Summary: 11th November 2409, Admiral Emmylou Galyaski takes a trip down memory lane.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes
Word count: 7173 Read: 4969
Published: 28 Nov 2013 Updated: 02 Dec 2013
Big Thanks to LBD for the Beta read and correction help.
Written for the November 2013 Story Challenge.
1. Chapter 1 - Memory Lane by FalseBill
2. Chapter 2 - Scott & Ike by FalseBill
3. Chapter 3 - Xenktid by FalseBill
Chapter 1 - Memory Lane by FalseBill
11th of November 2409
Admiral Emmylou Galyaski stood in front of the mirror in her quarters and once more adjusted her dress uniform collar.
She looked at herself in the mirror, at the 56-year old admiral in her uniform [staring back at her], and remained unconvinced by the sight. Her hair was now silver, with early traces of white. She had steadfastly refused to dye her hair, unlike some other officers her own age did. Her body now had a sagging curve that had not been there in her prime.
Emmylou took out her jewelry box from her top drawer, and then from inside the lid of her jewelry box she took out three holo-pictures. The first was a family photograph, showing grandma Olyena, Mum Cassandra, Emmylou and her baby sister Debra on Christmas morning back around 2360 or 61 in Grandma’s Galyaski cottage. The next picture was Emmylou and Cassandra as Cadets in front of the Academy building with the Golden Gate bridge in the background. The final one was her wedding photograph of her and Scott cutting the wedding cake.
Emmylou looked at that woman she was in those pictures compared to the one staring back from the mirror. Yet as she studied her features she felt maybe she did look presentable after all. Her late husband Scott had always said she was her own worst critic.
Emmylou put the pictures back in the box and the box back in the drawer.
She always felt it to be a great honor to lead the USS Ganges and the Anastasiastad colony remembrance parade but she always found it a struggle to say something true and yet still somehow reflect all the cultures of which she had to command representatives.
This year was going to be extra hard, as her beloved husband of over thirty years, Scott, had died in action fighting off a Klingon convoy attack only a few months ago. She knew she wasn’t alone; many station personnel had recently lost loved ones in this pointless war with the Klingon Empire.
So when she delivered this year’s speech it would have an extra significance, beyond the fact that the Federation News Network had chosen at random to show the remembrance service from USS Ganges. The UFP President Annek Okeg would be doing the normal service from Paris with the Commander in Chief of Starfleet. However, the FNN had wanted to show some of the other active Starfleet personnel observing the two-minute silence, and so Starfleet had picked USS Ganges as a suitable station nicely away from the war’s current front line.
So Emmylou turned away from the mirror and walking to the coffee table, she picked up her PADD and again looked at her short speech, judging that it would fly. She turned and walked out of her quarters and headed towards the station transporter room so she could beam down to the unknown Starfleet monument at the USS Ganges planet-side colony Anastasiastad. As she stepped out of her quarters, the unusual mix of smells that filled the halls and rooms of the starbase USS Ganges hit her. On the surface, things might look like any other day on the station. Yet as she walked down the station promenade, she was aware of an extra stillness to the air.
Emmylou noticed that the many alien shops of the promenade had their own species symbols of remembrance of war veterans on display. The only notable exception was the Klingon tailor Grilkasa, whose shop rather than displaying the usual Klingon iconology, instead displayed the Sauron Hexagon of Solitude of her husband’s race and also the human white poppy of peace.
Indeed as Emmylou passed the tailor shop her eyes were drawn to one of the cocktail dresses in the window. Something about the color and style did reminder her of one of her old favorite off-duty dresses, back from when she had been a new mother and new Starfleet captain of the USS Trireme.
“A courting gift from Scott, but then he does--,’ Emmylou started to think before she corrected herself ‘had always given the best gifts.’
As Emmylou looked at it she found herself wondering ‘Maybe I could get Grilkasa to make the length a bit more conservative. I’m sure Scott would love --,’ Emmylou stopped that thought as she realized that once again she was acting like Scott was just away on duty and that he would soon be coming home to her.
A small tear formed in the corner of her eye as she realized ‘it’s been nearly six months and I’m still expecting him to come home soon. I really need to have another talk with councilor Luxani about this,‘ she thought to herself.
As she looked at that dress her mind drifted back through the years to the first time Scott had come to visit her on her first command the USS Trireme. She was sure she had been wearing that particular dress.
