Gifts and Messages
Location: Crew Quarters, Deck 8
The trip on the Runabout from Starfleet Command to the Hera, still docked at Jupiter Station, had been unusually quiet. Aside from the pilots from Intel Command, the passengers were the Petty Officers, V’Nus and S’Rina Wil’I’ams, Ensign Mona Gonadie and the main reason they had all been on Earth, to begin with, Lieutenant Mnhei’sahe Dox.
The weary-looking Rihannsu pilot had just completed two weeks of intensive debriefing with Starfleet in order to clear her to return to duty and was looking forward to getting back to those duties. But the gauntlet of Ambassadors, diplomats, and Intel heads had been exhausting. Particularly the last one.
On her last day, Mnhei’sahe had been beamed to a home in Scotland to meet with a unique woman named Admiral Charybdis MacGregor. The elderly, retired Starfleet representative was a Rihannsu ex-pat and former Starship Captain from the same era as Rita Paris. And for hours, Mnhei’sahe had listened intently as the remarkable woman told the young Lieutenant the story of her own amazing career. A career with a great many parallels to Dox’s own, including captivity by the Tal’Shiar, that made their meeting an eye-opening experience.
At the end of the long day, tears had been shed and the Admiral had passed away in her own bed. But not before bequeathing to Mnhei’sahe a number of important things, not the least of which was the drive of the woman’s life’s goals of finding a way of reforming their mutual homeworld, ch’Rihan, aka Romulus.
As the runabout landed on the main flight deck of the Hera at 21 hundred hours, the chamber was predictably quiet. Delta shift was on duty and there was no fanfare or revelry for the return of the embattled Flight Chief, which was much to her preference. During the reasonably short flight of just under two hours at high impulse, Mnhei’sahe had shared her story with her wife, but not in spoken words. Instead, they held hands during the flight and used their shared touch-telepathy bond. It had made for a quiet flight but was a far easier way to tell the highly emotional story. Which, unfortunately, had made for a very awkward flight for the Klingon sisters who had no idea why the other two women in the rear of the runabout cried intermittently.
Shortly after the ship docked, it dropped off the Hera crewmembers and disembarked back to Earth. The security sisters returned to their quarters, as did Mnhei’sahe and Mona with the young Lieutenant carrying her shoulder bag and a long metal case under her arm.
Quietly, as the tired married couple finally arrived at their cozy quarters on deck 8, Mnhei’sahe set the bag and the case on the dining room table with a sigh. As the doors wooshed closed, she opened the bag and pulled out a bundle of uniforms and unwrapped them to reveal one of the three items she had been given during her day with Admiral MacGregor. A beautiful sculpture of the great Rihannsu phoenix of legend, Al’thindor, carved of firestone. Placing it on the shelf across the room, it was given to the young woman as a reminder to remember the old ways of her people that would help guide her in her own future as a Rihannsu in Starfleet.
Reaching into the top, Mnhei’sahe then pulled out a small, black data crystal she had been given to protect. She picked up the small model of a d’Deridex-class Warbird she had built as a child and tucked the crystal inside a hole at the bottom of the model and replaced it on the shelf until she could decide what to do with it.
Then she turned to the tabled again quietly. Mona had stood near her side the whole time and the two had been silent until Mnhei’sahe put a hand on the case. Slowly, as Mona stepped closer and put her hand over her lover’s shoulder supportively, Mnhei’sahe opened the case. In it was a sword. A Vulcan-crafted sword over twenty-three hundred years old. A sword of lightly curved metal in a black, maithe wood sheath with a Sardonyx-wood inlay and a rough, black kahs-hir steel hilt.
Lightly running her fingers over the sheath, Mnhei’sahe spoke softly. “The sword of S’task. The founder of ch’Rihan.” The sword she looked at was known as the Honor Blade of the Rihannsu empire that had sat on S’task’s empty chair in the Imperial Senate for thousands of years, until the then Captain Charybdis stole it from the senate to prevent it’s destruction when ch'Rihan, aka Romulus, was to be wiped out by the Hovus supernova. The supernova that had been prevented in the timeline in which Dox and Mona existed.
Like Rita Paris, Sonak, and Az’Prel, this sword was a survivor of a timeline and reality that no longer existed. On ch’Rihan, this realities sword still sat on the Empty Chair as it always had, making this a temporal duplicate. But it was still what it was to Mnhei’sahe and it had the weight of a thousand stars to her. “I still can’t believe that she gave me this, Mona.”
