Stardate 75884.3; November 19, 2398
Edited by Peter Bossley
Written by Chris Adamek
General Drenis Koldar
“So, how was your day today?”
Lazily sprawled out on the sofa, his mind practically dead to the world, it took Alan Christopher a few seconds to realize someone had spoken. Once the realization struck, it took another few seconds to process the information, and then, no less than five seconds later, Alan reached his conclusion: “Good.”
Erin Keller stood a few meters away, steaming mug of hot chocolate in hand. A wry grin lingered on her face as she observed her phlegmatic husband, whom she suspected had not moved much at all during the past few hours. “You have inspired all of us with your incredible leadership.” Her grin widened. “Maybe tomorrow, everyone will want to stay in their quarters and lie on the sofa all day? I know I will…”
Alan’s arm slid off the side of the couch, his fingers grazing the soft gray carpeting on the floor. “You know, I’ve just spent the past few weeks scurrying around behind enemy lines, valiantly bringing a peaceful end to our conflict with the Romulans. In my opinion, that warrants a little downtime.” He chuckled. “And for the record, I haven’t been here all day…”
“Oh that’s right… you had to go to the bathroom after lunch!” Erin sipped at her hot chocolate, and then seated herself upon Alan’s abdomen. “And I think I heard you brushing your teeth…”
Alan flashed a toothy grin. “Plaque is the ultimate enemy, dearest Erin. If war is not waged, my teeth will fall out… and then you’ll have to pre-chew all of my food.”
Erin adamantly shook her head. “I don’t think so! I’ll put you on a liquid diet before I chew any of your food.”
“You’re no fun…”
“I know,” said Erin amidst a sheepish shrug.
Though Erin was indeed a delicate flower, her weight was beginning to upset Alan’s stomach. He gently placed a hand upon her waist and said, “If you must sit, I’ll make room for you…”
Erin’s ethereal brown eyes immediately looked down upon him. “Are you saying I’m fat?”
Alan hated those questions, because both of the obvious answers were trap doors. Saying ‘yes’ would only anger Erin… and saying ‘no’ would invite one of her legendary insults. So he brooded for a moment before finally choosing his fate. “No…” But he wasn’t about to give Erin the pleasure of insulting him—he would beat her to the punch. “I’m just too old and feeble to support your weight.”
She giggled and hopped to her feet, sloshing a little hot chocolate on the front of her uniform in the process. “You’re so silly…”
“Tell me all about it.” Alan swiftly reoriented himself, and then wrapped his arm around Erin’s shoulders once she sat. “You slopped,” he said, pointing to the new stain.
She rubbed at it with her thumb, but that only worsened the stain. “I didn’t like this uniform anyway,” she chirped.
Alan’s witty reply was on the tip of his tongue, but the moment his lips parted to deliver it, the sound of little feet dragging on the carpet diverted his attention. Within moments, Angela appeared in the living area. Clutched in her left hand was her favorite doll, Molly; in the right, Pinky, her beloved blanket. She wandered a bit further into the room before the sad frown on her face became apparent.
“Hey, Angela!” said Erin. She tried to sound happy, but given the frown, she was defiantly concerned. “What’s wrong, honey?”
She was dressed in her pajamas, a little pink outfit dotted with bunnies, and as she stood contemplating the question, Angela was the epitome of cuteness. “I don’t know,” she proclaimed after a moment.
“Are you sad?” asked Alan. Given the long face, he assumed that was the case—perhaps she missed Kitty?
But the little girl shook her head. She stared at her parents for a short while longer, and then raced over to them, scrambling up onto the couch and squeezing herself into the little nook between them. “I don’t feel good,” she said a moment later.
“You don’t?” asked Alan, his voice filled with surprise. She had seemed fine most of the afternoon.
She nodded, and pointed to the area giving her the most trouble—her stomach.
Having ended her shift not much more than ten minutes ago, Erin was still equipped with her tricorder. She carefully pulled it from its holster and showed it to Angela. “Do you know what this is?”
The girl nodded. “Mr. Tricorder! Will he make my tummy feel better?”
“We’ll see,” said Erin. She quickly flipped the tricorder open and pointed it at Angela. Almost immediately, a wealth of data flitted across the tiny screen—and given the look on Erin’s face, Alan assumed this tummy ache was little more than that.
“Well?” he asked.
Erin smiled, and snapped shut the tricorder. “Angela,” she said softly, “did you eat a cookie?”
The girl shook her head. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
Sensing her little white lie had not fooled anyone, Angela paused and reconsidered her earlier sentiment. “I was getting them for Daddy!” she explained. “But he was sleeping!”
