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Found 11 results

  1. Between a Rock and a Hard Place Chirakis Kirel Arms crossed, Chirakis Kirel, Commanding officer of Sky Harbor Aegis, stared vacantly into space, past the station, past the starships that entered and exited the corridors in the distance, past the asteroids where Nero’s crew worked diligently drilling for metals and harvesting carbonite, past the shipyard, and on into the blackness of space with only one thing on her mind. For anyone else, it was a simple question. For Kirel and the parents of Annisha, it could be devastating. Did Admiral Hatchkock actually want a 12-year-old child to apply for entry to Starfleet Academy, or was he interested in her presence for another reason? A deep inhale ended in a sigh as the captain dropped her arms and pressed her hands against the sill, then pushed off, swiveled her chair and relaxed into it. Perhaps she was going overboard in her thoughts. At least she hoped so. Dr Pavilion considered Annisha a gifted child, one who could easily be considered a candidate for Starfleet Academy. She also mentioned that Annisha might have a rough time with those around her because of her age, which was understandable. However, there was something deeper that needed to be considered, something that the captain could not divulge. As far as Annisha knew, her biological parents died trying to rescue friends and families during the devastation of ch’Rihan, also known as The Great Fire. However, Annisha's biological parents did not die. They are alive and well. Was Admiral Hatchkock aware? If so, how did he find out and what was his plan? After the devastation of ch’Rihan, thousands of Romulans came to Aegis for shelter. Most were families who had barely survived, but many were orphans who had lost contact with their families and would never see them again. Brothers, sisters, fathers, and bondmates served in the Romulan Imperial Fleet, the Galae s'Shiar Rihan, and gave their lives that others might live. One of those orphans was Annisha t’Aldani. The captain first spotted the child on Deck 92 where transient/transitional quarters were provided for the prospective adoptive families, as well as quarters for the orphaned children. While the others played games, this child was intensely focused on a puzzle. In fact, she was so focused, she didn’t seem to notice Kirel when she sat down next to her. “Interesting puzzle you have there,” noted Kirel, waving off a teacher. “Um… yeah.” The child’s head tilted back and forth, then almost upside down. “How long have you been working on the puzzle?” Kirel continued, crossing her legs to sit next to her. She picked up a few pieces to set them in, then shook her head and put them back. “A while,” she replied, blowing out a breath. “But there’s something wrong with the pieces. I think someone put them in the wrong box, or maybe threw them away.” She shrugged, disassembled the puzzle and began again. Kirel nodded and continued to watch her patch the pieces in another direction. By then, several other children had formed a circle to watch, point at Kirel and whisper while the young girl continued to work. Kirel looked up at the others. “I’m sure you have other things to do,” she said firmly, scattering the children to the other end of the playground. A hefty sigh returned Kirel’s focus to the puzzle and an exasperated child, kneeling back on her heels and tilting her head to face Kirel. “All the pieces aren’t there, so I can’t work the puzzle, Captain.” “Ah. So you know who I am.” Her face scrunched up. “Well, it’s pretty obvious. I mean, you have the pins, and a few other things I’ve never seen before. But you’re definitely a captain. Um… maybe Captain Chirakis? At least that’s what the other kids were whispering.” She stifled a grin. “Correct. And you are…?” “Annisha. I’m…. Annisha t’Aldani. My mom and dad, they’re….” “Nice to meet you, Annisha,” Kirel purposely interrupted. Why don’t you try working on this puzzle?” she suggested, quickly changing the subject. “ You won’t lose any pieces of this one.” Pulling out her slate, Kirel tapped on a few things, then passed the slate and a stylus to Annisha. “See what you can do with it.” Annisha studied the tablet a moment, then brightened up. “Double-dare you?” “Double dare.” From then on, it was obvious that the 9-year-old orphaned Romulan had a facility for swift computation of statistics, compiling complex bits of data for evaluation and making accurate conclusions even more quickly than some of the seasoned operatives with whom Kirel worked. Annisha continued to assemble the bits of Aegis available to her on the tablet. It did not take long for Annisha to solve the problem. As Kirel watched and listened, she knew Annisha definitely had an advanced education. Moreover, she had been encouraged to explore. She had definitely come from an Aristocratic or high-ranking diplomatic family. Only they would have regularly used the vocabulary and high Rihan dialect Kirel had been speaking as Annisha worked the stylus. Only they would have encouraged her in this type of education. If not, the child was either precocious or truly brilliant. Believing that her biological parents had perished in the Great Fire, Annisha remained on Aegis and was eventually adopted by Nijil tr’Korjata and Jylliene Kital. However, her mother, Riov (Captain) Ja’lan t’Aldani, and her father, EnRiov (Admiral) Keshir tr’Aldani, were alive and well. Two of the most powerful and forthright agents of the Tal Shiar were hidden in the bowels of Rendezvous October, used by operatives from the Allied Powers, chief among them being Starfleet Intelligence and the Tal Shiar. After a few long moments of thought, Kirel called Commander Korjata and Lt Commander Kital to her office. They had much to discuss.
  2. Family Matters Jylliene, Annisha, and Prani No matter if you were a Rihan or a Yith from a long time ago, keeping a space station running takes a lot of effort. Thousands of people depend on a smoothly operating set of systems to protect them from without and from within. Prani knew these responsibilities, but until she had to practice them for a few days she did not understand the scope. Keeping the station going was more about putting the right people in the right places than about the technology. Even this comes to a temporary end, at least until the next shift. The day in engineering came to a close and Prani made her way home. Nijil's home. Prani stood at the door, but was it the right door? Aegis must have thousands of doors, all looking exactly alike. The computer helped her get there, but until she tried to get in she just did not know. She scrunched her forehead as she read the alien script, the level, and room number. Sighing, she rang the chime. Nothing happened. No one came. The door hissed open. "Father?" Prani looked down. "Oh, hello there," she said with a grin. A short Rihan girl stood at the threshold, her hands on her hips. "I thought the father just walked in. Au okay?" Annisha asked, her eyes piercing through her father's confusion. She moved aside to let him in. "I, err, it's been a long day and I just did not want to walk in on the wrong family." "Making house calls father?" She joked, skipping back to her desk. Papers were scattered all over its surface. Pencils and pens standing in a tall cup. Annisha sat back down and continued her sketches. Prani walked over to see what mess she made on the pages but was pleasantly surprised. Annisha looked up. "What do au think?" A drawing of a tall feline-like creature stood over what looked like herself. "Those people from the loud music all over the station, remember?" "Yes, it's a Yith." Prani said, turning her head to see the skewed picture. For some reason, everyone was leaning to the right. "Yith? They never said who they were. How do au know?" "I, well, new research, people listening...clues." Prani stumbled over her answer." Annisha gave her father a 'what au talking about' look. "Yith it is. Au know what that means in Rihan?" Prani shook her head. Annisha stood up and her father bend down to her. The girl whispered into her father's ear. Prani's mouth was agape, and she understood and why the girl did not say it out loud. Before Prani could think more about what her people's name means in the Rihan language, a sound came from another room. “Finally home?” Jylliene asked as she approached Prani. "Yes, they kept me busy today, meetings..arguments," Prani answered. She walked towards Jylliene to give her an embrace, not knowing if the couple did this sort of thing. Though it did feel somewhat strange, Jyll willingly hugged Prani, then turned to Annisha. “In the mood for anything specific for dinner?” "Oh," she exclaimed with mild forgetfulness. "I forgot to gather the ingredients to make a fresh dinner. At the outpost, err, I mean here I try to fix as much non-processed as I can." She looked Jylliene over. She likely had a long day as she did. Prani sat down at the kitchen table, trying to conjure up just the right meal. “We have the replicator for