Gershen-Siegel-Star Trek: Enterprise : Emergence

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The Daranaeans are the only sentient marsupial species in the Milky Way galaxy, and they have a hierarchical society. What started off as a difficult First Contact on February fifth of 2160 leads to an eventual friendship. Like their individuals emerge from their mothers' pouches, the Daranaeans as a society, and as a species, are emerging from their Dark Ages.


Star Trek Enterprise

Emergence A Star Trek Fan Fiction Anthology By J. R. Gershen-Siegel

PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be not be appropriate for children under 13

TrekUnited Publishing This is a fan written work The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee, Pocket Books. Any attempt to sell or rent this book should be reported to the copyright owners for their action


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First pdf online edition 26/11/2012

Published for TrekUnited by L'Stok Press 4


TABLE OF CONTENTS The Cure is Worse Than the Disease


The NX-02 meets a pleasure craft of sentient marsupials with foxlike faces. But things start to feel strange when the Daranaeans reveal a complex marriage system that proves ethically challenging for a young, idealistic doctor.

Take Back the Night


The Daranaeans call for help when Klingons invade and when Jonathan Archer and his crew come to their aid they learn that life for Daranaean women is difficult, no matter what their caste may be. Will justice be served, when one victim is a mere third caste female?



Life in a Daranaean home can have its little surprises.

Some Assembly Required


Jonathan Archer and Malcolm Reed send holiday gifts to a Daranaean family, but a little something is lost in translation. 6



Will Daranaean women ever get the right to vote?

Flight of the Bluebird


Now a captain, Malcolm Reed returns to Daranaea on a diplomatic mission to officially observe their elections. Will Daranaea move forward or backwards?


To my mother, and my fourth grade teacher, the first two liberated women I ever knew.


The Cure is Worse Than the Disease



rika Hernandez sat in the captain’s chair of the NX-02. “Steady as she goes, Ensign Brody.”

“Aye, Captain.” “Captain,” said the Communications officer, “we’re being hailed. It’s a distress call,” he said. “On screen, Mister Tate.” An alien with furry brown foxlike features said, “This is the Prisk. We have a medical emergency.” “What can we do for you?” asked Erika. “A female cap – how strange,” the alien said, 9

momentarily distracted, “this is a pleasure craft. One of ours has taken ill, and we are far from our home world. We are called Daranaeans.” “We’ll see what we can do. I’ll come over with our doctor,” Erika said. They closed the connection, and she had Tate open a channel to Sick Bay. “Ready to get your feet wet?” “Am I ever!” Doctor An Nguyen exclaimed. He grabbed his medical scanner and about as many things as he thought he would need. He was a newly minted doctor, top of his class at the Nereid Medical Academy, class of 2159. And now here it was February of 2160 and he was about to treat some alien species that no humans had ever seen before. It reminded him of why he had signed on in the first place. He met Captain Hernandez in the launch bay. “Forget anything?” she joked. “I didn’t bring the Sick Bay sink,” he said, smiling under a load of portable medical equipment, “I’m hoping they have their own water source.” =/\= The ship was small, but seemed to be incredibly luxurious. The scents of jasmine, cantaloupe and, what was that? Maybe hibiscus? Those scents floated in the air when the airlock was opened between the shuttle and the Prisk. The alien they had seen during the distress call greeted them. “My name is Elemus,” he said, “this ship belongs to me.” “I am Doctor Varelle,” said another alien with him, 10

who was pied brown and white. “Wait, I don’t understand,” Doctor Nguyen said, “if you already have a doctor, might I ask why you needed our help?” “Doctor Varelle doesn’t treat that kind,” Elemus said. An gave Erika a look behind the aliens’ backs. New cultures, he kept reminding himself. There were several children in the halls, mostly, Erika figured, between the ages of perhaps two and six, if their sizes were at all comparable to how human children develop. Most were boys although there were a few girls in the mix. Most had tan fur. The children ran and skipped and played, much like any children, although they did quiet down when Elemus went by. They finally arrived at a door. Without knocking or hitting any sort of a chime, Elemus went right in. “This is my Prime Wife Thessa,” he said, introducing a woman. Unlike Elemus, she was rather grey. “I was very expensive,” Thessa said, “Are you his Prime Wife?” she asked Erika, referring to An. “No, actually, I’m the captain of the vessel out there,” Erika indicated through a window. “How very strange,” Thessa said. “I’m the doctor,” An said, “are you the patient?” “No. A moment,” Thessa disappeared into another room and then returned, with a very pregnant tanfurred woman, “this is the patient.” 11