"And I can't think of anyone better for her to give it to," Mona replied, gazing wistfully at the historical masterpiece. "What are you going to do with it?"
“There’s not really anything TO do with it, really. Charybdis hoped to use it as a symbol to help bring the Rihannsu people back together after ch’Rihan was to be destroyed in that timeline. Now, it’s just a sword, I suppose. It’s real... but she said that it’s only real value as such was… to me. Because I might be the only person who would appreciate it or understand what it meant.” Mnhei’sahe said softly, leaning into Mona a bit more as she closed the case.
“I’ll… I’ll have to think about it. But for now, it’s probably safer if as few people as possible even know this exists. I’ll have to tell the Captain and Commander in my report, of course. But still, it’s just so much to try and process.” the young Lieutenant turned to look at her wife and as she did, put a hand on her belly. The three children within were growing more every day and when she touched Mona, she could feel their energy as well.
Smiling, Mnhei’sahe looked deep into Mona’s broad, amber eyes. “Char called me the future. So did my grandmother. So many are putting so much in front of me, Mona. And I don’t know how I’m supposed to be… even half of what they expect. I can’t fix ch’Rihan, and maybe it’s foolish of me to even think I should try, but then I think of them. I think of them and I don’t know how I can’t try.”
Mona thrummed softly as they held each other, the three children within her starting up their own humming as well. "Of all the people in the universe that has a chance of it, I expect you would have the best and only hope of it. After all, everyone seems to be putting their faith in you, including that shadowy figure in your memories."
Smirking awkwardly, Mnhei’sahe chuckled. “No keeping secrets with a telepathic bond, is there?” Then her tone shifted to a far more somber one, knowing that the shadowy figure was most likely the woman known as Masato Rei, aka Death herself.
"Considering I can't actually get more than impressions of your memories of that person... Apparently, there is," Mona added, but quickly shrugged it off. "But with there being so many other deity class beings hovering around this vessel, I'm not surprised that there's one that can mask themselves even from our bond like that. Anyway, you have enough support to topple governments, so I say, when you're ready, go for it."
It was a rapid change of subject and tone from the stunning Miradonian and Mnhei’sahe wasn’t sure how she felt now knowing that her weekly lunches with Death weren’t visible as memories to Mona. But she didn’t press the point right away, with so much else weighing on her mind. But there was now an awkward silence between the two women and Mnhei’sahe couldn’t bear that in the slightest. “I’m… I don’t think I’ll ever be ready. Not for what ANY of them think I can do, Mona.”
Flumping down in the chair at the dining room table, Mnhei’sahe looked at the case with the sword in it and sighed. “Sometimes, our lunches are just casual talk. What I’ve been up to at work and things like that. She likes hearing about those kinds of things and just talking. Sometimes she’ll tell me about some of the places she’s been. Planets in parts of space so far we could never get there in our fastest ships in a thousand lifetimes that she goes to regularly. She likes talking with someone who isn’t about to die about the kinds of things normal people talk about. But other times, she tells me things about her job. The rules she has to follow. How hard it is for her to be strong for literally every being in the universe in their final moments.”
Looking up at Mona, still standing next to her with her finely feathered hand on her shoulder, Mnhei’sahe continued, “And I try to just listen, because really nobody else can. And because as odd as it sounds, she's been a good friend. But... I’m afraid to talk about some of those things. Some of the things she tells me… I can’t tell anyone without betraying that confidence. Or they're things that nobody should know because they're important secrets to keep. But then…” As she spoke, it was clear Mnhei’sahe was emotionally ramping up and becoming increasingly upset making the Rihannsu accent she usually tried to mask get thicker, “Then I go out of my way to not think about why I knew. Why she told me.”
Mona stroked her lover's cheek for a moment before replying. "Hey, it's ok. I figured for a while now that there was something about that person that you wouldn't let yourself realize, so it's ok. if you don't want to talk about it, you don't have to, but if you want to work through it, I'm here for you, ok? Either way, I'm here for you."
Holding Mona’s hand, Mnhei’sahe’s eyes began to water. “My Grandmother wanted me to abandon everything to go with her to ch’Rihan and eventually take her place in the Senate. Char said she didn’t expect me to be the savior of the Rihannsu… but… then she gives me the nouhha’fdavt Honor Blade! Then Rei… She... Mona.”