a reason. There’s no harm in using it for dinner now and then,” Jyll reassured. Annisha piped up. "Not like your cooking was bad. Say, how did au get so good all of the sudden father?" Prani turned to her. "Well, lots of lessons and classes at the holosuites...and my mother." “What are we in the mood for?” Jyll asked, cutting off the discussion in hopes of helping refocus attention away from Prani and the differences Annisha had noticed. "I read in the station's database," Prani said with a loud clap, "about a round flat dinner called pizza." “Sounds worthwhile.” Searching the term in the replicator’s menu, Jylliene related to the others the potential choices, with different sauces, meats, and vegetables. Prani went to the replicator and read the choices. "So many toppings. What are anchovies?" “Small strongly-flavored fish." Prani's mouth watered at the prospect of fish. She whispered into Jyll's ear. "Does Nijil like fish?" Jylliene nodded to Prani. “Anchovies it is. Let’s see...cheese, capers, and olives are all recommended with them.” She entered the order. *** Prani and Jylliene sat at the dinner table, a mostly eaten pizza lay in the middle. Annisha went to bed an hour ago after protests and yawns. Prani swirled the yellow liquid around in the clear glass in her hand. The bottle the liquid came from was almost empty. "Say, what is that stuff in the bottle again? It's making me feel funn, funnier." “Wine. Typically I would have had a bit more, but with the baby, I didn’t want to have more than a half glass or so.” Prani looked shocked. "Oh no, I've poisoned this body. I am so sorry. Will it recover?" She asked with an unsteady grin. Jyll chuckled. “He’ll be fine. Do the Yith not have any intoxicants they ingest?” "Oh we do, but alcohol really works us over." She held up the bottle. "This would have put me out for many hours, hic, and still might." “Well, you have Nijil’s physiology right now, not your own, and you can see he doesn’t react that dissimilarly. You’ll sleep pretty solidly.” "Oh oh oh, I, uhm...that reminds me. Annisha, and what a doll she is. She asked me if I was sleeping on the couch again and thought I was in trouble last night." Prani contemplated how to ask her next question. "She's a smart girl and I don't want to give her a reason to suspect anything, but perhaps I could sleep on the floor in your room, or on a bunch of pillows?" “Prani, you’re fine. I want you as well-rested as possible. For your sake and Nijil’s. Unless you’d prefer the floor.” "Oh, that's good news. I would love my own bed. It's a big round affair that would not fit through the door." She gestured with her hands just how round it was. "Oh, these arms are too small. You know you are all short...to me." She shrugged. “I imagine that’s why your bed is larger, then. I can see about getting something set up in here, but the more permanent changes we make, the more Annisha will suspect.” "Tell her it's for the baby. What baby does not have a bed two meters in diameter?" “It’s more customary for an infant to have one that’s perhaps one meter long by a half-meter or so in width, though it does vary. There can be even smaller ones, but the baby would outgrow it much faster.” Prani looked a mixture of happy and sad. "Oh, the baby. How far along are you? I don't know the gestation period for you." “About seven weeks now. Gestation is between 35 and 45 weeks; it’s a bit tricky to know for certain with a mixed-species pregnancy. Probably close to 38, though.” Prani started to tear up. "I will promise to get Nijl back well before then. He should not miss the first child's birth. You being supportive, and me being in his body, helps a lot." She took a final drink from her glass. "I had expected to be put in some kind of holding after revealing what happened." She looked at the glass. "Aww. no more drinky." “Come on. Sleepy time,” Jylliene said with a chuckle. “We could both use a good night’s sleep.” Prani nodded intently and started to get up out of her chair. "Oh my," and fell with a thud to the floor.
  3. Girls Just Wanna Have (Lockdown) Fun (Miana, Alexis, and loveable Annisha) Miana, Alexis, and Annisha quickly arrive at Annisha's quarters after the red alert is sounded. They are having an impromptu sleepover party since the station is in danger...again. They get out a game or two. Alexis sat down on the floor between Miana and Annisha and looked over their selection of board games, as well as a few that she brought over from her quarters. “Let’s see here, I brought over…” Lexy said perusing the box full of games she brought over. “The Game of Drones, Sorry! Galactic Edition, Parcheesi Cubes? A couple of others in here too.” Lexy rummaged through at the few games sitting in the bottom of her box. “Let’s see which game we want to start with first.” "Oh come on Lexi, let's not forget," Annisha said as she turned around, "Cloaks and Daggers. Well, two of the pieces are still cloaked, or missing and...the Daggers were recalled for being too sharp." She jumped excitedly. "I also have Dabo: Kids Edition, Spin the Dagger. That last one is fun. You have to tell a dark stinging secret or accept an embarrassing dare." She stacked some other games, all seemingly genuine Rihan games, but with surprisingly similar layouts to Earth games. She turned to Miana who was still looking at all of the games. "What are the games like on, whatever your planet is called?" “Mithra…” Miana quietly replied. She seemed to be in her little world for the moment. The red alert was still going on, and she had just contacted her mother to let her know where she was. That didn’t seem to calm Yda down much, but at least she had known her daughter was safe. Miana glanced between the other two girls. The fact that they were both so relaxed helped the little Mithraan calm down. "Oh oh!" Annisha gets up and grabs a marker off of her desk across the room. A desk by which everyone could see she was working on homework and not playing in her room. She came back and went to the wall to the right of where they were playing games. She crosses a series of four vertical lines with a diagonal one. "That makes fifteen red alerts since I got on the station." She hopped back over to where she sat before between her two friends. "I think they are going for a new record here, from what father said. Oh, that's a cool planet name. Doesn't mean anything in Rihan though, but then you do have a planet. Mine's, well..." She makes a 'poof' sound with her lips and a matching gesture with her hands. "You know, there is the Ferengi Games of Pure Skill in that box. Not a chance to cheat on those games." She smiled at Miana. “I think I must be up to ten myself. I haven't been on the station as long as Annisha has,” Alexis replied. “Sometimes they can be convenient. It did get us out of school early.” She looked at the Pure Skill box. “Hmm. Yeah that's true”. Alexis looked over at Miana and smiled. “Do you have any preferences?” “This happens often?” asked Miana. “No wonder you are both so calm.” She still appears to be quite nervous. Miana carefully looks over the choice of games, fluffy white tail waving back and forth as she tries to make a decision. “Umm...I do not know which to pick,” she said with a slight frown. “Uhh, Pure Skill is fun, but I think it'd be better if we left that for later. I guess we should start with something more simple, like Sorry or Targ Trap. But I'm open to anything” shrugged Alexis. “What about you, Annisha? What should we start off with?" "How...," she stopped. A deep sound rumbled from beyond Annisha's quarters. It erupted from well below their feet, pulsing towards them, then extending above into the distance. Miana had never heard such a strange metallic sound before. Clearly she was frightened, she screeched, "Aaaahieeee!" Then all of her fur poofed out. "Whoa!" Alexis shouted, jumping back. "Oh, cool!" Annisha watched in wonder. Alexis went over to Miana just as quickly as she jumped back. "It's okay Miana. It's just the station getting ready." She hugged her from the side, trying any mental ability she had to calm her down. "Father said it is the defenses moving into place, something new for the station." Annisha said. She smiled all-knowing, folding her arms in front of her. "It allows us to keep track of how many red alerts keep us in our rooms. Now relax Miana and let's play!" Miana had buried her head into Alexis for a moment as she tried to relax. It wasn’t long before a relative calm came about and she began to pur. Her fur also began to depoof as her tail once again started to wave. “Alright…” "Hey," Annisha said brightly, "At least your homeworld did not get irradiated." She placed a hand over Miana's hand. "This is nothing compared to that." Annisha bent over to Miana's ear and cupped her hand, whispering, "I'm scared every time, 'bout lots of things, so bad I have to take an injection to sleep." She went back to sitting as she smiled at Miana at her own admission. She looked tough on the outside, but more fragile on the inside than she let on. This red alert was no different.