“I was somewhat expensive,” said the tannish one. “Um, okay,” An said, “what seems to be the trouble?” “I’ll be all right,” said the tan one. “No, you are ill,” insisted Thessa, “you must think of the child.” “Yes,” said the tan one. “What’s your name?” An asked, getting out a hand scanner. “That’s not important,” Thessa said. “Well, I’d like to know her name anyway,” An said, “so long as it isn’t classified or something.” “Libba,” the tan one whispered. “Okay,” An said, “just relax. Ah, I see the trouble; you’ve got a bit of an infection.” “Is the child all right?” asked Elemus. “I’d like to take her to our ship and use our equipment, if that’s all right,” An said, “I can mainly just guess here, but on the Columbia, I can get better readings.” “You have quite a bit of equipment with you. Are you sure you need to remove her?” asked Doctor Varelle. “We have an imaging chamber,” An said, “it was a bit too big for me to carry.” Thessa, Doctor Varelle and Elemus conferred elsewhere. Another female Daranaean came in, also 12

pregnant. She had more reddish fur and quickly departed without speaking. “Who was that?” Erika asked. “Cama,” Libba said softly, “she was not too expensive.” “Oh,” Erika said. Whatever that meant. “We will allow this if Thessa can come along,” Elemus said. “I don’t see any reason why not,” Erika said, “in fact, why don’t you come along as well? My chef could prepare a meal and we could get to know one another better. We’ve never had contact with Daranaeans before.” “That won’t be necessary for that one. Thessa will bring our food with her. It is very important for a developing fetus that there be proper nutrition,” Doctor Varelle said. “Um, yes, of course,” An said. =/\= In the Sick Bay on the Columbia, An had Libba lie down on a bed which he slowly moved into the imaging chamber. “You all right in there?” he asked her. “I am strong,” she said. “I have no doubt,” he replied. After a few minutes, he let her out and injected her with a hypospray. “The infection should clear up in about an hour. You are, it looks like, about six months along, if I am interpreting this correctly.” 13

“Oh, then labor will come soon.” “Labor? Your baby is very small,” An said, showing her the scan. “See? He’s only a few centimeters long.” “A boy child? Elemus will be pleased. And, the size is good. Here, I will show you why.” She lifted her top. There was a fold of skin over her bare abdomen. “Is that what I think it is?” An asked. “What do you think it is?” “If I’m not mistaken, it’s a pouch. Are you marsupials, by chance?” “I do not know this word,” she replied. “That’s okay, we, uh, on Earth, there are two kinds of mammals, those that bear their young pretty fully formed, and those who have it early and it develops outside, in a pouch. And I think you’re that kind, which is called a marsupial.” “Is that a very expensive kind?” she asked. “Libba, we don’t really buy and sell marsupials. Or people, for that matter.” “How strange. It is, our people, the females are bought. The first caste is most expensive – they become prime wives. Those who are in the middle are secondaries like I am. The last wife is like Cama is,” she explained. Thessa came in. “Are you finished with the cure?” “Almost,” An said, “she says she’s going to be in labor soon. Will Doctor Varelle be able to deliver her 14

child?” “Doctor Varelle does not treat this caste,” Thessa said. “How is she expected to have the baby?” An asked, incredulous. “The way they have had litters for generations,” Thessa sniffed haughtily, “the other one will deliver it.” “Other one? You mean Cama?” An asked. “You talk too much,” Thessa said to Libba, who looked down. =/\= Erika sat down to dinner with Elemus, Doctor Varelle, Thessa, An and the First Officer, Hamilton Roget. “Do all Earth vessels have female captains?” Elemus asked. “Oh, no,” Erika replied, “the NX-01 – the Enterprise – is our counterpart ship. That one is under the command of a man named Jonathan Archer. There are lots of other ships, and there are going to be two more NX-class star ships, at least for now – the Challenger and the Discovery. I don’t know who’ll be in command of them, but we don’t look at gender as a requirement for leadership.” “How odd,” Thessa said, “we only have males in charge of things.” “Do, um, do all Daranaeans have three wives?” Roget asked. “Only the wealthy ones,” Elemus explained, “it’s a 15

