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Beneath the Shade Tree

Posted on Wed Mar 18th, 2020 @ 4:34am by Fordyce Kirschler PhD & Lieutenant Selina Fenruse

Mission: Cosmos
Location: Earth. Starfleet Academy
Timeline: 2396



It wasn’t every day that Selina Fenruse was stunned for words as she sat on the grass outside the Starfleet Academy enjoying a rare moment with Lialli as the baby slept and Selina was able to look through the list of postings that she was able to take now her maternity leave was nearly over. If she had not been sat down she would have needed to be as she saw someone walking towards her that she had not seen in many months but for her, it was likely to have been years.

Selina did not know whether to stand up to attention or pretend she had not seen Soraya. She finally settled for getting to her feet slowly and just stood there looking a little out of place in her black tee and leggings surrounded by people in Starfleet Uniforms enjoying the summer day. “Um hello, Ma’am.” Selina finally said.

Soraya smiled, approached to move beneath the shade tree, and took Selina's hand in both of hers in greeting. She seemed neither at ease nor uncomfortable, but there was a tension in her body language that came from uncertainty. This was the third of her former crew that had come back into her life recently. The coincidence - "fate," she felt certain her mother would say - was deepening the emotional turmoil that now followed her around on a daily basis. It was almost like the Viking was starting to haunt her more than just psychologically...

"Selina, good Heavens..." Soraya paused, unsure what to say. She'd always found it foolish to fall back on that very human phrasing of asking what one was doing here. Instead, she said, "I would never have expected to see you at the academy. But, it's a delight."

Selina would have said the same thing about seeing her former Captain at the Academy but now that she thought on it, it was a perfect place for the Captain to end up after what had occurred and the blame that thrown around. She would not voice any opinion on the subject after what had happened with her arrest.

“We are visiting my mother before we join the Cosmos. She is teaching at the Academy this semester.” Selina admitted glancing back at the baby asleep on the blanket under the shade of the tree.

"Oh, I haven't seen her... But I'm teaching at the command school, so there's not quite as much interaction with the instructors at the Academy proper," Soraya explained. Then she admitted, "I haven't heard of the Cosmos. Are you taking a chief engineer position?"

"I am sure if my mother knew you were around you would never escape her." Selina murmured as she felt a second before she heard Lialli stir making the woman turn back. She moved back and knelt on the blanket scooping the baby up against her. "I am not joining her as Chief Engineer or even Asst Chief Engineer."

Soraya gestured to the blanket. "May I join you?"

Selina nodded and moved a few things to allow the woman to sit down.

She seated herself in the simple elegant manner of her ancestors on Setateh VI, designed to promote blood flow but conserve heat during cold desert nights huddled around a fire. She eyed the child briefly - a question for later - and turned back to the Cosmos.

"Have you changed career tracks?"

It was something she should have known about an officer with whom she had been so close, who had faithfully served under her command even when so much seemed uncertain. But like virtually everyone else who had served on the Viking, Soraya had let the woman pass out of her orbit. Or, more accurately, ejected her from it to save her from what she'd perceived to be an oncoming supernova.

Selina let out a small giggle and shook her head. Selina Fenruse doing anything other than Engineering would be laughable but to someone who did not know the road, she had travelled on the last year or so it was a logical question. "No. I do not think I could ever leave the Engineering track. I just have taken a step back from leadership." It was as simple as that. It allowed her to bring up Lialli and do something she loved and enjoyed. "A lot has happened since we were all separated."

Taken a step back from leadership. Soraya had said the same thing to herself when she agreed to resign command. Except, she didn't have such an obvious reason for it.

"Indeed, I can see," Soraya said. She smiled and gestured toward Lialli. In an odd tone of voice, something like a mix of regret and nostalgia, she remarked, "I didn't realize you'd had a child."

“She is pretty new. Her name is Lialli.” Selina looked down at the baby staring up at her and smiled at her as if she was the only person in the universe before she looked back at Soraya. The woman needed to know what had happened to her recently. It would put a lot of everything into context.

“Soraya so much has happened but for you, it has been over two years for me barely one year has passed since we returned from that other Earth. I was arrested the second we got back to earth and I was alone. Starfleet Intelligence bundled me off to be a tool in a game they had no hope in ever winning.” Selina revealed. She could remember leaving Tae mid-argument and then being bundled to a shuttle without the officers doing it telling her anything for days before she arrived and been faced with a dead man who was in fact alive.