  4. Delicate Matters Tr’Korjata, Annisha, and Chirakis With the runabout bearing the engineers, the security detail, and the remains of two errant droids on their way to Aegis, Captain Chirakis found herself in the security complex, putting out smaller fires that had erupted while they dealt with more life-threatening events. At least, she hoped that they were minor. After paging through the duty officer’s scratch, she made a mental note to order security to a refresher course in Federation Standard composition—Note Taking 101, to be exact. Two items caught her attention, the first being the suspicious absence of fifteen minutes from security footage in science. Alternate security cameras had shown LtCdr Lawliet entering his office with Midshipman Timir, moving to the isolinear access point, opening the portal, and then… nothing. Fifteen minutes later, the recording resumed, and the expressions of the two scientists were serious, and a bit uneasy. Further investigation was warranted. It was the second situation that Kirel red-flagged. A hand-wave engaged one of many screens that lined the walls of the main security office as she approached the screen. The footage that had originally alerted the duty officer to the situation began to roll. Time: 1923—Stardate: 2388.029 displayed across the bottom of the screen. Two girls, who had gained quite a reputation for mischief among the populace, entered the turbolift on the commerce level and requested the serenity garden just outside the main medical complex. The scene initially played out with Annisha and Alexis exchanging their usual banter. Suddenly, and without any visible cause, the young Rihan shrank against the lift wall. Her eyes widened in terror as she stared at her friend. Taken aback, Alexis rushed over to help, but Annisha fought violently to push her away. “Na, na!” she screamed, “Koai uæ mh..,” as Alexis struggled to calm her. When the doors opened at the serenity garden just outside the medical complex, Annisha wrenched herself from her friend’s controlling grasp, and screamed, “Au will all die at the hand of the Tal Shiar! Keep away! Au can’t shock me! The desert stands will flow with your blood once my parents hear of this!” A few moments later, Dr. Sandero appeared with the comment that Annisha did not appear cognitively aware of her surroundings. SubCommander Korjata rounded the corner to catch his daughter, who continued to scream and fight, apparently not recognizing him as her father. Kirel replayed the footage several times, then blanked the screen and settled into her office chair to consider the situation carefully. The mention of the Tal Shiar in connection with her parents could jeopardize Annisha’s safety, as well as the safety of her adoptive parents. However, the girl had made no direct connection to her real parents, so those who heard probably assumed that she meant her adoptive parents, especially because of her questionable mental state at the time. “Computer, locate SubCommander Korjata.” “SubCommander Korjata is in the arboretum on deck 73." “Computer, locate Annisha t’Korjata.” “Annisha t’Korjata is in the arboretum on deck 73.” After several minutes of thought, the entered her master code, and the security camera revealed father and daughter, huddled together, lost in the moment. She would tread lightly. ________________________ "Annisha," her father started after long moment of silence, "You are going to be alright. There is no planet of sand, no people making you work." He held her tight as they sat in front of a small pond of water-borne flowers. The sound of flowing water emptying into the pond created a calming sound that echoed throughout the small arboretum. He'd never been here before now, but understood why she and her friend made this their destination. They rocked back and forth as she came down from her recent hysteria. Nijil started to hum an old tune. Having used another entrance, Captain Chirakis strolled in the direction of two familiar voices, but stopped some distance away. Choosing a moment to approach would be a delicate balance. Interrupting their bonding could be disastrous. But the problem was taken from her hands as a large ball bounced through the brush and rolled onto the pebbled pathway. Not far behind, a young human male charged through the brush after it, stumbled, and landed in the captain’s outstretched arms. Pressed against her chest, he glanced up. His eyes widened, mouth agape. She looked down, her expression stern. “This is a place of quiet reflection, not a place to play ball,” she said, grasping his shoulders firmly, holding him in the air for a moment, then setting him firmly on his feet. “Retrieve your ball. Take it to the playground in the main arboretum.” The boy stared for a moment, his mouth still agape, his cheeks pale. Then, without a word, he grabbed the ball and ran off. "Father," Annisha said still huddled with her father. "Yes?" "Someone is here." He hugged her tighter, then turned around to see if she was merely joking. He jerked to attention, while still sitting, but Annisha remained clung to him. Kirel brushed a few leaves and bits of dirt from her uniform as she emerged from the bushes. “Relax, SubCommander,” she said on approach. “Annisha, please excuse the intrusion; it was unavoidable. You were enjoying quiet time with your father, and we interrupted you.” She bowed in sincerity, then studied the young Rihan for a moment, her expression softer than usual. “But my young captain looks disturbed.” Nijil started to speak, but had to search for his words. "She had some memories come back to her. I was going to run her back to sickbay, but found this place. Taking her here seemed...the better choice." He looked up at Chirakis with a slight frown. "I think the flashback has passed." “Yes,” Kirel straightened up. “I often come here to relax. It is more secluded than the main arboretum. Not many know it even exists, but apparently a few boys who play ball do. Tell me, Captain...” she looked down at Annisha, then knelt on one knee beside her, “...should I pursue him, or should I let him go in the belief that he was frightened enough and will not do it again?” Muffled, she emerged from Nijil's arms. "Let him live." He backed off as she took to standing up to address the Captain. For a few moments Annisha stared into her eyes. Then, without notice, she wrapped her arms around the Captain and held her much like Nijil held her. “Mercy,” Kirel replied, hugging her tight. “Your parents would be proud. They were merciful, as their daughter is merciful, and strong, as their daughter is strong.” Then, very gently, she released Annisha from the hug and pushed her away, to see her face. “I knew them. Did you know that?” Annisha was shocked, her eyes wide. "Really? Was this before me?" “Before you. And I did not know they had a daughter until I saw your amulet. Have you put it in a place of honor, as I suggested?” "It's hanging over my bed, my father," turning to him, "helped me put it up." She turned her attention back to Chirakis. “An excellent place. They watch over you from Vorta Vor in the long hours of the darkest nights. They were defenders and protectors, and they continue to be. One day, when there is time, I will tell you about them, and the legacy they have left you. “But now…” Kirel stood and straightened her uniform, “...as your chief of security, I will obey your order to allow the boy to live. If there is nothing else, Captain?” She bowed her head slightly and gave Annisha a Romulan salute. "Nothing...Captain," she said, attempting a salute, but giving into a bow. Through this exchange Nijil had turned a little pale, knowing full well the truth of her parents' mortal state. Not where, but just that they were still alive, no doubt watching from the shadows.
  5. Look Who's Coming to Dinner (1 of 2) She’d seen strange messages on her PADD, but never one like this. “See you later tonight. I'll cook something up for all of us. xo” Taking into account the sender, SubCommander Korjata, and the “xo” at the end - which definitely did not refer to the executive officer - Kirel raised her eyes to regard the SubCommander’s fiance, SrLt Kital, for a long moment, then shifted her focus back to the message. Could it be that the engineer used the captain’s first name, and that Kirel and Kital were close enough together that he hit the wrong key in sending? However, the phrase “all of us” changed the meaning altogether. “I look forward to it,” Kirel replied and turned back to her work… until the message repeated itself, and a response came from SrLtn Kital, “Will be nice.” Kital’s expression had changed. A press on her PADD revealed that tr’Korjata had mistakenly chosen default group messaging. She smiled. After some time, she read, “May have invited the Captain to dinner…” “I look forward to it. Make sure you have enough for us all.” “I miss you. It has been too long.” “And I, you. See you this evening.” Nijil chopped. Nijil sliced. Nijil diced. Nijil minced. Nijil was tired. He'd not gotten to the cooking yet, but the guests had to be here for that. Three junior engineers were nice enough to bring up a large fusion-powered cooking stove that now sat in Nijil's living room next to an elongated dining table that would accommodate his guests. He hoped Annisha appreciated his cooking effort compared to her Klingon friend. No targ served here. "Daddy," she pulled at his shirt and looked up to him with her big eyes. "Why is this big thing in here?" "Oh I wanted to cook something nice for Jylliene and you. Nothing replicated. When's the last time you had an unreplicated meal?" Annisha perked up. "Oh last week at the Klingon place. He made sure my food did not move." Her father groaned at the thought of live food. "Oh, did I tell you about my new friend?" "Yes, a thousand times. Something new about her?" "Only that I invited her over." He stopped his chopping. "I mean if you can invite the Captain why not Alexis? She won't eat much." "Probably not, but let me add more." He grabbed more of each vegetable and renewed his work. She hugged his waist tightly. "Thanks, you'll really like her." The door chime sounded. "I'll get it!" Her hair bounced as she hopped to the door and pressed the entry key. "Daddy, she's here!" "Just a moment." He put down his knife and straightened up his shirt. A quick check of his hair and he walked over, prepared to see the smiling face of Jylliene, or, if a bad day, a worn out version. "My e'lev, it-" Nijil froze. "Captain, you are early, I-I thought you were someone else." The captain gave a gracious, though playful smile. “I can always come back later.” "No no, you are welcome anytime Captain. Let me, er, get you something to drink." Next time he spoke to Annisha he would go over the times when names are needed. "Replicated or something from our stock?" Now stock in a Starfleet station is limited to a small refrigeration unit, but this was from the off-world family vineyard. Doubt Chirakis has this spirit in her locked cabinet. “Some of your stock, thank you. Your father’s vineyard and its products are legendary,” she responded, admiring the decor. Her eyes fell on the youngest Korjata. “Annisha.” she said cordially. "Captain." She gave her a look. "Have you ever thought about trying a dark green rather than black? My parents wore black all of the time, but that's the Tal Shiar way." The little girl looked her squarely in the eye. "You have the Tal Shiar look, except for the ears." “I have the Tal Shiar look for good reason, young one. The black serves the same purpose as it does for the Tal Shiar. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.” "In the shaaadows..." She raised her hands and waved them about. “Indeed,” Kirel replied, leaning forward mysteriously. “In the shadows.” Back in her quarters, Alexis was curious to see what would be served at this dinner. Donning one of the new dresses Dacia bought her earlier, she quickly sent a message to Dacia asking permission, and got a quick response back saying she could. Her quarters were close by so it did not take long to arrive. She pressed the chime button and waited. "Daddy, she's here!" Annisha shouted. "Finally," Nijil said, once again putting down his knife. The Captain seemed to enjoy the Korjata wine, or the view out the long window. He wiped his hands, walked to the door, opened it, and spoke. "Long day at work swee-" "I'm not your sweetie. I'm Alexis. Is the lady of the house here?" "Well, Jylliene is not here yet...," he said and paused. "But you mean Annisha." Annisha jumped from behind her father. "Boo!" “Hey Annisha. Long time, no see.” Alexis replied sarcastically. "Wait, did I just try to scare a mind reader?" Annisha looked dejected, thinking Alexis knew she was there the entire time. "It has been long time," she continued in clear earshot of her father, who believed she had never left her room after the broadcast. Alexis giggled. “I didn’t read your mind, but I can detect your presence nearby. You’ll have to try harder than that,” she replied smiling, sauntering over to Annisha. “So, what’s for dinner?” she asked. "He's fixing noodles, vegetables and protein on this large stove thing. Said he had to modify the fire suppression so it would not kill the flame.” “Hmm sounds delish,” replied Alexis tentatively as she peaked into the living area. “So, who else is coming? Ooh, and is that the Captain there? Your father must be making something fancy.” She latched onto Annisha’s waist. "I dunno what he's making. It a big stove is all I know. He said his mother made him cook. She was often on the other side of their farm." Annisha placed her hand over Alexis' clutching hand. "He, let's go see my room. I don't think you've been there. Come on.." Alexis needed no coaxing and the bedroom door slammed behind them. "Whew, thought Annisha was going to hang around me while cooking. Bless her friend." Nijil continued to cut up fungus. "Captain, you are being quiet. I am not keeping you from something am I?" “Not at all, SubCommander. I’m observing your process while enjoying your father’s excellent vintage. It’s too smooth to interrupt with words.” She held her glass up, admiring its contents. "Well the plant does not exist anymore, so it's some of the last batch from the homeworld," he said with disappointment. "He is trying again at his new place though, but it will be a bit before it's ready. He chopped and she observed in silence until he once again broke it. "About the misdirected message. I'm glad you are a good sport about it." “Misdirected? Interesting.” She let it hang, as a smirk broke her otherwise stoic expression while she placed her lips to the glass and raised a brow. Nijil diced the last of the vegetables and wondered where Jylliene was; her shift had been over for some minutes. Lots of ships in orbit he thought. "Unless you think the evening could go somewhere. I'm sure Jylliene won't mind, if she ever gets here. Now where..." The door chimed. Nijil sighed in relief, put down his utensils, approached the door, and opened the comm. "I'm not kissing whomever is at my door. I've been burned twice." "Well then you are going to have a very lonely evening sleeping on the floor." It was Jylliene, but Nijil could not tell if she was serious. Opening the door, he went in for a peck on the cheek, but her hand blocked his attempt. "Nah ah, it's my turn to burn." Jylliene walked in and stopped as she saw the captain. "Captain, good to see you. I presume Nijil is trying to court another?" She gave the woman a grin, barely able to hold back a chuckle. Nijil's face turned green with embarrassment. Kirel turned to face him. “You’ve already consulted Captain d’Ka? Has he accepted the agreement?” "D'Ka? Agreement? I have not spoken to him." Nijil had never even met him. “I thought it was customary to consult with the bond-mate before proposing to his significant other. Am I mistaken?” The captain’s expression turned serious, the wine glass cradled in one hand. Clearly nervous and off-guard, Nijil stammered, his hand shaking. "I-I did not consult with anyone. I did not know he was your significant other; my apologies to both of you. I should contact him now to see if this meal is okay." “Unfortunately, the USS Missouri is not in system. However, the meeting can be arranged at his earliest convenience. You should know that he does not respond well to surprises, nor is he prone to sharing.” Kirel exchanged a playful glance with Jylliene. "Okay, okay. Either I will be roughed up by this d'Ka or I'm being played. In any event I am ready to start the grill." He looked around. "Where are the girls?" Giggling came from Annisha's room. At his comm, they jumped and skipped into the room and to their seats. "Jylliene, I'll begin to cook while you get ready." He heard her affirmative from the other room then turned to the Captain. "This protein will taste like chicken, so how do you like yours cooked?" “However you prefer,” she replied graciously. “I am not particular. And,” she spoke in quiet confidence, “do not worry about Captain d’Ka. He is a peaceful man.”
  6. Who Teaches the Teacher? An Amanda Davis and Nijil tr’Korjata Joint Log There’s a fine line between being a teacher and being a crutch. That line blurs when the teacher becomes more of a friend or a buddy than an authoritative leader who can give instruction, guide learning, and correct inappropriate responses and/or behavior. When the teacher is a parent, that line may disappear altogether. All this and more fogged Amanda’s mind as she contemplated the process of teaching Nijil how to teach Annisha. She sighed. Annisha was a highly intelligent child and was much more capable of manipulation beyond the ordinary “winding around her little finger” that young girls tend to do with their fathers. She sighed again. She needed tea. Nijil was due in her sitting room in about ten minutes: just enough time to brew and steep a pot, set the tray, and put out some orange scones. Yes, tea was a good start. It would be a calming influence and something to take their minds off the complexity of the problem. Why in blazes did everything have to be so…. Amanda stopped cold, her hand frozen between the tea kettle and the cups in the cupboard above the stove. Of course. Teaching isn’t the problem, it’s the focus on complexity that clouds the issue. That’s the problem. Nijil probably knows nothing about the syllabus or the complex nature of the curriculum. So why tell him? Instantly, Amanda relaxed. The kettle whistled. The door chimed. “Come in,” she called cheerfully, “I’ll be right with you.” Nijil stood at the door to the counselor’s office. He’d been cleared of the shuttle incident, but surely his fitness for other duties came into question. The review board must have picked up on the intentional firing upon Annisha’s shuttle. Armed with only a PADD mini, he awaited the Doctor to open the door. “Hello, Nijil,” said Amanda as the door opened. “Please... come in. You really mustn’t stand on ceremony for me; you can always come straight in.” “Last time we met I did not stand at all if I remember,” said Nijil in an attempt to lessen his own nervousness. He walked past the threshold and let the door close behind him. “The Captain did not mention a need for counseling. Was there an issue with my logs? This is about me returning to flight duty, isn’t it?” He thought of Annisha. “Wait, what has she done now?” Amanda smiled and drew him toward the settee where the tea table and the scones beckoned. “Relax, Nijil. You’re not here for counseling, you’re here for tea and a nice chat. Milk? Sugar?” “Please,” he sighed. Nijil was delighted to drink hot tea, no doubt not replicated. He sat down and marveled at the pastry. He’d not seen it before. A strange triangle shaped affair, then bit off a corner. When the tea cosy lifted, the rich aroma of freshly brewed whole-leaf English tea filled the room. When she poured the scene mimicked a Victorian tapestry. The furniture had been passed down from that era, as had the fine Royal Doulton china tea set. As usual, Amanda chose to dress to match the setting: an ankle-length flowing skirt and matching silk blouse. “There we are,” she said as she handed him his cup and poured one for herself, then settled into the settee opposite him. “Better?” Nijil nodded as he sipped. “Mmm, yes this is quite strong. The scone you called it, is good as well.” His eyes looked upon her attire. “I did not dress appropriately. An outfit from long ago?” “Only the style, Nijil, not the age. In