SIM:Bejain brings Tal and Enric to Darane IV
::Darane IV was a dry, hot planet. Not many people lived there. Maybe twenty or thirty thousand. The majority was desert and. even the most hospitable parts of it were almost semiarid. While this made it uncomfortable for most humanoids, it was perfect for grapevines. Particularly those that fermented into dark and complex red wines. Something about the dark soil coloured and sculpted the grapes, infusing the resultant wines with deep purple textures. Like a painting by Mar Loren.
::Ramara Vid’s Eldran Estates produced some of the best wines on the planet. Particularly in the dryer reds. Vid himself was a likable man in his mix-sixties. He’d been transported to Darane IV during the occupation. No-one really knew what he’d done while Darane was a titanium extraction plant. It paid not to delve too deeply into those hard years. After the Cardassians left, he’d stayed on. He worked hard on his lands, and played hard and laughed hard. His neighbours were often over to dinner, or to test their own wines against his own. His Terran wife, Beth was a gentle, kind woman in her late fifties. He had one son, who was in Starfleet, and another that had been lost during the occupation, both from a previous marriage.::
::Today, he was not in the fields, tying the vines, nor checking his barrels, as he would usually have been doing. He was leaning on one of the uprights to the verandah of his house staring at the sky. Beth moved behind him and laid a hand on his arm. Vid didn’t move.::
Vid: They’re late.
Beth: I know. But fretting won’t make them arrive any quicker.
Vid: Have you…
Beth: Prepared two rooms? ::She laughed.:: Yes, I have. Exactly the same as when you asked me twenty minutes ago.
::Vid went back to staring at the sky.::
Vid: It’ll be twelve years since I’ve seen him, you know. Twelve. ::He stared off into the azure sky, lost in thought.:: And the children… never met them…what are their names again?
Beth: Enric and Tal. Come and sit down and have lunch. They’re only half an hour late, and...
::In the distance, the whine of an impulse engine gently parted the air. Then the muted roar of thrusters. Suddenly from the far side of the house, maybe thirty feet up, a Starfleet shuttle appeared. It hovered for a moment, looking for the best place to put down, then sank slowly in front of the house. With a bump, it landed and shut down. Vid looked at Beth, who smiled reassuringly.::
Vid: Wish me luck.
Beth: Good luck.
::The hatch hissed open, and a Bajoran man in command red stepped out followed by a Vulcan man in science blue. Both had Lieutenant Commander’s pips on their collars. Behind them were two children. Vid stepped forward, as did the Bajoran.::
::The Bajoran did not smile, but moved forward and held out his hands palm up.::
Bejain: Vid. It’s good to see you.
::Vid placed his own palms on his son’s, face down.::
Vid: Twelve years is a long time.
Bejain: Has it really been that long?
Vid: It is. You’d just joined the militia. You brought someone with you…a Militia Captain … what was her name?
Bejain: Tara Nys. We’re still together.
Vid: After all this time? ::He shook his head.:: Amazing. Amazing.
::An awkward silence descended on the group. Finally, Bejain spoke.::
Bejain: I’m being rude. This is Lieutenant Commander Solok of the Kodiak.
::Vid moved forward and held his hand up straight in the Vulcan manner.::
Vid: Live long and prosper, Commander.
::Solok raised his hand in kind.::
Solok: Peace and long life.
::Rhys grinned sheepishly under Solok’s stare.::
Solok: I was under the impression that Bajorans of the family Rhys were physically incapable of a respectful, Vulcan greeting. ::He looked back to Vid.:: I appear to have judged too hastily.
Bejain: He can do it, I can’t. And these…
::Tal spoke up from behind Bejain, to whose trousers she still clung.::
Tal: Are you our grandfather?
::At the word ‘grandfather’, tears sprang to Vid’s eyes, tears he’d promised himself he wouldn’t shed. Beth moved to him and put her arm around his waist.::
Vid: I…I am. You must be Tal. And you’re Enric
::Tal nodded and Enric looked away.::
Tal: I’m hungry.