Looking up into Mona’s eyes, she concentrated for a moment and that thrumming resonated with the lavender energy that was always inside of her. That combination of her own life force and Mona’s that gave her the strength to survive her ordeals on the Rihannsu Warbird where she had been a prisoner. With it giving her strength now, she told Mona everything. She told her that fate had foretold that she was not supposed to be rescued from ch’Rihan. That it was the intervention of Rita Paris, Sonak and Az’Prel that altered fate so that she could be saved. She told Mona of the thirty-eight hundred Rihannsu colonists that were also fated to die that would now live because of her rescue and of how she helped Masato Rei erase those thousands of names from her book so their new futures could be written. Then she told her of why that was only possible because she was apparently the only living person who could open a book of the dead. Because she had been chosen, if she herself so chose, to succeed Rei’s role as Death... upon her own.
Through thick tears, clutching Mona’s hand like a child terrified of being abandoned, Mnhei’sahe told her bond-mate everything that she had tried to keep to herself. The burden she had tried to bear alone that had finally become too much for her. Her emotions, all of which Mona could feel intimately, swirled within her. But above all of it was fear. Fear that Mona would look down and see a monster. Fear that Mona would see the woman whose children she was carrying with horror and disgust. In that moment, the woman who had to spend the last month and a half being beyond strong while refusing to yield to the forces that wanted her to bend before them finally cracked. And the emotions came flooding out like a burst dam.
And in that moment, Mona's own emotions burst. Her own motherly, nesting instincts took over and she pulled Dox's head into her fluffy, feathered bosom and ramped up her love, letting it reverberate between all three chicks within her, and poured it into her bond-mate in a mighty flood while simultaneously soaking up every last ounce of emotion that Dox could put out like a giant fluffy sponge. "We're here for you. Our love is unconditional and eternal and you are beautiful and deserving of all of the love we can give. Never doubt that no matter how long you live or exist. Beyond Death itself, we will always love you and be there for you."
Beyond the powerful words, Mnhei’sahe was staggered by the wave of Mona’s raw emotions flooding through her. Her eyes clenched tight as she wrapped her arms around Mona, Mnhei’sahe could see that energy as a blinding wave of color in her mind’s eye. A rainbow of intensity, filled with Mona’s seemingly limitless strength, buttressed by that of their daughters within. It was unlike anything the young Rihannsu had ever felt before and as it flowed into her, she felt her own pain and fear become overwhelmed. A voice too weak and foolish to stand before Mona’s unyielding compassion.
It took what felt like an eternity for the emotion to ebb and become manageable again, but in time it did, and Mnhei’sahe pulled slightly back to see that she had absolutely soaked the front of Mona’s uniform with tears. The sight was an almost comical relief of her own contorted, crying face pressed into Mona’s chest, embossed with tears. And as both women looked at it, Mnhei’sahe’s crying cracked into a laugh. “Hnaev…” Dox cursed with a cracked voice, “I’m sorry. I absolutely ruined that.”
"Clothes can be cleansed," Mona replied, smoothing out her lover's hair as she pulled Dox to her feet. "What is important is that your heart is full of love and your belly is full of good food. And I need to get busy cooking soon or these chicks are going to start complaining. Do you feel better?"
Sniffling and wiping her face, Mnhei’sahe nodded. “Ie… yes. I suppose I… I needed that. It’s just… I’m sorry. I didn’t want to burden you with any of that. It’s just… yeah.” The wet-faced young red-head trailed off sniffling and looking down again at the case with the sword. “Yeah… If you’re cooking, you’ll need the table clear. Let me put this… somewhere for now.”
Picking up the sword case, Mnhei’sahe started back towards the bedroom closet. “What were you thinking of making?”
"Miradonian gobbleberry waffles covered in maple syrup and butter with lots of runny eggs and bacon on the side. What do you think?" Mona asked as she took off her uniform top and tossed it on a nearby chair and tossed her apron on. "I was able to get a small batch of the berries and I want to use them up before they go bad."
From the back bedroom of their quarters that were currently spacious, but would soon become extremely cramped with three chicks trying to fly in it, Mnhei'sahe tucked the case with the sword at the back of their closet until she could find someplace more fitting for it. As she did, she called back over her shoulder. "That sounds wonderful. Breakfast for dinner is always good with me."
In the bedroom, Mnhei'sahe carefully removed her two solid, gold Lieutenant's rank pips and commbadge and set them on the dresser where she did every night and took off her uniform.