the afternoons, especially for tea, I like to dress as though I were at home. It’s relaxing. It helps me absent myself from the cares of the day and concentrate on the things that really matter. I hope you do the same at least once during the day, especially now that you are a father.” He bit off more of the scone. “I’ll try to give her a sense of home. Funny, my father asked me if I knew what I was doing. I said yes, but he knew otherwise. I just couldn’t abandon Annisha. Not again. Not into the talons of those two thieves.” He tensed up at biggest regret, took a large sip of hot tea. “Nijil.” Amanda set her cup on the tray and leaned forward a bit. “You could not have known that they were thieves. No one did.” “I suppose not,” he said looking into his cup. “I did not want to make the time for her. Too busy I said. My thoughts were on Jylliene, Lt. Kital.” He finished off the scone and placed the cup down. “From no women to two women in his life,” he mused. The thought amused and terrified him. “I am fortunate they have taken a shine to each other. Annisha is a lot to handle.” Nijil looked off in the distance. “I’ll tell you a secret, Nijil, if you promise never, ever to tell anyone.” He leaned in and instinctively reached for a scanner he did not have to see if the room was bugged. “Yes?” Amanda leaned closer and her voice dropped to a clandestine whisper, like a nosy neighbor about to drop a good tidbit of gossip. “We’re crafty, Nijil. We women are. You’ll never handle us, so you may as well not even try.” He sat there in a bit of shock, reaching for his tea cup. “I’ve been on the receiving end of betrayal, my first e’lev. I’m familiar with some of what you speak, but she paid a high price for her choices. That being said, seeing her dead after the attempted takeover of Aegis brought me no joy.” He drank more Earl Grey. “Annisha is very crafty.” Nijil grinned into his cup, then looked Dr. Davis in the eye. “This is about Annisha isn’t it?” “Annisha certainly is part of it, but more precisely, her education. More tea?” The still-steaming pot hovered over his cup. “Yes.” The tea quite delighted him. “So. About Annisha.” The tea poured rich, the milk and sugar within easy reach. “How are her lessons going?” Nijil perked up. “Her engineering lessons are going very well. I figured I should start with what I know. It covers some math, warp field theory, and how different systems work together. She seems captivated, but I can’t help thinking it’s like shopping for shoes. Er, no offense.” Amanda laughed. “No offense taken, and I think I know what you mean. But,” it took some time for the laughter to subside, “please do enlighten me.” He looked puzzled. “You mean about shoe shopping?” She nodded. “And how it figures into your lessons.” “Oh, as if she wants to please me to the point where she’ll play along, even if it’s boring or undesirable. I should find something she really latches on to and help her with that. However, I think what keeps her interest is how a lot of what I do are tiny puzzles, connected to other puzzles.” Nijil stopped for a moment. “I think she finds joy in solving problems, no matter what they are.” “And have you ever felt that what you are telling her, or teaching her, she already knows?” “The engineering no, but she picks up on things so fast it’s hard to tell the difference.” “Well, one way to tell the difference is to have her play the teacher.” Amanda paused at his reaction, then explained, “If she can teach you and her teaching is valid, then you know she understands. Then you gently push her beyond that. You play the student. Pretend to be ignorant. Make her think. When she comes to the point where she can’t teach you then you know where to begin and what to elaborate on.” Nijil gave the idea some thought. He leaned back on his elbow and held his face in his hand. “This works for areas I’m familiar with, engineering, shuttles, singing...” His mother insisted on his lessons when younger. Despite all of his engineering skills, his voice pleased him greatly. Few knew he could carry a tune, including Jylliene. “I will need to consult reference material for matters of galactic history, culture, and art.” “One step at a time, Nijil. And remember, you will not be the only one teaching her; she will have advanced tutors for culture and art. “But for now, just continue on as you have been with engineering, and, if you don’t mind, I might peep in on you once in a while. Then we can meet if you have any questions or if I have something that might help you… like another scone.” Her smile was sincere and encouraging. Smiling, Nijil added, “These are sweeter than most Rihan desserts. About Annisha, I just hope I’m not retarding her development. I think she’s in a strange emotional state. Not shock, but, I don’t know. She speaks little about her own parents, but I suspect a reason. I’ll ask Jylliene what she thinks about it and report to you. I have more questions, but I don’t wish to carry too many burdens at once.” The engineer finished the last of his tea. Warm and strong, it’s just what he needed.
  7. 1000 Lonely Stars Darkness did not suit her. The warp field outside a rectangular window provided the only light in the room. Very little light. Her mother told her to wait in this room as they had business to attend. “Fine,” she thought. “I’ll bring up the lights.” “Computer, lights.” Nothing. “Computer! Lights!” Nothing, again. Annisha got up from the chair to... “Ouch!” She tripped onto the floor. A thin layer of carpet lined the room and softened her fall. Undeterred, she picked herself up. “Hello?” No response. She put her hands in front of her as she walked forward. Soon her hand pressed against a metal wall. The seam between two plates felt cold against Annisha’s tiny fingers. She moved to the left, keeping her hands on the wall, until she reached what should have been the door. It was as best as she could figure, but her approach did not cause it to open. “Hey!” Annisha shouted. She began to pound on the door with her closed fists. The metal doors were constructed such that very little play allowed sound to travel very far. A person three times her size could not do any better. “I want my mom and dad!” She pounded rapidly, her breathing lined with a bit of panic. Nothing. Her assault against the door ceased. She rested her forehead against the door and closed her eyes. *** “How is she,” the Romulan named Lovan asked. He remained seated in the command chair of the Tecora. He stared at the observation screen, the warp field display a welcome diversion. “She’s...resting in the guest quarters,” spoke Maivei. “In the dark. I’ve been told she’s a clever girl. The darkness will retard any attempt of escape.” Lovan wrinkled his brow. “Surely you disabled all of the room’s devices from which she could gain access.” “Yes, the first thing I did.” She stopped at the foot of the command chair, then turned to look at Lovan. “It has been hours, Annisha will need food and drink. If she arrives ill they will severely reduce our payment, or cut us off altogether.” “Very well,” he said with a sigh. “Feed her something, but neither of us should do it. I don’t want any more emotional attachment than she already has for us.” “I’ll see to it.” Maivei said sharply with a nod. Soon she stepped into the lift and commanded it to head to the galley. *** Nearly an hour had passed since Annisha ceased pounding on the door. She was lead into the room and it opened then. Perhap it was a trick door, only opening one way. Now she merely laid on the bed, curled up with nothing but the calm of the starfield out the window. It has been her only companion during this lonely journey to her new home. Nijil told her this meant she was traveling faster than light itself. Light shifted into the blue when flying towards it, red when it was going away. From the side as Annisha could see it, the streaks remained nearly all white. It looked like... Surprisingly the door hissed open. She was right. Earlier she had reached the door. At its threshold stood a large imposing Rihan. Shoulders broad and a large head to boot. The door closed soon after he stepped through. A tiny sliver of light from the outside shown through to reveal the corridor she walked through hours earlier. “Hello?” She asked into the near darkness. “Food and drink,” boomed the man. The dark allowed her to be night vision adjusted. Even though his uniform black she could see two things: One, a metal tray with a cup and bowl, and two, and most distressing, a gun. He placed the tray on the table near to the door. The metal on glass should hurt her ears considering all of the silence she endured. Annisha winched in response. “Can I see my mom and dad?” She queried into the dark. “No! They are very busy. Eat.” He turned. “But...” Before she could get another question out the he stepped through the door. The hiss it made closing echoed. The girl got out of the bed and made her way to the table. The metal tray felt cold as the door. She felt around carefully for the cup. The water within she welcomed without hesitation. Same for the contents of the bowl. It tasted like oatmeal mixed with dried vegetables. Anywhere else and she would have complained. After about two minutes Annisha gobbled up the food and finished the last of the water. She licked the spoon clean and placed it in the only pocket she had. Seemed the only friend she had now. The trek back to the bed did not result in her running into anything along the way. Again she laid on her side. She curled up as tightly as she might, but kept a view of the window on the other side of the room. The stars now streaked from top to bottom. They reminded her of rain on Romulus, shortly before she left for a field trip off world. The last time she would see her home. Her father spoke of how the universe could be a cruel place even to the best of people. Cruel seemed an apt description of right now. Why, what was happening? Where were her parents? Perhaps they were making preparations for her new home and wanted to surprise her. As much as she wanted to think that, in her heart it seemed unlikely. She felt sleepy, but not before a realization. The stars streaking out her window were not raindrops on a window, but tears from the heavens.
