Federation Zone of Occupation, Cardassian Space
Annabeth was fast asleep in her quarters. Alex was in her usual spot, curled up right next to her.
“Bridge to Commander Geist.”
Annabeth slowly opened her eyes, rolled over, and then slammed her arm on the nightstand to grab her comm badge. Alex stirred and rolled over as well.
“Go ahead…” she mumbled.
“Yes, Ma’am. This is Ensign Gleeto on night duty officer’s shift. You have an incoming Priority One message from Admiral Murphy at Starfleet Command.”
“Route it through to my quarters.”
“What’s up?” Alex asked through a yawn. Annabeth kissed her forehead as she climbed out from under the covers.
“I don’t know, Babe. Try to go back to sleep.”
Annabeth sat at her desk and turned on the monitor. The worried face of Admiral Murphy appeared.
“Yes Sir?” Annabeth asked still rubbing sleep from her eyes.
“I’m sorry to wake you, Annabeth, but this couldn’t wait. It’s confirmed by Starfleet Intelligence: Kival’s gone rogue. The Senate has issued a warrant for his arrest. A shit-storm’s erupted on Romulus and the Tal-Shiar is cleaning house on anyone who’s associated with him.”
“I’m sorry, Sir, but isn’t this a good thing?”
“It would be…except that he’s secured the loyalty of three Warbird commanders. He’s missing, mobile, and has a squadron of heavily armed warships equipped with cloaking devices.”
“He could strike anywhere at anytime, and Starfleet thinks the Pershing could be a target.”
“Why would he come after us?”
“What better way that to earn some favor back from the Romulan High Command than destroying the bulk of the Federation’s combat power in Cardassian Space? Plus he doesn’t exactly like you all.”
“Well, the feeling’s mutual and he’s welcome to try…” Annabeth froze. “Dan and Laria!”
“Starfleet’s not taking any chances. They’ve already diverted the U.S.S. Repulse to Gault to escort them back to your position. It’ll arrive there the day after tomorrow,” he said trying to calm her down.
“Now, there’s still no direct evidence he’s hunting for you, but nobody knows where he is. I’m just asking you to be careful, alright? Might not be a bad idea to lay low for awhile and be on guard for pointy-eared surprises.”
“We’ll keep you updated if we find out anything else. Murphy out.”
Her screen went blank. Annabeth immediately pressed her comm badge again.
“Geist to Bridge.”
“Ensign Gleeto here, Ma’am.”
“Yellow alert. Cloak the ship.”
“Just do it. Also, continue passive sensor monitoring out to twenty lightyears. Special emphasis on anything that could be a cloaked ship or a Romulan Quantum Singularity Drive.”
“Keep me informed if anything changes. Geist out.” She threw down her comm badge. All she wanted to do was climb back into bed with her wife, but when she looked over, Alex was sitting up with her knees in her chest. She was staring blankly out the window.
Annabeth climbed back into bed and pulled a trembling Alex into her chest.
“It’ll be alright,” she whispered gently stroking her hair.
“He’s already caused so much pain, Beth with what he did to me! What he did to us!”
“He can never hurt you again, Alex. Not while I’m here. It would be a suicide mission for him to try to take on this ship in a fight.”
“Then I hope he does…”
* * * *
Tigranian stepped out of the front door of the guest cottage and into the morning sunshine. He took a deep breath of the fresh air. The scent of baking bread was already wafting out from the farmhouse’s kitchen.
He noticed a figure already at work trimming a kava vine on the other side of the stone wall. Tigranian wandered out the gate to join Jion.
“Good morning, Jion.”
“Good morning…” he said not looking up from his task.
“Your home is very beautiful.”
“You say that like you have interest in staying, but I know you don’t, so spare me.” Tigranian did his best not to sound indignant, but Jion’s tone didn’t sit very well.
“Alright, man to man, what is your problem with me?”
Jion didn’t even hesistate.
“You’re going to ask her to marry you, aren’t you?”
“How did you know that?” he replied with genuine surprise.
“Because I saw it in your eyes the moment you walked through my gate. I was once a young man in love as well, you know?” Jion said looking straight at his face.
“So you know I love your daughter?”
“A blind man could see that.”
“Then what is your problem? If it makes you feel any better, I had every intention of asking your permission first. I understand that’s very important to Bajoran fathers.”
“And if I had said ‘no’?”
“Honestly, I refused to think of that possibility.”
