Ra'mi was asked to stay after class while the other kids went to study group or lab time, which was the last scheduled class of the day. He initially thought he was in trouble again, and that he had predictably done something wrong of which Mr. Howard would inform him. It seemed there was no end to the rules and cultural nuances of this society.
But he saw the older girl there as well, and reasoned that he was likely not in trouble unless he had done something to offend her. He mentally retraced his steps to recall if he had said anything today that elicited disgusted faces or rolled eyes, and could only think of his assumption that the Juice Beetle on Xalas V was named such because it was juicy and delicious. But he didn't think this older girl was insulted by that. He glanced over at her and then at Mr. Howard as the last of the remaining kids filed out to go to the next room or the holodeck.
Mahi sat and was eating her lunch when the boy Michael walked in and handed Mr. Howard a PADD.
She superstitiously watched Mr. Howard read it, snort something she couldn't quite hear, and see Michael nod.
She realized a moment before he came to sit at her table that it was the only empty seat with anyone over the age of 10. It looked like Keith and her sister were trying to talk over each other again. she felt a little sorry for the other kids their age.
"Hi, this seat taken?" He had a pleasant voice, as well as being the talk of the young adults on Empok Nor for his being in the room during whatever talks had been going on.
"Please,"as he was sitting she supplied, "My name is Mahi, and you must be Michael." He managed to mostly fight back a self conscious blush, but she was good at reading people. She nodded toward what she hoped would be a relatively safe topic. "Is he always this excited? The only time I have seen him slow down was when we were discussing Pre-Federation history."
To her relief Michael laughed. "That is calm for him. At least compared to how he used to be. He loves flying and math. Anything that can incorporate either of those has a chance of holding his interest. If it doesn't good luck."
Mahi sighed. "I wish Mr. Howard luck then. My sister is focused entirely on 'Why?' If you don't know she will hound you until you find out."
Michael took a bite out of the sandwich he had with him and smiled. "Poor Ra'mi. He's going to have a hard time following anything they are talking about for a while then."
Mahi looked at Michael and decided to ask the question, she hadn't wanted to pry on the shuttle they had shared. "He's from the planet where Commander Wendell and Counselor Li were taken isn't he?"
Michael nodded. Mahi let out a soft whistle. "Maybe he could use a tutor?"
Before Michael could finish chewing her screen flashed and she turned bright pink. ~That is an excellent suggestion and from what I have seen today and in your record you would be perfect.~
Jaxa sat in a small alcove in the arboretum. She sat and watched a Ritherian Butterfly move from plant to plant lazily.
She had started to have a dream last night, one that could have been a nightmare. She was singing again. Her pitch and timber were perfect. It was a song she had heard once and had thought of again when she heard that there was going to be a reporter on board.
She had discovered that there was no shortage of people confused by the general crew loyalty towards the Captain. No one had asked her about it since Hellsguard, the ones that didn't understand thought they did. The Captain had saved her and her lover, and now her son, of course she was loyal. That wasn't the reason, but they would never fully understand that.
There was a part of her that was grieving so hard, her songs had been her way of connecting with the people around her. Of letting them know she understood without them needing to know her past.
The voice that had found so much wisdom to share with others, that she was just beginning to believe might be real, was completely silent when she contemplated her voice. It was a valid trade, her singing voice for John and Ra'mi's lives, she knew that through her entire soul.
It didn't stop the tears that she shed at night as she tried to share music with Ra'mi and had to stop herself from singing along. Or when she knew John wouldn't see. Even as something new bloomed inside her she wondered if she could ever be whole again.
The butterfly flew over and Jaxa started slightly at the figure standing there.
Mahi had gotten up early enough to make sure her sister got ready on time and that papa didn't get distracted on his way to duty. His Commander had actually thanked Mahi for that once.
Mahi had had her sister pick out her outfit last night before going to bed, she opened the door to her sister's room and found her there. Mahi closed her eyes for a moment, reminding herself that she was supposed to make things go smoothly this morning and fighting with her would not do that. it would only upset papa and Dayita.
"Morning kiddo, your chapati rolls are waiting for you." Mahi focused entirely on her sister.
"YAY!" Dayita bolted out to the table.
Mahi looked at Her and said, in Bajoran, "I've got getting her ready for school down. Should I start getting breakfast ready for you as well?"
"I can take care of that. When you start getting homework we can sit and rearrange chores." She had answered in Common. Mahi sighed, she could still translate it as, 'I am going to come in and take over, doing what you have done for years, not doing it as well, and being superior about it.'
She walked into the main room and Mahi followed her. As Mahi sat she heard Dayita ask a question that might get an interesting response. "Are you all done at the station Mama?"
Mahi's skin crawled when her sister called this woman that.