  8. Lost Bloodlines From her vantage on the midway’s second level, Amanda could see two Romulan adults with a young girl who looked very much like Annisha, the Romulan child she had seen with Nijil. The captain was adamant about keeping the children safe, and, lack of parenthood experience aside, it seemed like an enormous task. Still, she would do her best. Annisha seemed preoccupied with her amulet, so Amanda gave her a quick smile and turned to the two adults. “Hello,” she said, nodding in customary Romulan greeting. “I am Amanda Davis, Counselor in residence for the station. Are you Annisha’s adoptive parents?” The as-yet parents looked at each other. “Yes,” the tall male spoke first. “I am Jolar and this is my mate T’Nari.” Both nodded simultaneously. The woman watched Amanda carefully, shifting her glance to Annisha. Jolar continued. “Background checks and other administrative matters delay the adoption, but so is the way of bureaucracy. It is so sad to see so many children left parentless after the Great Fire. T’Nari is unable to have children, so this is our only route. Have you known Annisha long?” “No, not long,” Amanda replied, “but I have watched her quite a bit. She’s very bright, you know. Very capable. I do hope you have plans to further her education in that regard.” Jolar nodded in agreement. “There are indeed good sources of education in the A’Tari system. The fourth planet has a rich agricultural base, but there are others avenues for her to learn as well. I am trained in administration and my mate has background in finance.” He turned and gave a slight smile to her, then turned back to Amanda. “She has lost months of study as it is, so the sooner the papers go through the sooner she can grow.” “Oh, I certainly agree,” said Amanda. “Unfortunately the holdup comes with the horrible devastation of your home world. My deepest condolences.” She paused briefly. “Along with the tremendous loss of life came the loss of records, of course. We are doing our best to get that all sorted out. I hope you understand.” “We both thank you for the words. The loss of life and home is truly regrettable.” Jolar searched for his own words. “I don’t know a single Romulan who did not lose someone or something of value to them. While we are not as passionate as Cardassians in our record keeping, backups are scattered across the colonies. It should be only a matter of time before loose ends, as humans say, get tied up.” T’Nari remained silent, her attention now towards Annisha. She studied her movements and mannerisms. “Our transport will be here in a few days. We are hopeful that within that time all can be finalized.” Jolar smiled once more. His smile seemed genuine enough, but for a moment Amanda’s attention was drawn briefly to Annisha, still toying with the amulet. “I’m sure you are excited to get a child, T’Nari. It will be so wonderful for your house.” “Our house will indeed benefit from her addition,” a silent T’Nari spoke. She bent down and urged Annisha to come over. “When we saw this rare element of a child without a home how could we not consider her. Intelligent, active, and those hazel eyes.” She seemed to be tearing up. Jolar placed a hand on her shoulder and muttered something. The Romulan woman turned and nodded at him. “I’m so sorry, T’Nari. I didn’t mean to upset you. Yes, she is a beautiful child and I’m sure you will be a wonderful mother.” “Yes, and thank you. Jolar says we need to head back to our quarters. If you will excuse us.” She turned to Annisha and gave her a hug. “Hold on tight to the amulet; it’s been in my family for a long time.” T’Nari kissed Annisha farewell then stood alongside her mate. “Jolan tru Amanda Davis,” said Jolar. “Jolan tru, Jolar and T’Nari.” Amanda watched them leave, then turned toward the small hand that suddenly clung to her skirt. “They seem wonderful parents, Annisha. I imagine you’re quite excited.” Annisha looked up. “Well, they told me of their home and all of the kids there. Lots of farming. My Nijil said his mother and father were farmers.” She twirled the amulet in her hand. “Waiting is the hardest part.” “Oh, yes. Waiting certainly is the hardest part. And you know what the hardest thing to wait for is?” Amanda’s eyes danced with excitement as she crouched to Annisha’s level. “What?” “Ice cream, of course! Oh, I can never wait for ice cream! Vanilla and strawberry, and especially chocolate. And I believe it’s just about that time to have some, Annisha, don’t you?” Annisha was already jumping up and down. “Oh oh, yes please.” She kept her gaze firmly on Amanda. “Where is it?” “Well, what luck! It’s right over here. Come on.” Hand in hand, within minutes they were seated at the latest midway addition, Kimbal’s Ice Cream Parlor, a replica of the old earth ice cream parlors of the early 20th century, complete with marble bar and soda fountain. Soon they had their favorite cherry-topped chocolate sundaes in tall, fluted glass dishes before them, long spoons in their hands and whipped cream adorning their lips. Half way down the dish their eagerness subsided, each taking a little more time between spoonfuls, which gave Amanda an opening to casually ask some important probing questions. “Annisha, what do you think of your new parents?” “They are nice. She is always bending down to talk to me. My new mom asks a lot of questions.” Annisha swallowed another bite. “He’s very quiet. Still nice.” “Do you believe they’ll be a good replacement for your real parents?” “Well, no, but they are all I have.” “I imagine your real parents were wonderful people.” Amanda licked her spoon casually as she waited for Annisha’s reaction. “Yes, they took me all over ch’Rihan. Parks, zoos, musty museums...lots of places. A whole lot of walking.” Annisha pushed her spoon deeper into the sundae, half of the utensil now buried. “Really? So did my parents did when I was your age.” She took another spoonful, savoring it immensely. “We went to the natural history museums - which were my favorite - and to the art museums, adorned with absolutely gorgeous paintings. Those were my mother’s favorites. What were your favorite places?” “Well...there’s a zoo at the capital with only birds in it. A large dome.” Annisha motioned with her hands. “Tiny birds, walking birds, birds of prey.... There are even birds you can ride if you are small enough.” She smiled broadly. “I was always small enough to ride them. Oh, I liked the places with the painted pictures. Some of them were scary. Monsters or people killing monsters.” Amanda shivered in feigned anxiety, picking at her sundae. “Oh, I remember some of those, too. And have your new parents said anything about going to museums and other places? Have they told you anything about your new home?” “Nomm,” Annisha said with a mouth full of cold ice cream. “Only a nice quiet home, kids in town, farms as far as the eye can see.” She cocked her head to the side and thought for a moment. “I don’t think much else. Just how much they look forward to getting me there.” “... and your new school,” Amanda added enthusiastically. “I’m sure they’re excited about getting you into your new school.” “I guess. They said there’s a school there. It’s been fun not going to school, but I miss my friends.” Annisha stared into her remaining treat while licking the remainder on her spoon. “Well, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of new ones,” said Amanda on a note of anticipation. “Finish up, now. Ms. Isha may come looking and get jealous that you’ve had ice cream and she hasn’t.” Annisha nodded with excitement and ate the rest of the sundae in no time. “Do you think my Nijil will get back before I have to go? He could not tell me where he was going.” “I certainly hope so, Annisha. I certainly hope so.”
