It’s Not Easy Being Klingon

This story placed Second in the 1998 ASCA Awards "Best General Voyager Story" - thanks to all those who voted for it - it's one of my favourites

Summary: A speculative view of B’Elanna’s early life. Rated G

By JanF feedback is a good thing!

No copyright infringement intended, this is not a money making page!


The Chief Engineer of Voyager stormed around her room looking for something, anything to tinker with. So what if she had worked double shifts for seven days straight? So she was a "little bit" anaemic from skipped meals? Maybe a smidge off colour? Why had they had to choose now to get her to rest? The Doc and the Captain thought that Engineering could survive without her. The question was, with Tom on duty, could she survive without Engineering? She finally sank into a chair and tried to think of when the need for fixing things had become her comfort.


For the longest time she had only two reactions to being frustrated – break things or fix things. Even before her father had left it had been a combination of the two. With her terrible temper she had often hurled favourite toys across the room. B’Elanna had gradually learned to put them back together. At first connecting the dolls’ head back to its body, the toy hovercars’ jets back to the chassis, it was soothing – by the time she’d put them back together the reason for her bad mood was often lost.

From simple repairs she had discovered a joy in making things work better. When that attachment was smoother her dolls’ head could turn more easily, when that bit was oiled the joint moved more smoothly. Then she began to improve things with the little tool set her father gave her. Not pretend toys like some of the other kids had, real tools that she had to take care of – something her mother had emphasised. It was part of the Klingon heritage, she had been told, a warrior looked after her weapons of war. B’Elanna couldn’t really see how a mini hydro-spanner was like a Batleth but it seemed to make both her mother and father happy to see her at work.

After her father left the tools were the one reminder of him that her mother didn’t seem to resent, which made them even more important to her. She began to fix things around the house as her father had done – after all she had watched him often enough, enthralled as he made things work again, as if by magic. Now she was learning that magic for herself.

School was something she loved and dreaded. She loved acquiring knowledge – it was also pleasing to her mother when she brought home good grades. The dread came from the certain knowledge that she and her mother were different. It wasn’t said – it was more in the way that if there was a playground fight she was assumed to be the aggressor, if something at a party was broken she was automatically the one under suspicion. Her abilities to make the others’ toys do things they hadn’t before helped bridge the gap created by her forehead ridges. She had friends, she laughed and she played – but she was always different.

As she grew older she saw her mother become increasingly isolated from the other colonists. Her mother’s pride left her alone, refusing to be comforted by the community. As B’Elanna grew up her pleas for her mother to "act more human" became a source of increasing conflict. During her teenage years her own endeavours to fit in drew censure from her mother as being "dishonourable". Occasionally she tried to overcome her instinct to deny her mother’s heritage. It was during one of these times she’d discovered her mother’s Klingon Romance novels – which were much more exciting than the human variety she’d been secreting in her room. Some of her happiest memories of that time were of the evenings when she would sit at the kitchen table modifying a wayward appliance as her mother read aloud the latest novel from the homeworld.

Inevitably, though, those times became less frequent and the arguments more so. Her mother never sympathised with her daughter’s wish to please others that had shown no interest in her company without her near ever-present tools. Some of the others at school accepted her – however the girls were often intimidated by her quick temper and the boys were more fascinated with ideas of conquering a "Warrior woman" than actually getting to know her for herself.

Her mother had warned her the boys were not to be trusted – that there was no honour in them. However when one of the cutest in the school had asked her to help him with an Engineering Science project she had eagerly accepted. At the end of the evening she didn’t know which of his remarks had hurt more "I can’t believe you’re really that smart, after all you’re half-Klingon" or "Come on – I know you want it – all Klingons do."

She wanted out. Away from her mothers’ alienating talk of personal honour. Away from the girls who weren’t really sure how to react to her sense of humour – they were as likely to look at her nervously when she made a joke as laugh. Away from the place where the boys were really only after one thing. Four more years at the Kessik Academy of Sciences (her mother’s idea) with the same p’tahks was too much to contemplate.

Increasingly B’Elanna dreamed of a place where she would belong. The stars were home to many that didn’t fit in planet-side. She had worked hard and knew that she would be a valuable crewmember on a ship once she was trained. There was one problem – how?

