The Bulikaya Particle
Location: Deck 8, Crew Quarters
"Oh, do stop fussing, little one." Jaeih Dox said as she struggled to get her granddaughter, Hlai'vana, into her little green jumper. "Your sisters let me dress them like good girls and…"
The pudgy little half-Romulan, half-Miradonian child was squirming on the couch, desperately trying to wriggle free of her cagey grandmother's grip and the tyranny of clothes. "Oh, you are just bound and determined to try and fly around the room naked, aren't you?"
At that, the black-feathered girl with the twin red streaks over the top giggled mischievously with a wry grin that Jaeih recognized. "Oh, you are so my daughter's child, aren't you? Well… your grandmother is not so easily bested."
All three girls looked to be almost a year old, even though there were only a few months in reality. And even for being HALF-MIRADONIAN, they seemed to be growing quite fast, all things considered. They could already speak in occasionally limited blurts of words, usually either in Miradonian or Romulan, but generally it was mostly giggles and melodic song.
Little golden plumed Amihan was the most audible singer of the three and, at that moment, was sitting next to Hlai'vana humming a happy little tune.
"There! Now, all three of you are dressed." Jaeih said, rising from her knees triumphantly as little Vana pouted. All three children were still capable of limited gliding thanks to their avian mother, Mona Gonadie, but clothes covered their plumage and made their best efforts at flight to little more than enthusiastic leaping in their rooms reduced gravity. "When your mother gets back from storage, she and I will be feeding you. It's almost time for lunch."
Almost on cue, Lieutenant Mona Gonadie entered the main chamber of the double-sided chamber that she and her wife and family shared, with a number of large, empty storage bins on a hovering push cart. The family had made the decision to transfer off the ship recently, and it was a decision that seemed to be weighing difficultly on the elder Romulan grandmother as she stepped out of the children's room, all three waddling close behind.
"More bins for packing for this… transfer?" Jaeih asked her avian daughter-in-law with a touch of sarcasm in her voice.
"Yeah, and packing materials for the more delicate and perishable items," Mona replied as she opened up the top bin. She then paused a moment and looked around the room with an almost sorrowful smile on her face, finally settling on the chicks.
During her pregnancy, her races natural empathic bond to their chosen mate had been hightened considerably by the triplets own strong, natural abilities. And while Mona once again needed to TOUCH Mnhei'sahe to fully feel her bond-mate's emotions, their children did not.
Tilting their little heads almost in unison, the chick clearly picked up on Mona's emotional state and waddled past Jaeih to hug their mother, each clinging to her legs and thrumming softly.
"Well. I'm no telepath, but that seems a fairly clear message. Are you not fond of this plan of my daughters?" Jaeih asked, projecting a little.
"The plan? I'm supportive of it. The move... The Hera has been a home to me and though I look forward to the future, I don't want to leave." As she spoke, Mona kneeled down and gathered up the chicks in her arms, squeezing them to her bosom tenderly.
"You've been here quite a bit longer than Mnhei'sahe's, correct?" Jaeih said as she walked over to the kitchen to put on a pot of tea for Mona. "And, well I can only imagine what these quarters looked like before you two were together. You've made so much of this life, here."
"This is still my first assignment," Mona replied as she flopped down with the chicks on one of the Miradonian style open back chairs, her tail feathers poking out. "Enalia picked me up straight out of the academy after she... Well... Most humans are tolerant of other species, but I apparently found some that weren't while in a place called New York and she was on Earth for an antiques thing..."
With a sigh, Mona summed it up as best she could. "Long story short, she pulled out a collapsible fencing foil, drove off some... Red necked locals? And asked me to join her new crew when I graduated. I'm not even sure why I agreed, but I did. I mean, this strange Lieutenant Commander saves me from being eaten then demands I work for her? Who even does that?"
With a chuckle, the feathered avian nuzzled on her thrumming daughters with a smile. "But I'm glad I accepted."
Putting the pot on to boil, Jaeih grabbed one of Mona's favorite mugs and one for herself as she continued working in the background. "As is Mnhei'sahe, no doubt. And myself, in no small measure, my dear."
