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Divine Interventions & Intentions

Posted on Mon Oct 7th, 2019 @ 8:49am by Ensign Briaar Gavarus & Ensign Fiona O'Dell & Petty Officer 2nd Class 'Big Ethel' Jablonski & Hera

Mission: Family Detention
Location: USS Hera, Deck 10, 10-Forward
Timeline: 2396 - While the command Crew of the Hera is off-ship to rescue the Dox's.

It had been weeks now since the event that had been infamously referred to by the crew of the Starship Hera as 'The Thunderchicken Incident'. Since the experimental craft went on a bizarre rampage of sorts, stomping down the corridors with no pilot and wreaking havoc in the ship's main lounge. What wasn't common knowledge to most of the crew was that cause: The remnant neural patterns and active dreaming of its remote pilot, Ensign Fiona O'Dell.

In the days following the incident in which O'Dell's crewmate and partner in the ship's R&D Department, Ensign Briaar Gavarus, was grievously injured, the two inseparable friends became far more than friends. The unlikely duo had become something of an official, if unconventional couple, having finally decided in the wake of an almost-tragedy, to admit their feelings for each other. It was weird.

Weirder still was how the two finally came to realize that their affection for each other had become more than a close friendship. It happened while Briaar Gavarus... was on a date. A date with the woman that had been the object of her affections for months, Petty Officer Ethel Jablonski. And as that date ended, much was left unsaid between the two. It had become clear that Gavarus and O'Dell had strong feelings and Jablonski recognized this and left to leave the pair to suss out those feelings and let her know later.

Of course, that was an awkward conversation that the porcine Engineer, Gavarus had been avoiding like the swine flu. And even though it had become fairly obvious amongst the crew that Gavarus and O'Dell were an item now, she still felt like she owed Ethel an explanation or something. Because in those long weeks since that date, a lot more than O'Dell and her beginning to see each other romantically had happened.

"Fee!!! We've got a warp core breach, here! Do you have the diaper bag?" Gavarus shouted, holding out the literally getting bigger by the day, gurgling Minotaur baby, Minerva Carrott. Officially, the adopted daughter of the ship's nurse John Carrott and his wife Amy, the impossibly cute little ball of fur, nubby horns, and bodily functions had become the pair's defacto child. Amy Carrott's own actual pregnancy had been extremely difficult, and the couple was struggling to care for themselves and their own newborn, so Gavarus and O'Dell began pitching in to help with babysitting. But along the way, they had fallen madly in love with the miniature manure machine and had serious intentions of wanting to make their current status as her caregivers more official. They wanted to adopt Baby Minerva.

The Odd Couple was in the process of becoming the Odd Family.

“ACH! How does something so tiny make so much manure?!?” Fiona railed as she snapped out an absorbent blanket, tossing it onto the deck beneath the bovine babe to catch the leaks, then donned some heavy-duty rubber gauntlets the duo now packed as a matter of course in the cow-print diaper bag Fiona had sewed to carry their childcare accouterments. Sliding on the safety goggles- also an unusual addition to a standard diaper bag, but a necessity in the case of the mischievous miniature minotaur. After all, she had a habit of trying to make a bigger mess once she had started one.

“Alreet, armored up, chammie at the ready, diaper disposal at the ready… cut it loose and let’s get her changed!” Taking the infant from Gavarus with a grunt of effort, Fiona took her to the deck and started working even as Gavarus dug into the diaper bag for more wipes and disinfectant mixed with conditioner so as not to chafe the delicate furred skin of the barnyard baby.

Not a sight one anticipated seeing in the corridors of deck 10. But then, the towering Tellarite and the Mariposian midget were not a sight most expected to encounter, forget about changing a beast baby in the corridors of Deck 10. Yet there they were.

"I'm going to guess it has something to do with how often she eats. Frickin' kid is like the mouth that lived. She's like a personal singularity." Gavarus griped as she began attending to little Minerva's bottom. As she did, the furry baby let out a gurgly raspberry as if she knew they were complaining about her. And it had the proper effect in instantly making the typically touchy Tellarite do an emotional 180.

"Awww... I didn't mean nothing, Minnie Moo! You keep on eating and growing up to be a big girl, yes you do!" Gavarus cooed in baby talk.