Chapter 2 - Scott & Ike by FalseBill
2381 - USS Trireme
Emmylou was waiting with her daughter Sophia in the USS Trireme transporter room, watching her crew beam over to Starbase 93 for some much deserved R&R. However, Emmylou and Sophia were going to be staying on board as by some quirk of fate Scott’s ship, the USS Viper, was patrolling this sector. He’d been able to get a few of days of leave and so he was actually able to make it to Starbase 93 and the USS Trireme for some of it, to be with his family. She was waiting for him to arrive; still to be honest, she had expected him a few minutes earlier and was starting to wonder what had happened, when the transporter chief said, “Captain, Starbase 93 reports that Captain Trieres is requesting permission to beam aboard.”
“Please grant permission but do reply he is late,” said Emmylou.
“Yes Captain,” said the transporter chief.
With a large hum the transporter pad came to life and Scott materialized in uniform carrying his old kit bag.
“Captain Galyaski, permission to officially come on board?” asked Scott.
“Daddy!” cried Sophia in delight.
“Captain Trieres, permission is granted, else I might have a mutiny on my hands,” replied Emmylou.
Scott bounded off the transporter pad with his bag and he put it down as he favored both his wife and daughter with a wide smile and then hugged his favorite ladies.
‘I’ve missed you both so much,” said Scott.
“Missed you, Daddy,” said Sophia.
Emmylou noted the smell of the anti-alcohol drugs on his breath, but back them she hadn’t cared, she was just too happy to see him. Especially when from seemingly nowhere Scott had produced an alien dolly for Sophia, whose shriek of delight had been almost close to deafening.
The transporter chief was the only one who winced, as they had gotten used to Sophia’s shrieks of joy. Both Scott and Emmylou just favored the poor soul at the transporter control with a sympathetic smile.
“You like it then, Sophia?” Scott asked.
“Yes, Daddy!” replied Sophia.
Scott gave Sophia the alien dolly, who took it with obvious delight. Then Scott smiled at Emmylou, and then with a wink, he slipped his hand into his kit bag and produced her gift: a set of isolinear optical chips, whose corporate symbols at the top, told her were a range of designer clothes patterns for replicators. Then she spotted the East Federation Tea company logo on the last one.
“Wow, proper tea at last, and wait, is that Jourvich autumn range wear?” said Emmylou in a voice almost as high as Sophia’s earlier shriek.
“Yes, a full range of decent tea, because we all know Starfleet standard tea is based on the last drag of a week-old sieve. As for Jourvich range maybe I happen to be escorting one of their freighter runs and we got a little something extra for beating off the Orion raiders, though I’m surprised Starfleet let us keep it, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth,” replied Scoot as he slipped his arm around Emmylou’s waist.
Even now Emmylou didn’t believe that story, but all the chips were indeed genuine, so he had either found a bargain somewhere or he spent a fair bit of his pay packet to treat her. Indeed Emmylou knew that even as a grown woman her daughter Sophia still had that dolly on the main mantle in her bedroom, along with all the other dollies they had brought her over the years. As for the East Federation Tea Company isolinear optical chip, it was still something she used every time after every replicator program refresh, to ensure she always got good tea.
Emmylou shook her head and headed off towards the station transporter room. As she approached the station’s Italian tobacconist store, she spotted the station’s chief medical officer, Doctor Chamze. The male Tellarite was arguing quietly with his Tellarite wife and their son. Emmylou could tell from their body language it was just a fun social argument and that she could walk past without having to get involved. Still as she passed them she heard Doctor Chamze call his wife an ‘ilurek’, a traditional Tellarite insult to a respected woman. Emmylou smiled despite herself. It was a term she had been called a lot by her first first officer on the USS Trireme - a female Tellarite called Veluceria who had called her that nearly as much as she did captain.
Thinking of Veluceria suddenly brought back the painful memory of her lying dead on the USS Trireme Bridge after the ship had fended off a surprise renegade Breen attack on the Lucile Colony. The left side of Veluceria’s face had been horribly charred and caved in by the exploding XO console. Emmylou had desperately tried to keep the pressure on an open artery while waiting for a medic to arrive. All the while she was shouting orders to the helm and tactical officers. Then the sudden realization hit Emmylou that the battle was over and Veluceria lay cold and very still beneath her hands. Despite all their arguments and running battles over the previous years over who should lead the next away team, Veluceria had made Emmylou surer of her own mind and a better debater for it; all of which had made her better at diplomatic missions and thus a better captain.
Emmylou, without being aware of it, ran her finger over her half cluster medal, which she had been awarded for saving the Lucile Colony that day. Emmylou became aware of another tear on her face, which she quickly wiped away.