  9. “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” It seemed to Captain Chirakis that the Rihan child known simply as Annisha had a facility for swift computation of statistics, compiling complex bits of data for evaluation and making accurate conclusions even more quickly than some of the seasoned operatives with which she worked. As Annisha continued to assemble the bits of Aegis available to her on the view screen, the captain decided to up the ante by secretly removing two or three puzzle pieces. “I think your game is broken,” Annisha said with no change of expression. She tilted her head to view a piece of the station propped at a strange angle on the display. “Oh, this needs flipped.” The tiny exterior section of the outer hull was indeed flipped the wrong direction. Changing this however still left an incomplete version of the station on the screen. Annisha sat motionless and looked quizzically at what she had remaining. "If it is broken, then, to save the lives of those on the station, we must determine why it is broken, then formulate a strategy to fix it," the captain replied, mirroring the young engineer's concerned and puzzled expression. "Perhaps a three dimensional puzzle will clarify the problem." Kirel tapped the board to modify the image. "Ah,” she vaguely pointed, “do you see it?" “No,” Annisha answered, her voice trailing off. “I, um...wait.” She brushed her black hair back with her hand to get it out of her face, studied the additional dimension further, then started to manipulate the controls. In what looked like an ancient 3D Tetris game, the pieces began to fall into place. Not every attempt was successful and a few times she dug herself into a hole. She let out grunts at failed attempts, but kept at it. This diversion sucked her in. Minutes passed. Annisha hardly noticed the time, nor the Bajoran watching her. “I’m thirsty,” she said in the middle of moving a large piece with her fingers. She could be clever with puzzles like these, especially when it did not feel like a test. Everything stopped as she rubbed her eyes and wrinkled her nose, then resumed. Annisha let out a raspberry sound with her lips. “Oh...” When Annisha turned, a glass of water sat within reach. The girl grabbed the glass without lifting her gaze on the display. “Hmm...,” mused Kirel. “Why did I not think of that? It’s the obvious solution, and quite simple.” The child definitely had some kind of education, and possibly advanced. Moreover, she had been encouraged to explore. Aristocratic or high-ranking diplomatic family. Only they would have regularly used the vocabulary and high Rihan dialect Kirel had been speaking. Only they would have encouraged her in this type of education. If not, the child was either precocious or truly brilliant. “I believe it’s time to progress to the next step, Annisha. Are you ready?” “Next step?” She asked peering up. She then gave a brief smile and appraised her work. Her eyes danced around the outline of the station. When she arrived the true nature of Aegis had been hidden behind bulkheads. This station soon would be a memory as another transport sped her off to a new life on A’Tari. Not enough time to learn all of the kid-only hiding place. “I’m ready,” she mumbled as if in trouble. What did she know? “Then I have another surprise for you. A sanctuary into which few are admitted.” The Rihan vocabulary increased in difficulty. Kirel watched Annisha for signs of comprehension. “My office, wherein resides an athenaeum of documents and assorted paraphernalia that should be very interesting, especially for one of your caliber.” A button on the console erased the puzzle and brought up another outline of the station. Kirel gave one command. “Three-dimensional solid, one meter by one meter, non-permeable manipulative, monochromatic, materialize on the command office floor, central area,” she paused to consider, “difficulty seven.” She turned to Annisha. “Come.” “Toys?” she asked. “I had those. But I have drawings back at my bed. They gave me some paper. I can get them.” She got out of her seat and brushed back her hair again, its length had started to annoy her. She followed behind Kirel and got her first real view of her attire. “Why do you dress like a Tal Shiar person?” “Do I?” Kirel turned, bemused, as the office door opened. “I hadn’t thought of it that way. But now that you mention it, I suppose my uniform does resemble one. If you’re referring to the black,” she paused as the doors closed behind them, “I am a Starfleet officer but I work for a very special branch of Starfleet, a branch that wears black uniforms.” “Ohhhh,” was all Annisha could muster as she looked all around. Her excitement got a hold of her and she rushed to every corner to get a closer look. Every place she’d been since the Great Fire was plain and merely functional. Even her hero’s place seemed boring by comparison. “What’s this?” She pointed to the pieces of a puzzle in the middle of the room. Then she walked right in the middle of the numerous pieces and started grabbing each one. “What do you believe it to be?” “Something you put together? A house?” Annisha placed a piece on her head. She then took the piece and played with it in her hands. With her other hand she grabbed a piece on the floor and hooked it to the other one. “Look.” showing her accomplishment to Kirel. The captain turned from the bar, drinks in hand. “Excellent. I wonder if all the pieces fit together like that. And when you’re ready, I have some Romulan ginger ale for you.” “I have to put this together?” Kirel shrugged, setting the child’s glass on the coffee table close to her. “You do not have to do anything. You can sit and watch them put themselves together if you wish, but that may take a very long time. I’m sure they would appreciate some assistance.” She sat in an armchair and pressed a button, bringing Dr. Davis to the small viewscreen on her desk. Pressing a finger to her lips, Kirel pointed to Annisha, who seemed completely absorbed with the puzzle. “I’ve done this before, first you lay out all of the pieces so you can see what you have.” She began to arrange the pieces apart from each other. She sat in the middle of the pile and arranged them radially in circles around her. “This looks like a bird,” she said of a piece resembling such. A minute passed and she had placed all of the pieces out where she wanted. “Hmm.” She laid herself flat on the floor staring at the arrangement for a time. In short order the Rihan girl had moved pieces together appearing to be similar shapes. She wrinkled her forehead as she has seen something like this before. “These fit together like plates,” she observed, holding one-half a plate in each hand. She held them in midair as she looked on the floor for other pieces. She knelt, “Here’s one...and another.” She stacked the plate-shaped pieces into a pile. She spotted another piece, grabbed it and sat down with it. “Are we here?” “I am here. Are you?” She smirked, sipping her ale. “You are home, I am not,” she said, manipulating the piece for the tip of the station. The girl poked at the very top of the piece, an antenna relay or something. She smiled as the realization of all this hit. So many pieces. She’d never seen something this large or complex. A tinge of worry that she’d not get this finished crossed her mind. Her stomach growled and her mouth dry. “I think I need that drink now, please.” “The one on the table?” The captain pointed to the glass that had been sitting close to Annisha while she had absorbed herself in the puzzle. “Perhaps something to go with it?” Embarrassed, she grabbed the glass and took a long drink. “I think I may need more. This is a big puzzle,” she explained, spreading her arms wide and almost spilling her drink. “And big puzzles need more concentration, which can quickly drain your body of energy,” Kirel replied. “Computer, some of Dr. Davis’s cream scones, with chocolate bits for energy, on the table next to her.” Within seconds the plate materialized along with another glass of ginger ale next to the one Annisha had just drained. Annisha nearly jumped out of her skin and pounced on the treats before her. “Mmmm.” She ate quickly and started in on the puzzle before her. The universe around her shrank to encompass only the puzzle, and the occasional drink. After several hours’ work, the nine-year-old Rihan child had accomplished what should have been impossible for her age. Slowly, carefully, but not without a little frustration, she had completed a level seven difficulty puzzle of Sky Harbor Aegis, one intended to judge the manipulative ability and concentration of prospective station engineers - minus a few intricacies, of course. Kirel was nothing short of astounded, but refrained from showing it. Instead, she replicated another, smaller version, at the next level of difficulty, placed it in an Aegis satchel, and handed it to her before escorting her back to the orphanage.
  10. (Joint log, Jylliene and Annisha [Nijil] - SD 2387.174, night) Stepping out of the shower, Jylliene wrapped a towel around herself. It felt strange to be getting ready for bed after already having slept much of the day away - that ale had quite a kick - but she did want to try to keep to her normal sleep schedule. She walked to her wardrobe and looked through her pajamas. Reaching for a cozy pair, she stopped, her eyes falling on a recent purchase, and instead selected her new red silk nightgown and matching robe. She had purchased it with other things in mind, admittedly - but she wasn’t going to pass it up for a restful night. A little luxury before the mission. She stretched out on the couch, a fresh cup of tea - ginger and jasmine - cradled in her hands. “Computer - music, Jylliene ambient three.” The sounds of Trill flute and Vulcan harp blended in a light, soothing harmony that Jylliene found utterly relaxing. Up and down the corridors, crew members were abuzz with activity, packing and making ready to move to the Aegean or the Narada as per the crew assignments SubCommander Jorahl had given her the previous day to send out. Indeed, Jylliene was already packed as well, her bag in the corner, near the door. She was unwinding now - grabbing a night of tranquility before who knows what, assuming she was indeed still to be on the Aegean. She hadn’t heard otherwise yet. The door chime rang. Nijil? Or someone with a change in her assignment? “Come in.” A little Rihan girl stood at the doorway. Brown eyes framed by straight black hair looked up at the Trill. “Hello? Is this Nijil’s quarters?” Jylliene smiled warmly at her. “No, he’s down the corridor. Would you like me to take you to his door?” “I tried others