"As for the tolerance of humans, I find Commander Paris an outlier more than the standard, though my own experiences are clearly somewhat bias. I know Mnhei'sahe had a terrible time at that academy, largely due to that lack of tolerance. Tell me, as you two rarely speak of it, but how did you two begin seeing each other? I know you were both in the flight department, but she hasn't ever elaborated on it?"
As Mona grinned wider, the chicks started climbing all over her in excitement as the memories came pouring back. "Well, when I first laid eyes on her in the flight deck offices, I thought I'd been shocked and the air felt electric. I wasn't sure at the time if it was the bond or not though. Not until we touched later. I tried to give hints of interest. Flashing her and that sort of thing. I suppose my people's mating rituals would normally be ignored by most species."
Then, after her DNA was corrected and her hormones came in, I knew it was the bond and I knew I had to get her to notice me," Mona pulled Ami down from the back of the couch and back into her lap as she continued. "At her birthday party, I gave her a dress of Miradonian feathers. Some of mine may have been in there. Anyway, several gifts and hints later, your dense daughter finally got the hint and we started dating. Though our first date she was in uniform while I was in a dress." As a chorus, all for of them giggled in unison.
Allowing herself a wry chuckle, Jaeih grinned a bit at the story as she poured the carefully brewed tea for her daughter-in-law. "That sounds very much like her, I would say. An excellent mind for details and observation, except when it comes to her own emotions or the feelings of others."
"It is that, I fear, that leaves me extremely concerned over this plan of hers." Jaeih said, placing the tea cup delicately in front of Mona, and sitting down in the chair next to her, while patting her lap. "Come, children. Let your mother drink and relax a moment. You may climb me to your little heart's content."
All three chick's large, copper-colored eyes went wide as they exclaimed in unison, "Hu'nanov!", the Romulan word for 'grandmother'. In a bit of a clutter of feathers and giggles, Hlai'vana, Amihan and Tala all quickly transferred to using Jaeih as a climbing tree.
Continuing her thought, Jaeih continued. "She has a blind spot where her feelings towards family are involved. Her actual plan is... sound. The intricacies are surprisingly well thought out. I simply fear the influence of Verelan upon her."
"Yes, my penchant for over-planning has definitely spread to her, just as her qualities has spread to me. That is the way of the bond. Through the bond I also learned more... Something..." With a sigh, she wasn't sure how to put it into words so Mona just pressed on as she picked up her mug and blew on it a few times before sipping at it. "Her experiences in those other dimensions gave her a perspective on family and paths she has been denied that most people never receive. Honestly, if I had gotten a chance to see my parents once more..."
Mona shook her head and tried to banish the thought from her mind, but it refused to budge, tears forming in her eyes. "There are questions I would ask of them that no one else could properly answer for me. Have I done well? Have I made them proud? What else could I do?" The brightly plumed avian shook her head again. "But since she's gotten that opportunity and the Miradonian way is to support each other through the bond completely, I take this as a sign from the Moon Goddess that our paths are headed in a different direction from here."
Not one for whom overt displays of affection came easily, Jaeih nonetheless loved her daughter-in-law deeply and detested seeing her upset. With the children on her lap, settling slightly as they were picking up on both women's emotional states, Jaeih reached over, putting a hand on Mona's thigh as softly as she knew how. "How could they be anything but proud, my dear? Look at what you have accomplished? In your career and in these three wonderful children. I have no doubt that they would be beyond proud of you. No doubt."
"And in many ways I feel I have reached the culmination of my life calling down in R&D with the vehicles and flight systems we've made," the Miradonian woman replied with a soft smile. There are tweaks and improvements that can be made, but overall I feel the final Cyclone prototype and Daycare One will reach the last of my life's goals and now my soul feels a pull to complete my Minay's."
"Well... as you may remember, I was an engineer once upon a time. So you know that when I say this, I know of what I speak. Your skill and your inventiveness in what you do is... boundless." Jaeih said softly but with pride in her voice for Mona's accomplishments. "And wherever this path takes you, I am sure that tremendous mind of yours has as much to offer this universe still as does your heart."