Beth: Then we can fix that. ::She moved forward and held out her hand, Terran-style:: Hello Bejain. It’s been too long.
::Bejain, still unsmiling, took it.::
Bejain: It has, Beth. Solok, this is Beth Robinson, my father’s wife.
Beth: Lunch is on the table, and it will not wait. We’d expected you earlier.
::The group moved towards the open verandah.::
Bejain: Traffic was busy around the station. We couldn’t get clearance for a while.
Vid: Enric are you coming?
::Everyone looked back at Enric, who stood rooted to the spot. Suddenly, he stooped and picked up a stone and threw it at the house. It went through one of the large windows at the front with a crash. ::
Enric: Go away!
::He turned and started running down the slope as fast as he could.::
::He bounded after him, and they both disappeared over a rise, leaving the rest somewhat dumbfounded.::
Beth: He’s had a rough time the last few weeks. He’s going to need some time I think.
::She smiled warmly, and turned back to the house.::
Beth: We may as well start, particularly if you’re hungry, Tal.
::They moved towards the table. The meal laid out was simple. Soup, bread, some cheeses and fruits. And two wines. Beth waved them to their places. Vid started pouring wines, talking while he did so.::
Vid: Did you meet Catya, Commander?
Solok: I did not have that opportunity.
Vid: Pity. And he’s still fugitive I hear.
Solok: That is correct, Sir.
Vid: What are his chances, Commander?
Solok: Eighty-six point eight-eight-two-five to one, against the Captain's surviving an assault on the Bon Amir by the Klingon Empire. Forty-four point zero-zero-seven to one, against surviving a Cardassian attack. Twenty-two point --
::Vid raised his hands::
Vid: Enough, Commander.
Solok: Perhaps my projections are inaccurate. ::He paused.:: In any event, the probabilities would be difficult to ascertain with anything greater than a moderate degree of certainty.
::Vid turned his attentions back to the wine and muttered something.::
::Rhys and Enric had returned about twenty minutes into lunch, Enric very quiet, and Rhys still distant, but perhaps slightly less so. When lunch was over, Bejain stood up to collect the plates, but Beth waved him back into his seat.::
Beth: I’ll do that We should leave the four of you alone. Commander, would you be so gallant as to assist me in the kitchen?
Solok: I do not believe I am capable of gallantry, Madam. But I will assist.
::The two collected the dishes and plates and moved them into the kitchen. When the arrived, Beth followed Solok’s gaze amusedly.::
Beth: No replicators here, Commander Solok. I like to cook and wash up myself.
Solok: An intriguing notion. In what manner am I able to assist you?
Beth: See that cloth? It’s called a dishtowel You dry the dishes with it.
Solok: "Dry the dishes"?
Beth: I’ll show you. ::She ran water into the sink and began washing the plates and putting them on the drainer.:: Now you dry them.
::Solok began to rub the dishtowel over the wet plates.::
Solok: Fascinating, although less efficient than even a simply cyclotron. In "drying the dishes," I am in effect returning them to a state of readiness for future use.
Beth: That’s the idea. ::She smiled, and turned to her dishes.:: How well do you know Bejain?
Solok: I have served with Commander Rhys since my assignment to the Kodiak on stardate 237912.17. He is my First Officer. ::The Vulcan paused.:: And my friend.
Beth: I barely know him at all. I’ve only met him the once, and spoken to him occasionally via subspace. What’s he like?
Solok: That is a difficult assessment to make, Madam. ::He paused, gathering his thoughts on years of friendship with the Bajoran officer.:: Rhys Bejain is…
::Beth Robinson clearly had something on her mind.::
Beth: He’s very hard on Vid. I was very angry with him for a long time for that.
Solok: If their interaction to this point in our visit is any indication of the more general state of affairs, they appear to have come to an at least tentative reconciliation.
Beth: You know the story about what Vid did during the occupation?
Solok: I do.
Beth: Well, considering Bejain’s job during the occupation, it’s understandable that he’d be angry. But its been twelve years.