doors and he wasn’t there either, guess he’s a busy man,” Annisha continued. Without a prompt she walked in, found the closest chair, and plopped herself down on it. “I’m Annisha.” “I’m Jylliene. Let me find out where he is for you, sweetheart.” She tapped the panel on the table. +Nijil+ “Jylliene to Nijil. Annisha is looking for you.” The female voice of the computer answered, “Sub-Centurion tr’Korjata is not onboard the station.” Jylliene pondered this. “Odd, it should have gone to his personal communicator if he wasn’t on board.” She looked over at Annisha. “Is there anything I can do for you?” “Where did he go Jyllie?” “I’m not quite sure - I imagine he may be working on one of the docked ships. That might put him out of range of the communicator.” Perhaps he’s moving that shuttle, she thought to herself - she imagined that if it were cloaked, they might get that response. “He told me he fixes things, but you do not. What do you do?” She flexed her legs in the chair she sat in. Her eyes looked all around. “I’m one of the operations officers. I monitor incoming and outgoing ships, communications, who is working where, and so on.” She paused. “Would you like something to eat or drink?” “Oh, do you have anything sweet, but not that tea?” Annisha looked excited at the prospect of not having dried leaves shoved in a cup. “Of course. Hmmm...” Jylliene scanned through a suggestions list on the display of the replicator. “Hot chocolate?” She glanced at Annisha. “Have you had that before?” She turned her nose slightly. “Tea is hot too. Sounds bitter.” “Hm. Ice cream soda?” “Ice dream soda! I’ve heard of that. No...what is it?” Jylliene pulled up the description. “Let’s see...ice cream, mixed with seltzer water, with any desired flavors - strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla are the most traditional - topped with whipped cream.” Annisha got out of her chair now. “That one. Ie, ie.” The translator had trouble with her last excited phrases. Jylliene grinned. “Which flavor?” “Choocoolatte.” “Chocolate it is.” The woman gave the commands to the replicator, which produced the drink. Jylliene took it over to Annisha and handed it to her. “Enjoy,” she said, smiling. Not knowing exactly what to expect from this drink, she took a big suck through the straw. Her face turned a different shade. “It hurts...ewww. It’s tasty though.” She kept on with the drink. “Did you hear? Someone’s taking me in! They said it could take a while. Something about tape.” “Nijil mentioned it, yes. He said you were very excited,” Jylliene replied with a smile. She felt a pang of sadness, though - somewhere in the back of her mind, she had briefly pictured the girl as being adopted by Nijil - and perhaps being hers as well one day. “I’m very glad to hear it.” “The dad seemed very quiet, stood back talking to other grownups. My mom talked all about the Tari planet. The farms, trees and open air. Lots of kids.” She studied her drink with genuine curiosity. The sound of slurping could be heard from the bottom of the glass. Jylliene nodded. “I looked up the planet on my console. It sounds like a wonderful place. I’m sure it will be nice to be able to play outside and to have a home again.” She remembered the evening in the arboretum. It WAS nice to be around trees and flowers. You could almost forget you were on a station. She liked the station, but there was something calming about natural surroundings. Annisha’s eyes widened as she remembered something. “Can you give this to Nijl? I stole back the knife from the medical place so he’d have something to remember me by.” She presented the knife once embedded in Nijil’s back. It had a makeshift bow on it. Jylliene stifled a laugh. “I’m sure he’ll be very happy you thought of him.” She accepted the knife and laid it on her table. “I’ll give it to him as soon as I see him. He still has the picture you drew for him hanging up in his quarters.” She grinned at the girl - and wondered how she managed swiping it. She’d tell Dabi just to see his reaction, if she weren’t afraid of getting Annisha in trouble with him. She smiled a big smile and let out a burp. “What? Ow. That hurt.” She put the empty glass on the table then bolted for the bed. “Wheee!” she cried and plopped on the blanket. Jylliene laughed. “Is there anyone who will be looking for you tonight? Will you be expected back anywhere? I should tell them where you are so that they don’t worry.” “They don’t know I’m gone. Two pillows and a ball are sleeping in my bed,” she replied, jumping up and down. The woman was actually beginning to get a little worried about whomever was directly overseeing the children. “You are certainly a very resourceful young lady,” she said, watching the girl. “Adults keep on telling me I’m too much a smarty. I like to watch people. I watched Nijil open a door once. One seven three three two. One seven three three two.” Jumping and jumping she went. Higher and higher, until she landed on her back on the safety of the bed. “You’d be a perfect engineer - or perhaps security officer - with those observational skills of yours.” Smiling, she replied, “I’d like to be a thought-stealer, like that one lady.” Jylliene thought about that. A thought-stealer? “The one with the little device on the side of her head? Or was it one of the people in medical?” “I never got her name. She doesn’t speak with her mouth. It’s weird.” Jylliene nodded. “Commander Ramson. I’ve had the privilege of serving under her on a ship a couple of times.” The girl appeared a bit shocked. “She knew I thought she was weird.” The Trill grinned. “Well, I don’t think that’d necessarily be an unusual thought for someone to have, if they haven’t met a Minaran before. I’m sure she wasn’t offended. She’s always been very nice when I’ve spoken with her.” “I,” she yawned. “Sure she did.” Annisha remained sprawled across the bed. “Do you need me to get you back so that the pillows and ball aren’t found in the morning?” Jylliene asked. “I don’t want to get you in trouble with security.” “What pillows? Oh, the me pillows. That’d be nice. Oh.” Annisha nearly hurt herself yawning once more. Her eyelids were harder for her to keep open. Her movements slowed to nil. “Nijil said...” Looking at the sleeping girl, the woman added in a whisper, “Or you can stay here, and I’ll take you back in the morning. Your choice - which I think you’ve already made.” She stood up, and pulled a blanket over Annisha, then sat back down at her console and sent a quick message to security. “If those in charge of the orphans realize they’re missing one - Annisha showed up here and is asleep in my quarters. I will see her safely back in the morning. -Lieutenant Jylliene Kital” Jylliene got another cup of tea and reclined on her couch. There was something that felt decidedly right about the girl being there. She hoped that her adoptive family felt similarly.
  11. A Little Girl and a Strong Woman Nijil and Annisha headed down to the midway without Jylliene. The Rihan girl had more questions. Some he could answer, others embarrassing to contemplate. The life could not more fast enough. They grabbed their two drinks at a place down the walkway from that bar and sat. “So, Trills have those spots on their bodies…do they go all the way down?” Annisha asked in the middle of Nijil’s mouthful. Choking, “As far as I know they do. I do not have first-hand experience.” He held it together, finishing his slug. “And that thing, inside them,” she continued, “Does she have one of those insider her wiggling around, eating her insides?” “What? Certainly not. The thing a symbiote and does not eat a Trill’s inside. As for the wiggling, I don’t know. I’ve never asked her.” Too bad his drink did not contain alcohol he thought. “I bet it does,” a smiling Annisha said as she sucked up her drink through a long winding straw. Her eyes crossed and she twitched her head. “Oh, oh. My head hurts.” She closed her eyes now. “It’s a ‘brain freeze’. The discomfort will pass,” he said with a grin. “If you are finished I can take you back to the temporary orphanage.” The girl looked disheartened. “Aww. Can’t I stay with you?” He did not know how to answer, though he should have realized she might ask. Time froze for him before he replied. “I’d like for you as well, but this is not the time. I just can’t.” His answer felt dismissive. So many children who would never see their parents again. So many Federation races who may possibly turn their backs to Rihans in need. “We will talk about this later, okay?” With big eyes, she nodded. He got up, took her hand and headed back to the orphanage. Neither of them spoke on the way back. The engineer remained in a bit of shock at her asking him. She walked with an air of disappointment. Another rejection by the closest friend she had. For all of the fortune passing his way of late he too had few friends. What she found in him other than her hero left him baffled. After minutes of walking and turbolifts, they arrived at the passageway into the orphanage. “Now you behave yourself. I’ll do what I can to find you people to live with.” He bent down and gave her a hug. “Jolan tru Annisha.” “Jolan tru, daehlen,” she said, returning the embrace. She scurried off in the direction of the orphanage’s headmaster. The woman gave him a stern look. Nijil simply nodded and turned to go to his quarters. A long silence marked the walk back. The closer he got to his place the more he thought about Jylliene. What did I see earlier in sickbay? Jylliene’s terse explanation of her injury made little sense. She spoke to her mother and then broke her wrist. Must have been some conversation. Was it some old disagreement? Wait, she mentioned speaking of me. Was it about me? The last thing he wanted to do was mess this up. Not like the last time. Hindsight demonstrated leaving his first love had been the right move. Well, she left him, but it is unimportant now. Plasma out the manifolds. His walk took him past her quarters first. The curiosity rose as he passed each door. Was his thoughts for himself or for her? Was there a difference? How about… There it was. The door. Jylliene’s door. Perhaps if he pressed his ear against it he could hear something. No. He needed to respect her personal space and family relations. He had to know if something he did caused this. Let her calm down. She needed a friend. She is a strong woman. His hand closed in on the door chime. Creeper, give her time. Closer. She is probably resting. Closer still. My e’lev. Millimeters away… Stop. Nijil did stop. He backed his hand away from the chime. He turned and walked to his quarters a few doors down, gave a look back down the hall then entered his place.