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The golden days of August arrived. Tomatoes ripened on the vines, and boys ate their fill of fresh-picked melons. Blaze recovered from her burns and followed Hunter around the property like a big ugly dog. In the youngster's eyes, she was magnificent. It was truly beautiful to watch Hunter speak to her tenderly and see him start to participate in ranch activities. Tru didn't want to miss a single day of his growth, but a painful task awaited her in Idaho and she could not put it off any longer. Lame Wolf wanted to come along, but one warm morning she kissed him goodbye and stepped into the Weaverville transporter alone.

Mom met her in Pinehaven, Idaho. Knowing what was coming, Tru settled into the family skimmer with a churning stomach.

They were in the air when her mother said, "So Promise is staying in California. But why didn't you bring your luggage?"

"I have everything I need," Tru answered vaguely.

The countryside swept below them. After a few moments Mom remarked, "You're awfully quiet. Are you having second thoughts about the Academy?"

Tru took a deep breath and admitted, "I'm not going."

Mom cast a troubled glance her way. She knew that the peace of her home was about to be shattered, but she also knew that Tru didn't belong in Starfleet. Finally she said, "What made you change your mind?"

Tru gave no reply, for they were already landing at the ranch. Dad and Sam came out of the paddock. Tears sprang into her eyes as she left the skimmer and hugged them.

"I love you," she told her father.

He gave her an affectionate squeeze and proudly asked, "How's my prize cadet?"

With a wan smile, she drew back. A horse nickered by the stable and familiar mountain birds were calling. In a moment all this will be lost to me, she thought, and as her heart flailed in her chest, she found herself wishing that she had brought Lame Wolf along, after all.

Her voice tremored as she said, "Dad, Mom, let's go inside. I have something to tell you."

Once in the house, only Sam took a seat, for he was too young to sense trouble coming. But Mom was stiff with concern and Dad looked wary.

All in a rush, Tru said it. "I'm not going to the Academy. Lame Wolf and I are getting married."

Both her parents were clearly stunned.

Even Sam sat up and took notice. "Marry Lame Wolf? But he's our brother!"

"He is not my brother," Tru said forcefully. "He has never been my brother. I love him and we're going to get married."

She watched the anger building in her father, but it was her mother who spoke first. "Tru, this is very sudden. What's the hurry? You're so young. Why not give the Academy a chance?"

Startled, Tru turned on her. "Mom! The Academy? Whose side are you on?"

"The side of reason," she replied.

"Oh, so I'm being unreasonable? Look, Mom, I know you want to make Dad happy, but I have a right to some happiness, too. This is my life."

"Young lady, that's enough!" snapped her father.

Tru gathered her courage and faced him. "Starfleet is your dream, not mine. Dad, I'm an artist."

"Then study art! I'll send you to the best damn art school on Earth. But marriage...to Lame Wolf? Tru, you're nothing but a kid."

"No, Dad," she said levelly. "I'm not a kid anymore. You can't tell me what to do."

His face went stony. "Tru, Sam-go upstairs."

Tru matched his glare and didn't move.

Her mother pleaded, "Tru, honey, give us a moment alone. Won't you?"

For her sake, Tru followed Sam. On the way upstairs, she heard Dad say to her mother, "Did you know about this?"

She went into her bedroom and left the door ajar. Sitting on her bed, she heard the sound of her parents arguing and it was as if the years had fallen away and Dad was just home from the Nexus.

His voice raised another notch. "I should have seen this coming! I should never have taken that Indian into our home. I should have listened to you."

"I was wrong then," Mom answered, "and you are wrong now. Duncan is a fine young man-you've said it over and over."

"Yes. But he's not..."

"Not good enough? Not educated enough? Not white enough? Jim, listen to yourself!"

"I'll never give my consent! That girl isn't running off to live with an Indian in the wilds of California. She's going to college. She's going to make something of herself."

Mom's voice came back. "Tru has already made something of herself. ‘That girl' is a talented young woman who knows her own mind, her own heart. Remember the stories you've told me about Spock's father? How stubborn and manipulative Sarek is? Well, keep it up, and Tru will see you the same way. You'll lose her, Jim."

"That's up to her," he countered.

Sick at heart, Tru gazed at the little dreamcatcher on her wall. She had heard enough. There was nothing else here that she really needed. Taking the dreamcatcher, she walked out of her childhood bedroom and went downstairs. Her father glared at her as she used her wrist phone to call for a direct transport.

"Oh, no you don't!" he declared with a step toward her.

Choking back tears, she said, "Goodbye, Dad." And to her mother, "I'll be in touch."

Then the transporter beam caught her and she was gone.



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