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Adventures in Babysitting

Posted on Tue Aug 19th, 2014 @ 1:44am by Civilian Haqtaj Matlh & Lieutenant Commander Soraya Delrisa & Petty Officer 1st Class Vartog

Mission: Trouble on the frontier

The girl was almost running to keep up with the tall woman, who strode purposefully along the emptying Promenade. The Klingon turned her head to see the child scurrying alongside her and with one easy motion scooped her up into her arms. Anna was delighted; she rarely got to view her surroundings from so high in the air.

"Bye-bye tea shop," Annabella said as they passed.

"Good riddance," Haqtaj growled, though it was half-hearted. She did not like the drink they had made but it was hard to be grumpy around Anna.

"I will miss the book shop though," she mused as they moved on. It was not widely known that Haqtaj had a passion for paper books in many languages. "What will I read you at your bed time now?"

"Can we read Horton? I love Horton!" the girl answered.

Haqtaj breathed in silent relief; at least it hadn't been that one about the fox in socks.

"Of course, if your mother has not packed it already," She adjusted the girl on her shoulder. She had worn her padded robe rather than her armour.

"Well, we have an hour before your mother wants you back. What shall we do?"

"Um, petting zoo!"

Haqtaj suddenly stopped and grinned, "All right, but we are going to go a long way from Klingon space. How would you like to see some REAL animals rather than the ru' the Holodeck produces?"

"Real animals!" Annabella said with a grin; she hugged the Ambassador's neck. "Will we see Horton?"

"No," Haqtaj responded, "Nor any wearing clothes or singing songs."

They traveled up to the docking area which had been set aside for Klingon vessels during her stay. Now the last few ships were loading up to move out under the watchful eye of Vartog and the ministrations of Jar'Ho. This included a vast amount of livestock. It was smelly, loud, vibrant and real. Haqtaj led the girl by hand, pointing into each of the pens and buckets.

"Those are Pa'kak, they live in swamps and have poison glands in their bill. The trick is to snap your fingers with one hand to attract their attention and grab them behind their neck with the other hand before they can strike. Don't worry, the poison is painful but not fatal, and you mother will have plenty of anti-venom."

The girl tried to snap her fingers but couldn't get it quite right. She waved to them instead as they moved to the next pen.

"This is Gagh. They are not dangerous, but the smell of fresh Gagh will stay with you always. Plunge you arms in deep," Haqtaj demonstrated, putting her left arm into the squirming bucket of worms all the way to the elbow. "Gagh likes to burrow, so the liveliest are usually at the bottom."

"Ohhhhh..." Anna cooed, pushing her arm into the container in imitation of Haqtaj. She pulled out a small fistfull.

Haqtaj drew her hand out holding a fist full of live worms which she threw in her mouth and swallowed with relish, "It will be a long time before I am to have Gagh again."

"We can't have it in the new place?" the child asked, slurping down a few of the gagh.

Haqtaj shook her head, impressed at the child's readiness to eat the living food most humans struggle over, "We will be too far away. It is very difficult to transport live Gagh as far as we will be. It can be done, but it is expensive. A luxury I will have to do without. Perhaps for your birthday though..."

She glanced over, noticing Vartog and called to him, "Vartog, a moment. These are heading for Red World? Have a word with the captain. Ask if he is willing to part with some of the stock for my use in transit. Most of it will be dead by the time we each reach our destination. It might as well get eaten. Perhaps there will be opportunity on the transport for a proper Klingon feast. Would you like that Anna?"

"YES!" she said, bouncing on her toes. "Gagh is my favorite!"

"Now," Haqtaj moved on, "This is a real animal for a child's delight."

Before them was the Targ pens. The animals were mostly large and sweaty, the usual aroma of distressed porcine at an almost palpable level. The frightened beasts were being herded into a large freight container.

"I remember my first Targ. I was not much younger than you, Anna. I used to wrestle and chew on its ear. It had tusk that could tear your arm open if you were not careful."