Stepping back out in nothing but her underwear, she caught sight of Mona in the modest kitchenette, topless but for her apron and the Rihannsu pilot smiled. But the smile was short-lived as she crossed the room, passing the computer comm panel on the wall near the main door and noticed a blinking green light.
"Oh, kreldanni Areinnye... what now. I just got undressed." Dox cursed in her native tongue, now irritated by the light that meant she had a message sighed and pressed the button to recall whatever was waiting for her. After a second, the voice of the ship's computer chimed overhead.
=^=Encrypted message for Lieutenant Dox' from Commander Helev t'Liun. ARW Golden Ghost.=^=
"Well, at least it's a message and not a call," Mona called out from the kitchenette.
"Hnaev... I forgot about this. During my debriefing, the Captain arranged for legal council from the Artans. Her name was Dana Nyn. Very nice, actually. Smart attorney. She said there was a message for me. Computer, play message. Authorization Dox, M. Lieutenant. Access code 795-X9E. Thank you."
And, as always, the computer replied to politeness with politeness, =^=You are welcome, Lieutenant.=^= And then, the message played as, on the screen, was the image of the Rihannsu Commander of the T'liss class Bird of Prey that had been the means of Dox's rescue, Doctor Helev t'Liun.
On the screen, the slightly older RIhannsu woman with the short-cropped, dark brown hair had a mostly neutral face, with just the slightest of smiles. “Jolan’tru. It is with the highest honor that I address you this day, Baroness Mnhei’sahe Dox. I am leaving this message on behalf of Baroness Sienae Nei'rrh, myself and the entire crew of the Isahj’ey Aehallh.”
Using the Rihan name for the ‘Golden Ghost’, the ship’s commander that regularly hated being referred to by that title of ‘Riov’, preferring to be called ‘Maenek’, or ‘Doctor’ in Rihan, continued.
"While my crew and I are relieved to no longer be assaulting a Tal'Shiar facility, we convened a meeting between myself and the crew, and took our decision to the Barony of the fleet. After a unanimous vote, the crew and command of the Isahj’ey Aehallh, decided that our path lies in your service, Baroness."
Listening, Mnhei'sahe had already been informed of the broad strokes of what was being expressed. But hearing the message, she let out a light sigh as it continued, "Afterwards, I submitted the results of our decision to Baroness Nei'rrh, and in her wisdom, she agreed and began the transfer of assets to your Barony. However, as you remain a member of Starfleet, just as the Queen is, and are not permitted a standing crew, I am told your Adjutant, Jaeih Dox t'Aan, will be managing your affairs in your place."
While she had begun cooking, Mona turned the heat down and stepped over to watch with Mnhei'sahe, leaning softly up against her as she did.
"Know that, like the Queen, we are prepared to be called upon during your service for missions as needed and I and mine are now at your disposal. Know that the crew of the Isahj’ey Aehallh will serve you faithfully and will bring honor to your name and purpose as we know you will to us. Jolan'tru, Baroness Dox. Until the Elements will us together again." With a nod, the message ended and Mnhei'sahe just stood there a moment, and with her shoulders sagged and her face low, Mona didn't need their bond to know what her wife was feeling.
Sighing, Mnhei'sahe turned towards Mona and paused, looking into her Miradonian wife's big, amber eyes that projected nothing but love and support. And as she did, the Rihannsu pilot couldn't help but let out a slight chuckle. "Another responsibility. Something else to worry about. I just… all I ever wanted to do was fly, Mona. But it seems like the galaxy has other plans for me."
Then, Dox walked over to the kitchenette and put her arms around Mona's waist, who had resumed cooking. Doing so, Dox could feel her bond-mate's growing middle and their three children growing within her and she smiled in spite of her own self-doubt and apprehension, all of which felt somehow less heavy there, with the two of them together. "So... Wife. Pilot. Mother-to-be. Possible cosmic force... eventually. Possible savior of ch'Rihan. Potential Senator. Unlikely diplomat. Pirate mistress. Am I missing anything on my ever-expanding to-do list?"
As Mona flipped another waffle out of the maker, she reached up with her free hand to stroke her lover's cheek. "You're still flying, but sometimes the Moon Goddess... The universe... Sends us on a different path for us to prove how well we can fly. My Minay? I believe that this path is one that you will absolutely fly in."