perk of having money. A Prime Wife, like Thessa – they are very expensive! Then the secondary costs less but they usually have the majority of the offspring. And then the lowest, well, they are for extra offspring, of course,” he said, “but they aren’t very useful. The one I have is,” he sighed, “well, she only cost one hundred and sixty Stonds. So you can imagine how unimportant she is.” “I have told you, Elemus,” Doctor Varelle said, “A bargain is never really a bargain! The lowest one has only had two – this one will be the third. But the secondary, well, this one will be the eighth.” “Do you have any children, Thessa?” An asked. “Three,” she said, “They are older and already off to have families. Two males!” “Yes, you have been very useful,” Elemus said. “Libba’s child is due soon,” An said, “or, at least, that’s what she tells me. It’s small, but I was able to determine its gender.” “Oh, and is it a male?” asked Elemus. “It is.” “Definitely more useful than the lowest one!” Elemus crowed. “Well, she was purchased for nine hundred and thirty Stonds,” Doctor Varelle said, “as for the other one, well; you get what you pay for.” =/\= Erika was back in her Ready Room when there was a communications chime. “Yes?” 16

“Captain, the Daranaean ship is hailing us again,” Tate said. “I’ll take it in here. Yes?” “As we had expected, the secondary one is in labor. Could your doctor take care of things? There appear to be some complications,” Doctor Varelle explained. “I’ll get him. Bring her here,” Erika said. =/\= An reversed the bed’s direction to bring Libba out of the imaging chamber. It was just the two of them. “Can I ask you something?” “Yes, but I am in pain.” “I know, here, this will help,” he gave her a low dose analgesic, “who is the baby’s father?” “Elemus, of course,” she said, “there can be no other.” “I see. And the children with tan fur? Are they all yours?” “They are Elemus’s.” “But you gave birth to them, right?” An asked. “I was privileged to be the vessel.” “I learned that this is your eighth child,” he said, “wait, I’ll tell you when to push.” “It is, this is better than most times. I have been in dark rooms and sometimes the ones I have been with are not well-versed.” “Doesn’t Thessa know what to do?” 17

“Thessa does not do these things.” Libba said, “It is for the lowest caste to do.” “Okay, ready to push?” Libba nodded. It was all over quickly, because the baby was so tiny, only a few centimeters long. Libba tied her top up high on her chest and placed the baby in the pouch. He wriggled around a little until he was situated. “Now he won’t come out for a half a year or more.” “Do you, uh, how many more children are you planning on having?” An asked. “Plan?” “Yes. Don’t you, um, doesn’t anyone plan how long you’re going to continue having babies? You can’t have them forever, you know.” “I almost – may I tell you something in confidence?” “Yes, of course,” he said. “I don’t, I don’t want anymore. They, the pregnancies, they are getting tougher each time. You saw what happened this time. I am afraid that next time there will not be a doctor like you, and the child or I will die.” “Can you tell Elemus that you don’t want anymore?” “I don’t understand,” she said. “Can you go on birth control, or just not have relations?” An asked. “I do not understand,” she repeated, “there is no 18

refusal of relations; my opinion in this matter is not important.” “Libba, it is important,” he said, “you’re entitled to decide what happens with your own body.” “I am not,” she said softly. “What, um, what would happen if you could no longer have children?” he asked, suddenly getting an idea, “would you be punished somehow, or lose your status and become a part of the lowest caste?” “No, at least, I don’t think so – we cannot change castes,” she said, “When we are done having children, we take care of the ones that exist already. Could, um, could you do that? Make it so that I could have no more?” “Are you sure that’s what you want?” he asked, beginning to back pedal. He didn’t want to offer that, at least, not without talking to someone about it first. “I am not sure of anything,” Libba said, “for it cannot be anything where he,” she indicated the pouch, where the baby was moving around a bit, “can possibly be hurt.” “I’ll make sure that he’s safe,” An said. “And you, you won’t tell Thessa or the others?” “No.” “Then please proceed.” “Hmm, before I do anything,” An said, “I should talk to two people.” “Elemus?” Libba asked, frightened. 19