“Ye know, there’s bugger all in the database aboot baby Minotaurs. I wish I knew what was normal and what’s not for her,” O’Dell remarked as she fished out a new diaper and prepped it for the arrival of a furry bottom. “I mean, I know babies eat like houses and poop like it’s their job, but I just wish we had a bit more to go on than ‘It’s how it was with me relatives so must be right’, aye? I mean, we dinna even know what she’s supposed to be eating, how much she’s supposed to weigh, how fast she’s supposed to grow. The only thing I could find was this hate-filled document from a Commander that used to serve on the Hera aboot giant nasty versions that were apparently a scourge of the universe not too long ago. But that’s nae you, mah wee moo, aye? Aye? Aye?”

As the pair finished up like the well-oiled machine they were quickly becoming, the powdered Minnie's bottom, applied a fresh diaper and disposed of the bio-hazard. All the while Minerva was giggling and trying to grab as much of Fiona's bright red curls as she could in her tiny, three-fingered grip.

"Yeah, no frickin' way. Minnie's not that at all. That was a bunch of bullshit." Gavarus scoffed, re-packing the custom made diaper bag as they got ready to move on. "I mean, she seems really happy. She's not throwing anything we feed her up and she's still good and baby-pudgy. So we must be feeding her at least okay. But, yeah. It would be nice to... like... know and not just guess and hope we're not messing her up."

“Aye. I guess we could ask Medical to do some research, but if that’s all they got then we’re back to square one and we look like incompetent- uh, babysitters,” Fiona chose the word carefully, as they may have felt like parents to the little bundle, but they were, in fact, not. Thus she was hesitant to extend the label to them, as there was still a distinct possibility that they would not gain guardianship of the small spacefarer, which would be heartbreaking to both of them. Which Fiona questioned only slightly, as apparently Mother Nature didn’t care if you were well-equipped to be a parent- sometimes it just happened.

Grunting with the effort, O’Dell heaved the burbling bundle onto her bony hip. Bouncing the toddler cheerfully, she smiled as Minnie stuffed some of Fiona’s hair into her mouth, where everything that wasn’t too big to fit went. “Alreet ye little weightlifting aid, let’s get to the pub where we can put ye in a high chair, and me too, and your mums- ach, I mean, yuir aunties kin get a drink.”

Pulling the diaper bag up over her shoulder, Briaar scrunched her face slightly. She was exactly as conflicted over the idea that they might have to give little Minnie back as her pint-sized partner and just as worried about it. Because when it came right down to it, while Minnie might not have been their child, the fuzzy little bundle owned the two of them and it often looked like she knew it

Instead, Gavarus didn't say anything to add to the stress and followed Fiona's lead to Ten-Forward, smiling down at the two the entire time.

Entering 10-Forward, the duo who were renowned as troublemakers and roustabouts had changed very little with the addition of a third to their partnership. Instead, they simply brought the child with them to the pub, as Fiona insisted on referring to it, and the baby made her own obnoxious habits and harassment to complement her unlikely caregivers. Thus as the trio entered, the crestfallen expressions on the faces of the servers was compounded even more than before.

Making their way across the expansive lounge, O’Dell chose her third favorite table, because of course she had favorites ranked by the view and access to the bar and bathrooms. As they moved to their seats Gavarus signaled one of the servers, who knew he could bring them a high chair for their charming charge, or be harassed endlessly by the prickly porcine engineer. When they slid into their seats after getting Minerva settled into hers, O’Dell spotted a hulking figure hunched over a Padd, two fingers typing at it with what was clearly considerable concentration. Frowning slightly, the starship sprite tapped her partner’s beefy forearm.

“There’s Big Ethel over there… ye know, we nivvir did talk to her after I went and ruined yuir date. We should probably try to talk with her and clear the air so it’ll be less awkward, aye?” Seeing the expression on Gavarus’ face as she spoke, Fiona began unbuckling Minnie from her chair bondage. “Ye can carry Minnie- No one would hit a lady carrying a baby. Or you for that matter..."

Shooting Fiona a somewhat predictable stink-eye at the barb, Gavarus took the gurgling, smiling bundle and plugged her onto her prodigious hip. "I... I guess. I mean... I don't know what to say. It's not you that ruined the date. It was my fault... I kept talking about you and... how mad do you think she's gonna be? I feel like shit about how that all .. I mean... I was pining for her for... @#$&!"

At Gavarus' curse, little Minnie mimicked the blonde Tellarite's scrunched, serious face and blurted out "FRBBBBBBBB!"

