Author's note: This is my first serious attempt at a STNG fanfic so reviewers, please be gentle. :) This story is a follow up to an alternative ending to episode #117 'The Outcast' which I hope to eventually write depending on how well this story is received, as I am basically just testing the waters for now.
Kyla Soren Riker was half human and half J'naii, the first being of her kind to ever be born in the universe. The inhabitants of her mother's home planet of J'naii were an androgynous people, neither male nor female. Kyla's mother, Soren, had been banished from J'naii for choosing to live as a female, which she knew in her heart that she was, and for falling in love with Kyla's father.
Kyla had been to Valdez, Alaska in the United States, where her father had once lived, many times, but she had never been to J'naii. On her visits to earth she had at first been seen as a novelty, 'the girl whose mother came from another planet', but her human friends had quickly become accustomed to her forehead ridges which, although not nearly as prominent as those of her mother, were still visible. Kyla fondly remembered the Hannah Montana concert she had attended with her friends on her last visit to earth. The real Hannah Montana had, of course, lived nearly four hundred years before, but her concerts could still be enjoyed via hologram.
Kyla was very curious about her mother's home planet and wanted to go there to see what life on J'naii was like, but after the cold way in which she had been cast aside from her former home, Soren was very hesitant to grant Kyla her wish.
"Once they see your forehead ridges, they will know exactly who you are," Soren told her daughter.
"Ta-da! That's what headbands are for." With a grin Kyla quickly slipped hers on. When wearing the headband, Kyla was completely indistinguishable from a typical human girl.
Soren sighed. "Very well. But you must take Alex with you." Alexander Nicholas Yar was Kyla's oldest and closest friend and, like Kyla, he was half human. His father was an android. Kyla didn't remember when she had first met Alex because she had just always known him. On trips to earth in early childhood the two had made snowmen together, had snowball fights, and rode downhill on the same sled with their legs hanging over the edge. Alex was only a few months older than Kyla, and since both of them were quite unique, they had each been the subjects of an enormous number of medical experiments by Dr. Beverly Crusher. With Kyla there had been concern about her sexual development, which had come several years later than average for a full-blooded human girl, but had been normal in that Kyla had developed breasts and began menstruating without requiring hormonal treatment.
In Alex's case Beverly had been far more concerned about his emotional development. Since Alex's father was incapable of experiencing human emotions, there was some question about Alex's emotional capabilities. After much psychological testing, it had been proven that Alex did indeed experience emotions, although not to the depth of a typical human. The downside of this was that it was very difficult for Alex to really feel happy or excited over anything, and the advantage was that Alex was incredibly cool and controlled in stressful situations, which made him the ideal candidate for dealing with unexpected emergencies.
As badly as Kyla wanted to tell her mother that she was far too old to need a babysitter, Kyla realized how difficult it had been for her mother to agree for her to go to J'naii, and so Kyla knew better than to press her luck.
That was how Kyla and Alex came to be in the presence of Noor, J'naii's leader. Kyla's story was that it was a required educational project for her Academy studies that she learn all about a culture completely foreign to her own, and that Alex was a classmate working on the same project.
"We have evolved beyond the need for gender distinction," Noor was telling them. "In the past we were separated into male and female. But now we have moved beyond that. It was our experience that gender assignment led to prejudice and stereotypes. There was always the tendency for one gender to consider itself superior and try to repress the other. Look at the struggle for equality faced for so many centuries by earth's females, for example. At one time women were treated little better than slaves. They couldn't own property or vote, and they were completely subject to their husband's or father's wills. In many societies it was legal for a man to beat or even to rape his wife. Then there were the cultures that permitted so-called 'honor killings' in which a father or brother had the legal right to murder his daughter or sister if he felt that she had disgraced the family name."
"But on earth that is all a thing of the past," Kyla said. "Men and women on earth are considered to be completely equal now."
"Yes, but how could one be certain that things could never go back to being the way they used to be?"
"The Federation would never allow that to happen."
"We have no use for the Federation. We have our own laws and statutes and don't need theirs.'
What Noor was saying didn't really make much sense to Kyla. She knew that the Federation promoted tolerance and acceptance of all beings without prejudice, so to her it seemed that a leader who was so concerned about gender inequality would embrace the laws of the Federation rather than rejecting them.
After a while Noor said that he/she needed a break, and would meet with Kyla and Alex again later. Kyla and Alex decided that they could use a break as well, so they went for a walk in the nearby woods.
"I wonder if this is the same woods where my parents had their first kiss," Kyla said.
"Are you trying to put ideas in my head?" Alex asked with a grin.