Solok: Of all the emotions I have observed in my time in Starfleet, I have found anger to be the least transient. Except, perhaps, for love.
Beth: Vid is a good and kind man. He so much wanted to live through the occupation to see his family again.
Solok: Did he not conceive of cooperation with Cardassia as a betrayal of Bajor?
Beth: I believe Bajor mattered less to him than his family. When they took Ayisha … that’s his first wife … and Catya, he was all Bejain had. When they took him too…
Solok: I have made no personal judgments. As I am not Bajoran, I do not think it is my place to do so. ::He paused.:: But Commander Rhys does appear to have suffered deep emotional trauma with regard to his understanding of Rhys Vid's actions during the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor. He is not simply an angry man.
::Rhys had begun to take his leave of Vid and the children before Solok and Beth had returned from the kitchen although, as was often the case with non-Vulcan families, Solok observed that the duration of the leavetaking was exceptionally long. In this instance, it had been much prolonged by Ramara Vid's clear desire to engage his son in meaningful conversation -- although, in the end, Bejain and his father only seemed to have spoken of the children, of Rhys Catya, and of the wine.::
::Solok and Rhys were the only two occupants of the shuttle, and while the trip to Darane IV had been lively enough -- in no small part the work of a disdainful Enric and a restless Tal -- the Meze was nearly halfway through the return trip to Risa, and Rhys and Solok had only exchanged as many words as were necessary to get the shuttle offplanet and back into space.::
::Solok had been thinking on any number of things since the silence had begun, but he chose to resume dialogue on a subject he thought was very likely present to Rhys's mind as he sat, expertly piloting the shuttle.::
Solok: I suspect they will be well.
Solok: Rhys Enric and Rhys Tal.
Rhys: Oh. Yes. I hope they’ll be happy there, Solok. But it does mean that I’ll have to visit them more often. ::He looked to the controls.:: Maybe next leave I get I can take Nys and go visit them for a few days.
Solok: It is my considered opinion that such an excursion would certainly benefit the children. I suspect, however, that Beth Robinson would not be displeased at the opportunity to acquaint herself better with her stepson.
Rhys: I don’t really know her. I should know her better. ::He glanced at Solok: I suppose you think I’m a pretty lousy sort of son.
Solok: I am in no position to draw a satisfactory conclusion as to the degree of crappiness proper to your performance of your filial duties. An explanation, however, would be of some assistance in that regard.
Rhys: It’s a long and an old story, Solok.
::Solok consulted the shuttle's computer for their coordinates, easily calculating the time it would take them at their present speed to reach Risa and the Kodiak.::
Solok: More than 118.344 standard minutes long?
Rhys: Well, no, not... ::He sighed. And turned to Solok.:: Ok, you want the whole story. Only one other person in the world knows this.
Solok: When you have communicated it to me, that will make three of us. ::He paused.:: The other is Lieutenant Tara?
Rhys: It is, because she was there. ::He looked at the computer console for so long that Solok was about to prompt him, but finally he spoke.::
::The landscape was harsh in the North Glikkan mountain ranges. Jagged rocks threatened to murderously tip people over, legs and arms wiggling, and bring them sliding to the bottom of steep ravines, all charges paid, blood, red and sticky seeping from gashes and from orifices.
::The gravel crunched underfoot as Rhys Bejain and Tara Nys, terrorists in the B’laya resistance cell scrambled over rocks to get to the top of a ravine. Achieving their destination, Rhys sat down and started to assemble his sniper rifle. Tara drew a pair of binoculars from her carryall and looked through them.::
Tara: This is the location. ::She put down the binoculars and turned to Bejain.:: The ground car will be here soon. Three Cardassians and two collaborators. Can you take them all out within the time frame?::
::Rhys glanced up from putting together his sniper rifle.::
Rhys: Don’t worry. I’ll enjoy it.
::Catch on just so. Slide the butt in. Sight on.::
Rhys: Three less Cardassian pigs to worry about. And two less traitors.
::Bring the sign down and lock. Turn over and open ammunition chamber.::
Rhys: Collaborators. I hate them worse than the Cardassians.
