Pabulum and Protocol, Chapter 1, by Jemima Austen
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a mid-sized starship must be in want of a husband.
However little known the feelings or views of such a woman may be on her first entering the quadrant, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the starship’s crew, that she is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their officers.
“My dear B’Elanna,” said her flyboy to her one day, “have you heard that Turbolift Two is broken again?”
Lieutenant Torres replied that she had not.
“But it is,” returned he; “for Ensign Lang has just been here, and she told me all about it.”
Lieutenant Torres made no answer.
“Do not you want to know who is in it?” cried her husband impatiently.
“*You* want to tell me, and I have nothing better to do for the next fifty years.”
This was invitation enough.
“Why, my dear, you must know, Ensign Lang says that the turbolift was taken by a burly Maquis of grim aspect from the senior staff; that he left the messhall at 1300 hours bound for the holodeck, and was so fortunate as to share it with the Captain, who was on her way to the bridge; that they are now both trapped in the malfunctioning ‘lift until at least gamma shift.”
“Which Maquis might that be?”
“Isn’t he with Seven of Nine?”
“Oh, no, my dear; perish the thought! A lonely Maquis of grim aspect; what a fine thing for our Captain!”
“How so? How can it affect her?”
“My dear B’Elanna,” replied her husband, “how can you be so pessimistic! You must know that I am thinking of her marrying him.”
“Is that her design in taking the turbolift?”
“Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that she *may* fall in love with him, and therefore you must join the repair team and slow them down.”
“I see no occasion for that. You, Tuvok and Harry may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better; for, as you are as handsome as any of the crew, Captain Janeway might like you the best of the party.”
“My dear, you flatter me. I certainly have my share of charm, but I do not spread it around now. When a man has a Klingon for a wife, he is wise to give over thinking of other women.”
“In such cases, a Klingon woman does not hesitate to elimate her rivals.”
“But, my dear, you must indeed go and stop Captain Janeway before she climbs out of the turbolift shaft.”
“She would rip my head off, I assure you.”
“But consider your old friend Chakotay. Only think what an establishment it would be for him. The Doctor and Seven of Nine are determined to help, merely on that account, for in general, you know they brook no sabotage of Starfleet equipment. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to pull this off, if you do not.”
“You are over-scrupulous, surely. I dare say Captain Janeway will be entirely convinced; and I will send a data PADD with you to assure her of my hearty consent to her marrying which ever she chooses of the Maquis; though I must throw in a good word for Ken Dalby.”
“I desire you will do no such thing. Dalby is not a bit better than the others; and I am sure he is not half so handsome as Ayala, nor half so good humoured as Chell. But you are always giving *him* the preference.”
“They have none of them much to recommend them,” replied she; “they are all gloomy and idealistic like other Maquis; but Dalby has something more of quickness than the others.”
“B’Elanna, how can you abuse your former crewmates in such a way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no consideration of my betting pool exposure.”
“You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your pool. I have heard you mention it with consideration these seven years already.”
“Ah! you do not know what I suffer.”
“But I hope you will get over it, and live to see many Starfleet officers of childbearing age get trapped in the Delta Quadrant.”
“It will be no use to us if twenty such should come, since you will not strand them in turbolifts.”
“Depend upon it, flyboy, that when there are twenty I will strand them all.”
B’Elanna was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and temper, that the experience of seven long years had been insufficient to make her husband understand her character. *His* mind was less difficult to develop. He was a pilot of low tastes, juvenile idealism, and restless spirit. When he was bored, he fancied himself a matchmaker. The business of his life was hotshot piloting; its solace was holosuites and betting pools.