"Of course not, silly." Kyla gave him a playful shove and he ducked out of her way.
"So what do you think of that nonsense about a genderless society? Sounds terribly boring to me," Alex remarked.
"They have the right to live as they want, as long as no one else is harmed," Kyla said.
"But look at what they did to your mother," Alex pointed out.
"That's true." Kyla sighed. "My mother did what she did because she was being true to herself and the person she really is. They shouldn't have punished her for that."
Kyla was so caught up in ruminating about it that she didn't even notice Alex sneaking up behind her until she felt him yank her headband off and saw him run away with it.
"Alex Yar, you give that back to me right this instant!" Kyla chased after him but she was laughing too hard to make any real progress. Finally he stood on a stump just out of Kyla's reach and held it out to her.
"How badly do you want it?" he taunted her.
"Alex, please." Suddenly she was near tears.
"Oh, Kyla," Alex said softly. "You look so beautiful without that headband on." He walked over to her and planted a kiss on her lips before she could say anything.
Kyla was so startled that she forgot about the headband. "Why did you do that?" she asked.
"That was merely a demonstration of my own gender neutrality, or lack thereof, as the case may be." He laughed. Kyla knew that he was showing off, trying to sound like his father. "So how did you like it?"
Kyla didn't know what to think. For the first time in her life she felt just a little bit uncomfortable around Alex.
Alex replaced her headband. "There, now you look like just another human girl again." He turned the corners of his mouth down into a mock frown. Kyla giggled shyly.
Neither of them had any idea that they were being watched.
Later that day they stood once again before Noor. This time Noor was accompanied by a fellow J'naii.
"This is Krite," he/she said by way of introduction. "And this is Kyra-"
"Right, Kyla and Alex. They are students from earth here to learn about our civilization."
Krite looked at Kyla. "I have seen her before. She is no student and no human." Suddenly Krite snatched Kyla's headband off. "She is the child of the rebellious Soren and it's human mate."
"My mother is a 'she', not an 'it'!" Kyla protested.
"And her father is the first officer of the Starship Enterprise second in command only to Captain Jean Luc Picard," Alex added.
"I can speak for myself, Alex." Kyla glared at him. She hated it when Alex treated her condescendingly.
Noor stared at Kyla's forehead ridges for a long time. Finally he/she asked, "What is your real purpose in coming here?"
"I wanted to see what life was like on the planet on which my mother was born."
"You realize that I cannot permit you to stay here any longer. To do so would be tantamount to telling my planet's citizens that I condone the choosing of a specific gender and subsequent mating with a member of a different race. Neither of which I do or ever will condone in any form."
"Or perhaps it would be tantamount to telling them that you accept a person for who he or she is and respect their differences without passing judgement on them," Kyla suggested.
Noor looked angry. "You must leave immediately," was all that he/she said.
Kyla felt so disappointed. She had hoped to be able to stay at least a few more days to see more of the planet and meet more of it's citizenry.
Alex was filled with remorse. "I'm sorry, Kyla," he said. "It's all my fault. If I hadn't played that childish prank in the woods no one would have ever known."
"It does no good to blame yourself now," Kyla told him.
Alex himself was relieved to be leaving the planet. It was his opinion that the J'naii were weird.
"Oh, don't feel so down, Kyla. These beings are strange anyway, wanting to be neither male nor female."
"Sooo, Mr. Smartypants, what if I said that I thought that androids were strange for being so unemotional?"
Alex was frustrated. "All I'm trying to say, Kyla, is that you don't owe them any kind of loyalty or anything just because your mother used to be one of them."
Kyla felt hot tears forming behind her eyelids. She knew that Alex would never understand. Alex's father had never been rejected by the inhabitants of his own home planet.
On boarding the Enterprise the first person Kyla saw was Deanna Troi Riker, the wife of her Uncle Tom. "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry," Deanna said, embracing her niece.
"It's all right, Aunt Deanna," Kyla said.
"But it isn't really, is it?"
"No, it's not." Tears were flowing down Kyla's cheeks and she felt powerless to stop them. "They are the only beings I have ever seen with forehead ridges exactly like my mother's.'
Deanna held Kyla close and patted her back and stroked her hair as the girl's body was wracked with sobs.
Alex watched silently until the sobs diminished to sniffles. Then he said,"Hey Kyla, maybe your father could arrange for us to visit earth again soon. It would be great to see the Northern Lights again, wouldn't it?"
"I guess so." As the daughter of Picard's second in command, Kyla had seen many sights much more spectacular than that of the Northern Lights from earth, but she knew that Alex meant to be kind, and she appreciated that.