What if you could see before and after canon, and fill in the blanks?
The In Between Days universe follows six principals in that series, and their counterparts, as the Enterprise NX-01 travels the galaxy and its preliminaries and aftermath are also shown. The six principals are: Leonora (Norri) Digiorno, Douglas JH Beckett, Dr. Pamela Hudson, Melissa Madden, Charlotte Lilienne O’Day and canon character Malcolm Reed. The longer books are listed in chronological order, with teaser copy and dates, but only with a link to where a book is already posted.
The title In Between Days refers not only to a Cure song of that name, but also the time period roughly between the Terra Prime/Mirror Universe episodes on ENT and the These Are the Voyages episode which ended that series.
As always, I thank you for reading, reviewing and inspiring.
Enterprise, Mirror Universe, Alternate Universes, Expanded Universes, Crossovers Characters:
In Between Days
01 Feb 2012 Updated:
04 Dec 2014
1. Detroit Rock City by jespah
2. A Single Step by jespah
3. The High Cost of Dissidence by jespah
4. Flip by jespah
5. Atlas by jespah
6. Party on Risa by jespah
7. And the Livin' is Easy by jespah
8. If You Can't Stand the Heat by jespah
9. Cobbled Together by jespah
10. Concord by jespah
11. Voracious by jespah
12. Harvest by jespah
13. Before the Fall by jespah
14. The Continuing Adventures of Porthos - The Future Cat by jespah
15. Protocols by jespah
16. Theorizing by jespah
17. A Perfect Note by jespah
18. The Mess by jespah
19. Gratitude by jespah
20. Gossip Gossip by jespah
21. Onions by jespah
22. Penicillin by jespah
23. Demotion by jespah
24. Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation by jespah
25. Conversations with Heroes by jespah
26. The Way to a Man's Heart by jespah
27. The Puzzle, A Tale Told in Pieces by jespah
28. More, More, More! by jespah
29. Letters from Home by jespah
30. The Adventures of Porthos by jespah
31. Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses by jespah
32. Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions by jespah
33. The Further Adventures of Porthos - The Stilton Fulfillment by jespah
34. Bribery by jespah
35. The Light by jespah
36. Waiting by jespah
37. First Born by jespah
38. Red by jespah
39. An Announcement by jespah
40. Reversal by jespah
41. Apple by jespah
42. Local Flavor by jespah
43. A Kind of Blue by jespah
44. Dear Naurr, Dear Lili by jespah
45. Gainful by jespah
46. The Tribe by jespah
47. Brown by jespah
48. Bomb(e) by jespah
49. Friday Visit by jespah
50. Dishing it Out by jespah
51. Intolerance by jespah
52. Barely Tolerable by jespah
53. Pacing by jespah
54. The Gift by jespah
55. Voice of the Common Man by jespah
56. Together by jespah
57. Broken Seal by jespah
58. Movie Night by jespah
59. Equilibrium by jespah
60. The Cure is Worse than the Disease by jespah
61. Ceremonial by jespah
62. Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before by jespah
63. Tumult by jespah
64. Achieving Peace by jespah
65. Shell Shock by jespah
66. There's Something About Hoshi by jespah
67. The Conspiracy by jespah
68. Gilded Cage by jespah
69. Temper by jespah
70. Coveted Commodity by jespah
71. Fortune by jespah
72. Day of the Dead by jespah
73. To Wish, To Want, To Desire by jespah
74. On the Radio by jespah
75. We Meet Again by jespah
76. Saturn Rise by jespah
77. The Play at the Plate by jespah
78. Legends by jespah
79. All You Need is Love by jespah
80. Complications by jespah
81. The Best Things Come in Pairs by jespah
82. Gremlins by jespah
83. Take Back the Night by jespah
84. Temptation by jespah
85. Some Assembly Required by jespah
86. The Facts by jespah
87. Linfep Linfep Linfep by jespah
88. Biases by jespah
89. Consider the Lilies of the Field by jespah
90. In Memory of Kelsey Haber by jespah
91. The Pivot Point by jespah
92. About Nine Months by jespah
93. Debate by jespah
94. Half by jespah
95. There's Something Else About Hoshi by jespah
96. Flight of the Bluebird by jespah
97. Equinox by jespah
98. Confidence by jespah
99. The Rite by jespah
100. Finnan Haddie by jespah
101. Hearts in Time by jespah
102. Bread by jespah
103. Escape by jespah
104. The Medal by jespah
105. The Decision by jespah
106. A Hazy Shade by jespah
107. Completely Hers by jespah
108. Faith by jespah
109. Remembrance by jespah
110. November 13th by jespah
111. Seven Women by jespah
112. Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown? by jespah
Detroit Rock City by jespah
In 2005, nobody believes Leland Loomis when he claims to have seen lizard people and a guy with a ray gun.
Everybody's gonna move their feet
Everybody's gonna leave their seat
You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City
For Leland Loomis, every day was getting to be the same old, same old.
He’d get up. They’d hustle him into the medication line. He’d wait, and chat with the others.
There was Allison. She had been cutting herself when they’d brought her in. Dave swore up and down that the world was going to end in ’08, and why the hell didn’t anybody believe him?! Time was a-wastin’! Lakeisha was a real dish, a honey. But she heard voices, and those voices had convinced her to strangle her newborn baby. He stayed away from Lakeisha, although he figured he wouldn’t mind if, you know, she wanted to do the nasty in the broom closet.
But he wasn’t near any of them in the line. Instead, he was near Ogden – nobody really knew Ogden’s name, except he had had a bus ticket on him when he’d been brought in, and the ticket was to go from Ogden, Utah to Detroit. In 1976.
His other line-mate was Phyllis, who claimed to be from Titan and was the only one who seemed to believe him. Of course Phyllis was nuts – everybody there was, Leland figured – but at least she was nice. It was a pity about her being nearly seventy. Then again, the broom closet was kinda dark.
He shuffled along and sighed. Would this be the day that someone with more mental capacity than Phyllis would actually give some credence to what he had witnessed back in ’04? He retied the sash on his ratty old maroon-colored bathrobe.
A new doctor was touring the facility. “What have we here?” he asked. He was an older fellow, British and thin, with a face that was mostly nose. A name tag on his white coat said Morgan.
“I’m sane, Doc,” Leland said to him.
“And you are?”
“Leland Loomis. I live and work on Carpenter Street.”
“Ah, hmm, yes, I read your chart,” said Morgan, “It was a year ago – you were brought in by the police, talking about, let’s see, what was it again?”
“There were lizard people. And there was a quiet veggie chick and a guy with a ray gun. Really!”
“How very curious. Mister Loomis, you do realize that your ravings made it so that you could be sent here, and not to the State Penitentiary? Are you, perhaps, pretending to persist in your delusions in order to continue residing here?” He waved a hand, almost magnanimously. “We have such fine amenities here.” His sweeping gesture encompassed the medication table where there were male nurses distributing the goodies, and even Lakeisha, who was in Dave’s face a little too much and talking about something to do with Hollywood calling. “If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that you were faking it. After all, I don’t imagine there are such delights to be had in the State Pen.”
“I’m not faking it. And Christ on a cracker, man, I am not nutso! It’s real!”
“Then if you are not insane, Mister Loomis, you should be on trial for kidnapping and murder, right? Remember all those people from the Blood Bank? Instead, you were found incompetent to stand trial. Now, there are only two ways things can be. One is the status quo ante. You stay here, secure in your delusions. The other is that you are found competent and you stand trial. There’s plenty of evidence against you, I understand. They’d have you dead to rights. So then you’d head to the State Pen where the lovely Phyllis does not reside, and you can trade thorazine for a shiv. There is no middle ground – no way whereby your, uh, observations can be found to be true. You will not be set free and have a medal pinned to your chest. Which do you prefer, here or the penitentiary, sir?”
Leland had gotten to the front of the line. “Loomis, Leland,” he said to a male nurse, showing the plastic hospital bracelet that was around his wrist. The bar code on the bracelet was scanned. He was given a shallow paper cup with a solitary orange tablet in it. Imprinted on the tablet was SKF T79, just like it always had.
He shuffled over to the second line, which was for water. That line was considerably shorter. Another male nurse handed him a second paper cup – this one was a tiny bit less shallow. The nurse watched closely as Leland showed him the orange pill being put on his tongue and then the water being swallowed. Then Leland opened his mouth as the nurse looked in with a small penlight. “Okay, you’re good to go,” said the nurse.
The medication hadn’t quite kicked in – that didn’t happen immediately. Leland went over to Morgan. “This is the only choice that makes any sense, Doc.” He was near Phyllis and put an arm around her. “Will ya excuse me and my girl now?”
“Yes, yes, of course,” said Morgan. Before he left for the day, he went over the patients’ charts again, and lingered on that of one Leland Loomis. “Lizard people, eh? It must have been rather frightening. No wonder you’d prefer retreating into a medicated haze.”
You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City
Lily Sloane Cochrane and Zefram Cochrane meet a mysterious alien in 2117.
“Zef!” Lily Sloane Cochrane yelled from their back yard as she saw the small craft spiraling downwards, threatening their home. It whistled as it went by. She coughed, sending her frail body into spasms from the effort. The one-word yell had been too much effort for her.
He wasn’t a spring chicken anymore in 2117, but Zefram Cochrane ran outside, shotgun in hand. He looked at the craft as the screen door slammed behind him and he felt, rather than saw, Lily’s presence beside him. She was panting a little with the effort of walking. “That doesn’t look Vulcan,” she said. She moved slower those days, sick with cancer and fading fast.
“No, it, uh, it doesn’t,” he said. He leaned over her to protect her as the craft, which was vaguely diamond-shaped, crashed next to their garden.
The impact was loud as the ground shook a little, and it was smoldering, but it wasn’t actively burning at least. He was about to run to investigate it – at least as fast as eighty-seven-year-old legs could go, but her imploring eyes held him back for the moment. “I should investigate,” he said.
“We could call Solkar,” she suggested. “He’d know what to do.”
“It’ll take too long,” Zefram said. He looked at her dark eyes. “You look tired. You should rest. You need to.”
“Nuh-uh,” she replied, “we don’t get an alien landing in the back yard without me getting to see.”
“If it’s dangerous, what do you expect me to do?”
“Listen, Old Man,” she said, “neither of us can move that fast anymore. So don’t give me anything about how you’re gonna be my white knight or anything.”
He was about to respond when there was a loud, alien screeching, squeaking sound, and it was coming from the direction of the wreck.
He began to walk over and she weakly followed him. He sighed – he didn’t want her there. Lung cancer was giving her breathing impairment. Everything she did was slower and getting even slower, it seemed. But he couldn’t argue with her. He could never argue with her.
They got to the crater that had been formed by the wreck. He pushed the bolt home on the shotgun. “Whoever you are,” he yelled, trying to sound as menacing as possible, “I got me a shotgun here and both barrels are filled. And I am not afraid to use any of this equipment! I’ll blow your fool head off!” Then he turned to her and, more quietly said, “If he’s even got a head.”
She laughed a little at that, and the laugh triggered a short coughing spell. “I’m all right,” she assured him. “Zef, let’s see what we got.”
“All right,” he said, “but if it’s bad, Lily, you promise me you’ll get back to the house and call on Solkar, all right? And the sheriff, too, I guess, although God knows what he could do.”
“Let’s us, let’s think positively,” Lily said, “Maybe it’ll be like when the Vulcans got to Earth in ’63. Maybe they’ll be nice and stuff.”
“That was fifty-four years ago. And you forgot those cybernetic guys – they weren’t so nice. The Enterprise was a help, but they are long gone from here. It’s just you and me, Sweets.”
“Yep, we’re a team. And I’m sorry I called ya old.” Another coughing fit.
There was another ungodly loud screeching, squeaking sound. Zefram Cochrane re-shouldered his shotgun. “I’m comin’ to getcha!” He rushed at the crater.
There was a rhombus-shaped hatch on the ship, and it seemed a bit bent. From within, someone or something was attempting to get it to open. But the sides were scraping something fierce. That was the screeching sound. “Should we help him, you think?” Lily asked.
“I dunno,” replied her husband, “either we’d be really nice to some great new friends or we’d be releasing the Apocalypse. Which do you think’ll happen?”
“I dunno. Wanna flip a coin? Heads for friends, tails for the Apocalypse?”
It was answered for them when the hatch was suddenly pushed open, perhaps by kicking. And that’s when they saw it.
The alien raised a head slowly and peered out. It was humanoid, with fur and triangular-shaped ears. If Lily didn’t know any better, she’d have sworn it was a cat. Except it was the size of a human. She went slack-jawed, as did Zef. The alien then wiped a bit at its face, and there was a little blood from a cut. The blood was an orangey-red, almost like tomato juice. It then leaned down; face disappearing from view, but a tail emerged instead. It waved a tiny bit as the alien, perhaps, rummaged around for something.
“Don’t be getting no weapons!” Zefram yelled. “I will defend what’s mine!”
The alien reemerged, carrying two things in its fluffy hands. One was a small handheld device with a lit up display. The other was a kind of cage but, instead of metal bars, there were lights. Within the cage there was an animal that appeared to be a bit like a bat. The alien set the handheld down and brought the cage close to its own face, near the cut. It touched something under the cage and the lights went out, thereby freeing the bat. But the bat did not fly away. Instead, it alit onto the alien’s face and glowed a tiny bit as its feet made contact with the larger alien’s face. There was a small smell, almost like barbecue, or roasting meat, for just a second. The bat then obediently hopped back into its cage and the larger alien touched under the cage again. This apparently reactivated the light bars and the bat was, again, confined. A look at the alien’s face showed the purpose of the activity – the cut on its face, and its accompanying bit of tomato juice-like blood, were both gone.
The larger alien then picked up the handheld. Zefram and Lily just stared, unsure of its intentions. It hit a few switches with its fluffy hands and the device emitted a few chirps and whines. The alien then made a sweeping motion with its hand. “What does that mean?” Lily asked. “Is it waving? Are you waving at us?”
Zefram tried to make the Vulcan salute. He remembered that from when Solkar had first come to Bozeman, but he could never get his fingers to fully cooperate. He realized he still had the shotgun in his hands and took the shells out and pocketed them, and then placed the weapon on the ground. “See? I’m not armed anymore. I’m sorry. I just didn’t want to be, you know, you can never be too careful.”
The alien looked at them a bit and adjusted something on the handheld, and then spoke, its voice projected through the device and, evidently, translated by it. “I am M’Roan. I apologize for having crashed here. I can pay you compensation. Do you take standard credits?”
“Huh?” Lily asked. “What are standard credits?”
“May I exit my ship?”
“Sure,” Zefram said, “bring your, uh, pet with you, okay?”
“Ah, the Derellian bat,” said M’Roan, “it makes an enzyme that’s very useful for treating and preventing infections.”
“An idea,” Zefram said, “can it, uh, can it cure bigger things?”
“No, bigger diseases,” Zefram said, “My wife is ill.”
“I do not know,” M’Roan said, “Perhaps we will try.”
“That would be more than enough payment,” said Zef. He turned to Lily. “Would you allow that thing to try to kick out your lung cancer?”
“Um, okay, I guess,” she said.
He went over and helped M’Roan out of the wreck. The alien was as furry as he had seemed to be from a distance. He brought the cage over. “Where is the trouble?”
“Here,” Lily said, pointing to her own chest. The exertion made her cough. “I, I need to sit down.”
They were all still outside, and it was getting a little dark. “Come into our home,” Zef said, “I’m Zefram Cochrane. My wife’s name is Lily.”
“Vulcans have been here for a while. We, my species, we are called Caitians,” M’Roan explained as they walked. He noticed that Zefram was helping Lily along. She was suddenly very tired, it seemed. “Have you been ill very long?”
“Long enough,” Lily said. “I’d be all right if I wasn’t so damned tired all the time.”
They got into the modest house. Post-World War III Alpha Centauri Colony homes weren’t exactly palatial. They went into the kitchen. “What is the purpose of this room?” asked M’Roan.
“We prepare and eat food here,” Lily said.
“There is an aroma of meat. And some vegetables, perhaps from a few days ago,” M’Roan said, “and there is a water source as well.” He set the cage on the table.
“Can we try it now?” Zef asked.
“Yes,” said M’Roan, “Lily, come closer and I will assist you.” He clicked something on the handheld and the translation stopped. He spoke to the bat a bit, a kind of guttural sound, almost like rolling a Spanish R. The bat squealed a bit. It was difficult to tell whether it was commands or conversation or even negotiations. M’Roan clicked on the handheld again and the translation returned. “The bat is ready.”
Lily sat there as the cage was brought nearby. M’Roan reached underneath the cage and deactivated the light bars again. The bat hopped out and onto her chest. Its feet glowed as it danced a bit on her body, a ticklish sensation. But the glow was a different color than it had been when it was treating M’Roan. The bat then hopped back into its cage and the bars were reactivated.
“Feel any different?” asked Zef.
“No,” she said, disappointed. “Maybe it takes longer.” She coughed again.
“If you have a physician, he or she could tell, yes?” asked the Caitian.
“Yeah, but there aren’t a lotta doctors around here. We’re kilometers away from the closest town. This is what we get for retiring in the middle o’ nowhere,” Zefram said.
“If it has not worked, I am sorry. But I would still wish to repay you in some fashion.”
“Why did you come here? I mean, right here?” Lily asked before she started coughing again.
“We had heard that there was a First Contact with your species, maybe a half a century ago. I learned that it was nearby. It was – I do have the right person, yes?”
“What do you know about me?” asked Zef.
“Only that you made the first warp flight from a nearby system’s third planet,” stated M’Roan. “I admit I was curious.”
“Well, curiosity killed the cat,” Lily said. She smiled a little but then another wave of coughing started up.
“Let’s get you to bed,” Zef said, “Uh, make yourself at home, I guess,” he said to M’Roan.
The alien continued to sit at their kitchen table, tail turning and twitching, and it was tough to tell whether M’Roan had full control over it.
Zef helped Lily to bed. “Too much excitement for one day,” he said to her.
“So that guy is a fan?”
“I guess. I’ll get a swelled head if I don’t watch it. G’night, Princess.”
“G’night, Old Man.” They kissed and he turned out the light.
He went back to the kitchen. “How long did it take you to get here?”
M’Roan thought for a moment; he may have been silently performing a calculation. “It has taken me a few months by your reckoning. I stopped at Vulcan for a while, for provisions, and they told me of you. I admit I was just wandering a bit, without a plan or an agenda. When I learned that there was a species that had only recently attained Warp Drive, I had to come take a look. And you are building another ship, a much faster one, yes?”
“Yeah, there’s a guy named Henry Archer. He’s looking to build an engine capable of Warp Five. I dunno; I figure I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“My people have had Warp Drive for a few centuries. I do not know what I would say to the inventor. How far have you traveled?”
“Only within the Sol system and this system, and not too far,” Zef admitted. “And now,” he vaguely gestured in the direction of the bedroom, “well, I can’t go gallivanting around or anything.”
The translator took a moment, possibly with the word gallivanting. “Not everyone likes to travel.”
“True,” said Zef, “but at least now, I guess we kinda can. It’s funny. A little over a half a century ago, we thought we were alone in the universe. Or, at least, we didn’t have any proof otherwise. Now we know about you, and the Vulcans and the bat, too.”
“Well, the bat is only a little sentient,” M’Roan said, “but she does listen to commands and all. She is very useful to have on a long flight, when one is soloing, and so there is no physician.”
“And what about the people of, uh, is it called Derellia? What are they like? Do they even exist at all?” Zef asked.
M’Roan was about to answer him when they heard a loud gasp.
Zef got to the bedroom as quickly as he could. “Lily! What’s going on?” He flipped on the light switch.
She was laying there, very weak. “Gotta go, Old Man,” she whispered, “it’s time.”
“No!” He looked at the Caitian, who was standing in the doorway. “Your bat did this! Why didn’t you tell me it could do this?!”
“No,” Lily said softly, “don’t, don’t blame it. Don’t blame the bat or the cat.”
He knelt down at her bedside. “Tell me what to do, Princess.”
“Go see the stars, Old Man, and I’ll be waiting in some nebula, or something.”
“Gotta. Remember, second nebula on your right.” She gasped again and was gone.
It took several minutes for Zef to collect himself. “What did the bat do?”
“It was as we attempted. It is no killer. And neither am I. I did not come here in order to cause you pain or terminate a life. I came out of interest and maybe fascination. But it was not due to malevolence. Please, I hope you can find it in your heart to at least consider believing me.”
“She said I should go to see the stars. Aw, Man!” Zefram Cochrane crumpled onto the bed and cried for a while.
The Caitian tentatively came over. Quietly, the alien put a furry hand on the man’s shoulder. “I was curious and now I have seen far too deeply into your life. I am so sorry. But this is, in a way, how friends can be made, yes?”
That statement made Zef look up. “Do you still wanna pay me for crashing into my yard?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Then I got an idea.”
It took them a while – over a month when all was said and done – but they eventually got the little Caitian ship repaired. It was a matter of pounding on and straightening out the hatch, among other things, and working on the guidance system. There was even some help from Solkar, once he learned what needed to be done. Henry Archer came over too, one time, the day after he had brought his son, Jonathan, to meet Cochrane at the Warp Five Complex.
M’Roan, like a cat, mainly ate meat, but he had a fondness for ice cream that made Zefram smile just a little bit. They had become, despite the inauspicious beginning, friends.
Finally the ship was ready. “We can go now,” M’Roan said, “let us take off soon. I miss my world. Are you certain you wish to do this, Friend Zefram?”
“I’m positive. I’m tired and old. I may as well die in space. Will you, will you do me right, shoot me off, you know, at that second nebula on the right?”
“Absolutely. And who knows what surprises are out there, waiting for you?” The Caitian got into the ship and Zefram handed him the little cage. The bat danced and hopped in excitement. “She is as taken with the stars as I am, I believe.”
“Let’s go,” Zefram Cochrane said as he got in and closed the repaired hatch, and the newly christened Jersey Lily took off for the second nebula on the right and parts unknown.
The High Cost of Dissidence by jespah
In the Mirror, one casual slip of the tongue spells disaster for Lili’s counterpart and her family. Takes place in June of 2118.
“Maman! Papa!” A little nine-year-old girl leaped off the transport to her waiting parents and little brother.
Peter O’Day greeted his daughter, Charlotte Lilienne, but did not return her hug. He straightened up. “We need to get out of this public place.”
His wife, Marie Helêne, nodded. “Come along, Charlotte, Declan. We’re going to walk back to the house.”
They strolled together from the transport station. Every time Charlotte got excited or loud or affectionate, one parent or another reeled her back in. Even Declan – a mature seven-year-old – seemed to be avoiding her exuberance. Charlotte finally asked, “Daddy, where’s the car?”
“It was sold,” Pete said under his breath.
“Don’t ask so many questions,” Marie Helêne cautioned.
“Oh, well. I like to walk. I can run fast, too, see?”
Charlotte was about to dart ahead of them when Marie Helêne took her arm. “Keep quiet. Don’t you remember what we talked about a few weeks ago, when I came and got you and we went to a little fair and our picture was taken? You got your face painted.”
Charlotte thought for a second. “You said that I am not to make any public dis-disturbances. You said the fair might be the last fun we’d have for a while. And you said I would change schools once I came home for this break. I’m sorry, Maman.”
“Right,” Marie Helêne said. The four of them were quiet for another hour – the remainder of the walk.
Once they had gotten inside their little house, Pete turned to his children. “We can talk now.”
“Good! Good!” yelled Charlotte happily.
“Not so loud,” complained Marie Helêne.
Charlotte looked around. “Where’s Daddy’s big chair?”
“It was sold,” said Pete.
“The flash cooker?”
And so on and so forth, through any number of their more prominent or expensive possessions. Charlotte was young, but she was far from stupid and she was paying attention. “Why?” she finally asked.
The two adults looked at each other. Marie Helêne sighed. “Your father is, he is under suspicion. The Emperor’s government has him under what’s called surveillance.”
“I dared to say that things under the great Emperor Philip the Fourth were less than perfect,” Pete admitted. “It was right before Maman took you to that fair, Charlotte. We wanted you to have a good memory before, well, before things got bad. That careless statement was very pricey.” Charlotte looked puzzled so he explained, “I lost my job driving a transport.”
“You will, I don’t know how we’ll afford things,” Marie Helêne said, “You will be transferred to the cheapest school we can find. We also had our A ration cards taken away. We all have D ration cards now.”
“I can stay home with you, Papa,” Charlotte said.
“No,” he said, “you have to go to school, and you have to finish. Even the cheap school.”
“You remember that big test you took?” asked her mother.
“Yes! I did really good!”
“I know,” Marie Helêne said, “you could be some sort of an artist with your scores. But, uh, only if you complete your schooling.”
“What if I don’t wanna, Maman?”
“Then they’ll make you into a hooker,” Peter snapped. “Go play with your brother.”
“C’mon, Dec,” Charlotte said. The two children left to go to Declan’s room, which was in the back.
Their parents stared at each other for a while. “I want a better life,” Marie Helêne finally said, “this feels all wrong.”
“I made this bed,” Pete said, “but now we’ve all gotta lie in it.”
“Right,” said his wife, and then she thought of something. “I could take the kids, and got to Andoria, or something.”
“You’d leave me?”
“It’s not like I wanna,” she said, “but if I do, people will go back to buying my pottery, I bet. I could find another man. Maybe he’d accept the kids. We could get out.”
“You honestly think anyone’ll accept them? Or you? You’re in your forties, and the kids aren’t little babies. This mythological guy wouldn’t be able to just lie and pass them off as his own. Either they’d be killed when the food ran out or, or he’d put Charlotte on some street corner somewhere! And don’t tell me some rich guy would choose you, ‘cause you know they won’t. You aren’t young anymore, and you know that’s all that matters.”
“But I’m an artist! We’re elite!”
“No,” Pete said, breaking it to her, “I’ve tarred you. None of that matters anymore. We are all in this big mess together, like it or not.”
“Right,” Marie Helêne said, “I suppose it’s really just a matter of time. We’ll run outta money, and soon. The only difference is if Charlotte has to turn tricks at age eleven instead of ten. Why did you have to say what you did? We had it good!”
He was about to answer her, about it just having slipped out, when there was a knock on the door. They both froze. The knock was then louder, and more insistent. Marie Helêne came over to answer it. “Yes?”
The official at the door was in head to toe black, with various medals pinned to his chest. “Does Peter Thomas O’Day live here?” He had a PADD in his hand and Pete’s photo was pulled up. Marie Helêne stood there in shock as the wall chronometer showed the time – fourteen thirty-one hours – and then slid over to the date – June the twelfth of 2118. The official added, “Never mind. This is obviously he.” The official strode in as if he owned the place. “You are now a prisoner of the Terran Empire. You will pack a small bag for your trip to an internment camp. You,” he turned to Marie Helêne, “You and any other occupants are to vacate the premises immediately. You will each be permitted one small bag. All other possessions are forfeit to the Empire.”
Dumbstruck, Peter groped for his wife. “When will I return?”
“That is not my concern. You have five minutes to pack.” The official turned to leave. “There is no escape. I will be back with a soldier. And you won’t be able to do anything about it, traitor.” He smiled menacingly as he marched out.
“They’ll never let you come back,” Marie Helêne said, “And the kids and me, we’ll never recover. Charlotte will end up turning tricks this afternoon, or I will! And Declan will become a thief, if he’s lucky, and he lives that long.”
“I don’t want the Empire to have us. Not our own selves and not our stuff,” Pete said. “And I don’t want Charlotte and Declan to go through that, or you.”
“But there’s no way out.”
He looked around the tiny house. In the cooking area, ever since the flash cooker had been sold, they’d been barbecuing. The grill was inside in order to keep it from being stolen. “Do we have any lighter fluid left?”
“I think so.” She found it.
“I, I can’t promise it’ll be painless,” Pete said.
“But at least it’s on our own terms,” replied Marie Helêne. “I hate that it’s come to this.”
“Somewhere out there, there really is a better life,” Pete said, “it’s where people can criticize the Emperor without, without losing everything.”
“We’ll never know that life.” They kissed. “Kids!” Marie Helêne yelled.
The children returned. Pete looked at them. “This is the end of the line. I’m sorry. I never meant for it to happen this way. But my fool mouth has made this happen. I take sole responsibility for this.”
“What is Daddy doing?” asked Declan.
“Saying good-bye,” explained Marie Helêne. “I know this is awful. But it is, it’s the better choice. The choice of two horrors – to die now, or to be abused and exploited for the rest of your life. And that life will likely be short. Until a death that may very well be just as painful.”
“But at least this way we all go together,” Pete said. He gathered them up in his arms. “I love all of you. This was not my dream for you. But all we have left is to grab our own selves and our things, and not let the Terran Empire take them and use them.” He opened up the refrigeration unit and took out all they had to eat, which was a small, wilted head of cabbage. “It’s a little wet. Maybe it’ll smoke. Smoke inhalation would be better, right?”
Marie Helêne nodded sadly. She tore it into little bits and placed it into the barbecue grill’s kettle. “I love you,” she whispered.
“I love you, Mommy and Daddy,” said Declan, beginning to understand what was going on.
“I love you, Papa et Maman,” Charlotte said, knowing what was happening.
“I love you,” Pete said as he doused all of them with lighter fluid and sadly struck a match.
“Nothing was salvageable?” asked the official.
“Nothing,” replied a soldier as he sifted through the rubble in vain.
“Stupid political prisoner,” snorted the official as he turned to leave. “Still, the execution has been accomplished without the Terran Empire having to waste phaser fire. Come! We have eight more prisoners to round up today! We can’t keep the Emperor waiting.”
The soldier kicked a little at the smoldering rubble before going off to capture another unlucky dissident.
Titan: June 12, 2118. Four members of a family were killed today when a kitchen fire went out of control. The dead are Peter O'Day, his wife, Marie Helêne Ducasse O'Day, and their two children, Declan, aged 7 and Charlotte Lilienne, aged 9.
In 2127, Lili O’Day gets a chance to cook for the head of the Mars Culinary Institute.
“This is important.”
“I mean it, Lili, cherie. And I wish you had worn something other than jeans.”
“You told me that, at least, like, fourteen times. And the jeans are fine; I am just gonna get dirty.”
“You’ve been counting?”
“I started to after a while. It’ll be fine. Stop, just, just stop.”
The older woman backed off. Her husband put a hand on her shoulder. “Lilienne, c’est assez.” Lilienne, it’s enough. The three of them stood in a small room just off the cafeteria at Lili’s high school.
“Not you, too, Granddad,” Lili O’Day said, looking at her grandfather.
Richard Ducasse bit down on what he was really going to say, and instead opened with, “We just want this to go well. I saw you kept the lobsters alive just fine.”
“The fishmonger taught me,” Lili explained. “I didn’t need a tank, ‘cause I only got them yesterday at the New France Market. You keep them in the fridge, near the back, and they just sort of go to sleep in the cold.” And terrify anyone reaching for chilled orange juice if they weren’t expecting a curious antenna moving a little. Lili chuckled a little, recalling her grandmother’s surprised yelp.
“And it seems as if you have everything with you,” he commented, nodding at a huge crate she was holding with both hands.
“Don’t forget how important this is,” Lilienne again reminded her.
“Fifteen,” Lili replied, rolling her eyes, just like the teenager she was.
“Charlotte Lilienne O’Day!” came a voice over the intercom.
“I guess I’m on,” Lili replied, stepping forward.
“Bonne chance,” her grandparents both said. Good luck.
Lili carried her burden behind the cafeteria into the school’s large industrial kitchen where there was a Vulcan woman sitting by herself in front of a small table. “I am Miss Aviri,” she stated. “And you are Miss O’Day?”
“You understand that if you can create something impressive for me, I will seriously consider you for the Mars Culinary Institute. I do not come to Titan often. And I will tell you right now that you have the worst grades of anyone who has competed today.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Lili successfully avoided reddening, but gulped just the same.
“You also have the beginnings of a criminal record for, let me see,” she consulted a PADD, “something called joyriding.”
“I returned the car and the charges were dropped.”
“I see. And not wearing a toque, how interesting. The cap you are wearing, is that a favorite team?”
Lili was dying to put down her stuff and take off her Titan Bluebirds baseball cap, but then she remembered – don’t touch anywhere near your hair. “They’re the local team. But they’re perpetual cellar dwellers, uh, ma’am.”
“I see. And what are you making today? You may place your items on the counter.”
“Thank you. I am making lobster en croute.”
“You do realize I am a Vulcan, Miss O’Day?”
“I do. And I know that most Vulcans are vegetarians.”
“Vegans, then.” Even more restrictive. Lili blinked and swallowed a little, but fought through it. “But I did some checking. And I’ve seen, ma’am, I have seen various press images of you, and that included the, the banquet that was held in your honor when you first became the dean of the MCI. And, and I saw, there were pictures of prime rib. It was served to you. And I also was able to find candid shots of later in that evening, and I saw, well, it was two slices of prime rib, but the later shots only showed one slice. So I came to the conclusion that you eat meat. At least you do, some of the time.”
An eyebrow was raised. “That was quite an impressive bit of detective work. You may begin cooking now.”
Lili began chopping a shallot as quickly as she could. “Miss O’Day?”
“Uh, yes, ma’am?”
“Explain to me what you are doing, as you do it.”
“Oh, uh, of course, ma’am. First, I am going to do some basic prep work. This is what a sous-chef would normally accomplish in a professional kitchen. First I am chopping a shallot and setting it aside. Next, I’m making,” she began chopping celery as she spoke, “a white mirepoix.”
“And what is a white mirepoix?”
“It’s roughly chopped onion and celery, ma’am.” Lili paid attention to her task and was quiet for a while. There was a stove and a saucepan. She turned on the flame and sliced some butter into a measuring cup and checked the level carefully, then tipped the contents into the pan. “Uh, next, I’m making a roux. A roux is a mix of flour and butter. This one is one hundred and fifteen grams of butter combined with an equal amount of flour.”
“Why do you make a roux, Miss O’Day?”
“It’s used as a thickener, ma’am. Now, while it’s thickening,” Lili sighed, “I’m going to kill a lobster.”
Lili looked around the kitchen. Aha! There was the freezer unit. She opened it up and took out two trays of ice. Putting the stopper into a sink, she dumped the ice into it and placed a lobster inside the ice bath. “I am, uh,” she thought a little of how to put what she was about to say, “I’m doing this because, uh, because I have to kill this lobster but I want her to at least be asleep while I do that.”
“How do you know the lobster is female?”
“The swimmerets under the tail are soft, Miss Aviri.” Lili took the lobster out of the ice bath, looked down at it and whispered, “I’m sorry.” She plunged a French knife into its abdomen. “I, uh, I am now going to quarter the lobster.” As she did so, she would notice every now and then as Aviri took notes. “Now, I’m going to check the roux and see if it’s thick enough.” She placed a wooden spoon into it and stirred. “Okay, it seems to be thick enough. I’ll run the oven at 218. I am putting the lobster and the mirepoix into the oven to brown. While it’s heating up, I’ll gather together the remainder of my ingredients and get them ready.”
“And what are your other ingredients?”
“I have fish stock and a German Riesling; I’m going to add that and the shallots to the lobster mixture once I take it out and put it on the stovetop. I’m going to flame a bit of this Martell Cognac. It’s a French brandy.”
“And the Riesling, Miss O’Day?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“The Riesling, what sort of wine is it?”
“It’s a white wine, ma’am. Now,” Lili looked at her ingredients, picturing their placements and the order in order to remember everything. “What I also have here, once I strain everything, is saffron, tomato purée, heavy cream and lobster base. They get added next. Here’s where it gets tricky as it’s a bit of a judgment call.”
“And why is that?” The Vulcan eyebrow was raised again slightly.
“Well, this part is regular cooking rather than baking and so it can be approximated, Miss Aviri. Um, once I’ve done that, I’ll thicken everything with the roux.”
“How will you serve this dish?”
“Ah, yes, my other two ingredients! I have puff pastry dough and I have egg wash. I will put the bisque into the serving dishes, top them with the dough and then brush the dough with the egg wash. The last step is to put the completed servings back into the oven and bake at the same temperature as before, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.”
“What type of wine would you serve this with?”
“The Riesling, actually, ma’am. I’m, well, I’m only eighteen. I’m technically not legally permitted to drink alcohol. So, uh, that’s an educated guess.” As Lili spoke, she took the ingredients out of the oven and started cooking them on the stove top as she had said she would.
“Have you tasted this dish that you are making?”
“I have, ma’am.”
“Yet it has alcohol in it,” stated the Vulcan.
“Point of fact, ma’am, but alcohol burns off at about 78 degrees, and I’m heating it up to 218 in the oven,” Lili explained as a bit of the alcohol in the pan flamed a little and she jumped back slightly. “So it’s perfectly legal for me to eat this dish. The alcohol is in it for flavor but it doesn’t add a kick.”
The Vulcan took more notes as Lili prepared six serving dishes and placed them into the oven.
“Why six servings?” inquired Aviri.
“I wasn’t absolutely certain whether you’d have any judges with you. Since you don’t, ma’am, my grandparents are here with me and when we’re finished, if there are two dishes left, I’d like to be able to give them each a serving.” She took tumblers out of her crate and rinsed them off, drying them with a towel.
As the food cooked, Aviri looked at the pale teenager in front of her. “Your file says you were raised by your grandparents.”
“Yes. My parents have been dead for nine years.”
“When did you learn to cook?”
“Maybe two years ago, at least I think it was 2125.”
“Does flame scare you, Miss O’Day?”
Lili thought about that for a moment. “I, I don’t know what’s in my file. Maybe you already know this. But I’ll assume you don’t. So, um, in 2118, my parents died in a fire at our house. So yeah, for a while, all fire scared the bejeesus outta me. But I’ve gotten better. I can put out a flame that’s gotten too high. And, and as you saw, I can handle a flambé.” A bell dinged and the food was ready. Lili chose the serving where the puff pastry had expanded into as perfect a dome as she could make. She eschewed the school’s oven mitts and used a dish towel instead, placing the serving dish onto the small table in front of Aviri, and then adding a soup spoon on a folded napkin. She grabbed a tumbler, adding ice from the freezing unit and water from a canteen she had brought with her. The drink was put down next to the place setting.
As the Vulcan tasted the dish, Lili stood nearby, turning the dish towel over and over in her hands. Finally, the alien looked up. “The roux is burned a little. But you were nervous, and you were multitasking, so that is understandable. The shallots were cooked well. The mirepoix could have been chopped more finely. Generally, a more rustic-style dish would not normally include such an expensive type of brandy. However,” Aviri added, “such nontraditional fusions are becoming more popular these days. And then there is the matter of the lobster.”
“Yes, Miss Aviri?”
“You are the last candidate I am seeing today, and are the only potential student I have seen here on Titan who investigated whether I would eat meat. The description of your research, along with what I have seen today, shows me that you pay attention to details. Further, your treatment of the creature was reverent. You made an effort to assure that its slaughter was as rapid and pain-free as possible.”
“I didn’t see any reason for it to suffer, ma’am.”
“Agreed. Now, I want you to understand something. Admission means that you cannot go joyriding anymore. You will need to study hard and your time will be filled. We do not just cook at the MCI, Miss O’Day. You will also learn where all of your food comes from. This means slaughtering animals that are far larger and more sentient than a lobster. It means gardening and some limited agriculture, but it also means hunting. Do you object to hunting?”
“Only if the animal suffers.” Lili continued twisting the dish towel.
“You will also be required to at least sample every type of cuisine that humans consume. That means Australian witchetty grubs and it means South American guinea pigs. Your people and mine have of course had first contact, and you have had contact with the Caitian people. There are going to be alien dishes which will disgust and appall you. This program is intended to prepare students such as yourself for those kinds of eventualities. Do you have any religious objections to this type of sampling?”
“I don’t keep kosher or halal, ma’am.”
“Do you have any food allergies or sensitivities or any other reasons why allowances might need to be made?”
“None that I know of.”
“Do you also understand that not everyone gets a plum assignment? You may find you have a degree but are preparing bar fare, or are working as a sous-chef, or,” she paused for a moment, as the idea seemed to be distasteful to her, “managing a fast food establishment. Is that all right?”
“Ma’am,” Lili said, “you already know I’ve been in trouble a bit. If I don’t get into your school, I bet I’ve got a fine life ahead of me washing dishes. This kind of an education could, you know, kinda flip my life back to the better side of things. So, uh, managing a fast food joint doesn’t sound so bad.”
The Vulcan sat there, silently thinking about that. “You will receive a message within the hour. You may clean up.”
“Thank you for the opportunity, Miss Aviri.” Lili cleaned up quietly as the Vulcan gathered her things and departed. Once the alien was gone, she tasted her dish. “Yeah, the damned roux is a little singed.” She flipped open a communicator and called her grandparents.
While the three of them were sitting in her school’s cafeteria, eating a somewhat cooled-down lobster en croute, she received a message on her PADD.
The Mars Culinary Institute wishes to extend this formal notification of acceptance to the autumn, 2127 class, to Miss Charlotte Lilienne O’Day. You may indicate your decision concerning our offer of admission by return electronic signature.
Sergeant Jay Hayes arrives on Titania with his MACO unit, on April 27, 2133.
The smell of barbecue filled the air, tangy with vinegar. It wafted on a gentle breeze as the small MACO unit disembarked from a military transport.
Uranus hung low in the sky, a blue sphere with small rings that threatening to touch the ground, it was so close. Sergeant Jay Hayes stepped out and was reminded of a painting of Atlas he had once seen. If Atlas could hold up the Earth, he reasoned, maybe he could somehow hold up Uranus. It certainly looked that way.
Major Ian Landry stood in front of his men. “This deployment is for two years. This is a new MACO presence, and not all of the buildings for the base have been finished yet. NCOs will bunk with enlisted men until their barracks are completed.”
Jay glanced around at the enlisted men for a moment. Landry continued, “Weekend and day passes will be awarded based on merit. You will get to know this area. The people are friendly, but they believe in states’ rights here. So you may see some evidence of disagreements with the United Earth Government. I urge you to keep an open mind in that area as we are the guests of these people. And make sure not to call it the Civil War – for them, it’s the War of Northern Aggression. Any questions?” There were none. “Dismissed!”
Hayes found his way to the barracks and began methodically setting up his bunk. He didn’t have much beyond his standard kit. He didn’t even have framed photographs, just a few images on his PADD that would offer an impromptu slide show whenever the device was in sleep mode.
He was nearly finished getting everything set up when it did just that. The fellow in the bunk next to him noticed, “Hey, is that a pic of your girl?”
“Uh, no,” Jay replied, “That’s my sister, Laura.”
“Oh. Name’s Mercer. Wanna see a pic of my home town?”
No, thought Jay, but he’d been taught to be polite. “Hayes,” he said, shaking the man’s proffered hand. “Uh, sure.”
Mercer clicked around his own PADD a bit. “Uh, here, this is New Tokyo. It’s on Oberon. Where you from?”
“Ganymede. Look, uh, Mercer, you better get your bunk ready. No more chit chat.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Mercer set about straightening up his own area.
A few minutes later, Landry entered the barracks. “Ten hut!” bellowed Hayes, and they all fell in line.
Landry inspected each bunk carefully, stopping to critique any misplaced items, or lament improperly folded hospital corners. He stopped in front of Mercer’s bunk, and then Hayes’s. “You fellas wanna go on leave?”
Hayes and Mercer stayed quiet. “Well, do ya?”
“Uh, only if we get passes, Major,” Mercer’s statement was thoroughly unnecessary, and Hayes knew that would only annoy Landry.
“Not today, Private,” Landry stated. “Now, polish those boots.”
“You’re the only one here who passed inspection. Give me your PADD.” Hayes complied, and Landry clicked his own PADD next to it in order to transfer data. “You got Cinderella Liberty. Be back before midnight and you can tell the others here what Titania’s like tomorrow.”
“Thank you, sir.”
There were falsely aged buildings, made to look like antebellum antiques, but that was impossible. Still, they were a pretty sight, as Hayes walked from the base into civilization. There were magnolia trees in bloom and, as it had been when they had arrived, the air was thick with the scent of barbecue. It was warm, too, but Jay’s fatigues were adequate and he wasn’t too hot. Not too bad for April.
There were green fields just outside the city limits, not too far from the base. But Jay’s destination was the Bar District of New Natchez. There was an old-style trolley, and he got on it. But it wasn’t really an old trolley at all, as it hovered and moved much more rapidly than expected. There were no tracks, but the ambiance was certainly there.
He helped a woman with a stroller get on, and glared at a young Tellarite until the alien gave up his seat for an old Vulcan man. But Jay didn’t engage anyone otherwise.
He got off and walked into the first bar he saw, the Lookout. He bellied up to the bar and got himself a draft, and then looked around. There was a wall chronometer and it showed the date – April 27, 2133 – and the time – 1837 hours.
There were some people in there, but they were mainly paired up. He did notice one woman by herself – she was dark-skinned, with hair in the tightest, kinkiest curls, and there was a small gap between her two front teeth. She was at the other end of the bar, but didn’t seem to see him. Hayes debated going over there, but it didn’t seem to be a good idea, given his limited time, and the fact that it was his first day. It’s better to get the lay of the land first, he figured.
A girl came over, but she seemed to be too young – he was over 30 – and all he really wanted to do was drink his beer in peace. He waved her off. “Ya’ll don’t know what you’re missin’,” she drawled at him, and he realized that she was a professional. He paid his tab and departed.
It was a weeknight, and the streets were lively, but not with revelers. Instead, these were people commuting home after work. Or maybe they were going on midweek dates. It was a sedate crowd, definitely not what a Saturday night would have probably been like.
He got a meal of barbecue – it was good but messy – at a local joint, and then wandered around some more. Knowing no one, there was nothing really to do, and he had no taste for getting hammered by himself. He clambered up a small, deserted ridge and the view of Uranus was even more spectacular. The bluish planet seemed close enough to grab.
Looking up at it, he was again reminded of the painting he had seen in the Atlanta Art Museum once when he had been on leave. He bent his shoulders and lifted his arms to the sky and, like Atlas, held a world in his arms.