She picked up her walking speed down the promenade, lest someone saw the tears. As she passed the Cajun restaurant she spotted her Caitian chief of security, Lieutenant Gordis, sitting at a table nursing a cup of coffee and something that looked like hush-puppies finger snacks.
Gordis seemed to be staring into space, lost in his own memories. Emmylou suspected that he was dwelling on the fact that both his parents had died in the Dominion first assault on Caitian back in 2374. Emmylou remembered that particular battle all too well, for it was where she had gained her field promotion to the XO of the galaxy class USS Atlantis. But the real reason was that day was her worst day in the war for the personal loss of close friends and colleagues. She had seen so many die that day, especially in close combat when the Jem’ Hadar boarding parties had tried to take the Atlantis bridge. She still had a couple of scars from that fight that bothered her in cold conditions. She could still remember reporting to Captain Tavik that the Jem’ Hadar had started to use biological weapons to attack the major Caitian cities and also their breadbasket farms areas. Even now the Federation medical core struggled to keep the virus outbreaks under control on Caitian.
She had no words of comfort to say for Gordis, thus Emmylou walked on.
She thought ‘after all how did you say: sorry we fought hard for your world but all we got was a token victory and your species is now a shadow of its former self.’
As Emmylou got towards the station sweet shop, she spotted the station Xindi-reptilian head of tactical, Mister Reqknor. He was carrying a Xindi rock of remembrance, which it was alleged were all made from a small piece of the original Xindi homeword. All Xindi service personnel tended to carry them to remind them of the costs of past mistakes. He also held the station traditional burning candle for the lost in its carry case. He stood next to the station Betazoid councilor Luxani. She held a traditional paper bag of sweets in her hands and she was passing them out to the station’s various children who currently surrounded her. Emmylou expected that the sweets would be dark chocolate flowers in the same shape as the Betazoid yellow lily that Luxani wore on her uniform. It was just part of the Betazoid way of remembrance: ‘Treasure the children that are here to remember those that aren’t, because of past generations’ actions.’ It had always struck Emmylou as a strange way to go about it, but who was she to judge another culture’s way of mourning.
Reqknor met Emmylou’s eyes and she saw the warmth and moral support in them. Just for a moment it felt like a little weight lifted off her shoulders, so she gave him a quick wink to show her appreciation. As she turned the corner she realized the irony of a Xindi-reptilian: a member of the species that had been the first real enemy of humanity in their interstellar age was one of her best friends on the station staff.
Emmylou though to herself ‘I guess it just goes to prove the old adage you can turn yesterday’s enemies into today’s friends, so treat them right as enemies and you’ll have less to ask for forgiveness for when you’re friends later.’
Emmylou passed the excited children around Luxani and Reqknor, and she felt the old pain of an empty nest and missing her family. The commander’s quarters seemed way too big these days.
Emmylou had almost reached the Ferengi stockbroker and the Deltan coffee shop that marked the end of the promenade when her half-human and half-Rigelian tactical officer Ike stepped out of the coffee shop with a steaming Deltan Coffee.
“Admiral, could I tempt you with coffee?” he greeted with his usual joyful smile. Even on this day of remembrance Ike could be a ray of sunshine.
Despite her dark mood, Emmylou could make time for Ike, and said with a joke-seriousness, “Ike, I hope you’re not trying to seduce your superior officer with coffee. What would I say to your old mum?”
“No Admiral,” said Ike with a little bit of shock, before adding with the same joke-seriousness. “Besides Admiral, we know after the cupid virus outbreak, Jalke’i will phaser anyone who does try to seduce you.”
“Including herself!” said Emmylou. Emmylou laughed at that particular memory.
“Indeed including herself. Well that is the sort of loyalty you inspire in us all, Admiral,” said Ike.
Emmylou didn’t know what to say to that. She had known Ike since he was a little bump in his mother’s belly and despite having his mother’s Rigelian facial markings and extra nostrils, Emmylou could still see his father’s face in him. Both had been senior officers on the USS Trireme under her command and so she’d seen Ike grown from a newborn baby into a fine officer.
It had been a big surprise when Ike had first been assigned, as one of her senior officers. It had suddenly made her feel old that she was now commanding the child of two of her former officers.
Indeed Ike’s mother Teutik had come to visit him not so long ago and thus Emmylou and Teutik had an unexpected quiet moment over a glass of wine, to get reacquainted and miss old friends from their USS Trireme days. Indeed Teutik had told Emmylou how proud she was that her oldest son was serving in Starfleet but what did help Teutik to sleep better was knowing that her son had one of the best CO’s in Emmylou.