"And know I support you in your path as well. And wherever these children go, I will never be far. But... there is something more I must ask, my dear." Jaeih said, somewhat hesitantly. "You said... if you had gotten to see your parents once more when speaking of what Mnhei'sahe experienced."
"She... has only told me the broadest strokes of what she experiences. The different views of the hearthworld that she became witness to. Did she... did she see... Dralath?" The usually reserved Romulan's voice cracked as she struggled to say the name of her daughter's father. Of the only man she had ever loved who was now gone.
Instead of replying, Mona nodded and reached over to the nearby end table and pulled out an old style photo from the drawer. After looking it over for a moment herself, she silently handed it over to Jaeih.
Taking the picture, slightly confused, Jaeih looked at it. As she did, her eyes went wide and she clasped a hand over her mouth in shock. Immediately, the chicks turned on her lap as they keyed into their grandmother's emotional state and hugged up against her chest.
As the chicks thrummed gently, Mona saw something she had almost never saw in the often hard woman: tears. "It's... it's impossible. It's... it's... us."
In her hand was a photograph that Mnehi'sahe had been gifted in another universe. A photograph of a life she could have lived but for a different decision made before she was born. With her hand trembling, Jaeih stared long at the image. A family photo of Verelan t'Rul, a chubby young girl with short, black hair but Mnhei'sahe's face. And standing behind the young girl, was a man and a woman. Dralath tr'Rul, Mnhei'sahe's father, standing arm in arm with herself.
"She... she brought this back? She did meet him?" Jaeih said, tears beginning to flow as the chicks thrummed in unison, trying to sooth their beloved grandmother.
"They had a good father-daughter talk, too. I think I caught most of it through the bond." Mona spoke softly, this time resting her hand on her mother-in-law's knee with the tenderness that she knew the elder woman needed. "He's proud of her but knows she can do more. He's also going to push his daughter there harder. That's why... I can't help but wonder about my own parents... And why I'll support her fully on this path."
Putting the picture on the table, Jaeih pursed her lips and pressed her balled hand against her mouth as she tried to process what she had just learned. The tears stained her cheeks and she tried to wipe them away and close herself down, but Mona's touch opened up those floodgates even more than the hugs from her grandchildren.
"That... sounds exactly like him, Mona." Jaeih said, her voice cracked as she put her own hand on her daughter-in-law's and, with her other arm, hugged the chicks. "I am... I am so glad. That she never got to truly meet him, is among my greatest regrets. He was... a good man. A very good man. He would have adored you, though I suspect he would have been even more reserved of the fact as I was."
"As for your parents... I cannot speak for them. But Milla and Mordo, who helped raise you, they adore you. I've never seen two parents beam so over a child." Jaeih said, bringing the subject back to Mona, "They love you dearly. As does Mnhei'sahe, myself and most everyone on this ship. You are a beacon, my dear. Make no mistake. And with the entities on this ship and the things we've seen, why would you even question that they would be beyond proud of you?"
Mona just shook her head, ters starting to leak from her own eyes. "It's just something that all Miradonian orphans have to deal with. My foster parents are amazing and wonderful, but without the bond between us and the others... And being a lone orphan..." She paused a moment before continuing, wiping a few tears from her own cheeks.
"Milla and Mordo have cared for dozens of chicks and I know they love each and every one of us dearly. They've sacrificed so much and done everything they could to get everyone wonderful educations. Most have gone on to work in government services helping others, fields their lost parents had been in, or Defense Force duty. But everyone else stayed on Miradon. Few ever leave the home world, though I suppose having no true bond to anyone I was a perfect candidate for that." Mona paused again, sipping her tea and composing herself. "But hearing the words and feeling them are two different things. I can tell you what the warmth of the sun feels like for years but until you feel it for yourself..." She just trailed off and shook her head.
"That's why I give everything I have into everything I do - so that those around me can feel a bit of that sunshine," she finished with a smile.
