Captain Archer and Commander Reed send gifts to the Daranaeans, but there's a slight misunderstanding.
Some Assembly required
A Star Trek Fan Fiction By
J. R. Gershen-Siegel
G- General Audiences
This is a fan written work
The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by
Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee, Pocket Books. Any attempt to sell or rent this book should be reported to the copyright owners for their action
First pdf online edition 2011
Published for TrekUnited by
The little girl had off-white fur on most of her body, except for her hands and her bare feet – and her belly, which had a pouch, but that could not be seen as it was covered with her clothes, of course. The tips of her ears were covered with caramel brown fur, very much like her mother had had. She was only four years old, and ran out of the learning room, crying.
"What is the matter, Seppa?" asked one of her older brothers, Trinning. He had brindle fur and was about eight years older.
"The, the toys! The human toys! They are all, they are all …" her voice trailed off, crying, as if it were too horrible to finish her sentence.
"Dratha!" called Trinning, "please help. Poor Seppa is distraught."
"Oh, come here, sweetheart," Dratha said. She was an older Daranaean woman, rust brown fur going grey, and was not mother to either of them. Their father had had three wives, like most wealthy Daranaean men. Dratha was the Prime Wife; Trinning's mother, Mistra, was the secondary; and Seppa's mother, the late Inta, had been the third caste wife. Dratha held Seppa and rocked her until she calmed down a little. "Now, what is the matter, child? Why do you have such sad eyes?"
"It, the human toys are all broken," Seppa cried, "I went to play with them and I opened the three boxes, and they were all broken up into bits."
"That happens sometimes," Dratha said soothingly, "the Tellarite freighter captain who forwarded the toys to us, she must have made a mistake, and they were damaged. We can call the humans and tell them."
"But they will think that I broke the toys!" Seppa cried.
Trinning went into the learning room and brought one of the boxes back with him. "I don't know why they broke," he said, "The material is some form of wood. It seems sturdy enough."
"See? They will, I was, I was going to write a thank you letter and tell them how much I, I liked playing with the toys, and I was going to tell them how I played with them," Seppa explained between sobs. "Mistra, I was going to ask Mama Mistra to help me to write the letter to, to Captain Archer. And now they will decide that I broke the toys, and they will be so cross with me." She dissolved back into tears.
"Oh, no, no," Dratha said, "it will be all right. Let us contact them now, and we will get it all straightened out. The toys arrived damaged. They will not be angry with you. It was an accident. They will send new ones, I am sure. Shh, now, don't cry. Trinning, please open up communications."
"Yes, of course. Here we are."
"This is Captain Archer. Hello, Dratha," he said, far away in his Ready Room on the DC-1500, the USS Zefram Cochrane. This was the successor ship to the NX-o1, which had gone into dry dock a few years previously, "and, uh, Vidam and, um, Minna?" Jonathan Archer had trouble remembering the names of all of the children in that family. Like in most Daranaean families, there were numerous children. But he had just called Trinning by his elder brother's name – Vidam – and Seppa by her younger sister's name – Minna.
Dratha smiled. "I imagine so many names must be so difficult for you, for I have Seppa with me on my lap, and Trinning standing nearby."
"Oh, I'm sorry. What can we do for you?"
"We wanted to thank you for sending the human toys, but they seem to have been damaged in transit," Dratha explained, "Seppa here wanted very much to play with them today, and she thanks you for your kind intentions."
"Yes," Seppa said in her tiny voice, "thank you. I'm sorry the toys are broken."
Jonathan searched back in his mind. Toys? They had sent a few gifts as the holidays were right around the corner, but he hadn't chosen them. "Just a moment, I'll ask Commander Reed. He's the one who made the arrangements." He cut the sound for a second and contacted the Bridge. "Malcolm, can you come in here a second? The Daranaeans are calling – something about broken toys?"
Malcolm was sitting in the captain's chair and got up. And then he remembered, and smiled a little to himself. "I'll be right in, sir." He chuckled a little as he closed the communications link.
Hoshi Sato looked up from her station. "What's so funny?"
"You'll see," he said, "uh, please take command for the next few minutes whilst I explain things." He walked into Jonathan's Ready Room.
"Ah, Commander Reed," Dratha said, "it is good to see you, but I am afraid Seppa here was hoping to play with the pretty toys you sent, but could not, as they were all broken into bits."
"They are supposed to be that way," Malcolm said, "They are what are called jigsaw puzzles. You see, they come in all of these pieces, and what you do is, you put them all on a flat surface and you turn them all colored side up, and then you interlock them together, to make the picture on the front of the box."
Jonathan breathed a sigh of relief. First contact with the Daranaeans had been difficult. Second contact had ended up being far better but things could still be a little dicey. That had been just under eight months before. "We received your gift as well, Dratha," he said, "but I hope you don't mind, we're going to hold it for about two weeks until our holiday party, and then we'll open it."
"By all means, Captain," she said, "but I want you to know, if our gift is in pieces – it is not supposed to be that way."
"Understood," Jonathan said.
Dratha let Seppa off her lap and Seppa went running off, happily calling out, "Minna! Minna! It is supposed to be that way! Come and get the boxes and we will play with the human toys now! I know how to play with the human toys!"
Malcolm smiled a little at that, "Dratha," he said, "you might want to use a flat surface that is not your dining table, as it might take a while for them to put everything together."
"There is the big table in the learning room," Trinning said, "we could use that." He still had one of the boxes in his hands. "What is this a picture of?"