Traders to Kessik were not uncommon, but passage wasn’t free and she didn’t exactly have a wealth of experience. There only seemed to be one way to get the training she needed and get off planet. Unfortunately it was a way that would surely meet with her mother’s disapproval.

B’Elanna threw herself into her school-work. Her above-average grades became outstanding. She had to be accepted. It was her only chance to leave the colony world.

Following in her father’s footsteps she’d gone to enlist as a non-com. A position as a crewman in a Starfleet vessel would earn her mother’s displeasure but would at least get her off Kessik. Once she had enough experience she could leave Starfleet for one of the Traders that visited Kessik and see her mother often. It was a complicated solution but a workable one.

The recruiter didn’t know of all these plans – she just had an exceptional young woman sitting in front of her and, from the looks of the aptitude tests, one that didn’t appreciate her true talents.

"Ms Torres, have you ever considered applying for the Academy?"

B'Elanna’s heart had sunk at the words. All those extra classes after school for nothing. Avoiding the Kessik Academy had been part of her reason for enlisting.

"Uh yes, Ma’am. But I had hoped that my Academic Record as it stands would be enough to enlist."

The recruiter had smiled at the nervous candidate

"Are you sure that you wouldn’t consider applying for Officer Training?"

A series of emotions passed across B’Elanna’s face as the implications of the invitation set in. This was even better! Starfleet Academy Graduates had their pick of the commercial world. However – reality soon caught up with her – the recruiter was probably playing some cruel joke.

"You mean you think I could cut it at Starfleet Academy?"

The recruiter had caught her eye and said in a deadly serious tone:

"I don’t know if you can cut it at Starfleet Academy. I don’t know if you can make it as an officer. I do know that the results of these aptitude tests suggest that Starfleet would be doing itself a disservice if we didn’t at least encourage you to try."

"An Officer in Starfleet?" This was not a scenario that had crossed B’Elanna’s mind. She had never been a leader at school, not caring to draw more attention to herself than she had to. She really didn’t think that she’d make it as an Officer – but if offered the chance she’d at least try.

One obstacle remained. Her mother would now have to know of her plans, that her hard work hadn’t been for the sake of advancement of the Kessik Colonists. It was time for her to know she was leaving for a time.

B’Elanna had approached her mother expecting the all too familiar anger – what she hadn’t been prepared for was quiet hurt.

"So now you leave, too."

Her mother was looking her in the eye. A level gaze B’Elanna couldn’t hold.

"Mother we’ve never been accepted here. I’ve never belonged here. We’ll always be different. And I’m not leaving – I’ll be back to visit."

She watched her mother turn away and stare out the window at the sky. She knew of whom they were both thinking.

"There is no honour in fleeing a difficult situation."

This had hurt. Whilst B’Elanna had never reconciled her mother’s ideas of honour with her own, she loved her mother.

"There is no sense in not taking a chance at happiness when it comes," B’Elanna pleaded. Her mother’s back became more upright. It was a bad sign.

"Daughter, I will not stop you. One day you will discover that happiness, true happiness, comes from Honour. You could be happy here, as I am, if you could honour your difference from the others. You are unique. You can-not be anyone but you." Her mother walked toward her, full of resignation. "One day you will accept that you are Klingon as well as human. As long as your Klingon Heritage is alien to you, you will be alien to others."

B’Elanna was scared. She’d not seen her mother so sad since she was five years old. Her mother took her into her strong embrace:

"B’Elanna, I love you. Never doubt this. But you have no home with me until you can return and tell me you truly honour yourself."

B’Elanna had run from her mother’s embrace, crying. Was this why her father had left? Had he failed to live up to her mother’s standard’s too?

Before she left Kessik many angry words of accusation had been exchanged between mother and daughter. B’Elanna left, vowing never to return to the parent who seemed to value Klingon honour above her daughter’s love.

She would make her life with Starfleet now.


She realised that she and Tom hadn’t talked that much about her childhood – mainly about her father leaving. She wondered if her mother would approve of Tom. Thinking of her mother’s words, she was sure she would have. Perhaps, now, she would even approve of her daughter.

Next: B’Elanna’s Starfleet experience.