“I think if she was mad at ye then you would know it by now. Or the pieces that were left of you would. C’mon ye great Nellie, I’ll do the talkin’ and I’ll protect ye.” Grinning at her partner in crime, the pixie pilot hopped down to the floor and began striding in her odd double-time locomotion over to where the gentle giant of Security was sitting.

“Sayyyyyy, Ethel… can we… talk?” O’Dell asked shyly as they approached. While often fearless, Fiona was always a bit nervous around people considerably larger, and Ethel Jablonski was the most massive woman on the starship Hera. Standing 2.2 meters tall and weighing in at an easy 200 kilos, the massively muscular humanoid was one of the sentients onboard who naturally made Fiona O’Dell a bit nervous, given her own stature of not even a meter and a half tall and weighing in at a whopping 40 kilograms. But while the security officer was large and powerful, she seemed to have a gentle soul and a patient demeanor that belied her stature. Which was what O’Dell was counting on today.

As she looked up, Jablonski took in the sight of the mop of crimson curls, and the tellarite who was trying to hide behind a Minotaur baby. Glancing from one to the other, Big Ethel, as she was referred to by many, gestured expansively to the booth in which she was seated.

“Why don’t you come have a sit-down and we can chat, sure,” the gentle giantess offered as she bilked a bit, clearly refocusing her concentration.

“What’r ye writin, Jablonski?” O’Dell chirped curiously as she hopped into the booth and scooted over to put herself between the mass of muscle and her partner, in case mediation was needed.

Looking strikingly self-conscious, Jablonski’s eyes slid sideways and she deflected. “It’s, um… it’s not very good yet, but I’m trying to write… never mind. You wanted to talk to me?” the farm girl from a high gravity world redirected, looking pointedly at Gavarus.

Grinning far too widely to look even half comfortable, Gavarus sat down in the empty chair, bouncing Minerva on her hip as she did. Bouncing her a bit more than was likely recommended as the tiny minotaur's giggles started to warble slightly until the anxious engineer realized what she was doing and stopped cold. "Uh... heh... yeah. Uh. Hi. Yeah. Uh... so... I guess... it's been a while and I wanted to... ya' know... I guess... um... talk about our... the night... uh... the date?"

The broad-faced, lantern-jawed bodybuilder blinked innocently, encouraging Gavarus to continue, which only made the space swine sweat that much more.

“What Briaar’s tryin ta say-“ O’Dell began, before a hand that she suddenly realized was larger than her head moved in front of her to shoosh her.

“She’s a big girl, she can speak for herself. And I'd rilly like to hear what Briaar Gavarus has to say for herself,” Jablonski explained in a slightly terse tone. “Go on?”

Swallowing so loudly little Minnie tilted her head slightly at the sound, Gavarus felt light-headed and vomity. "Yeah... uh... so..." She stammered for a moment before feeling frustrated and a bit too claustrophobic. "Uh, Fee... could you hold her, please."

As she spoke, she handed the fuzzy baby off to O'Dell, who took her hesitantly. And now, with her hands free, Gavarus started talking with them, gesticulating a bit. "So... yeah. You're upset. And... and you should be because I was an absolute wimp. We went out... and we were having a good time... and it was what I thought I wanted more than anything... but then..."

Rolling her eyes and groaning slightly, Gavarus just burst like a leaky dam. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was a wimp and didn't say anything sooner. I'm sorry that I ruined our date. It's just... I didn't realize it at the time, but I... I WAS already in... in... and I think I just was scared to admit it! And I still was super attracted to you and I thought that was what I wanted still... but... I'm sorry. It was Fee. It was always Fee. And when I realized it and when we talked about it... I didn't know how to tell you. I didn't... I felt like shit for asking you on that date to begin with when I think I was trying to convince myself I couldn't be feeling what I was feeling and that was shitty. But I really liked you too. I still like you, you're awesome and weird and funny. I like you a lot. But... But I L... I L..."

The panicking porcine felt the words stick in her throat and she pushed them out, almost spitting across the table. "I love her. I love her... and I'm sorry I didn't say so sooner."

Sitting passively through the difficult confession, Jablonski’s face betrayed nothing- a consummate Security officer, But when Gavarus had stammered out the last of it, a smile spread across the face of the incredible hulk of the Security team. “I’m happy for you two, honest. I’m glad you found each other, yannow, and I’m glad you found enough courage to admit it to yourself and each other. And I’m glad you finally came clean with me too- you’ve been dodging me all over the ship for weeks, and I was worried that you were gonna just never talk to me again.”