::Check canister. Fifteen rounds. Check. Place canister in…::
::Rhys looked up.::
Tara: Focus. Don’t waste energy on hating. Just do your job efficiently and coldly.
::Rhys nodded and inwardly cursed his stupidity. B’lara, their cell leader, had just been talking about that the other day. You needed a cool head to be a sniper. You could allow nothing to surprise you.::
Rhys: I’m ready.
Tara: Good. They’ll be here in three minutes. I’ll take position around that rock.
::Rhys nodded and watched her disappear. He took his own position, balancing the rifle on his forearm draped across a rock. He waited. Waiting took a long time sometimes, and a long time sometimes. This one took forever, but at last he heard the sound of the groundcar. He had maybe thirty seconds that they’d stay in view. He checked the car when it appeared. Two Cardassian guards, one fat Gul and two Bajoran collaborators, just as their information had been.
::Quickly, Rhys sighted and squeezed the trigger. One. The driver was down. The car began to turn off the road. Two. The other guard fell. Three. The Gul fell over the edge of the car as the momentum of the bullet took him. Four, one Bajoran collaborator, who’d been diving over the edge of the still careening car.
As he went to pull the trigger, he saw the face of Ramara Vid through the scope. Bejain froze. The car ran into a rock, and Vid was thrown forward. When he stopped rolling, he stood up in full view of Rhys, his forehead streaming blood. Dazed probably. Suddenly he looked straight at Rhys, seeing only the light reflecting off the scope. He pulled out a disruptor, and fired in Rhys’ direction, missing by several yards.
::Suddenly, Tara was there, shaking him.::
Tara: What are you doing? Shoot him.
::Another disruptor bolt rent the air. Tara stood, and fired. It was a good shot, but she wasn’t a sniper with a sniper’s rifle. And it was a long shot. Vid fell backwards over the car, his shoulder bloody and burnt.::
Tara: Bejain, come on.
::Rhys stood and looked down at Vid, who was slumped over the wreckage of the car. Dead probably. Or dying. The sound of more groundcars grew in the distance. And the whine of skimmers. Tara grabbed his arm and made him run. The disassociated logical part of his brain, that was no longer in control of his body, told him that the resistance had a foxhole near here. Just maybe they could get to it and remain in it long enough for the Cardassians to move on. Maybe::
((Shuttle Meze, the present))
::Rhys sat, his head buried in his hands.::
::At the sound of Solok’s voice, he looked up, tears in his eyes. He looked at Solok for a moment, then turned to face the viewscreen, watching the stars flashing by.::
Rhys: So, you see, Solok, I betrayed everyone. I betrayed my resistance cell by not finishing a job. Vid was a collaborator I had been detailed to eliminate. And I betrayed my father and family for not protecting him when I could. If I hadn’t frozen, I could have saved him. Possibly brought him back to the resistance. What sort of resistance fighter was I?
Solok: The only sort that existed on Bajor, the only sort that has ever existed. Angry, afraid, confused, illogical.
Rhys: Logic, my friend, is a vice that eludes me still. ::He sighed.:: And you know what really bugs me? Every time I look at that face, I see him through the cross hairs again. Watch Tara shoot him. And I’m reminded that I once betrayed everyone I know, everything I hold dear.
Solok: Of the evils of war, the greatest is perhaps its tendency to complicate moral life so as to make a great many otherwise simple moral decisions impossibly ambiguous. It is unreasonable to hold yourself responsible for a choice the ultimate significance of which was, at the time you were required to choose, unclear.
Rhys: Perhaps. I still feel responsible.
Solok: Ramara Vid appears to have come to some terms with his own acts of betrayal during the Cardassian Occupation. Perhaps, on one of your return journeys to Darane IV, you ought to discuss the matter with him.
::Rhys sighed again.::
Rhys: You’re right, Solok. But it’s hard to tell you father that once you almost killed him.
Solok: Family relations are largely characterized by conflict and confrontation, Bejain. Even on Vulcan.
::With that, the pair grew silent, each with their own thoughts..::