First, Best Destiny
Posted on Fri Aug 28th, 2020 @ 1:44pm by Queen of the Artans Enalia Telvan & Hera & Baroness 2nd Class Schwein von Alcott & Commander Rita Paris & Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox
Edited on on Fri Aug 28th, 2020 @ 1:45pm
The Bulikaya Particle
Location: USS Hera, Deck One, Captain's Ready Room
Striding purposefully out of her office, while making plans to have it all reduced to replicator patterns for later re installment elsewhere, Rita Paris was feeling pretty good. The gal with a plan was making it up as she went along again, and it seemed to be working. Now came what was perhaps the biggest hurdle in her plan. To set right what once went wrong.
Beside her was Lieutenant Commander Mnhei'sahe Dox, who also had some plans, and was also moving forward with her life. In a confluence of forces, both women had arrived at similar conclusions. Now they came together to discuss an idea with the starship Hera's mistress and commander, Captain Enalia Telvan.
As was not uncommon, the stout redheaded Romulan woman was only slightly less confident, feeling that her decision was the right thing to do. Although she still hoped that the Captain would agree, as approval from authority figures was still a strong force that often pushed Dox in her life.
It was a fairly short trip from Rita's anachronistic accommodations to Enalia Telvan's office, a turbolift trip of only one deck. But it was still long enough to give her mind a little time to ponder her and Rita's decisions and ideas. In the time since joining the Hera, Dox had found herself pulled in so many directions, as she tried to please those important to her. Rita was the shining beacon, directing her down the Starfleet path. Enalia had made her an Artan Baroness, giving her a foot back into the smuggling world that she had come from. The woman called Masato Rei, also known as the Embodiment of Death, shared with Dox the cosmic scope of what that task entailed, and had given the young Romulan the choice to one day succeed her in that impossible position. Then there was her grandmother.
The silver-haired Romulan senator had gone to great lengths to try and convince Dox to join her and train as the heir to that seat on the senate of the Romulan Star Empire.
Many paths, all pulling her in different directions, and for a long time the embattled officer had tried to keep her feet firmly planted in all of them. Now, she had made a decision. And, for the first time in a long time, it was a decision that she thought was the best for what SHE truly wanted, first and foremost.
BOTH women had made such decisions, thanks in part to the shared experience of being moved across space and time to encounter multiple versions of their own lives, each one a window into a tantalizing elseworld of what could have been.
It was an experience that Enalia Telvan had experienced as well, as she too had been exposed to the mysterious Bulukiya particles that had flung some of the crew across the multiverse for the grand tour of 'This could have been your life'. It was an idea that begged a question in the Romulan woman's mind. "You and I both ended up making... fairly similar decisions to re-evaluate our life plans to some degree. Even if only in moving up timetables."
Looking at Rita, Dox smiled slightly as they walked with the brisk, martial pace that the gilded Commander had set, "Do you think that the Captain has been having similar thoughts?"
"It's a good question, Miss Dox," Commander Paris replied as she tabbed the door chime to the Captain's Ready Room. "What say we ask her?"
Indeed, the Pirate Heiress turned Starfleet Captain had been having thoughts of a similar nature. Having seen what could have been had her life ended up just a little bit differently had set thoughts in motion, worries and curiosities circling in her head.
She was a Starfleet captain now ,and she had a duty to the Federation, to the uniform which she wore, and her honor dictated that she uphold the morals for which they stood.
But what was it that she did with the Artans?
Was the very act of joining Starfleet a betrayal, a mockery of everything they stood for? She had literally just given her throne away - an entire Empire. She had left them with an ideal and a plan, but nothing more. She prized her own freedom and goals in life over their own needs.
As her mother had put it long ago, she had placed the wants of one petulant little girl over the needs of an entire kingdom, and she had seen things recently that were starting to make her think that perhaps her mother was right.
The sound of the door chime brought her out of her thoughts and as she looked up from her desk towards the door, she clicked her desk terminal and tried to compose herself with a smile, to act like she wasn't just rethinking her whole life. She wasn't getting any of the promotion reviews done today anyway, it seemed.
"Come in," Enalia called, hoping she at least looked presentable and trying to remember if she even had any tea left to offer.
At the invitation in strode her first officer and flight chief, smiles on their faces. It wasn't a rare moment for both of them to arrive together, but in this case, it seemed something was up. As she stepped into the small room, Rita Paris eyed the Captain, then gestured to a chair. At the nod, she and Dox both took seats, Rita smoothing out her skirt as she did so, as she always did. Then she crossed her legs in a scissoring motion also quite familiar to Enalia, and folded her hands in her lap.