"And look at the fruits grown under that brilliance." Jaeih said, scooching the three children in her lap up a bit higher. "Not just them, though. Commander Paris when she first arrived here and was lost and terrified and you helped her adjust. Fiona and Briaar who likely would have floundered in obscurity in their respective departments, never once shining for themselves but for your influence. My daughter, so broken for my indelicate parentage."
"Me." the elder Romulan said, raising a brow and smiling. "Your radiance shines upon everyone you touch, my dear. I may never feel this bond you share with Mnhei'sahe and the children, but make no mistake that we all can feel your love."
"Well... Negativity is generally a foreign concept to most Miradonians." Mona replied with that million watt smile of hers. "I think only the elderly and orphans like myself really had an understanding of it."
"Then when I joined Starfleet and learned of other cultures, that was a language barrier in itself to overcome. Many common negative expressions and words across the galaxy just don't exist on Miradon simply because to use them would taint the user's energy." Now Mona's smile faded a bit as memories seemed to flash across her eyes and the chicks seemed to take notice. "Such as hatred. Evil. Depression. Murder."
Mona paused a moment in order to take a deep breath, the air around her palpably different now as the light almost seemed to dim around her. "It was in Starfleet Psyche that I learned that my parents, siblings, and friends weren't just eaten in front of me... They were murdered. That was the first truly negative Federation common word I learned that has no translation in my language. I suspect it's a word every Miradonian that leaves home must learn about quickly. From there I learned about the dark, negative emotions of the universe."
She then took another deep breath and let her smile brighten the room once more. "And I made a vow to never let them control me in any way - to stick to my heart and the love of the twin goddesses."
"It is strange to consider your people have no word for 'murder', considering the horrifying practice of the hunters that frequent your planet. "Still... I'm afraid that you must know such things all too well. Considering the nature of how your people bond, and that Mnhei'sahe and you now share thoughts and emotions, you likely know more than you would like. Hopefully that vow will not be strained."
The avian woman shrugged and sipped at her tea, she thought it over. "I suppose it's because we're evolved prey species. We still consider those that hunt us as apex predators following their instincts and motivations. As an evolved predator yourself, do you consider the feelings of the meat that you eat? I know it may be odd being bonded to someone that's consumed the flesh of a species similar to my own... I now have an idea of what I taste like... But on the flip side, she now knows the pain and beauty of the galaxy through my eyes."
"And that sharing of different views, experiences, and personalities through the bond to create a unique amalgamation of a new family ego is what we believe is most beautiful." Mona nodded confidently as she finished off her tea and set her mug aside. "I am within her and she is within me, one and inseparable for eternity."
"She will need some of your compassion. To see the beauty of the galaxy if this plan of hers is to have any chance of not ending in tragedy." Jaeih said, nodding as she spoke in much the same way her daughter did to punctuate a point. "And... I'm afraid you will see far more of the less beautiful side of things among my people."
Transferring the much calmer chicks to Mona's lap, Jaeih stood up and paced a bit. "I do not like this. I have told Mnhei'sahe as much, but I have also told her that so long as she can convince all involved to accept me in the position she needs me to fill, I shall do everything in my power to keep you all safe."
Pulling in the chicks close, Mona thrummed softly, sharing in the bond with them. "Even in what you would consider the darker points of the Rihannsu, with these eyes I see beauty. As for accepting you, once they see your beauty and know that you are accepted as an envoy of the Artans and the Federation, they will have no choice. If they do not, you will remind them of the honor of Altha'donar."
"There are precious few Rihannsu left there. Long ago, my people became the Romulans that the galaxy saw us as. I did not see it until it was far too late, and now for my crimes, my name was written three times and burned upon the senate floor. To them, I am a traitor, and I will be surprised if such diplomatic maneuverings will make them forget that." Stopping to pace, Jaeih turned to Mona and pursed her lips. "I can do all I can to protect you all. I will do all I can to protect your lives. But it is you that will protect Mnhei'sahe from the greater threat, my dear. It will be you that keeps her from falling into that world and the darkness that will threaten to envelop her. All of you."
"And that is why we fully support her with the light of our souls," Mona replied as she and all three chicks smiled up at Jaeih. "We are the Godox family. We are all part of one."