Travis goes on vacation on Risa and dances with a mysterious alien woman. Takes place in February of 2152.
There were girls.
Lots of them.
And while they weren't necessarily all beautiful, they were looking mighty fine to Travis just the same.
He stared, a little wide-eyed, at them. They were blue, or green, or beige or brown or silver. Bald or furry or in between. Tall and short. Fat and thin.
I'm supposed to be rock climbing, he thought to himself. I came to Risa to go rock climbing.
The music started up. A moderate paced number. Not too fast, so no one would get sweaty or winded. Not too slow - after all, he didn't know any of them. It was possible that slow dancing could get him a sock in the jaw or - gawd - an unexpected sudden bride.
"Would any of you ladies care to trip the light fantastic?"
They all stared at him, and he realized that the metaphor was likely rather unclear. "Uh, dance. Do any of you want to dance?"
An interesting-looking woman approached. Instead of hair, she had what looked like flowers growing out of her scalp. She also had little wings on her back. They were likely vestigial, as they didn't seem to be large enough to carry her. He about jumped out of his skin when the flowers changed color, dipped and swirling around her head, like a floral Medusa. "Show me how you dance," she said to him, and then the translator cut out and he heard her language for a second. It was like humming sounds and clicking, a fast staccato sound.
"I beg your pardon?" he asked, taking her hand.
"I said, I've never seen your kind around here before."
"We're new," he replied as he twirled her around and the flowers floated and twisted and went through a series of pastel shades.
"Transport leaving for the rock caves!" announced a native Risan.
"That's me," he said, "I'm sorry, but I've got to go."
"This was nice. The chavecoi," she looked up and he realized that was what the flowers were called, "seem to have been especially delighted. Perhaps I will see you."
He turned to walk to the transport and then thought to himself, Travis, you fool! You can rock climb another day.
He turned back, but she was gone.
And the Livin' is Easy by jespah
Response to a prompt about this seasons (this is summer); a missing scene from Two Days and Two Nights.
My God. It’s been a while.
Who am I kidding? It’s been a long while.
He sat up in the boat, watching small waves lap its sides. He didn’t feel seasick or anything. This was a very different feeling.
Humans had never come here before. And now here he was, sitting in a boat, hoping his Universal Translator would continue working and thinking not so much about the fish he’d be eating and a lot more about the two ladies sitting a few benches ahead of him.
There was something about summertime. And while he knew that Porthos was happily hanging around the hotel room, and Reed and Tucker were out scouting for alien tail, and Hoshi was doing, er, something linguistic, no doubt, and Mayweather was rock climbing, he, Jonathan Archer, was on a boat ride.
The waters were crystal clear and the temperature was balmy. Actually, it was a little hot. And he was thrilled to learn that warmer temperatures meant the same on Risa as they did anywhere else he had ever been – shorter skirts and overall skimpier outfits.
The blonde, well, she was kind of blonde but it was kind of silvery, had interesting silvery scrollwork on her arms and legs. She had almost an Irish-style accent when he could pick up a word or two. Melodious, lilting, whatever the heck she was speaking, he wanted to hear more of that. The brunette was not exactly her pal. He had figured out that they had met while on vacation, and were touring together because, well, it’s a lot more fun to tour together, than alone. The brunette had an intricate web of spots on her neck, and he wondered just where those spots ended.
They laughed and pointed at fish jumping out of the water. He had a book with him for later, and there were reports to go over – there were always reports to go over. But the book was forgotten and the reports seemed far away.
He approached. “Uh, excuse me? Have you ladies been here before? I, uh, I’m new here.”
“Well,” said the blonde, “you are new! Like a newborn species, are ya?”
“A novice,” said the brunette.
“Be gentle with me, please,” he said, doing his best puppy eyes.
“We won’t have a lot of time,” said the brunette, “we’re both leaving tonight.”
“Oh,” Jonathan said, disappointment in his tone.
“Maybe next time,” said the blonde. Maybe.
If You Can't Stand the Heat by jespah
Chef William Slocum and the NX-01’s first Botanist, Naomi Curtis, fight off a Darvellian invasion.
If You Can't Stand the Heat can be found here.
Cobbled Together by jespah
Malcolm bets on pineapple. Takes place on September 21, 2152.
“September eighteenth, 2152. No, September the nineteenth, 2152. Or maybe it’s the twentieth. Or the twenty-first. Bloody hell, I’ll start again.”
Malcolm Reed sat in his own little personal patch of the NX-01’s catwalk. “Stupid neutronic storm,” he said to no one. “It’s messing with my bloody PADD.”
“What?” asked Sophie Creighton, who had her own personal patch nearby.
“Huh?” asked Colleen Romanov, who was next down the line. And so on and so forth as eighty-some-odd crew members, who were cheek by jowl in the catwalk, could hear every snort, every word, every sneeze and every breaking of wind.
“Nothing, nothing,” Reed said, a bit annoyed.
“Wanna join us in a round o’ poker?” asked Tripp Tucker, coming over.
“What are you wagering?” Malcolm asked.
“Desserts from our ration packs.”
Malcolm had been saving his. For what, he did not know. There was little point to it. It was just something to do, a bit of discipline amidst the chaos of hanging around on top of however many degrees of plasma, just to ride out a neutronic storm. He looked over his stash. Cheese Danish. Cherry cobbler. Chocolate pudding. New York style cheesecake. So it had been four days, and it was the twenty-first. “I suppose I’m in,” he said, smile tight. At the very least, perhaps he could dump the Danish and the alleged cheesecake. Being lactose intolerant, they were of as much use to him as wheels on a rowboat.
Hoshi Sato and Tristan Curtis were also playing. They made room, as much as they could, and he sat down with his stash. Curtis dealt the cards. “Okay, deuces are wild, pretty ladies,” he winked at Hoshi, “are also wild and nothing else. Ante up, one pack apiece.”
Malcolm looked over at his cards. Two fours. An eight. A jack. And the last one was a queen. He tossed in the alleged cheesecake.
The others anted up, except for Curtis, who raised to two packs. “Uh, vanilla ice cream and, er,” he read off the pack, “pineapple cobbler.”
Malcolm kept his poker face but had to admit to himself that he almost unnaturally lusted after the pineapple cobbler. He didn’t even like artificial pineapple, but it was something to strive for. “I’ll see your pineapple cobbler,” he said, tossing the Danish in.
“Too rich for my blood,” Tucker said, tossing his cards down.
Other crew members were coming over. “Hey Sophie,” Rob Slater said, “I got extra room near where I’m sleeping.”
“Yeah, in your dreams, Slater.”
Hoshi said, “I’ll see your Danish and raise you, um, broccoli.”
“Broccoli? One doesn’t normally eat that for dessert,” Malcolm said.
“You do now,” Hoshi said, “It’s all I’ve got.”
“I’ll see your broccoli and raise you a creamed corn,” replied Curtis.
“I’ll match your, ugh, creamed corn with cherry cobbler,” Malcolm replied, wincing at the thought of creamed corn.
“All right,” Curtis said, “read ‘em and weep.” He had three threes.
Hoshi just had a pair of tens. Malcolm turned his cards over. “Two fours, too bad,” Curtis said, starting to rake the packs over to his place.
“Uh, no, Tris,” Hoshi said, “Queens are wild, remember? So I think Malcolm’s got three fours.”
“Huh? Yeah, I guess he does. Sorry, Lieutenant.”
“It’s all right.” Malcolm took the pack of pineapple cobbler off the top and gave the remainder of his winnings to Hoshi. “Here, you won’t have to use broccoli next time.”
He walked back to his cramped little area – everything reeked of eighty-some-odd crew members who hadn’t showered in several days – and consumed his treasure in private.
Malcolm is caught in a temporal interphasic rift in 2153.
Written in response to a weekly prompt about making a good impression. Chef and Lili meet in 2153.
“Where to?” asked the cabbie.
“Huh,” said Chef Will Slocum, sitting in the back and trying not to think about the recent Xindi attack.
“Pal? I said, ‘where to?’”
“Oh, uh, yeah, there’s a fusion place in, um, over the bridge, right? In, I think it’s in San Mateo.”
“A restaurant. It’s fusion cuisine. It’s got a kind of fun name, one word. It’s been reviewed; that was in the San Francisco Chronicle before, well, just before the attack.”
“Oh, yeah! I know that place. It’s called Voracious.”
Will sat back, anticipating the meal to come. It was a small bit of luxury, a hoped-for escape, for right before the real work would begin. He was still going over the duty roster in his mind. The NX-01 was taking on fifteen MACOs, plus their commanding officer, a fellow named, what was it? Will had seen the communiqué but he had forgotten the name. No matter. He’d meet the fellow soon enough.
But right now, Will had to make some hard choices. He had a sous-chef, a saucier and a pastry chef, plus he had stewards like Preston Jennings, who had replaced Richard Daniels, a guy who, it had turned out, was a time traveler. Strange, Will thought to himself. Jennings was being moved over to Navigation. As for the others, they were being offloaded. The nascent Xindi war meant that Earth was not exactly a safe place, but the NX-01 would be even worse.
“There’s no room for nonessential personnel,” Captain Jonathan Archer had told him. And so Will had had to let all three of those helpers go, and he was wondering how he would feed so many people. He had wangled one last promise, one last favor, out of the captain. If he could find a person who could do everything that those three helpers had done, he could hire that person. But if not, he’d be forced to do most of the serving and chopping himself, with Jennings in if Navigation could spare him. And that was doubtful. Will sighed. He did not want to be fetching and carrying, if he could help it.
“Ah, here we are,” said the cabbie. Will paid him and walked in.
He was seated in the roof deck area, where there were several tiny tables with cattails in vases on them. It was early April, and the air was chilly to be sitting outside, but he sat out there anyway. There were only a few other diners with him. It seemed that people were still too shell-shocked by the devastating attack on Earth to want to go out to eat. “What do you recommend?” he asked a server.
“The Harvest Salad and the duck burger.”
“I’ll take those, and I’d like the burger cooked rare. And a glass of your house Syrah.”
“Of course, sir.”
He waited and watched the few other diners. People looked somber, and were still at the stage of asking each other where they had been on that fateful day in March of 2153.
The salad arrived first. It was a colorful presentation, with a mix of fruits, vegetables and lettuces, and even some smoked almonds. “We have orange vinaigrette and we have Champagne vinaigrette. There are other choices, but those are recommended for the Harvest Salad. The chef made these both today,” said the server, bringing over two carafes.
“Uh, the orange, please.” She left the carafe with him and he poured a little on, and then mixed it a bit with the salad. There were blueberries, pineapples, red deer tongue lettuce, orange slices, pickled beet slices and red pepper rings, along with the almonds. He found himself practically licking the bowl.
“My compliments to the chef,” he said.
“I’ll tell her, sir,” said the server as she brought over his burger.
“Actually, when I’m done, would it be possible to meet the chef?” he asked, “I, uh, I’m also a chef. I would consider it to be a professional courtesy.”
“I’ll see if she’s free.”
He ate his burger and drank his wine as he watched the sun go down. People departed quickly. It seemed that the attack had made some of them a bit afraid of the dark.
The server returned. “She’s free but you’ll need to go to the kitchen as we’re closing up for the night. She needs to be there in order to get things put away.”
“By all means.” He paid his bill and followed her to the kitchen, which was in the basement.
In the kitchen was a short woman with light-blonde hair, wearing chef’s whites and a New England Red Sox baseball cap. She was a middle-aged whirling dervish, tossing pans into soapy water while she kicked an over door closed and picked up a bag of lettuce to put it into the refrigeration unit. “Excuse me?” he asked.
“Huh? Are you here to help clean up? ‘Cause I could use the help. It gets a little dark and everyone in San Francisco wants to be home and crawl under their bed, it seems.”
“Uh, sure,” he said, picking up a box of blueberries. “Do you have a particular shelf for these?”
“Fourth from the top,” she said, “And then the pineapple goes to the right of it, thanks.” She continued what she was doing for several minutes and then finally looked up. “Huh. I, um, the server mentioned something about a chef coming down here. I just realized; you must be him.”
“I must be.”
“Oh, sorry, I’m just, as you can see. They all scatter. I guess I don’t blame them too much. If you’ve got someone to go running home to, I guess you just go.” She got the last of the food into the refrigeration unit and shut the door. “I’d shake hands but my hands are a mess, and they’re about to get worse,” she indicated the sudsy water, filled with dirty pans, “but I’m Lili O’Day.”
“I’m Will Slocum.”
“Where are you a chef?” Lili asked as she scrubbed.
“On the NX-01.”
“Oh, wow. I’ve always wondered what that was like.”
“Have you ever been in space?”
“Sure I have. I was born on Titan, I went to school at the Mars Culinary Institute, and then my first gig was at the Tethys Tavern. I ended up here on Earth, oh my gosh; I can’t remember. I was younger and less serious then, I’m thinking.”
“We were all less serious. I think the attack changed everyone.”
“Probably,” she said, rinsing a pan and putting it onto an old-fashioned rack. “But there are still responsibilities. We may all want to crawl under our beds or rocks or whatever, but the food still needs to be put away. The dishes still need to be cleaned. The chopping has to be done, all of that.”
“Don’t you have a sous-chef for chopping?” he asked.
“I do, but the reliability is going down quite a bit. I end up doing most of the chopping and prep work these days. It’s exhausting.”
“Tell me about it,” he commiserated.
She stopped what she was doing. “Yanno, I am a lousy hostess. I have a New York style cheesecake in the refrigeration unit. Top shelf. I just made it today. Plates are over there, and forks are in, uh, that drawer. Have some dessert on the house, Will.”
“Will you join me?”
“Uh, yeah, sure. These can just soak.” She cleaned her hands and then led him over to a back area where there was a computer on a desk, and two chairs. “The bills. I hate this part about owning a restaurant.”
“I have to deal with a budget,” he said, “so I understand, but there really aren’t any bills in Starfleet.”
“I imagine not. The little green men just barter, right?”
“Something like that. Uh, have you ever thought about giving this all up?”
“Most days. And more often since the attack. It’s like no one wants to help; they’re all scared. And all of the things I dislike about owning a restaurant – they just loom larger.”
“How would you, um, would you ever consider cooking in space?”
In 2153, Lili is introduced as the Enterprise’s new sous-chef and Jay is introduced as the new CO of the MACO contingent.
April sixteenth of 2153. Hoshi Sato looked at her PADD as it skittered into sleep mode. Then the time flew by – eleven hundred fifty-one hours. It was nearly lunchtime. She was on the Bridge. They’d break soon. Good; she was starving.
Captain Archer said, “Today we’re taking on the MACO contingent. I know you all know this. But we’re also taking on a new – let me see if I have this term right – sous-chef.”
“What’s a sous-chef? Is that like what Preston did before the Xindi attack?” asked Travis Mayweather as he piloted the NX-01.
“Kind of,” answered Jonathan Archer. “But she can apparently do more than Preston Jennings ever could. He was really just a steward until we switched him to Navigation. But this new sous-chef,” he emphasized the word a little; “she has restaurant experience. I’ve had her food; it’s very good.”
“Her?” Malcolm Reed asked, looking up from the Tactical station. Perhaps she’d be a blonde.
Jonathan smiled a little. “Yes, her. We’ll have lunch in the Observation Lounge and Chef is having her do the cooking. You’ll also meet the MACOs’ CO then; his name is, er,” he checked his PADD a moment, “Major Jay Hayes.”
“And this assistant chef’s name?” asked Hoshi.
“Uh,” another check of the PADD, “Lili O’Day.”
It was them, and the doctor, a Denobulan named Phlox, the Science Officer, a Vulcan named T’Pol and Charles Tucker III, the Chief Engineer, along with a tall, muscular fellow with a high forehead and a steely gaze who was clearly the Major.
The Major stood at attention as he was introduced to everyone, stopping for just a moment every time to shake hands but otherwise kept his focus. Once the introductions were done, Malcolm stepped back to talk to Tucker. “My,” he quietly said, “I had no idea he’d be such a, well, such a damned giant.”
“Well, the cap’n wanted muscle. It looks like he got it.”
“Still! We’re supposed to find the Xindi ultimate weapon and destroy it, not wrestle it to the ground.”
“Lieutenant?” it was a soft tenor voice – the Major’s.
“Yes?” Malcolm turned around, perhaps a tad too quickly.
“I’m here – and my men are here – to help you. And if we have to wrestle the Xindi ultimate weapon to the ground in order to do so, then we will.” The Major walked a little bit away and Malcolm swallowed. This was not going well.
They turned to the sound of the doors swishing open. The chef, William Slocum, was followed by a middle-aged woman. She was a little short, with extremely light blonde hair that was straight and held back by a New England Red Sox baseball cap. She wore chef’s whites, as did Slocum. She was wheeling in a small cart.
“Sorry we’re late,” said Will, “we were getting the last of it all together. Captain?”
“Yes,” Jonathan said as the sous-chef began to hurriedly set the table, occasionally clattering flatware together. “This is Lili O’Day. She comes to us from her restaurant, Voracious, which was a fusion place in San Mateo. Lili has her degree from the Mars Culinary Institute and will serve, make most of the desserts and a lot of the sides.”
“Don’t forget the sauces,” Will prompted. “She and I will both make them. Uh, Lili? You can finish that in a moment.”
“Oh! All right.” She wiped her hands on a small dish towel she’d stuck in her back pocket. “Um, today’s meal is a specialty of mine from Voracious. It’s a Harvest Salad. It is completely vegan, and I understand Vulcans are vegans so I figure that should work. The salad is a bed of mixed greens with various colorful fruits, vegetables and nuts on top. Dressings are orange vinaigrette, a Ranch and plain vinaigrette. Obviously the Ranch is dairy but everything else is vegan.”
“Lili also made or assembled everything herself,” Will stated.
“I’d better get the setting and serving done, sir.” She grabbed a teacup to adjust its placement.
“Just a second,” said the captain. “I would like to point out that Lili has been commissioned as an Ensign. And now for the introductions.” The remainder of the staff lined up. “First, on my left, is Doctor Phlox.”
“Ensign,” said the Denobulan, “is that a favored team?”
“Team?” Lili asked as they shook hands.
“On your cap.”
“Oh! Yes! Absolutely! Do you follow baseball at all?” she asked, nervous and speaking quickly.
“I’m afraid I do not. But perhaps we can chat about it someday.” He grinned and it was far too wide, which unnerved her even more, and she dropped the teacup that was still in her left hand.
“Next is Ensign Hoshi Sato; she’s our Communications Officer.”
“I like to cook sometimes,” said Hoshi. “Is that a problem? I don’t want to trespass on your turf.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” said Lili. “Maybe you can teach me something.”
“Next is Commander Charles Tucker.”
“Call me Tripp. Can you make a pecan pie?”
“You bet,” she said. “Do you like sweet potato pie, too? I’m hearing a southern inflection there.”
“I’m from, well, it’s a place that was destroyed by the Xindi weapon,” he said, looking down.
“Oh, yeah, it was so horrible. Being on Earth, everyone’s affected, it seems. Commander, I’ll try to make you a few things to remind you of home, if that’s all right.”
He was too affected to answer her.
“On my right is Ensign Travis Mayweather, our pilot.”
“Is anyone flying the ship?” Lili asked.
“Chris Harris,” he said, “I think he’s missing something good.”
“Well, thanks; that’s kind of you to say so.”
“Next is Major Jay Hayes; he’s the commanding officer for our MACO contingent.”
They shook hands and she was captivated by his eyes, which seemed to be blue, green and grey, all at the same time. He smiled a kind of half-smile. “It’s my first day here, too,” he admitted to her.
“Oh,” she said, “what kind of fruit do you like?”
“I kinda like blueberries,” he said.
“Good,” Lili replied, “there are some in the salad. I’ll make sure to give you a portion with extras.”
“You don’t have to.”
“It’s no trouble.”
“Next up is Commander T’Pol. She is my Science Officer and is the First Officer of the Enterprise.”
“I can make a plomeek broth, but I know that spices are to individual taste. Will you tell me what your preference is? Please, I hope you’ll point out to me when it’s incorrect; otherwise, I won’t learn.”
“Naturally,” was the cool Vulcan reply.
“And finally, this is our Armory Officer, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed.”
“How do you do?” he said, grasping her hand and shaking it. She looked up – they were fairly close in height – and he found himself gazing into her eyes, which were an impossibly light crystal blue that he had never seen before. For a split second he thought of an old girlfriend – Rochelle. She had also had exceptional eyes, but they had been nothing like this. Then he shook himself a little, realized he still had her hand in his and she was saying something to him. “I beg your pardon, Ensign?”
“I was saying, I hope I can make a good plum pudding if you like that, or whatever, uh, you like, Lieutenant.”
“My mother makes a dreadful one,” he admitted. “Actually, I prefer, do you make anything with pineapple?”
“Sure. And the salad has a little in it, too. I’ll make sure you get a portion with some extra.” She was fiddling with the teacup and dropped it again. He helped her get it and they sat down as she and Chef served and the ship made its way to the Delphic Expanse and began its mission to find and destroy the Xindi ultimate weapon.
Before the Fall by jespah
On June 12, 2153, Lili and Will compete in an Iron Chef-style competition.
“Are you sure we don’t have to prep for this?” asked Preston Jennings a little nervously.
“’Course not!” enthused Chef William Slocum.
“But Lili and Brian met, like, four times this week,” said the former steward. Jennings had been replaced by Lili O’Day, and he had gone to Navigation. It was all done as a part of the crew changes necessary for the NX-01 to fight the Xindi war. This had even included bringing on a complement of MACOs.
“Stop fretting. They probably just met a lot because Brian Delacroix is in Security. But you, Preston, you’ve got steward experience! We are going to win this, I can tell.”
“Sir, I was never a real sous-chef like she is. And I haven’t done it in a while.”
“We are not gonna lose. Now, chin up, Jennings. This will be a fine diversion for the crew.” Will checked the time on his PADD – almost eleven hundred hours. And then the PADD’s display slid over to the date – June the twelfth of 2153. “It’s almost show time. Let’s head over to the galley, all right?”
The small galley contained Lili, Brian and another fellow, Chip Masterson, who worked in Communications. Chip was setting up a video link that could be piped into the rest of the ship. “Now, I don’t need to tell you,” Chip said, “that this is just for fun. We’ve got plenty of serious stuff going on, but the captain wanted something light. So be light about it, okay?”
There were huge baskets of foodstuffs. There were all sorts of produce from Shelby Pike, the Botanist on board. Plus the refrigeration unit was packed. Various utensils and small appliances were in view as well. “Brian,” Lili said to the young – perhaps underaged – Security crewman next to her, “We’ll need to share the microwave and the flash cooker with Chef and Preston. So pick your moments, okay?”
“Sure thing,” he replied. They were both short, and he looked around for the step stool, just in case.
There was a communications chime. “Okay,” Chip said, answering it, “We’re just about ready. Masterson out.” He turned to the four other people in the room. “We got a small substitution.”
“Oh?” asked Will.
“Commander Tucker said he couldn’t do it. It’s, uh, I guess it’s too soon. So his replacement is Major Hayes.”
“Major Hayes?” asked Lili. She gulped a little. The man rarely smiled.
“Yeah,” Chip confirmed. “Now, don’t forget to smile. You’re having fun, right?” He checked the time on his PADD. “Okay, three, two, one!” He turned on a camera for the video link. “Hiya NX-01, and welcome to our first-ever cook-off, between Chef William Slocum and challenger sous-chef Lili O’Day. Chef’s assistant for this competition will be former steward Preston Jennings.” Jennings waved a little. “Lili’s helper is Brian Delacroix from Security. Now I’ll turn things over to Hoshi briefly. Hoshi?”
Hoshi was in the cafeteria with a portion of the crew, who were watching on the viewer. “Thanks, Chip. Members of the crew, the judges have been sequestered! They will not be watching. Ah, thanks,” she said when MACO Private Eddie Hamboyan handed her a large jar filled with blue papers and a few yellow ones. “You may remember, you were asked to predict who the winner would be. Votes for Chef Slocum are on blue paper. Votes for Ensign O’Day are on yellow. Looks like most of the votes were for Chef so T’Pol won’t need to break any ties. Here’s how it’ll work. Chef and Lili will make three dishes with the mystery ingredient – an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. And those dishes will be presented to our three judges who will judge them on taste, presentation and originality. The winner gets bragging rights. And then we’ll pick a correct vote at random and that lucky person will get dinner in the Captain’s Mess where, of course, all three winning dishes will be served. Chip?”
“Yes,” Chip said, “while you were on, I spoke with Lili and Will and it seems there’s a little side wager going on as well.”
“Yeah,” Will said, “winner eats in the Captain’s Mess for that same dinner, and the loser serves.” He glanced over at Lili, who shrugged. It was her job to serve, anyway. She had nothing to lose.
“All right,” Chip said, “once the secret ingredient is revealed, the teams will have one hour to cook their three dishes. Is everybody ready?” Confirmations came in from the cafeteria, the Observation Lounge, Engineering, Sick Bay and the Bridge. Except for essential personnel, or the sleeping night shift crew, it seemed as if everyone was watching.
Chip went over to a basket and brought over a covered bowl. “I have with me the secret ingredient.” All eyes were on him as he lifted the cover. “It’s … almonds! Go!”
Lili and Brian scrambled a little out of the gate but then she leaned over to him. “Don’t worry; we got this. We’ll make couscous on the side like we planned. Get the chicken broth and we’ll do that last. Once you’ve got that, get the almonds and, um,” she grabbed a half-liter container, “fill this with ground almonds. Just pound them with a meat tenderizer.”
“Got it,” he said, dashing to grab the requested items.
“What do we do?” Preston asked Will.
Will leisurely told him, “A mushroom risotto. Then we’ll have, let’s see, we’ll have chicken and dessert will be Chinese almond cookies.”
“Appetizer?” asked Jennings.
“Uh, salad. Make sure to take the arugula.”
Both teams worked furiously. Lili found a can of figs. She combined them with goat cheese and almonds and placed them all on small slices of French bread which she heated up a little. That was the appetizer.
Preston ran by, with a plate full of replicated chicken. He plunked it down in front of Will. “What else?”
“Uh, crush some almonds,” Will said, “and I’ll need the Panko bread crumbs.”
Brian whispered to Lili, “Main course?”
“Get me the cod, please,” she said, “and spinach leaves.” She thought for a second. “Oh, and a lemon.”
Chip mainly stayed out of their way, but he did provide occasional commentary. “I gotta tell ya, folks, it smells awesome in here. But I won’t try to interview anyone while they’re working. These people have knives.”
Once the cod was ready – it was crushed almonds over the fish and then the whole thing was wrapped in spinach leaves – Lili said to Brian, “Find me the puff pastry, please. And, um, the honey and, no, wait, not the pastry. Get me the phyllo dough. And, erm, from the spices, I’ll need the cumin.” As he ran off to fulfill her requests, she stared at the counter for a second.
“Penny for your thoughts, O’Day,” Will said.
Annoyance furrowed her brow for a second. “Nothing that should be broadcast,” she muttered. Brian came back and she said to him, “Throw the remaining crushed almonds under the broiler for a minute and no more.”
She laid out the dough and started to brush it with honey. She then sprinkled lemon juice and cumin on what was to be the bottom layer. Brian returned with the now-roasted crushed almonds. She took a few out with her bare hands and then swore under her breath – she’d burned herself slightly. She shook her hand a little, shaking off the sting, and then began adding the almonds.
“Fifteen minutes,” Chip reminded them.
Lili finished up the dessert – it was baklava – and placed it into an oven. Then she cast about. “Damn, I need a green vegetable.” Brian was busy with the couscous so she went to the produce baskets herself and obtained green beans. She sliced them quickly and threw them into boiling water for a minute and then fished them out with a metal spider. She tossed the fish into the oven and then began zesting a lemon.
Nearby, Jennings was having a bit of a meltdown as the arugula flew off the counter. He couldn’t just put it back on, and got a small head of Boston lettuce instead, and then added slivered almonds he had cut himself. And through it all, Will leisurely stirred the risotto and watched the other three of them.
The couscous was done, and Brian and Lili could see that time was running down. “Ready or not,” she murmured to herself, turning off the oven and taking out the fish and the baklava. Brian plated the fish and the couscous, and she added the green beans herself.
“Artichokes!” Will yelled and Preston dashed away at lightning speed, plating them as quickly as possible, his hands a blur.
“Okay, and time!” Chip yelled. He flipped open his communicator. “Captain, we’re ready for judging.”
The three judges filed into the cafeteria, where a long table was set up for them and places had been set. Chip walked in as MACOs carried in trays of food as the four competitors looked on. “Okay,” Chip said, “in order to keep you from knowing who made what, I’m going to explain what everything is. First we have a Boston lettuce salad with slivered almonds.”
The judges began to eat. Captain Archer nodded a bit in approval, and took another bite. Lieutenant Reed took careful notes. Major Hayes did his best to not eat too quickly.
Lili wrung her hands and Brian tapped a leg and Preston bit his nails. The only one who was at all calm was the supremely confident Will Slocum.
“And the other appetizer is figs with goat cheese and almonds,” Chip reported as the plates were placed in front of the judges.
Malcolm made a face. “Oh, God,” Lili whispered to Brian, “I bet he hates goat cheese. Or figs.”
Major Hayes tentatively took a serving of the French bread with figs, goat cheese and almonds and took a bite. He swallowed and said, “I never had figs before. This is good.”
Will just stood there, impassive, without a care in the world.
“Okay, it’s time for the main courses,” Chip said, “First we have cod with, er, crushed almonds and wrapped in spinach leaves. There are two sides – couscous and green beans.”
“It’s a little sweet,” the captain commented. Malcolm tore into his fish with gusto and seemed to really like it.
“The other main dish is chicken with Panko bread crumbs and crushed almonds. There is a side of artichoke hearts.”
This time, the captain was looking dubious. The others ate slowly. Malcolm whispered to the captain, “I believe this is replicated chicken, sir.” The captain looked even more dubious.
“And now for the desserts.” Chip had both of them brought out on the same plates. “There’s an almond baklava with a bit of a surprise. And the other dessert is Chinese almond cookies. Enjoy.”
The desserts were finished quickly, and the judges departed. The MACOs cleared the plates. Chip asked, “Hoshi, what’s happening?”
She quietly said to him. “There are only three yellow papers.”
“So who voted for Lili?”
“Uh,” she checked, “José Torres, Craig Willets and Lili’s roommate, Jenny Crossman.”
“Aw, that’s too bad,” Chip said quietly.
For her part, Lili nervously wrung her hands again and again. There had been a dish towel in her back pocket. She fished it out and began wringing it until Brian took it from her. “Stop, you’ll shred it. Take it easy, okay?”
“Yeah, I should. I just want this to go well. I’ve only been on the ship for a few months. I mean, it’s not like losing will make things too different for me. But I just, you know, I want this to go right. And I want you to look good, too, yanno.”
“It’s all good,” he assured her, “I’ll be guarding the Armory either way, I figure.”
The judges had decided, and they returned to the cafeteria. “We were very impressed,” began the captain. “Let’s talk about the dishes. Major?”
“Uh, the appetizers were good. We gave, uh, we had ten points we could award for each of the three areas. The salad got twenty-four points. Six were for originality, nine were for taste and nine were for presentation. The figs got twenty-one points. We gave out nine points for originality, four for taste and eight for presentation.”
“Oh, well,” Will said, “better luck next time.”
“We’re not done yet,” Preston said.
“Lieutenant?” asked the captain.
“Yes, we enjoyed the main courses. And we did not give out points for the side dishes although we did appreciate them. The cod received seven points for originality, nine for taste and seven for presentation, for a total of twenty-three. The chicken received three points for flavor, six for originality and nine for presentation, for a total of eighteen.”
Brian squeezed Lili’s shoulder. “I think you just pulled ahead.”
“Huh, well, we’ve still got one more, eh?”
“Captain?” Chip asked.
“The dessert decides it,” Jonathan Archer said. “We liked them both. The cookies were given a total of twenty-four points. That breaks down to five for originality, ten for taste and nine for presentation. The baklava was unique,” he said, and it seemed he was being diplomatic. “We gave it a ten for originality, seven for taste and eight for presentation, for a total of twenty-five.”
“Totaling up the numbers,” Chip said, “I see that Chef has sixty-six points. He and Preston made the salad, the chicken and the cookies. And Ensign O’Day has, uh, sixty-nine.”
Lili staggered back a little bit. “Holy crap,” she said.
The captain came over and shook her hand. “What did you put in the baklava? It was almost smoky.”
He walked away, shaking his head.
Malcolm came over. “I’d have given the figs more, but the cheese, it’s, eh ….”
“It was a risk,” she said, shaking his hand. “Sometimes they don’t work out.”
The Major came over last. “I really liked the dessert. The others were kinda half and half about it. I think it put you over the top.” He smiled at her very, very slightly when no one else was looking.
“Well, thanks, Major,” she said. She turned to Will. “So, when are ya serving me and the drawing winner?”
Will just stared into space. “What?”
Because there were so few voters for Lili, all three of them were served in the Captain’s Mess, and Lili sat with her new friends and smiled at Will as he humbly served figs, cod and a slightly smoky baklava.
The Continuing Adventures of Porthos - The Future Cat by jespah
When temporo-spatial anomalies hit the NX-01, Porthos takes an involuntary trip to the Enterprise-D. Can Spot help get him back in time and space?
You can find The Continuing Adventures of Porthos - The Future Cat here.
This one was written as a response to a prompt about arts and crafts.
Lili O’Day sat in the galley of the NX-01, looking over her PADD messages and reminders. The date was displayed in the lower right corner of the screen – October ninth of 2153. The time was almost fourteen hundred hours. Behind her, the sanitizer chugged away as it cleaned that day’s lunch dishes.
She looked up when she saw Chef William Slocum walk in. “It says here that it’s Captain Archer’s birthday,” she said, “the big four-one.”
“Yes. We’ll bake a chocolate cake and then you’ll decorate it, all right?”
“Chef, why chocolate?”
“I’ve made him a chocolate cake for two years now. I haven’t gotten any complaints.” The man was, perhaps, a tad defensive.
“Well, haven’t you noticed, sir, that when we have toast, who takes which type of jam? Major Hayes takes the blueberry every time – without fault. Lieutenant Reed takes the orange marmalade. Ensign Sato varies – she doesn’t seem to have a set preference. Commander Tucker takes butter and doesn’t bother with jam. Commander T’Pol takes her toast dry.”
“And the captain?”
“He and Ensign Mayweather always take the strawberry. Although when I made cashew butter that one time, Travis spread it on everything. I swear I could’ve put it on his PADD, and he would’ve eaten that.”
Slocum chuckled a little. “So you want to make strawberry shortcake instead?”
“Uh huh,” she said, “and if he doesn’t like it, we can go back to chocolate next year.”
“All right,” Will said. He sighed. There was a very real possibility that there wouldn’t be a next year. The Xindi weren’t letting up as the search for their ultimate weapon continued.
Lili hummed a little as she decorated the cake. She had already covered it with a white vegan frosting made of powdered sugar, silken tofu and tiny chopped bits of vanilla beans. She projected the outline of an image of a shuttle on top, using her PADD. She traced the image with red icing and then added accents with blue icing, including the NX-01 insignia. She then did her best to draw the captain standing next to the shuttlepod. She finished by spelling out Happy Birthday Jonathan!
Chef looked over her work. “Captain’s not gonna like that,” he said.
“Yeah, I think I made his nose too big.”
“Not that, O’Day. It’s that you shouldn’t take liberties. You should have written Happy Birthday Captain Archer.”
“Too late to fix it now,” Slocum said, “he’s been in a lousy mood since that Loque’eque virus. And you’re serving tonight.”
Dinner in the Captain’s Mess was for Captain Archer, Commander T’Pol, Lieutenant Reed and Major Hayes. Lili had cleared away the dishes from the entrée and they were talking as she stood in the back and fiddled with the coffee maker and then a tea kettle. “We need the space to do drills and workouts,” Hayes was saying, “And there isn’t enough room with Security there as well.”
“Captain, if I may,” Reed said, “Security also requires full readiness. The Xindi could come aboard at any moment.”
“If Tactical lets them in, then yeah,” Hayes shot back to him.
T’Pol said, “Gentlemen, aren’t there rest days that are required? Why not simply use the training facilities when the other department is on a rest day?”
“That’s a good idea,” Archer said, looking at her with a sense of some relief. Refereeing between Reed and Hayes was not something he enjoyed doing.
“There are still only two rest days per week,” Reed said, “so that could be four. What do we do during the other three?”
“Work it out amongst yourselves,” Archer said, tightlipped and a little annoyed.
“Mornings and afternoons,” Lili murmured to herself as she turned off a whistling tea kettle.
“I beg your pardon?” asked Malcolm, who was sitting nearest to where she was standing.
“Oh, oops, did I say that out loud? Sorry,” she said, putting a trivet down in front of him and then a small pot of hot water, and then did the same for Commander T’Pol.
“What did you say, Ensign?” asked the captain.
“Nothing, sir,” Lili said, reddening. She brought over a selection of teas for Malcolm and T’Pol. He selected a rose hip blend she had been trying to perfect for a good month, and T’Pol took the chamomile. Lili took the wooden box away and then began to pour coffee for the two other men.
“No, uh, I want to hear it,” said the captain. “Maybe you have an idea that could work.”
“I, um,” she said, wringing her hands a little, “I just thought, you know, one group could drill in the mornings, after breakfast. And then the other group could go after lunch. After, um, waiting an hour, right?”
“That’s an old wives’ tale and it’s only supposed to be for swimming,” Hayes said, giving her the tiniest of half-smiles. He never seemed to fully smile at anyone.
“It could be a reasonable option,” T’Pol said, “and then the remaining time could be spent on weapons training.”
Malcolm seized the opportunity. “We’ll take the mornings.”
“Hayes?” asked the captain.
“Uh, sure. We’ll take the afternoons.”
They were about to adjourn and the captain was getting up. Lili said, “Wait a minute, sir!”
“I took the liberty, um, I noticed that, well,” she turned back to where the cake was and presented it. There were no candles; it was just the cake. “I hope you don’t mind.”
The captain read the greeting to himself. “Uh, no, it’s fine,” he said, tight smile on his face. He wasn’t smiling much, either.
“I made a vegan strawberry shortcake. Even the frosting and icings are vegan,” Lili said, “so that Commander T’Pol could have some, if she wished.”
“That was thoughtful of you, Ensign,” said the Vulcan.
“You made strawberry shortcake? Chef usually makes a chocolate cake,” said the captain.
“I know, sir. But I, uh, I noticed you seem to like strawberries.” Lili got a knife and almost dropped it.
“That was very thoughtful of you,” said Captain Archer, cutting the cake. Malcolm Reed also nodded at her slightly – she had noticed, he never seemed to eat dairy. But he had some of the cake that day, as did the Major.
Outside the Captain’s Mess, Captain Archer said to Lili, “I want to thank you, Ensign.”
“I can make strawberry shortcake for your birthday next year, too.”
“If there really will be a next year,” he said.
“I think there will be. I’ve got faith in you guys.”
“But it’s, uh, it’s not just the cake. It’s what you wrote with the icing, too.”
“Chef told me, sir. It was against protocols to use your first name. I’m sorry, sir.”
“Don’t be,” he said, “I think you’re the first person since the Xindi attack to see me, even for a second, as being more than just a uniform, as being an actual person. Next, uh, next year, when you make another strawberry shortcake, write the same thing on it, okay?”
“Oh, and another thing.”
“It looks like you forgot your sidearm today,” he pointed out.
“Oh! I’ve done that before. It makes me a little unbalanced.”
“Well, you shouldn’t go around unarmed. We really might be boarded at some point.”
“I’ll be okay if I’m in the kitchen.”
“Oh?” he asked.
“I’m kinda handy with a meat cleaver.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Ensign."
On October 12, 2153, Captain Jonathan Archer and Doctor Sam Beckett reciprocally leap in time, in this Quantum Leap crossover.
Theorizing can be found here.
Striking out has a more permanent effect on a crewman than would normally be expected. Takes place on October 28, 2153.
Find A Perfect Note here.
On November 22, 2153, Lili reacts to meeting She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time.
Huh huh huh.
It took a few minutes before Lili O’Day realized that that was the sound of her own breathing. She was panting.
Silently, a wall display showed the date – November twenty-second of 2153. And then it showed the time – fourteen hundred hours.
Then it was several minutes more before she understood that the pounding in her chest was her heart racing. Mutely, she turned off the burners on the stove. The air was already pleasantly redolent of the turkeys cooking in the ovens for the crew’s Thanksgiving celebration later that day.
Then the first coherent thought popped into her head – the kitchen is dirty.
It was true. There was a godawful mess. First, there was the cast iron skillet, still in her hands. Then there was the drying mess on the wall, near the NX-01’s refrigeration unit. Then there was the stuff on the floor.
The door had swished closed, and she had barely registered the sound and the change in the ambient lighting.
Clean … clean … clean up.
It was her second coherent thought. The skillet was still in her hands. She put it into the sink, turning on the water, high. She emptied most of the squeeze bottle of soap onto the pan, and began to furiously scrub it with her bare fingers, as her skin wrinkled from the water and her nails grew rough as she scrubbed at the metal.
She rinsed and rinsed, but it didn’t seem to be clean. If she had been in a joking mood, she would have quoted – out, out, damned spot! But her mood was far from jovial.
The intercom came on, and it made her jump. It was Lieutenant Reed’s voice. “All hands,” he said, “the ship has been cleared of the Insectoid boarding parties. Return to your stations, or to Sick Bay, as appropriate.”
A second voice spoke. “This is the captain. So far, there are no reports of serious casualties. I’m proud of the fine job that everyone did in repelling this incursion. Thank you.”
She glanced over at the mess on the floor for a second, and then went back to her scrubbing.
The door slid open, and it was Major Hayes with Chef Will Slocum. “You got the particle rifle?” Hayes asked her.
She just stood there, shaking a bit, and continued scrubbing. Will came over. “What the hell are you doing, O’Day?”
“Bugs … bugs in the kitchen,” she stammered out.
He and the Major looked at the mess on the wall, and the mess on the floor, and put two and two together.
The Major bent down. The rifle was a part of the mess on the floor. He ran a scanner over it, and then a Universal Translator, before picking it up. “My guess is,” he said, “that this Insectoid came in and you whacked her in the face with something heavy. The head hit here,” he pointed to the stained wall, “and then the body fell here, am I right?”
Lili just continued cleaning.
Will looked at her. “You used that pan, right?”
She nodded her head vigorously and then continued to try to clean it.
“Stop!” Will commanded. He turned off the water. “Major, you don’t need the pan, right?”
“No, of course not. But we’ll study the rifle. We were looking for one just like this; so this is really helpful. You did a good job, Ensign,” he said to Lili. “That over there,” he pointed to a patch on the body’s uni, which had what appeared to be writing on it, “that’s, I’m just about certain, the Insectoid’s name. Do you wanna know it?”
Lili hesitated for a second. “Yeah, I think I do.”
“The name is She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time,” said Major Hayes, reading it off the Universal Translator’s display.
“My God. So this was someone’s mother,” Lili said softly.
The Major looked at her. “This is helpful.” He showed the rifle, jogging it slightly. “Thanks again.” He opened the door. “You can be put in for a commendation, yanno.” He left.
Will looked at Lili. “I should take that outta your salary.”
“It was a perfectly good, well-seasoned pan, O’Day.”
Together, they threw it into the disposer.
On November 22, 2153, Lili and Frank Todd talk about She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time and what it means for Lili to be a killer.
“You should go to Sick Bay.”
“What?” Lili O’Day was still shaking a bit, still trying to process it all.
“Lili,” Chef Will Slocum commanded, “I will make sure that the disposer destroys the pan. But you’ve got to go. Now,” Behind him, a wall chronometer showed the date – November the 22nd of 2153. “Don’t make me make that an order.”
“But I’ve gotta help you make Thanksgiving dinner. And it, uh, it got interrupted.”
“Will you please stop worrying about cooking, and about cleaning and all of that, in light of, of … it?!”
Lili had not been looking at the mess on the wall or the floor but forced herself to, briefly. “That wasn’t an it. That was a she. The Major said so. He said the uni patch translated to She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time.”
“And that’s all the more reason for you to go to Sick Bay. Go, Lili, now. I will get Preston Jennings in here, or I’ll pressgang someone like Craig Willets from Engineering. Just get out of here. Jennings and I will clean up.”
“He’s in Navigation now, sir, in case you’ve forgotten. Cleaning up is my job, sir.”
“Not when you’re cleaning up a body, Ensign. Go to Sick Bay before I have you for insubordination or something or other.” Will was almost as old as Lili, looking every inch of middle age and weary. He pleaded with her. “Please. This has to get gone; it’s not just a Health Code violation. It’s damned depressing. Don’t make me ask you again. Just go. Let Phlox treat you. Go, Lili.”
“Okay,” she whispered. She made her way to Sick Bay slowly, still trying to figure everything out, but at least the shaking had more or less stopped. The pair of Xindi Insectoids had boarded the ship and had then come into the Enterprise’s large galley. She’d been slicing sweet potatoes, and throwing them into a cast iron skillet. When she’d heard on the intercom that they had been boarded, she had grabbed the skillet. And, remembering what it was like to hit a line drive, she’d swung, and connected.
The Sick Bay doors swished open. “Doctor?” Phlox, a Denobulan, was attending to a patient, a large fellow on a biobed, one of the MACOs, who Lili recognized. “Private Todd?”
“Yeah, hi. Doc, when can I get back in the action?” Frank Todd sported a sling on his left arm.
“Private, you broke your arm in two places. Healing is far from instantaneous, despite many recent medical advancements. Relax; you’ll be staying here overnight. Ensign O’Day, what can I do for you?”
“I, uh, I, um, there was an Insectoid in the kitchen.”
“Were you injured?” asked Phlox.
“Uh, no. Um, kind of.”
“Doc, I don’t want to tell you your business, but I think I know what’s going on with Ensign O’Day.”
