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Fractured Fairy Tales

The Pilot And The Pea-Shaped Anomaly
Ginny — 01 Feb 1998

Once upon a time, there was a brave and capable, if somewhat hard-headed, starship captain named Kathryn. Kathryn wanted a pilot for her beautiful starship Voyager, but it had to be a true pilot. So she searched all over the Alpha Quadrant to find one. Unfortunately, there was always something wrong with each one she met. Oh, sure, there were plenty of pilots to be found, but she simply could not tell if they were true pilots. Finally, her search took her to a penal colony in New Zealand, where she came upon a young man who declared to her that he was "the best pilot you could have." But how could she be sure? He was handsome enough, with his light reddish-brown hair and gray eyes. And he was fit enough, with his long legs and strong arms. But he was wearing standard issue prison coveralls, which, while giving her the most tantalizing glimpse of his chest hair, was not the kind of clothing one expected a true pilot to wear. And he gave her the most provocative and challenging looks, which, while threatening to cause her tightly wound hair to leap theatrically from her bun in a not-unpleasant way, were not the sort of looks one expected from a true pilot.

Nevertheless, he appealed to something that Kathryn preferred not to examine too closely, and so, like an abandoned pup, she gathered him up and took him home to Voyager. Once on board the ship, she discovered that the young man did not work and play well with others, except for sweet, naive little Harry Kim, which was certainly not the behavior one would expect from a true pilot.

Kathryn decided to ask her trusted friend and security officer, Tuvok, his advice on the matter. "He says that he's a pilot, Tuvok, the best pilot I could have. But how can I be sure that he's a true pilot?"

Tuvok thought for a moment, and then said, "I have a possible solution to your dilemma, Captain."

Tuvok accessed his com badge. "Mister Kim, report."

Harry Kim's young, eager voice came over the com badge. "The ship is being bombarded by small particles which are causing minute, virtually indetectable fluctuations in the inertial dampers."

"What is the source of those particles, Ensign?"

"There's some sort of anomaly off the port nacelle, sir."

Kathryn chimed in. "You'll have to do better than that, Mister Kim."

"Um, well, it's a pea-shaped anomaly, Captain."

Tuvok turned to Kathryn. "It will suffice. This is what you must do, Captain. Go to the quarters assigned to Tom Paris (for that was the young man's name) and pile twenty syntho-foam mattresses and twenty duro-thermal quilts on his bed. We will know in the morning whether he is a true pilot or not."

So Kathryn went to Tom's quarters and piled twenty syntho-foam mattresses and twenty duro-thermal quilts and, with a smile that would have made the younger ensigns blush, a pair of remarkably brief silk sleepshorts on top of the bed.

The next morning, Tuvok and Kathryn waited in the mess hall for Tom's arrival. Kathryn was sipping a cup of her beloved coffee when Tom entered the mess hall, a grumpy, sleepy look on his handsome face. Tuvok motioned the young man over to the captain's table.

"How did you sleep last night, Tom?" Kathryn asked.

"Very badly," Tom replied. "Commander Chakotay commed my quarters twice last night to make sure I wasn't betraying the mission or stealing the silver. Neelix fed me something purple at supper that kept me flushed and sweaty all night. And those darn sleepshorts crept up on me so badly that I had to take them off and sleep naked."

At that, Kathryn took a sharp breath and two strands of hair sprung spontaneously from the confines of her bun. She would have dropped her coffee cup, if Tuvok had not moved quickly to intercept it. Securing the coffee cup and raising an appreciative eyebrow at Tom, the Vulcan inquired solemnly, "Is that all?"

"Well, no," Tom continued, blinking his sleepy eyes and frowning adorably. "There was something causing fluctuations in the inertial dampers all night long. I couldn't sleep a wink for being tossed and turned by all the turbulence."

And so they perceived that Tom was, indeed, a true pilot, because he had felt the effects of the pea-shaped anomaly through twenty syntho-foam mattresses and twenty duro-thermal quilts. Kathryn made him Voyager's pilot, gave him the rank of lieutenant, leaned longingly against him whenever the opportunity presented itself, and they lived happily ever after. Well, at least until Season Five.

The End