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Story Notes:

This tale references some happenings from previous stories in my Star Trek: Beyond series.


LOVE RIDES THE WIND      By: M. C. Pehrson

 

The room was dead quiet. Tru Kirk stood before the neatly packed suitcase on her bed and hesitated before closing its lid. Her soulful eyes went to the little dreamcatcher that hung from a nail above her pillow. There was no one to notice how her expression softened or wonder at the reason for it.

 

Lame Wolf’s dreamcatcher could stay, she decided. In California she wouldn’t need the circle of rawhide and its trailing feathers to make him feel closer. Knowing that she would see him every day brought a smile to her face and made her heart beat a little faster. But by the time she carried the suitcase downstairs, her mouth set in a straight, determined line.

 

Tossing back her reddish-blonde hair, she looked at her parents seated together on the sofa and said, “I’m ready.”

 

Her mother sat stiff and silent, not out of disapproval, but because she knew an unpleasant scene was coming. Sure enough, Dad rose with a quick motion that meant he was still annoyed. Tru had recently graduated from high school and would turn eighteen next month. She had always thought of herself as an artist, painting birds and flowers and landscapes in watercolor, but to appease her father she had applied and been accepted for the upcoming term at Starfleet Academy. And now, since he knew that her heart wasn’t in it, he wanted her right here at home where he could keep the pressure on. It didn’t matter that she had been spending the better part of each summer at the Dreamcatcher Boys’ Ranch since its founding.

 

His hazel eyes sliced into her. “I thought you’d reconsider, at least for your mother’s sake. Once you’re in the Academy, we won’t be seeing much of you.”

 

Holding onto her temper, she said, “At Dreamcatcher, I’ll be giving the boys art lessons and teaching them to ride. I’ll be training horses, too. It’s useful work, Dad, and I enjoy it.” On inspiration she added, “It’s the sort of work that teaches responsibility and command skills.”

 

“You’ll be working for your brother. That doesn’t look good on a resume.”

 

Tru sighed. “Lame Wolf is only part owner, and the fact that you were once his guardian doesn’t make him my brother.”

 

There was a clatter of feet on the stairs, and ten-year-old Sam burst in. “What’s that about your brother?”

 

Like Tru, Sam strongly resembled their father, but Mom’s Latin blood made their skin a shade darker.

 

Tru ruffled Sam’s auburn hair and gave him a hug. “Promise and I are heading out for the summer. Want to see us off?”

 

“Sure,” he said, and they went to the stable to get her horse.

 

***

 

Tru came out of the transporter beam face to face with her father’s Vulcan-looking namesake, James S’chn T’gai. They were standing by the Dreamcatcher barn. At her side, Promise reared up and kicked his heels in protest at finding himself suddenly whisked from Idaho to California.

 

Jamie came forward and caught the big white gelding by the halter. Then he smiled a welcome at Tru and said, “You made it.”

 

“Yes, thank God,” she smiled back. It was a relief, getting away from the tension at home. Thinking of the pleasant weeks ahead made her feel gloriously happy. Maybe the summer would go on forever and she would never have to leave for the Academy. As they unsaddled Promise and turned him out to pasture, she asked, “Where’s Lame Wolf?”

 

Jamie flipped a hand eastward. “Down at the creek with some boys.”

 

That was a bit disappointing, but with Jamie toting her luggage, she went inside and greeted his wife Anika, meeting several boys along the way. There were sixteen in residence now, boys of every shape, size, and color. A new wing had been added to the main house, along with a little veterinary office. Anika no longer worked in Weaverville, but handled appointments from here while caring for the ranch stock. Everyone shared cleaning chores and took turns helping in the kitchen.

 

By dinnertime, Tru had settled in. Lame Wolf and his charges arrived just as everyone was sitting down to eat. Two long tables ran the length of the dining room. It was a happy, boisterous group. Lame Wolf’s dark eyes lit with pleasure when he saw Tru, and they shared an embrace. After washing up, he took his place at the head of her table. The room fell silent as Jamie offered a blessing, then Tru watched mounds of food disappear down the hungry boys. No wonder they had finally hired cooks; it would be a full-time job just keeping those kids fed.  

 

After dinner the boys cleared the dishes, then those not on kitchen duty rushed out to play baseball. Lame Wolf came over and sat beside Tru. He grinned at her, his teeth very white against his smooth brown skin.

