, and I am certain that Lt. Torres will forgive your lack of a more elaborate costume."

Tom's handsome face brightened momentarily, but then fell again, and he sighed pathetically. "But Tuvok, I don't have any credits left -- not even enough to replicate a mask." His lower lip began to quiver.

Rolling his eyes, Tuvok thought, "What a whiner!", and walked over to a replicator wall unit. He tapped it gently with his painstick and said something that sounded to Tom like "Bippiddy, boppitty, boo". When he turned around, he was holding a black silk mask in one hand and a small bottle of Brut in the other. "Here you are, Mr. Paris, courtesy of ship's security."

Tom took the mask and bottle from the Vulcan and asked, tentatively, "Ummm, I don't suppose, while you're at it, that you could replicate me a white scarf and a cool hat. . ."

"Do not press your luck, Lieutenant," Tuvok warned. "In any event, if your evening with Lt. Torres were to be a success, you would not need or want a complicated costume, now would you?"

Tom smiled and shook his head. Tuvok, looking thoughtfully at him, continued. "You might, however, need immediate medical attention. I will therefore alert the Doctor and reserve a biobed in sick bay as a precaution."

Uncertain of how to respond to that statement, Tom simply tied on the mask and dabbed a little Brut behind each ear. Tuvok watched him closely for a moment, then looked away uncomfortably and cleared his throat. "This is, ahem, somewhat awkward, Lieutenant, but I feel it incumbent upon me, as your godparent designee, to inquire whether you intend to carry any protection with you this evening."

"Oh, sure," Tom said brightly, reaching for his back pocket. "I always do."

Tuvok hastily placed a hand on Tom's arm to prevent him from pulling out his collection of prophylactics from across the galaxy. "Actually," Tuvok said dryly, "I was thinking more along the lines of a bat'leth and shin guards, but perhaps you know best. One final thing, Mr. Paris." Tuvok pulled a hypospray from the sleeve of his white gown and pressed it with a hiss against Tom's throat.

"What was that?" Tom asked, surprised.

"Tetanus booster," Tuvok replied. "Now go, Lieutenant. Enjoy yourself, but be back in quarters by midnight."

"Why?" Tom asked, with a cocky tilt to his head. "Will my mask revert to pure energy at the stroke of twelve?"

"No," Tuvok retorted. "I will arrest you for breaking ship's curfew. While I recognize the need humans and other species have for," Tuvok paused briefly, "*fraternization* with the opposite sex, as Chief of Security, I will not permit the activities associated with it to spread into the ship's corridors, impeding traffic and the efficient operation of this vessel."

Gazing dispassionately at the slim build and delicate features of the young man standing in front of him, Tuvok added, "Particularly when there may be bloodshed involved."

At that last remark, Tom paled slightly, and Tuvok's image began to sparkle and fade. When Tuvok was gone, Tom shrugged fatalistically, gathered up his cleaning supplies and the small bottle of Brut, and walked over to the door leading out into the corridor. As he did so, he noticed that the clasp on one of his shoes was loose. "Hmmm," he thought absently. "Wonder if I should fix that before the party?"

The next morning, as he made his way to the bridge, Chakotay surveyed the interior of the ship. He was relieved to see that Neelix's masquerade party had not significantly disrupted the ship's early morning activities or prompted the Captain to come out of the holodeck to investigate. As he headed toward the turbolift, contemplating the day's schedule and making a list of dirty and unpleasant tasks to assign to Lt. Paris, he noticed a small man's shoe with a broken clasp lying on the deck in front of the door to B'Elanna's quarters.

The End