“Oh, Private? And what is that?” Phlox retreated a little, to check on his experimental animals.
“We’ve only seen them working in pairs. We saw only one near the Armory. Haber got it. Ensign, you look a lot like he did. Did you get the other one?”
Lili just nodded. The shaking was back.
“That’s the first time you ever got one, right? Am I right?”
“Feels weird, right? It’s like a combination of guilt and all, because you have, you know, you got a moral core so this screws with that, big time. But it’s also relief, right? As in, you know, better him than you.”
“Her, then,” Frank allowed. “Still, you got that, too, right?”
“A little, I think. But it feels wrong.”
“What?” Lili asked.
“Just, c’mere. I don’t bite, I swear.” Lili approached, so Frank continued. “Give me your hand a sec.”
“Are you hitting on me?”
“Christ, no. I like the fellas. This is for other reasons.”
“Um, okay.” She complied.
He squeezed her hand. “I know you look at your hands, right now, and you’re thinking to yourself that they’re the hands of a killer. Right, am I right?”
“Yeah,” she whispered, it was a sound barely on the edge of hearing.
“I thought that, too, the first time I had to do that. But the truth is, these are, mine, my hands, they aren’t just the hands of someone who’s done that, a killer. They’re also the hands of a guy who plays poker. And they belong to a guy who’s from Europa. And they belong to a guy who has a tattoo on his bicep. They belong to a joker, a MACO, a lover, a friend, and a son. And yours, they belong to, to a nice lady, to a chef’s assistant; I don’t know what you’re called?”
“A sous-chef; the title is sous-chef.”
“A sous-chef, then. And those hands, your hands, they belong to an Ensign, and to, I dunno, Jenny Crossman’s roommate, and to somebody who lives on C deck, and a thousand and a million other things. Not just one, okay?”
“How do you process it?” she asked. “How do you make your peace with it, Frank?”
“I do it this way,” he admitted, “And I also, you know, I think about all of the things I’m grateful for. It’s Thanksgiving, right? Am I right?”
The doors swished open and it was Frank’s commanding officer, Major Jay Hayes. “How are you feeling, Private? Ensign, are you all right?”
“We’re both gonna be okay,” Lili told him.
“Yeah,” Frank confirmed. “And we were just talking about how grateful we both are to be alive. It’s the right day for that, eh?”
“Yeah,” Jay confirmed, “it’s the right day for that.”
On November 29, 2153, Rona Moran reports on the goings on aboard the NX-01
“Gossip, gossip, darlings!” The voice on the viewer was insistently cheerful and had a British accent of some posh area. “This is Rona Moran, your Dish with the Dish, here to give you all the latest gossip!”
“I don’t see why you watch that drivel,” Stuart Reed complained to his wife as she knitted, at their home in Kota Baru. He had the remote in his hand and was threatening to change it.
“Oh, honestly!” Mary Reed exclaimed, her needles clicking away. “Sometimes this is the only way I can ever get any news of Malcolm. So hush!”
“All right,” he grumbled, arms folded.
“Now,” continued the woman on the viewer, who was wearing a multicolored caftan and also had on a matching snood, “I’ve got news of the NX-01. You see, it was on November the twenty-second, just a scant week ago, when the Enterprise was boarded by Insectoids!”
“Now wait just a moment,” now Stuart was interested, “how does she know that? We haven’t heard anything from Malcolm about this.”
“We don’t hear from him much at all. Now, just pay attention, love.”
“I know, darlings, I know,” Rona Moran continued, “it’s rather distressing indeed. And the official channels,” she made exaggerated air quotes as she spoke, “are all in denial mode. But you know I have my sources! Well, they were lucky, I understand, and no one was badly hurt. There was even an Insectoid killed in the kitchen. With a fry pan, I understand! Now,” she chuckled, “darlings, it’s a serious business and all, the death of a sentient being – even an enemy combatant – but I can’t help but to be slightly amused by the idea of such an incident. It makes one wonder,” she lowered her voice to a stage whisper, “whether those, those phase rifles they’ve all got, you know them, right, darlings? They got them at the start of this war, in April, was it? Well, this is quite an achievement for 2153, I say. It makes one wonder whether those phase rifles shouldn’t all just be replaced with, with fry pans and crockery and bits and bobs of cutlery. Wouldn’t that be a sight, eh?”
“She’s an idiot,” Stuart complained.
“Oh hush, dear.”
Rona continued, “My other news is that it is my understanding that a pair of upper-level officers is an item. One is … and this information will no doubt be of interest to Ambassador Soval … one is reportedly one of the non-humans on board the vessel. Now, there are but two non-humans on board. One is their physician, who is of a race called the Denobulans. The other is a Vulcan. I leave the remainder to your all-too vivid imaginations, darlings.” She peered into the camera directly. “My sincere hope is that the entirety of that crew returns home alive and in one piece. And if they seek a spot of comfort in each other’s arms, well, then who are we to judge? So be kind as you speculate, all right? I know some of my competition isn’t always. But you, my audience, darlings, I know you’re all better than that. So keep that in mind, will you? Ciao, darlings. Rona Moran signing off now.”
Mary and Stuart looked at each other. “Malcolm’s dating a Vulcan?” Stuart asked.
Mary thought for a moment. “Huh. Perhaps,” She went back to her knitting for the remainder of the evening as they were both left to speculate on whether that was at all possible, or desirable.
Written in response to a prompt about crying. Takes place on December 24th of 2153.
Lili O’Day picked up the French knife and started chopping. Onion after onion after onion. Over and over again.
It was Christmas Eve, 2153.
Chef Slocum was planning to make, among other things, a French onion soup. So she was on chopping detail. But that’s what sous-chefs do.
Onion after onion after onion.
Her eyes teared, her arms ached.
Onion after onion after onion.
Chef walked in. He was a burly man, a little younger than her, from Idaho. He looked over what she was doing. “A little finer, please. What did your family used to make at Christmas?” he asked.
“Uh, what?” She had been working there for a good eight months. They had rarely spoken of anything beyond food. She hadn’t shared details of her personal life with him. Then again, she hadn’t shared those details with anyone on the NX-01.
“Christmas dinner! Surely you must have had some sort of a tradition!” he thundered. “Why, in Boise, we would make a pork loin for my father. And my mother – her family was Italian – so there was always a big lasagna. What about you? Any Irish traditions on, uh, on Callisto, was it?”
“Titan, sir, I’m from Titan.”
“You can call me Will, you know,” he said.
“Uh, yes, Che-, uh, Will.” She kept chopping.
“My mother’s parents were French, sir, uh, Will. We used to have coquilles St. Jacques grilled or baked, they were served in their shells with a cream sauce.”
“Leg of lamb,” she said, “uh, I need to concentrate so that I don’t accidentally slice off a finger.”
“Of course,” he said, and went over to the larder to take out the salt. He turned around and she was sobbing. “What’s the matter?!” He ran back to her.
“It’s these damned onions,” she said.
“That’s not just onions,” he took the French knife from her. “I know that onions have sulfur in them. And you get that in your eye and it makes your eyes tear. But this is more than that. What’s the matter?” She just looked at him. “I thought we were friends,” he said.
“You’re my boss.”
“I know,” Will said, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t – uh, you don’t think you can confide in me, right?”
“It’s nothing personal, sir. It’s that I don’t confide this to, to anyone.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” he said, and walked back to the larder.
Lili just stood there, and cried some more. “I didn’t mean to insult you,” she said, “it’s not that, please, please, don’t think that.” This time, she walked over to him. “Sir, uh, Will, I, uh, we didn’t have traditions for Christmas because my, because my parents died in a house fire when I was nine years old. If I hadn’t been visiting my mother’s parents, I would have died, too. It wasn’t even Christmas when it happened but it, uh, it doesn’t matter. Holidays just bring it out sometimes.”
He looked at her. “Have you told anyone else here about that?”
“No. I barely talk to anyone but you and Jennifer, my roommate.”
“Thank you for feeling you could tell me,” he said, “Can you, uh, do you need a break?”
“No, sir.” She said, “Let’s get everyone fed.”
He gave the French knife back to her and cursed himself for his insensitivity.
On January 2, 2154, Lili gives Jay a little something for his cough.
Lili O’Day was walking down the hall of the NX-01, getting to the galley in order to start supper. It was January second of 2154.
She’d gone to her quarters in order to get a new hair tie, as the old one had finally snapped. She was walking along, thinking about what to make, when she heard coughing.
She approached the fellow who was coughing and patted him on the back a couple of times. Startled, he turned to her. “What?!” he snarled.
“Oh, sorry if I scared ya, Major.”
“Uh, it’s okay. I’m just always on high alert.”
“Good thing you didn’t have a phase pistol on you,” she said.
“Yeah.” He coughed several more times.
“Are you okay? Maybe you should go to Sick Bay.”
“I’m fine,” he said, jaw tight.
“No, no, I don’t think you are,” she said. She reached up and felt his high forehead, her fingers cool on his brow. “Hmm, I don’t think you have a fever.”
“I said, I’m fine.”
“Listen,” she said, “I’m just concerned. There’s no need to get snippy.”
“Uh, I’m sorry,” he said. He was about to depart when he added, “Can I tell you something in confidence?”
He looked around furtively, as if he were about to divulge state secrets. “I, uh, there was something in one of those Xindi spheres. Everybody else is fine; I guess it got into my EV suit. Phlox missed it and everything.”
“Maybe you should go to Sick Bay,” she suggested again.
“I can’t,” he said, “I’ve gotta remain on high alert at all times. No one can, no one can see that I’m, you know, weak in any way.”
“Major, everybody gets sick.”
“I know. But, uh, Ensign, this is really minor. And I know a lotta people are counting on me. So, uh, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell anybody. I know about Rumor Central around here.”
“I won’t tell a soul,” she said, “but are you sure you’re okay? You’ll be a lot worse off it this turns into some kind of flu, yanno.”
“It’s, it’s not bad.” He coughed several more times, glancing around again.
“Here’s what I can do,” she said, “I can make you something that’ll help you feel better, okay?”
“If you single me out, everybody’ll know.”
“I’ll serve it to everyone. So don’t worry.”
“Oh, uh, thanks,” he said, turning to leave.
“There’s just one thing.”
“Oh?” That set off another bout of coughing.
“I’ll be expecting payment,” she said.
“Yeah. In payment, I want you to smile every now and then, okay? It doesn’t have to be too often. Just sometimes.”
“I can pay that. And you won’t, you won’t tell anybody?”
“I don’t tell anyone when I see people on C deck go in and out of each other’s cabins at all hours, even in the middle of the night, when it’s obvious that they’re not sleeping in their own beds. I see all of that and I don’t say a word. So don’t sweat it. I can keep a secret.”
“Thanks, uh,” he smiled a little. “I guess here’s an advance.” He left.
Lili served the chow line. There was a huge tureen in front of her, with a smaller one off to the side. Then there were various filled, steaming chafing dishes. The first person in the line was MACO Eddie Hamboyan.
“What we have for dinner tonight,” she said, “is chicken soup with vegetables, in a lightly salted broth. Now, I know everyone takes it differently – that’s why there are all of these hot dishes. There’s noodles and rice and potatoes. I’ve also made matzoh balls.”
“Do they sink or float?” asked Engineering Crewman Josh Rosen, who was second in line.
“No, that’s great. It’s how my Dad makes ‘em.”
“Then I planned it that way,” Lili said, smiling. “There are also spices on the side – oregano and basil, or curry and cumin, or ginger and garlic. I can even drop an egg in if you like. The smaller tureen is vegan vegetable soup, also in a lightly salted broth, for those who don’t eat meat. Oh, and the chicken soup is completely non-dairy, kosher and halal. Plus there’s leftover sourdough rounds and I experimented a bit and tried to make crackers. Bon appetit!”
“Uh, just noodles,” Eddie said as she served him.
The line moved. Lieutenant Reed took about a half a helping of rice and one of her homemade crackers. He tasted it and took another. “Did you make everything, Ensign?”
“I did,” she said, “it’s Chef’s day off, yanno.”
“Perhaps we can persuade Chef Slocum to take a few more holidays.”
“Well, thank you,” she said as he went on his way.
Major Hayes came over, after almost everyone else. “Jewish penicillin, huh?” He almost coughed, and covered it by clearing his throat.
“Matzoh ball?” she asked.
“Sure. I’ll take the full effect.” He sliced off a hunk of the sourdough bread and was about to go find a seat when he turned to face her. “Thank you,” he said quietly and, when no one else was looking, he smiled at her.
On January 8 of 2154, Jay Hayes is forced to discipline Corporal Daniel Chang, and busts him to Private.
He combed his hair again, a second time, and then a third, until it was just so.
He ignored communications hails. They did not matter, in light of his main mission for the day – to meet Sandra Sloane. He had been ordered to guard T’Pol, and he had, but he really didn’t want to go down to a Xindi Insectoid hatchery afterwards. “It’s disgusting down there,” he said to his own reflection. “I’m fine with guarding T’Pol, and I’ll guard that Vulcan bitch again once I’m on duty but until then? Nah, I got what to do. That is, I got who to do.”
He smiled to himself, and glanced at the reflection of the Corporal’s patch on his uni, with its two chevron-like stripes. And then just above it was the patch with his name – D. Chang.
He walked out into the hallway. Ah, sweet freedom.
He was almost at her quarters and could practically taste the sex when he heard his name being called.
“I said, Chang!” barked Major Hayes.
“Yes, sir!” Dan Chang answered.
“You were AWOL. We went to the hatchery and we needed you to help guard the captain.”
“But everything worked out, right? I guarded T’Pol like you asked.”
“Right, and you did. But you should know better than this,” said Jay Hayes, “you know you have gotta follow my orders.”
“And I did,” Dan said.
“Not all of them. You’ll report to the galley for KP duty tomorrow at oh seven hundred hours. In fact, no. You’ll report to the galley now.”
“But Major!” Sandra was close. So close.
“You heard me. You’re lucky I’m not throwing you in the Brig for insubordination.”
There was a sound of footsteps. Light, delicate treads – women.
It was a little blonde, middle-aged, in a white uni, and her roommate, a taller, striking redhead. They were Chef’s assistant, Lili O’Day, and the Redheaded Bombshell – Jennifer Crossman. They saw the exchange. “Uh, Jennifer,” said Lili, “maybe we’ll go this way instead.”
When they had turned, Chang stared at them. “I’d like to get me a piece of that.” Sandra forgotten, he couldn’t help but to stare at Jennifer.
“Pay attention,” Jay said sharply. He didn’t look at the women. He didn’t look at any of them. It wasn’t through a lack of interest. It was more that he was just hurting. It had all ended, what, a decade and a half ago? Two decades, was it? But it had been a bad breakup, between him and Susan Cheshire. And although she had not been a great beauty, and she had not even been Jay Hayes’s great love, he felt awful just the same, and still could not look at another woman without feeling a pang, or without generating guilt in his heart.
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” Chang said, “You never look. I mean, I would give you the blonde. Nobody wants her anyway – she’s just old and ugly. But you aren’t interested in the Bombshell, either.” Jay swallowed a little and Dan moved in for the kill. “If this was a hundred and fifty years ago, I wouldn’t be allowed to ask. And you wouldn’t be allowed to tell. Right?”
Jay just glared and before he knew it, his hand was on Chang’s uni patch, the one with the Corporal’s chevron stripes. He pulled down on it, hard, and the air was filled with the sound of ripping.
The two women came back; perhaps they were alarmed by the noise. “You saw it!” Chang exclaimed, “He assaulted me!”
“We just heard the sound of fabric tearing,” Lili said, “you should go to see the Quartermaster. You know Sekar Khan, right?”
“Lili, we should go,” Jenny said.
Jay nodded very, very slightly at the women before they departed. Once they were gone, he said to Dan, “You go to Khan and get a new uni. And tell him no Corporal’s patch – you get the uni for a Private. Do you understand?” Chang was silent, so Hayes added, “And you’re docked two pay grades. One is for being AWOL and the other is for harassment.”
“Yeah, harassment. You bother those girls or any of the other women on this ship and, well, there aren’t a lot of ways I can go with this. But the Brig would be one step.”
Chang stared at him, weighing his options. He was about to open his mouth when a nearby door opened – the door to Sandra’s quarters. She took one look at him and the torn uniform sleeve and sniffed haughtily and then closed her door again.
“To the galley, Chang,” Hayes said, angry and more than a little weary. There was a communications hail. “On my way, Captain.”
Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation by jespah
On January 14, 2154, Dave Constantine and Frank Todd talk about the other version of the NX-01.
“I, uh, I didn’t know you were,” Stellar Cartography Crewman Dave Constantine muttered. It was January 14, 2154, and the crew of the NX-01 had just had a most curious experience.
“Yeah,” replied Frank Todd, a MACO Private. “I knew about Jennings, and I kinda guessed about Donnelly. And Jones, yeah, I had always kinda figured. And she and Jennings, whenever you’d see ‘em together, I guess I always figured, you know, that they weren’t really feelin’ it.” The two men walked down a corridor of the starship as it sped to a rendezvous in the Delphic Expanse.
“And me?” Dave asked.
“I kinda had you in the maybe column. Keep in mind; I had Haber in there, too.”
“Yeah, Haber.” Frank shrugged. “With, um, with him, it was sorta detached curiosity, see. A bit of idle speculation on my part.”
“And with me?” Dave persisted.
Frank didn’t answer. “It’s funny. Haddon and Masterson, I can kinda see. And Crossman and MacKenzie – the Golden Couple – oh yeah, pretty dang obvious there.”
“Lattimer and Money, I can picture that, yeah,” Dave conceded. “And Ryan and Porter, and Carter and Tiburón – I can wrap my head around ‘em.”
“Yeah, but Torres and O’Day, or Khan and Sato? Eh, not so much,” Frank said. “How often do you imagine a ship ever meets itself, run by our, uh, descendants? You learn who you were with, who you chose.”
“Or who chose you.”
“Right, that. And even the odd guys out, the ones who ended up with Ikaaran brides. Saw their descendants, too, didja meet any?” Dave shook his head, so Frank continued. “Notched noses, and dark hair, dark eyes. At least that was the case with the ones I saw. Nice-looking folks. Captain ended up that way, yanno.”
“I know.” They were in front of Frank’s quarters and stopped walking and talking. “Frank?”
“When I was in the maybe column, was it, was it just detached curiosity?”
“No,” Frank responded after a while. “It wasn’t detached curiosity whenever I had wondered, before today, whether you were gay.”
“Then what was it?”
There were people walking down the corridor – Andy Miller and Shelby Pike, another pair who had married when another version of the ship had been kicked back in time, in what was practically another reality. But Frank Todd didn’t care about them seeing. He leaned forward and kissed Dave Constantine. After a few minutes, they both opened their eyes and smiled at each other, the tall, tough MACO and the shorter, bookish stellar cartographer. “It wasn’t detached curiosity, and it wasn’t idle speculation,” Frank stated unequivocally.
“Oh? Then what was it?”
“It was hope.”
Conversations with Heroes by jespah
On March 19th, 2154, filmmaker Carlos Castillo interviews members of the NX-01 crew about their impressions and memories of the Xindi War.
Conversations with Heroes can be found here.
The Way to a Man's Heart by jespah
A June 2154 celebration of diversity leads to an act of kindness.
You can find The Way to a Man's Heart here.
The Puzzle, A Tale Told in Pieces by jespah
In June of 2154, Travis Mayweather is removed from his bed for an odd alien experiment. Can he work together with other species? Are any of the people he's been kidnapped with even real?
The Puzzle can be found here.
More, More, More! by jespah
On July 10, 2154, the NX-01 and the NX-02 meet for a party as the captain is compromised.
More, More, More! can be found here.
Letters from Home by jespah
Written in response to a prompt of the same name. Takes place in 2154. This one was written as a riff on the mail call scene in the film Stalag 17.
From: The E-Z Finance Company,
Tallahassee, Florida, Earth
December 8, 2154
To: Commander Charles Tucker III,
C/o NX-01 USS Enterprise
Dear Commander Tucker:
It is with regret that I must inform you that, due to your nonpayment on the 2151 Chevrolet Milky Way, license #: NCC-1701, we have been forced to repossess your vehicle.
The E-Z Finance Company is not unreasonable, and we recognize you are currently serving with Starfleet. However, all earlier attempts at our contact with you have been rebuffed or ignored, and we have been forced to take action.
Due to the deployment of the Xindi weapon, please note that our offices have temporarily moved, and we are currently operating out of Seattle. Kindly inform us of the location of the vehicle so that we may impound it.
Very Truly Yours,
Senior Collections Specialist, E-Z Finance Company
Dear Mr. Grayson:
I would be happy to give you the location of the vehicle except that it was destroyed, along with my home, by the same Xindi weapon that vaporized your offices. I have been unable to attend to your correspondence as I was a little busy fighting the Xindi war.
Commander Charles Tucker III
Dear Mr. Tucker:
That is immaterial. You still need to pay the loan.
Very Truly Yours,
Senior Collections Specialist, E-Z Finance Company
The vehicle was vaporized!
Dear Mr. Tucker:
Our contract with you clearly states that acts of God do not absolve the client – that’s you – of any and all payback obligations. Will that be credit or a cashier’s check?
Very Truly Yours,
Senior Collections Specialist, E-Z Finance Company
This wasn’t an act of God, unless you’re a member of that cult that’s deifying the Xindi reptilian, Commander Dolim.
Alien attacks are considered to be acts of God. I refer you to paragraph 6, subparagraph (b) of your agreement (page 9).
Very Truly Yours,
Senior Collections Specialist, E-Z Finance Company
My ATM card was also vaporized in the Xindi attack. If you can find it, help yourself to all the cash you need. Or, better yet, contact Commander Dolim and ask him. I believe you can write to him in hell, in c/o Beelzebub, AKA The Devil. Or just go visit him yourself. If you don’t know the way, I’ll be happy to point it out to you.
Kiss my you-know-what,
Charles Tucker III
The Adventures of Porthos by jespah
When the Azezans come calling, only one member of the crew realizes there’s something amiss.
The Adventures of Porthos can be found here.
Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses by jespah
On January eighteenth of 2155, a power vacuum is filled in the Mirror Universe.
Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions by jespah
Written in response to the January 2012 monthly Pathways challenge.
On the other side of a proverbial pond, everyone travels a particular road.
Takes place on February 13th of 2155, with a flashback to August 20 - 27th of 2109.
Paving Stones may be found here.
The Further Adventures of Porthos - The Stilton Fulfillment by jespah
On March 12th of 2155, Porthos overdoes it, with a little help from a Caitian girl.
The Further Adventures of Porthos - The Stilton Fulfillment can be found here.
In 2155, Treve and his siblings are introduced to Polloria.
“Father, there is an extra place setting. I shall go and tell the helpers that they made an error,” Eighteen-year-old Treve began to walk from the dining chamber to the food preparation area.
His father, Chawev, intercepted him. “We are hosting a very special guest tonight.”
“Oh. So there will be five. The last time that five ate together here at home it, it was 2153. It was the night before Mother was taken to the Medical Center, to have Chelben. And Dr. Baden was here, I remember.”
“A good recall for events that happened two years ago,” Chawev praised. “Yimar,” he called, “get Chelben ready. And, and put on a clean tunic.”
“Yes, Father,” replied twelve-year-old Yimar. She then busied herself to help make her younger brother and herself more presentable.
“Is it Dr. Baden, with news of Mother’s condition?” Treve inquired.
“What? Oh, no,” said Chawev, “wait, when your sister comes back into the room, we will play a game, and you will guess who our special guest is.”
Yimar came into the dining chamber with Chelben. She had on a brand-new violet tunic that really accentuated her solid silver arms. He had on a sky blue tunic, which also showed his silver arms. Their bald heads gleamed. “Very good!”Chawev praised. “Now, children, we’re to play a game, and you will guess the identity of our guest.”
“Mama?” asked Chelben, who was just beginning to talk.
“No, it’s not your mother,” Chawev replied.
“Oh.” Yimar’s face fell. “Then it must be Dr. Baden.”
“No, he is not coming,” Chawev said, “but he does know this person.”
“One of his helpers?” Treve asked.
“Yes, one of them.”
“A medical helper with news of Mother?” Yimar guessed.
“A medical helper, but not with news, no.”
“There are, I think, Dr. Baden has four medical helpers, is that correct?” asked Treve.
“It is. Oh, do you smell supper? Our guest had it sent over as a gift. We are having prako tonight,” Chawev mentioned.
“Prako is very expensive,” Treve explained to Yimar. “I have seen it at the market when I have walked past it from the advanced school. It has fourteen legs and is hunted by the Eska in an area that used to be called the Delphic Expanse. It’s far from Lafa II.”
“Yes, yes, but will you not guess?” Chawev fought to steer the topic back to his guest.
Then Treve remembered. “The doctor’s four medical helpers are three men and one woman,” he paused. “It’s the woman, yes?”
“Yes!” Chawev was very pleased. “Now, her name is Polloria. And I want you all to be on your utmost, best behavior tonight.”
Treve walked out, to the back yard of their squat house. There was an altar to the four Calafan deities – Lo, Abic, Fep and Ub. Their four stellar counterparts – for the four suns in the Lafa System had the same names as the deities – were lining up in just the right way.
He looked up at the sky as the smallest, darkest star, Ub, sank in the west. “Tell me,” he whispered aloud to no one, “is our piety meaningless? For I have prayed, ever since Mother was taken ill. She is your High Priestess, in case I need to remind all of you. And she is in a, they call it a coma. I don’t pretend to understand the cause too well. And I don’t understand why we aren’t permitted to see her. But, Goddess Lo,” he pleaded, “I am Treve. You know my name means messenger. And so my message to you is that there is something very wrong.”
“She’s here!” Chawev called out to the back yard, and Treve turned to follow his father back into the house.
Polloria was a short woman, also bald, with silver arms but they were a little faded. She stood next to Chawev, who had hair, and his arms were covered with an intricate silvery scrollwork pattern – both of these were indicators that he was far older than her. “Children,” Chawev commanded, “come and tell Polloria your names, and what they mean.”
“Messenger,” Treve mumbled.
“You’ll be as handsome as your father when you get to his age and the calloo on your arms breaks down to a good scrollwork pattern,” Polloria said. She handed him a small gift, wrapped in fabric.
“Uh, thank you,” Treve accepted it, wondering what to do.
“Open it,” Chawev urged.
“Yes, Father.” He did so. “A stylus, made of olowa wood. It’s, it’s very nice.”
“My name means student of the maps,” Yimar said. “And Chelben’s means faith of the heart.”
“Yes, Cha-Ilben,” Polloria said, using the youngest child’s full name, and not the common contraction. She handed them both gifts.
“Say thank you,” Yimar told Chelben. “Uh, thank you.” She opened hers. “A callidium bracelet. It is nice.” She helped Chelben with his. “A, a stuffed linfep toy.”
“That was very thoughtful,” praised Chawev. “My name, as you know, means defender of the faith.”
“And mine,” Polloria explained, “means delicate serving girl of Lo.”
“Yes,” Treve replied, almost mechanically. They sat down to dinner.
The home helpers were discreet and quiet, coming close to serve or remove a dish or fill a tumbler. But otherwise they – mostly Calafans, although there was one Ikaaran in the group – stayed in the background and said very little.
“That was wonderful,” Chawev praised as the last of the dishes were removed. “And children, it will be like this from now on. Polloria will be here a lot more.”
Chelben got a little fussy, so a home helper scooped him up in order to put him to bed as he clutched the soft linfep toy and sucked his thumb.
The remaining four of them walked to the back. Ub had already set, Fep was very nearly set and Abic was already descending in the sky. “This is the best time of year,” Polloria declared, “Evil Ub is already gone, small Fep is very nearly gone, and secondary Abic is moving away. Only Lo – the best and brightest – did I mention to you that my name means that I am her serving girl? Only Lo will be in the sky soon, before it gets dark.”
“We should pray,” Treve urged.
“Honestly!” Polloria’s tone was slightly annoyed. “So many are still so superstitious. If I were the High Priestess, things would be very different.”
“Oh, would you like to be the High Priestess?” Chawev asked.
“But Mother is the High Priestess,” Yimar pointed out.
“Your mother’s in a coma,” Polloria reminded her. “The Calafan people need a spiritual leader, to go along with your father, the First Minister.”
“We should still pray,” Treve insisted.
Polloria walked back into the house, and Chawev followed her. Treve and Yimar looked back at them. After a few minutes, the adults’ two silhouettes merged briefly. A kiss.
“Was that?” Yimar asked.
Treve just nodded. “These gifts are bribes,” he concluded. Together, as it got dark, they dug a small hole and threw their gifts into it. When asked later, they claimed they’d lost them.
Written for Trek United's Hailing Frequencies Open/Twelve Days of Christmas project in 2010.
On a truly multicultural Enterprise, a holiday is celebrated as a life is remembered.
Takes place on November 30th and December 1st of 2156.
The Light may be found here.
Written in response to a weekly free write of the same name.
In January of 2157, Andrew and Karin have their third date while Azar and Ethan look on.
They sat at a table in the cafeteria.
“Do you want to get in line?” Karin Bernstein asked, a little nervous.
“I guess so,” Andy Miller said, equally jumpy.
They got up and got in line. The food had not yet arrived but people were already standing and waiting, and handing out plates. Azar Hamidi stood in front of them and, in front of him, was Ethan Shapiro.
“What are we having tonight?” Karin asked.
“Didn’t you check?” It was Shelby Pike, who was just behind her. “Beef bourguignon, with some sort of noodles on the side. Too many carbs! I am going to regret this, I can tell.”
“You look fine,” Tripp said, “no worries when it comes to carbs, I’d say.”
“Commander!” Shelby reddened. “You should probably get in line before me.”
“Naah, that’s all right.”
“Doesn’t rank have its privileges?”
“Not when it comes to dinner.”
Chef and his assistant, Lili, brought out the chafing dishes. She began to serve heaping helpings of what was essentially beef stew. “Not too many noodles, please,” said Karin.
“Sure thing,” said Lili, “don’t forget to take bread with it for sopping. I made some sourdough rounds and regular baguettes this morning.”
Karin passed on the bread – again, too many carbs. Andy held a chair for her and they sat down. He started eating as fast as he could.
“Whoa, slow down there, Cowboy!” Ethan said, “You’re not tasting anything. You’re inhaling, Miller.”
“I am? Oh, uh, yeah, I guess I am,” he stole a glance at Karin, “it’s ‘cause I can’t wait for later,” he said to her quietly.
“Me neither,” she said softly, twirling a noodle on her fork.
“Any plans for later?” asked Azar, “I hear there are some interesting star clusters we’ll be passing by. They should be very colorful. And a nebula with some kind of flammable gas. I suppose if they collided, we’d see fireworks.”
“I have every intention of experiencing fireworks,” Andy whispered to Karin. She reddened and pretended to be overly interested in her stew.
“Will you look at that?” said Shelby from another table. She was sitting with Hoshi Sato and Maryam Haroun.
“Look at what?” Hoshi asked.
“Miller and Bernstein,” Shelby said, “my guess is that they’re on their third date.”
“Oh,” Hoshi said knowingly.
“What does the third date mean?” Maryam asked.
“It’s the one where,” Hoshi whispered in her ear.
“Oh!” Maryam said, “I won’t do that until after I am married.”
Andy had wolfed down what remained of his food, and started tapping the table and jiggling his leg.
“Miller!” Ethan said to him, “You need to switch to decaf or something.”
“Yeah, I, uh, I guess I’m overly excitable.”
“Is he always like this?” Azar asked Karin.
”He’s usually pretty patient,” she replied, finishing up.
“Ready to go?” Andy asked anxiously.
She nodded and they got up to start to leave.
“Don’t forget the star clusters!” Azar called after them.
Once they had departed, Azar said to Ethan, “I get the feeling they are not going to look at star clusters.”
“Probably not,” Ethan said quietly, glancing away a bit.
“Does that bother you?” Azar asked.
“You like her,” Azar said.
“Don’t tell anybody.”
“Of course not. And don’t tell anyone that I admire Crewman Haroun. From afar, of course. It would not be proper to go on actual dates until I had, well, I had met her family and all of that,” Azar said.
“That could take a while,” Ethan pointed out.
“It could also take a while for the Karin and Andrew thing to run its course. But I suspect it will, and she will see that you, you might just be the one.”
“So we’re both stuck waiting,” Ethan said.
Richard Daniels’s careless decision by inaction rips through the timeline in both universes. Takes place in January of 2156 and October tenth of 3101.
The story is located here.
Melissa and Norri meet, on May 11, 2157.
The brunette was curvy, with dark brown eyes as big as saucers. She was sitting in a little hotel bar on Ceres, sipping a beer and sitting with her Starfleet training pilot pals. She was not paying attention to them. Nor was she paying attention to a wall chronometer which listed the time – 22:37 hours – and the date – May 11, 2157.
Instead, she was paying attention to a slight redhead with a sprinkling of freckles over her nose. The redhead was alone, not dressed in a terribly up to date style, and seemed bookish. The girl was maybe twenty or so, and seemed to be downing soft drinks, given her apparent sobriety. Every time the brunette pilot – Melissa Madden – looked at her, the redhead looked down and the girl’s face got a tiny bit pinker.
After a few rounds of this, as her pilot pals mostly left or paired up with others, Melissa waited the girl out. Finally, she caught the girl’s eye. Finally! Melissa smiled very slightly and crooked one finger, bending it once. It was a subtle signal, but the girl saw, and put a hand on her own bosom for a second, looking in a little disbelief. “Yeah, you,” Melissa whispered to herself as the last of her fellow pilots left. “C’mere.”
Shakily, the redhead got up, and spilled her drink. She panicked slightly, and offered numerous apologies to the wait staff as they cleaned up the mess and she tried to clean what was probably ginger ale off her sweater. Her face got pinker again as Melissa watched. “C’mon, c’mere,” Melissa whispered again. She smiled a little more widely at the mortified redhead who was being waved off by the wait staff and being told not to help and that all apologies were accepted.
The redhead came over. “I, uh, that was not how I’d planned that.”
“How did you plan it?” asked Melissa, patting a seat beside her.
The redhead stayed standing momentarily. “I was supposed to be a lot smoother. Not so klutzy.”
“That’s okay. Sit down, uh …?”
“Leonora – uh, Norri. Nobody ever calls me Leonora. Unless it’s my mother and I’m in trouble.”
“Got it. I’m Melissa Madden.” Melissa offered her hand and got a slightly sweaty palm in return.
“Egad, sorry, Mellie, uh, Melissa.” Norri withdrew her hand quickly. “I’m not normally this nervous.”
“It’s okay. What brings you to Ceres, Norri?”
“Oh, it’s a graduation trip. I, uh, I just got my BA from Oklahoma State.”
“What was it in?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Your degree, Norri.”
“Oh, uh, yes, English literature. I, um, do you wanna hear a poem?”
“Sure.” Melissa sipped more from her beer, a little bemused by that. “I don’t normally hear poetry while piloting.”
“I, uh, I guess you wouldn’t. Uh, here it is. Here’s the poem.” Norri cleared her throat a little.
“Awed by her splendor
stars near the lovely
moon cover their own
is roundest and lights
earth with her silver”
“Is there more?”
“Uh, no, that’s it. That’s all that Sappho wrote,” Norri explained.
“Thanks. Um, I mean, thank you on behalf of Sappho, I guess. Um, do you know why I recited a Sapphic poem?”
“I think so. I, uh, I know she was a lesbian, Norri. Are you?”
“Yeah. Are you?”
“Oh. Um,” Norri seemed slightly at a loss. “I, uh, God, this is so embarrassing.”
“No, c’mon, it’s okay. Don’t be embarrassed. This is who you are.”
“It’s just, uh, I never did this before.”
“No, I mean, um,” Norri backpedaled, “I mean I have talked to women; I’m not a virgin, uh, all of that.”
“Okay,” Melissa smiled a little into her beer.
“And, damn, I’m not normally this confessional. It’s like I had six beers instead of a half a dozen grapefruit sodas. I’m tripping all over myself; it’s terrible. I’m not making any sense and all I’m doing is making it worse.”
“No, no, no, it’s okay,” Melissa took another swallow and put her beer mug down. “What, uh, you said you’d already talked to women and all. So what is it that you’ve never done before, Norri?”
Shaky again, Norri’s voice got low and it was hard for Melissa to hear her. “I, uh, I never approached a woman and introduced myself and started talking to her before where it, where it meant so, so much. Where it was like, uh, at first sight and all of that.”
“I got a confession to make,” Melissa told her.
“I’ve never done that before, either. But it’s pretty neat, eh?” Melissa took her hand off her beer stein and laid it flat on the bar, palm up. She smiled at Norri.
Norri, her face almost as red as her hair, said nothing as her trembling fingers touched the outstretched palm.
An Announcement by jespah
In May of 2157, Leonora Digiorno returns from her vacation on Ceres and informs her family that she’s met someone special – Melissa Madden.
“Mom! Dad! I’m home!”
Leonora Digiorno gently dropped her two suitcases in the foyer. Her parents turned off the viewer and came over to hug her. Her older brother stopped his violin practice and came out of his room, violin and bow still in his hands. He set them down on the console table and hugged her. Then her younger brother came in – he was still a teenager. He, too, embraced her. “Hey, welcome back.”
“Thanks,” she said, “Uh, I just want you all to know – I met someone.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” gushed Belinda Digiorno.
“Got any pics?” asked her older brother.
“Yeah, Phil.” Leonora fiddled around with her PADD.
“Who is this guy? What’s his name? What does he do?” demanded her father.
“Oh, Dino!” Belinda said, “Don’t start with the third degree!”
“Actually, Dad,” Leonora said, “it’s not a he. She’s a she. Uh, her name is Melissa Madden.”
Dino Digiorno walked back to the family room and turned the viewer back on, staring at it. His wife came over and he barked at her, “I am watching the game, Belinda.”
Belinda came back, shaking her head a little. The younger brother asked, “C’mon, let’s see the pics!”
Leonora found them. There was the first one, of her with a curvy brunette. The younger brother whistled. “Holy cow! You hit the jackpot! She got any sisters?”
“Five, Lex.” Leonora found another picture. This one was of Melissa with five other women, all fairly close in age and looks to her. She put her finger over them, moving from left to right. “Uh, this is Marilyn, Megan and Monica. No, wait, I’ve got them mixed up. Then here’s Melissa again. And the two youngest ones are here on the right, Miri and Misty. No, uh, Misty and Miri. Yeah, that’s right.”
“They’re a nice-looking family,” Belinda said, “But all M names. My God!”
“You pick out the one you like, Alex?” asked Phil.
“I dunno, maybe Misty.” He smiled at their older brother.
Leonora fiddled with the PADD to show another photograph. Alex read off the tee shirt Melissa was wearing in the picture, “Starfleet Academy Flight School, huh? So she’s a pilot?”
“She’s studying. She’ll be done in a few months or so,” said his sister, “And then she’ll try to get a job, maybe when they get the NX-02 built or the NX-01 if there are any openings. I dunno. The Xindi War’s over but everybody wants to be on the Enterprise, I figure. She’s taking combat classes, too.”
“Combat?” asked Belinda. “Are you sure you want that? It’s an awful lot of worrying, I bet.”
“It’s just so she can be versatile and get a better job.”
“You ever fly with her?” asked Alex.
“You a member of the Mile High Club?” he asked.
“Leh-ex!” Leonora replied, reddening.
Their father came back over. “I don’t get it. You graduate from Oklahoma State, we send you to Ceres on vacation and you come back gay!”
“Dad,” Leonora said, “I didn’t come back gay. I was already gay. I came out to you a good seven years ago, in ’50, remember?”
“It’s just a phase,” he insisted, “you’ll grow out of it.”
“Dad, I’m over twenty-one. I am not gonna grow out of this. You need to realize that all three of your kids are gonna bring home a girl to you someday.”
“No,” Dino said angrily, “that’s not gonna happen. You call that girl and you tell her you made a mistake. And you’re sorry but you were just experimenting and you’re all done with that now.”
Belinda looked at the kids. “Your father and I need to talk.”
“C’mon,” Phil said, “I gotta practice some more.” He picked up his violin and bow again. “You can come listen if you want.”
Alex and Leonora followed him to his room and shut the door behind them.
“Dino,” Belinda said, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Setting that girl straight.”
“She is not gonna change her mind. And I don’t think I have ever seen her happier. Don’t spoil it.”
“C’mon,” Belinda said, “Don’t you remember when you told your folks about us getting together?”
“That was different.”
“How so? I wasn’t Italian and I wasn’t Catholic. We both know that went over like a lead balloon, particularly with your mother.”
“Dino, remember when they came around?”
“When we had Phil. But it won’t be the same. Norri’s not gonna have any kids.”
“Who says that? This Melissa girl might have them. Or maybe they’ll adopt. You don’t know. And even if they don’t, Dino, well, why should we wait that long?”
“C’mon,” she said, “our daughter is happy. And we know nothing about this Melissa. So let’s have her over, and we’ll see what happens, all right? Maybe in June. May is pretty much over.”
“I still don’t like it.”
“Nobody says it has to be something you love at the very beginning, okay? But keep an open mind, all right? Just, just try, okay?”
He looked at her. “You’re giving me the look.”
“You’re darned right I am.”
He sighed. “All right.” He walked over to Phil’s room and knocked on the door. The sound of a mazurka stopped in mid-stroke. Alex opened the door. “Norri,” said Dino, “we’d like to invite your, your new friend to dinner some time. Your mother says June, okay?”
“Okay,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “You’ll see. She’s the best. And 2157 is my best year ever, already.”
My first true full-length novel.
Meet Lili O'Day, sous-chef on the NX-01 Enterprise. Lonely and bored, she has little to look forward to, save what Chef's making for dinner. Until she begins having interesting dreams ....
Takes place from October 28th through November 15th of 2157.
Reversal can be found here.
Written in response to the Temptation prompt, this ficlet takes place during the longer work, Reversal, the day after the day of all-orange food, which is October 29th of 2157, so Apple takes place on the 30th.
Shelby Pike was the Botanist on the NX-01. She was good at what she did, even though she was fairly new to botany. Her slight, slender frame belied an earlier profession with an earlier ambition, for she had been in ballet.
Not an étoile, not even close. Instead, she had been, as she liked to tell people, the “second sugar plum fairy on the right.” That was it. So when she blew her knee out one year, she returned to school and got hooked on plants. She never dreamed that her new field would take her into space.
She was tending to her charges when Lili O’Day, the sous-chef, walked in. “Got good harvest produce for me?”
“Sure I do,” Shelby replied, “but not oranges, okay? Yesterday it was just too many oranges.”
“I’m with you on that,” Lili said, “I chopped oranges all day. The citric acid really burned when I cut myself.”
She took a load of produce in a basket and left.
Lunch rush over, Lili laid out dessert. “Today,” she announced to the room, even though it was only partly full of crewmen and no one really seemed to be paying much attention, “we have a savory, kind of a tart dessert. It won’t be sweet.”
“Oh?” asked Jennifer Crossman, who was in Engineering.
“It’s October, so it’s time for the harvest. Even though it’s 2157, and we’re in space, I don’t see why we can’t celebrate the harvest. We’ve got three kinds of cheese and some crackers I made today, plus fresh fruit, courtesy of Shelby who should, uh, be along any minute now.” There was cut up fruit, plus there were uncut pieces in a rustic basket and the whole spread looked rather festive.
“Please, don’t have any oranges!” Tripp Tucker called out.
“No oranges, I swear!” Lili said, “I think I’m good when it comes to oranges, for a while.” Chef had gotten on an orange kick the previous day. Oranges had been in everything! There was orange zest in the batter for the French toast she had served to Captain Archer and Lieutenant Reed; there was orange juice, orange chicken. Everywhere, there had been oranges.
“So, what’s on the menu?” Hoshi Sato asked.
“I’ve got three kinds of cheese, like I said,” Lili replied, “there’s English cheddar,” Malcolm Reed looked up and right at her. When she met his gaze, he reddened a slight bit and looked down. “I’ve also got gorgonzola for anyone who’s feeling adventurous and there’s some nice Camembert. Plus there are toasted almonds.” She yawned.
“You still not getting enough sleep, Roomie?” Jennifer asked.
“Oh, I do all right,” Lili said.
“You talk in your sleep, you know.”
“Just don’t tell anybody what I talk about, okay?” Lili reddened a little and beat a hasty retreat to the back in order to load the dishes into the sanitizer. She didn’t really want to make it public knowledge that she’d been having rather earthy dreams of late.
Shelby came in late, and looked around. Where to sit, where to sit, she thought. It was silly, she knew, to worry about such things. Everyone was friendly. It was just a small bit of being a little girl, when the family had moved. She had been very young, and had had a nightmare before the first day of her new school. What if they don’t have a chair for me? That had been her concern at age five. It was a ridiculous concern twenty or so years later, but the fear of rejection did, sometimes, loom large in her mind.
Then she spotted him, the guy she liked. He was sitting by himself. She came over. “Huh?” he asked. He was bent over a PADD.
“I asked you if this seat was taken.”
“Oh, um, go ahead.” He barely looked up.
She got up and went to the display and rummaged through the basket, finding what she wanted. She brought it over and presented it to him – a perfect Gala apple. He looked up from his PADD and stared at it a second. “Hey, Mayweather!” Tripp yelled over, “Don’t forget what happened the last time a girl gave a guy an apple!”
Travis gulped and got up, quickly leaving. Shelby just stood there, looking a little stricken.
Lili had come out to take more dirty plates to the back and had witnessed the exchange. She stopped what she was doing and ran after him. “What happened? Why did you insult Shelby like that?”
He kept going so she repeated, “What did she ever do to deserve you humiliating her?”
He finally stopped, and turned around. “I, uh, it’s not like that. It’s more, uh, she wants a serious boyfriend. And I, I just, I’m not in that place right now. I’m sorry. It’s very tempting but it’s unfair to her.”
“I’m not the person you should be apologizing to,” Lili pointed out.
“You’re right,” he said. He sighed. “I just don’t know what to stay.”