“So you ate them?” asked Erin.
This time, Angela reluctantly admitted to the crime. She nodded her head—but her bright blue eyes were welling with tears.
Unable to watch the little girl cry for even a nanosecond, Alan immediately scooped her up. “It’s okay,” he said, running his fingers through her mess of blonde hair. “We’ll take you to see Sarah, and she’ll make you all better.”
“I didn’t mean to eat the cookies!” cried Angela, oblivious to her daddy’s words.
Holding Angela close to his chest, Alan again tried to reassure her that everything would be fine. “Don’t worry about it, honey. You’re a good girl.”
She sniffled, and nodded her head into Alan’s shoulder. “I love you, Daddy.”
The words melted Alan’s heart every time he heard them—and this time was no different. He planted a gentle kiss atop Angela’s head and happily returned the sentiment. “I love you, too, Angela.” He was content to hold the little girl for an infinite amount of time—but little more than a minute into infinity, she squirmed her way back onto the sofa.
Erin smiled. “Why don’t we go see Sarah?”
Angela nodded her agreement, and away they went.
• • •
Rachael Meyer blinked.
She fully expected to see sickbay and Doctor Hartman’s scowling face in her field of vision, but as she began to take in her surroundings, it was immediately obvious to her that she wasn’t even aboard the Starlight.
Rachael was in her bedroom. It was an opulent, spacious room that smelled of fresh flowers and morning dew. The huge window on the south wall was decorated with lavish white drapes, and had a picturesque view of the mountains and surrounding valley. There was a desk in the corner, littered with a few seemingly out-of-place padds. The north wall was covered in art, most of it abstract, but all of it beautiful. There were a few dressers and vanity mirrors near the bed… and Jadzia.
Rachael gently kicked aside the silky white covers and sat up in bed, her eyes slowly wandering over to her lover. “I’ve been having the strangest dreams,” she mused. The tender vision of little Angela was still fresh in her mind, and a part of her wished it could have continued.
Jadzia took a brush to her long, dark hair. “The Starlight again?” she skeptically inquired.
Rachael nodded. She had been having the dreams ever since the discovery of an interdimensional gateway on Tal Qirat a few weeks ago. But while most everyone, including Jadzia, tended to dismiss them as pleasant dreams, Rachael was inclined to give them a bit more credence. “I experienced something back on Tal Qirat,” she insisted. “It was like… I stepped through a doorway to another world.”
“A world dominated by humans?” Jadzia chuckled at the very notion. “It’s a nice thought—and we could definitely use some nice thoughts right about now—but don’t you think it’s just a little far-fetched?”
At first, Rachael found the whole idea of the ‘United Federation of Planets’ completely absurd. But the more time she spent dreaming up this new Alpha Quadrant, the more content she was to believe in it. Everything just seemed to click. “If only you could see it…”
“I could use a vacation,” mused Jadzia, gently stroking her hair with the brush. “Maybe I should cancel our getaway to Risa and book us passage on the next freighter heading to Earth! I think the Bajorans could probably smuggle us past the Xindi patrols—and once we’re there, the possibilities are endless. We could visit the African Wastelands… or the American Wastelands… or the Pacific Wastelands—I hear they’re beautiful this time of year…”
A vacation sounded nice—maybe not to Earth—but a vacation was definitely appealing. Unfortunately, it was completely out of the question. “Maybe after the war,” said Rachael.
“Assuming we live that long,” Jadzia mused as she finished brushing her hair.
Supreme Commander Neelar Drayge was sick and tired of the Trill Confederation. For decades, they dared to defy the supreme authority of the Bolian Dominion, and for decades, the Bolians stood by and did nothing. Some had said a war against the Trills would be too costly; others argued the resources for such a war were too scarce; still, others argued that a negotiated peace was the only answer. But all this reasoning resulted in the one thing Drayge hated most: inaction.
While the Trills quietly expanded their little empire, the Bolians did nothing. While the Trills built up their defenses, the Bolians did nothing. Nothing! Drayge shuddered at the very notion of such insolence. The Trills were a plague to be wiped from the galaxy—and now that Neelar Drayge was in command of the Bolian Dominion, he would not rest until he reached his objective.
And seated upon the upon the opulent command chair in the heart of his illustrious warship, Drayge smiled deviously. He was confident that he would be resting comfortably in his quarters very shortly. His warship was just the tip of the iceberg; lingering nearby were thousands of raiders and destroyers, ready to spill onto the hallowed battlefield and unleash the dogs of war…