“It’s okay, Gavarus. Life is like that, and we can’t choose who we fall in love with. I think it’s sweet you two are together, and it looks like you got yourselves an instant family here with Little Miss, here.” Jablonski offered a pinkie to the wide-eyed infant, who immediately seized on it to begin gnawing and drooling over the digit that was nearly the size of Fiona’s wrist. “Blessed by Hera, this one is. Like me, pretty easy to see the signs, eh?”

In that moment, Gavarus felt a thousand pounds lighter as she flumped a bit in her seat. But as she let out a relieved sigh, she processed the rest of what Ethel had said and her eyebrows went up. Looking down at Fiona for a second then back up to the mountain of a security officer, Gavarus stammered slightly.

"Uh... W... w... what do you mean, she's blessed? What signs?" The portly porcine replied with a blend of surprise and confusion.

Jablonski stared back in confusion. "You... don't see... the, ahh, the little hooves, maybe...?" the security officer edged carefully around the topic of the baby's minotaur nature. Maybe they couldn't see it for all she knew.

Looking back, Gavarus' eyebrows cricked slightly and she smiled slightly. "Oh, no. Yeah, she's a minotaur baby... or half... I dunno. We play with her little hoofies all the time. I was meaning the 'blessed' part. What does that mean?"

Then Gavarus looked at Fiona like a cartoon lightbulb of recognition went off. "Wait? Do you, like, know shit about minotaurs? Like... 'cuz the databanks have shit for info and we're totally guessing on how to take care of her right and kinda lightly freaking out."

The almost cartoonishly large hands of the bulky bodybuilder came up quickly in surrender. "Well, no, I don't. But they're part of..." the frown moved in slightly as Big Ethel narrowed her eyes and leaned in conspiratorially. "Don't you know who we have onboard...?"

The midget and the pig and the baby all looked at one another quite perplexed, unable to draw a conclusion. As one, all three turned back to Jablonski, who drew back a bit, clearly confused. "Uh, the ship's named after her."

"Who?" O'Dell asked with a shake of her head as Minerva turned her big brown eyes her way.

"Hera," Jablonski said reverently.

Looking as confused as two girls not from Earth who clearly slept through their comparative religion classes at the academy could be, Gavarus and O'Dell were both straining with Ethel's reply.

"Hera, who?" They said in unison.

"Is that someone in security?" O'Dell added with a raised eyebrow.

"There's no Hera's in the security. There's a Liu, and a Helen, but..." Gavarus blushed slightly as she spoke, realizing her predilection for appreciating the finer points of the Amazonian security staff was showing a bit, "Not… that I know the names of all the… ladies…"

"So… Liu's first name is Hera? I'm confused?"

"Wait, isn't there a 'Harold' something who works on deck two?"

"Harold Who?"

"Who's on two, Liu?"

Minnie's little horned head turned back and forth between her two unlikely guardians as they tossed names back and forth making themselves more and more confused until finally the fuzzy Minotaur baby started giggling and trying to mimic her aspiring mothers with a series of bouncy, gurgling sounds as the two looked at one another and in tandem said, "Third base!"

"NO!", Jablonski said with emphasis, immediately causing her audience to recoil slightly. Lowering her voice, the great mass of petty officer spoke in more reassuring tones. "The goddess HERA? The ship's namesake? Patron saint of woman, marriage, and family? I guard her quarters on Deck 8, and that's how I got so big... a blessing of the goddess. Because her retinue generates around her as an affect, she doesn't do anything for it to happen. Which consists of Amazons, living statues, harpies and... minotaurs." The large petty officer let that trail off, so that all the theoretical adults at the table's gazes all settled back in little Minnie Moo, the unlikely bovine born to human parents on the starship Hera.

Finally wrapping their heads around it, Gavarus and O'Dell looked at each other then back to Jablonski, and at the same time, replied, "Ahhhhhhh, okay!"

"Wow..." Gavarus added. "So... there's really an old greek goddess from Earth up on Deck 8? Cool." Then, her mind started processing info as she looked back to Fiona. "Soooo, she'd probably know all about minotaurs and shit, right? Like, if she's healthy and what kind of stuff we... or I guess the Carrotts... should be doing."