Emmylou hadn’t known how to reply to that, so after a polite thank you, she had changed the subject. Then the two ladies had recalled tales of what their children in their youth had been like. Indeed Ike and Sophia had been the pair terrible for the Trireme’s poor Bolian teachers Mister Bogot and Mrs. Darzalba.
A smirk crossed Emmylou’s face.
“Admiral?” asked Ike, which again restore Emmylou from her memories.
“I was just thinking of Bogot and Darzalba--“said Emmylou.
“Oh I remember them - the Trireme teachers. A lovely couple,” said Ike.
“And what happened that time when we were doing the Atreos IV to Efrosian run,” finished Emmylou.
Ike went bright red, and unusually quiet, and Emmylou smirked at that memory as well.
“Captain, I must protest,” said Darzalba as soon as Emmylou walked into the USS Trireme nursery.
Emmylou tried to maintain her aura as the ship’s captain, but the usual bustling nursery was stone quiet and Ike and Sophia sat on what was clearly two naughty steps in two separate corners of the schoolroom. Mrs. Darzalba and half of the ship’s schoolroom were now covered in a very bright red paint.
The ship’s Rigelian chief of Engineering Teutik stood nearby giving her son Ike the evil eye.
Emmylou knew, like everybody on the Trireme knew, her daughter Sophia and Teutik’s son Ike had formed the unholy alliance of the ship’s nursery and Emmylou wasn’t looking forward to the next installment.
“Now dear, let’s count to 100 and be calm--,” started Bogot.
“Don’t try to tell me to be calm, husband,” snapped Darzalba.
“Darzalba, why don’t you tell me what they’ve done this time?” asked Emmylou.
Darzalba despite her anger took a moment to compose herself before she answered. “Sophia and Ike suggested that since we are doing the Atreonid to Efrosian run, we should do some painting that represented the joint elements of the Atreonid and Efrosian cultures.”
“So far, so normal and good,” said Emmylou.
“Yes, but they said due to the importance of the color red to them, they said we should replicate a larger than usual container of red paint.”
Emmylou looked at the red paint and tried to hide the sinking feeling she felt inside and simply said, “Go on Darzalba.”
“So I agreed to replicate up the paint and so far, so good. However when we began to talk about the Atreonids other forms of art, we naturally got onto their tradition of body painting,” said Darzalba.
Emmylou, looking at Mrs. Darzalba, had a suspicion; she was about to get to the crux of the matter. “So of course I said we weren’t going to do that, which caused a brief crying storm from Sophia, but Ike whispered something and she giggled away, happy.”
“So I thought he was just being a good friend; that he just told her something to take her mind off it,” continue Darzalba.
“Mistake,” said Emmylou, Teutik and Bogot in almost perfect unison.
“Why thank you for that wonderful hindsight statement,” snapped Darzalba. Then Darzalba paused to re-compose herself.
“Then what?” asked Teutik.
“Well, Ike said that if we were going to respect the Atreonid and Efrosian cultures, we should order the paint in their native trade units, so I naturally asked him what they were, which seem to stump him for a moment but Sophia then piped up with an answer. She said that we would want about an efsiui unit of paint, so to show I appreciated their extra studying and to encourage further research I ordered a paint carton of one efsiui measurement of Efrosian red,” said Darzalba.
“But that’s close to a gallon and two-thirds of paint!” said Emmylou.
“Yes I realize that now and I should have double checked before ordering it in the replicator,” said Darzalba.
“Well that explains the paint explosion,” said Teutik.
“Does it?” asked Emmylou.
“Yes there is no way the standard ship’s replicator could make that much paint in one go. So it would replicate a container that fits the maximum space and then fill it, so the container could slowly expand into any available space that it could. But a normal paint container wouldn’t hold the pressure and--”
“Bang?” said Emmylou.
“Bang,” said Bogot.
“Any real injuries or damage?” asked Emmylou.
“Yes, I took a large amount of plastic paint carton shrapnel to protect the children, and I also completely ruined one of my favorite work dresses,” said Darzalba.
“I trust you’ve had one of the doctors look at your injuries?” asked Emmylou.
“Don’t worry I tended to them; I was a fully qualified ship’s doctor in a former life,” said Bogot.
“Along with everything else?” asked Emmylou.
“I’m the Bolian with a thousand past careers,” bragged Mister Bogot.