“Why don’t you just start with I’m sorry and go from there. Look, I gotta clean up and start getting the pasta sauce made for dinner. Just talk to her, okay?” She left.
“Easy for you to say.”
On November 16, 2157, Lili and Doug spend their first day on Lafa II.
You can find Local Flavor here.
The color blue does not have to mean sadness.
Takes place on December 10, 2157 and February 14, 2158.
Dear Naurr, Dear Lili by jespah
On February 17, 2158, Lili gives a little advice to a new chef.
Find Dear Naurr, Dear Lili here.
Crossover with FalseBill.
On April 6, 2158, Mary Reed gets a job.
“I don’t see why you feel the need to do this at all,” complained Stuart Reed as his wife stood in front of him. He had his arms folded and was looking rather cross and intractable indeed.
“I just want to do my part for the war effort,” replied Mary.
“War effort? You’re not some bloody latter-day Rosie the Riveter, you know.”
“It won’t be anything physically taxing.”
“It won’t be much of anything,” he harrumphed. “You haven’t worked a day in your life!” A scowl from her and he added, “I mean, not outside the home, that is.”
“I know what I am doing. I am not a child, you know.”
“Seventy-four at your last birthday! Really, Mary, I don’t, I don’t wish for you to be disappointed, love.” His demeanor softened just a touch. But only a little.
“Then it’s my disappointment to bear.” She departed, bound for the next transport to Rabat.
Rabat was an intriguing city, but Mary Reed had but one destination in mind – the Employment Office. She sat and waited her turn with everyone. They were mostly all humans, although there were a few Vulcans mixed in there. The wall chronometer slid past the date – April the sixth of 2158 – to the time – oh nine hundred hours and then beyond as she waited. “Mary Reed?” called out a counselor.
“Oh! Yes, that’s me.” She was ushered inside.
“It says here,” said the counselor, a man who was young enough to be her son, “that you have child care experience and your preference is for a job where there is a great deal of reading.”
“Yes, that’s right. I was hoping, perhaps, for a role where I could read to children or the like.”
“Actually,” he peered at his desktop computer’s screen, “there’s very little of that right now. But I’ll do a regular search and we’ll see what comes up.” He tapped on the keys a bit as she looked around the room and realized her foulard-print dress might not have been formal enough for a job interview. But she didn’t own an actual suit. She had never had the need for one before. “Oh, this is most intriguing,” he said, “this one involves reading but it might not be quite what you expected. Can you interview today?”
“Of, of course.”
“Very well. Take the next transport to Berlin and go to see a Mister Ejiogu. Here, I’ll give you the information on your PADD if I might see it for a moment.” Mary had a hopelessly old-fashioned PADD from early in the century but she presented it anyway. The counselor clicked it to his desktop and the information was effortlessly transferred. “There now,” he said, “they’ll be expecting you.”
“Thank you,” she said and hurried out, wondering what she could be getting herself into.
She arrived in Berlin with a little time to spare. Ehigha Ejiogu’s office was plush and huge, with a view of the monument to the people who’d died when the city had been walled and had attempted to escape from the eastern side to the west. “Come in! Come in!” he enthused. He was a pleasant man of Nigerian extraction, with an enormous smile and a manner that effortlessly put her at ease. She walked in and he pulled out a chair for her. “Oh, do sit down. How was your trip?”
“Oh, it was all right.”
“You’re coming in from Kota Bharu? How interesting! I have never been to Malaysia before.”
“It’s lovely. But a little hot for tea in the summertime.”
“Then it’s a good thing there’s ice in the world, eh? Now,” he said, “let’s get down to business. You know Kurt, of course.”
“Excuse me, but I’m uncertain as to who that is,” Mary replied honestly.
He looked at her, a little wide-eyed. “I thought everyone knew. But it appears I was in error. Kurt is, well, he’s a major singing talent. Surely you have heard some of his work.”
“We mainly listen to classical or to Gilbert and Sullivan at home. Do, uh, would knowledge of Mister Fong’s work be necessary for this position?”
“Oh, no. But you may find yourself hearing a bit of it anyway. I can transfer a bit of it to your PADD if you’d like to listen on your way back to Malaysia.”
“Uh, certainly,” Mary said, wondering whether it would be horrible and screechy. Caterwauling, her husband called that kind of modern music.
“Now, the position is to read and help answer Kurt’s fan mail. As you can imagine, he gets tons of it.”
“I, I thought I was applying for a position to assist with the war effort.”
“Actually, you are, although it may feel a bit more roundabout than that. See, Kurt does an enormous amount of work – when he’s not recording, of course – for the World Service Organization. You know; the people who entertain the troops. And his fan mail can get away from him at times. Plus there are, naturally, members of Starfleet or even medical organizations who may be writing to him and there can sometimes be performance invitations in there. We do try to keep it all organized but sometimes we need a bit of help keeping it all straight. We naturally want to answer letters from injured soldiers in a timely fashion.”
“Here, now, I will read you three generic letters. And I’d like for you to answer them, all right?”
“Uh, all right.” She bit her lip, terrified that she’d mess up.
“Very well. The first one reads, Dear Kurt, I am in love with you and wish to marry you.” He looked at her. “How would you answer that?”
“Oh, my. Well, hmm, Dear, er, dear letter-writer, whatever her name may be, Thank you for writing. I am flattered by your proposal. And I appreciate your, uh, appreciation of my work. But I’m afraid that,” Mary got a little confidence as the solution suddenly presented itself to her, “music is my only mistress. I do hope that you will attend my next concert in your area. Sincerely, Kurt Fong.”
“That was brilliant! Here’s another,” he said, bringing it up on his PADD, “Dear Kurt, My mother says that you play the devil’s music.”
“Oh, well, uh, Dear letter-writer, I thank you for contacting me. I am sorry that there is a, a disagreement as to the nature of my work. However, I assure you that my motives are naught but positive ones. Sincerely, Kurt Fong.”
“Perhaps the word naught is a bit too high hat for the response. Are you ready for the last one?” She nodded. “Dear Kurt, I am a member of the crew of the Columbia. I am currently in the Lunar Medical Facility due to permanent injuries sustained in combat with the Romulans. I don’t ask for much, but I think morale would pick up if you could send us an autographed picture. Thank you.”
She put a hand to her mouth for a second. “My son is the Armory Officer on the Enterprise. I do hope he never writes a letter such as that.”
“Understood,” said Ejiogu, “but how would you answer the note?”
“Dear letter-writer,” she swallowed a small lump in her throat, “enclosed is the item you requested. I am; I am checking the schedule to see if it would be possible to make an appearance at the Lunar Medical Facility and visit with you and the rest of the injured troops. It is my fervent wish that you recover as completely as you can, and I thank you for your service. My, my thanks are not enough. I only hope that, in some small way, I can repay you.”
“I get the feeling that letter was from you and not from Kurt.”
“Perhaps it’s from both of us.”
“Fair enough. When can you start?”
“I, uh, I’m, I’m in?”
“Absolutely. Is today too soon?”
“No, uh, that’s, that’s fine,” Mary said, flabbergasted, “Might I take a moment and call home?”
“Sure. Here, I’ll take you to a conference room. And then I’ll take you to a desk.”
The conference room was small and functional. As soon as the door was closed, Mary fumbled with the controls on her communicator. “Uh, Stuart Reed, in Kota Bharu.”
“Connecting you now,” replied the operator.
“Yes, love?” he asked.
“I’m, I’m starting work today. So, uh, I suspect I shall be a bit late with, with supper.”
“Oh,” he said, “uh, is there anything physical involved?”
“No, I’m answering mail.”
“Very well. I’ll just, uh; I suppose I shall see you later.”
She then wrote out a note on her PADD, to their children. Dear Madeline and Malcolm, I am working now. I hope I can give you my impressions soon. Right now, it’s all very exciting and different. My best, Mum.
“I’m, I’m ready now,” she said, opening the door, “Mister Ejiogu.”
“Call me by my first name, please. Now,” he said, shepherding her to a desk, “this,” he indicated a Tellarite on one side, “is Cympia Triff. Cympia is our computer programmer.”
“How do you do,” Mary said. Then she immediately wondered – was Cympia male or female? There was a beard. But there were also long drop earrings. “Those are, uh, lovely earrings.”
“Oh, they’re nothing special,” replied Cympia.
“You may not have dealt with a Tellarite before,” Ehigha said, “but they enjoy insults. Cympia here, she’s probably dying to hear one from you.”
“Oh, uh,” Mary peered over at a family photograph on Cympia’s desk, “you have a hideous family.”
“Why, thank you. I’m sure your family is hideous as well.”
Mary was about to say something when she stopped and just laughed a little. “I think I might like it here.” She fired up the computer at her desk and immediately started to read a letter to Kurt.
On April 6, 2158, Mary Reed has an interesting commute on the way home from her new job.
Mary Reed had completed her first day of work, and was on her way home. The transport from Berlin to Phnom Penh had been uneventful, and she had made her connection to the local maglev train that would pass through several Southeast Asian cities until it eventually let her off at Kota Bharu.
She was dozing off a little. It had been a long day, as she had been hired on the spot that very morning. Her job was technically a bit of the Romulan War effort, although in a somewhat roundabout fashion, for she was answering fan mail for a pop star she had never heard of – Kurt Fong.
Because there was a need to entertain the troops, and Fong was often busy with charitable and benefit engagements such as that, her new job was to keep his fan mail from becoming overwhelming. She was also instructed to set aside any requests for entertainment or autographs from the troops. So far, she was enjoying herself.
But she was tired. She had never worked outside her home before, and she was in her mid-seventies. It was all feeling a bit much, and she fought to stay awake, a bit concerned that she’d miss her stop and end up in Jakarta.
She barely registered a young woman boarding the train in Ho Chi Minh City. The woman was hugely pregnant, and looked rather uncomfortable. A young Tellarite gave her his seat, which was across from Mary. The woman cringed every now and then, but stayed quiet.
The train continued on, and entered a tunnel under the South China Sea. And that’s when it stopped, and the lights went out. Mary inadvertently called out, “Oh, my!”
The public address system came on. “We seem to have a small problem. Sit tight, folks, we won’t be going anywhere for a while.”
An impatient male voice called out in the darkness, “What about the damned lights?”
Others turned on their PADDs, and there was an eerie greenish glow in the train car. People grumbled that there was no external grid reception, so there was no way to tell anyone that they were stuck and were going to be late. Then Mary noticed the young pregnant woman really grimacing. Mary got up and sat down beside the woman. “Are you ill?”
“No, I, uh, dammit, why aren’t we moving?”
“I, I don’t know, my dear,” Mary replied.
The auxiliary power finally kicked on, and the car was at least better illuminated. “Hey, Lady,” said the Tellarite, “I think you sprung a leak.”
The pregnant woman was mortified. “I, oh God! This is not how this was supposed to go.”
“You’re in labor, if I’m not mistaken. And I imagine that was your water breaking,” Mary stated. The woman nodded, scared, and lay down on her back on the bench seat.
The Tellarite flipped open a communicator. “Yeah, we got an emergency, uh, it’s car number, uh, 42753. There’s a human lady who’s gonna have a kid.”
The PA system came back on. “If there is a doctor on this train, please go to car number 42753. Thank you.”
Except for the young Tellarite, all of the other men in the car fled to the other cars. “I guess they’re scared of a little blood,” said the Tellarite, shrugging.
“Perhaps,” Mary allowed. “Now, we should be timing the contractions, and the intervals between them.”
Two Vulcan women came forward and set their PADDs to timer mode. One of them said, “Tell us when the next contraction begins.”
“Yeah,” said the pregnant woman, “uh, now.”
Another woman came forward – she had knitting. Wordlessly, she took the unfinished piece off the needles and placed it under the pregnant woman’s head as a kind of pillow.
Another woman stepped forward and took off her coat and put it over the woman as a makeshift blanket. Another had a water bottle, and brought it over. And another had a sweater, which was added to be even more of a blanket.
The Vulcans timed the contractions. Mary leaned over. “What’s your name, dear?”
“My name is Mary. Tell me, Penda, have you any other children?”
“I’ve got two. And so I know how you feel.”
“Did you have them on a maglev?” asked Penda, cringing. “There’s another labor pain.”
“Heavens, no. Penda, is there someone we can call for you once we get grid reception again?”
“My mother is on Triton.”
“Oh, dear, that’s a few hours away. How about the baby’s father?”
“My husband is on the front line, on the Columbia.”
“Oh, my son Malcolm is on the Enterprise. I’m afraid he’s on the front line as well. Is there anyone else we could ring for you?”
“No one,” Penda said. She was near tears. “This is all wrong. I, I went to work and felt poorly, and was almost home. If the damned train wasn’t stuck, I’d be on my way to the Bangkok Hospital by now. This is; it’s all unnatural.”
Mary thought for a second. “Long ago, when humans were barely even human, the birth of a child was an occasion. The men would leave on a hunt, or some such.”
“Hey!” exclaimed the Tellarite.
“Perhaps there were a few exceptions,” Mary allowed. “And the women, they all gathered ‘round. It was the entire tribe. They came together, in order to celebrate such a grand occasion and welcome the new tribe member.”
“You’re not a doctor, though. No one here is a doctor.” Penda’s voice was tinged with a bit of panic.
“But we are all together,” said one of the Vulcans. “This can be your tribe.”
There was a lurch, and the train started to move again. The doors opened at the next stop, a town in Thailand called Bang Lamung, where there was a waiting ambulance. “Do you want anyone to go with you?” Mary inquired.
“No, I’m all right,” Penda said as she was lifted up on a stretcher. The maglev’s doors closed and the train continued on its way.
The Vulcan women returned to their seats and switched their PADDs from timer mode. The knitter picked up her unfinished piece and began to loop it back onto her needles. The coat, the water bottle and the sweater were all returned to their rightful owners.
One by one, the women – and the Tellarite – got off at their stops, until only Mary remained. She got off at Kota Bharu, where her husband, Stuart, was anxiously waiting and glancing at his wrist chronometer and frowning. And with Mary’s departure, the last vestige of the maglev car number 42753 tribe was dispersed.
Written in response to a weekly prompt about pests. Takes place in the MU, in May of 2158.
They were both pregnant at the same time.
One was in her sixth month of nine – and she had been ordered to remain, mostly, off her feet and avoid stress. But that was nigh well impossible for the Empress Hoshi Sato, who had to handle all manner of issues on the Defiant. It seemed as if everyone in the Terran Empire was gunning for her ship.
She had been wary, and had played her cards well, doling out favors to the male members – ha – of her senior staff. The plan was to have lots of children, all by different fathers, to assure the succession, but also to ensure optimal genetic diversity. Plus, they would undoubtedly fight over the Empire after her death. It made sense, to her, to give them no common blood ties except to her.
Plus it could keep her senior staff loyal, and in line. This was her second such pregnancy. The first had resulted in her son Jun, by a guy who’d ended up just passing through. And then, before she’d even had Jun, the guy’d gotten himself killed in a shuttle crash on Daranaea. Those fox-faced aliens had not been able to save him.
But this, the second one, was by her former secondary Tactical Officer, Aidan MacKenzie. Aidan was a coward and a pain, so she’d busted him to babysitter. Oh, the humiliation, to be a male subject of the Terran Empire in charge of wiping a soiled butt! She knew she was having a boy again, and would name him Kira, but Doctor Morgan’s findings had been clear. Her cervix had shortened too much, and it threatened Kira with premature birth. She had to get off her feet and leave most of the business of running things to her main lover, her First Officer, Pilot Travis Mayweather.
She was also supposed to be avoiding stress, but with Travis in charge, that was proving to be impossible.
The other expectant mother was different.
It was not her first pregnancy. It wasn’t even her second. It was her tenth.
And she wasn’t having just one at a time – she was averaging five. She didn’t have a name. Or, at least, nothing that she called herself, or would answer to. Doctor Morgan had kept her for snake food, but she had been let out of her cage in order for Jun to get some knife practice in.
But she had proven too fast and elusive for the toddler, so she had escaped. She had not known, at the time, that she was pregnant. She had run into the Transporter room, and even survived when it was bombed in November of 2157.
The burned-out Transporter room had proven to be the perfect nursery. The destroyed carpet made good bedding and there was even enough food, as there had been some human remains in there until it had really been cleaned out. And then, as the room was cleaned up, and what was left of MACO Deborah Haddon’s body was taken out, and an investigation was conducted, the door was opened, again and again. She and her first children could rush in and out with no one seeing.
Certainly Chip Masterson, Deborah’s ex, wasn’t looking. He was too busy trying to determine who had set the charges, and deciding whether he wanted to be the Empress’s next conquest. He thought, a bit, too, about Deb’s untimely demise. He wasn’t looking down at his feet.
Her pregnancies only took about twenty days or so. About fifty days after he was born, she and her eldest son mated. The instinct was too strong, and they definitely didn’t understand anything like incest.
The first generation was all grey or white or black, as were all of the others that had, so far, followed. Only she was of a different color, and it was not an uncommon color but, for some reason, it was rare in their burgeoning population. The generations split off after a while, colonizing the kitchen and the gym, and the various conference rooms. When the Transporter room was completely cleaned up and repaired, they had left that place, a mass exodus as they migrated to what had once been a Botany lab and now was being used to store old uniforms.
There were how many of them? How many generations? She did not know, did not even know that she had, at best, perhaps four more years of life. All she knew was breeding, caring for her children, keeping safe and finding food.
Their presence was not unnoticed. They had, at first, been timid, and had stuck to nighttime excursions. But sometimes the children were hungry, or the door was open, and the opportunity just presented itself. And so they became bolder, and had started to travel more during the day.
Their biggest mistake was when they had dared to make a move during the day when the Empress was nearby. She had seen about two dozen of the grandchildren as they skittered along the hallway wall, near the doors to the Mess Hall.
The Empress had screamed. Loud.
And so Chip and Aidan had been charged with ridding the Defiant of mice.
“You looking forward to fatherhood?” Chip asked as he hopped out of a Jeffries tube.
“Well, I kinda already act like Jun’s dad most of the time,” Aidan said, “I’m the only one, it seems, who ever tells that kid no. So, you find anything in there?”
“Yep, there are droppings. We could lay traps in there, but I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
“Probably,” Aidan allowed, “Uh, Chip?” he asked, changing the subject abruptly, “you think you’ll be her next?”
“I dunno. Ramirez and Torres are also sniffing around. Uh, how’s it all working out for you?”
“Less than wonderful,” Aidan admitted, “but there’s an upside. No one’s trying to knife me, ‘cause nobody wants my job.”
A half a dozen little packets of grey fur rushed by. “Over there!” Chip yelled, pointing out a small hole near a conduit.
“You know where that junction goes?” Aidan asked.
Chip clicked around on a PADD. “This is what we get for just grabbing a ship – no schematics worth a damn!” He clicked some more. “Looks like it’s environmental controls for this floor, assuming this thing is at all accurate.”
There was the sound of voices – the Empress and her entourage. She waddled along, attended by Travis and the two men who seemed to be next in line for her favors – Chief Engineer Frank Ramirez and Security Specialist José Torres. Chip and Aidan ducked into an unused lab and eavesdropped.
“And I am telling you,” Hoshi was laughing, “Aidan is less than useless! He’s like a woman half the time! He’s too, huh, soft on Jun. Who knows how his kid’s gonna turn out?” She patted her huge belly. “And Chip’s no better, still pining for that dead MACO.”
She paused. “Querido,” she said to José, “I would love for you to rub my … feet.” Torres dutifully laughed and the parade went by.
When they were gone, Chip and Aidan had made up their minds. “I don’t care if we ever catch a mouse,” Chip said, “she can end up knee-deep in mice for all I care.”
Days later, the Empress experienced a few Braxton-Hicks contractions, so Doctor Morgan insisted that she confine herself to her bed for the duration. Aidan was stuck attending to her, and she was mighty demanding.
“And you and Chip laid the mousetraps like I asked?”
“Uh, yes, Empress,” he lied.
“Good,” she said, “I want those rodents gone.”
Aidan smiled to himself when he saw a little bundle – this time of brown fur – rush out into the open, at a corner of the Empress’s sumptuous quarters. He and the mouse looked at each other, and he could swear the rodent almost nodded at him, a passing shared understanding. Then the Queen of the mice sniffed a little at the huge female in the big bed, and decided to settle in the wall, near the bathroom, where there were plush towels that could be ripped by strong teeth and made into bedding, and there was a reliable water source. There was a replicator nearby, too, so food was never far away. It was perfect for her next brood and however many more she would have afterwards.
And the Empress Hoshi Sato never knew who was really in charge.
On June 3rd, 2158, Naurr makes a bombe glacée and fools a mysterious boarding party into believing it’s an actual bomb.
Story (with slight crossover to IBD) written for FalseBill. Bomb(e) can be found here.
Written in response to a weekly free write prompt about TGIF. Takes place in 2158. This acts as a sequel to Reversal and a bridge to Together.
“Lili, just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“What? Oh, I’m getting ready to go. And you should be getting ready, too.”
“C’mon, you’re tired. You’ve been telling me that all week long. We should call Treve and cancel. We can go to his place some other time.”
“But this is special, Doug,” she said, “He said that Yipran is at home now, and feeling a bit better. She can receive visitors now.”
“Tired pregnant visitors who really should be sleeping?”
“And their brand-new, overly protective husbands, too,” Lili said, pulling off her chef’s whites. “Oh, what to wear? What to wear?”
“The blue dress,” he said, coming close and putting an arm on her waist. “It drives me wild.” He kissed her neck.
“I don’t think it quite fits these days,” she said, turning around and kissing him. “Besides, Doug, everything drives you wild.”
“And you have a problem with that? Let’s stay in. You don’t seem to be getting so much morning sickness. Reversal business is done – let Treve handle all of that. It’ll be you and me, and it’ll be like it was before, and we will go see Treve and his mother, I dunno, maybe tomorrow.”
“Tempting as your offer is,” she said, “we promised we’d be there tonight! Besides, tomorrow is some festival or other – the Calafans have a million of ‘em and I don’t know which one that is. So we’ll go tonight, we’ll have a nice time, and then we can go home and sleep all weekend, all right? And, um, do other things if morning sickness permits.” She kissed him deeply.
“I see your plan Miss O’Day – er, Mrs. Beckett. Yanno, I gotta get used to saying that.”
“You gotta get used to me getting to be as big as a house,” she said, “Here; could you help me with this?” She had slipped on a light violet maternity dress but was having trouble with the catch at the neck.
“But of course. And we don’t stay more than an hour.” He turned her to face him. “Don’t look at me like that. Those aren’t my orders; those are Doctor Miva’s. If you won’t come home early ‘cause of anything I say, will you at least listen to your own obstetrician?”
“Okay, you win. One hour. Thanks for the indulgence.”
The drive through Fep City was a slow one, as they were still getting used to street signs in the Calafan alphabet. They drove up and down Dary Street a few times before they found the side street – Imspi. Treve, Lili’s business partner, was waiting in front of a squat one-story house to greet them. He was a young Calafan man, completely bald and with solid silver arms. He was in his twenties. Next to him was a young teenaged girl, his sister, Yimar. “Ah, you made it! Our mother will be so pleased!” he enthused.
He let them in as Yimar guided Lili a bit. “How are you feeling? My brother said you’d been sick.”
“Oh, I’m just pregnant,” Lili said, “although I have to tell you, I didn’t expect to get quite so sick all the time.”
“Huh. I don’t think we get sick,” said the young girl.
“It’s good to be a Calafan, eh?” Lili smiled.
In the front room were an elderly woman and a very young boy. The young boy was the youngest sibling – Chelben. And the woman, looking far older than her years, was Yipran. She sat there, head shaking a little bit. She was dressed in an exquisite blue and pink robe, and there was a dull greyish metallic cuff on her left wrist. Chelben got up and came over. “We went to Reversal last week. I tried the chicken. It was pretty good, kinda like linfep.”
“I remember!” Lili enthused, “And I remember you really liked the fish tank, too.”
“Yes!” said the little boy, “I’ve never seen anyone keep water animals before.” He ran to another part of the house.
“He’s so excited,” Treve said, “I think he may be looking for something to show your husband, maybe an art project or the like. I’m the man of the family now, but my brother – I think he’s still a bit skeptical of all that.”
“And your father?” Doug asked quietly.
“Still in the prison,” Treve said, “My mother knows, but not the details. One day, I suppose, she will learn or will figure out that Father was trying to poison her with potassium injections. Until then, though, we are living as normally as we can. She is very glad to see you and Lili. I know it’s not that obvious.”
Lili brought a chair over to where Yipran was sitting. “How are you feeling?” she asked.
Yipran just sat there, looking. The sleeve of her robe slipped a little, revealing complicated silver scrollwork on her arm, but it was fading. “Mother,” Yimar said, “Lili asked how you were feeling.”
The older woman raised her left hand very slowly. She trembled and the corners of her mouth turned up and down a bit, and then she slowly opened her mouth. Very, very slowly, she said, “B-better.”
“That’s wonderful to hear,” Lili said, “I don’t know how much Treve told you about me, and about our business. Well, we opened Reversal really recently. It’s a restaurant, not too far from here, at the corner of Dary and Enne Streets. I’m the chef. Treve does, oh my gosh, he does everything else. He’s wonderful. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without him. And, and, when we opened up the restaurant, that was right around the time I discovered I was pregnant. My husband, you see Doug over there? He and I, we’re going to have a boy. And we’ll name him after Doug’s parents, so he’ll be named Jeremiah Logan Beckett. I think we’ll call him Joss.” She paused for a second, realizing she had been babbling a bit.
“Maybe,” Doug said, smiling at her.
“I know you don’t have last names,” Lili continued, “but we humans do. And we changed ours, because this is a fresh start for us. So Doug’s last name was Hayes but now it’s Beckett. And mine is, too, because when we found out I was pregnant, we felt it was only right that we should get married.”
Chelben ran back in, with a drawing of what looked like a rabbit with fangs. He brought it over to Doug, who perused it carefully. “Oh, it’s a linfep,” Doug said, bending over to look. “This is pretty good.”
“Thanks, Doug!” Chelben ran out again to find some other treasure to show off.
“Mother, Lili is a good friend of ours,” Yimar explained to her mother, who still looked rather bewildered, and extremely frail. “She and her husband are humans. They don’t have calloo,” she indicated the complicated scrollwork on her mother’s arms, “Lili has tattoos made to look like calloo, see?” Lili hitched up a sleeve to show Yipran. “But they are kind friends. Doug is from; he is from the other side of the pond, where the night people live. We got him here a few months ago. Helping him is what got Treve out of the prison – the government rewarded Treve for helping. As for, for Father, he will be out soon. But the, my understanding is, the government wanted Father in prison for a bit longer. But he will be out and, and we will be a family again.” No sense in telling Yipran about why her husband was incarcerated, or the affair that had led to the potassium poisoning or any of that. It seemed unnecessarily cruel and hurtful to give such a fragile person so many unpleasant details.
Yipran looked at Lili and raised her left hand again slowly. She then – and it seemed like a supreme effort of will to do so – crooked her index finger. Lili scootched her chair over, a lot closer. “Yes?” Lili said.
Yipran carefully, with fingers trembling and dancing, traced complicated scrollwork engravings on her bracelet. There was a part that was somewhat faded and softened, and it appeared as if thousands if not millions of hands had briefly touched it, in worshipful reverence. Yipran had been the High Priestess of the Calafans before she had become incapacitated. The piece had something to do with her ceremonial role, as did the robe that she was wearing. Yipran took the cuff bracelet off and held it for a second before presenting it to Lili.
“For, for me?” Lili asked, “I couldn’t. I, this is a cultural artifact, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Treve said, “but it doesn’t have to belong to the High Priestess.”
Chelben came back in, this time holding another drawing. “Oh, uh, is Mother allowed to do that?” he asked, referring to the transfer taking place.
“She is,” Yimar said, “you haven’t had enough schooling yet, but there have been all sorts of different people who’ve owned that cuff. Both men and women, too, although I don’t think a non-Calafan ever has before.”
“We, uh, we shouldn’t take anything from you if it’s not allowed,” Doug said.
“It … is … per-permitted,” Yipran said, another supreme effort of will as she spoke.
Lili gently accepted the gift. “I imagine this is unique,” she said, slipping it onto her left wrist. “How extraordinary it is. The scrollwork looks a bit like your calloo, and like my tattoos.”
“Y-yes, it, it is to, to mimic that,” Yipran explained slowly.
Doug looked at a clock on the wall. Over an hour had already passed. “We should go,” he said, “Lili needs to rest up for the Monday lunch rush and all that.” He helped her up.
Yipran looked up at them. “The, the cuff … it will … it will go to her … th-third ch-child.”
“I’m only on the first,” Lili said, “And he’s a miracle, so far as I’m concerned. I don’t know if two more are in the cards. But I thank you. We’ll come back and see you soon, all right?”
They made their good-nights and left. In the car, Doug said, “Third?”
“I don’t know,” Lili said, giggling a little nervously.
“Let’s just get through with having the first one,” he said, “we’ve had all sorts of big changes lately.”
“Every day with you is a big change in my life. Without you, none of this would be possible, or even fathomable.”
“Same on this end,” he said, parking in front of their tiny apartment. “Thank God it’s Friday and thank God for you.”
In 2158, the Temporal Integrity Commission sends Lili Beckett and Naurr to correct a megaotric event involving the Empress Hoshi Sato and some unauthorized cookbooks.
Crossover with FalseBill! Dishing it Out can be found here.
Written to try to give Malcolm Reed more depth. This one is probably the closest rated to MA.
There are women coming to the Enterprise! Travis Mayweather proposes a friendly competition with his friends – whoever gets the girl first wins.
But then the winner gets more than he bargained for, and learns just how much he can take.
How much can you tolerate?
Takes place from July 9, 2158 through the end of that month.
Intolerance can be found here.
Barely Tolerable by jespah
In July of 2158, Captain Archer laments the fact that he’s got to keep his hands to himself. Takes place during the events of Intolerance.
I am supposed to be the captain. But holy Toledo, I am still a man.
I know these women are too young for me. Medical students, here to study Immunology under Phlox.
What I wouldn’t give to have either of them study under me.
“Would you like to be the Teacher’s Pet?”
That blonde was wearing a leather choker. Good lord, is that meant to be a collar?
I’m the captain, I’m the captain, I’m the captain.
I won’t look, won’t think about them. The brunette seems nice. Too young. I’ll think of water polo. That usually works.
In later 2158, Doug purchases his gift for Lili, for their second Christmas together.
Doug Beckett drove to the outskirts of Fep City and parked near the amplifier dishes on Point Abic. The area wasn’t exactly wild, but it wasn’t exactly built up, either.
He got out of his car and looked at the area. It was mainly flat, with a decent-sized spreading olowa tree. There was a little rise, too. He hiked up the rise and there was a lovely view of the surrounding area.
He jogged back down, where there were stalks of wild tofflin growing. He saw a peering pair of eyes in the undergrowth, and his presence startled the creature in there. It dashed out. It looked a lot like a hare, and it was the right size, but it had fangs which, he knew, could be used for killing and eating smaller animals or for burrowing. It was a linfep, and it scampered away. He’d have to be mindful of their holes, he remembered. It was easy to twist an ankle in one.
A car drove up and parked next to his. It was a native Calafan woman. “Ah, I see you found the place,” she said. “Is it what you wanted?”
“It is,” he said, “but I think I like the part up the rise better.”
“That land is more expensive.”
“How much more?”
“It’s the view,” she said, “It may be undeveloped, but it’s still high, although not as high as Point Abic itself, of course.” She checked a PADD. “It’s a good thirty thousand los. The original lot we agreed on - that one’s only twelve.”
“Huh, yeah. I guess I won’t be getting the view. How do I work out the deal?” he asked.
“Bring over a finance draft and we can sign the papers tomorrow.”
“Good,” Doug said, “and my wife will never know.”
“It’s a surprise for her.”
“It should be a pleasant surprise,” she said, “I’ll see you in my office tomorrow. At, say, ten hundred hours?”
“I can do that,” Doug said.
The realtor left.
He had a real piece of paper in his pocket, and a real pen. “Now, let’s see,” he murmured to himself. “My stride is close to two meters, but it’s less. So, uh, here.” He paced out a large rectangle about twelve meters by fifteen. As he walked, he would trace in the ground with his shoes.
He checked his work as he went, occasionally erasing and then pacing an area out again. Then he stood and copied the crude dirt drawing, transferring its essence to the paper as he sketched and made notations.
“Okay,” he said. “Living room over here. With a fireplace. Wood pile could be here. Then, uh, the baby’s room goes over here, where there’s sunlight. Then a bathroom, and then the guest room. Dining area goes here. Master bedroom and bath will go here. Then the kitchen - a big, big kitchen, in the back. You can garden out here, plant herbs or flowers or vegetables. Over to the side it’s flat. The baby could play here. Over at the front, space for two cars and a carport. Cellar goes below the kitchen. Maybe a picture window in the front living room. I bet you’d like that, Lili.”
He stopped what he was doing and looked at the little empty lot. “When you first saw me, I was almost like this. Just a, a blank slate that needed to be written on. More or less undeveloped. And this will be another blank slate. God, I hope you like it.”
He paced the outline again. “I wonder how I’ll keep this quiet until Christmas. Our house.”
One more pacing. “I never thought I’d settle down, never thought I’d really fall in love. I never thought I’d marry. And I never thought I’d become a father, or this, either. Thank you for reversing my life for the better, Charlotte Lilienne O’Day Beckett. You’re my reason for being here.”
Written in response to a prompt about holiday gift-giving. Takes place on December 25th, 2158.
“It’s a spatula,” Doug said, as she unwrapped the little wooden article.
“Yes, I know,” Lili said. She pointed to the corner of the kitchen of their tiny apartment. There was a holder – it was actually an old, clean flower pot – filled with wooden utensils. At least half of them were spatulas of various sizes.
They stood there in silence as she turned the article over in her hands a couple of times. The clock on the wall scrolled past the time – 0700 hours – to the date – December 25th of 2158. The baby started to cry. She went into their bedroom and picked up their son. “Joss, honey,” Lili said, “Shh, I’ll make Christmas breakfast soon. With, uh, with my gift, I guess.” She was still holding the spatula.
Doug walked into the bedroom to join them. “Actually,” he said, “you should look at the paper that the spatula came in.” He had it in his hands, and traded it to her for the baby.
She turned on the overhead light and smoothed out the paper. There was a drawing on it, a bit of bluish writing on an off-white background. There were rectangles with measurements written on all of the sides, in handwriting that she recognized as belonging to Doug. “What is this?”
He leaned over and kissed the top of her head as he stood behind her. “See over on the right?”
“This part?” she pointed on the paper.
“You’ll spend most of your time there.”
“Huh? Now, Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett, I know that I’ve been awfully sleep-deprived since the young master arrived, but what are you talking about? I am totally not following you.”
“That rectangle – that’s where the kitchen will be. And over to the side will be a living room. And then a bathroom over to the left, and our bedroom will be in the back and Joss’s bedroom will be next door to ours. Plus an extra room for guests or, uh, if we have another.”
She dropped the spatula on the floor and it clattered. “What does this all mean?”
“I bought land, near the amplifier dishes, in the outskirts of Fep City. You’ll be close to work, to Reversal. And I’ll help the workmen build it. Lili, these are the plans for our house.”
“Merry Christmas. I love you.”
Voice of the Common Man by jespah
On April 19 of 2159, Lili and Doug vote on Lafa II for the first time.
You can find Voice of the Common Man here.
Written to try to resolve a conflict that had arisen once I was done with Intolerance. Probably the most loving of the longer stories.
Their lives seemed perfect – or, at least, close enough. They were happy, and together.
And then they were forced to do things that they didn’t want to do – and then discovered that they did want to do them.
How could they go back, and save what they had?
Or would it be better to do something radically different?
How could they pick up the pieces and stay together after having done that?
Story begins on August 1, 2159, and continues into early September of that year.
Together can be found here.
Written in response to the Silence Monthly Challenge
In November of 2159, Malcolm takes Melissa to Movie Night.
She had on a new uniform, and had brushed her hair just so and had put on makeup, for the first time in a while. Ready.
He was in his quarters, just about ready, too. He had gotten a haircut for the occasion, and was also wearing a new uniform. He smiled at himself in the mirror. He walked out of his quarters, heard the door close and then smacked himself in the forehead.
I forgot the flowers!
He went back in and got the little bouquet. Shelby Pike was the Botanist on the NX-01, and she always had excess. It was 2161, and the Romulan War was still raging, but Captain Archer had insisted that something like flowers, and movie nights, be available, to give people a sense of hope and fun and a feeling that not everything was war and destruction.
The little bouquet had reds and pinks and yellows, flowers of any color but blue. That had been his condition. Shelby had shrugged and prepared the bouquet. She was no florist but she had tied it with an orange ribbon, and it looked and smelled pretty.
He smiled wryly at the flowers. Any color other than blue, for his beloved’s favorite color was blue and the woman he was taking to Movie Night was, most assuredly, not his beloved.
He got to the lift, where Tripp Tucker was waiting. “Hey, Malcolm!” he said, and then indicated the flowers, “Uh, you and Melissa gettin’ serious?”
Malcolm stared at him blankly and then realized the implications. He weighed the options as they waited for the lift, and then finally said, “May I tell you something in confidence?”
“Uh, sure, buddy.”
“It’s, uh, while these are for Melissa Madden, I, uh, I am not pursuing her. She is not the woman I want. And I am not the man who she wants, either.”
“I, um, I wasn’t sure,” Tripp said, “and I won’t say anything. I guess your, um, I dunno what to call her, she’s just so far away, is it?”
‘That’s a part of it. And he is, as well. So Melissa and I, we have this little running joke, you see. We pretend to be a couple, and try and see how many people we can fool.”
“Well, you got me,” Tripp said, “Ah, here’s the lift.”
There were two crewmen in it. “Commander, Lieutenant,” said one of the crewmen, “Sorry for the delay, but we were moving plasma relays.”
The trip in the lift was an otherwise silent one.
Malcolm got to Melissa’s quarters on C deck and hit her door chime. There was no answer, and then he heard her retching. He hit a panel and said, “Reed Security Override, Gamma Nine One Nine,” and the door slid open. He dropped the flowers onto her desk and found her in the little bathroom, cleaning her face. She looked pasty pale. “I swear, there’s no truth in advertising,” she said, “’cause they shouldn’t call it morning sickness if you’re sick after every goddamned meal.”
“What does Phlox say?”
“I haven’t told him.”
“Melissa, you are supposed to be seeing him every week!”
“I, I know,” she said, and looked down, “please, uh, I just wanted today to be normal.”
“I’m, I’m sorry,” he said, “I just want to be certain you’re not getting dehydrated.”
“Thanks,” she put a hand on his arm, “Lili told me to avoid fruit and I stupidly had the apple tart at dinner. What the hell was I thinking?”
“It’s just a mistake. I think Thomas,” he indicated her belly, which was still pretty flat, “is all right with it. But you should –” he stopped in mid-scold. It was not his place to tell her what to do. Thomas was not his kid and she was not his girl.
“I’ll be off the ship in a week anyway,” she said, “maternity leave, here I come, and away from combat. This is our last Movie Night.”
“I know,” Malcolm said, “I, I brought you something.” He brought the flowers over and then held back, “Will the aroma set you off again?”
“I don’t think so. And, thank you. No blue flowers, huh, I know why. You must miss her a lot.”
“And I know you miss him.”
“I do, and I miss Norri, too. Tommy will have three parents.”
“He shall be a fortunate child.”
“Assuming this war ends soon.”
“Do you, uh, are you up to going to Movie Night?” Malcolm asked.
“I think so.”
“We can sit near the back, and by an exit. And you shall get the aisle seat.”
“Malcolm, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you being here. I’m not her, and this is not romantic at all, but I hope it’s at least fun.”
“It is,” he said, “and tonight I want to take my friend, Melissa Madden, to see Stalag 17. And I wish to stay with her for Chip Masterson’s discussion afterwards, if she’s up for it, and if she isn’t, I shall take her to Sick Bay. And we will end the evening with me escorting her home. For these hallways are rather perilous,” he joked a little.
“And I want to go to see Stalag 17 with my friend, Malcolm Reed, and stay for the discussion, or go to Sick Bay, as, uh, as Tommy permits. And I won’t think about the fact that Malcolm isn’t someone else. I swear I won’t. I will just have a good time with my dear friend.”
“And I won’t think about how Melissa is not another,” he replied, and held his arm out. She took it.
He opened the door and she held the flowers in her hand as they tentatively stepped into the hallway, careful to not set off another wave of nausea, and for one night, the only war they thought about was the one on the screen, and they could take a break from worrying about the people they really loved, so far away.
Lili, Joss and Doug share a dream on December 26, 2159.
“’Ommy! Mommy!” One-year-old Joss Beckett’s voice pierced the night.
His father, Doug, blinked his eyes open. He looked over at the sleeping form of his wife, Lili. “Malcolm,” she murmured in her sleep, “that feels good.”
“I’m still not used to that,” he muttered to himself.
Lili was, for whatever reason, still not stirring. But she was nearly eight months pregnant and needed to sleep. And dream – but her dreams were psionic, and they were directed and amplified by painted callidium on her extremities and the proximity of amplifier dishes on nearby Point Abic. Those dreams, they were a kind of second life, and a second relationship – and they were shared with Malcolm Reed, far away on the NX-01 Enterprise. Doug had his own second dream-based relationship, with a pilot, Melissa Madden, who was serving with Reed. But Doug could not sleep that night and so, there he was, lying awake in the dark, listening to his wife occasionally breathe endearments to another man.
Doug got up. “Comin’, Sport.” He walked into the nursery, where the toddler was standing up in his crib. “Let’s see what the trouble is.”
“Nope, you’ve got Daddy. Now, hang on a sec.” He performed the sniff test, and then felt under a swaddled bottom. “You’re dry. And we had dinner maybe two hours ago. Do you want water?”
He sighed. “You’re stuck with me. Now, it is not time to play or be awake. It is time to sleep.”
“Listen, okay? Mommy is sleeping. Which is what you should be doing. Which is what we should both be doing. In, um, in a few weeks, you are gonna have a playmate, okay? A baby sister. We’re gonna name her Marie Patrice. I bet she’ll even look like Mommy.”
“Damn,” Doug said under his breath. “Uh, here.” He lifted the child out of the crib and brought him over to the master bedroom. “We do not normally do this. But you know, desperate times and all that.” He kept the toddler out of reach of Lili, but able to see her.
Lili murmured again, “You know what I like.” She chuckled a little in her sleep.
“Jeremiah,” Doug said, “you can look at Mommy but you can’t touch her right now, or you’ll join her dream, even though you’re awake. I can stay out of her dreams because I do my own amplified dreaming. That’s because there’s callidium in Daddy’s wedding ring, see?” He showed his hand to his son. “I think her dream will change pretty much instantaneously, but I can’t be sure. I know you know Malcolm. And this is all, it’s consensual, although it’s at times like this that it feels particularly weird. But, uh,” he looked closely at Joss, “cut me some slack, all right? I just don’t want you to see, um, certain things.”
In response, Joss just yelled, “’Ommy!”
Lili’s eyes flew open. “What happened?!”
“It’s, it’s okay,” Doug said, “we, uh, he was calling for you. I thought it would help for him to see you but, uh, I guess it wasn’t enough.”
“It’s, um, it’s all right.” There was a ding, a message on her PADD. In the dark, she fumbled for it, her touch on the screen activating the back lighting.
“Let me, uh, let me just answer this quickly, okay?”
“Sure,” Doug said.
From: Lili Beckett, Lafa II
To: Malcolm Reed, NX-01 Enterprise
Date: December 26, 2159
She hit send. “Okay.”
I think, um, I think he’s feeling a little neglected lately,” Doug explained.
She looked at both of them. “Is he the only one who feels this way?”
“Uh, no, not really. I gotta confess, I do feel weird sometimes, hearing you. Is that bad?”
“Of course not. You feel what you feel,” she said, kissing him. “Hmmm,” she thought for a second. “Can we try something? Maybe we can all get back to what feels a bit more normal and balanced.”
“Equilibrium. What do you have in mind?”
“We haven’t shared a dream since, well, since Melissa came into our lives.”
“And since Malcolm became, uh, more than just pals with you,” Doug clarified.
“Right. So what do you think about dreaming together tonight, and taking Joss with us?”
“As I recall,” Doug reminded her, “our dreams were pretty steamy.”
“We’ll adapt, okay? Just, we’ll think of something that he would enjoy. And we can do it together, just the three of us,” Lili suggested. “After all, when Marie Patrice arrives, I think there will be a lot of opportunities for him to really feel left out of things. Let’s give him some time tonight, where he’s the center of attention. Okay?”
Doug smiled, edges of his eyes crinkling a little bit. “Okay. We’ll do it.” He tapped out a quick note to Melissa so that she wouldn’t worry about him not showing up.
They laid down, with Joss between them, his wedding ring touching hers, which was also made of callidium.
It was a carnival, with face painting and cotton candy and balloons. Joss went on a slow pony ride, the animal gentle and sweet as he squealed in delight, most language skills forgotten in his excitement, wonder and surprise. An old-fashioned train ride was next, just one stop, and they got off where there was a pond and had a small picnic. They watched a few at-bats in an old-fashioned baseball game, where the players had handlebar moustaches and wore flannels. Then they took the train another stop, to a petting zoo, where there were animals from Earth and Lafa II and Vulcan and even places like Archer’s World, soft and tame creatures that cooed or purred or wagged tails or licked or took a bit of food carefully from an open palm.
The Cure is Worse than the Disease by jespah
In February of 2160, the Columbia makes first contact with the Daranaeans.
This story was written in response to the monthly challenge about cures and their diseases. The Daranaeans took on a life of their own and have their own series, but some of their stories take place within the confines of In Between Days.
The Cure is Worse than the Disease can be found here.
On April 9, 2160, Charles, Beth and Charlie become citizens of the Mirror Lafa System.