"She does. I don't know if you have clearance to visit with her, but you can always ask. See, Minotaurs are her generals. She's blessed me since I was the closest thing she had on hand, but your little adorable mess here..." Jablonski reverently rolled up her sleeve, exposing the somewhat crude bronze bracer she wore there. Removing it from her forearm, she handed it to Minnie. "Someday these will be yours, little one. A gift from the Goddess, one of many she'll bless you with I imagine. I'll keep them safe for you until then."

Gnawing and drooling on the bronze bracer that was nearly as big as she was, Minerva Carrott's big brown eyes were wide, with motes of light dancing in them as she looked up at the titanic woman who was explaining her destiny.

"Uh, yeah. We didn't even have clearance to know she existed, right Fee?" Gavarus chuckled, smiling warmly at little Minnie in spite of herself.

"Waaaaaaaaitaminnit here. Are you sayin what I think yuir sayin, mate? That-" O'Dell checked her volume level and dropped into a conspiratorial tone as she leaned into the table. "Are you seriously tryin' ta tell me that we've an honest to god old school power of the cosmos onboard the bloody Heras? Namely Hera, goddess of whatyesay, women... marriage and family..."

The emerald eyes of the little lasse they called Leprechaun narrowed, and she looked to Briaar Gavarus, her unlikely mate- another woman. Cocking an eyebrow she looked to the adorable, practically irresistible bundle of minotaur sitting on the table, seemingly fascinated by all of this as she teethed on the only slightly unsanitary bronze bracer that was half her size.

"I think I might want to have a word with your Hera. You thinking what I'm thinking, Briaar?"

Cocking her eyebrow a bit, Gavarus smiled and started nodding. But as she did, her face started to look confused and the nodding started turning into a shake. "Uh... I don't know. I mean... are you thinking we can... get her to bless us to get to... keep Minnie?"

Smacking at the immediately defensive pig, the tiny test pilot spat out the words. "No, ye daft clotted hairbrush! Ye and me were a pair of happy-go-lucky drunks last month, and lookit us now- we're literally an immediate family! The goddess of families is onboard, and one of the things that joost happens around her is that baby Minotaurs are born. Which ye and me are surprisingly aces at taking care of! Dunnit strike ye as even joost a weeeee bit strange, this sudden shift in our dynamic?"

Listening, Gavarus' eyes went wide as she flinched backwards slightly at her tiny partner. "Wait, you... you think that she... like... whammied us? Like... made us..." As the thought started to sink in, she started to work it around in her head. She knew how she felt about Fiona. It had to be real, but now she wasn't so sure. Suddenly, that seed of doubt was in there.

"Oh my gods, no. No way. That can't... No!" Now Gavarus was feeling confused and angry and suddenly scared and didn't know how to react. "You... you think we're... not real!?"

"Ahhhh, tut tut tut- I dinna say it weren't real. But it's origins mighta had come from some meddlin, and Meself, I'd like a word or two with Her High And Mightiness-" O'Dell was just winding up when Minerva cried, drawing both their attentions. Reaching out to soother the child with touch, O'Dell adopted soothing tones. "Nae nae yoo, dinna ye worry. Nothing's wrong, joost yer aunties would like a word with a cosmic power on Deck 8, that's all."

Meanwhile, Gavarus leaned back looking at the baby she was madly in love with with a confused expression.

"I, ah, I think the Commander has say over who comes and goes from there, and I don't think you have access, all due respect ma'am and ma'am," Jablonski admitted, trying to show deference to the two unusual officer's ranks. "I don't think you can barge in and ask her questions. Actually, I'm pretty positive of it, cuz that's a big part of my job, don'cha know.

"Well... The Commander's off ship for who knows how long, and..." Gavarus cleared her throat nervously. She didn't want to ask what she was thinking, but now she needed to know and the questions in her head weren't letting up. "YOU'RE her... Like... Uh... her personal guard. Can you talk to her?"

-=Meanwhile, on Deck 8=-

Hera had been researching modern childcare and cultural norms and writing a book adapting classical methods of raising a minotaur to modern standards and as she was finishing up the final pages of the large leather-bound, parchment filled tome, she was getting that twinge that meant that her name was being invoked.

Grinning, she pulled out another piece of parchment and dipped her quill into her inkwell once more to add a personalized note for the two drunks she had blessed and that the one she considered her general and possible priestess was talking with about her. It seemed they had some worries and fears about her powers affecting them and though she did... She only forced into the light what was already there.