“I see. Might I asked Teutik as my head of engineering why the replicator fail-safes didn’t just reject the command, as it was likely to prove harmful to a person?”
Teutik did that common Rigelian trick of looking away, rather than show embarrassment.
“Lt. Commander?” asked Emmylou.
“I must hold my hands up here, Captain,” said Bogot.
“You?” asked Emmylou.
“Yes, I sort of requested that Lt. Commander Teutik help me bypass that particular failsafe, so I could give a practical demonstration of the reasons and the physics behind the replicator safety protocols to the children this morning,” said Bogot.
“Yes and I kind of got called away to deal with the warp drive misbehaving at the time and I just hadn’t got round to reinstated that failsafe,” admitted Teutik.
Darzalba started to give her husband an evil stare.
“Don’t look at me like that, dear,” said Bogot meekly.
“I’ve told you before about telling me when you run that lesson, after all monkey see, monkey do,” said Darzalba.
“Hey who are you calling a monkey?” asked Teutik.
“Okay let’s all take a deep breath for a moment,” said Emmylou, before adding, “I see an unfortunate chain of events, that two rather bright rascals took full advantage of.”
“So do I, but the fact remains--” said Darzalba.
“That you need a new dress and we need to have a long talk with our children about pulling stunts like this,” said Teutik.
“Indeed, but first things first Teutik: please restore the replicator safeguards, and as an order never deactivate them again without my direct order,” said Emmylou.
“Yes, Captain,” said Teutik.
“Darzalba, please go and get cleaned up. I’ll have my yeoman speak with you about a replacement dress. I’m now going to have words with the children about vessel safety,” said Emmylou.
The tone in Emmylou’s voice brooked no argument from anyone, adult or child.
“Oh I remember that telling off,” said Lt. Commander Ike.
“Really?” asked Emmylou in surprise.
“Yes, I was on my best behavior for some time afterwards,” said Ike.
“Till the pumpkin incident, if I recall right,” said Emmylou.
Ike shook his head and said, “That’s so unfair to bring that up, Admiral. It was meant with affection, it just sort of came out wrong,” said Ike.
“Oh how was making every replicator on the USS Trireme all at once produce a pumpkin lantern with a caricature of me as the Wicked Witch of the East for Halloween supposed to be affection?” asked Emmylou.
“I blame Sophia for leading me astray,” said Ike.
“I don’t approve of my officers trying to pass the buck for their past actions,” said Emmylou.
“It was mean to be flattering, just neither Sophia or I were that good at line art, so a pretty witch picture on a pumpkin to scare the adult crew became something else,” said Ike.
“Pretty? And so we back to you trying to hit on your superior officer and one of your mother’s old friends. O what shall I tell her?” said Emmylou with sarcasm.
Ike blushed again, then his PADD beeped. He looked at it but before he could say anything Emmylou said, “Go, get it and keep your mind on the job Ike.”
“Yes Admiral,” said Ike.
Emmylou watched him go; he was a good officer and a fun person, but it was clear he still had some hang up over the Cupid virus incident a few months earlier, but then so did she. Having all your senior officers hit on you was an unusual command experience.
Anyway Emmylou did enjoy teasing Ike, but she did wonder, hand on heart, if it wasn’t that she didn’t still in part see him as that little rascal who was her daughter’s best friend from school. It was another thing she should talk to councilor Luxani about.
Emmylou finally reached the station transporter room and she found her personal assistant Ensign Jalke’i waiting with the official memorial wreath.
Jalke’i seem a bit lost in private thought staring at the wreath, which tastefully bound all the different symbols of remembrance of the Federation cultures together in one wreath.
Emmylou, cleared her throat and said, “Are we all good to go, Ensign?”
Jalke’i looked up in surprise and nearly dropped the wreath as she checked the time again. “Yes Admiral we right on schedule,” said Jalke’i.
The transporter chief piped up and confirmed, “Aye Admiral, we’re all good to go whenever you’re ready.”
As the two ladies took up their places on the transporter pads, Emmylou looked at her p.a. and suspect that Jalke’i was remembering some Academy classmate who had died recently in the war with the Klingons.
“I’m sorry Jalke’i, the pain doesn’t get any less over the years, you just learn to cope with it,” said Emmylou.
“Thank you, Admiral. I guess when we got our assignments I was jealous that Arinda, my lutki got assigned to a sovereign class, while I just got Starbase duty. I thought serving on an assault vessel meant she’d get all sorts of glory and then leave me behind in favor of some other front line heroine,” said Jalke’i.