The little one was wide-eyed; she felt the animals' raw fear, but Aunty's protective warmth was soothing. She saw miniature versions of the creatures in a separate pen.

"Are they the babies?" she asked, pointing to them. "Do they have trusk?"

"Tusk," Haqtaj corrected, pronouncing the Human word carefully to make sure she got it right. "They are the little horns along the nose ridge. They don't usually arrive till after a year. Those are the ones that are to little or scrawny to eat yet or are Ru'... erm.

She sought for a words to fit the Klingon equivalent, "Likely to die soon, or temporary, ergh. Sometimes I find language too difficult."

An idea occurred to Haqtaj, "Would you like one?"

"I can have one? Will she be friends with Nero?" the child asked, moving closer to the young ones.

"VARTOG!" she bellowed.

The brig officer and sometime attaché to the Klingon Embassy moved quickly. His Mistress was in a good mood but it did not do push your luck: Vartog had learnt the hard way just how mercurial she could be.

“I think the word you are looking for is sickly, Madame Ambassador,” he said politely.

Haqtaj scowled at Vartog but then nodded, "Yes... that would probably do in this case. Come. We are off to get Anna her first Targ!"

The trio moved over to the smaller pen. These were not being loaded, and would simply be put down. Haqtaj had a brief conversation with the keeper who kept looking doubtfully at the half-betazoid. Then something Haqtaj said peeked his interest and his face broke into a broad grin. He responded to Haqtaj but gave a big smile and a strong fist towards Anna. Haqtaj moved back to the girl.

"He has said you can take any you want. Your first Targ is a significant thing. You can ask for advice from others, but the choice must be yours."

The girl moved closer to the pen, watching the creatures. Their emotions were primal and low, like her dog. A crowd of Klingons gathered to see the spectacle, though Anna felt nothing but warm encouragement from them. She reached through the small pen and touched one; it snorted at her.

"I like that one!" she said, turning her delighted smile to Aunty Haqtaj.

Vartog entered the pen and fetched the beast. He bowed formally as he handed it over to Anna. The crowd gave a small cheer and patted Anna before moving back to their tasks. The beast wriggled and squealed. It was a young sow and did not yet have more than rounded nodules for horns.

"Hold its legs here... and here," Haqtaj demonstrated. "And put the shoulders under your arm. Hold it slightly upside down. The blood flow to the head calms them. If you want to lead it, grab it by the snout, that is where it is most sensitive."

The animal struggled in her arms but she held it as firmly as she could, its head drooping as she turned it properly. Subconsciously she sent soothing feelings to it as well; she often did so with Nero.

"Now," she said with pride, "You have taken your first step towards Woman hood. You will be a proud warrior like Haqtaj'voy."

She glared at Vartog daring him to laugh at the affectation of her name.

"Her name is Daisy," Anna said with all the certainty of a four year old. "We can read Horton to her tonight!"

Vartog only half caught Anna’s comment, trying hard, as he was, not to smirk at his mistress’ pet name. “Horton?” he asked. “Who is this ‘Horton’?”

"Horton Hears A Who!" the girl said incredulously.

I’ve heard of this ‘Who’, Vartog thought. But where? He racked his brains but nothing was forthcoming. He decided to set it aside. The memory would probably surface when he wasn’t thinking about it.

The beast had calmed in the girl's arms, after all she was holding it almost completely upside down. "Can we show Mommy?"

Vartog turned to Haqtaj. “Madame, with your permission, there is a small task I would like to perform.”

Haqtaj was distracted, "Task?"

“It is...personal.”

She waved him away, "Of course, of course. I am taking you from your duties to the station as well. Go."

Vartog turned and hurried away. It would take some doing, searching for the holovid he wanted and he was not sure just where to start. If he could pull it off though it would impress his mistress greatly.

"I'm hungry, Aunty," Anna said softly, cuddling the now-still Targ.

Haqtaj nodded, "Yes. The flavoiur of Gagh is rich, but it does not fill the belly like Rokeg. Besides, your mother will want you home soon for your meal. Let us take your new comrade to show her, shall we?"


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