As the red ink faded to black on the parchment, Hera blew on it to dry it before tucking it into the front cover of the tome. She then picked up the large leather-bound novel and with one fingernail, inscribed the mark of Taurus on the front. "I beseech you now. Go to my trusted General so that she may deliver you to your final destination."

And with those words, the book popped into the null space linked to Big Ethel's bracers.

Nodding solemnly, Hera shook off the sudden bout of weariness as she felt a small surge of energy for doing a good deed, a tender smile gracing her features.

-=Back in 10 Forward=-

It was about that time that the aforementioned tome popped out of Ethel's bracer, plopping heavily onto the table...

The tiny tot's eyes went wide with wonder as she continued to drool all over Ethel's blessed jewelry. Watching, Gavarus all but leapt out of her seat, curling her thick legs and disproportionately tiny hooves up in the seat as she let out a shout. "What the effin' @#$%!?!"

While she shouted, little Minnie tried to reach around the bracer still wedged between her gums for the book in front of her, grabby hands at the ready. Picking up the tome, O’Dell read the cover aloud. “How to raise a Minotaur: A Guide To 24th Century Parenting by… Hera?!?”

“Hera be praised,” Jablonski whispered, never having seen such a miracle before, but it was one that was definitely going into the book. Shaking it off, she looked between the odd little family as she addressed them.

“So, I guess it’s pretty clear she’s listening, since she sent this along. And with that said… look I can NOT speak for Hera. But I can say this much. You,” Jablonski pointed to Gavarus, “and you,” she pointed to O’Dell, “Are both odd and unique in your own way, but just how much you care about each other is something a blind woman could see. The fact that it took a date with me for you to realize that says a lot, yannow? And I don’t think Hera can create something where there was nothing. So if you have doubts about your own hearts, I seriously don’t think she CAN do that. I will say from my experience, I don’t believe she would do that. Remember, me getting bigger, the Amazon squad of Security, little Minnie here… these are all just things that happen around her. Like all of the families that are popping up onboard- Doc Dael is delivering babies every week it seems, and that’s definitely new.”

“Hera doesn’t make that happen, it just happens around her. She wants us to be happy- to know the joy of family, to have happy homes and kids and to be good women that do good works in her name- literally, as the starship is named after her. That’s what she told me, and I believe her. So you can be suspicious if you gotta. But really, the kid’s just adorable and you two are good at taking care of her.” Jablonski reached out to stroke the furry cheek of the babe with one very large finger, which made Minerva coo and giggle adorably, as if to illustrate the point. “Maybe that’s how you all ended up together, hmm? Just the universe falling into place, and not the will of Hera.”

“Hewa!” the Minotaur baby squealed, making everyone look at one another in somewhat wide-eyed disbelief.

Blinking, then looking over to O'Dell, Gavarus muttered awkwardly. "Yeaaaahhh, uh... I totally had her first words pegged as "Fookin' Shite." She mimicked Fiona's thick Gaelic accent, pointing out both of their foul mouths. "But... this is... this is frickin' weird."

"Uh... Fee." Gavarus tilted her head slightly. "There's a loose sheet of paper in the front. Like, not a page. Is that a note?"

Eyeing the loose sheet with some trepidation, the Mariposian midget tugged at the loose sheet, to reveal a sheet of fine stock paper bearing a handwritten message in a flowing script that was clearly quite practiced. Glancing it over, O’Dell’s eyes went wide as she began to read aloud.

To The Most Entertaining Couple;

I have watched over those aboard this magnificent vessel that bears my name for some time now, and I must admit some fascination and entertainment in watching over the two of you in particular. Hence I have imparted unto you both my blessing of family and home. However, please know that there must have been something there to have been blessed, and that the love you share for one other is real, although I admit that my mere presence may have helped it along a little.

Over the course of my life, literally nine aeons now, I have yet to have seen a couple so perfectly matched in spirit and soul as the two of you. Although the Minotaur babe is the spawn of my infernal husband, likely to spite me... I am unable to muster a single shred of ill will or disdain for the young Minerva Carrott. If it is divine providence that she has come into your care, it is above and beyond my powers, rest assured.

As I have promised to Doctor Asa Dael, I have compiled all of my knowledge on raising a Minotaur child into this tome. However, I have studied modern childcare as well, and have tried to work the old ways into the new. Both methods are contained within the texts of these pages, with illustrations that I hope you will find illuminating. As you now seem to be the caretaker of the child by divine right (to likely be later confirmed by whatever governing body you are ruled by) the tome has been delivered to you, Briaar Gavarus of Tellar Prime and Fiona Mary Margaret Josephine O'Dell of Mariposa.