“Lutki that serious?” asked Emmylou.
Jalke’i blinked away the sudden tears. “Yes, Admiral. I’m surprised that you know the term.”
“I know the term Jalke’i. I roomed with a Centauran cadet called Xenktid during my academy days,” answered Emmylou.
“Admiral, if the pain doesn’t go away then I’m sorry about your pain also.”
“Thank you Ensign,” replied Emmylou as the transporter beam took hold.
During the timeless moment in the transporter beam, Emmylou remembered Xenktid and in particular their cadet tour together on board the Obeth class USS Umarin.
Chapter 3 - Xenktid by FalseBill
Cadet Emmylou felt the cold despite her under uniform thermals. ‘Which lecturer did I upset to get assigned to an Andorian science vessel?’ she thought bitterly to herself.
She quickly reached the doors to her shared starboard cabin and hit the open door button and walked in. She was pleased to feel the warmth of human/Centauran normal in her shared quarters compared to the cold Andorian normal of the rest of the vessel.
She found her bunkmate the female Centauran Cadet Xenktid sitting on the edge of her lower bunk, tears streaming down her face.
“Hey Xenktid, what’s wrong?” asked Emmylou.
Emmylou moved towards her bunkmate, unsure what to say or do. In all the time she had known Xenktid, she’d never seen her anything but happy and eternally optimistic. Indeed during their cadet tour on the USS Umarin, she had remained the life of the non-Andorian crewmembers party.
“Hey Emmylou, back so soon?” asked Xenktid.
“Um, I’m actually back late, as the tactical sensor upgrade I was doing took longer to align than planned,” replied Emmylou.
Xenktid look at the ship’s timepiece set on the wall of their shared cabin.
‘Is that really the time?” asked Xenktid.
“Yes Xenktid, um, stop trying to distracting me. Obviously there is something wrong, and as your friend, I‘d kind of like to know what I can do to help, even if it is to take a walk down to the fridge,” replied Emmylou.
Xenktid, turn her PADD off and looked at her reflection in the PADD blank screen. “Do I really look that much a mess?”
Emmylou, tried to weigh the truth up against a comforting lie, before answering. “You’ve looked better but I’m sure I’ve seen you worse.”
Xenktid finally did a weak Centauran version of a smile, and said, “That bad, huh?”
Emmylou just nodded her head, not trusting herself to say the right thing to help her hurting friend, or look at that creepy Centauran version of a smile.
“O Emmylou, my lutki just dumped me by sub-space letter.”
“What, Taringa?” asked Emmylou?
“Yes, what’s the human expression? I got a Dear Jonathan Letter from her. Seems she has fallen head over heels for some Betazoid lieutenant over on the USS Swan.”
“I’m sorry Xenktid. You were a nice couple but you know what they say about long range relationships. I’m sure you’ll find someone else, maybe not on this ice bucket but--,” said Emmylou.
“No, she said she would be my lutki; that’s supposed to be for the length of our cadet tours,” said Xenktid.
“Things change in Starfleet, you know that, plus people say forever at our age and then change their minds a few weeks later,” said Emmylou.
“No! No a lutki shouldn’t. If she wasn’t prepared to dedicate herself to me she should have turned down the offer of lutki status,” snapped Xenktid.
“Hey I’m only trying to help out,” replied Emmylou.
Emmylou was surprised at the depth of anger in Xenktid’s voice. Xenktid suddenly looked shocked at herself. “I apologize, Emmylou; you’re not the one I should be angry at,” said Xenktid.
“Well why don’t we dry your tears? Then we’ll get you cleaned up and then we’ll go hit the fridge for dinner and we can talk more about it,” said Emmylou.
“You mean rather than mope in our shared quarters? That sounds like a good plan and so we’ve got a deal Emmylou,” said Xenktid.
So a mere forty minutes later the pair of friends hit the junior officers’ mess hall, which was known with affection as the fridge.
The two friends found a quiet table at the back, and Emmylou got some Vulcan spiced tea and Andorian roast magenta and Andorian ice salad from the replicator for them to have.
“I couldn’t face the Andorian Cajun dishes tonight,” lied Emmylou as she placed the food on the table and took her seat.
“You’re getting very good at telling lies, my friend but I know you’re only getting the roast magenta in, as the nearest thing to oranges in this ship’s food database,” said Xenktid.
“Well my best friend, I know you enjoy oranges and since magentas are the Andorians nearest thing, you need something to cheer you up,” said Emmylou.