Commander Charles Tucker III stood at attention, a distant memory of an earlier life on a starship where he had been third in the chain of command. But that had all ended in 2157, when he and Beth, with the help of the old man, had gotten out. It was now April ninth of 2160.
The old man was, maybe, dead. They had no real way of knowing. As for the Empress Hoshi Sato, she was gone but there was always the risk that she’d return to the Lafa System. To get them back, perhaps. Or to just do damage. She enjoyed doing damage, and rarely needed an excuse to indulge her whims.
But now it was 2160, and Charles stood, with Beth, who was holding their son, Charlie. And he, Charles, was mustering up every bit of respect he had, even though their old unis had, long ago, turned to rags and the baby was wrapped in swaddling that was courtesy of the kind charity of the Calafan people, the natives of that star system.
Beth kept the baby as quiet as she could, but he was a little fussy. That was, perhaps, to be expected. After all, what interest did a minor government functionary’s office hold for one so small?
The functionary was a Calafan man, perhaps about fifty years of age, with coppery red hair and complicated copper-colored scrollwork up and down his arms. He spoke. “Names.”
“Elizabeth Kelly Cutler Tucker and I’m holding Charles Tucker IV.”
“Charles Tucker III, sir.”
“We don’t have surnames,” explained the official, “And we do not repeat first names. I cannot make a record for both you and your son. The first names must differ somehow.”
The baby, perhaps in response, cried a little. “Shh, Charlie,” Beth said.
“Sir,” Charles said, “we’re not Calafans. So your namin’ rules shouldn’t apply to us.”
“They don’t,” replied the functionary, “This is, rather, for our records. You can see what a problem it would be if a Charles was assigned to a local school in a few years, and the Head Mistress came looking for you.”
“Huh, yeah, I guess so,” he allowed, “But can’t you just add the numbers, or somethin’?”
“There is only one space on the form, see?” The functionary turned his desktop so that the screen could be seen more readily. “If you want an extra space, you’ll need to petition the court.”
“Court?” Beth asked, “Charlie’ll be twenty by the time that’s all done.”
“Charlie? Can you use Charlie for your son’s name? Your wife has referred to him that way several times.”
“I, uh, I s’pose so. We’ll be Charles and Charlie, then.”
“Very well,” said the official, entering the information. “Occupations?”
“Huh.” He had been the Chief Engineer on the Defiant, and Beth had been the babysitter to the Empress’s bratty son. But aside from a few odd jobs bartered for food or medical care or meager goods, he hadn’t worked in any sort of an official capacity since ’57. When times had been really bad, they’d been poachers.
“Wife and mother,” Beth said.
“Uh, unemployed engineer,” Charles said.
“There is an Unemployment Office on Lafa III,” said the functionary, “The free transports are slow, but they do get there eventually. You’ll need to register there and then you can collect benefits and they can look for a job for you. Address?”
Beth and Charles looked at each other. That was another tricky one. When they’d arrived on Lafa II, they’d had little more than the clothes on their backs. There was no house for them, and no apartment. “We, uh,” Beth said, “We’ve been living in a cave not too far from Fep City, with our friend, Jennifer Crossman. She’s another Terran. And, uh, and with Treve.”
“Ah, yes, I heard about that,” the official said, “If this Jennifer wishes to become a citizen, she will have to go through this same process, wife to the brother of the High Priestess or now. Now, there is a Housing Office; it’s also on Lafa III. Try there; they might have something for you, although I doubt it’ll be fancy. Still, I imagine it would be a step up from a cave.”
“Thank ya; that’s real helpful of you,” Charles said.
“Are you ready for the ceremony?” asked the functionary.
“Yes,” Charles said. Beth nodded.
“First, state your names. The mother will say the baby’s name for him.”
“Charles Tucker III.”
“Elizabeth Kelly Cutler Tucker and Charlie Tucker IV.”
“Charles, Elizabeth and Charlie, do you hereby swear your allegiance to the High Priestess Yimar?”
“We do,” Beth said, “including Charlie.”
“Do you further swear to defend the Lafa System and her people, and our way of life, against any and all intruders?”
“All three of us do,” Charles replied.
“Do you further relinquish all claims held by any foreign or alien government, on your persons, your labor or your allegiances?”
“We do,” they answered together.
“Then I do hereby welcome you as the three newest citizens of the Lafa System. On behalf of the Calafan people and the High Priestess, Yimar, you are hereby declared full citizens, with all the rights, privileges and obligations appertaining thereto. May I be the first to congratulate you?”
Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before by jespah
Whatever happened to … Stella?
On April 25, 2160, Chip Masterson reveals all.
You can find Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before here.
On May fifth of 2160, Lili and Doug arrive on Ceres for Tommy’s birth, on May sixth.
“I haven’t heard from Malcolm in six days,” Lili sighed as the transport swayed and rocked and Marie Patrice was fussing more than nursing and Joss was jumping up and down and wondering if they were there yet and Doug was engrossed in his PADD.
“Huh?” her husband finally asked.
“I said; I haven’t heard from Malcolm in nearly a week. I’m getting a little worried.”
“Mackum!” Joss exclaimed. “Are we there yet?”
“No, not quite,” Lili said, “we have another few hours to go.”
“Lemme see your PADD a sec,” Doug said, “Maybe some setting’s off and you’re not getting messages.” She gave him a look. “Just humor me, okay? We’ll rule it out as a possibility.”
“Okay,” she said, balancing the baby and fishing around in her purse for her PADD. “Here. Okay, now, Marie Patrice, let’s see if you’re done.” She tried one more time to get her almost four month old daughter to nurse, but the infant was having none of it.
“Big ship,” said Joss. He was only a little under a year and a half old, but was a lot closer in development to a three-year-old. It was the Mirror Universe genes, from Doug.
“Yes,” Lili said for the umpteenth time, “It’s a really big ship.”
Doug looked over her PADD. “I don’t know why you’re complaining. You’ve got a note from him every single day.”
“You didn’t open them.”
“Of course not,” he said, “that’s private, between you and Reed. I don’t expect you to open any notes Melissa and I write to each other, either, yanno.”
“Missa!” Joss exclaimed.
“Yes, Melissa,” Doug said, articulating, “We are going to see her and Norri. Melissa is going to have your little brother, Tommy, uh, soon.”
“Doug,” Lili said, “Those notes aren’t real notes.”
“He has it rigged so that I get a fake note any day when he can’t write. It just says,” she read off, “If you are receiving this, it means I cannot write today. But rest assured I am thinking of you.”
“Oh. And you’ve gotten six of those in a row?” Doug asked. He started drumming his fingers on the armrest of his seat, getting almost as antsy as their son.
“Yeah,” Lili said, “and I haven’t gotten a visual message for even longer.”
“Well, the Romulan War’s going on, Lili. You can’t expect him to be able to get on a viewer. Plus the communications buoys might be out.”
“What if he’s hurt, or worse?” she asked, getting a little teary. The baby, picking up on the stress, began to howl.
“’Ommy sad?” Joss asked.
“Yes, so give me a big, big hug, okay?”
He complied and then walked around a little, looking at other children on the transport. There was a Tandaran girl of maybe six who was reading out loud from some story on a PADD. A Tellarite boy was playing with an armrest, picking at it, seeing if he could do some damage. A pair of Vulcan girls was engaging in meditation. Joss came back after the rounds. “Are we there yet?”
“Almost,” Doug said, “Come here and look out the window.” He hoisted Joss onto his lap and the toddler peered out. “See that? That’s Saturn. And see that big moon over there, Titan? That’s where Mommy grew up.”
“Yes, Mommy.” A few more minutes passed. “Okay, you see this big planet here? This is Jupiter. And that moon over there, that’s Ganymede. That’s where I grew up.”
“No,” he said, “that isn’t Grammy Belinda. And, uh, you might not want to say that to her when you meet her.”
Lili looked up, eyes a little swollen. “Sorry,” she said, “I want to be supportive and I know this is big but I can’t help being worried.”
“It’s okay,” Doug said, “I know if there was something wrong with Melissa, that you’d be there for me. So I’m gonna be there for you, I swear.” They kissed.
“Eww!” Joss exclaimed as the baby, finally, quieted down.
When they finally landed on Ceres, it was late and everyone was tired. Leonora Digiorno was there to greet them. “Where’s Melissa?” Doug asked.
“She’s at the Med Center. Labor started early.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Doug was a bit peeved.
“What were you gonna do about it?” Norri asked, “Now, c’mon, it’s still pretty early. Her folks are there. Mine are coming, too. Man, oh man, it is gonna be one crowded delivery room, not to mention the labor room. But I suppose this is what we get with our arrangement.”
Norri drove as the rest of them sat there. As before, Doug was antsy, and this time he drummed his fingers on the dashboard as he occasionally exhorted Norri to drive faster.
As Norri had predicted, the labor room was crowded. Introductions were made as quickly as possible. Lili didn’t really know what to do with herself. Dino, Norri’s father, finally got her a chair. “Can I get you some water?” he asked.
“Uh, sure, thank you,” she said, adjusting Marie Patrice in her arms.
He came back with a plastic cup. “Here, can I hold her?”
“If you don’t mind, thanks.” They traded the cup for Marie Patrice.
He looked down at the baby. “I don’t know how you and I relate to one another, or if we even do. The whole thing is surreal to me.”
“Me, too,” Lili said, “what do you call the child of your spouse’s lover? What does he call me?”
“I don’t know,” Dino said, “and what am I called? Am I Grandpapa? Or Dino? Or just hey you?”
“I don’t think you’re just hey you,” Lili said.
Joss came over. “’Ommy? Where’s Tommy?”
“He isn’t born yet,” Lili said, “Do you want to say hi to Mister Digiorno here?”
“Hi,” Joss said quietly, suddenly shy.
“My boy,” Dino said, “I understand you came over on a very big transport today.”
“Big, big ship.”
“Yes, and did you see a lot of stars as you traveled?”
“What is that?” Dino asked Lili.
“I think he means Saturn.”
“Ah,” Dino said, “and it is very pretty, isn’t it?” He gave Marie Patrice back to Lili. “I have no grandchildren, you see.”
“Well, isn’t Tommy going to be your grandson?”
“I suppose.” Dino replied. “Belinda wants to be everyone’s grandmother. Me, I’m not so sure about the roles and all of that.”
“I think you can be who you want to be,” Lili said, “And maybe the names and all the official things are ultimately a little silly.”
“I don’t know,” he replied. Who was really related to whom? The baby, Tommy, was, biologically, Doug and Melissa’s. His daughter, Leonora, wasn’t involved at all, yet he was somehow expected to be a grandfather. And this little baby girl was wholly unrelated to him, but was Tommy’s half-sister, the child of Lili and Doug. Dino felt he needed a scorecard to keep it all straight.
They waited. And waited. And waited some more.
It was way past midnight, into May the sixth. Lili had set up shop on a few chairs, for diaper changes and the like. Joss slept, on and off, sometimes with his stuffed dinosaur toy on a chair and sometimes on Dino’s lap. Everybody else kept filing in and out of the labor room.
Finally, Belinda Digiorno came out. “This is it. But she only wants Norri and Doug in there,” she explained. The Maddens – Melissa’s parents – came out but they were so exhausted they just melted into chairs and didn’t say anything.
The delivery, fortunately, was fairly quick. Doug came out to fetch all of them. “We have Tommy. And he has Melissa’s hair.” He smiled; eyes crinkly at the edges. He helped Lili to collect all of the diaper bag’s contents and then escorted everyone into the recovery room.
Melissa was sitting up, sweaty brown hair a bit plastered to her head, but with a huge smile on her face. Tommy was quiet, big eyes taking it all in. “Now,” Melissa said, “Look at all of these people! There’s your grandparents – all four of them. And there’s your Daddy. And your Mama Norri. And, and Lili, what do you want to be called?”
“I don’t know.”
“’Ommy,” Joss said.
“Maybe not that,” Lili said quickly, “Maybe just my first name.”
“You’ve got more status than that,” Doug said, coming close to his wife. “How about if he calls you Mom Lili or Mommy Lili or something like that?”
“Too long,” Lili said, “Ma Lili?”
“It makes him sound Appalachian,” Norri said, “And would you,” she bent over to speak to Joss, “call me Ma Norri and call Melissa Ma Melissa?”
“That’s close enough,” Melissa said.
“How long will you stay?” Belinda asked Doug.
“How long?” he asked Lili.
“I know if it were up to you, you’d just stay and stay,” she said, “but I’ve gotta end maternity leave some time and go back to Lafa II and the restaurant. A month, maybe?”
“We can put you up,” Dino said, “You’re, uh, you’re family. I think.”
Lili was about to say something about not wanting to impose when her PADD dinged. She looked at it, juggling Marie Patrice again. Norri ended up taking the baby off her hands.
“Is that another one of those automated messages?” Doug asked.
“No, it’s a visual. Oh, God, it’s just a generic address.” She sat down abruptly.
Doug came over and held her hand. “We’re all in this together,” he said. Everybody else looked over, concerned.
She cautiously opened the recorded message, and a familiar British-accented voice said, “I’ve missed you. I was able to get to the Columbia for messages and a wash. The Enterprise is in for repairs, and then we’ll be back out for the fighting. I suppose Thomas has arrived by now. Please give everyone my best. I love you.”
“What do you call him?” Dino asked.
“Mackum!” Joss exclaimed.
“I suppose that works,” Melissa said, “Hear that, Tommy? Everyone got to be here, somehow.”
“Bright, shiny new people with bright, shiny new relationships,” Lili said.
“Not so new,” Dino said, “I guess we can just call this family.”
Achieving Peace by jespah
On August 4, 2160, peace is achieved between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire, and Laura Hayes is there.
Wars are glorious. They are huge, banging affairs. Songs and stories are written about them.
But getting to peace is a lot harder, and it often isn’t something that people sing about. Schoolchildren might memorize the names of treaties, but no one ever seems to think too hard about when they happened, or who brought them into being, or why they are the way they are.
And that was how Laura Hayes liked it.
She was sitting in the Xindi Council chamber. It was a little warm in there and she was dozing off just a tiny bit. Her PADD skittered into sleep mode and first showed the time – fourteen thirty-one hours and then the date – August the fourth of 2160. Then the PADD began to show family photographs, in random order. There was an image of her late younger brother, Jay, when he was about eleven years old or so, on his bike. Then there was a picture of Doug and Lili Beckett, who weren’t exactly family, but weren’t exactly not family, either. It had something to do with infinite universes but Laura was an attorney and not a physicist so she just took it all on face value. Doug had been Hayes, but his mother’s maiden name – the same as Laura’s mother– had been Beckett. He had come over and reversed himself, and changed his life along with his surname. Another photograph was of the Becketts with their young son, Joss and the new baby, Marie Patrice. They were as close to a niece and nephew as Laura figured she would ever get. Then another image flew by, of Laura with her mother, Lena, when Laura had graduated from Law School.
Her elbow was jogged, which disturbed the PADD, thereby ending the impromptu slide show.
“Pay attention,” her boss whispered to her. He was an Andorian, T’therin.
“Oh, sorry. Do you think we’ll see them, finally?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, “but I’m hoping. We’ve had war with them for years and have never seen a Romulan. It seems cowardly and over the top dramatic, if you ask me.”
“They can amp up the terror that way,” Laura replied.
Ambassador Soval of Vulcan began to speak. “We are gathered here in order to witness the formal engagement of a treaty between our coalition and the Romulans. Representatives of our coalition worlds are grateful to our hosts, the Xindi people.” Chara Sika, the Xindi representative – she was a sloth – nodded in acknowledgement. “The Tellarites have suffered more casualties than the rest of us; their representative is Gral. I am, naturally, the representative for the Vulcan people. The Andorian representative is T’therin. And the human representative is Emily Stone.”
He paused for a moment and sipped some water. “Today marks a new day for our peoples. We have worked together nearly seamlessly. And the fruits of our labors are obvious, for we have achieved peace on this day. I will now ask our hosts to open up a communications channel with Romulus so that we may formally conclude the peace negotiations.” He nodded and a young Xindi Reptilian began to work the communications controls.
After several minutes, the Reptilian said, “Ambassador Soval, Ambassador Sika, I can’t get them on the line. Something is jamming the signal.”
Laura got up. This wasn’t her bailiwick but she was a tad bored and perhaps she could offer at least moral support. She asked the Reptilian, “Are you trying with a visual?”
“Well, yeah,” he said.
“Maybe try without it,” she suggested, “I’m no technician, but they didn’t want us to see them. I know it seems ludicrous, but maybe they still don’t want us to see them.”
“It is absurd,” agreed the Reptilian as he worked the controls. “I mean, I never supported the war between your and my species, but at least we were open about things.” He punched button after button, trying a number of different combinations in order to get the blasted thing to work. “And then we were able to end the hostilities a lot quicker, I figure. I mean, I’m no diplomat, or anything.”
“I bet you’re as good a diplomat as I am a technician,” Laura said.
“Touché. But I mean, honestly, people who go to war should be prepared for what happens afterwards, I figure.” He listened carefully, holding an earpiece to the side of his head.
“Prepared?” asked Laura.
“Well, yeah. We all gotta live in the same galaxy, right? So unless you commit genocide, you’ve gotta live with your opponents. Ah, hang on a sec.” He turned a lever. “It’s staticky, but I think I might have ‘em. As per usual, there’s no visual.”
Soval raised an eyebrow. “Faceless to the end.”
“It’s rude!” Gral declared.
“Perhaps they are planning a future attack,” said Chara Sika. “We must remain vigilant.”
“It’s possible,” agreed Ambassador Stone. She sighed. “My niece is in Science and is in on the NX-01. My son is practicing medicine and is looking to get onto, maybe, a smaller ship as the Enterprise and the Columbia are already staffed. But they’re just going to be warriors if this continues. I just want to see young people have their dreams. Constant conflict will derail those dreams, I fear.”
“Wait, wait,” said the Reptilian. “I have them.”
Soval nodded, and a crackling static could be heard, but so could a voice. The voice was most likely not organic. It sounded flat and affectless, and purely mechanical. “Coalition, we have received your terms.”
“And what say you?” Soval inquired.
“They are accepted.”
“It is customary,” Soval said, “for treaty participants to meet in person. It is seen as a gesture of good faith to come out of hiding.”
“These are our terms. A meeting is not a part of them. If a meeting is pressed for, this treaty will be cancelled.”
Soval looked around and then motioned to the Reptilian to cut the sound. “We will take a vote. Will we accept this final condition?”
“It’s rude and upsets the balance. I say no,” Gral stated.
“I’ll accept it if it gets this damned war done,” Emily sighed again.
T’therin said, “On behalf of the Andorian people, I cannot condone another condition. What will be next?”
“Chara Sika?” Soval asked.
“My people are not, technically, a part of your coalition,” she reminded him.
“True,” he said, “but there are those who hope that this conflict will have convinced your people to join it.” He paused. “I am one of those who so hopes.”
She looked at him and stroked her grey beard a bit. “I say to accept it. It is a small thing, and so many have suffered for far too long.”
“Sir?” the Reptilian asked, “They’re hailing us. They’re wondering what the delay is.”
“I suppose I shall break the tie,” Soval said, motioning for the communications to be restored. “We agree to your final condition,” he said, “provided that peace is achieved.”
There was a ding and the Reptilian looked at incoming communications. He said, “I have a signed copy of the treaty.”
“Then we have done it,” Soval said, “You will contact the media for the four coalition member worlds and the media for the Xindi people, and tell them that today, August the fourth of 2160, peace was achieved with the Romulan Star Empire.” Wearily – or at least it seemed that way to Laura – he sat down, his shoulders hunched.
She hastily tapped out a short message on her PADD. “To Douglas and Lili Beckett – the war is over.”
Emily did the same, typing, “To Mark Stone – your life can begin, my son. The war is over.”
Chara Sika did, writing to her young daughter, who had barely begun to learn to read, “To Aranda Chara – I am coming home.”
And, unbeknownst to them, in the main Romulan government building, a message went out to all of the Romulan people, and even to the subjugated race, the Remans. And it said, “We have been most fortunate, as we were almost done in. But we have survived. The hostilities have ended.”
At the conclusion of the Romulan War, all fingers point to Starfleet when a crime is committed in nearby Mill Valley. Takes place in August and September of 2160.
Written in response to the August 2012 Criminal Intentions challenge, Shell Shock can be found here.
There's Something About Hoshi by jespah
In November of 2160, First Contact with the Arisians has a strange effect on Hoshi.
There's Something About Hoshi is here.
New Year's Day of 2161 brings a fresh threat to the Empress and her family.
“Were you followed?” asked Josh Rosen. He was in Security, but he was mighty insecure all the same.
Chip Masterson – the Tactical Officer – shook his head. The door to the unused lab they were in swished open, and they both held their breaths. It was a young brunette who cautiously entered. The door slid closed. “Lucy, good,” Chip said, kissing her. “How’d you swing it?”
“I said I was looking for old science equipment. You know she hates science, so she doesn’t care,” Lucy Stone replied. “It does pay to be the Science Officer sometimes – the Empress doesn’t think any of it matters. I’ll never be more than an Ensign unless I knife a lot of people. You, for instance,” she said to Chip. “Not that I would, of course.”
“Heh, thanks,” Chip replied.
The door slid open again, and they all ducked. A tall guy entered, with a slight man who was very good-looking. The taller one hit the wall control to get the door to slide closed faster, and then locked it. He turned to them. “Okay, looks like we’re all here.”
“Right, Aidan,” said the good-looking one.
“What about Ramirez?” inquired Josh.
“Too risky,” said Aidan, “Chief Engineer or not, he’s still being watched closely. I hear Torres put Hodgkins on to watch him.”
“Hodgkins is like a rabid Rottweiler,” confirmed Chip. “So you’re joining our little cabal, Andy?” he asked the good-looking guy.
“Definitely. Just watching what’s been happening to everyone, you know. Empress Hoshi seems to think that the only women who can be on board are her or, well, not too many others. I know you’re kept here because you’re really good,” he said to Lucy. “Same with Shelby Pike and Melissa Madden. After that, there aren’t too many. Porter, yeah. Brodsky, Socorro, gals like that. The regular human population is already, what, seventy-five percent male? But here, it’s closer to ninety.”
“You recommended me for this damned job, remember?” Lucy asked. “I’d be on Tellar, or something, and at least away from here.”
“At the time,” Andy said, “I was hoping to, you know, rekindle something. Er, no offense, Chip.”
Masterson looked at them askance. “Let’s get back to the topic at hand.”
“Right,” Aidan said, “getting away, and getting our kids away.”
There were nods all around. “You’re smart guys,” Josh asked, “why the hell didja have kids with the Empress?”
“You gotta understand,” Aidan said, “It’s not like we had a whole helluva lotta choice in the matter. You get called into the Ready Room – Chip, you can confirm this – and she makes eyes at you. And then she hauls out the dagger, and you realize she’s not kidding. You do the deed, and as often as necessary. She gets pregnant, and then she moves on. When she got pregnant with Arashi, it was kinda touch and go there and she wasn’t sure, and both Torres and Ramirez were hanging around. That’s why nobody knows who that kid’s father really is. And Torres blocks anyone trying to figure out.”
“Why? Why would he wanna be on the hook like that?” Lucy asked.
“He’s a true believer,” Josh said, “Once he got put in charge of Security – you know, when Hayes escaped to that planet and Haddon got killed?” Chip cringed a little, and Lucy took his hand. Deborah Haddon had been his girl before her, and Chip had had to recover her body. “Yeah, well Torres got some power. He’s Head of Security and all that, and he kinda likes things that way. If it’s ever found out that Arashi Sato is really Frank Ramirez’s kid and not his, José Torres loses his status. And he doesn’t like that.”
“It’s kinda the perfect plan, when you think about it,” Aidan remarked. “She comes onto the men on the senior staff. We do the deed. And there really is something in it for us.”
“A royal roll in the hay?” Lucy asked, wrinkling her nose.
“Not just that,” Chip confirmed. “It’s a bit of security. She had Aidan’s kid second – Kira. Aidan may have been busted from Tactical to babysitting duties, but he gets to stay alive because he’s needed. And it’s also because of Kira’s very existence. That boy is an insurance policy in a lot of ways. Long as he remains alive, Hoshi’s hard-pressed to want to kill Aidan, no matter what. I mean, do something really bad, and she won’t stand on ceremony.”
“Oh, like this?” Lucy asked. “And honestly, Chip, is this why she’s had twins with you?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. “Not my finest hour. But the existence of Takara and Takeo means, for Hoshi, that she figures that I won’t take potshots at the mother of my children.”
“And Jun?” Lucy asked. “That one didn’t go as planned, I take it.”
“It did not. That guy Daniels was outta here like a flash. Reports said he was killed in some nasty shuttle crash on Daranaea,” Josh stated. “So the first born is kind of a cypher, but in a different way from Arashi.”
“Got it,” Lucy said, “and now she’s having Mayweather’s kid.”
“Right,” Aidan said, “I gotta figure this is the last one, at least for a while. This’ll be her sixth in five years. 2156 to now 2161 – these have been busy years for a round-heeled Empress. But I am thinking things aren’t, you know, springing back like they used to.”
“So this is the opportunity,” Josh said, “the five of us, the three kids and I’m guessing we find some likely planet, or something.”
“I don’t know our real course unless I overhear it on the Bridge,” Lucy said. Chip’s nod confirmed that. “But I do sometimes hear about a few advance plans. And she’s got this idea now; she wants me to work on it with the Vulcan slaves.”
“Oh?” Aidan inquired.
“She knows the Defiant is from another universe. And it’s a good century and a half ahead of us. So she’s got it in her head that she can get another ship just like it if she can get her hooks into the, well, we’ve been referring to it as the other side of the pond,” she said.
“How’s she trying to do that?” Aidan asked.
“She wants Tactical involved, too,” Chip said. “She thinks if we attune the main phaser bank to a radiation band of twenty-one centimeters, and we blast a hole out in space, it’ll blast a hole over to the other side.”
“Twenty-one what?” asked Josh.
“It’s almost a valid idea,” Andy conceded, “’Cause that’s how the Defiant itself registers, right?”
“Right,” Lucy confirmed. “If she succeeds, maybe we could go to the other side. Maybe that other side is better.”
“Can’t be any worse than here,” Josh said.
“There’s a flaw in her reasoning,” Andy said, “She’s not taking into account that there might be a time differential. Maybe the Defiant is a century and a half or so ahead because it’s also a century and a half ahead in time. There are a few clues around. The database may be shot to hell, but there are things like the dedication plaque, and it’s from later.”
“’Sides,” Aidan said, Tactical thinking on his mind, “Even assuming she gets through to the right time period, I bet the Defiant wasn’t unique. So she goes in with her one ship, and it gets blasted outta the air by fifty other ships ‘cause there are hundreds of others and this is nothing special. So if we go over, we’d better be surrendering.”
They all thought for a moment. “Look, I better go soon. Someone’s bound to need a diaper change,” Aidan said, “We’ll meet more later, right? Be cautious, okay? Be prudent. Don’t trust anybody but us five, okay? Ramirez is getting watched too closely, sorry to say, so don’t get him involved.”
“Right,” Andy said. He got the door opened and checked around, and then allowed it to close again. “Coast is clear. I better get back to guarding the Armory anyway. This was good idea – New Year’s Day – but we won’t have quite so many hung over crew members tomorrow or the next day.”
“Hmm,” Chip said, “The South American Pistoleros are playing the Ganymede Hunters in two days. We’ll have the game on the viewer of course. Let’s see if we can make sure the synthbeer flows a little more freely than usual, all right? Then we can get together the following morning, just like this.”
“I gotta go,” Josh said, “I’ll go work on the slaves at the mess hall. Convince ‘em to pour extra on Game Night, okay?”
Lucy rooted around in a storage bin. “Here, I’ll take this with me as a pretext.” It was a medical scanner. “Same time in three days, right?”
Everyone left but her and Chip. They kissed again. “Be patient, be prudent,” he said. “This can’t last forever. And then we’ll be gone, with the kids, and we can be together openly.” She nodded and kissed him again, and then left for the Bridge, the frying pan to the fire.
On January 7, 2161, the Empress confines Aidan to quarters.
"I am the Empress of the goddamned Terra Empire and you're telling me you can't get rid of a few mice?!!" The thirty-one-year-old and pregnant for the fifth time Empress Hoshi Sato was turning purple in her fury as she paced in the Defiant's Ready Room. A wall chronometer showed the time - 1123 hours - and the date - January 7, 2161.
"Empress," ventured Aidan MacKenzie, the royal babysitter who was currently changing the Empress's only daughter, seven-month-old Takara. "There are hundreds of them, maybe thousands by now. They multiply quickly."
"You hear that?" she patted her own belly. "You'll be swimming in rodents before you turn five." She looked up at Aidan, who was considerably taller than she was. "What about the traps?"
"Traps? Masterson was supposed to set them a few years ago, as I recall. And it was already too late. There was already a flood of 'em."
"Yeah, well, Aidan, as I recall correctly, you were on the trapping mission at that time, too. Or did you think I would have forgotten that. I swear, you and Chip Masterson were goofing off, and I was pregnant with your son, Kira, then!"
"And, if I recall correctly, Empress," he was a bit peeved, and opened the talc container a little too forcefully. There was a small cloud of white powder and he and the Empress and little Takara, and four other children, all in bassinets in the Ready Room, all coughed a little until it subsided. "As I was saying, Empress, you were getting ready to throw me over for Torres. Or maybe it was Ramirez."
"It was both," she grinned, thinking of the tall Security guy and the Chief Engineer.
"Which one of 'em is Arashi's father?"
"None of your business," she huffed, but the truth was that she had no idea, and wasn't about to find out. With wide targets painted on the backs of all five of her children - and there would be a target painted on the back of the sixth one as well, she had enough sense to retain a little mystery and, hopefully, protect them a little. Arashi, the third child, seemed to be the smartest one of them all, even though he was only one and a half or so.
"And then Masterson, father of her," he indicated Takara, "and her twin. I swear, Hoshi, you barely leave me any time to think straight before you squeeze out another one. At some point, I'd like to stop changing diapers."
"You will not call me anything but Empress," she seethed.
"You're a goddamned factory," he accused. "A slutty baby-making machine." He pinned the other side of Takara's cloth diaper - the replicators were still not working, but at least the laundry was - and picked up Kira, the only one who was his. Kira was about two and a half. "I quit. Kirin and I are leaving. Just, just drop us off on some rock and I'll figure something out." Kira began to cry a little. "Hush, Kirin."
"Kirin? That means giraffe, you dolt. His name is Kira - dark."
"Whatever," Aidan threw back, "we're still leaving. Good luck getting Mayweather to take care of any of your brats, even though you're carrying his." He hit the controls on the Ready Room door.
Outside, on the Bridge, Travis Mayweather sat in command, with Shelby Pike sitting in as the pilot in his stead. Chip Masterson was at Tactical, which had been Aidan's old spot until his disgrace and demotion to the unenviable role of babysitter. Lucy Stone was at Science, and Gary Hodgkins sat at Communications, relieving the Empress. They all looked up when the Ready Room door opened.
"Get back here," Hoshi commanded, "you're not done yet."
"The hell I'm not! Shh, Kirin," he soothed his son as well as he could. Flashes of the tiniest of sympathetic looks could be seen, very, very, briefly, on the faces of Pike, Masterson and Stone, but not the others.
"We are far from anything out here," Hoshi said, "Pike!" she barked.
"What's the closest star system?"
Shelby checked her instruments. "The Lafa System, I think."
"Stoney?" Hoshi asked, turning to Lucy.
Lucy checked. "Records are spotty but they're a copper race, already enslaved by the Terran Empire. Quadruple star system, pretty close to Klingon space, too."
"Then we'll go there," Hoshi decided, "but you," she turned to Hodgkins.
"Your job is to move the royal children. Get in Torres if you need any help."
"Where to?" he asked, taking the earpiece out of his ear.
"My quarters. Get all of the bassinets in there."
"I'm not so sure that all five will fit," Hodgkins stated. "And there's gonna be a sixth one in, what, six months? Seven?"
"Make them fit," she commanded. "The royal children will all live there for the duration. And get a pair of Security crewmen in here."
He punched up an open channel on his console. "I need Curtis and Rosen here on the Bridge, on the double," he barked. "Empress's orders."
As soon as the two Security guys arrived, Hoshi commanded, "Aidan is going to be confined my quarters. See that he gets there, and he stays in there."
"Do we let him out for anything?" asked Curtis.
"No," she snarled. "He and the royal children will be staying there, including," she made a point of emphasizing the name, "Kira."
"It's gonna be mighty loud in there," Hodgkins laughed. "And it'll stink!"
"You'll have to let your children out at some point," Aidan pointed out, "you may want me to be under house arrest, but they certainly aren't, not even Kirin."
"Right," she said, sounding a little bored with things, "but for now Kira will stay with Jun, and Takeo, and Arashi, and Takara - and you, you unlucky piece of trash. Trapped just like those mice should've been all along."
Curtis grabbed Aidan's arm, and he flinched a little at the contact. "C'mon, Babysitter."
"This isn't over," Aidan whispered.
"Oh, but it is," the Empress playfully chucked him under the cheek, and he flinched again. "You're gonna stay in my cage, like the rodent that you are. But don't worry - at least it's gilded."
A return to resolve unfinished business on both sides of the pond, and to introduce a character bridging the way to the next series, Times of the HG Wells.
He really didn’t want to go back there.
It was the last thing he wanted to do.
But it was his family that was at stake, so he put everything aside, and went anyway.
Could he put back what had gone haywire?
Beginning on the first of February, 2161, with some incoherence to May of that year, the story contains flashes forward to December 26, 2166 and June of 2178.
Temper can be found here.
Coveted Commodity by jespah
Written in response to the January 2012 Trek BBS "Bright New Day" challenge. Takes place in May of 2161. Because Temper has incoherent time, this does not break fanon, although it does bend it a bit.
A swing for the fences type of story, intended to wrap up the series, but the characters had other things in mind.
How do you begin, or begin anew?
What’s going to happen next?
What if you could predict it, or at least have a good handle on forever?
What would you do with that information?
And for the people you’ve promised yourself to, forever, what does that really mean? Do you ignore the truth, or do you listen to all of it, even the ugliest parts?
The story begins on October 25, 2161, and contains flashbacks to events taking place between 2128 and 2157, and flashes forward to events taking place from 2165 through 2234, with extreme future flash forwards to 2379, 2991 and 3109. Also directly shows events in January of 2162.
Fortune can be found here.
Day of the Dead by jespah
The worst horrors aren’t found on a movie screen. Tripp Tucker finds himself whisked to an unfamiliar time and place during Halloween, the Day of the Dead and All Souls’ Day, 2161.
You can find Day of the Dead here -
To Wish, To Want, To Desire by jespah
On January 11, 2162, Treve and Pamela talk about their expectations for a relationship.
“Now that was an amazing party,” Treve said. He was a Calafan, bald, with solid silver arms – in his very early twenties.
“Yes! It was great!” enthused Doctor Pamela Hudson, the knockout he’d met there, not four hours previously. She was blonde and curvy and easily a good seventeen or so years older than him, but that part did not matter one whit. “So, whaddaya wanna do?” she emphasized her words in such a way that it felt, to Treve, like there were hidden meanings there.
He swallowed hard. She was a beautiful woman – and not just for a human – and the effect was much as what it would have been if he were human or she were a Calafan. “I should take you back to your uncle’s.” They were right in front of his car, a late 2161 model.
“We could make a night of it,” she said, looking him up and down. She came closer.
He fumbled with the car door. “I, uh, your uncle’s?”
“Uncle Cyril will be home. How ‘bout your place?”
“My mother and sister are in. You met them today, as well. My brother is at school.”
“Oh, well, then, a hotel?”
“Pamela, we’ve only just met.”
“So I, well, this is making me rather uncomfortable.”
“Huh,” she said, getting into the car and smoothing her skirt. He shut the door and got in on the other side. “Treve?”
“Don’t you, well, don’t you, you know, wanna?”
Trembling a little, he looked at this woman he had only met a few hours before, a friend of Doug and Lili Beckett, an ex-girlfriend of Malcolm Reed. The party they’d just attended had been a second birthday party for Doug and Lili’s daughter, Marie Patrice. Plus it had been to meet Declan, Lili and Malcolm’s newborn son. Tripp Tucker had died recently – the party was a gentle comfort for Malcolm and even for Captain Jonathan Archer, who had stayed briefly after dropping Malcolm off to begin his paternity leave.
“I, it is, please understand,” Treve said. He touched her hand lightly, and the contact felt electric. “I do. I wish to, very, very much.”
“Then why don’t you do anything? Every guy I’ve ever known, since I was fifteen, we’d end our first date in the sack.”
“I want to; I want to know you first. Can I, can I know you first? Will you have the patience for, for that?”
Pamela nodded slowly, realizing that, with this alien man, she had finally met the one who would be different. In short, she had met the one.
They never said your name, but I knew just who they meant.
Hoshi and T'Pol go through Tripp's things and are both affected, but in different ways.
On the Radio can be found here.
Just after the NX-01 is decommissioned in 2162, Travis heads to Philadelphia to mourn Tripp Tucker and think about his next career move.
A day before the NX-01 finally ended its mission, Chip Masterson held a final Movie Night. “This is a classic,” he had said, “the first James Bond flick, Dr. No.” But he hadn’t joked about the film, or even mentioned who was in it, like he normally did. There was no discussion afterwards, either, for his mood was the same as that of the remainder of the crew – somber.
It had only been a few days before that Tripp Tucker had died. But Captain Archer, inexplicably, had insisted on the showing of the final movie. And so all that Chip had added was the one final command, “Roll it, Aidan.”
Only a few people had attended. Apart from Chip Masterson and Aidan MacKenzie, Travis Mayweather had put in an appearance, as had Doctor Phlox and some of the MACOs, like Nanette Myers and Eric Forbes and Ramih Azar. Plus there were a few of the others, like Sandra Sloane and Judy Kelly. Ethan Novakovich from the Science Department was also there. And that was about it.
Travis thought about that last Movie Night a little bit, as he flew Shuttlepod One for one last excursion. He had a few passengers – Susie Money and Michael Rostov. Plus there was Captain Archer himself. They were leaving the Enterprise for good, and were the last ones off.
He had touched down carefully, as he always did, and grabbed his duffle. “Got any plans?” the captain asked as Rostov and Money departed.
“Nothing much,” Travis admitted, “After your speech I had no plans so, I dunno.”
“I’ve got a new ship, the DC-1500, the USS Zefram Cochrane,” said Jonathan Archer, “I’d like for you to be my stick and rudder man again.”
“Thank you, sir,” Travis said, “how soon do we get underway?”
“At least a month from now. Reed’s starting paternity leave, and he’ll be gone for three years. I’ve got Aidan filling in at Tactical and he’ll be promoted. Phlox is heading back to Denobula, so we’ll have an interim CMO, a fellow near retirement named Cyril Morgan. T’Pol is going back to Vulcan. She’ll be replaced at Science by an Ensign Lucy Stone, who comes highly recommended. Hoshi will stay on at Communications but will be the Acting First Officer while Malcolm’s out changing diapers. Hoshi will be promoted to Lieutenant. I’d like to do the same for you – the promotion, that is.”
“I appreciate your confidence in me, sir,” Travis swallowed a little before asking his next question. “And who’ll be the Chief Engineer?”
There was quiet. “Jennifer Crossman Ramirez. José Torres will be her second. But, uh, it’ll be a while before we depart. I, uh, I think we need to do a little mourning. I know I do.”
“Understood,” Travis said.
“I’ll be in touch,” said Jonathan. He left.
Travis walked to a nearby transport station, duffle swinging in his hands. “Where to?” asked the girl at the ticket window.
“Anywhere that I can get to in an hour.”
“There are lots of places,” she said, “Hey, aren’t you one of the heroes of the NX-01?”
“I’m nobody,” he said, “Can you show me a map of where I can go in an hour?”
She highlighted a map of North America on her PADD. “From San Francisco, you can go to over three-quarters of the continent in one hour.”
He thought for a moment, and pointed. “There.”
“Very well, sir. One ticket to Philadelphia. One way or round trip?”
Two months elapsed before he got the call. “Come,” was all that the captain said.
He got onto the transport at the Bala Cynwyd station and saw a familiar face. It was MACO Neil Kemper. Looking at him, Kemper said, “We meet again, Mister Bond.”
Travis smiled a little, grateful for having had a bit of time off to mull over recent events.
There was a letter on his PADD from Reed, now a Commander, filled with news of the baby, Declan. There was a note from his mother, with a picture enclosed of her and his brother, Paul. There was a note from Doctor Phlox, mentioning the news on Denobula. There was even a short missive from T’Pol, expressing a wish that he and the rest of the Cochrane’s crew would be safe throughout their mission.
But he neglected them all in favor of answering Neil. “Yes,” he said, “we meet again.”
Are some things unforgivable? Are some people irredeemable? In May of 2162, Malcolm takes Lili to meet his parents as Pamela takes Treve to meet her sister, Lisa.
Saturn Rise can be found here.
The Play at the Plate by jespah
In the Mirror, Andy meets Melissa, on July 9, 2162.
“Bets! Lay your bets!” Andy Miller yelled at his fellow crew members. They were in various stages of inebriation, but that was to be expected. It was, after all, July ninth of 2162, AKA Game Night on the ISS Defiant.
“What are we betting on?” called out Chief Engineer Frank Ramirez, over the din, as the synthbeer flowed and the few women on board who were foolish enough to watch the game in public were groped and pawed at.
“We got a possible play at the plate!” Andrew yelled back. “Ty Janeway’s on fourth base. You know Constantine will block home plate if Janeway runs for it. So I wanna know,” he took a breath, “who you think’ll win in a showdown?”
“Constantine,” Ramirez said, coming over and handing over his PADD. Andy clicked it against his own PADD in order to secure the wager. “Don’t look now,” Frank said softly, and he was hard to hear, “but isn’t that the new night shift pilot?”
A few wolf whistles confirmed that, indeed, Melissa Madden had joined the fray. She looked around for a seat. Guys like Billy Dane and Sterling Hutchinson and Walter Woods patted their own laps. Brooks Haynem even approached her, but she shoved him out of the way.
“Mister New First Officer,” she said to Andy, although it had been a few years since Travis’s death and he was no longer a newly minted Commander, “what the hell are you doing here?”
“I handle the betting. Now watch Constantine, the left-side catcher, and Janeway, on fourth. There’s gonna be a plate block, I can just tell.”
“Wanna bet?” she asked, brown eyes beguiling.
“Sure,” he said. They clicked PADDs.
On the widescreen, the announcers were overly excited. “And they’re staring each other down, just like two gladiators, Jeff,” said the color commentator.
His partner in the booth said, “Let’s watch Cole and Fong with the windups, Ted.”
There were five bases, two batters, two pitchers and two catchers - such were the ways of baseball in the Mirror Universe. Nearly simultaneously, the two pitchers hurled horsehide.
Both batters connected, but the left-side batter’s hit was far less powerful. As Andy had expected, the runner on fourth, Ty Janeway, charged toward home, with left-side catcher Dave Constantine standing there, in the way.
At the last second, there was a flash of silver, and Janeway stabbed Constantine as he slid. This got the big catcher out of the way, and Janeway touched home easily as his opponent writhed in pain. The benches cleared as the game turned into a brawl.
“You lost,” Andy said to Melissa. He had collections to make, but those others could wait.
“Come to my quarters later and collect, Mister New First Officer,” she eyed him as she said that, and then turned and left the recreation room.
He stared after her until he was punched in the arm. He turned to look in the direction of the punch. “What the hell’d ya do that for, Ramirez?”
“Miller,” Frank said to him quietly, “you are the Empress’s boy toy, and you’ve been so since Travis was killed, or have you forgotten? You go around chasing pilot tail and even the agony booth’ll be too good for ya. She’ll throw you in there for hours, watch you scream and beg and she’ll cut souvenirs off your body and then she’ll get Security to shove you outta the nearest airlock.” He clicked his PADD against Andy’s again, in order to pay off his gambling debt.
“Huh, uh, yeah,” Andy said, “I’m not thinking straight.” He finished collecting and left the room.
Instead of walking to the Empress’s plush quarters - like he was supposed to - he found himself wandering the Defiant’s hallways. He considered visiting Madden and collecting, but it seemed far too risky. The mighty Empress Hoshi Sato was blocking the plate and, in every way that counted, was preventing him from scoring.
On August eleventh of 2162, the Calafan High Priestess Yipran chooses her successor at the Festival of Lo.
All You Need is Love by jespah
Written in response to a prompt with the same name, this ficlet takes place on October 31st, 2162.
They stood over the little bed, arm in arm.
“He is the most perfect thing I have ever seen,” Malcolm said.
“Shh, you’ll wake him. You told me that when he was born, a year ago.”
“Well, he still is, love,” Malcolm said, yawning, “that was quite a birthday party. I’m exhausted.”
“Do you think he was scared at all?”
“He’s a Halloween baby. But I don’t think he quite grasped the concepts of the masks. And he figured out it was us immediately.”
“He’s a smart boy. He has your cheekbones,” she said.
“And your beautiful eyes.” They kissed.
But they weren’t quiet enough, and Declan woke up. He did not fuss, but stared at them, as if to accuse them of making too much of a racket while he was trying to get a little shut eye.
She went over to him but didn’t pick him up. “How you doin’ there, Dec?”
Declan looked at his mother and father, back and forth a few times. “Ah, uh.”
“Do you suppose he’s trying to communicate?” asked Malcolm.
“I’m sure of it,” she said, “but he hasn’t gotten the hang of the fact that the sounds aren’t random. At least, I think that’s what’s going on in his head.”
“I never thought my life would go this way,” Malcolm said, “I thought I was destined to be one of those long-term ancient hermit types that everyone’s trying to fix up with their old Auntie Hazel or some such.”
“I am nobody’s Auntie Hazel.”
They were about to kiss again when Declan said, “Adda!”
“What do you suppose that means?” Malcolm asked.
