Star Trek Hunter
Episode 13: The 15,000 Cities of Cun Ling
Scene 7: The Homely House, Numinor
The Homely House, Numinor
Finrod was nothing short of astonished to have been personally given a week of leave by Planetary Commission Chairman LaDonna Wu. But it was good to have some time with his half-sister. Unlike red-headed Sif, Finrod had dark hair, but his skin, like hers, was very light and his spots unusually small, appearing more like freckles along the sides of his head and neck.
Finrod had never taken the time to have a family – planetary engineers were by far the busiest people on Cun Ling and small problems could grow very quickly to become literally earth-shattering. As a result, planetary engineers preferred to spend most of their time with other planetary engineers. Layers of independently redundant systems helped prevent catastrophic failure of the planetary structure. But the general public didn’t really need to know just how close the planet and its massive population had come, on a few occasions, to utter annihilation.
The Homely House was a relief from the marbled magnificence of Numinoran architecture. It was not one building, but an expanse of several interconnected buildings woven in and out of a vast garden in a dell on the southwest side of Numinor, tucked away so that the great marble and limestone spires of the main city were hidden behind the landscape.
While some effort had gone into attracting vulcans and vulcan hybrids to staff the Homely House, the majority of the staff were either trill or bolian. Like his half-sister, Finrod was an un-joined trill. He was pleasantly surprised at the size of the party that had commandeered one of the large dining rooms of the Homely House. A party this large merited its own dedicated cooks and servers. The kitchen was built right into the dining room. The boar meat on the spit had been replicated - but replicated raw and had been cooked slowly with fresh herbs and spices rubbed in.
The tables and walls were real wood and the ales and meads were brewed locally and served in tankards made of treated wood. Every effort had been made to create an authentic environment with fresh, locally produced foods (except for the meat, which, like most replicated meats, had started as bean curd.)
Nearly a third of the Hunter’s crew were present, including all the senior staff with the exception of Lt. Tauk, who was, at the moment, in command of the Hunter in orbit of Cun Ling. Finrod was slightly worried about his half-sister living and working among so many hybrids, but was impressed once he realized that Lt. Cmdr. Dolphin was, in fact, the notorious Dr. Kenny Dolphin, whose recent appearance on Subspace Radio Ivonovic still had the entire quadrant buzzing.
Finrod had never heard of Justice Irons, but understood that Sif held the old woman in very high esteem. He was impressed with Minerva Irons’ remarkable beauty despite her evident age. There was a power and a magnificence about her - almost like a female version of Odin.
“What I want to know is how a family of trills ended up in Numinor,” said Dr. Napoleon Boles. “There are actually a few cities on this planet that were founded by trills.” Dinner had long been consumed and small groups at various tables were enjoying savory and relaxed conversation.
“This place, actually this very room,” Sif replied. She gestured with a toasted ginger mustard cracker to a sign over the hearth that read The Homely House and in smaller letters Nargothrond.
“Finrod Felagund, King of Nargothrond,” Dolphin mused. He looked at Finrod. “So you were named after this room?”
Finrod rolled his eyes.
Sif nodded. “Our mother was a chef. She used to cook right over there - and in a few other rooms in this place. She met Finrod’s father in this room. He was a planetary engineer…”
“Who spent all his time in the chasms,” Finrod continued. “What little time he wasn’t down there seeing to the stability of the planet, he was in Trantor for training or planning meetings. Eventually he moved there, but mother wouldn’t leave this place.”
“Mother had already moved on,” Sif said, picking up the story. “My father was a server here. They moved back to T-Prime to take care of his parents.”
“My father also moved back to T-Prime with a new wife,” Finrod continued. “Another engineer. They had learned so much working in the chasms that they were able to get good engineering jobs working for the mining consortiums back home. If you’re not a candidate for a symbiont and you aren’t from a family that owns the mines, you work in them all your life unless you can find a way out. That’s why you see so many trills working here,” Finrod concluded.
The small group at Dr. Sif’s table - Finrod, Lt. Cmdr. Kenny Dolphin, 2nd Lt. T’Lon and Lt. Napoleon Boles were fairly deep into their cups. Finrod leaned conspiratorially across the table, spoke with what he thought at the moment was a quiet voice to Kenny Dolphin. “So tell me, how do you put up working with all these hybrids?”
“Finrod!!” Dr. Sif was mortified.
T’Lon turned toward Dolphin, raised her eyebrows.
Napoleon Boles turned toward Dolphin as well. “I’d like to know that too, Dr. Kenny. How DO you manage to put up with all of us hybrids?”
Voices at the other tables got just a little too quiet and their conversations disjointed as other members of the Hunter’s crew tried (and largely failed) to eavesdrop discretely.
Dolphin laughed. “Well in your case, Napoleon, with superhuman effort…”
Dr. Boles stuck out his blue tongue, briefly made a rude blue face, then smiled.
“You know,” Dolphin continued, “I spent a decade trying to convince everyone that I have no bias against hybrids. But it really isn’t true when you get down to it. I think I was able to spot the sticking point - jealousy about enhanced abilities – an unfair advantage – because I secretly felt that way myself. Who couldn’t feel a little envious and resentful about Justice Irons? She’s only a quarter vulcan, but she’s lived forever and she’s just unbelievably beautiful.”
“Pep is stronger than any orion or human and as fast as any andorian - which considering his size shouldn’t be physically possible. Buttans and his superhuman speed.. Shran and his superior eyesight and coordination.. Dr. Carrera, only an eighth vulcan, but off the charts genius.. All of them received genetic manipulation just to be able to survive their inherent genetic incompatibilities. You can’t tell me their enormous advantages are a product of random chance.”
“Even you, Napoleon, totally off the charts in ingenuity, a tremendous graphic artist - sculpture, painting, holo-sketching…” Dolphin lost his train of thought, looked confused and then decided to take a long drink of the honey mead.
“So do you think you’re somehow more virtuous than I am because your gifts - intelligence, emotional stability, whatever it is that makes you such a risk-taker – came from, as you would put it, a natural throw of the dice?” Boles asked.
Dolphin set his flagon down and clutched both hands over his heart, wobbled dramatically (and more than a little drunkenly): “You wound me to my core. You wound me sir, you wound me…”
Laughter could be heard from nearby tables where everyone had given up the pretense of not listening in.
Boles threw back his head and laughed.
Sif giggled in spite of her embarrassment.
T’Lon’s studied look of long suffering, long absent, returned as she shook her head slowly.
Finrod was clearly lost in thought, mulling the entire conversation over.