These were all signs that Rita was going to have A Talk with trhe starship captain. Usually this was not a good experience, in Enalia's two years of having the golden age girl aboard. But when she started to speak, her tone was soft and friendly.
"Enalia, this is off the record. No ranks, this is just Rita and Mnhei'sahe and Enalia having a discussion, okay? There is official business in the background of it, but... well. We've come to you today to make a proposal... one I think it's time we discussed." Pausing so she wasn't talking over anyone, Rita invited some input into the discussion. "Nothing sinister, I assure you."
"Just a bit ominous, is all," the Trill woman replied with a bit of a chuckle as she picked up her tea thermos and shook it. Empty, as she thought. "But not entirely unexpected after... Everything. I'm out of tea but if you want something from the replicator, please, feel free."
"Thanks," Rita replied. "So... Enalia? If I were a better woman I'm sure I would have a better way to say all of this. But it being you, I'm just going to come right out and say it. I want you to resign from Starfleet. Resign your commission, retire, and go home. Go back to your people, to the Artans. Take back your throne and lead your people into becoming the trade empire that you've envisioned for them. It isn't that you haven't done well here, but... I kind of got the feeling after the Tribunal, you were staying in Starfleet more out of a sense of obligation. You surrendered your throne and tried to go pure Starfleet, but... it's makin you miserable, Enalia. A blind man could see it."
Never having been perfectly comfortable interjecting, Dox was working to be better of late. Considering what she was planning for herself, it was a skill she knew she would have to foster and strengthen, and since the Captain had offered no objections to Rita's statement that this was a conversation between them as women and not as much as officers, the red headed Romulan let out a breath she had been holding and spoke freely.
"It's something I've noticed as well." She said, none of her usual anxiety noticeable in her voice to either woman. "You do your best to keep it to yourself, but I can see that pull on your attention and your focus. But, when we spar in sword training, and you can be the Pirate Queen in all of your glory, that hesitation and anxiety is gone."
There was a twinge of almost romantic excitement when Dox said 'Pirate Queen" that came with a confident nod.
"You seem much happier. More yourself." Dox added with a warm, legitimate smile for the woman that, aside from just a commanding officer, she considered a friend. "I like seeing that. It's... something I think we've all been thinking about since coming back from what just happened. Reevaluating who we need to be and who we want to be."
"Agreed," Rita chimed back in. "You are our friend as well as our captain. You won't be letting us down or Starfleet or anyone on this side of the fence... but I think you might be doing a disservice to your people. They need you. Your first, best destiny isn't commanding one Starfleet starship in the cosmos. It's redirecting a fleet and building a proper empire. Which is why we've come to you about. After the Bulikaya incident, it put a lot of things into perspective for me, and Dox as well."
"I'm going home, Enalia," Rita said softly. "Go attend the Academy, settle down in San Francisco and raise some pointy-eared kids that are all smarter than me, teach at the Academy, and work on restoring it to the institution it was back in my day. So... it isn't like you'd be abandoning me out here." In truth, Rita strongly suspected that a number of Enalia's choices had been for Rita's benefit and not her own, so she added that bit to hopefully alleviate any such self-imposed guilt.
The spotted captain nodded slowly, having taken in their words and recognizing the truth in them. She had indeed been holding onto her commission for a lot of different reasons - some of which were for this ship and crew. "I thought that I could do more good out here with you all on the Hera, but after..."
She paused a moment to collect her thoughts, the words becoming more difficult. "One of the realities, I had done just that right after the tribunal and had united almost a hundred worlds under the Artan banner. Another, I saw an empire that spanned as far as any of the powers in the quadrant. One that negotiated with the Federation and the Klingon Empire on equal footing. I also saw a reality where we lost the tribunal and the admiralty stripped me of my command, then assigned me to a listening post near the Breen border where I monitored the new Artan-Syndicate alliance."
"I don't... want... to lose this family..." Enalia continued, doing her best to formulate the words, looking between her two friends with furrowed brows and glistening eyes. "But I also want to build an empire where no one has to lose theirs."
"You wouldn't be you if you didn't want that. It would be... nearly impossible to see so many paths, good and bad, and not reconsider your own." Dox added as she tilted her head a bit. "I think it would be more distressing if we had seen everything that we did in those leaps and didn't at least reconsider some things. I've been struggling with pretty much the same... but you going home doesn't end what we've built here."
"Rita going back to San Francisco to fix the academy... You returning to the Artans to build that dream into reality... None of that make us any less family." Dox said, her grin getting slightly more awkward. "Any more than... me leaving as well."
"Hera's sake, Dox, don't just leave her hanging, explain," Rita laughed, trying to break the tension.
Down on deck eight, the mighty vessel's namesake looked up from her baking and smiled knowingly.