She came closer but Declan was not looking at her. He pointed at Malcolm, “Adda!”
“I believe he’s talking about you.”
And Malcolm stood there, and didn’t even bother to fight weeping. He’d let himself go enough times in their presence already. It was all right, it was safe, and no one was expecting him to be the big fighting man, the Tactical Officer, the hand to hand combatant, the superb marksman.
“I had nothing before you,” he finally choked out, “whatever I had, it was nothing. And now, now I have love.” He whispered out the last word as if it were fragile in addition to being precious.
“Forever,” she said, “it’s all you need.”
The first time for Pamela and Treve proves to be a bit more complicated than anticipated. Takes place in the early morning of July 13th of 2163.
“Treve, how long are we gonna be like this?”
“I, I don’t rightly know.”
“And you’ve never done this with a human before?”
“I’ve never done this with anyone before, Pamela.” They kissed.
“And, uh,” Pamela asked, “when do, uh, does it all, er, end?”
“I’m uncertain. I mean, I don’t know how much precedence there is for such things. What do you, uh, what do you generally do after, uh, afterwards?”
“Get a snack, watch the viewer, go to sleep, hell, I’ve left on occasion, sometimes.”
“Well, uh, most of those are out of the question right now. Could you sleep, perhaps?”
“Uh, not with you on top of me, I don’t think.”
“Oh, well, um, perhaps if I rolled a bit, you could?”
“I’m still kinda wired,” Pamela admitted. “And maybe still a little drunk.”
“The, uh, the viewer, then?”
“Can you reach the remote?” Treve asked.
“Just, um, turn, um, yeah, there.” She clicked it on. First the screen briefly showed the time – 0206 hours – and then the date – July the 13th of 2163. It was a cooking show, hosted by a middle-aged human woman and her eager male Andorian assistant. “This good for you?”
“That’s, that’s fine,” Treve replied, “if I am to, to make you breakfast, then I’ll need to know this.”
“I don’t think they’re making breakfast, Treve.”
“Oh, well, then perhaps we’ll just have olowa in a few hours.”
“How can you think of breakfast when we’re like this?” Pamela asked.
“Well, I love you, and we’ll be eating in a few hours, so why not think of breakfast?” They kissed again.
“Well, it’s just a little weird,” Pamela said, “I do love you, too, yanno, but, um, when do you think we should call a doctor if, uh, if things don’t change?”
“By breakfast, I imagine.”
The Best Things Come in Pairs by jespah
For Treve and Pamela, on July 12th of 2163, a poker game turns into something more.
They had had a few.
Well, okay, more than a few.
Pamela Hudson was better at holding her liquor than her date, a Calafan named Treve. They were now back at the apartment she had just started renting, on his planet, Lafa II.
“We have been going on, er, out,” she said, her words just a tiny bit slurred, “for over a year now.”
“Yes,” he said, “and I never saw your apartment – or anywhere you ever lived – until now.”
There was an old-fashioned deck of cards on the coffee table. “What are these?” he asked, picking up the pack and turning it over in his hands. The alcohol was working, and life was feeling like it was being lived underwater, as if he were suddenly a Xindi Aquatic.
“These, uh, things.”
“Oh! Those are playing cards. You don’t have playing cards?” Pamela rummaged around in her refrigeration unit and decided that the unopened bottle of Chardonnay was probably a bad idea. She took out a carafe of orange juice and somewhat sloppily poured them each a glass.
“What do you do with them?” Treve asked, taking a glass from her. “You know, I cannot get used to the fact that your human fruits only taste one, uh, one way.”
“It doesn’t change, like, like olowa does. Orange is just orange. Apple is just apple.”
“Sorry our fruits don’t m-measure up to your standards.” She kissed him.
“Now, about these cards,” Treve said, eluding her grasp for the moment. He liked her. He really, really, liked her. And he had been respectful and had moved slowly as she had wrapped up her affairs at the Charon Medical Center and moved to the Lafa System. She had said it was to be near her elderly uncle, one of the few members of her family she truly loved. Treve liked to think that maybe it was, at least in some small way, to be near him as well. At least, that was what he hoped for more than anything.
“Uh, what about ‘em?”
“How do you, how do you play? There’s nothing, elec-, uh, elec-, uh, nothing flashing and moving and, uh, stuff.”
“Oh, uh, poker. We could play poker.” Behind her, the wall chronometer showed the date – July the twelfth of 2163.
“What is that?”
“I deal, uh, five, uh, cards to us. Here, open up the pack and look.”
He did as requested. “They’ve got your human numbers on them.”
“Yeah, but, uh, see there’s pictures of, uh, hearts and spades and diamonds and uh, these are clovers. I think. I forget. Just count them up, see?”
“Right, but, uh, here,” he showed her some face cards. “You’ve got the High Priestess, the uh, the First Minister and uh, the First Minister’s son, such as, uh, myself?”
“Uh, sure. But those are really a Queen, a King and a Jack, Treve.”
“Isn’t Jack a human name?”
“Uh, yeah. It’s also called a Knave.”
“Huh. So I am the Knave, I suppose. And then what happens after we get five cards?”
“Well, you, uh, you send back between one and uh, three and the dealer gives you new ones.”
“You just look around and find me new cards?”
“I deal them so it’s uh, it’s random.” She slurped her juice loudly. “Then uh, whoever has higher cards or uh, matches like pairs, those are worth more than just, just single ones.”
“So it’s better to-, uh, together?”
“Right,” she said. She dealt them each a hand. “Now, uh, you, uh, you bet.”
“Bet? What would I wager with?”
“Clothes.” She giggled.
“Oh, really?” He gave her two cards back and she dealt him two new ones. Then she exchanged three for herself. “Okay, now, show me what you’ve got.”
He had a pair of fours. “Oh and here’s a High Priestess and a ten of those clovers and this other one is a red eight.”
She lay down her hand. Three aces.
“So, who won?” he asked, still a bit tipsy.
“You,” she said and, as he sat there, astonished, she took off her top.
On August 28, 2164, Malcolm and Doug investigate a mysterious pinging sound.
They were covered in grease. The only parts of them that were visible were their legs.
“Hand me that spanner,” came a clipped British-accented voice, a bit nasal.
“What?” That voice was a sweet tenor with a Ganymede accent.
“The spanner! Six tenths, I think.”
A hand groped along, and then made contact with a leg attached to the other’s body. “Er, sorry, Reed.” A pause. “What did she say the problem was?”
“A pinging noise, or some such,” Malcolm replied. “Douglas, the spanner, if you please?”
Doug Beckett slid out from under his wife’s car and looked around. “Uh, here.” He handed over the requested article. His face and hands were grease-soaked. “God, I need a shower.”
“Thank you.” There was a little quiet as Malcolm worked. “Huh. Now, a question. You’ve driven this car at times. Have you ever heard this pinging noise?”
“I haven’t,” Doug admitted, “but when I’m driving it, it always seems like I’ve got the kids with me. Marie Patrice, uh, well, ….” His voice trailed off.
“She’s quite chatty, yes.” Malcolm Reed slid out from under the vehicle. He was equally filthy. “I cannot find anything wrong with this automobile.”
“Me, neither. I mean, I’ve checked the solar line. You checked the electric pump and then we did a test run on the catalytic converter. We both drove it separately and the brakes are fine.”
“Right. And neither of us heard this mysterious pinging sound when we test drove it. What about the ignition coils?”
“Checked. And before you ask about the battery, I swapped it out for the one in my car and it’s fine in both. So’s the alternator.”
“All checked. I replaced the most worn one and it didn’t seem to matter, either,” Doug reported. “This sure is frustrating.”
“Most definitely. I even cleaned out the cabin. There were all manner of old toys in there. Declan left his little stuffed stegosaurus in there. And there was, I don’t know what, it was some sort of dried food. I am guessing it was a spot of baby food. It might even have been from when Joss was still not on solids. Took quite a bit of scrubbing to get that out.”
“Uh, Reed, that wouldn’t have been causing a pinging sound.”
“I understand that. But, well, she never lets anyone clean out her car. I thought it would be, well, a kind thing to do.”
“Lili’s a slob. At least in her car, she is,” Doug chuckled.
“Well, I would not go so far as to say –” and then Malcolm caught himself and laughed a bit. “You’re right; she is a vehicular slob. But, eh, don’t tell her I said so, all right?”
“You will owe me for this,” Doug pretended to scold with a grease-covered finger. “We should get cleaned up. They’ll be back any minute now.” He glanced at a wrist chronometer and wiped the grease off it with an equally soiled rag. It slid past the date – August the 28th of 2164 – to the time – 1648 hours.
“Come over for dinner. Mellie and Norri are gonna stay. It’ll be all ten of us.”
“Are you certain?”
“Nine or ten, at that point, it doesn’t really matter, Reed.”
“Well, all right.”
At dinner, they were considerably cleaner. The five adults all sat around, each with a child near them. Neil and Declan, the youngest, were two-year-olds nursed by their mothers, Melissa and Lili. Little four-year-old Tommy sat with his second mother, Norri, who cut up meat for him and praised him lavishly as he carefully ate with a spoon. Marie Patrice sat next to Malcolm and flirted with him, a four-year-old’s flirt as she laughed and smiled and didn’t eat anywhere near enough of her elekai stew. And Joss, the eldest, an old man of nearly six, sat next to Doug and chattered away about the sights they had seen in nearby Fep City, where there was a small Calafan natural history museum.
Malcolm asked Lili, “Dearest, we were unable to locate the noise you heard in your car.”
“Must be gremlins,” Norri joked. “C’mon, Tommy, one more bite!”
Lili stopped talking and eating and was just listening. The rest of them seemed to notice and stopped, even Marie Patrice. Even the two littlest boys stared at her. She cocked her head to the side slightly. “Anybody hear that pinging sound?”
Take Back the Night by jespah
When The Cure is Worse Than the Disease was released, a number of people asked me for a sequel. I had not originally intended to write one, and had thought of it as an Alien of the Week story and little more. But I fell in love with the Daranaeans, and so the idea for this story came about, mainly inspired by the Babyface/Eric Clapton song, Change the World.
On April 19, 2165, the Enterprise and the Columbia go to Daranaea.
Take Back the Night can be found here.
Response to a prompt of the same name. Takes place on November 5, 2165.
Cria’s plans for an afternoon with her friends go a little awry when someone gives into temptation.
Temptation may be found here.
Some Assembly Required by jespah
Written as a bit of literal holiday fluff for the 2011 holiday season.
The December 2165 holidays are celebrated on the NX-01 and on Daranaea.
Some Assembly Required can be found here.
Tommy Digiorno-Madden gets an eyeful when he’s sent home early from school one day. Takes place on September 11, 2166.
“Yes, Miss Elenyakiyah?”
“Step forward,” said the Calafan teacher. She was humanoid, with long, slender features and a silver pattern to her arms that was starting to emerge nicely. That, plus her very short silvery-blonde hair, marked her as being about thirty-five years of age. She stared at the six-year-old human boy in front of her.
“Yes, Miss Elenyakiyah.”
“Did you draw this?” She showed him a picture, scrawled on real paper. It was not a very good drawing, of a huge flightless bird native to the southern hemisphere of Lafa II – an elekai.
“And what does the caption say?” the teacher asked sternly. “Read it loud enough, so that the entire class can hear.” Behind her, a display cycled through the time – fourteen hundred twenty hours and then to the date – September eleventh of 2166.
“Miss Elekai,” he mumbled, barely at the edge of coherence.
“What did you say?” she asked sharply.
“Miss, uh, it says Miss Elekai.”
“Am I given to understanding, Thomas Digiorno-Madden, that you think I look like an elekai?”
There was giggling behind him. He spun around briefly in order to ascertain the sources of the laughter. It was a one-room schoolhouse, much like human pioneers had used a good three hundred years previously, on Earth. But this was 2166, and they were on the northern continent of Lafa II. Still, they were pioneers, just the same.
One of the Calafan children – Yinora – was laughing. But, as he turned to face the rest of the children in the large combined elementary classes, the human children also began to laugh. There was his full brother, Neil, who was younger than he. There was his half-brother, Joss Beckett. And his half-sister, Marie Patrice – Empy – Beckett. They were both older than Tommy. And there was also their half-brother, Declan Reed, who was maybe a month older than Neil. There were other human children laughing, too, like Davey Ryan and Cindy Morgan and Jia Sulu.
In short, pretty much everyone.
“Thomas?” The teacher asked, “I am waiting.”
“It wasn’t me,” Tommy said, after thinking it over a bit, “It was Neil. And, and Declan drew the picture.”
“Thomas,” she said, losing her patience a little, “it is your own handwriting. And we all know that Declan doesn’t draw like this.”
“Thomas, are you lying to me?” Her expression was a very stern one.
“It was Neil!”
The teacher sighed. “I would contact the headmaster, but he is on his vacation. I have no choice but to send you home today, with a note.” She quickly tapped out a note on her PADD and sent it. “I shall get someone to take you to your apartment in Fep City.”
“N-no, Miss Elek – uh, Elenyakiah. We are staying at my, my Daddy’s house while the apartment is being fixed up.”
“Miss Elenyakiah,” Joss volunteered, “he can walk home to my house from here. It’s not far.”
“Do you know the way?” the teacher inquired.
“Then go. Be back bright and early tomorrow.”
As his half-brother had said, it was a short walk. He didn’t knock, and the door was unlocked as all of the human homes were on Lafa II during that time period. His Daddy, he knew, was putting his military unit through training drills on Lafa IX. His Daddy’s wife, who he called Ma Lili, was at work in her restaurant. And Declan’s Daddy, Malcolm Reed, was the First Officer on the Zefram Cochrane and was off somewhere or another on a mission. Maybe his mother, and the woman he called Mama Norri would be home. He shrugged. Or maybe they wouldn’t.
In the guest bedroom of the Beckett home, Melissa Madden and Leonora – Norri – Digiorno were having a high old time of it. Afterglow was turning back into foreplay. Melissa lay back, eyes closed, concentrating on her lover’s touch and taste as Norri did the same.
“Mommy? Mommy? Can I have some tofflin juice?”
For a split second, the lovers did not hear Tommy. Their door was open, and he absentmindedly barged right in. “Mommy? Uh, Mommy? Mama Norri? What are you doing?”
Melissa sat up, fast, nearly knocking Norri off the bed in the process. They were both stark naked and grabbed the sheet. “Tommy!” Melissa finally squeaked out. “You’re home early!”
“Teacher sent me home with a note.” He looked at them closely. “Were you making babies?”
Norri swallowed. It seemed all too early for the talk. “Tommy?” she asked, attempting to maintain her composure. “Can you please give Mommy and me about five minutes? Go, um, go put your jacket on the peg in the hallway and, um, we’ll talk, all right?”
“Can I have tofflin juice?” he asked again.
“Only a little,” Melissa said.
He turned to leave and they quickly shut the bedroom door behind him, clothes flying at each other as they dressed in record time. They emerged from the guest bedroom as soon as they could.
“Uh, Tommy?” Melissa ventured, “You wanna talk about what you saw?”
“Is that how I was made?” he asked.
“Uh, not exactly,” Norri said, “um, here, let’s see. Now, you know your Daddy is named Doug Beckett. And he’s married to your Ma Lili Beckett, right?” Tommy nodded so she continued. “And they love each other very much. And so they made two babies together, Jeremiah and Marie Patrice.”
“Joss and Empy,” Tommy said.
“That’s right,” Melissa said. “And they have something called an open marriage. And, uh, because of that, your Daddy also loves me very much, and we made two babies – you and Neil.”
“Who made Declan? Was it you, Mama Norri. Did you help?”
“No,” Norri reddened a little, “It was your Ma Lili and Malcolm Reed.”
“Oh yeah, Mackum,” he said. “Mama Norri?”
“Yes, my love?”
“Why didn’t you make any babies? Is it because Mommy’s not a boy?”
“Uh, we’ll go with that,” Melissa said.
Linfep Linfep Linfep by jespah
On October 1, 2166, Lili explains the facts of life to the kids.
“Linfep linfep linfep.”
“Huh, Mommy?” Marie Patrice Beckett rolled over, unused to sleeping in the same bed as her mother.
“Oh, uh, nothing. My mother used to say,” Lili O’Day Beckett reminisced for a moment, “that on the first of the month, you’re supposed to say ‘Rabbit rabbit rabbit’. But there are no rabbits here on Lafa II, just linfep. Close, but no cigar. One of these days, we’ll all go to Earth and you’ll see real rabbits.”
“Okay. When is Dad gonna be back? And Mackum? And what about Ma Mellie and Ma Norri?”
“My oh my, so many questions this morning! And I haven’t even gotten into the same room as the coffee yet.” Lili swung her legs over to the side so that her feet touched the floor, feeling her fifty-seven-year-old knees creak just a bit. “Still, your questions are legitimate ones. Dad will be home, um, I think on the third. I’m sure he’ll be sick of the recruits and camping out by then.” At age sixty-three, Doug would likely be waking up on the bare ground of Lafa VIII and feeling even stiffer and achier than Lili was. “Malcolm is still out on the Cochrane, guarding the Romulan Neutral Zone. I have no idea when he’ll be returning. Norri and Melissa will be back in a couple of weeks.”
“Why are they on Earth again?” The six and a half-year-old had a much easier time getting up.
“Your Uncle Phil is playing in a concert. Now, go wash up and get your brothers up and we’ll make pancakes, all right?”
“Do I hafta?”
“Yes, Miss Empy. Now, scoot!” As her daughter left to wake up one full brother, Joss; Lili’s son with Malcolm, Declan; and Melissa and Doug’s two sons, Tommy and Neil, Lili looked out back. There were a ton of linfep out there, scampering about. They looked like hares, but with small tusks and, as Lili knew, they bred just like rabbits. “Oh, man, we are gonna get holes in the yard again.” She tapped out a quick note to Doug on her PADD and sent it.
When you’re on your way home, could you pick up a bag of tofflin leaves from the market? We’ve got linfep again.
She made her way to the kitchen, putting on a smaller pot of coffee for herself and taking out the hazelnut-infused cream made from perrazin milk. A few years in the Lafa System and all sorts of interesting delicacies and hybrid goodies were becoming available. “Pays to be pioneers in a place that isn’t so wild,” she murmured to herself.
She sat at the big table and looked out the back out a big picture window, where there was still a large gang of linfep hopping and jumping and running around. They definitely looked like they were having fun, so far away from perrazin, who could sometimes prey on them. Up a little rise was Malcolm Reed’s house, but the small alien animals didn’t go there much, as it had a stand of tofflin stalks. But they sure liked Lili’s asparagus and day lilies, although more to run around amongst them and sometimes make nesting materials out of them, but not to eat them.
She sent another note to Doug.
Better make that two bags of tofflin leaves.
The five kids filed in. Joss, an old man of eight, led the way, with Tommy right behind him. Empy then swaggered in, in front of Neil and Declan, who she sometimes tried to lord over. “Mommy said,” Empy told them all haughtily, “that we’re gonna make pancakes.”
“Um, yeah, I did.” Lili drummed her fingers on the table, trying to will the coffee to finish up more quickly.
“See? I told ya so!” She flicked her fingers in Neil’s face a few times, a few millimeters from his nose. “I’m not touchin’ ya, I’m not touchin’ ya!”
“Empy! Quit buggin’ me!” yelled Neil.
“You should hit her for that!” Tommy told his little brother.
“What?” asked Neil. “I’m not supposed to hit a girl!”
“No, like this!” Tommy demonstrated.
“Ma-a!” It was Joss, “Tommy hit Declan!”
“Mommy?” It was Declan, crying a bit. “Tommy hit me.”
“What?” asked Lili. “Um, why?” She blinked a few times and silently thought to herself, Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett, why the hell did you want such a big family?
“I was just showin’ Neil how to do it,” Tommy explained.
“Thomas Digiorno-Madden, really?” Lili put Dec on her lap. “Shh, shh, it’s not so bad. Tommy, c’mon and apologize.”
“I was just showing Neil how to do it. I didn’t mean nothin’ by it.”
“I know, but you should still say you’re sorry,” Lili insisted.
“I’m sorry, Dec.” Tommy, a big boy of six, shook Declan’s hand.
“And you, Miss Marie Patrice Beckett?” Lili asked a little sharply.
“Yes?” Empy turned around, all sweetness and light, smiling an innocent smile.
“You instigated this. Don’t tell me you didn’t, young lady. Maybe we won’t have pancakes this morning. Maybe we’ll have toast and cold olowa fruit and you’ll all think about how maybe you could have behaved better this morning.” Lili silently prayed for Doug to get on the military shuttle and return a day or two early, or for the transport that Melissa and Leonora would be taking to come home faster than it could really go. Or maybe for the USS Zefram Cochrane, the DC-1501, to miraculously visit the Lafa System even though she knew it was at least a month away at top speed, which was Warp Six or Seven. Five kids! It was all too much.
Declan Reed had dried his eyes and looked out the picture window. “Mommy, what are those two linfep doing?”
“Uh …” Lili wasn’t so sure she wanted to get into that at the moment. Coffee, coffee, where was the coffee? Science, get on a coffee transporter system, stat, she silently thought.
“They’re telling secrets,” Empy reported confidently. “That’s what Davey Ryan at school says.”
“Maybe that one’s kissing the back of the other’s neck,” Neil offered. He and Declan were both nearly five.
“I dunno,” Tommy offered, “I think it’s like when I kissed Cindy Morgan behind the school.”
“You are kissing now?” Lili asked. One crisis at a time, she told herself. Please, science, beam the caffeine straight into my brain. “Joss, are, uh, you and Jia Sulu engaging in this kissing business, as well?”
“Um, no, Mom,” he mumbled, and then he seemed to have figured something out. “Are they making baby linfep?”
Before Lili could even think of what she was saying, she blurted out, “Yes.”
“No, no, it’s not what I saw Ma Norri and Mommy Melissa doing that time,” Tommy reported.
“Oh,” Lili squeaked out. She got up. The mission: coffee. And then maybe some courage and imagination; if only she could mix it into the hazelnut-infused perrazin cream! She tapped out a note on her PADD to Melissa Madden and Norri Digiorno.
I think we’re going to have the talk. You know the one I’m talking about. You owe me, big time.
She got one good swallow of coffee in as Declan tugged on the hem of her blouse and asked, “Mommy, where do babies come from?”
Lili chugged the rest of the coffee. How to explain not just sex, but also love, and desire? How to explain an open marriage, and five children with three differing parentages? How to explain Melissa’s bisexuality, and Norri’s lesbianism? How to explain how she and Malcolm would meet in dreams and make love, or how Doug and Melissa did the same, as day and night relationships were both possible in the Lafa System, and that it wasn’t considered to be cheating? How to explain premarital sex or even just what it was like to love someone and sometimes have it not work out, as her life had been before Doug had come into her life?
Lili looked at the five faces, at Joss and Empy, who looked like Doug; and Tommy and Neil, who resembled Melissa; and Declan, who was a mix of Lili herself and Malcolm. There was a ding emanating from her PADD, a message, and it made her jump. It was from Doug, acknowledging her request, and saying he’d be home with his recruits in two days, and that he missed everyone.
Before responding to the children, she tapped out one more message.
Better make that four bags of tofflin leaves.
Written in response to a weekly prompt with the same name.
Takes place on May 18th of 2172.
A bit of No Irish Need Apply, in the 22nd century.
Her suit was old-fashioned, a brown tweed that brought out her eyes. She sat in the waiting area with others – Vulcans, mostly, and mostly female. It was tough to tell if she was older than all of them, or younger. Who knew? Bridie Kelly certainly didn’t.
She glanced up at a display on the wall. May eighteenth of 2172, it said. She absently scratched her elbow. It’s 2172 and there’s still no good cure for a little eczema! She kept that thought to herself and tried to remain calm.
This job is important, she thought to herself. I have to get this job.
Vulcans filed in and out of a doorway. No one seemed to stay long on the other side of it.
You know nothing about this fellow, she mused. The advertisement had just said – elderly gentleman needs companion and nurse. Nothing more.
You are competent, she thought, hell, more than competent! You’ve been doing this sort of thing for years! This elderly gentleman would be a fool not to hire you!
A fairly young Vulcan male approached. “You must be Miss Kelly,” he said.
“I must,” she said.
“What you will see and hear is strictly confidential. Follow me.”
They went through a doorway, where there was an ancient Vulcan man. And he was – what? He was, it seemed, he was actually angry.
“I don’t need a nurse!”
“Ambassador …,” began the Vulcan who had led her in.
“I don’t!” The ambassador turned and looked her in the eye. “Name.”
“I beg your pardon?” she was a bit peeved, and her brogue was thicker than usual. Getting your Irish up, they call it.
“What the ambassador means is …”
“I know damned well what I mean! And I don’t need a goddamned nurse!”
She glared back at him. “Brigid Kelly. And who might you be?”
The Ambassador raised an eyebrow at the younger man. “Sharik?”
“You do not know Ambassador Soval?”
“I know of him,” Bridie said, “but I ain’t never seen him. Until, I guess, now.”
“Can’t even speak her own language properly. Get the next one in here, Sharik.”
“Sir!” Brigid knew she’d better salvage the situation quickly. “I hardly think you’re givin’ me even half a proper species of a chance!”
“Miss, uh …”
“Kelly, sir,” Brigid reminded Soval.
“Kelly, Miss Kelly, I don’t have the time or the patience to spend time attempting to decipher your comments.”
“Beggin’ your pardon, sir, but isn’t impatience a human type of an emotion? And my understandin’ is that such things are abhorrent to ya.”
“Abhorrence is something of an emotion,” Sharik said.
“I don’t recall soliciting your opinion in this matter. Really, Sharik, can we get the next one in?”
“Sir!” Bridie fairly well shouted. “Don’t ya wanna at least interview me? Even a little bit?”
“And to what end?” Soval inquired, “So that you can confirm just how unsuitable you will be? Really, Sharik, send this human on her way.”
“It’s discrimination, is what it is,” Brigid insisted, “your own version of No Irish Need Apply, is that it?”
“Whether ya think I’m a suitable candidate or not, ya know you’re not allowed to refuse to hire me solely on the basis of species, race, gender or age.”
“Then we will turn you down based on incompetency,” Soval said. “Sharik, really, this is tiresome.”
“And without even givin’ me a chance to tell you what I can do? Where’s the logic in that?”
Sharik stared at her for a second. “Ambassador, Miss Kelly does have a point.”
“Very well,” Soval folded his arms and did not appear as if he would listen to anything Bridie was about to say.
She cleared her throat. “When I was sixteen years old, I was a babysitter at Starfleet. Then when I was at college – I went to Boston College – I worked in an end of life care facility. After I graduated, I had my Bachelor’s in Nursing and I worked at Children’s Hospital in Chicago for forty-five years.”
“Why did you leave your last position? Were you dismissed?” Soval asked.
“No, sir. I, well, I had seen too many little children die. You know, they would go into the hospital and at the end of it their parents could never take ‘em home. It, it gets to you after a while.” She stared at both of them. Would Vulcans – even one who, apparently, was a bit too old to care about emotional suppression and logic anymore – would they understand?
“I will die soon,” Soval said, after a silence of some minutes. “Will you react the same way?”
“I, I don’t know, sir. But if I may say, you are, you have lived your life, haven’t ya?”
“I am one hundred and forty-two years old,” Soval said, “that is almost a logical observation.”
“Almost,” she said, and then smiled. “Ya can’t admit it; can ya, that a human might be able to actually make sense, even in the midst of emotionalism, eh?”
“How many kilos can you lift?” Sharik asked, suddenly changing the subject.
“I can haul forty-five for long periods o’ time, and up to seventy if it’s quick. I also can do things like administer medications and even a catheter if necessary.”
Soval made a face. “Can you be discreet?”
“I am professional, sir! I won’t talk about what I’d be catheterin’.”
“The Ambassador is referring to, uh, come with me a moment,” Sharik said. He led Brigid to a smaller room off to the side and closed the door. “He is referring to his impaired logic.”
“Like I said, I am a professional,” Bridie said, “and it isn’t other folks business if he’s not always up to par. He’s an older gentleman and I wouldn’t say nothin’ ‘bout his logic or his emotions, no more ‘n I would tell the corner grocer if the man had lost all his teeth or somethin’.”
“You would have to live here,” Sharik said.
“That’s all right.” She didn’t tell him that she really didn’t have anywhere else to go. She had, indeed, left her position at Children’s Hospital voluntarily. She really had been burned out by seeing too many infants and young children reach the ends of their lives before they had really done anything. But with no family, no income, and little to do, she didn’t feel there was anything left for her in Chicago. She wanted to work, partly for the money, but mostly for the sense of purpose that it always gave her.
They went back into the main room. “Have you made a decision?” Sharik asked.
“You can start on Tuesday.”
“Beggin’ your pardon, sir, but can I start right away? I have nearly nothin’ to gather from Chicago. My things can be posted to me. And I got no family to say good-bye to.”
“That would be … acceptable.”
She glanced up at a wall clock. Fifteen hundred hours. “Will ya be takin’ tea, sir?” Soval nodded. “I could go to the market tomorrow and get some flour ‘n raisins and yeast and see about making ya some scones for a proper tea.”
“There is a replicator,” Sharik pointed out.
“I know,” Bridie said, “but a house is more like a home when there’s baking going on. I won’t use butter or milk; I know your people are vegans.”
Soval looked her up and down. Maybe she really was the logical choice. “Perhaps you could make something that would go well with plomeek broth.”
Consider the Lilies of the Field by jespah
In June of 2175, Joss takes Jia to his senior prom.
It was as perfect as possible. That is, when you’re on an alien world and the only lilies are people with that name, like his mother.
Joss Beckett stood up, looking in a mirror, frowning at his own reflection. Nearby, a wall chronometer showed that it was over thirty degrees Celsius and he was hot and nervous at 1741 hours on a June evening in 2175. “I am so uncomfortable,” he whined a little, a near normal tone for someone almost eighteen years of age.
“You’ll be fine.” His mother, Lili Beckett, came over, her face pale in its reflection. “Turn around, and let me get a good look at you, Jeremiah Logan Beckett.”
“Better I call you that than Ducks, eh?” She smiled at him. “The tux looks good. Are you absolutely certain that Jia is wearing lavender?”
“And Geming and Mai are bringing her over, and we’ll take some pictures and then they’ll take you to the hall?”
His sister, Marie Patrice came over. She elbowed him. “Hey, for once you don’t look like a total dork.”
“Now, now, Miss Empy!” exclaimed their mother. “Please be kind.”
Marie Patrice returned and straightened Joss’s tie a little. “I’m sorry. You do look good. Really.”
Their half-brother, Declan Reed also came over. “Can I have your room when you move out for college?”
“You have your own room at the Reed house!” Joss exclaimed.
“Yes, you do, Mister Reed!” their mother agreed, “Have you heard from your Dad, Dec?”
“He’s, um, he said they were patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone again. Didn’t he tell you, Mother?”
“Must’ve slipped his mind. I’ll ask him tonight when he calls.”
There was a sound at the front door. “Can I get a little help here?” It was a not unpleasant tenor voice.
“Go help him,” Lili requested, “sounds like he’s got more groceries than he can handle.” Joss went to help, and Lili put a hand on his arm. “Not you; you’ll get dirty. Just, just cool your heels, okay?”
“Um, all right.”
“The big Calafan market,” said Doug Beckett; “was out of chicken, so I got perrazin. And Empy! Careful with that blue bag!”
“Uh, sure, Dad.” She put it down and went outside to get another one.
“Thanks for doing this,” Lili said, kissing Doug.
“Wait’ll you see what’s in that bag.”
Pretty soon, the last of the groceries were brought in and put away, all but what was in the mysterious blue bag. Doug held it and fished inside it as the others watched. “Joss,” he said, “your mother and I never did this, but I understand these are customary here.” He handed Joss a small article.
“A boutonniere?” Lili asked. “I haven’t seen one of those since it was my own prom. Back in, egad, you don’t wanna know how long ago that was.” She handed it to Marie Patrice. “You’ve got steadier hands than I do; care to do the honors?”
“Sure.” The teenaged girl fiddled with pins to get the lavender-tipped carnation onto her brother’s lapel.
“And one more,” Doug announced, again reaching into the bag. “Tada!”
“Dad, where did you get that? I know that isn’t at the market,” Joss said.
“I got a secret source. It’s the right color, right?”
“Yeah, Dad. I’ll, um, I’ll pay you back. And, um, thanks.”
The front door chimed and they let in three people – Jia Sulu and her parents, Mai and Geming. Jia was, as promised, wearing a lavender dress. Joss approached her with the article. “Um, here. This is for you.”
“A corsage! Oh, Joss, it’s perfect!” It was white rosebuds, tied with a lavender ribbon. Fumbling, he put it on her as six witnesses observed closely.
“Let’s get pictures,” Geming suggested. He directed the two prom-goers to a part of the main living room that had better light. Everyone set their PADDs to camera mode and shot frame after frame.
Mai glanced up at the wall chronometer. “We’d better go. Wouldn’t want you kids to miss the first dance or anything.”
They made their good-byes and Lili and Doug watched, Lili just a little tearful. The other two kids went back to their homework. Lili looked at Doug. “I remember him toddling around, unable to correctly say Malcolm’s name. And now look at him.”
“Yeah,” Doug agreed. “He’s just about a man.”
“Do you mind that you never had a prom?”
“I grew up on the other side of the pond – Mirror Universe, remember? When I was his age, I was wrapping things up at West Point and about to go to Cambodia for Basic. No proms in the Terran Empire.”
“I’m sorry about that,” Lili looked up at him, eyes a little misty again.
“Wait,” Doug said, “I’ve got the next-best thing.” He clicked on his PADD and found a broadcast of older music. “You should check. I think I left something in the blue bag.”
Lili fished in the bag and pulled out one more corsage. The ribbon wasn’t lavender. It was blue, her favorite color. And it wasn’t rosebuds. It was calla lilies, in blue and white. Almost as nervously as their son had been, even though they had been married for years, Doug put it on her. “Pity you don’t like to dance unless you’ve had a few,” she mused.
“No worries,” he murmured softly, pulling her closer. “I’ll pretend I’ve had a few.”
And slowly, closely, they danced.
In Memory of Kelsey Haber by jespah
In October of 2175, the crew of the USS Zefram Cochrane tries to remember a troubled crewman who none of them really ever knew.
You can find In Memory of Kelsey Haber here.
The Pivot Point by jespah
On January first of 2176, Susan Cheshire makes a decision in both universes.
On the USS Zefram Cochrane, a naked woman stared at her reflection in a mirror and then took a pull from a bottle. Where once her skin had been a lovely shade of mahogany, it was now ashy grey. She took another pull.
The lump in the bed nearby stirred. “What’re you doing up?” he asked.
“It’s nothin’, Aidan,” she drawled, her voice the honey of Titania, where everyone sounds like they’re from the Carolinas. “Go back to sleep.” She hastily put the bottle into a drawer and did her best to quietly shut it.
He got up and approached her. He, too, was naked. “I can make it worth your while, Susan.” He stood behind her and leaned over to kiss her neck.
She didn’t turn, just stared at her own reflection. “I am sixty-six years old,” she sighed. “But I look like I’m eighty-six, I swear.”
“No, no, you don’t,” Aidan insisted. He then sniffed her breath. “It’s oh three hundred hours.” He sighed. “I guess I know why you’re up at this hour. Gotta get one last snort in before bedtime, is that it?”
On the ISS Defiant, a naked woman stared at her reflection in a mirror and then took a pull from a bottle. Where once her skin had been a lovely shade of mahogany, it was now ashy grey. She took another pull.
The lump in the bed nearby stirred. “What’re you doing up?” he asked.
“It’s nothin’, Aidan,” she drawled, her voice the honey of Titania, where everyone sounds like they’re from the Carolinas. “Go back to sleep.” She hastily put the bottle into a drawer and did her best to quietly shut it.
He got up and approached her. He, too, was naked. “I can make it worth your while, Susan.” He stood behind her and leaned over to kiss her neck.
She didn’t turn, just stared at her own reflection. “I am sixty-six years old,” she sighed. “But I look like I’m eighty-six, I swear.”
“Aw, don’t worry about it,” Aidan said. He then sniffed her breath. “The Empress doesn’t like it when you’re hammered all the time.”
“It’ll be fine. Her kids are older,” Susan said. A display on the wall slid to the date – January first of 2176 – and then the time – oh three hundred four hours. “Jun is almost twenty; Izo is nearly fifteen. They don’t need much more teaching, ya’ll know this, and they don’t need real care anymore.”
“Yeah, I know,” he confirmed. “And what’ll happen, do ya think, when they stop needing a babysitter like me, and a teacher like you? What’ll the Empress Hoshi do to us then?”
“I’m sorry,” Susan said; her head down. “I just, you know, it’s the first of the year. Ya’ll ever do new year’s resolutions?”
“Sure. Usually it was to lose a few kilos,” he admitted. He looked at himself in the mirror. “Yeah, I could use that, m’self. Think Commander Reed and Captain Archer would give me time off, to work out more?”
“Probably not,” Susan stated, “but you can always ask. Aidan, I, uh, do you know why I do what I do?”
“Tell me.” He turned her to face him.
“I just, life’s overwhelming sometimes. I like being the Ship’s Teacher. I do. Don’t misunderstand me. And I love you.”
“Well, I love you, yanno.” They kissed.
She smiled up at him – he was quite a bit taller than she was – and explained, “But it’s stressful. I, I don’t love this about myself. I am; I am not proud of it.”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” Susan said. “Maybe they’d leave us on some rock somewhere. The Empress threatens that all the time. You should, I dunno, maybe you could convince her not to. For Kira’s sake.”
“I swear, half the time she forgets that her second-born is my boy, too. And I don’t think I can convince her of anything anymore.”
“She used to like you, Aidan. She used to, you know.”
“Sleep with me? Yeah, she’s slept with every guy on her senior staff, and a lot that are further down the totem pole. Hell, she’d dance around that totem pole if she could, I guess. But no, I can’t do much. I wouldn’t even be able to convince her if I gave her a good –” He stopped in mid-sentence as she was frowning at him. “It’s not like I’d want to do her again. Believe me, I don’t.”
“She doesn’t look eighty-something.”
“And neither do you. Stop worrying about that. I’ll talk to Kira. Maybe he can put in a word so we can stay on the ship. I don’t love it here, but it’s better than any rock out there, am I right?”
“Maybe you could train the royal children. You were in Tactical. They’re gonna be the Bridge crew when they’re old enough. Why not get ‘em ready early?” Susan suggested.
“Miller still runs Tactical,” Aidan informed her, “and he is still Hoshi’s toy. No one’s gonna take kindly to me training anyone to succeed him, particularly seeing as none of her six kids are his, not even the two that are missing.”
“Still, maybe Kira would do it, or maybe Jun or Izo. I can’t see Arashi going for that.”
“Nah,” Aidan said, “he’s too busy counting money.”
“What do you wanna do, Susan?” Aidan asked.
She thought for just a moment. “I, I can’t do this anymore. Aidan, I want to stop.”
“Are you sure?”
She nodded. She opened up the drawer and took out the bottle. “This has gotta go, then.” She dumped its remaining contents into the sink in the little bathroom in their shared quarters. She opened up a cargo container on the floor and took out another bottle. “This one, too.” Its contents met a similar fate.
“Any others?” he asked, knowing fully well that she had another bottle stashed in the vanity under the bathroom sink and another in the back of the closet.
“Yeah,” Susan said. “There are three more.” She removed bottles from the closet, the vanity and a small storage area above their bed.
“I didn’t know about that last one,” Aidan admitted. “I guess you got creative.”
“Well, I should be creative with other things. I,” she looked at her naked reflection again, “I think, ya’ll know, there’s some days, there’s just some days, when your life can, it can turn on a dime. It can, it can kinda pivot, and it can change.”
“It’s the first of the year. I can see that.”
“It’s not just that. It’s, it can happen any day, I think. But I just, I took a few swigs now, in the middle of the night, on account that I wanted to have a fighting chance of sobering up by morning. And, and it’s awful that I’m thinking that way, and feeling that way. I’m, I’m planning my drinking, like I plan lessons! And I’ve been standin’ here, starin’ at myself for over an hour, trying to figure out what to do. And, and decide who I wanted to be. Aidan, I don’t wanna be just lurching through my life anymore. I get stress, sure, but everybody does. I wanna be able to handle it without drowning it. And I wanna be remembering what I love about teaching. And, and remembering what I love about, about you.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” Aidan assured her. “C’mere.” They kissed. “Come back to bed. And in the morning, let’s talk to Doctor Morgan, and to Captain Archer and Commander Reed, okay? And you’ll work on your recovery. And I will be with you. I swear it, Susan, I swear it. Whether it can happen on the Cochrane or somewhere else, I will be there. I vow it to you, Susan. I vow it.”
“So in the morning we’ll do that, okay?” Aidan asked. “I’ll go to Kira and ask him to put in a word. And we’ll figure this thing out. We’ll say that Miller needs someone to shadow him, or something. Maybe Izo will wanna do it. I don’t trust him, but it would be a good pretext. And, and we’ll convince the Empress to keep you on because maybe her sons will start having kids soon, too.”
“Some days are like a pivot; they’re important,” Susan said, “Your life can change on a dime. Maybe this is one of those days.”
“Maybe,” Aidan said, walking into the bathroom. Once the door was shut, she removed a bottle from its hiding place – a storage area under their bed – and took a pull. Nothing else mattered or made sense, and she let the pivotal moment slip away.
About Nine Months by jespah
From October of 2176 to June of 2177, the short life of Kevin Madden-Beckett.
About Nine Months can be found here.
Written in response to a prompt about politics.
In 2177, the Daraneans debate whether Prime Wives should be given the right to vote.
“Order! The Beta Council will have order!” the Sargent at Arms yelled over the din of several dozen voices arguing. He was tall and well-built, with mostly black fur over his body although his ears were tipped in a rusty brown color.
“Thank you,” said the Alpha of Daranaea, a war hero named Acreon. “We will speak of the proposal now. First, to speak will be the proponent of this bill, Vidam.”
Vidam stood up. He was still fairly young. It was his first year as a Beta Councilor, following in the footsteps of his father, the disgraced Arnis. He had been elected by those who remembered seeing him as a boy, brave and unyielding, defending his second mother at her trial. That had been nearly twelve years before, and he was no longer a callow youth. His fur was completely rust-colored, and his nose was rather triangular in shape, making him looking even more fox-like than most Daranaeans. “I, I would like to put forth a bill that would grant Daranaean Prime Wives the right to vote.”
There were murmurs in the room. “Go on,” Acreon said, trying not to show favor, but it was difficult not to. Vidam was one of his sons-in-law, by virtue of a marriage to Acreon’s own Morza. And Vidam’s brother, Trinning, was a son-in-law, too, by virtue of a marriage to Acreon’s daughter Kathalia. So Vidam was family in a lot of ways, and a protégé to Acreon.
“We, we all know that there are differences among the female castes,” Vidam said, “and the Prime Wives are given the most education, still. They are certainly the best informed about the issues of the day, and, and they would, I am sure, use this new right wisely.”
“And now Boestus will present the opposing viewpoint,” Acreon said.
Boestus was older. He rose. His fur was off-white, with brown spots. “I hardly think I need to tell this chamber about what would happen if Prime Wives got the right to vote!” Most of the Beta Council chuckled. “They would vote for more shopping days, and for lower prices! And they would vote for holidays and picnics! And, and what would happen if they got the notion to put up a candidate of their own?! Can any of you imagine taking orders from a Prime Wife?”
“I hear Vidam and a lot of the others in the younger generation already do!” said a wag, in a stage whisper. His neighbors laughed.
Vidam got up, a bit red about his nose and the tips of his ears. “This is not about my home life.”
“But Ethara has you wrapped about her littlest finger, or so I hear,” said the wag.
“Now, now, gentlemen, this is a time for debate and not for gossip,” Acreon said.
“Is this true?” asked Craethe, a field reporter for the ever-present Daranaean press.
“I am the leader of my own house,” Vidam said, “It is not something that I need to assert or prove, to the press or the Council or the people of Daranaea and all of its provinces.”
“Wouldn’t the vote for Prime Wives lead, perhaps, to a debate about a vote for secondaries?” asked the reporter, “And then where would it lead? Wouldn’t, eventually, someone think of giving the vote to, to the last caste females?”
The members of the Council shuddered, seemingly as one. “We cannot have this,” Boestus said, “I call for a vote now.”
Acreon could see that he could not delay a vote on the matter. “All right, we will vote.”
The Council stood as one. “All in favor will remain standing!” called out the Sargent at Arms. There was a loud sound of shuffling as dozens of chairs were pulled back and dozens of Daranaean butts returned to their seats.
And in the end, showing their support for giving the vote to Prime Wives, there were only two men left standing.
In 2177, Shran goes into hiding briefly, on the Cochrane.
“Half-breed! Greenskin! Orion wannabe! Pinkskin lover!”
The names were nothing new to Talla, but they hurt just the same. Half-Andorian and half-Aenar, her skin was the color of pea soup. As a child, she had been saved by humans, acting with her father, Thy’lek Shran. One of them had ended up paying the ultimate price.
And now she was twenty-one – it was 2177 – and was beginning to think about mating and all of that but her very appearance made that nigh well impossible. There were so few Aenar-Andorian crosses, despite the fact that the two species were related, and could interbreed with ease. It was something, perhaps, about the lack of Andorian patience with Aenar blindness. Or maybe it was pure, unadulterated prejudice. Whatever it was, Talla was feeling the brunt of it.
She returned home from her advanced education one day to find her parents at home. That was odd. “Father, why are you not working?” she asked.
“I have to lay low a bit, again,” he said, “it is much like when you were kidnapped in ’61.”
“Oh. Will you be gone long?”
“I, I don’t know.”
Talla’s mother, Jhamel, got up cautiously. “I will pack for you.” She was a slight thing, as pale as skim milk, in contrast to her husband’s robust blue complexion.
“No – we, we have to make it look as if the leave-taking was in haste,” Shran said.
“Perhaps we can pretend to have argued,” Jhamel suggested.