"Oh, that's a large clock called Big Ben," Malcolm said, "it's, well, I attended school near there. The others are a picture of Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. The third one is a picture of our ship."
"Uh, Trinning, is it?" Jonathan asked. The Daranaean boy nodded, and Jonathan continued, "Are all of the pieces separated out into the correct boxes?"
"I, I do not believe so," Trinning said, "for I can see in here," he rooted around in the box's contents, "there are red pieces and black ones and white and grey ones as well. The red ones do not seem to go with the picture on the front of this particular box."
"That's going to increase the challenge level quite a bit," Jonathan said, "you might want to help them a little."
"We can all help them, and play together as a family," Dratha said, "and I thank you again. Sorry to have troubled you for what turned out to be such a little thing."
"No trouble," Jonathan said, smiling, "all of the calls between our people should go this smoothly. Give our best to the rest of your family. Archer out." He closed the connection and looked at Malcolm, "I, well, it was a good idea, certainly. I know you meant well."
"Who knew that a jigsaw puzzle would be such an alien concept?" Malcolm asked.
Two weeks later, they were at their holiday party on the DC-1500. Security Crewman Azar Hamidi and Engineering Crewman Josh Rosen brought the Daranaean gift over and placed it on a table. The gift was large, flat and circular. And it was obviously heavy. "You should open it, sir," Malcolm suggested.
Jonathan tore at the brown wrapping paper. "It's, it's a serving platter, I think."
"For at least twenty people," Hoshi said.
"Well, their families are enormous," Malcolm explained, "in the Arnis household, there were, uh," he paused to remember, "five children by the Prime Wife, a dozen by the secondary and two were the children of the third caste wife."
"Nineteen kids, wow," Hoshi said.
"What an interesting decoration," Jonathan said, looking at the platter more closely.
"Sir, I think that's their writing," Hoshi said, "I know that they use pictographs. Some represent letters like we have, others represent syllables and still others are complete words, plus they combine them for compounds."
"Can you read it?" Jonathan asked.
"Give me a day."
The next day, a letter arrived, with more of the pictograph writing, and an enclosed photograph. Jonathan brought it over on his PADD to Hoshi, who was sitting in the cafeteria having lunch with Malcolm. The huge platter was on a nearby table.
"Any luck with the translation job?" Jonathan asked.
"I've got it," she said.
"And they seem to make up new pictographs if they need to, sir," Malcolm said, "I was never really interested in languages, but this one is rather intriguing."
"Maybe you can read the letter, too," Jonathan said, giving his PADD to Hoshi. She began to check the letter over.
"Now," Malcolm said, "see all of these capital Ys? Hoshi has determined that they mean male. And do you see the capital Ds on their sides? Those mean female."
"Uh, all right."
"The middle part is an inscription and all of the other, smaller parts, those are signatures. See how the handwriting for them is all different? Some are children's writings, others by adults," Malcolm said.
"They all signed their names?" Jonathan asked.
"They must have, in some sort of glaze, and then the piece was fired," Malcolm said.
img id="DaranaeanWriting" src=" . " target="_blank" title=" DaranaeanWriting" alt=" DaranaeanWriting"/img
"What does the middle inscription say?" Jonathan asked.
"Hoshi, kindly correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that it says, 'We have a new saying on Daranaea: When human friends come, happiness is sure to follow.'"
"That's the gist of it," Hoshi said, "and I've got your letter translated, Captain."
"Any more newly made up pictographs?"
"Just one," Hoshi said, "on the platter, the symbol for human was new – see this one that looks like a circle on top of an X? That one means human. And here on your letter, see the square with the wavy line cross inside of it? I'm pretty sure that now means jigsaw puzzle."
"They wrote a new word, just for us," Malcolm said, smiling.
"The letter says, 'Dear Captain Archer and the crew of the DC-1500,
Thank you for the wonderful gift of the jigsaw puzzles. We had fun playing and putting everything together. Are there more puzzles like this? We have asked an artist to paint a portrait of Mama Dratha and cut it into pieces so that we can play some more.
Mama Mistra helped me to write this letter. Thank you again for helping us.
I hope you will come back soon. I love you all. – Seppa.'" Hoshi said, "And it looks like Seppa signed it herself. See how the writing differs?" It was a child's much more careful block printing. Seppa must have struggled to make it absolutely perfect.
"Huh, we don't normally get I love yousin our official correspondence," Jonathan said.
"I don't suppose Starfleet's about to start saying that, sir. It is much nicer than our usual letters," Malcolm said, "I wonder if they've figured out that they can take the pieces apart and put it all back together another time. Play again, as it were."
"They might not have figured that out, or maybe they find that odd. I'll explain it when I send our thank you to Dratha," Jonathan said, "and a little response to my new pen pal."
"Oh, and the caption for the photograph says," Hoshi read, "'Today the Provisional Alpha of Daranaea, Elemus, helped finish constructing a special human toy sent by our new friends.' And see, there's, I'm guessing that's Elemus, putting in the last piece, surrounded by, I am guessing, everyone in the family."
"Yeah, that's Elemus. It looks like his family came, too, judging by the number of people in the picture. I recognize his third caste wife, Cama," Jonathan said, "Funny, so this was an occasion for a photo op?"
"I suppose it was rather dramatic for them," Malcolm said, "Happy Christmas, sir, Hoshi."
On Daranaea, Seppa gazed proudly at the three completed puzzles in the learning room. "They are all so very pretty. Do you think you will ever see these sights?" her sister Minna asked her.