Xenktid look at Emmylou funny. Then she said, “Tell me Emmylou, despite humans and Centaurans being maybe the same race, just separated by the preservers sometime in the past, I don’t think any human cultures have anything like a lutki, do you?” asked Xenktid.
“I don’t know; what is a lutki?” asked Emmylou.
“What is a lutki? How to explain it in terms that you would understand,” said Xenktid, with a thoughtful look on her face.
Emmylou picked at the roast magentas on her plate and let her best friend think. “Okay, so you remember from our first contact classes how the Federation and Centauran first contact was a bit of a disaster?” asked Xenktid.
“Yes we watch that movie--,” started Emmylou.
“That movie? You call ‘Successful Failure,’ the finest piece of Centauran film, ‘that movie’? O Emmylou how can you be such a Philistine?” asked Xenktid.
“When you accept swan lake--,” started Emmylou.
“Blah, earth ballet and dance is not art,” said Xenktid.
“Just because you’ve got two left feet,” teased Emmylou.
“And you can’t appreciate a great film unless there is a bloke in his underwear!” Xenktid teased back.
Emmylou shrugged and responded, “It just helps, that’s all I’m saying. Anyway, aren’t we going off on a tangent from the lutki explanation?”
“Yes a little. As I was saying “Successful Failure” shows that despite having warp drive technology, that to be a successful interstellar civilization our culture would need some charges. One of the things that wouldn’t work on a interstellar scale had been the old matriarch lutki tradition.”
Emmylou made a reassurance noise as she listened to Xenktid.
“Well historically a Centauran lutki was created sometime in the aftermath of the great plague. Basically, your mother would agree within the guidance of mother council, to someone who would be your counterweight or opposite, i.e. it you were idle and rich, then your lutki should be someone who was poor but hardworking. You would have been introduced sometime in your late teen years, after a probation period and once the two mothers agreed that you were both suitable lutki for each other. It became a legal binding friendship, or I suppose you could call it an engagement till you reached adulthood, and then you were free of it. The idea I think was to broaden your horizons and viewpoints together, so once you reached adulthood, you would respect someone with a different worldview, and learn how to cooperate for the greater good. Anything one lutki had they were required to share with the other. I suppose it was crude effort at wealth re-distribution. Though one of the key roles was to teach each in the ways of love and sex,” said Xenktid.
Emmylou, fought hard not to split out her salad.
“Emmylou, why do you humans have so many hang-ups about--?” asked Xenktid.
“Not a fridge topic,” said Emmylou, looking round to see if anyone had overheard them.
“If I didn’t share quarters with you, I think you wouldn’t know what to do with male of your species,” said Xenktid.
“So a lutki is something like an arranged marriage? I thought it would have fallen foul of Federation law?” asked Emmylou, trying to keep Xenktid from having another conversation about their respective sex lives in public.
“Yes a bit, in the traditional sense it would fall foul of Federation federal laws as much as Vulcan bindings do. At any rate by the time of the USS Argonaut first contact visit, it was only the most rural communities that still practiced it,” said Xenktid.
“I can see why. I wouldn’t trust my parents to pick my best friend for me,”
“I agree, but the ruling world council decided to make the lutki something new in the wake of Federation membership,” said Xenktid.
“Go on,” said Emmylou.
“Well I think the idea was to create something that was similar in spirit to the Deltan oath of celibacy, which would allow us to keep true to ourselves and not accidentally offend other Federation members’ different sexual practices. Also it’s kind of like the Academy freshman buddy system, but the Centauran ruling council insists it only applies during cadet years,” said Xenktid.
“That’s right, Taringa graduated last year and you do mentor that bit of Centauran hunk Jascarin,” said Emmylou.
Xenktid rolled her eyes and said, “I’ve lost one lutki and you’re still fixating on bedding the other! I should point out that Jascarin is going steady with Kevin and so he isn’t likely to be very interested in you.”
“A girl can dream, or isn’t that free anymore?” replied Emmylou.
“Yes it’s still free but I suggest you keep to realistic dreams. Now getting back on topic girl-friend, I, like all Centaurans, have an older lutki to be my mentor and an younger lutki for me to mentor, one will be male and the other female, to ensure consistency of message between the genders and we know which we prefer in bed. Well that is the theory but given the higher number of female Centaurans in Starfleet, it can be an all-girls club at times,” said Xenktid.
“Is that where all my wine and chocolate goes?” asked Emmylou.