“That could work. I will contact Archer,” Shran said, “He can help me.”
“And then you will owe him again,” Jhamel pointed out. “Are you sure you wish to?”
“It is the only way. Archer will be able to find some place for me, I believe. It may be on his planet. I don’t know.”
“I want to go with you, Father. And why can’t Mother come along as well?”
“No!” Shran yelled, and then he reeled his temper back in. “No. We are to falsify my death. It has to be believable. So no packing, no traveling companions, nothing. I will depart tonight.”
“I will miss you,” Talla said, hugging him. Overcome, she ran into her room.
She could hear her father engaging a communicator on a secured channel. “I want to talk to Archer.”
There was a pause, and a tinny response. “Archer here.”
“I need help,” her father said, “I need to disappear for a while.”
“I see,” was the response.
“I do not know how much danger there is,” Shran said, “but your planet, it might be known to my enemies.”
“So, somewhere else? Hmm,” said Archer. “I can make a few inquiries.”
“Good. Pinkskin, I will owe you again. I don’t enjoy this.”
“We’ll figure something out,” was the reply. “Archer out.”
Talla heard little else as her father hastily put together a small bag of meager possessions.
In perhaps an hour, he was ready to go. He knocked on her door. “Talla, there is something for you to do for me.”
“Take care of your mother.”
“Because you can’t?”
“Yes,” Shran admitted. “It is shameful. But I must go or you will both be in peril as well.”
“Why are you with Mother, anyway?” Talla asked. She was emboldened with the little time that was left.
“Why do you think, child? I love her."
“Then prove it by taking her along.”
“It’s not that simple! I must go.”
Annoyed, he left her room. She cracked the door open, peering out. She saw her parents kiss and then her father left.
Her mother, groping, pawed at the air a little. “Talla?” she finally called out.
“I’m right here.” Talla came over to be with her mother, and they touched hands.
“I am dependent upon you, child.”
“I, I know.” Talla sighed.
The next day, her classmates were as taunting as ever. They were adults, but it hardly mattered. “Abandoned!” they yelled, and “Forgotten!”
She turned to face her tormentors. “You know nothing. If you have any courage at all, it is of empty words, yelled as you cower behind your PADDs and hope that no one says anything in return! You are the children of the simple-minded and slow, the cowards and the critics!”
“You say this,” said the lead tormentor, a tall Andorian boy who had a vacant stare much of the time, “yet your father, the great Shran, has left you and your poor old mother to fend for yourselves. If he had mated with a proper Andorian, at least your mother wouldn’t need constant care. And you – you’d at least be acceptable. Someone like me might even take an interest.” He turned and his companions laughed.
She tapped him on the shoulder and hit him with a right cross. He went down like a glacier does, after a sudden, swift temperature rise. She beat a hasty retreat out of there.
At home, Jhamel scolded her a little. “You cannot solve all of your problems with brute force, you know.”
“But Father does!”
“And look where it has gotten him,” Jhamel replied.
Talla could see that her mother was distressed. She backed off.
Shran had been beamed onto a human ship, the USS Zefram Cochrane. He knew her acting Captain, but not well. “You are Reed,” he said to the man who greeted him.
“I am,” replied the man, who was almost sixty-five, with hair going a steely grey. “What is it this time?”
“They think I’ve got the Teneebian amethyst again,” replied the Andorian.
“Wasn’t that settled over a dozen years ago?” remarked Acting Captain Malcolm Reed.
“Apparently not in their eyes.”
“The worst of it is,” said Malcolm, “Tripp lost his life then. And now they want to do it all over again. It’s absurd greed, is what it is.”
“Yes,” allowed Shran. “At least they do not appear to be targeting my family this time.”
“There’s something. Now, what shall we do?”
“Bring in Archer.”
“He’s a Federation Representative!”
“He’s also a former Ambassador to Andoria. And,” said Shran, “he is my friend.”
“Very well,” sighed Reed. He clicked open his communicator as they were still in the transporter area. “Mrs. Kimura, our guest has arrived. Kindly get me Representative Archer.”
“Right away,” replied Hoshi Sato Kimura from the Bridge. There was a pause. “I’ve got him.”
“Pinkskin!” thundered Shran, “I have similar troubles to ’61. Those pirates, they still think I’ve got the Teneebian amethyst.”
“And just where did they get that idea?”
Shran glanced at Reed who got the hint. “I have something to check.” He departed into the Botany Lab, a place where he never went. The Botanist almost dropped her PADD when she saw him enter.
“Archer,” Shran said, “it was my daughter. It was a foolish thing. But she is young, and it is hard for her.”
“She is called by names. It hurts her. And so she bragged that we had wealth that we do not have.” He sighed. “Be happy that you are not blessed with children.”
Jonathan Archer smiled a tight little smile. “I don’t think you really mean that. Huh, well, all right. I’ve got an idea. Can you contact the pirates’ ship?”
“I suppose so. But why?”
“Never mind that for now. Can you bring Acting Captain Reed back? I think this might work.”
It took them nearly two hours to get ready and to find and contact the pirates’ ship. Standing on the Bridge, Reed said to the pirates, “I have Shran. Come and claim him.”
The pirates’ leader said, “We will dock with your vessel.”
“Oh, and we also have the amethyst,” Reed said. He yawned.
“What?!” was the response from the pirates.
“Oh, we’ve got lots of them,” said Malcolm. He motioned to Hoshi and she showed a panning view around the Cochrane’s Bridge. And that’s when they saw them.
There was an amethyst at the Science station. There was another one at the pilot’s station. Another one was at Tactical and the Tactical Officer, Lieutenant Aidan MacKenzie, was fondling it, mooning over it as if it were his girlfriend. There was another amethyst at the Communications station, where Hoshi put a sash around it and drew a smilie face on it with her lipstick. There were two in the Captain’s chair.
A Tactical Ensign came over – Ethan Shapiro. He had three amethysts in his hands and began juggling them expertly. The remainder of the Bridge crew applauded their approval of his entertainment.
“Which amethyst would you like?” Reed asked, smiling at the pirates’ leader.
The leader just looked dumbfounded. “But, but there is only one. What is this game? We will not stand for this ruse.”
“Come back when you can be more specific,” the Acting Captain said. He motioned to Aidan, who polarized the hull plating, just in case. He turned back to the main viewer. “I’ve got no time for this. It’s dreadfully dull. Reed out.”
The small pirates’ vessel fired one shot, but it was easily deflected. “Permission to take out their weapons?” asked Aidan.
“By all means, Mister MacKenzie,” replied Malcolm.
One shot did it – they were grossly overmatched compared to the Cochrane. The pirates limped away, no longer a threat.
Shran turned to Reed. “What did you use for amethysts?”
Malcolm picked up one from the Captain’s chair and tore off a hunk. He tasted a piece and offered another piece to the Andorian. “It’s sourdough bread with food coloring. Chef Delacroix made four hundred amethyst-shaped loaves. We could have been boarded and then they’d have seen – everyone had an amethyst, and a lot of people had two. We had amethysts in every hall, and at every doorway as well.”
Shran looked at him, a plan forming in his head. “May I take these with me?”
“I don’t see any reason why not,” replied Malcolm.
Back home, Shran and Jhamel threw open their doors to their neighbors and invited them in. Classmates of Talla’s came as well – even the fellow she had decked the previous day. “We are here to share our wealth with you,” Shran said.
There was a lot of whispering. Greed got the better of many of them, and they pushed and shoved to get to the front. “We have the Teneebian amethyst,” Shran said, “and now you may have it as well.”
Talla picked up an armful of loaves and handed them out to their neighbors and her classmates, even to the most hateful fellow. He looked at her in disgust. “It’s just a loaf of bread.”
“Our pinkskin friends say, ‘Half a loaf is better than none’,” she replied, and then she looked at all of them and added, “And being half an Andorian is better than none.”
There's Something Else About Hoshi by jespah
In 2179, twenty years after the events depicted in There’s Something About Hoshi, Hoshi Sato Kimura and her family return to Aris.
The shuttle glided to a stop on the surface of Aris. Travis Mayweather, the pilot, got out first, stretching his old bones. Native Arisians approached, all with beautifully detailed patterns on their foreheads. They were all bearing huge gifts.
They were all male.
“My name is Milit,” stated the leader. “I recall meeting your acting captain, Malcolm Reed, about twenty years ago, when he and Jonathan Archer and some others came to Aris.”
“Uh, yes. And I remember,” Travis stated, “you were all really interested in Hoshi.”
“You have brought her, yes?” inquired an anxious alien behind Milit.
“Of course I’m here!” Hoshi emerged from the shuttle, her two children and her husband behind her. “How have you been?”
Milit didn’t respond; he just bowed to her. “Andaara Trea Hoshi!” he exclaimed.
The remainder of the Arisians answered, shouting, “Andaara Trea Hoshi!”
Then they could hear more remote people, also yelling, “Andaara Trea Hoshi!”
And then there was a rumble, as if there were people proclaiming the same three-word sentence even farther away.
Hoshi’s daughter, seven-year-old Yoshiko, came over. “Uh, Mom, what are they saying?”
“Well, Trea means mother of the world, as I recall. But I don’t know what Andaara means. And I really don’t know why everybody’s saying it. Milit,” she asked, “I don’t mean to be ungrateful or unappreciative, but this reception, it’s over the top.”
Milit arose. “I, here, this is for you,” he presented her with his gift, which was a crystalline bowl. The others began presenting their gifts.
Fabrics in beautiful colors, with sumptuous textures. Twittering birds in glassine cages. Foods with many different aromas. Jewelry of every description. What looked like a baby goat, but with six horns, twisted together to approximate a capital H. Pitchers of liquids, perhaps they were wines.
The trail of gift-bearers went on and on.
“I think we’re gonna need a bigger shuttle,” Travis said, eying the many presents.
“What’s all this about?” asked Hoshi’s husband, Takashi Kimura. Next to him stood their son, nine-year-old Toru, who was also trying to take it all in.
“You are Hoshi’s husband, yes?” inquired Milit.
Hoshi just shrugged, looking a little hapless. “Milit. Milit!”
“Yes, my lady?”
“When I was last here, a little less than twenty years ago, I remember there were no women on Aris. And your scientists took some of my hormones, and you made a baby girl, Trea Hoshi. But so far as I was concerned, that was it. We, my family and I, we wanted to visit because I’m trying to show my kids a lot of the nicer places where the NX-01 explored, back in the day. But I was not expecting a reception like this. Please, these presents! They’re beautiful and they’re endearing, and don’t think I don’t love them all. But Travis is right; there’s just no room for them. I’m sorry.”
“Everyone on Aris,” Milit explained, “wishes to thank you. For you are the initiator of the mother of the world. Of all of the mothers of the world, that is. Andaara means initiator. And your husband, he is the consort of the initiator – T’ranqiteh is consort.”
“And my children?”
“They, they have a lot of sisters. May I show you some of them? It would be the greatest of honors.”
“Um, sure.” Takashi came over, and he took her hand. “Just smile,” Hoshi said to him quietly, “these are good people who, um, might not have the same notions of boundaries that we do.” He nodded. “Stay close, kids. Yoshiko in particular.”
Hoshi wasn’t afraid; she was more cautious. After all, the last time she’d been there, her hormones had actually been stolen. And, in their place, she had been injected with an experimental ingredient intended to enhance attractiveness.
She’d become irresistible to all of the straight men on the ship. And that was unnerving to a woman in her twenties. If something like that happened to Yoshiko, how damaging might it be?
Every step they took, more supplications were made. The gifts were less formal and clearly a lot less expensive. There were rough flaxen tunics offered, or sacks of grain, or first fruits. There were more of those six-horned goats, but their horns were regular spirals. Apparently the first one offered was either bred that way, or maybe the horns had been somehow molded and trained that way as the animal had grown.
The men, too, were rougher and poorer. But they smiled, wearing garlands. They often thrust young boys out to the front of the aisles, hoping the boys could be touched or smiled at or even just glanced at by the initiator or her family.
Travis had a phase pistol with him, but he kept it sheathed. But he was mindful that it was there, just the same. The whole thing was the very definition of unnerving and strange.
“Ah, here we are,” Milit reported, as two male attendants opened huge doors to what was obviously a palace.
The first thing anyone could hear was giggling. Lots of it.
Milit clapped his hands twice, and it all stopped. “Trea Hoshi!” he called.
A young girl, about eighteen or so, looking just like Hoshi had at that age, but with the same lovely Arisian pattern on her forehead, came forward. And she was followed by a few hundred identical girls.
“Mom, why do they all look the same?” asked Toru.
“Cloning, right?” Hoshi asked Milit.
“Yes. We reproduce via cloning. But, you see, Trea Hoshi here and the others, they will marry soon. And they will reproduce in a different way. We are glad you are here. You can help choose Trea Hoshi’s mate.”
Hoshi’s jaw dropped. “Um, how many girls are there?”
“We passed a law. Six per each of the one thousand clone stocks. And each clone stock has six males. And so everyone can have a mate,” Milit explained, “even someone as old as I am.”
Trea Hoshi, who was from Milit’s clone stock, raised an eyebrow slightly. “I am honored to know you, Initiator.”
Hoshi smiled at her. After all, Trea Hoshi was just a girl, not unlike she had been, not unlike Yoshiko would undoubtedly become. “Trea Hoshi, who do you want to be your husband?”
Trea Hoshi’s eyes flitted from one face to another. “No one has ever asked me this.” Behind her, maybe a thousand identical girls giggled nervously.
“Trea Aqili and Trea Mirana and I often speak of such things. The governmental ministers are most interested. They bring gifts, much like you have been provided with today.”
“But none of them appeal to you, not that way, am I right?” Hoshi asked her near-doppelganger.
“No, they do not.”
“Does anyone appeal to you?” asked the older woman.
“We have the experimental ingredient number thirty-six,” Milit stated, “it can enhance attractiveness.”
“But I bet it can’t replace what’s not there in the first place. Milit,” Hoshi said, “don’t you and the other men think these girls can’t make up their own minds? Instead of assigning them husbands because of computer matching or maybe political expediency, maybe the thing to do would be to allow them to be courted.”
“Look at all these presents. I can’t use over 99% of them. They’re just too much. Give the presents to the girls. And let that be the ice breaker for, for all of you. And you will figure out compatibility.”
“I do not know,” Milit stated honestly.
“There will be some mismatches,” Takashi explained, “but you’ll sort it out. We’ve got faith in you.”
“It doesn’t have to start off perfectly,” Travis added, “it just has to start.”
“Just like that?” asked Milit.
“Just like that,” Travis confirmed.
About three weeks later, while they were back on the USS Cochrane and Captain Reed was leading them back to Tellarite space, Hoshi received a message on her console, just after the date slid by, May the sixteenth of 2179. “Communiqué from the Arisians, sir.”
“On screen, Lieutenant Kimura,” commanded Malcolm Reed.
It was Milit. “I should like to announce to you my marriage.”
“Congratulations,” replied the captain, “and who is the bride?”
“Here name is Trea Aquili. She, too, will be the mother of the world, thanks to all of you.”
“Our pleasure, Reed out.” As soon as the connection was cut, the captain looked at Hoshi, “Well done. Are you available for matchmaking anywhere else in the galaxy?” he joked.
“I don’t know about that,” Hoshi replied, eyes sparkling, “but Lili might want to clear her calendar for the next few years.”
“There’s going to be a demand for catering a few thousand Arisian weddings.”
Flight of the Bluebird by jespah
In 2180, fifteen years after the events depicted in Take Back the Night, Malcolm Reed is back on Daranaea with his new ship, the DC-1505 Bluebird. How much have things changed? How much have they stayed the same? Is this generation fulfilling its promise? Part of the Daranaean arc.
Flight of the Bluebird can be found here.
Malcolm sacrifices everything to be with Lili.
Equinox can be found here.
On September 2, 2182, Inta is admitted to Oxford to study art.
The young woman had brown fur and big, chocolate brown eyes. Her ears were triangular and stood up – well, they mostly did, with the front flaps a little folded over. Her elder sister, Cria, had carefully trimmed her whiskers in the modern, graduated style. Her nails were trimmed. She was wearing a brand-new cloak and tied top. Her capris were pressed and coordinated with her top and cloak. Unusual for her species, she was even wearing shoes, but they felt strange and uncomfortable. She stood up straight and tried not to let her pouch and belly stick out too much.
The Dean of Admissions looked at her. He was a human male. “I have never seen your species here before at Oxford. What did you say that was?”
“Daranaean, sir,” she said, “My name is Inta.”
“Have you a surname, Inta?”
“I do not.”
“We will need one for our records. For species that don’t use last names, we generally use the species name, or the planetary name. Hence you would be known as Miss Inta Daranaea. The instructors would mainly call you Miss Daranaea. Is that understood?”
He looked at a PADD. “I have a bit of your work in front of me. You’re here because of it, of course, but also because of a rather generous recommendation from a person who’s fairly high up in Starfleet. Or at least he was. My understanding is that he’s retired now.”
“Oh, yes. I presume you are referring to Captain Reed. He and his wife have been most generous to me. I have, ever since I learned that their son, Declan, was to study art here, I wished to do so as well.” She looked down, feeling she had said too much.
“Declan Reed is in an advanced class. But I imagine you’ll run into him in the hallways and such. Welcome to Oxford.”
Once Inta had gotten situated in an all-girls dormitory – the single-sex had been a requirement from her overly worried mother – she called home. And then she called Lafa II. “I would like to speak to Captain Malcolm Reed, please.”
He got onto the visual call quickly. “Ah, this is a pleasant surprise.”
“It is September the second of 2182. So it is your birthday, yes? And you are seventy?”
“I am,” he admitted, “I understand you’ve been admitted to the same program as Declan. Congratulations on your acceptance at Oxford.”
“I thank you. Sir, the Dean of Admissions told me that your recommendation, it helped me to get in.”
“I’m sure it was mainly your talent at drawing and painting,” Malcolm reminded her.
“Perhaps. But I am certain you helped a great deal. And it is your birthday. I should give you a gift.”
“You don’t need to,” he said. There was a small sound in the background as his wife got into viewer range.
“Hi, Inta,” she smiled.
“Hello, Lili. I was just saying; I should give Malcolm a gift.”
“Your best gift,” Lili said, “will be to do well at Oxford, all right?”
“I shall think of something else. Oh! I can hear church bells. It is time to take supper. Thank you again. Inta out.”
She stuffed her PADD into her pouch and walked toward Littlegate House. There was a large cafeteria. She got herself a tray and the day’s offering of shepherd’s pie, which smelled a bit like the foods that she was used to. She knew no one, except for Declan, and didn’t see him.
She sat down by herself and glanced around at all of the people going by. She sampled her food and then took her PADD out. “A gift for your birthday,” she wrote. She looked around a little bit more at all of the faces – human, Xindi, Vulcan, Calafan, Tellarite, Tandaran and Andorian, mostly. At least, those were the species that she could recognize.
A young human man with very light blond hair sat down several tables from her. He didn’t see her. It was Declan. Inta debated for a second as to whether to join him, but he seemed to be with friends and she didn’t want to intrude. Instead, she pressed the stylus to her PADD and began to draw.
An hour later, on Lafa II, there was a ding on Malcolm Reed’s PADD, signifying that there was an incoming message. He clicked it open to find a five-word note and a beautifully detailed portrait of his only child, Declan Charles Reed.
In 2183, Lili, Malcolm and Declan attend Alia Shapiro’s Bat Mitzvah and there’s a little misbehaving going on.
The three of them got in a little bit late and tried very hard to be quiet and inconspicuous. They sat down as quietly as they could, but the family turned around and looked a bit before going back to reading in Hebrew. Oops.
The woman sat between the two men – her husband on her left and their son was on her right.
“Do you know anything about this?” asked her husband quietly.
“Not too much, Malcolm. They, um, they say a bunch of prayers, then Alia is called up to the Torah or maybe somebody else is and then she comes up later? I dunno,” she said.
“Mum, it’s like this,” said their son, “first it’s family, then it’s Alia, then I think there’s others who come up.”
“Oh, thanks, Declan,” she said to him. “The suit looks good on you.”
“Thanks, Mum,” Declan said. He was twenty-one and looking rather sharp indeed.
“And you,” she whispered to her husband, “isn’t that the suit you wore when we got married?”
“The very same,” Malcolm said, “after all it was only a little over a year ago. You look amazing.”
“Oh, this old thing?”
“Come on,” he whispered, “that light green; it looks smashing on you, Mrs. Reed.” He put a hand on her knee and she discreetly removed it.
A woman in the pew in front of them turned around and shushed them.
“I’ve never been to a Bat Mitzvah before,” Malcolm said quietly, “Just how many people are called up to the Torah, anyway?”
The same woman who’d shushed them passed a printed program back to them. “Oh, thank you,” Malcolm said. He leafed through it, murmuring, “Huh, it’s like everyone from the Shapiro family is going up to the Torah. And then every Jewish crew member from the NX-01, the NX-02 and the USS Zefram Cochrane is having a turn. My God, it’ll take a year before they’re done.”
“Oh, sorry,” he said. His wife looked over his shoulder, also reading the program. “You hair looks really good, too,” he whispered to her.
“It’s going white,” she whispered back.
“Mum, Dad, will you pay attention?” Declan whispered to them.
“Oh, sorry,” said his mother. She nervously fiddled with a little handkerchief and tried not to yawn. “Declan,” she finally whispered, “I bet there are some cute girls here.”
“Mum, please. We are here for Alia Shapiro’s Bat Mitzvah, not for you to find me a girlfriend!”
“Sorry,” Declan said. “Really, Mum,” he said quietly, “I can do fine on my own. The girls at Oxford are all right.”
“Do they like an art student like you?” his mother asked.
“Getting any nude portrait subjects?” Malcolm asked his son, winking at him.
“My apologies,” Malcolm said. There was quiet in the back as more relatives went up to the Torah, read a bit and then sat back down, including the woman who’d been shushing them. He finally spoke again. “Good Lord, I’m no longer seventy-one. I think I must be eighty-three by now. This is taking forever.” He put his hand on his wife’s knee again. Again, she gently removed it.
“I swear, you are the randiest seventy-one year old I have ever known,” she said to him quietly.
“Even more than?” he whispered in her ear, breathed a little and then kissed it, an act that made her jump a little.
“Yes, even more than my first husband,” she whispered back. “Do you even notice that I’m seventy-four, love?”
“Excuse me?” he pretended not to hear that last part. “I can’t hear you over the din of this truly captivating thirty-four year old in a light green frock I’m sitting next to.”
“Oh, and who might that be?” she whispered in his ear, kissing it, an act that made him redden a little.
“I can’t say,” he said, “as I am bedazzled.”
“You’re a smooth talker,” she said, “for a guy wearing his wedding suit.”
“I’d like to see you in your birthday suit,” he murmured in her ear.
“Oh, sorry,” she said, reddening. “It’s our first Bat Mitzvah. Are they all this long?”
“No,” said the woman curtly, turning back around.
“There’s a brunette over there,” she pointed out to Declan. “She’s kinda cute.”
“I think that woman is, well, a bit too old for me.”
“How old is too old, Dec?”
“Don’t be afraid of an older woman, son,” Malcolm said to Declan.
“Uh, I’ll remember that, Dad.”
There was more chanting and more praying as yet another person went to the Torah for a reading.
“I want to go back to the hotel,” Malcolm whispered to his wife. Hand again on her knee, he started sliding it up. This time, she didn’t bat it away quite so quickly.
“Oh?” she breathed.
“Yes,” he said, “and you remember our wedding night? Maybe we could do something like that, eh, love?”
“Maybe,” she replied, eying him.
Declan looked over. “Mum, are you all right? You look a bit warm.”
“I’m feeling a little hot, Dec.”
“Yes, you’re very, very hot, Mrs. Reed,” Malcolm whispered to her, “Allow me to get you out of those extra layers you have on, and make you more comfortable.” His hand slid up again, going a bit farther this time. “Constricting clothing – that’s what they teach us in Starfleet – you need to remove it if you’re a bit faint. Are you feeling faint, love?”
She turned to look at him. “I am a little … overcome.”
Declan rolled his eyes and hid his head as his parents briefly kissed. Why me, he thought to himself.
“You need treatment, Mrs. Reed,” he murmured.
“I, well, I dunno.”
“Don’t be a martyr now,” he said, smiling at her.
They quietly got up. “What am I gonna tell Alia and her parents?” Declan asked, a little alarmed that he was being left alone at the Bat Mitzvah.
“Ken Masterson is here – you can sit with him, Dec,” said his mother.
“And tell Alia and her parents,” Malcolm said, “well, it doesn’t matter.” They held hands as they departed as quickly as they could.
As soon as the service was over, the woman who was shushing them shook hands with Declan. “Where did your parents go? Aren’t they going to the reception?”
“I think so,” said Declan. “They just needed to lie down for a while.”
On April 29, 2185, a first dance is held on Lafa II.
Weddings are chock full of firsts. First kisses. First steps together. And first dances.
There is the one for the bride and groom. Or the groom and groom, or the bride and bride, or there may even be more in some cultures.
When Joss Beckett married Jia Sulu, on April 29th, 2185, the four suns were shining dimly over Lafa II and there was a threat of rain in the air.
It was a fairly small affair. There was nearly no one from the bride’s side, as the Lafa System is near Klingon space. Without a starship, it’s a fairly long journey. And so the bride’s sole family was her mother, Mai. Her father, Geming, was long dead.
Joss had more family available, as his mother, Lili O’Day Beckett Reed, had settled on Lafa II, as had his stepfather, Malcolm Reed. Their son together, Declan Reed, sent his regrets, but he had exams at Oxford, on Earth.
Joss’s sister, Marie Patrice, lived and worked on Andoria but had fabricated a business trip, something about a fashion show on Lafa III. She had come with her on-again, off-again, now on-again fellow, Ken Masterson.
The eldest half-brother to Joss, Tommy Digiorno-Madden, had found a way to get away from his duties on Erika Hernandez’s Columbia and had beamed down a day earlier, staying with his mother, Melissa Madden, and his mother’s lover, Leonora Digiorno, who he had brought with him.
His younger half-brother, Neil, lived on Lafa II and worked the business end for Lili, for her restaurant, Voracious. She was getting ready to retire for good. Neil also had two dates, but they weren’t his mothers. Instead, they were his live-in girlfriend, Ines Ramirez, and his nighttime woman, a Calafan named Yinora. Yinora didn’t bring her husband and her kids; her children were on separate field trips for school and her husband had business to attend to on Tellar.
And so, once the officiant had departed, there were only the lucky thirteen of them remaining.
There was a little recorded music, but it was subdued. Everyone kept looking out the windows of Lili’s old house, which now belonged to Joss, and Jia. “Do you think it stopped misting?” Joss asked, looking a little anxious. Being cooped up was not so horrible, but it felt less like a wedding and more like just a regular family gathering.
“Well, let’s see,” Tommy went out first. He walked around outside, and then returned. “It’s not so bad.”
“Maybe we should leave the food inside,” Leonora suggested.
“Here,” Lili said to Neil, handing him a set of keys. “Can you move the cars? We can just stay under the carport, I’m thinking.”
“Sure.” He left to do her bidding, tossing a set of keys to Ines.
Watching Ines back her and Neil’s car out, Lili was struck with sudden sadness. She sniffled a little as she gazed out the window. Malcolm came up behind her. Following her gaze, he saw the car and, behind it, to the back yard, where there was the beginnings of a tiny family plot. Her first husband, Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett was buried there, as was Kevin Madden-Beckett, the youngest of the three sons of Doug and Melissa. Kevin had not survived for even a month.
“You’re thinking of him.”
“I am. Neil and Ines own his old car. He’d be pleased that it’s still running.” She had on a violet dress and there was a corsage on her wrist that smelled divine, the aroma increasing a little if she moved her hand or wrist quickly.
“I imagine Jia is a bit conflicted today, with Geming gone. Happiest day of her life and her father is not here to witness it.” There was conflict, too, in his blue-green eyes.
“I don’t have to dance with Joss for that mother-groom thing. It’s okay.”
“No, you’ve practiced. And Jia had insisted. She’s like you had another daughter already, eh?”
“She always has been. I think she’s been in love with Joss since she was five years old. But you’re right; I think of Doug, but of course we’re all here, or we almost all are. But there’s no Geming. It’s like we’re a big crowd, kinda running the both of them over sometimes.”
Mai came over to them and looked outside. “I have known for a good twenty years that we would have this day. Pity there are people missing.”
“We were just saying that. Mai,” Malcolm said, “we can skip the whole parental dancing bit, if you like.”
“Really, it’s all right,” Lili confirmed. “Whatever you think is best.”
“I know Jia wants it,” Mai stated. “For you and Joss, and I agree. You should have it. Even if the dance floor turns out to be your driveway in the misty rain.”
“Excuse me,” all three of them turned. It was Joss, wearing a new suit and a pair of local olowa flowers in his lapel. “My, uh, my wife – there, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that – my wife requests your presence outside.”
Jia was wearing a long creamy-white dress. It wasn’t really a wedding gown, as the Calafan people had not quite figured out that their new human neighbors might want something to wear to a wedding that wasn’t just an embellished tunic and slacks. She had a fingertip-length veil, gathered and held by a comb at the back of her shoulder-length black hair. When she saw Joss, her face, which was a bit rounded, lit up, as if she were seeing him for the very first time.
The remainder of the family, in suits and dresses, and Tommy in his full-dress uni, stood nearby. A couple of umbrellas were up, as the mist was getting a little heavier again. “I’d like,” Jia said, “to do something a little different. I know Joss and Lili planned to do a mother-groom dance. And that will be wonderful. But I hope we can do this first, okay?” She approached Malcolm, who was standing between Lili and Mai. “May I ask you something?”
“May I call you Father?”
His jaw dropped, and he glanced at Mai, and then at Lili, and then back at Mai again, for confirmation. “I, I, I don’t wish to, to disrespect Geming’s memory in any way.” He glanced at Mai again.
“It is all right. It was a while ago. I will not object,” Mai said.
“Well all right, then,” Malcolm agreed, flushing a little. Lili squeezed his hand for a second.
“We should have our song, Father.” Jia nodded at Neil, who adjusted something on a PADD so that it was loud and they all could hear.
Eleven people watched, and he leaned over and whispered in her ear as they danced, “My second daughter,” as Marilyn Monroe sang.
If I invite a boy some night
to dine on my fine Finnan Haddie
I just adore, his asking for more
But my heart belongs to Daddy
In 2191, Inta goes on a date with Hank Harrison (for him, it’s the 24th century). A crossover story with trekfan.
Welcome to Hearts in Time, A Universe of Matchmaking Possibilities!
Hank sat at a table in a random restaurant, silently chiding himself. This was a bad idea and his gut feeling to run was at an all-time high. But he needed to get back into the dating game and one of his officers directed him to this restaurant where a matchmaking service was based. "Welcome to Hearts in Time, A Universe of Matchmaking Possibilities!" read the sign hanging above him.
He shook his head and wondered what possessed him – besides desperation anyway – to do this. He was a captain for God’s sake; he was supposed to be able to find a date easier than this. "Kirk always did," he mumbled to himself.
The waitress brought over a pair of vases, each containing a solitary rose. "We have two colors, sir. Yellow is for if you're looking for a not so serious situation, and red is if you are looking for marriage. Which one would you prefer?"
Hank stared at the flowers and his hand reached for the red initially, but he stopped. Marriage? This was a date, a first date...sure he wanted to be married. Sure he wanted to have a wife and some kids...but he wasn't ready to commit to that on the first date. He pointed at the yellow rose and flashed a weak smirk. "I think I'll just get my feet wet," he offered nervously.
"Very well, sir." The waitress set an avocado-green vase on the table, in a squarish shape. The rose was perky, perhaps a little too perky, too cheery, a tad artificially enhanced, perhaps. Hank glanced around, seeing some people meeting. There were a few where you could immediately tell that things would not work out, where a face, all bright with a smile and wide-eyed hope, fell as a person was seen for the first time. He steeled his gaze, trying not to get his hopes up too much, fearing a hard dash to the ground if he were disappointed.
He averted his eyes from those around him and focused on the empty chair across from him. This was it. His date would be here soon and he wondered what she would be like. Would she be funny? Would she be cute? Did any of that really matter? Part of him wasn't sure if he wanted this to succeed. He did, after all, spend years pining after a girl who now was off the market...probably for good.
He shook his head, not wanting to think about that entire situation. No, tonight was about a date...someone new, someone he didn't know. This was a clean slate. He took a deep breath and steadied himself.
His friends had told him to look at pictures, and decide on that first, but Hank had disagreed. He had wanted to know her, the person, and not based on some standard that could not live up to ... best not to think about her, about that. No. Tonight, a date. A fresh start. No expectations. He smiled and looked up as he heard the door opening.
There was a hooded figure, and the hostess directed that figure over. Stand up, his brain told him. Stand in the presence of a lady. He stood and offered his hand.
She took off her hood and he found himself at a loss for words. This was not what he was expecting. This was not what he had in mind when he ended up convincing himself to do this. She wasn't human, which wasn't a big deal for him...he'd dated a few non-humans in his time.
But she was...she was so different than what he expected. "Uh...hi," he managed to get out.
"Hello," she said, "I am called Inta. You are Hank?"
"Uh, uh, yes," he said, "I'm Hank. Yessiree, I'm Hank all right." He realized he was babbling and grinning like an idiot. Pictures. He should have looked at a damn picture. He motioned to her. "Have a seat, uh, Inta."
Mother of god, what have I gotten myself into? He thought to himself as they sat down. He wasn't sure what to do here. On one hand, she seemed nice enough...on the other hand, she was...well...she looked like...
He was struggling to come up with the words. "So...what brings you here?" he asked before he realized she was probably here for the same reason he was; looking for a date. Stupid question, stupid question, he repeated to himself.
"I am, well, you see, I should start at the beginning. I know that humans cannot, you do not have such good noses as we Daranaeans have."
"Yes. You see, we have three female castes, all based upon how intense our aromas are. I am of the secondary caste. It also means I am expensive; well, more expensive than the third caste, but not as much as a Prime Wife would be."
"Expensive? Uh, I thought this was only going to be dinner," Hank said. Suddenly, his clothes were far too small on him.
"Of course! I am being a bit silly and getting ahead of myself. But you see, we are, our marriages are through the purchase of females. We are, traditionally, sold to our husbands. But I, well, I want a different kind of a life. I don't wish to be sold," Inta said, looking a little defiant.
She had brown fur all over her face and, he could see, the backs of her hands as well, and he wondered if the fur went all the way up. She had a long nose, almost like a snout, and her ears stood up. She was rather foxlike in appearance, with chocolate brown eyes. She peered at him, awaiting a response.
Sold? Hank's mind raced. She was from a completely different culture. The only frame of reference he could think of was ancient Earth...they had a similar caste system if his memory served. Which it usually doesn't in situations like this.
"Well...no one wants to be sold," he said truthfully. Internally, he was kicking himself for that comment almost as soon as he said it. He was out of his league here. She looked nothing like what he thought... and he was struggling badly with coming up with any topic of conversation.
"So...Inta...what exactly are you...looking for?"
"Kindness," she said, "Just, someone to be caring. Do you know what I mean?"
"Yeah," he admitted, speaking softly, "I actually do."
"But you are not interested. I should not have come. My, my sister Cria, she trimmed my whiskers in the graduated style, but I am no beauty, not like the great Dratha, of course. I think this was a mistake."
She got up. Hank said, "Wait, um, wait a second. Maybe we could talk. Not with a, a date expectation. But just to talk. Is that all right?"
She sounded like she needed an ear and frankly, he knew he hadn't exactly been as gentleman-like as he needed to be here. Even if she didn't really meet any expectation of his, she deserved to at least be treated as a person...and he'd been bumbling around like an idiot so far. "Please, sit down," he implored her gently.
She seemed to consider it for a moment before finally resuming her seat.
Hank sighed. "First...sorry for...well, me," he said with sincerity. "Secondly...I understand what you mean when you say you want kindness, I do, really. It's harder to find than a lot of people think."
"Exactly! And in my culture, well, things are so uneven. It's funny, when we made contact with humans for the second time; it was when I emerged from the pouch."
"We are marsupials, Hank. I have, it's almost like two birthdays. One for emergence - that's April 25th of 2165. Birth was October 28th of 2164."
"So you're, um, kind of a Gemini and a Scorpio?”
"I'm not sure what that means," she said, "but it sounds funny."
"It probably is. Humans a long time ago, they thought the positions of the stars at your birth defined your personality. I bet those two are opposites."
"So it is like castes?" she asked.
"Not exactly. So, um, you're from 2165, eh?"
"Well, not right now," Inta said, "this is such a strange dating service, able to shuttle people around in time! For so far as I am concerned, it is 2191."
Hank glanced back up at the sign and thought the one time an ad for a dating service is actually true... He looked back down at Inta and cleared his throat. "It's 2382 where I'm from."
"Oh, my! I must seem so primitive to you."
The waitress came over. "Have you decided?"
Hank motioned to Inta. "I like a dish with meat and vegetables, you have something like that?"
"Beef stew. And for you, sir?"
"Sweet tea and, um, the chicken salad, thanks." The waitress left.
"I don't suppose you can tell me what happens to us in your time," Inta said, "Do females get the right to vote?"
"I don't know," Hank said, "I'm afraid I'm not up on Daranaean culture. I've never been to your planet, never even heard of it before today."
"Oh! You should see it! There are many places with good smells. I have not been to Earth. Does it smell good?"
"Earth...does it smell good?" Hank smiled. "It smells...wonderful, I guess. There are certain things that don't smell great but then there are those things that just...well they just stick with you. Like a spring day after it's just rained or a fall day where the sun's been out...the leaves crunching beneath your feet." Hank paused. "Then there's the food...like apple pie. A fresh baked apple pie smells amazing."
"I don't think I have had that sort of food. We mainly eat some meat and vegetables most of the time. Not very exciting, I know, but we get our good smells from the world around us. There is krivian weed. Most families grow it as a hedge. It offers a little privacy and the smell is, what is the word in English? It is sweet but a little sharp."
"Tea is sometimes flavored like that."
Hank's sweet tea arrived. The waitress set a glass of water in front of Inta.
She thought for a moment. "Mint. It is a mint flavor."
"Do you want mint tea?"
"Sure. Thank you; you are very kind."
Hank ordered her some mint tea. "Now, it's not the same as sweet tea, which is the elixir of the gods. It cures all ills."
"It must be very powerful," she smiled, and he could see slightly pointed teeth.
He shrugged good naturedly. "Well, I might be exaggerating just a tad, but it does taste good. I mean, it's not like it tastes horrible...unless you get it somewhere that doesn't know how to make it." He took a sip of his tea and felt the cool liquid slide down his throat. He nodded. "These people know how to do it." He set his glass down and pointed at it. "But if I got that somewhere like...New York...well, they still don't get how to make it. I don't why they're so stubborn. New York has everything else, food from places like Romulus even...but sweet tea?" He waved his hand dismissively. "Not so much. Still a great city to visit but I'm a country boy...lots of free land, forested areas, and plenty of warnings about cow crossings," he joked. "Where did you grow up? City? Country? Somewhere else?"
The waitress set down their food in front of them. "This has a good smell," Inta said, "There are, uh, four kinds of vegetables in here.”
It just looked like an indistinguishable mass to Hank. “Really, you can tell that?”
“You cannot? Oh, it is, well, the world is as vivid for us in smells as it is with sights. But it is sometimes of a bother.”
“Oh?” he asked.
She whispered a little. “I can tell that the meat is a day old or so. But it is all right. I shall not complain.”
“Well, there’s a little downside to everything, I guess.”
"I grew up in Daranaea's capital city. It is called Prisk. I come from a, I know you humans are not used to such large families."
"My father took one wife from each of the three castes. It is what wealthy men do. Mama Dratha had five, then my mother, she is Mistra; she had twelve of us. I am her eleventh. And the third caste wife was, I am named for her. She was also Inta. She had two. My dear sister Seppa is Inta's youngest. Seppa's husband takes her around in a little ship he owns. And Cria, I mentioned Cria, did I not?"
"The, uh, the whiskers, right?"
"Oh, you remembered!" Inta clapped her hands a little. "Cria is wed to a merchant. Our brother Trinning became a doctor and our brother Vidam, he is a Beta Councilor."
"There are few opportunities for females on Daranaea that don't involve marriage. I like to draw, but I fear there is nothing I can do with that."
"My family?" Hank rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin. "A bunch of wackos, that's what they are," he joked. "Well...I'm the oldest of four. Uh, my mom and my dad have been married...for seemingly forever. I'm a captain in Starfleet. My oldest little brother is a chef...loves to cook, loves to eat, and somehow stays thin as a rail." He leaned back in his chair and grinned. "My youngest little brother is in Starfleet too, works as an investigator for Starfleet Internal Affairs. As you can imagine, not the most popular job, but he's got plenty of friends...female friends, if you get the idea," he said with a grin.
"And then there's my sister who does a lot of things; she's a part time musician, part time holo-program designer, and she dabbles in things. None of us are married...but we were always taught that marriage isn't something to be rushed into, despite family history that says otherwise." He looked over her and then at her hands. "You say you draw? Why not pursue that while you're looking for love?"
"I, I don't know," she fidgeted a little, "I don't," she said very quietly, and he had to struggle a little to hear her over the din of the restaurant, "I don't always have confidence sometimes."
"Can you show me something you've drawn? Do you have a PADD?"
"Yes, a moment." She turned away and lifted her top slightly, and his eyes about bugged out of his head. She turned back, PADD in hand, and giggled a little. "I have no pouchling so I may as well use it to carry around my PADD, eh?"
Slack-jawed, Hank just watched as she clicked around. "Uh, here. This is a sketch of the eastern end of Prisk, where there are fountains."
Hank examined the drawing carefully. "I like it. And these hedges over here, are they that minty plant you were talking about?"
"Yes, those are supposed to be krivian weed. And, thank you. You are generous." She took the PADD back but didn't put it back into her pouch. "So, your sister, she works? And two jobs? How astounding. And your father, he permits this?"
Hank smiled at her. "My dad? Oh sure, he's fine with it. Actually, out of everyone's career field he had a problem with mine. He didn't think I was 'Starfleet material'. I suppose he was right...when I was younger I wasn't exactly the most by the book officer." He looked at her PADD and once again was amazed at the detail in the artwork. "You're really good, though. I know a lot of art schools on Earth that would accept you in heartbeat based on what you just drew there."
"Thank you," her nose and ears reddened, and Hank realized she was blushing. "To have your own ship. That must be very exciting. It is so very impressive. We do not have big ships for the most part. The warships are tiny – only for two, I am led to understand. Then there are pleasure craft such as Seppa and her family ride in. They are bigger because of the size of our families. We have some exploration ships but it is all males and they do not like going away for very long. I guess they miss us, well, they miss other females. Not a female like me."
"I'm sure you're missed."
"No, I am not," she said, "this is why I am seeking outside of my species. I know that no man would wish to purchase me, even if I would consent to being sold. Do you think any human male would find me a good mate?"
Well, this is an awkward question, he thought to himself. "I think...I think any member, of any species, would you find you a good mate," he said truthfully. "You're nice. You have great talent as you've shown...and you have principles. You're looking for all the right things too. Just don't write off someone in your own species quite yet. You never know who you'll meet."
"Thank you. May I ask why you are here, and are seeking? I do not mean to pry, but a captain, surely it must be easy for you?"
Hank sighed. Where to begin? "Things are not that easy, no, not really."
"You didn't know. They, um, they aren't easy because I guess I don't make them easy."
"Hmm?" She tilted her head in confusion and he thought she looked particularly canid at that moment and fought not to chuckle, so he smiled a little.
"What is funny?"
"Just these circumstances are, I guess. This whole situation. I guess no species has a monopoly on being awkward, or not knowing what to say at times."
"True. And I will not press on what I have asked you," Inta said.
Hank shrugged. "There's no need to press. I'll tell you, I guess..." He sighed. "It's classic, really. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl is younger than him and doesn't really like him like that. Boy decides to become girl's friend...boy and girl grow close, boy consistently finds excuses not to pursue the girl...fast forward a few years and girl is now in a serious relationship with someone else and boy is left there wondering why he waited so long." He tapped his finger on the table, his eyes far off. "I'm the boy in that scenario, just to be clear." He stopped tapping his fingers and formed a fist with his hand. "I had my chances and now she's doing what makes her happy." He looked back at Inta and forced a grin. "So, that's partly why I'm here...looking to see if there's happy left out there for me. Stupid, I know...but still... worth the effort."
"Most definitely worth the effort. Perhaps this girl, she does not know how you feel, and does not know how it could be? Could you tell her somehow?"
"It doesn't seem right, to tell her, while she's with someone else."
"Huh," Inta thought for a moment, "if your, your Navigator, the, the one who steers the ship – is that the word for it?" He nodded so she continued, "If he were going in the wrong direction, would you not tell him?"
"You would not simply wait until the ship was halfway across the sector, true?"
"So if this girl is heading in the wrong direction, are you not, uh, obligated to tell her that there may be a better path for her?"
Inta's statement hung in the air for a moment.
"It's not that easy," Hank said.
"Are you, maybe, just a little bit, missing some confidence, as well?"
Hank could feel his face go red. "Okay, admittedly, I'm not at my highest confidence around her, no. We've known each other for a very long time. But she's making her own choices and she's chosen to pursue something with someone else. I respect that...and I hope it works out for her, I really do." He leaned forward, folding his hands together. "I may have feelings for her, I may even have more than that for her but I'm her friend, first and foremost. I'm not going to drop this on her and expect everything to work out...that's not how things happen in life. She has the freedom to choose. So do I...I chose not to take my chances with her and she's out of reach now. My role...my duty, at this point, is to be the best friend I can be to her." He leaned back, his eyes firmly locked onto the table. "That's all I got left."
"I again apologize," she said, "I have pried. That was wrong of me." She absently played a little with her spoon. "This finding caring business, it is so very difficult. I wish it was not. But I suppose that means it is of great value."