Use this knowledge with care and responsibility. I will be watching over you.

~Hera


"Uhhhh…" O'Dell said, rendered speechless in a rare moment. "So that's... well."

Looking at the letter for a long moment, Briaar had a thoughtful expression plastered on her porcine puss. She looked at Minnie and smiled. She looked at Fiona and smiled even larger. Then she looked over at Ethel.

She didn't have the same feelings that she once had for the mountain of a woman. But there was still something there. They were still unlikely friends and above all else, Briaar trusted Ethel. Ethel could have not understood or shot her down any number of times during the lengthy and protracted period after Briaar had first seen her and threw up on her shoes. Ethel could have hurt her in so many ways, and never did.

And deep down, while the discussion here had given her doubts, she looked back at Fiona and then at the gurgling bundle of fuzz that was smiling right back at her and she ultimately chose to trust herself.

She had struggled over her feelings for Fiona for what felt like forever and she would be damned if she was going to let this make her question that.

"So... wow. She sent the big book o' Minotaurs to... us. FOR us. Note from the author and everything. I guess that says something, right Fee?" Briaar said, half-sheepishly still. "She's... Meant for us. And... and... @#$& it... I'm not frickin' arguing with it. I love her "

The little lass they called ‘Leprechaun’ considered it all. The existence of a divine being on the starship Hera was unsettling to her, having been raised Catholic. But she had seen a great many things since leaving her home planet, and while she might wonder if the circumstances had been manipulated, the feelings were real.

Whatever the origins, Fiona wanted to spend her life with the grouchy pig-woman, who showed her tenderness and care she denied the rest of the world… save for the adorable bundle of hooves, fur, and horns that had almost accidentally entered their lives With Minnie, O’Dell saw a tenderness in Gavarus that inspired her, and she knew the big Tellarite would give her last breath to protect the little bundle of trouble that their lives were now focused upon. Considering all the facts, O’Dell arrived at a decision, at a speed usually reserved for a much higher blood alcohol level.

“Aye… well, she sent us the book, so looks like yuir stuck with us, Minnie Moo,” O’Dell explained to the toddler, who was still gawing in the bracer, but watched the wee spitfire with wide attentive eyes. “Whatever ‘governing bodies’ may have to say aboot it, seems ye were supposed to come to be raised by fairly odd parents, little one. So if a flying pig and a leprechaun are to be yuir parents, then I suppose we owe it to the universe to see yuir raised right, aye?” Looking up, O’Dell shot a glance at Jablonski. “Dinna think yuir off the hook, missy. Babysitting and PT when she’s old enough, aye?”

“Ah, sure, yeah… I don’t mind,” Jablonski replied with a smile, reaching for the bracer even as an ancient shortsword appeared on the table, much to Jablonski’s dismay. “Ahhhh, she’s not supposed to be able to do that without both bracers. And she really shouldn’t be able to do it at all, so… I’ll be taking that for now, little one…” Gingerly the massive muscled maiden removed the bracer from the grabby hands of the child, who was less than enthusiastic until a small stuffed minotaur plush doll nearly the same size she was appeared in Jablonski’s hand, surprising her for a second, before she offered it to Minnie, whose eyes lit up and she grabbed it to smoosh it to her.

“Well, alreet then…” Fiona added, a bit put off by things just appearing and disappearing without some sort of energy transfer. If she thought about it too much she suspected her head would explode, so this was one she figured she just had to take on faith.

"So, we'll finally find out what we should be feeding you and shit, right my little Minnie Moo? Right?" Gavarus leaned in and poked the tiny tot who was snuggling an even smaller plush version of almost-herself. As she did, Minnie scrunched her little face and giggled, bringing the plush toy up to cover her face as she did.

Smiling and snorting out a laugh, Gavarus put her hands on her knees and looked at the other two women. "Okay, so this is one of those times we should definitely be celebrating and shit, right? So, where the hell is the damn server?"

Turning, the testy Tellarite waved at the bar. "Seriously! C'mon, people! We were ready to order, like, half an hour ago!" And as she yelled, little Minnie clutched her doll, leaned towards the bar and blew a loud raspberry at the bar mimicking her Porcine guardian.

"Aye... back to normal... for us at least," O'Dell agreed before shouting at the bar. "Get her a beer before she eats this baby!"

 

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