Gault Farming Colony: Federation Space
Laria and Tigranian carried their bags up a dirt road leading to a two-story stone farmhouse. The quaint building was surrounded by green fields of kava vines, sweet salam grass, moreka gourds, and boton root.
“It looks exactly like Bajor,” Tigranian said amazed.
“That was kinda the point,” Laria replied with a grin.
They had barely cleared the wooden gate to the front yard when the door flew open. A women came sprinting out to the meet them.
“Laria-ga-ne!” Amira Lanassa shouted as she ran into her daughter at full speed. “Blessings of the Prophets, you’re home,” she said squeezing the air out of Laria.
“Hi, Mom,” she said gasping for air. Her father wasn’t far behind, though his pace was far more measured than his wife’s.
“Laria-ga-ne,” he said with a huge smile and a hug.
“Hi, Daddy,” Laria said squeezing him back. He then turned to Tigranian and extended a hand.
“Amira Jion,” he said politely.
“Daniel Tigranian. Wonderful to finally meet you in person, Sir.”
“Yes, Peldor Joi,” he said awkwardly.
“Peldor Joi, Sir,” Tigranian said returning an equally awkward laugh.
The little dynamo of energy that was Mrs. Amira pushed her husband aside to get close to Tigranian. He expected another handshake, but instead she threw her arms him as well. She had the grip of a Klingon Kolar Beast.
“Peldor Joi, Daniel. Prophets bless you,” she said placing a hand on his ear. “You have to come to stay with us which means you are one of us.” As Tigranian returned her hug, he looked over to see the annoyed look on Mr. Amira’s face at that last statement. “Now, you men,” she said turning to back to her husband. “Carry the bags. Laria-ga-ne, va’me! Come to the kitchen. There’s loaves of mapa bread in the oven and hasparat to roll. You’ve probably forgotten everything your mother has taught you and must learn again.”
Mrs. Amira grabbed Laria by the hand and started dragging her to the house. She flashed Daniel a silent expression that screamed “Save me.” All he could reply when faced with the force of nature that was Amira Lanassa was to give her a look back that said “What do you expect me to do?”
As soon as the women disappeared into the house, Jion reached down and grabbed Tigranian’s bags.
“Oh, I can take those,” Tigranian said reaching out a hand.
“No,” Jion said politely refusing. “You are a guest in my house, I carry your bags.”
“Yes, Sir,” Tigranian said humbly.
“Also, please don’t call me, ‘Sir.” It’s Jion. I’ll put them in the cottage out back. If you want, you can put Laria’s things in her room. It’s the room at the end of the hallway on the second floor.”
He disappeared around the side of the farmhouse and Tigranian found himself alone.
“Well, this is going to be interesting,” he muttered as he picked up Laria’s suitcase.
As soon as he stepped through the door, he took in the comfort of the Amira’s country home. In a corner next to the door was a small altar to the Prophets with the Bajoran Eternity Wheel above it. A small fire burned on a stone hearth surrounded by over-stuffed leather chairs. A rough-hewn wooden dining table with a large vase of yellow and white flowers was next to the back window and down the hall in the kitchen he could hear Lanassa ordering around poor Laria. The sweet scent of burning bateret incense hung in the air to mark the coming Gratitude Festival.
Tigranian saw the stairs to his left and started climbing to the second floor. He reached Laria’s childhood door and pushed it open.
As soon as he saw her old bedroom, a huge smile crept across his face. Piles of books in every genre on every subject were piled from floor to ceiling. Clippings from science magazines were tacked all over the pale yellow walls. At the window, a telescope pointed towards the sky with various notes on the positions of constellations still taped to its tripod.
As he dropped her bags next to the bed, he noticed a huge poster on her closet door. A female officer in uniform stared back at him with a confident smile on her face. Beneath her were the words, “Join Starfleet!” in bright, bold letters.
The next thing that caught his eye was a simple wooden desk in the corner, also piled high with books and magazines. He crossed to it and noticed a picture in a frame. He picked it up and saw the image of a laughing Laria, no more than eight or nine years old, on the back of a blue pony. Jion and Lanassa were on the ground next to her holding its reigns and smiling.
Suddenly, he heard the sounds of panicked footsteps running up the wooden stairs accompanied with the words, “Oh Prophets, Oh Prophets,” being repeated by a familiar voice.
Laria threw open the door and stared at him.
“Hello,” he said calmly. “Is there a problem?”
“My dad told me you were up here,” she said meekly. “I wasn’t ready for you to see this room yet.”
“Because,” she said glancing around the room nervously. “It’s…it’s a little too me. I was hoping to piece-meal out the nerdy Bajoran craziness over the course of the whole weekend so you wouldn’t get overwhelmed.”
Tigranian turned the picture frame so she could see its image.
“This is the room of the girl in this picture…” he said gently placing it back on the desk. “Who then grew into the woman I fell in love with…” he continued as he stepped towards the door. “I want to learn as much as I can about her: nerdy Bajoran craziness and all.”
She put her arms him and plopped her head into his chest.
“You’re not real….” she said. “You’re just a dream I’m going to wake up from and then Annabeth and the others will tell me how stupid it was.”
“Oh, I’m real,” he said squeezing her closer. “and I’ve got my own craziness to piecemeal out to you. Wait till I take you to Qo’nos.” He gently ran his fingers over her nose ridges.
Laria laughed as she pulled away.
“You know that tickles!”
“That’s why I do it.”