“I love my daughter very much, Daniel. So much so that I literally gave up my world for her. I knew that by raising her in the Federation she would not have the same life that Lanassa and I had, but I still had hope that somehow she would find a good Bajoran boy and one day inherit this farm. Carry on her family’s legacy like the Amiras have for generations.”
“That’s not her d’jarra, Jion,” Tigranian replied firmly. Jion scoffed and looked at the sky.
“Oh Prophets, the human speaks in terms he does not understand!”
“I don’t have to understand it! Just acknowledge it. Grigan said he saw it in her pagh. Are you going to tell me you haven’t seen it?”
“Of course I’ve seen it! I’ve seen it her whole life. When other little girls were asking their parents for a new doll, she was asking me for that telescope up there,” he said pointing to the farmhouse. “I just didn’t want to admit it because I knew I could only keep my precious little one safe if she stayed here with us.” Suddenly, he looked very ashamed. “But I know you’re right, Daniel. Her place in the stars with men like you, not down in the dirt with men like me…”
“Jion,” Daniel said taking a step towards him. “You daughter loves you very much. Maybe even more than she loves me. She may want to travel the stars, but she will never forget where she comes from. She is of Bajor, and of you.”
Jion’s expression softened when he heard Tigranian speak those words.
“Just promise me one thing, Daniel. Swear to me that you will always protect her. If you do, you will have my blessing.”
“If that’s what it takes, Jion, I will swear it as a human, as a Klingon, whatever you want…but your daughter doesn’t need to be protected. She’s the strongest woman I have ever known, and I know a lot of strong women.”
The old Bajoran laughed.
“You and me both. I guess it’s time for me to stop thinking of her as that little girl with the bucket.”
“No, she can always be that to you. You just have to understand she can be so much more as well.”
Jion stepped forward and grabbed Tigranian’s right ear.
“Your pagh is strong, Daniel. Maybe even strong enough to survive an Amira woman.”
They both laughed this time.
* * * *
That evening, the four of them gathered around the farmhouse’s stone hearth.
“The whole point of the Peldor is to remember the blessings we are grateful for. Put all your troubles behind you, and make a new start,” Jion said. He looked at Tigranian and Laria sitting next to each other and smiled. Perhaps, we are looking at something of that new start right here.” Tigranian awkwardly grinned and Laria looked a bit confused.
“What’s he talking about?” she whispered curiously.
“Don’t worry about it,” Tigranian whispered back. Jion picked up two small bottles of blue liquid from a nearby shelf. He walked over to the hearth and spoke a traditional blessing:
“T’esra Peldor impatri br’en. B’entel v’etan ul’lon sten…”
Laria smiled and turned to Tigranian.
“This is my favorite part!”
Jion poured the two vials into the fireplace which burst into a bright blue flame. Lanassa, Laria, and Tigranian all clapped.
“Laria-ga-ne, go get the renewal scrolls,” Lanassa said with a smile. Laria ran over to dining table and grabbed four pieces of parchment and four pens. She passed one to each of them.
“So, we just write any problems we have on this and then burn them?” Tigranian asked Laria.
“It’s not that complicated a ritual,” Lanassa said with a smile.
“Well, what if I feel like I don’t have a lot of problems to write down?” Tigranian said gently wrapping an arm around Laria.
“Then you are truly blessed by the Prophets, Jion said.”
“I think I might be…”
Suddenly, there was a beeping in Tigranian’s pocket. A worried expression crossed his face.
“I’m sorry,” he said getting up.
“Daniel?” Laria said concerned.
“It’s probably nothing,” he said trying to keep her calm. “I’ve just got to make a subspace transmission and I’ll be right back.”
As he stepped out the door, Laria’s shoulders dropped.
“Is this normal?” Lanassa asked.
“Unfortunately, for a starship captain…yes, it is.”
Ten minutes later, Tigranian walked back into the room.
“Again, I’m sorry,” he said playing off the interruption with a smile. “It really was nothing. My first officer just wanted to give me an update on a few things.”
Now, Laria really was nervous.
As soon as he sat back down, she leaned over again and whispered.
“What is going on? Annabeth wouldn’t have called you if something wasn’t seriously wrong!”
“I’ll tell you later,” he whispered back. “Our departure time tomorrow is still the same. We’re just getting back to the Pershing a lot faster than planned.”
Tigranian looked down at the empty piece of parchment in front of him. He regretted how he tempted fate just a few minutes before. Now, he had something new to write on his renewal scroll.