Some nagging part of her mind told her that she should have intervened on Selina's behalf. She had the duty and responsibility to shelter those under her command, to make certain their careers weren't hijacked or drawn off course by the interference of political machinations within Starfleet. But at the time, she wasn't in a position to do anything, either. She'd crossed the Office of Strategic Operations; more importantly, she'd been in possession of technology that drew the attention of the wrong people.

"I didn't realize things had gone so poorly for you... What happened?"

"No one did." Selina could have been bitter about it all but she could not. She felt almost cold about the whole experience like it was someone else life. "I was basically escorted to a civilian vessel to be an engineer as Intelligence wanted to keep the Captain under their thumb but it did not work. He is a good man, offered to take me where I wanted to the first chance but that never happened and we ended up at a planet where the security forces accidentally shot me and put me in a coma."

Soraya looked aghast. "Did you recover and effect an escape? Did Starfleet intervene?"

Selina looked at Lialli and stroked her cheek before looking at Soraya again. "Not before we got sucked into another universe where we are all evil. I actually got fixed up by an alternative version of me and Kita. They saved our lives." Selina would not share the fact the other Selina was in her head and often how she looked at things she could feel the survival instincts of her alternative activate. "Gregnol forced Starfleet to get me off the ship when we returned. It is not the place for babies."

She'd read some reports about the alternate universe that seemed inextricably tied to their own. Nothing about it sounded pleasant. For a moment, Soraya wondered about the long-term effects of all this temporal travel on Selina's bodies. But, she kept that to herself. The irony of worrying about her long-term health when she hadn't even reached out to the Betazoid woman wasn't lost on her.

"I..."

The words trailed off because Soraya wasn't sure what to do. How did one respond to that level of rigor and misfortune? Particularly when they'd parted ways so quickly after the return to Earth. (Not that she'd had much choice at the moment; neither of them, from the sound of it.) Did she say she was sorry it had happened? Sorry, she hadn't been around to help? Sorry, she was so woefully out of touch with the members of her former crew? Maybe it was better to say nothing at all.

"Selina, are you optimistic about the future?"

Selina paused in answering the question. She was young in betazoid terms but she felt she had lived far too many lifetimes already and the last few she had not been happy, not been content at all in any of it. "I do not know. I am just taking one step forward and doing the next right thing at the moment if I am honest. How about you?"

What Selina described sounded a lot like Soraya's life at the moment, except she felt more like she was taking on step forward and one step back. She was simply existing, not really with any sort of forward momentum. It was a feeling that had been hanging around her with increasing intensity, particularly since her conversation with Asahi.

I did think I was going to have to chase you down on your next ship assignment and I'd be a lieutenant making raspberries at Rear Admiral Rezvani. There go my hopes and dreams of annoying the brass.

"Um, I'm not certain. I'm uncertain," Soraya admitted. "I've settled into the Academy perhaps a little too well. My office feels a bit like a cave on most days, and I feel quite primal huddled inside of it. As if what's beyond its walls is somehow dangerous."

"Sometimes it is... Sometimes it is not." Selina was still fearful of what was beyond but if she never got back out into the universe she would never take that chance and her daughter deserved more after her start in life. "I am taking the next step for Lialli maybe you need to as well. Find someone or something to take that leap of faith for." Selina commented as Lialli made her presence known again by letting out a big sob.

Noise from the baby startled Soraya, like she'd become unaware of her surroundings. She had been in deep thought about what Selina had said. A leap of faith. It was the antithesis of how she operated. She didn't leap, and she didn't do things based on faith alone. She moved with purpose, guided by reliable information and astute observation. Then again, that had moved her right out of the good graces of Starfleet and into an office that her mother affectionately referred to as a broom closet.

Deftly changing the subject, Soraya asked, "Are you here for long? Could I persuade you and your mother to join me for dinner?"

"I am here for two more days I am sure we can join you for dinner if it is not imposing on you," Selina assured thinking Melinda Fenruse would love to have a catch up with her former Captain.

OFF::

Lieutenant Selina Fenruse
Engineer
USS Cosmos
(PNPC Gregnol)

Commander Soraya Rezvani
Adjunct Professor
Starfleet Academy, Command School
(PNPC Kirschler)

 

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