* * * *
“And so there is my seven year old daughter…” Jion said laughing as he remembered. “Covered in mud from head to toe, tears streaming down her face, running around the pasture with a bucket following a full grown bull pylchyk screaming ‘he won’t give me any milk!’ Well, I then had to have the awkward conversation with her about how he was a boy pylchyk and she didn’t want to have any milk he could give.”
Around the dinner table, Tigranian, Jion, and Lanassa all burst out laughing. Laria turned bright red and glared at her par’Mach’kai.
She leaned over and whispered in his ear.
“I hope you’re enjoying all my traumatic childhood memories…”
“Oh, I’m loving every second of this,” he said taking another sip of spring wine.
“Daniel,” Lanassa said to Tigranian. “You’re so skinny! You need to eat more!”
“Oh Lanassa,” he said putting a hand over his stomach. “This was incredible. I want to eat more, but I don’t think I could swallow another bite.”
“At least finish what’s on your plate. You’re still a growing boy.”
“Alright,” he said with a smile. He placed his last hasparat roll on top of a slice of warm mapa bread. His nostrils started burning before the pickled delicacy even reached his mouth.
“Oh, that is good hasparat,” he said as his eyes watered.
“Too many Bajoran women these days couldn’t brine a decent hasparat to save their lives. They use replicated brines,” she said with disgust. “At least I taught my daughter right. What do I always say, Laria-ga-ne?”
“Any woman who can’t pickle her own hot peppers isn’t worth lifting up on the marriage dais…” she grumbled taking another sip of her wine.
Tigranian reached under the table and squeezed her hand supportively. She smiled back at him.
“Ok,” Lanassa said sitting up from the table. “Now, how does Bajoran pastries and coffee sound?” she said to Tigranian.
“Wonderful,” he said smiling back at her. “Thank you.”
“Laria-ga-ne,” she said turning to her daughter. “You brought home a good boy. He knows how to make a Bajoran mother happy,” she said grabbing Tigranian’s ear again. “He finishes his food and drinks his coffee.” She pointed at the kitchen. “Vosp’ich an-ne soorja’.”
“It’s my job to get the coffee,” Laria said to him with another exasperated whisper as she headed down the hall. Lanassa grabbed Tigranian’s plate.
“Oh, I can get that,” he said.
“No, you sit there! That’s not how you make a Bajoran mother happy.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said obediently.
When the two of them disappeared into the kitchen, Jion turned to Tigranian.
“Laria said you visited Rakantha recently?”
“Yes, last month. We saw the temple where you and Lanassa were married.”
“She said that as well. How is old Vedek Grigan?”
“He seemed very pleased to find out all the Amiras were doing so well.”
Jion leaned back in his chair.
“We owe him our lives. I’m sure you can imagine what the famine was like there under the Cardassians.”
“Yes, it’s terrifying to think that things like that still happen in this day and age.”
“With Cardassians, any terror is possible…” he paused, but still asked the question on his mind. “Tell me, what do you think of the Cardassians, Daniel? I mean you command a ship whose primary job is to help them rebuild their empire after all?” Tigranian immediately knew this was a very loaded question.
“Personally, I abhor much of Cardassian history…and I’ve killed my fair share of them over the years, but now Starfleet says it’s my mission to help them. Not to rebuild their empire, but to help them take their place among civilized nations as peacemakers, not butchers. It’s that simple.”
“Really, that simple? Starfleet says ‘do it,’ and you obey?” he said incredulously.
“Yes, Jion, to me it is,” he said taking another sip of wine. “It has to be.”
“Well, since you feel you can be honest to me, let me be honest with you.” Tigranian braced himself.
“I have been a Federation citizen for many years. I’ve lived in the Federation for even longer. When we went to war with Cardassia, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I hope that the day Bajor finally joins the Federation will be even happier. However, it still causes me great pain that my only child serves on a ship whose sole mission is to help the same race who did everything in their power to prevent her birth.”
Tigranian caught an image of Laria walking out of the kitchen carrying a tray with a silver coffee urn and four small cups.
“Jion, I’m very sorry that causes you pain, but I think that’s a testament to just how incredible a woman your daughter really is.” Jion didn’t know how to react.
Laria reached the table and placed four small ceramic cups in front of each place setting. With a practiced touch, she poured a steaming cup of dark coffee so strong it bordered on syrup into each one. She served her father first, Tigranian second, her mother’s place third, and finally herself. Tigranian somehow knew that she was trained from a very young age to pour it that way.
“S’chnor hanas Lave’,” Jion said softly to Laria who then placed a kiss on his forehead.
“Ist Lave, Dade’,” she replied quietly flashing both men a smile.
“Thank you, L,” Tigranian said to her as she took her seat. Lanassa then appeared with a tray filled with fruit and pastry.
“Now, Daniel, you must try everything!” she said very excited.
Tigranian chuckled. As he reached for a piece of kava cake, the sleeve of his t-shirt pulled up and revealed the brand of the House of Torlek. Lanassa gasped.
“By the Prophets, what is that!?” she exclaimed.
“It’s the symbol of loyalty to my house,” Tigranian said calmly.
“I had no idea humans did such things,” Lanassa replied.
“It’s not human. It’s my Klingon house.”
“You have a Klingon house?” Jion said surprised. He looked over to Laria who then looked down to her lap.
“I do,” Tigranian said with more than a hint of pride. “I served with the Imperial Klingon Defense Forces as an exchange officer for a long time. My captain adopted me and made me a Klingon warrior.” He dropped two cubes of crystallized kava into his sooja’ and stirred. “Laria never told you?” he said taking a sip of the strong, dark brew.
“No,” Jion said glaring at his daughter. “She didn’t.”