"Heh... sorry." Dox replied, blushing ever so slightly as she continued. "So... like you, I saw a lot of different paths. And in all but a few, those paths lead back to Romulus. To me trying in some way to so something to fix some of what is so broken there. There was one... the timeline where, when I was kidnapped, you didn't come for me. I got to see a glimpse of what it was like there for anybody outside the power structure. The people living in the streets struggling to survive."
"I also saw what just going back to my grandmother would do, and that isn't an option either." Dox said, her lips pursed a bit. "But... if I were to return to Starfleet. Work to achieve official ambassadorial status, which from my position with my grandmother, is something both governments could benefit from... I perhaps could actually do something. Make the kind of difference that would matter. My path has been leading this way for a while now, but those bulukiya leaps made it clear to me that I need to try."
"I think I'm coming to the same conclusion as well. After all, how many people in this galaxy were groomed to be a queen that cares about family as much as I do?" Now with her trademark grin, Enalia was reassured that her closest friends were also thinking along the same lines as she was. "I'll have to convince Farenia to take care of the Hera and the rest of the crew. I know she's perfectly happy with that antique of hers, but..."
"Enalia, you saved my life in more ways than one, and I love you," Rita admitted. "I want you to be happy, and I honestly think this is the right answer. I know I'm breaking up the gang, but I will offer you this- we will always come together, every year at the holidays, at the Fortress. Wherever we are, we'll make time, catch a fast ship and come visit for the festivities to spend them with your family and ours. So that you can go be the Queen and rule... but you won't lose us. You'll never lose us."
"Agreed." Dox added with a nod.
"I'll hold you to that," the well endowed captain replied with a wink. "And if you ever need a retreat there on Earth, you'll always be welcome at my castle in the Swiss Alps. It's mostly a fine china and furniture museum now, but the doors will always be open to you."
"Hopefully we won't need a bolt hole on Earth, but given our lives, one never knows. One more thing..." Rita brought up, suirprised at how well the conversation had gone. "I'm going to have to work it out with the Asgardians and Starfleet and the Federation... but I'm bringing Hera with me. The goddess, not the starship, obviously. Think you might be able to help me throw a little weight behind that? She reformed and she's family, and I'll arm wrestle Thor if I have to, but she's not going to rot in a prison cell when she's come so far, and... she's family," Rita ended simply, knowing that Enalia would understand.
Enalia reached over and tapped her esk terminal back on as she nodded and thought that request over, pulling up a particular message she had recently received but hadn't disseminated yet. "Starfleet will want to keep security on her and I think that that will help sway Odin. Plus, you know... his son is marrying one of my closest friends. We'll make it work out. Besides, we can't just leave her here all alone and some time planetside should do her some good."
"Speaking of Baroness Schwein von Alcott, betrothed of the God of Thunder, I received an odd message from her while we were..." Rather than explaining, the captain just turned her screen so the other two could see it.
On the screen was Schwein, looking younger and fresh as a daisy in her brass and gold armor, gleaming eyepatch, and bright blue cape. "Ja, so... the wedding in a few days... Apparently I am not so wunderbar at reading the Asgardian calendar and I made a whoopsie. It is still in a few days... in Asgardian time. In your time, it will be at least seven years away. Apparently time and space physics are not exactly the same as in the rest of the galaxy as they are here. I will send you the scans and data that I have so that you can figure out when on your calendar to arrive. Sorry!"
As the recording ended, Enalia clicked it off and grinned wryly. "Ila's working on the math now, but it's definitely a few years away, not the few weeks we thought it was during the bachelorette party."
"Well, that's funny, but... it lets us off the hook for a few years for the wedding. Here's hoping we still fit in our bridesmaid's armors..." Rita chuckled, then turned to look thoughtfully at both women. "It's been a good run out here... but it seems it's time to bring her into port at last, and end her trek through the stars. For us, at least... the Hera will go on, with another crew who'll have to save the galaxy. But for us... the three of us, at least... I think it's time to go home."
"Captain, I believe this calls for a drink?" Paris asked, in her formal First Officer voice.
"Who am I to argue with my first officer when she suggests a drink?" Enalia replied with a widening grin as she reached into her desk for something she usually kept for private drinking. As she set the small bottle of thick, amber liquid on her desk, she punched up an order for three small drink glasses from her replicator.
The Trill woman explained the bottle as she retrieved the glasses and poured the drinks. "This is from the first batch of Talaxian firewine that the Rigelian vintners attempted right after Voyager got home. Apparently there were a great number of recipes added to their database and this was one of them. Personally, I can't think of a better drink for the moment. Spicy going down but almost minty and warm when it hits you."
Accepting the glass from the Captain, the First Officer raised it in a toast. "And see, after I attend the Academy, I'll know what all of that meant."