"Yeah, that about sums it up," he said, draining his glass.
They sat there for a few minutes, silence encompassing them both. The waitress came by to pick up their dishes. "Would you care for dessert?"
Both shook their heads and the waitress nodded, taking the dishes away.
Hank cleared his throat. "I have a question, if you don't mind."
"No, please," Inta responded, seemingly glad as he was for words filling the air once more.
"If you're from...2191 was it...how long does your species live for? If you're anything like the Vulcans, I could look up you in my time...maybe even take you to Earth for a visit, show you all those great smells," he said with a grin. "I like your company...you've got a good ear."
"I have big ones," she said, "but we don't live into the hundreds. At least, secondaries such as me are expected to live until about age sixty or so. But I think that is due to having so many babies. If I have fewer babies, I suspect I would live longer. I, I thank you for your invitation. Perhaps you could go back and see our older culture? And, and smell our krivian weed, maybe."
"And apple pie. You should taste apple pie," Hank said.
"I should. I should try a lot of things, I think."
Hank nodded. "Absolutely. Try...well, try everything, as a friend once told me. You never know what you'll like." He stood up and she did the same. He extended his hand. "Thanks...this was better than I had expected it to be."
She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, just the tiniest of licks, like a puppy. "This was good. I thank you."
Hank blushed a little and gave her a wink. She was sweet. He hoped she found what she was looking for. As for him...well, he still had plenty of time. There was always the possibilities of more dates in his future. He smiled at her, waved goodbye, and walked out of the random restaurant, stuck in the middle of goodness knows where, not sure of what his future held.
But at least tonight wasn't a total waste. He made a new friend.
Independence begins and ends in early 2192, for Leah Benson and her counterpart as they face challenges in both universes.
In the Mirror Universe, on September 11, 2166, Andrew plots to secretly provide money for his and Melissa’s son, without the Empress finding out about it. Written in response to a prompt with the same name. Andrew remembers these events in 2192 as he finally gets out.
“Will you do it?” Andrew Miller asked, a little anxiously.
“I’ll think about it,” Josh Rosen said. They were in one of the ISS Defiant’s old bio labs. It was no longer being used for experiments, and had instead become a storage room for equipment.
“Well, I hate to rush you, but the clock is ticking,” Miller said.
“Yeah. But look, you know what kinda trouble I could get into, Andy.”
“Uh, please?” Asking for permission was a sign of weakness. Being polite was a sign of weakness, the kind of thing that women did, and then only sometimes. Becoming beholden to someone was another sign of weakness. But he was getting a bit desperate.
“You’re really under the gun, eh?”
“It’s either that, or she’ll have to come up with the name of some other guy,” Andy said.
“Well, she could. Melissa wouldn’t be the first girl in the Terran Empire to tell a lie when it came to ID’ing the father of her kid,” Josh pointed out.
“True, but there’s only a little pool of candidates. Unless you wanna volunteer,” Andy said.
“Nope, that’s all you. What the hell were you thinking, getting involved with the pilot at the same time that the Empress is using you for her plaything? It was a dumb move, Andy. You weren’t thinking with the right equipment.”
“Yeah, I know,” Andrew admitted, “but I, uh, with Melissa, it’s not like it is with Hoshi. I, uh, I wanna get out of this, stop being a toy. She’s sexy as hell, but all of that gets old, and faster than you’d probably think. She just, she doesn’t seem to have a heart, yanno?”
“Don’t let her hear you say that,” Josh glanced around nervously. They were alone, but it was impossible to tell who might be listening in some fashion. Even hearing such treasonous sentiments could buy him a one-way ticket to the agony booth.
“I’ve only said that kinda thing to you and Melissa. Josh, we got no way to escape without you. You, uh, take whatever you want from the fund. Cut it right off the top. Just, please, leave enough so our son doesn’t starve, okay? Could you? Please?” There was that word again.
“Okay,” Josh said, sighing a little, “You can put the account in my name. We’ll hide it like you said; make it look like gambling debts. If anybody asks, you owe me a boatload ‘cause you stink at cards.”
“You’re a life saver, Josh.”
“So it’s all set,” Andy said. He and Melissa were in her tiny quarters.
“Okay,” Melissa said, kissing him. “I can’t work much longer. I’ll get myself to Ceres where my sister Miri lives. She can help me with, you know,” she patted her belly, “Will I be able to see you?”
“I dunno. It might not be for a while.”
“Tommy won’t know you,” she said.
“No, he, uh, I guess he won’t,” Andrew said, turning away.
They were on the Bridge for the night shift. Melissa was piloting. Josh stood in the back at attention, for he was a security crewman. Andy was at the science station. The Empress Hoshi Sato was in the command chair, getting bored.
“No one ever tells you,” Hoshi yawned, “but space travel is pretty damned boring when you’re between stops. Andrew, let’s, uh ….”
“Empress!” Melissa interjected.
“Oh, what is it?” Hoshi snarled.
“I’ll need to go on leave soon.”
“Leave? Whatever the hell for?”
“Who’s the father?” The question was asked out of neither concern nor congratulations nor curiosity. Rather, it was to determine who to yell at for taking the main pilot out of commission.
“I don’t know,” Melissa said cautiously.
“Wham bam, huh?”
“It was dark, and there were a lot of them,” Melissa held her ground, staring straight ahead.
“That can be fun,” Hoshi said, “tomorrow you and Miller will take a shuttle as we’ll be orbiting New Vulcan. Get me two slaves who can do calculations. In the meantime, Andrew, c’mon to the Ready Room and we’ll make use of the cot that’s in there.” She sauntered away and Andrew was forced to follow her.
He remembered it vividly, all of it, even though it was May of 2192 and that had all happened in September of 2166. He sat in the Empress’s plush quarters, alone, remembering that day and the events of the day that had followed. They had taken the shuttle to the surface, and everything had seemed to be going along relatively smoothly. But when they had taken off again, the shuttle had lost altitude quickly, and crashed. He had walked away with nary a scratch, as had the two unlucky Vulcans chosen to work for Hoshi.
And then there was Melissa. She had slumped forward, hitting her head, and blood had dripped from the side of her mouth. There was nothing that could be done, and Andrew remembered her last words – bridge to nowhere.
But that was nearly twenty-six years previously.
In the meantime, the fund had stayed right where it was, completely unused. It had been for Tommy, and there had never been a Tommy. Rosen had never tapped it. Perhaps that was out of respect, or maybe the fellow just hadn’t wanted to be associated with it and caught somehow. But he could have it, Andrew figured. Andy would not need it.
It had taken Andrew that quarter-century to gather together the means, the opportunity and the nerve to do what he was about to do. And he had done so.
He rolled the means around in his hands. It was a small capsule, and it said Tri-C on one side. On the other, in far tinier print, it said Crossman Pharmaceuticals. It was tricoulamine, a fatal neurotoxin. It would be painful, but for no more than a few seconds. And it wouldn’t be anywhere near as painful as when he’d had to say the two most painful words he’d ever said, those many years ago, “Madden’s dead.”
He clicked open a PADD and typed a simple message, “MM, I’ll be with you soon, my love.” He saved it and made sure it stayed open. He wanted it to be found. He looked around the room, seeing the last things he would ever see, and took a deep breath, smelling the last scents he would ever smell.
He then bit down on the capsule and, in a few seconds, made his escape.
In 2203, Neil Digiorno-Madden runs his first 5K.
It was never easy for Neil Digiorno-Madden.
For his siblings and half-siblings and his one near-sibling, it was a cinch, a snap, ironically, a piece of cake.
But for Neil, maintaining a healthy weight was never a simple affair.
He had about every strike against him possible.
His deceased father, Doug Beckett, had kept in shape by being a soldier, and doing odd construction jobs around the house and Neil’s mother’s house and even at Malcolm Reed’s neighboring house, in the little area where they all lived on Lafa II. Neil’s mother, Melissa Madden, kept fit by bicycling, although she was getting slower and more and more forgetful and so it was becoming more of a challenge to get her out there. It was getting safer to just keep Melissa close to home, so she was, as a result, getting a small spare tire.
Neil’s mother’s partner, Norri Digiorno, was bookish and did little those days that was physical, but she kept her weight down by a near fanatical devotion to counting calories. And then there was Neil’s late father’s equally late wife, Lili O’Day Beckett Reed, who had been a professional chef. And there was Lili’s second husband, the late Malcolm Reed, who seemingly could eat anything but, also did a boxing workout into his eighties and, even on the day of his death, had had cheekbones with which you could practically cut glass.
Lili was gone, Malcolm was gone and Doug was gone. Norri and Melissa were slowing down. And Neil, who managed Lili’s old restaurant, Reversal, had little time for workouts, although he always had time to taste whatever the new Calafan chef had prepared.
And so Neil had packed on the kilos.
It got so bad that his live-in girlfriend, Ines Ramirez, and his nighttime woman, a Calafan named Yinora, had independently told him that he needed to move more and consume less.
Norri had tried to teach him the mysteries of ascetic calorie counting, but Neil would have none of it. Melissa, even as she was showing the beginnings of Irumodic Syndrome, offered to take him biking, but he felt clumsy. Neil had to, somehow, do it on his own.
It would have been easier, he thought to himself that day, if I had been a thin kid. But I wasn’t.
He was chugging along, huffing and wheezing, feet barely lifted above the dirt path. He was all alone. It was time to think. He had ear buds and a player but had switched all of that off in favor of listening to nature. And, perhaps, to hear if it would be one last wheeze. He was awfully uncomfortable.
This is what I get for signing up for this damned thing in the first place, he thought. This is what I get for putting it together. The Run for Lo – it’s more like the Run for a Decent Breath.
It was a 5K race – the first ever on Lafa II. There were twenty-eight entrants. Neil knew that they were all done, all the rest of them. The other twenty-seven, humans, Calafans and even a Vulcan and a Tellarite, had crossed the finish line long before. Neil checked a display on his pedometer. He was thirty-nine minutes into the race. He had passed the two-thirds mark. But he was tired.
Yep, he thought, it would have been easier if I’d been a thin kid. And I was never a thin kid.
His eldest brother – well, half-brother – was Joss Beckett. Joss was tall and powerful, a carbon copy of Doug. Joss had been a catcher on the High School baseball team. Scouts from the New England Red Sox and the South American Pistoleros had come around. But Joss was a practical animal lover and so he had instead gone to veterinary school.
His only sister – half-sister, that is – Marie Patrice Beckett, had been a minor soccer star in school. She wasn’t good enough to be scouted. She was living on Andoria.
His elder brother – a full brother – Tommy Digiorno-Madden – was a Tactical Ensign working for Captain Aidan MacKenzie. There was little doubt in Neil’s mind that Tommy was working out every single day as some sort of condition of staying in Starfleet.
Declan Reed, who was Lili and Malcolm’s son and technically not related to Neil at all, had fully embraced his British roots and had played cricket. Just like his father, he had sharp cheekbones and was thin and wiry.
“Just you and me, eh, Kevin?” Neil muttered to himself as he jogged on, slowly. “Okay, Kev, well, that’s not fair. You didn’t live long enough to get fat. So maybe you wouldn’t have. I dunno.” Kevin was another full brother but he had not lived through even his first month.
The Calafan countryside was pretty. The course went over one bridge – the Fep Bridge, then over on the other side of the Cha River and then over the Wev Bridge and then the end. The Fep Bridge, as befitted its name, was small and easy to get over, for Fep meant small. But the Wev Bridge was a killer, as Wev meant master.
“We shoulda gone in the other direction,” Neil whispered to no one as he began going up one side of the Wev Bridge.
At the crest of the Wev Bridge, he looked down over the Cha River. “The Faith River”, he muttered to no one as he looked for signs of the finish line. There was sweat in his eyes so he couldn’t tell where it was.
Keep going, keep going, he thought to himself. He walked, he jogged – it didn’t seem to matter much in terms of his overall speed. His feet felt hot. His shins were starting to throb. He unscrewed the cap on a water bottle in the fuel belt he wore. “You said it was silly, Ines,” he whispered, “You said this is what marathoners wear, and I am no marathoner.” He chuckled a little. “But right now this is saving my fatty bacon.” He took a drink. There was a flavoring where he didn’t expect any. “What’s this? You mixed a little tofflin juice in there, eh?” Another smile. “You gave me a performance enhancer, Ines. They’re gonna disqualify me, you silly gal.”
Finally, he heard buzzing, murmuring, the sound of a crowd. He wiped the sweat out of his eyes and saw the end of the race. He was only expecting Ines. Their kids had claimed to be busy. Yinora was supposed to be out of town. Everyone else had their own lives.
Yet there they were. It was Joss and his wife, Jia and their children, Shaoquing and Jay. It was Marie Patrice with her long-term boyfriend, Ken Masterson. It was Declan, too. It was Melissa with Norri, and Norri was drawing Melissa’s attention, letting her know who to applaud for. And Tommy was even there, and that seemed impossible, but he was! And Ines was there, yes, as promised, but so were their children, Marty and Jenny. And Yinora was there, too, with her own children, Treve and Yipran and Yimar. And even Yinora’s husband was there – Fepwev. Yinora’s Aunt Pamela Hudson was even there.
They were all applauding for him. He felt strange, and he began to run as fast as he could.
He was far from graceful. But then, he never had been. His siblings had been the graceful and athletic and strong ones. He never had been. He had been the Bassett Hound amongst the gazelles.
There was an electronic display showing his time. As he huffed by, feet picked up as high as they could go, he saw it click over to forty-three minutes flat as he made it to the end of the race.
He was drenched, and immediately doffed his tee shirt. Yinora and Ines came over. “We have a clean shirt for you,” Ines said.
Without even waiting for an invitation, they slipped it over his head. Then Declan took a photograph as the two women smooched him, on each cheek. A little dazed, he had the presence of mind to look at the new shirt, which said, 'Kiss me, it's my first 5K’. Fepwev came over and draped a finisher medal around Neil’s neck. “I do believe this one’s yours.”
Neil was about to thank him when he felt a tug on his sleeve. It was Jia, Joss’s wife. Quietly, she said, “Do you think you could teach me to run?”
She was a little overweight, too. She looked at him expectantly. “We’ll go together, okay?” Neil said, “And you’ll run the second Run for Lo with me, all right?”
“All right,” Jia said, “all the way to the finish line.”
In May of 2206, the family gathers on Lafa II to make an important decision about Norri and Melissa’s future.
Once she had heard that statement, Marie Patrice Beckett, who was not a violent person, but was, instead, flighty and selfish and superficial, slapped that Andorian model across her azure face so fast that both of them were surprised by the force and speed of her outburst of anger and violence.
“Don’t you ever say that again about my Ma Melissa or my Ma Norri! Ever!”
And then she had fired that model, and gotten a transport to Lafa II, even though the next trunk show was in three days and MP Fashions of Andoria, Inc. was dependent upon its expected attendant sales and publicity.
On the USS Excelsior, Thomas Digiorno-Madden asked to see his captain, Erika Hernandez. She agreed for her Tactical Officer, an Ensign, to have a week’s worth of leave on Lafa II even though that ship was nowhere near the area and there were, as there always were, it seemed, flare-ups at the Romulan Neutral Zone.
At the Beckett Veterinary Hospital on Lafa II, Joss Beckett explained to his Calafan assistants that he’d be occupied for several days, and they’d have to somehow carry on without him, unless there was a dire emergency. The stray cat had had her kittens and was stable. The injured linfep was eating tofflin roots again and seemed to be on the mend. The other assorted patients were going home and no new ones were expected. He’d lecture to schoolchildren about animal safety at a later date. This was more important. He and his wife, Jia, would come, as would their kids, Jay and Shaoqing.
Declan Reed gathered up his most necessary art supplies, a sketch pad, and a pair of small canvases, and boarded a transport as soon as he heard. He left a note with Oxford, as an artist in residence, and his request for emergency leave was quickly granted as the transport sped to Lafa II and he looked out a window or at his fellow passengers and sketched them on his PADD – a tall Imvari, a pair of Xyrillian men, a Tandaran mother with three children who seemed to overwhelm her, and a Vulcan MACO.
And on Lafa II, Neil Digiorno-Madden sent out a notice to the press that the celebrated restaurant, Reversal, would close for a week, possibly more, as there was pressing family business. His long-time girlfriend, Ines Ramires, would come with their two children, Marty and Jenny Lee. His nighttime woman, a Calafan named Yinora, would come, too, with her husband, Fepwev, and their children.
From light years away, they came. And on May the sixth of 2206, they began to arrive.
The Med Center was a cheery, well-lit place where most of the patients and medical personnel were native Calafans, silvery in aspect, many with bald heads, both male and female. There were even a few from the other side of the pond, another universe, and those were coppery in shade. But the family did not stop to see or greet any of them. They came to see but one patient.
The room was small and warm, but it had none of the touches that a home or even a hotel has. Instead, it was a sterile warehouse for equipment and one Leonora Digiorno, aged seventy, who had fallen and broken her hip. Leonora – Norri – was not alone. Sitting on the bed, distraught and confused, was her long-time lover, Melissa Madden.
“Your family is here to see you,” announced a female Calafan nurse. The woman’s almost Irish-sounding accent betrayed origins on Lafa V. Her mottled silver arms and very, very short hair gave away that she was maybe thirty years of age.
“Oh, uh? Mommy?” Melissa asked.
“Not your mother,” Norri grunted from the bed. “Your mother died two years ago.”
“Oh. Is Mommy coming?”
“No, Melissa.” It was an effort for Norri to reply.
The nurse saved the situation by opening the door for the family. “Now,” the nurse explained, “you can’t all fit in here at the same time. You’ll have to take shifts.” She randomly pointed, and Neil and his small family, and Declan, were permitted to enter first.
“Doug!” Melissa cried out to Neil. “And Malcolm!” she exclaimed to Declan.
“No, Ma Melissa,” Declan explained, “my name is Declan. My father was Malcolm.”
“Not Doug, Ma. I’m Neil, remember?”
“Oh, uh, yeah.”
“How are you feeling, Norri?” asked Ines.
“Like I was hit by a transport.”
“How long will you be here?” Declan inquired.
“Malcolm!” Melissa called out, her voice childlike even though she was over seventy herself.
“I’m, I am not Malcolm,” Declan explained again. He looked up a little. “He’s only been gone for a year and a half.” He sighed.
“Not to her,” Norri said. “They’re all alive – Lili, Doug, and Malcolm. And her parents, her sister Marilyn, my folks, my older brother, Phil – all of them are still out there, still kicking, still young.” She paused. “At least she still knows who I am. Irumodic Syndrome is awful. It’s a thief. It robs you of the people you love.”
“How’d this happen, Granny Norri?” asked Jenny Lee.
“I was running after her,” Norri gestured at Melissa. “She had pulled a roll of toilet paper out of a cabinet and unrolled it. It was getting everywhere. She, uh, she thought it was funny. I suppose it was. It’s all fun until someone breaks a hip.” Norri cringed a little. “When can I go back to things?”
The nurse turned. “You’ll have rehabilitation and physical therapy for the better part o’ a year.”
“I can’t be flat on my back that long.”
“You’re gonna hafta be.”
“We, uh,” Neil stumbled over the words, “we’ll figure something out, whatever you want, whatever works best. In the meantime, we’ll switch, and get Empy and Joss in here. Didja know Tommy’s here?”
“He shouldn’t have,” Norri stated. “He can’t interrupt a cold war for little ole me.”
“Of course I was gonna come,” said Tommy himself, striding in, still in uniform. “I wouldn’t feel right staying away.”
The family shifted around, and it was Neil and his family, and Declan, now outside the room, with the Calafans. “We need to do something,” Neil said.
“We should have a family meeting, I think,” Declan replied.
Yinora looked up. “I have an idea. Let Fepwev and me, we’ll have the kids over – all four of ‘em. Give the rest of you a chance to talk. We’ll abide by anything you say or do. We really shouldn’t be making this decision, anyway. This is a job for all of you.”
“Right,” Declan sighed, rubbing his light eyes, a genetic inheritance from his mother, Lili O’Day Beckett Reed. “This will be, as they say, where the men are separated from the boys.”
“Or the women from the girls,” Ines offered. “Don’t forget Empy, or me and Jia, yanno.”
That evening, they all sat around Lili’s old dining table at the house that she had shared with her first husband, Doug. Lili and Doug had been Joss and Marie Patrice’s parents. Lili, with Malcolm, was parent to Declan. And Doug and Melissa had been parents to Neil and Tommy and Kevin, but Kevin had died in infancy, buried in the back yard. Joss and Jia now lived in the old Beckett house.
Jia looked out a window to the yard, at the graves of, from left to right, Kevin, Doug, Lili, and Malcolm. “I look at them, and I think of my own folks, also gone. Aging stinks. I don’t move as fast as I used to, and neither do you,” she said to Joss.
“That may be so, but we’ve still got a lot of time left.”
“We do. But this is gonna age us even more. I, I don’t, please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s more that I know how stressful it’ll be.”
“Yeah, it will be,” he agreed. “I’d give you a bright side to look at, but I’m not so sure there is one.”
“Let’s get down to it,” Ines suggested. “I can’t just hang around and complain. I feel like we need to get things settled. But nothing without Norri’s okay. I mean, right?”
“You’re right,” Declan agreed. “So let’s take an inventory.”
“Their Fep City apartment is okay,” Marie Patrice began, “but the doorways are narrow. Norri will have a wheelchair or crutches or a cane. A narrow doorway is going to make that difficult.”
“What about a facility?” asked Ines.
“I think all the Calafan buildings are like that,” Joss explained. “When the vet hospital was built, the locals couldn’t understand why I wanted wider doorways.”
“Yeah, Joss’s coworkers can’t get over the wider doorways in this house, either,” Jia added.
“Same with Reversal, after it was renovated,” Neil commiserated.
“So we need a house built for humans. That’s either here, or the old Reed house, up the rise,” Marie Patrice pointed out.
“My parents’ old place?” Declan asked.
“Well, nobody’s using it,” Jia said.
“Right, that,” Declan agreed. “I, uh, it was a painful place, after Louise left me.” He bit his lower lip. “But my messy divorce was far enough back in hist’ry that I suppose I can allow someone to take the sheets off the furniture and use it.”
“We could get a nurse in, I guess,” Marie Patrice offered.
“I think they need a companion,” Jia opined. “A nurse won’t help clean, or read to them, or anything like that. Plus someone that skilled will be expensive.”
“We are not gonna economize here,” Joss countered. “This is Ma Norri and Ma Melissa we’re talking about.”
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean any disrespect,” Jia backpedaled. “But there is an economic component to this; you can’t deny that.”
“Right, and I’m sorry,” Joss backed off. “Still, I don’t want this to be bargain basement care.”
“It’s only for a half a year, a year or so,” Marie Patrice said.
Neil had been sitting quietly for a while. “No, it won’t be. It can’t be.”
“What is it, Bro?” asked Tommy.
“We can’t just leave Norri to do this. Not anymore. It’s not fair. Even if Norri wasn’t hurt, we still wouldn’t – we still shouldn’t – just leave her to do all the dirty work by herself.”
“What are you suggesting?” asked Ines.
“Someone’s gotta step up and be the caregiver. I volunteer,” Neil declared.
“You’ve got Reversal to run,” Marie Patrice said.
“It’s just a restaurant,” Neil said.
“No, c’mon, it was Dad and Ma Lili’s dream,” Tommy stated. “You can’t just chuck it.”
“Neil,” Declan said, “you can’t. But I can present the solution, if I may.” They all looked at him in anticipation. “I’ll do it.” The words leapt out of Declan’s mouth, seemingly of their own accord. “I shall gather them together and the three of us will live in my parents’ old home. And their Fep City apartment, well, perhaps you can use it. I suspect the rooms would be larger, so that would appeal to Jenny Lee and Marty, right? It’s not much farther from Reversal, yes?”
“Dec, this is a ton of responsibility,” Tommy cautioned.
“I, I have no reason to stay, physically, at Oxford. I can continue to produce artwork and then just send along the imagery. If they need anything in their hands, I can either send it on a transport or take it over myself, say, once or twice a year.”
“We could handle the times when you’d have to be on Earth,” Ines volunteered. “Right, Neil?” He nodded his agreement.
“We could take over sometimes, for breaks and stuff,” Joss suggested. “Have you over for dinner once a week, on a regular basis, all right?”
Declan nodded. Marie Patrice added, “I could handle the finances.”
“I’d better do that, Empy,” Neil said.
“Then let me do something.” She thought for a minute. “I could visit you, I dunno, every quarter, maybe? That would break things up, and give you something to look forward to. And write to me; I’ll answer. Make me your sounding board or just bend my ear if you need to vent.”
“All right,” Declan agreed.
“Write to me, too, okay?” Tommy requested. “And I’ll try to write more, and send images and stuff, things you can use to distract Ma Melissa or amuse Ma Norri. We’ll all, we’ll try. We’ll help any way we can, right? We’re all in this decision together.”
“Together,” they all answered in unison.
In 2212, Jonathan Archer dedicates a memorial for the honored departed from the NX-01.
“Winter. I always think of them in winter. So it’s fitting, to be here, in the wintertime.”
President Archer stood on a small stage and looked at the assembled guests. “Fifty years ago, in 2162, the NX-01 took its final journey. And it came back here, to Earth, as the planetary coalition was forming, which later became the United Federation of Planets. And there were changes in my life as well, as I was privileged to command a second ship, the DC-1500, the USS Zefram Cochrane. And then you were kind enough to elect me as a Councilman and then as President. But today is not about me. It is about the honored departed.”
The guests watched as he unveiled a large obelisk, meant to look a bit like Cleopatra’s Needle. But instead of hieroglyphics on the side, it was inscribed with the names of the dead. “For everyone who ever served on the first Warp Five starship, their names will be here when they are gone. Some are, sadly, already there. Some could have had their names inscribed during our mission. And I see them, and I can hear them, still, although years have passed.”
He paused to collect himself a little bit. “Elizabeth Cutler was a Science crewman. She had a big, wide smile and a pleasant way about her. Crewman Fuller was quick with a joke. Patricia O’Malley died in a confrontation with a hostile species. Crewman Burrows was killed during a transporter experiment. Crewman Jane Taylor was killed during the Xindi War. Crewman Masaro was a suicide.”
He took a breath. “On the MACO side of things, Private Hawkins and Private Forbes were both killed during the Xindi War. Major Jay Hayes, probably the bravest soldier I have ever known, died saving Ensign Hoshi Sato from Reptilians.”
He paused, remembering. “And at the end, on our last mission, Charles Tucker III died, well; he was killed saving my life. As many of you know, there is a Charles Tucker III Foundation for Promising Engineers. I have been privileged to serve on the board for several years.”
“And there are others,” he continued, “like Malcolm Reed, who is now gone for a decade, and his wife, who also served with us on the NX-01. I remember them as if it were yesterday. It may be 2212 but for me it is yesterday.”
He looked at the assembly. “I know you were expecting profundity of some sort or another today, but I’m afraid I just don’t have it in me right now. Know that these people, these good people, were the best. Thank you.”
He slowly walked off the stage, feeling older than his nearly one hundred years of life. His wife was waiting. She took his arm and they slowly waited for everyone to depart, waving away the press. When everyone else was gone, and the stage had been disassembled, they stood in front of the obelisk. Then he bent down and touched the earth. “Miva,” he said to her, “there are too many names.”
“I know,” she said, with a voice with an accent that sounded almost Irish.
“Hayes, Tucker, Cutler and Reed. I think those were the toughest ones. Hayes, as he gave of himself for Hoshi. Tucker because he, too, traded his life for another’s. Cutler because it was so unexpected. And Reed, well, it feels too soon.”
“Malcolm died a good decade ago,” she reminded him.
“And it was, you know, it was because his wife was gone. And he just couldn’t go on any longer. He lasted about three weeks, and then that was it.”
“I know,” Jonathan said, “I remember the memorial service. He made it through Christmas, and saw the children one last time. He died in the garden at their home. His stepdaughter-in-law was with him.”
“Jia, yes,” Miva confirmed, “she told me he saw her just before he went. It’s very similar to my people, how we die.”
“Oh? And what happens to Calafans, Miva?”
“We see our beloved ones or our ancestors if there’s no one beloved. And Jia said he saw her, his most beloved, and she had a key in her hands. And he knew that once he touched her hand and the key, that he would be gone.”
“To go in such a way, my God.”
“When my first husband, Darywev, died, he saw his parents. That was long ago, very long ago.”
“I remember how you were then,” Jonathan said, “I had thought it would be better to stay away but you said no, that you wanted me to be there.”
“I did, and I do. You were a perfect gentleman for a good year after Darywev’s passing. I knew you loved me because you waited.”
“Yeah, I already loved you,” he said.
She looked up at the sky. “It’s a hazy shade, kind of a foggy, misty, cottony grey. Darywev’s hair, at the end of his life, it was that color. Yours is becoming that color.”
He was still kneeling, and he pointed at a blank area on the obelisk. “Hoshi’s name will be there. And Travis’s. And T’Pol’s. And, and mine.” He straightened up, towering over her.
“And others, too, like the Shapiros and the Hamidis, right? You called them, what did you call ‘em, Jonathan?”
“The honored departed, Miva. As dead as that tree over there.”
“That tree isn’t dead, my beloved. It’s just dormant. I bet if we went over there, we’d see buds. Even for those who didn’t leave descendants, like Hayes and Tucker and Cutler, there are still buds. They made it possible for descendants of others, like, like Declan Reed, to exist at all.”
“That’s true,” he allowed.
“It’ll be a long time before your name is on that monument.” They began walking away together.
“A hazy day,” he said, “It’s the winter of my life. There are no buds on this tree, no descendants.”
“And like I said,” she insisted, “your work, and your dedication, and your sacrifices, they made those other descendants possible. Declan does owe you his existence, too, yanno. And I owe ya a lot of my own happiness.”
“I do. Winter or no winter; you are who I wish to be with.”
“And you are who I wish to be with,” Jonathan said, “winter or no winter, hazy day or not.”
Completely Hers by jespah
In 2213, Declan Reed goes all in.
“Do you know any rabbis?” Declan Reed was on long distance with his kinda brother, not a brother, Tommy Digiorno-Madden. Tommy was on the Excelsior.
“Rabbis. You know what a rabbi is, right, Tom?”
“Sure. Whaddaya want one for?”
“I, uh, I’m seriously considering getting married again.”
“Oooohhh. Rebecca Shapiro.”
“Right, Major Digiorno-Madden.”
“Doesn’t she have her own?”
“Yes. This isn’t for her. It’s for me.”
“I want to convert.” The wall display slid to the date – May 6, 2213.
“I guess you’re sure,” Tommy said.
Declan nodded. “I want to be completely hers.”
“I’ll make some calls.”
Declan Reed’s spiritual journey.
Created in response to the "Kill Your Darlings" weekly prompt.
Pamela Hudson’s eulogy, in 2232.
“A little over ninety-eight years ago, my great-aunt, Pamela Hudson, was born in an Earth place called New Hampshire,” said Treve, a young Calafan man. Like all young Calafans, he was completely bald and, like all of those from our universe, his extremities were solid silver in color. He looked over at the assemblage. Everyone was fanning themselves a little in the warm July weather on Lafa II.
There were humans, including his mother’s nighttime man, a fellow named Neil Digiorno-Madden, and Neil’s daylight family, who were human, a woman named Ines Ramirez and their two kids, Jenny Lee and Martin. They were, in a way, like additional siblings to Treve. The relationships were close, and it was all done out of affection, he knew.
Nearby were his biological mother – Yinora – who was Neil’s nighttime woman and her daylight husband, a Calafan named Fepwev. Fepwev had long, flowing milky-white hair and almost looked Efrosian in his appearance. Yinora had long silvery-blonde hair; part of it braided and piled high up in the new human style. She didn’t mind showing off her thick hair, a sure sign of aging if you were a Calafan. There were also Treve’s full siblings, Yimar and Chelben. The names repeated, and it could be confusing, but it also meant that the namesakes were dead. Treve was named for his own great-uncle; and Chelben for the other great-uncle. The first Yimar had been Yinora’s mother, their grandmother.
There were more humans, too, like Neil’s full brother, Tommy, in a full-dress Lieutenant Commander’s uniform, from the USS Kelvin. And there were Neil’s half-siblings, one of whom was a grandfather already, and even Declan Reed, with his family.
“Pamela was a bright and beautiful child, but her girlhood was troubled. She was so hurt, so badly, at such a young age,” Treve sighed. “I will tell this, because Auntie Pamela always said we should talk about the ugly, because it’s important, and we shouldn’t sweep it under the rug or forget about it. And so I shall tell you, that when she was five years of age, her father began to abuse her, both physically and sexually.”
The mourners all looked up as one. This had not exactly been the most public bit of information.
“I know; you would not know it to look at her, for she seemed so together. She was a surgeon, you know, and always ready with a joke. But there was much within her that was wrong and harsh and hardened. Her young adulthood, aside from school, was filled with meaningless encounters and foolish risks. She nearly died more than once and perhaps it was her subconscious wish. I don’t know. From what I gleaned from speaking with her near to the end of her life, I was led to believe that that wish wasn’t fully buried in her subconscious at that time.”
His mother looked him in the eye as if giving him a signal, telling him that he didn’t need to go on. But Treve smiled tightly and continued all the same. “In her mid-thirties, she came here to visit her own uncle, who had retired here. And it was also to visit an old flame, who had settled here on Lafa II with his family. She met the man I am named for, and they took a shine to each other. This was even when my great-grandmother, the High Priestess Yipran, still lived. It was not so conventional, a human and a Calafan marrying.” He smiled at Neil, who sat between his ladies and returned the expression.
“But they turned heads, you know, for she was so stunning, and my namesake, he treated her like a queen. For her part, it was that he was accepting of her, and he listened, and he wasn’t shocked at what she had done, or how she had felt, or what she had experienced. And for him, it was not just looks, but also her survivor’s spirit, that hooked him. They were together until 2199 – thirty-three years ago. Yes, she was a widow for that long. She never loved another.”
Ines rubbed her eyes, and her daughter put an arm around her to comfort her. There was a portrait of Pamela in younger days, sketched by Declan, of a knockout blonde with bedroom eyes. Jenny Lee focused her attention on it as she scootched a little closer to her mother.
“They did not have children, you know, for the chromosomes, they don’t line up properly. I suppose one day, science will catch up. So when I was born, Pamela decided that I would be hers in some ways. My mother, I suppose she had other plans, but she was generous and so very often, I would find myself whisked out of school to accompany Auntie Pamela on some adventure or another. We went to Andoria once, with nothing packed, and ate redbats until we almost burst, and skied until we dropped. We visited Nereid, too, where she had gone to Medical School, and even to Earth, and I got to see this New Hampshire place. It is very leafy.”
He paused and whisked a tear away from the corner of his eye. “For someone who was so badly treated and so wronged at the start, I hope that the last two-thirds of her life dominated her thoughts when it finally came to its end. I hope that her last moments were not spent remembering her father’s monstrosities, but instead my namesake’s gentleness and love. It was her last word, you see. I was there when she passed, and I heard it. And I know she did not mean me. She couldn’t have. I like to think that we here, we Calafans, both human and native species,” he smiled a little at Martin, who nodded back, “I like to think that we were the accepting new family that she needed. I feel that we were the love that she deserved, that had been perverted and withheld for far too long. My memories of Pamela are of a feisty, funny, brilliant, beautiful woman, a woman whose last word was Treve.”
In 2234, Craig Willets remembers an odd message from 2151.
“It was November thirteenth. 2151. I was nineteen.”
“That was a thousand years ago, Granddaddy Craig.”
“More like eighty-three. It was the NX-01 Enterprise – do you remember seeing it in a museum?” Craig asked.
“What day is it?” asked a young surveyor.
The attractive widow smiled at him. “Thou are not keeping track of the days, Richard?”
“It’s easy to let a few slip away, Lucretia. You’re such a beautiful woman.”
“Roger Allgood says I am the sort who would snap like a twig in a storm!”
“I don’t think twigs snap. They bend, right?” Rick asked.
“Mostly. Dost thou not have work to perform?”
“Later,” he kissed her and then suddenly remembered something. “Damn – uh, darn.”
“Whatsoever is the matter?” The widow Crossman was a little alarmed at the utterance of an oath.
“I, uh, I need to, um, I’ll be at the outhouse. Don’t, don’t go anywhere.”
She laughed a little. “I shall not be milking a cow in this attire!” She was clad in little more than her flaxen underthings. He put his breeches on and made sure the tiny PADD was still in the pocket of his waistcoat before donning it, too. “Such a formal visit to the outbuildings!” she exclaimed upon seeing him putting back on so many clothes.
“I, uh, what would your neighbors say, if I were to go out, half-dressed?” he laced up his shoes.
“I believe they already wonder about thou a little already, Mister Daniels.”
The outhouse was smelly and small and dark, but at least it was private. He tapped on his PADD – which had been in sleep mode, and was showing an impromptu slide show of family pictures from the 29th century – and it sprang to life. He tapped twice to get it out of voice recognition mode and commenced typing.
“Dammit, what date did I leave the NX-01?” he whispered to no one. He looked up in the PADD and he was missing the data, as he had not yet written his report on Jonathan Archer and the 22nd century Temporal Cold War. He had been expecting to go on his current mission – to 1699 Penn’s Woods – and write both reports at the same time. But this was nagging at him, and he knew it would bother him until he’d fixed it. The date on the PADD was synchronized to the current date and time – November thirteenth, 1699.
“What happened on November thirteenth?”
“Oh, uh,” Craig thought for a moment. “It was a message.” His grandchildren departed. Messages were not thrilling to them.
Craig walked over to the master bedroom in his home. “Computer, enter dictation mode.”
“Craig Willets’s personal log, November thirteenth, 2234. Add this to my memoirs. I recall a message received on this day in 2151. It was after the September ninth disappearance of my roommate, Richard Daniels.”
“Okay, I’ll fix this later,” Rick muttered to himself. The outhouse was smelly and Lucretia – ah, Lucretia! She was waiting and somewhere in there he’d have to go back to his real mission, which was to accompany a historian observing William Penn.
He hurriedly typed out a message.
To: Craig Willets, in care of the NX-01
November 13, 2151
I’m sorry I left so abruptly. I don’t know how much Captain Archer has explained to you. Of course we cannot be roommates anymore. I know we did not always see eye to eye on how clean to keep our cabin, but you are a good person and I consider you a friend.
However, given the disarray, I ended up with a pair of your boots in error. I am sending them back to you with this note. Check your closet.
Best of luck to you. I know that you will have great adventures.
Richard Daniels, TIC
He set his PADD to temporal communications mode and adjusted it to the last-known position of the NX-01 and hit send. He then hit the controls on a temporal transporter, thereby neatly retrieving the boots and sending them from the Temporal Integrity Commission in 3097 to the last known position of Craig Willets’s closet on the NX-01 on November thirteenth, 2151.
He then turned off the PADD and emerged, and washed up at a little basin nearby, with rough soap and a buckskin towel. So refreshed, he dashed back to the widow Crossman and a bit of fun before he’d have to get back to work.
And on the 2151 NX-01, a rather surprised Craig Willets retrieved an odd PADD message and, amidst the mess in his bunk, he found boots in the back of his closet.
“Continuing personal log,” Craig dictated in 2234, “I think Daniels screwed up. He probably would have preferred sending me my property back on the actual date of his disappearance, on September ninth of 2151. But I was a messy guy then, and I still am, but I’ve gotten a bit better over time, I think. Still, for a while there, I was the lowest Engineering crewman on the NX-01, and I roomed with a time traveler. Once, at Movie Night, we watched an old film called The Odd Couple. It was before Daniels left. And we laughed about it, when we realized that he was Felix and I was Oscar. So wherever you are, Felix, here’s a salute from your old pal, Oscar.”
One second of time on November 21st, 2234.
Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown? by jespah
On May the 12th of 2245, there is a death, and it has a few complications.
“Sic … semper … transit … gloria … Terra,” gasped the old woman as the date slid by on a wall display – May the 12th of 2245. So goes the glory of Terra. The words were well-rehearsed. They were memorable. They were unique. They were perfect.
There was silence as her six children stood around the bed – five sons and one daughter. They were joined by two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, one son’s alien male lover, one grandson, one granddaughter-in-law and one great-grandson, an infant. Those dozen people all looked at each other a little nervously.
The old woman quietly continued to breathe. Dammit, I’m not dead yet, she thought to herself. “Jun,” she croaked out to her eldest son, “You will rule.” She cautiously reopened her sloe eyes.
“With Kira, Ma,” Jun corrected her. He glanced up at second-born Kira, who was taller than he was.
“Your fathers,” the old woman said, “are all dead. Ritchie Daniels, Jun’s father, he, his shuttle crashed on Darananaea, a planet that always smells like wet dog. It was before any of you were born. Kira,” she motioned to the tallest person in the room, “yours was Aidan MacKenzie. He, he went to some godforsaken rock somewhere. Arashi, yours was José Torres. Or maybe your father was Frank Ramirez. I forget,” she took a labored breath, “Torres died in a slave revolt. Ramirez went to a rock, uh, I dunno where. Takara,” she said to her only daughter, “and Takeo,” she included the daughter’s twin, “Chip Masterson, he went to a rock, too. I, I don’t know why they’d rather go to, to rocks rather than be here on the Defiant with me.”
“What about me?” asked Izo, the youngest.
“Same slave uprising as Torres. The, the silver aliens. You can’t trust ‘em. Calafans,” she spat out, and then focused on one such silver alien in the room. “Who’s the hell’s that?”
“Ma,” Takeo told her, “that’s Ubvelwev. He and I have been together for years.”
“What? Oh, yeah,” the old woman grumbled. “And these girls?”
“Jun’s wife,” Izo explained, “And Kira’s. Mine and Arashi’s couldn’t make it, Ma. But tell me about my Dad, Ma. I never knew him.”
“Travis Mayweather,” she grunted, “good for one thing only. Fragged by his own troops. He was hot.”
“Uh, sure, Oba-asan,” replied her grandson.
“Who the hell are these extra people?” she wearily waved at him and in the general direction of the rest of his immediate family.
“Ma, you know this,” Takara explained, “my husband, Charlie Tucker IV. Our son, Chuck the fifth. Chuck’s wife, Denise Masterson, who is also our cousin. Their son, Charles the sixth.”
“You married your cousin?” asked the old woman.
“Yes,” Chuck explained, “We were in the wilds of Lafa II. Not a lot of options there. But it doesn’t matter. We still love each other, and we would still marry, even if we had a billion other choices.”
“Huh,” the old woman sniffed haughtily. “Good thing my genes are better than that. They overrid all of that lousy Tucker blood.”
Takara drew her husband aside. “Try not to take it personally, okay? Her memory is all messed up. And she’s wrong about Aidan – he’s still alive. And my dad is; you know this. We saw him and Lucy yesterday. I bet she’s wrong about Daniels, too.”
“She doesn’t have to be so damned annoying, dying or not,” Charlie complained.
“It won’t be long,” Izo commented. “Look.”
The old woman was looking up and past them, it seemed. “I see people.”
“Who?” asked Jun.
“Some old MACO from, I dunno when. Takashi Kimura. And the Quartermaster from, sheesh, over fifty years ago, Sekar Khan. This is it! This is who’s coming to take me over the threshold?” her tone was one of annoyed disbelief. “I demand someone else, not these, these losers.”
“Maybe, Ma,” Kira ventured, “they’ll be your personal servants, or your bodyguards. I mean, ya gotta figure you’ll be in charge there.”
“Yes, you’re probably right,” sniffed his mother. “They’re launching that new ship today. What’s its name again?”
“Enterprise, Ma,” stated Arashi.
“You’ll continue watching the treasury, right?” the old woman asked.
“Of course, Ma,” Arashi assured her.
“Someone’s always stealing. The silver ones steal,” she sneered. “Why’s there a silver in my bedroom?” she whined.
“Ma, like I said, this is Ubvelwev,” Takeo repeated.
“Whatever,” the old woman replied. “Those, those losers, they’re getting me something.” She looked up again, distracted from her family.
“I bet it’s a robe and crown,” Izo speculated.
“Gimme mine,” the old woman demanded.
He reached back, finding the requested items. She had not worn them when she was younger but, as the years had gone on and on, she had become more and more over the top. The crown was huge and heavy, the custom-made robe trimmed with ermine and festooned with elekai feathers in an elaborate multicolored design. He showed them to her. “Here, I’ll put these on.”
“The crown goes the other way,” she snarled, “gimme that, you idiot.” As he began to comply, she waved him off weakly. “The losers are back. They have a pad for me.”
“A PADD for data?” Chuck inquired.
“No, stupid, it’s a pad for, for the ground. It’s the sort of thing some slave would use while gardening.” She looked up again, and was not addressing the living, “You morons made a mistake. I am not going through eternity on my knees, digging in the dirt and pulling up weeds like some slave or silver thief, loser, oh, you’re such dolts!”
“Ma, here,” Izo again tried to put the robe and crown on her.
“Izo, you’re as clueless as your father was. Oh, gimme those, Izo, you imbecile!” She gasped twice, and her eyes clouded over.
Izo still had the articles in his hands. “Which of you gets which of these?” he asked his eldest brothers, Kira and Jun.
“We’ll get duplicates made,” Kira decided on the spot. “So, um, maybe neither of us right now, okay?”
A MACO general emerged from the shadows. The patch on his arm said E. Hamboyan. Jun commanded him, “Open a channel to the entire Terran Empire and all of its provinces and conquests like we planned when she first started to decline.”
Hamboyan fiddled with controls. “Ready,” he reported.
Jun stared straight into the camera. “The Empress Hoshi Sato I is dead.”
Behind him, Hamboyan saluted, his fist hitting his own chest and then the fingers were splayed out in a delta formation as his arm rose. “All hail the tandem Emperors, Jun Daniels Sato and Kira MacKenzie Sato!”
From the late Empress’s bedroom, and all of the provinces and conquered lands of the Terran Empire, and even the remainder of the late Empress’s family, they all bellowed as one in response, “All hail!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.