"The talks are over. The officials are going home to renegotiate amongst themselves. Ambassador Soran wants me around if they come back to talk to us. Being on the same ship with Captain Tashanas and Ambassador t'Kela pretty much guarantees that." Mahi gave Dayita the 'keep eating' look and her sister dutifully did so.
Jack looked up from the rear console he had been working at when John came to the bridge. He stood and went over to John.
"Could you come into the Captain's ready room with me for a moment?" Jack spoke quietly, but not whispering.
Jack stared at his CO. She had been more nervous about bringing John back on board as an officer than he had, and he had been there for the anxiety attack, he hadn't mentioned that to her at the time. Then it hadn't seemed relevant given her own aprhension.
"Sir, I appreciate your appraisal. However, I watched him collapse from an anxiety attack. The counselor on Bajor expressed concerns about the pressure of being a line officer on him. In reality we were pushing a bit fast before. He hasn't even completed the command line test."
Tashanas raised an eyebrow. "The anxiety attack isn't recorded, did you forget?"
Jack glared at her. "Sir, that anxiety level is also in the Medical reccomendation. That is also beside the point." again the raised eyebrow, he was going to have to deal with leaving that out of his report at some point.
"We are supposed to agree, and he has to pass the test."
She met his eyes, in that look that indicated she was both appraising you and that you were being exceptionally dense to her determination. "The test is a simulation, the person being tested knows it. Ordering someone to their death in a holodeck is not the same thing, you and I both know that. I personally found the test to be insulting, and I suspect that he would as well at this point.
"Hellsguard is not the center of his self-definition anymore. The prophets seem to have shifted his perceptions and connection to self in a way that I might have said was possible over the course of his life, but would not have expected.
"The dance he did tonight reminded me more of Maec as a teenager than the John Wendell of two weeks ago."
Jack stared at her for a moment. Deciding not to bring up the physical limitations expressed in the Medical report.
"You really believe he could stand up and take over if both of us were incapacitated?"
"Yes. He could. He could also order Jaxa or Colleen to do something that would likely kill them if it meant the safety of this ship and crew." He was amazed, there was no doubt, no hesitation, she was as certain of it as she was that they both could give those same orders.
"I have reservations, but I trust your judgement of people sir. I have never known you to be wrong about someone that might pose a threat to your crew. I'll go along with it... IF you agree to hear me out if I see any indication that he can't handle it yet."
To his surprise she nodded. "If you see any indication of that, pull him out then and there, preferably quietly. We will deal with it beyond that if needed. You can explain to him that caveat tomorrow morning in my office."
Jack nodded. "I am due on the bridge in 6 hours sir, and I should get some sleep."
She nodded most of a dismissal. "I'll see you on the bridge at 0630 then."
"Yes sir." He went to his quarters, trying to figure out if he could sleep beyond his own concerns.
Tashanas was looking over the resupply reports, not completely seeing them. Dance class had been useful, but she found herself preoccupied by everything that had happened since walking into the Vice-President's office several months ago, the cascade of emotions, of fury and fear, of relief and determination. So many feelings, so much change in herself.
Then to come back and be expected to just return to the everyday. To resupply reports and run of the mill sector management reports. The Commodore filling in for the Admiral was competent enough, but not as sharp or insightful as the Admiral was. Part of her understood the Admiral and his son, part of her knew that for herself, she would have preferred Maec to be dead to the state the Admiral's son was in.
But she was Rhian, he was Human. Some cultural differences ran past understanding. She looked down and realized that she had not been reading the report in front of her for over ten minutes when the chime to her door rang. She had no idea who or what it was, but anything would be better than the brooding she was doing.
When John walked in she smiled slightly.
"Good evening John. What can I do for you?"
"You've convinced every delegate but Jarra H'Diah, Farr," Jurrah L'Tal stated, his hands folded. He was a Janah, like Farr Sumark was. He was Jurrah of the Southwestern province, which shared a border with Sallah Taan. The two had been allies from the early days of their youth. They had been appointed by the Council of Ten in the same year. They were two of the most powerful of the delegates, as the Northwestern and Southwestern provinces were the largest and held most of the natural resources of Valthealh. However, the province of Kanal'ta, of which H'Diah was Jarra (a feminine title for the same office held by Sumark and L'Tal), had yet to agree to pull out of the negotiations. Their Executive Council was based on unanimous support, and could do nothing without the other delegates all agreeing. They had decided that it must be that way, or they would have civil war, and with the Romulan Empire embroiled in a civil war, their planet could certainly not afford one.
Sumark acknowledged what his longtime friend had said, and glanced out at the stars. "I have no idea why she doesn't agree. The evidence is plain. We should seek humanitarian aid and nothing more. We should not attempt to formally secede, or we will lose our planet."
