My eyes may have welled up when the U.S.S. Voyager finally burst through the Borg sphere to get back to Earth — but after the initial joy wore off, I felt a certain unease. The crew was now safe at home, yet what of the alien friends and foes left behind in the Delta Quadrant? Fast forward 19 years and, while Star Trek: Picard filled in a few holes, we are still no closer to knowing the fates for all involved. After much deliberation, I have decided the only solution — for us and for the Federation — is a ranking of the Delta Quadrant’s alien children. Let me explain.
Children provide insight as to the fundamental qualities and values of alien cultures. Furthermore, nearly two decades after their encounters with Voyager, many of them are now in the prime of their lives, ready to take the reins from an earlier generation. In short, children are the future and one of the best indicators of the quadrant’s likely development. Plus, ranking them can help Starfleet determine which species to engage and stay away from should they ever get back to that region of space.
Before diving in, let’s talk methodology. The criteria for initial placement on the list are rather loose, but broadly speaking the ranking includes any alien children —from toddler to teenager — that interacted directly with Voyager’s crew. Their placement, from worst to best, is determined through a subjective comparison to the objectively perfect Voyager child, Naomi Wildman. She represents all that is good — curiosity, kindness, resourcefulness, wisdom, loyalty, compassion, for a start —so it is only fair that she serves as the benchmark. In fact, all the children will be given a score of one to ten “Naomis.”
With that in mind…
15. Unnamed Children (Vaadwaur)
Shortly after Voyager reactivates the Vaadwaur stasis pods in “Dragon’s Teeth,” we learn that their children are taught to “fall asleep each night imagining a different way to die.” Morbid! Later in the episode, Naomi informs us that they were making cruel jokes about Neelix and Talaxians. She knows that xenophobia is wrong, and so do we. The Vaadwaur may be “resourceful” as Captain Janeway says, but judging from their children, their future is bleak. Frankly, I am glad we never got to see what the Vaadwaur kiddos looked like. Zero Naomis. Next.
14. Suspiria (Nacene)
Though Suspiria is thousands of years old, she appears on Voyager as a terrifying young girl in “Cold Fire.” Before Kes and a bioweapon stop her rampage, she nearly destroys the ship and hurts several of the crew with her psychokinetic abilities. Suspiria is truly the stuff of nightmares, but she did take care of a group of Ocampa for generations. And to be fair, she thought Voyager ruthlessly killed her mate — the Caretaker. Redemption is possible. Half a Naomi.
13. Kar (Kazon)
A part of me feels bad ranking Kar, the Kazon boy of “Initiations,” third to last. After all, he’s been raised to be a good Kazon, and they are not the friendly sort. Kar gets bonus points for not murdering Chakotay in his sleep when the two are stuck in a moon cave together. On the other hand, he did try to kill the commander earlier in the episode and never thanked him for saving his life. (Rude!) At the end of the episode, he kills First Maje Razik of the Kazon-Ogla, falling back into classic Machiavellian tactics. It seems the Kazon will never change. One Naomi.
12. Karya (Vori)
When Chakotay crash lands in the middle of a brutal conflict between the gallant Vori and the beastly Kradin, Karya — a young Vori girl — helps nurse him back to health. Later, she valiantly defends her grandfather when he is presumably being taken to be killed. Or does she? By the end of “Nemesis” we find out that Karya is actually a “photometric projection” designed to brainwash the commander into fighting an alien war. There is a lot to be said for Karya’s caring qualities, but we will never know if real Vori children are anything like her. As a result, she gets only one and a half Naomis due to her role in the mind-control program.
11. Unnamed Infant (Reptohumanoid Species)
It is nearly impossible to judge a freshly hatched baby, but we ought to try. The infant in question was encountered by Tom and Neelix on a food-gathering away mission in “Parturition.” Not much can be said about the beaked babe, but it did allow itself to be fed and made the equivalent of reptilian cooing sounds. That alone is worth two Naomis.
10. Q Junior (Q)
Q Junior makes two appearances on Voyager in “The Q and the Grey” and “Q2.” As a child, he passed the time by “starting wars among innocent species.” His mischief on Voyager — fusing shut Neelix’s mouth and redecorating engineering as a dance club, among other shenanigans — was of a smaller scale, but still disruptive. After being temporarily relieved of his powers and left behind with Captain Janeway and the crew, Q Junior eventually learns the value of hard work and accountability. I have always hoped that, like Seven, he would make up for the chaos he wrought earlier in his life. Three Naomis.
