Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim to own any of the following characters, places, or events.

The Voyagers
by Dax's10thHost

They are strange things, these frenetic, sucking-in, pushing-out creatures. I didn't know quite how to handle them at first, swarming all over my belly and slung-back nacelles, tinkering with things they claimed to know intimately but really knew nothing about. They are curious in these things they call relationships, as well. Charging in with all the knowledge and finding that they own no wisdom.

They clothe themselves in soft shells of black with splashes of turquoise, topaz, and ruby, pinning dull little magnets to their necks and calling themselves strange things like ensign, captain, and lieutenant. At first I did not understand, and most days I still can't, but there are some moments when I will feel their flashes and understand that yes, this is the way things must be. They need order, crave it, or they will tear themselves apart.

They are different from anything that I've known in my memories (databases, they call them), and yet they are wholly alike. It is a puzzle I cannot reconcile, and yet must accept as true. Experience speaks louder than fact, sometimes.

I find them intriguing, tiresome, disjointed and yet harmonious, their breathing, eating, and sleeping somehow working to further both my existence and their own. Sometimes all I can do is thrum, a powerful, glorious sound-thought-feeling, because I know we are one in our purpose, and united in our desire. Taken apart, we are nothing, just broken humps of flesh and, for me, metal and plasma and wiring. But together? Together we are whole. A valley of misfits come to form the mountain.

There is a solemn-eyed captain who hugs her coffee with a sadness born of leadership, thinking of home and laughter and tall, faceless men who touch her face and hair with a loving reverence. She holds tightly to the black drink because it reminds her that there is a mainstay in her life other than loneliness, and a hope for her beyond the tangled blankets and sleepless nights of sacrifice. The captain is to her people what my warp core is to me. She is vital to their being, their order, their structure, their hope, but she must stay wholly separate. Beautiful, heartening, but untouchable. And alone.

There is the one she calls commander, though less now than before, and he has the eyes of a warrior, someone who burns to fight for those he loves, yet can't for fear of hurting them. They've told him to stay away, to learn to be lonely, and his is an anger of passivity. He knows what he should do, yet can't. And so he dreams of phaser fire and blackened serpent bodies—memories of days when he acted on his impulses and made it out alive.

There are crewmen who fight, two and four to a room, over whose sock is this and why did you stay in the sonic shower so long and groan when they're the last in line for food this day.

There is a little girl with sprayed freckles and a clutched-tight blob of blue who roams the ship and whispers stories of danger and intrigue to me before I lull her to sleep, my lullaby reminding her mother in the next room that she is one thrum closer to reaching the man she loves.

There is an ensign who stares out my viewports with eyes full of home, his fingers clenched around a black band, a brassy curve, a blood-stained score. He dreams of pineapple upside down cake and bangs the replicator and wishes he could finger her curls one last time. But not the way he fingers the lonely little pip on his collar.

There is a lieutenant who shatters her belongings against my bulkheads in the rage of something I've learned are painful memories. She loves me the most, perhaps, even more than the captain, because I've heard her thoughts as her fingers knit me back together, using things that even I couldn't have suggested. She truly knows me, this healer, and I am glad that I can offer her the home she so desperately seeks. I like her head-pictures, the images she holds before her when she dares not think of what looms behind her or ahead. She dwells on blue eyes and leather jackets and swears she'll never tell him. But I know she will. One day. Because even the healer needs healing sometimes.

There is blue eyes, and he understands me in a different way, the way of wild, laughing freedom and the cold fingers of space sliding silent against my hull as we streak past the stars. Or do the stars streak past us, and leave us breathless with the thrill? I do not know, but he has taught me things like excitement and trembling and eager. His hands and heart have given body to my vibrations, just as the healer's fingers have given shape to my weaknesses and made them into something stronger and better.

She calls him flyboy and he calls her bee. Blue eyes and the healer belong together. I know this because I can feel it every time they touch my metal.

There is the steady one, the topaz-clad officer who stills himself with pointed digits and the pressure of flesh against controls as ruby, emerald, and zircon bolts dart forward to steal his life. He puzzles me the most, for in all his simplicity he is complicated. It is with him that I understand that the intricacies of no emotion are often the greatest emotions of all.

There is the stiff one, who rejects her humanity, and seeks structure in her glowing green algorithms—a language that I understand. But blue eyes has taught me another language, the language that calls to the stiff one's heart, echoing in bluebonnets and ballet shoes getting wet in the river mud (because ballerinas dance by the lake, right mommy?). What they call tears, she calls malfunctions, and nutritional supplements are to her what maintenance was to me before blue eyes and the captain taught me the need for more. One day she will learn, the stiff one, and I will be there to welcome her when she does.

There is the singing one, who I know better than most because he is inside me, a part of me, coming to dwell in my darkness when no one needs him anymore. He too, like blue eyes, has taught me more about humanity and living than any creature walking the halls of my belly. It is strange, that one like me can teach me about them so well. We learn much together, though he doesn't know it, and I hope I can thank him one day. Perhaps with a song of my own…

There is the furry one, who always moves and breathes and darts his amber eyes about, but somehow holds this ship of people together better than I, in all my steadiness, can. His crimped ears and spotted brow are always ready to listen, to wrinkle; his lips to press back words until only the necessary remain, and then his hand to pat a shoulder as he wanders away, content to leave his friends to puzzle over his tales of omelets or ashy worlds. His task is that of a well-placed question, and his silence is more profound than any words he may hide in the folds of his combustible apron.

They are complicated, broken, impossible to please and an exasperated sigh on the lips of many an admiral back home. And yet, they are a part of me, these misfits, these wandering souls tossed from mishap to mishap to mishap. They have taught me things that no database can, and I would not trade their imperfections for the smoothest of all thrums. Sometimes, I've learned, weaknesses can be your greatest strengths.

It is certainly this way with the Voyagers.