"And everyone understands that, except H'Diah. This plan of secession was H'Diah's brainchild. It wounds her pride to have the other delegates abandon it."
Sumark sat back, and shook his head. "This goes beyond pride. I'm not sure why, but I think this is far more important to H'Diah than her personal honor. Though that certainly is at stake. This has to do with tactics. She stands to gain if we secede, and lose if we don't. I'm not sure why. But I'm going to have my people look into it, covertly. And I could use your help."
L'Tal agreed readily. "Some of my campaign advisors have already put together some information on H'Diah, as it wasn't clear whether she would seek appointment in Kanal'ta or in my home province. She has dual residency, so she's more than eligible. She has a rather impeccable record, if not a bit truncated. For what reasons I don't know. It makes a thinking person believe she might have something to hide."
"It's very possible she does, old friend." He stood. "Thank you for meeting with me."
"I could hardly refuse," L'Tal said as he stood. "I had nothing to worry about--we regularly meet privately with each other to discuss the business of our continent. This is nothing more than another meeting."
"If anyone is watching, I surely hope they see it that way," Sumark said, and the two exited.
Their three-story townhouse had been retrofitted to accommodate a hoverchair, but after nearly three months of therapy, Brian had decided today that he no longer needed the chair. He had taken his first steps back at Starfleet Medical two and a half weeks ago. But he had still needed the hoverchair for navigating stairs, for long distances, and for when he tired out at the end of the day. The end of the day had yet to come, but so far, he had been insistent upon walking.
And that was not the only thing unique about today. As Brian's language skills improved, and he engaged in daily neuro therapy, his mental age and his expressive abilities improved. A week and a half ago, when he had fully comprehended for the first time that he was rescued by the Gadsden, and that he was a Starfleet Officer, he had made the suggestion of thanking Captain Tashanas. The suggestion a week and a half ago had been a poorly-constructed sentence uttered in an insistent, whiny tone. Jonah had told him firmly that it was not yet time for him to make a recording. But like most children, Brian didn't forget about his plan. A week ago, his juvenile request had not changed, but the tone was more mature. Three days ago, it came with a "please". Today, Brian sounded so much like himself that it gave Jonah chills.
"Dad, I want to contact Captain Tashanas to thank her."
He had nearly dropped his PADD. It was a grammatically correct sentence, stated without much slurring, and with a firm but polite...almost *confident* tone. It was slightly short-lived, because only an hour later at breakfast Brian had freaked out about his oatmeal touching his other food. But before lunch, Jonah asked him again, "Brian, would you like to record a note for the Captain?"
His eyes lit up. He nodded vigorously. Jonah smiled, and acquiesced. "I'll get a console ready for you. Practice what you think you want to say."
A half hour later, Brian nervously sat down in front of the console. His fine motor skills were still not quite good enough to accurately hit the smaller buttons on the display, so Jonah did it for him. The video began recording.
"Captain Tashanas, this is Brian Steinberg," he said, only mispronouncing his "r" slightly. "R's" were hard. "I wanted...to thank you..." he paused, even though he had practiced exactly what he wanted to say. He seemed to still have to think about it. "I'm a Starfleet Officer," he stated. "And you brought me back...so I could be well. With Dad. Thank you." He looked up at his father, who smiled and placed a hand supportively on Brian's shoulder, trying not to get emotional. He ended the recording.
"You did really well," he said, and then pulled Brian into a hug. Brian hugged his father in return, not noticing Jonah's tears.
The Admiral sent the video to Tashanas with the following note:
Brian is walking autonomously now. He's progressing faster than they thought he could. He insisted on sending this to you. He's talked about it consistently for a week and a half, which in and of itself is an excellent sign. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you did for him and for our family.
John was alone this morning. Colleen had let him sleep in, as he was utterly exhausted. When he awoke, she had left a note saying she had taken Keith to school before her shift started, and provided there was no disaster or he didn't have plans, she would gladly have lunch with him.
He would begin his observational duty tomorrow, but had the day to settle in. He was pleased this morning when his leg didn't hurt at all and he knew physical therapy this afternoon would be easier because of it. As he ate his breakfast alone, he pondered all he had experienced on Bajor, trying to understand what the Prophets had told him. He couldn't quite get his mind around what it all meant...it was too much to process. But he did understand dancing for his father.
Surprising himself with the resolve with which he decided, he made plans to contact Meredith, the counselor who had done his evaluation. He had never had a grandmother before, but it seemed to him that the decision was like deciding to call a grandparent instead of a counselor. Heck, if he did have a grandmother, she would probably look a lot like Meredith.
No longer truly worried about what might go on his record, he began the secured subspace transmission to her office.