Xenktid suddenly did look a bit guilty, but she didn’t answer that question before continuing. “However like in the old days, many Centaurans still experience love with their Centaurans for the first time during our cadet years.”
“So Taringa was your first?” asked Emmylou.
“Yes, but her breaking the bond now will cause anger back home.”
“Not your fault and anyway you’re nearly graduated from the Academy, so the bond was almost over anyway,” said Emmylou.
“That’s what makes her breaking it now even worse. What am I going to do?” asked Xenktid.
“Well it’s her choice, not yours, so don’t sweat over it. All I can suggest as the best thing to do is to wish her well with her new Betazoid lover, and you just get on with your career and live. Might I suggest we start by going back to the cabin and getting warm again?”
Xenktid replied, “Let’s get some coffees to go first.”
“Sounds like a good addition to the plan to me,” replied Emmylou.
“You’re a good girl-friend; I don’t know what I do without you. Maybe you’re my real lutki,” said Xenktid.
“No I’m just your best friend and bunk mate, I’m not your counterweight, nor are you getting into my underwear,” replied Emmylou.
“Spoilsport,” said Xenktid. The pain was still in her voice but something also suggested to Emmylou that the food and the talk had started the healing of a broken heart.
As the two women stood up together and went to the replicator to get some strong coffee Xenktid said, “I can live with just best friends, as I’ll always need someone to hold my hair back when I puke after Sunday night cocktails.”
“If we ever make captains of our own ships, I’ll remind you of that,” said Emmylou.
“When I make Captain, attending my Sunday night cocktails will be a mandatory order, and your future mate will have to look after your children, so you can hold my hair back,” smirked Xenktid.
“Hey what makes you think I’ll be either a) your junior or b) have children if you ever make captain?” asked Emmylou.
“Because I know the real you too well!” said Xenktid.
The transporter effect faded away and Emmylou found herself standing next to Jalke’i. The mention of lutki had drawn up her memories of Xenktid. A dear friend, who had indeed made captain during the Dominion war and had post-war kept her word and at least once a month held her Sunday night captains socials. Indeed by the time that Xenktid had been able to organize and get the gang together after the war, Emmylou had been on the water and seven months pregnant with Sophia. Emmylou had remembered Xenktid’s joy of seeing Emmylou’s bump at the start of that night, and announced in a loud voice to their gathered friends and Xenktid’s senior officers, “Well it seems that either Emmylou’s running later with becoming a mother or I’ve gotten to be a captain ahead of schedule. Either way I will order whoever is the most junior officer here to relieve her of her sacred duty and they will be the one to hold my hair back if I puke.”
Xenktid had successfully commanded first an Excelsior class, then an Akira and finally one of the Sovereign class vessels but she, just like Scott, had died recently in the current pointless war with the Klingons.
Emmylou walked in silence with Jalke’i to the planetside gathering point, both women remembering a close friend now lost to the cause.
The gathering point was just round the corner from Anastasiastad ‘the unknown starfarer’ monument. Currently a medium-sized crowd of mourners had gathering together along with the media holo-cameras assembled to record the event.
The colony’s civilian president, Mrs. Guinevere Bordereau, the colony cardinal, Lusby (a Rigelian), the head of the Earth Cargo Service, Mr. Lucci De Presario and the Centauran Merchant Navy Ms. Tandyna Kaevi and Colonel Daelij Inyor (a Grazerite), commander of the Federation marines stationed on Ganges all stood ready in their dress uniforms. Not all of them knew Jalke’i, so Emmylou did those introductions. They had a minute or two of small talk before it was time to take up their usual positions.
Then the officers and civilian representatives walked out in the usual practice routine and took up station round the monument, ready for the colony clock tower to strike eleven.
The President put her poppy wreath at the base of the monument and stood back and bowed her head. Then Emmylou, as the most senior forces figure, stepped forward to the base and with the memories of past friends and a sister lost to the march of history heavy on her heart and head, she took the wreath and salute from Jalke’i before placing it to the left of the president’s wreath, and she gave both the monument and wreath a salute. As always as she did the salute she caught her reflection on the monument and felt again that her baby sister was still watching her from beyond the grave.
Emmylou knew this ceremony and others like it was a small token but it did cover all the big lives she had known that had given their greatest sacrifice for the Federation. Deep down Emmylou knew it was a just a kind twist of fate and the right orders that she was here and they were not.
As she stepped back into formation to let the cardinal place his token, Emmylou wished she could do more for her friends and her sister but keep their memories alive via her tears and in old tales round the bar tonight after beta shift ended.
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