9. Azan and Rebi (Wysanti)
Twins Azan and Rebi were featured in several episodes after being rescued from the partially disabled Borg cube in “Collective.” The twins showed an aptitude for science and precision, but also for telepathicallty cheating at kadis-kot, and for messing with one of Tuvok’s holodeck programs under the direction of Harry Kim. They are fundamentally good boys, but not that impressive. Four Naomis.
8. Mezoti (Norcadian)
Mezoti was also rescued from the broken Borg cube, and retained the collective’s scientific prowess. Like the twins, she misbehaved at times. However, she developed a greater sense of individuality, affection for her friends, and appreciation of beauty. For that we award her four and a half Naomis.
7. Tressa, Corin, and Elani (Drayan)
Ok, so technically the children who camp out with Tuvok on a Drayan moon in “Innocence” are elderly (the Drayans age backward). They are referred to as “children,” though, making an assessment fair game. Nothing is wrong with Tressa and the others per se, but by the time we meet them they are disobedient, fearful, and forgetful. Nevertheless, judging by the respect afforded them by First Prelate Alcia, they have each probably contributed much to Drayan society. Tressa, for example, has a grandson who reminds her of Tuvok. Major contribution indeed. Five Naomis.
6. Yun (Unnamed Species)
Yun, a young girl suffering from prolonged radiation exposure in “Friendship One,” does not play a significant role in the episode but represents key Naomi values. She shows a high level of curiosity when approaching Tom and Neelix, who are her species’ captives. Yun is later one of the first of her kind to venture outside when the radiation clouds part, and joyfully implores the others to follow. High marks for optimism. Five and a half Naomis.
5. Latika (Unnamed Species)
Let’s be honest: Latika, the intrepid little investigator of “Time and Again,” rubbed us the wrong way when we first met him. His top priority was unmasking Captain Janeway and Tom as demons. Upon further reflection, though, I believe that his brand of “speaking truth to power” was sorely needed in his world and is an admirable quality in an aspiring journalist. Seven Naomis.
4. Brax (Talaxian)
Neelix left Voyager in “Homestead” partially because of his growing affection for Brax, the young Talaxian boy who could be seen as Naomi’s natural successor. Brax is quick to show commendable traits when he valiantly talks to then-prisoner Neelix for the first time. Brax later shows daring when he sneaks onto the Delta Flyer, courage when protecting his mother from the Nocona, and fearlessness when Naomi invites him to try a new holodeck program. A few negative marks for being one-dimensional and constantly nagging Neelix about keeping his promises, but he still gets seven and a half Naomis.
3. Unnamed Girl (Ventu)
The Ventu girl who takes a liking to Seven in “Natural Law” comes from one of the least developed societies encountered by Voyager, but her praiseworthy qualities shine through. While guiding Seven through the woods, she shows herself to be inquisitive, resourceful, and in awe of nature. She is also patient with Seven’s sometimes prickly attitude and saves her from starvation and cold with gifts of food and a blanket. In another life, she and Naomi would be good friends. Eight and a half Naomis.
2. Tebbis (Dinaali)
Tebbis’s story in “Critical Care” is one of the most tragic of the series. A young miner, Tebbis ends up in a hospital from hell with a chromoviral infection. His talent for and love of medicine was matched only by his selfless care for fellow patients. Tebbis inspired the Doctor to creatively obtain several unauthorized cytoglobin injections with which to treat him. Unfortunately, the Doc’s subterfuge was discovered, and the young man died after exceeding his pharmaceutical allocation. Rest in peace Tebbis. Nine Naomis.
1. Icheb (Brunali)
Like the other children rescued from the Borg cube in “Collective,” Icheb was not perfect. He showed himself to be timid, disobedient, and awkward at times. Yet, his good qualities far outweigh his flaws. Of all the children listed, he was the most naturally precocious and the quickest learner, becoming an expert in fields as disparate as astrophysics and genetics. He used his brilliance to assist Voyager in several capacities and received high praise from several of the senior staff. Icheb also cared deeply for the younger children, taught Q Junior wholesome values, kept Chakotay’s secret about a stash of cider, nearly sacrificed his own life to save Seven, and even empathized with his parents — who had tried to kill him. Through all that he remained the humblest member of the crew. It is no wonder that Icheb and Naomi were fast friends, even in an alternative timeline where we saw them as adults (“Shattered”). Ten Naomis.
Daniil Davydoff (he/him) is Associate Director of Intelligence at AT-RISK International and a Carnegie New Leader with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. He has written for Security Magazine, Risk Management Magazine, Disaster Recovery Journal, Foreign Policy, and The National Interest, among other publications. Intrepid readers should connect with him on LinkedIn, the Delta Quadrant of social media networks.