 

“Another summer,” he said. “It’s great to have you back. Now that you’re out of high school…do you think you might stay a little longer?”

 

An ache settled in her heart, for she hadn’t told him about the Academy. She hadn’t dared. He knew how she felt about Starfleet and had not expected her to give in. He didn’t understand how hard her father—the illustrious Captain Kirk—had made things.

 

“I…I can’t,” she stammered. “I have to go away in late August.”

 

“College?” he asked.

 

A great thump saved her from answering. Lame Wolf turned toward the shatterproof window as a baseball rebounded into the yard.

 

“Mark’s at bat!” Anika called from the kitchen.

 

Lame Wolf rose and said to Tru, “Want to watch?”

 

Glad for the reprieve, she accompanied him outside.

 

***

 

In the days that followed, Tru checked out all the changes at the ranch. Behind the barn, a new henhouse provided fresh eggs. Her love of birds extended even to chickens, and she delighted in the colorful assortment of breeds. On the ranch road, Jamie had erected a wayside shrine at the spot where he once ran over his son with a tractor. Now Cody was a lively eight-year-old, and he enjoyed teasing his father about the accident. The near-tragedy had deepened Jamie’s religious convictions. As a reflection of that faith, he was constructing a chapel dedicated to the Good Shepherd. Not all the boys at Dreamcatcher were Catholic, but Jamie tried to impart good moral values to every youngster. Over the years, he had kept in close touch with Father Phineas O’Day from back home, and the retired pastor had agreed to come out in September and act as chaplain for the boys. In Idaho, Tru had belonged to O’Day’s parish when Jamie was her neighbor, and she was very fond of the old priest. Here was one more reason why she wished she could stay, but since that was impossible, she tried to content herself with the daily round of activities. Besides helping the boys master their computer Outreach education, each member of the staff had a special area of expertise. Lame Wolf managed the operation, Jamie counseled the youngsters, and Anika mothered them. For now, Tru was the resident artist.

 

On the day Tru turned eighteen, her family showed up for a surprise dinner party. The Dreamcatcher boys happily joined in the celebration, crowding around her famous father, and he seemed to enjoy the attention. Tru was jittery all evening, waiting for him to “spill the beans”. And then it happened.

 

The cake had just been served when her father stood, raised his glass of iced tea, and proposed a toast. “To my own Starfleet cadet, Elena True Kirk.”

 

There were murmurs of astonishment, then a burst of applause. Tru’s face burned with embarrassment and shame as she glanced over at Lame Wolf. He was not clapping. His handsome features were set like stone.

 

As soon as her family left, she went out into the night, but there was no escaping Lame Wolf’s displeasure. Suddenly the crickets fell silent and she heard his footsteps approaching. Her heart began to pound wildly. Turning toward him, she saw the moon reflected in his solemn eyes.

 

“Starfleet,” he said in a pained voice. “Is that what you want? Or is that what your father wants?”

 

“It’s what I’m going to do,” she hedged. “For a year, anyway.”

 

“A year! Do you really think it will end there? Do you think he’ll be satisfied with one year? He’ll keep on pushing you, making you feel guilty. I can’t believe you gave in to him!”   

 

Tru’s fingers clenched. “So it’s all my fault? You don’t know what it’s been like; you don’t live there anymore.”

 

“He pressured me, too. He had my life all planned, but I stood up to him. Why can’t you?”

 

Overcome with anger, Tru shouted, “This is none of your business! Leave me alone! It’s my life and I’ll do whatever I want!” Then tears came and she ran all the way to her room.

 

***

 

Early the next morning, Lame Wolf took six boys into the mountains on horseback. The camping trip could not have come at a better time. He sorely needed to get away from the ranch, but the sting of Tru’s words followed him through the canyons.

 

Had he been too hard on her? He always thought of Tru Kirk as strong, but now he remembered those terrible days when everyone thought her father had died in Space. Her strength had failed then, and when Jim came back, she had suffered ever more, thinking that he no longer loved her. Now it seemed that she would do anything to keep her father’s love. But what loving parent would manipulate a daughter that way? Lame Wolf owed Jim Kirk for providing a home when he needed it, but his concern for Tru outweighed any sense of gratitude. She had always been his “Little True Friend” and he could not bear to see her in pain. But now even he had hurt her.


Chapter End Notes:

 


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