This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.



A Star Trek: Next Generation tale

by Jeff Morris

(Originally published in The Farthest Frontier #3)


Captain William T. Riker rose to his full height and stared down at the challenge to his authority. “I thought I gave you an order, mister,” he said in a voice that would accept no further defiance.


Marie Riker, aged four, lifted her chin in an aristocratic tilt that only a Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed could muster and get away with. “Story first,” she declared imperiously, still standing in the doorway to her bedroom.


Riker felt his mask of firm parental authority chip away. “Promise to go to sleep if I tell you a story?”


“Okay,” his daughter said, eyes shining brightly at the man who as far as she was concerned could whip Q anytime, anywhere.


He shook his head and smiled down at her. “Bargaining instincts of a Ferengi,” he muttered as he took her hand and guided her back to her bed. Marie then insisted on a glass of water, a proper fluffing of her pillows and a precise tucking in before she settled down. Riker brushed her curly black hair back and fussed briefly with the coverlet before pulling up his “story chair” and clearing his throat. “Okay. So what kind of story do you want to hear tonight?”


“One with a princess,” Marie ordered.


Riker winced; he was using that particular term of endearment too much lately. “All right,” he agreed, his mind racing to come up with a suitable storyline. “This one is about…a princess named…Marina.”


“Was she pretty?” asked Marie.


“Oh, she was the most beautiful princess in the galaxy. Men came from near and far to simply stand before her and drink in her loveliness. Her hair was black as the night; her eyes glittered like starlight. Her voice was as piercing as a choir of angels. There were none more lovely than the Princess Marina, none whatsoever.


“She traveled across the stars in a majestic ship, spreading glad tidings and joy everywhere she went. And yet she was not happy.”


“Why not, Daddy?”


“Well…you see, the princess had an ache deep in her heart. It was a sort of empty feeling, as though her soul was missing a piece of itself and nothing could ever fill it. And every night she would sing a sad, beautiful song to the stars, dreaming that someday the holder of that missing piece would come to her, and they would be together and happy for all time.”


“So what happened?” Marie asked, eyes wide and aglow.


“Well,” Riker continued, “one day a mysterious vessel attacked the Princess’s ship, injuring the captain and crew in the process. And Marina, being brave as she was beautiful, had fought beside them, using a broken off leg of a table as a weapon. But an evil pirate appeared and overcame her. He was bald and ugly…”


“Uncle Jean-Luc is bald, but he’s not ugly,” Marie pointed out.


Uhhh…well, that’s different,” Riker conceded. “But this pirate had beady little eyes, and teeth that were jagged and crooked, and a huge nasty set of ears, and breath so foul that Marina fainted at the slightest whiff of it.”


“Oh. A Ferengi,” Marie nodded.


Uhhhh…yes, it was a Ferengi, at that. This was long ago, before the Ferengi became our…allies,” Riker said, forcing the last word out. He cleared his throat again and continued. “Anyway, when the princess awoke, she found herself dressed not in her magnificent dress, but in tattered, dirty rags, and locked in a dingy, smelly room with bars on the doors and windows. You see, the pirate had taken her prisoner and was hoping to collect a huge ransom from her people for her life.”


“Momma says that Ferengi don’t let women wear clothes.”


“She was a princess, so they let her wear clothes this once,” Riker said hurriedly. “So the pirate captain came into the cell and put chains around her wrists and ankles so she couldn’t get away. And he made her cook meals for him and his crew, and clean the ship, and wash the clothes, and…”


“Didn’t they have a replicator?” Marie interrupted.


Riker glared at his daughter. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”


She looked up at him with big dark eyes. “Don’t stop, Daddy. Please?”


He pretended to consider the plea carefully. “No more interruptions?”


“No more, Daddy. I promise!”


“Well…all right. So the pirate made Marina do all the chores around the ship, but worst of all…she had to clean his ears every night!”


Oooh, yuck!” Marie made a face.


“You bet! Big chunks of yellow-black wax, big enough to eat, and every night she found that the wax had grown back from the night before. So Marina was very sad and depressed about her terrible life, and one night she became so forlorn that she went to a window and began to sing her very special song. And then…it happened.”


“What, Daddy?” Marie asked through a long yawn.


Riker smiled and waved his hands for emphasis. “From out of nowhere came a beautiful creature, big as a ship but alive. It came right up to the pirate ship and peered through Marina’s window. ‘Hello’, it said in a deep voice. ‘I heard your song, and it was so sad and lovely that I had to come and see who was singing it.’


“’Who are you?’” said Marina, feeling strangely unafraid of her visitor.


“’I do not have a name,’ it told her. ‘I am a Gomtuu, and for many years now I have traveled through the stars alone, seeking a kindred herd to share my journeys with. I have been so lonely all these many years, for I have found no one who would join me and be my heart and soul…until I heard your song. Then I knew that you were the one who was meant to be with me.’


“And at that moment Marina felt her heart soar within her, because she too felt the incompleteness within her heart melt away, and she knew that she was meant to be with the Gomtuu. ‘I am the Princess Marina,’ she told it. ‘I am being held prisoner here by an evil pirate. Can you free me?’


“’I can,’ said the Gomtuu, and before she could blink three times, Marina was no longer in the pirate ship, but inside the Gomtuu. And her clothing and shoes had magically changed into the finest dress that anyone could ever dream of, and she felt a warm glow that was both within and outside her, for now she was with her soul’s mate, and joy filled them both.


“The Gomtuu sped away from the pirate ship, and the evil captain would never know his captive had escaped. And Marina and the Gomtuu soared through the galaxy, sharing in all the wonderful adventures and sights the universe could offer, and they lived happily ever after.”


Riker took a deep breath and glanced over at his daughter, who was sound asleep. “And I was just getting warmed up, too,” he said with a smile.


“I think what you came up with was wonderful enough, Imzadi.” Riker turned to find Deanna standing in the doorway, arms folded over her bosom. “And I think Tam would have been highly flattered, to be remembered thus.”


Riker stood and stretched. “Computer, lights off,” he ordered, then slid an arm around his wife’s waist as she came to join him beside the bed. Together they watched the starlight stream through the windows and slid across their sleeping daughter.


“She’s beautiful,” Deanna said quietly.


“Just like her mother.”


“Flatterer. So, do I get a bedtime story too?” she asked playfully, pulling him out of the room towards their own bedroom.


“If you insist. I’ve got this interesting tucking-in technique I’d like to demonstrate to you…” Their voices faded with distance as the little girl slept, dreaming of beautiful princesses who sang songs of hope and joy…


…and Gomtuus that sailed the galaxy and who joined in the refrain.