“No. Just my captain and, well, and another doctor, who’s been a mentor to me. And you, you should talk to Cama.” “Cama?” she asked, “but she wasn’t that expensive.” “Does it matter? She’s in the same boat you are. She’s also supposed to be a baby-making machine, right?” “She has miscarried several times,” Libba said. “Then I can have her brought here. And that would be a good idea, anyway. She should be examined while she’s pregnant. Maybe I could prevent another miscarriage.” “They don’t believe in medicine,” Libba said, “none of the lowest caste do.” “Maybe they just don’t have access to it.” =/\= With Libba sleeping on one of the Sick Bay beds, An clicked open his Communicator, “I’d like to speak with Doctor Phlox.” “Doctor Nguyen! This is a pleasant surprise! How goes it on the NX-02?” “I, uh, I have an ethical question.” “I see. Well, I’ll do my best to answer it, or at least help you to get to the answer.” “Doctor Phlox, we made first contact with a species. They’re, uh, well, they’re sentient marsupials.” “How intriguing.”


“But they also have a rigid caste system, although I think that’s only for the women.” “Oh?” Phlox asked. “Yes. The, uh, the women seemed to be divvied up into three classes. And they’re bought and sold like commodities. The most expensive get, I believe, the most privileges. They seem to be well-educated, and it appears that they might even have some control over their bodies. I admit my sample size is rather small.” “You said there were other castes.” “Right,” An said, “the second class isn’t too welleducated, but at least they let me treat that one. She, uh, she’s almost like a brood mare. She’s just had her eighth child. She tells me she’s not allowed to refuse if her husband wants to have relations. She doesn’t even know what birth control is.” “And the third class?” Phlox asked. “I met that one only briefly. She didn’t even speak to me. The one in the second class says that the lowest caste doesn’t even believe in medical care. She’s pregnant, too, but no one, at least I don’t think so, no one has examined her.” “What is the problem that you need my guidance for?” “It’s like this. The second caste woman – Libba – she’s asked me to sterilize her. And I got to thinking. The third caste one, Cama, she might want that as well. Or, at the very least, I should examine her. Libba says that Cama has miscarried several times.” 21

“No wonder, if there is no prenatal care. Doctor Nguyen, you know we are not supposed to interfere with other cultures. It rarely works out the way one expects.” “I know that,” An said, “but they came to us because Libba had an infection. Their own doctor wouldn’t even look at her! But they’re the ones who’ve opened the door – at least when it came to her. Plus with Cama, there’s a child involved. She might refuse care, but don’t the needs of the fetus at least tie with her needs and wants?” “It is also possible that this, this Cama, she might not refuse medical intervention at all,” Phlox mused, “I would say, offering an examination of her is perfectly fine, and justifiable under the circumstances. As for the remainder, have you spoken with Captain Hernandez yet?” “I wanted to talk to you first.” “I see. Speak with her and see what she has to say before you go any further. Let me know how it goes. Phlox out.” =/\= “Captain, may I speak with you a moment?” “Sure, Doctor, come on in.” “I received a call from the doctor on the NX-02 today. You may remember An Nguyen – he and his class were here for a residential rotation a few years ago,” Phlox said. “I’ll take your word for it.” 22

“Captain Archer, he’s got a serious ethical dilemma.” “Oh? Uh, and not that I mind the company but, uh, what can I do?” Jonathan asked. “Well, I told him to speak with Captain Hernandez. Perhaps she will wish to speak with you. I figured you should be ready for that.” “Oh, uh, well, thanks.” “Captain, it’s somewhat similar to when we encountered the Vissians.” “So they have three genders?” “Well, they have what is essentially a caste system,” Phlox explained, “but it appears to be solely confined to the females of the species.” =/\= “So Captain,” An continued, “I just feel like Libba and Cama are being exploited. It’s like the only organs that they have that anyone is interested in are their uteruses and their pouches.” “And …” Captain Hernandez said. “Well, that, too,” An admitted, “I just, I can’t help feeling morally squeamish about the whole thing. How can a purportedly advanced species treat some of its members as if the only thing they’re good for is to be barefoot and pregnant?” “Let me think about this,” Erika said, “I don’t have a problem with you asking to give Cama an examination. But if Elemis, Thessa or Varelle refuse, there isn’t a lot that anyone can do about it. You’ll 23

have to let it go.” “And what about Libba?” “I would rather that she didn’t have any expectations. Dismissed.” =/\= Erika dictated. Captain’s log, supplemental. February sixth, 2160. We have had first contact with a humanoid marsupial species called the Daranaeans. Their culture appears to be rigidly defined by castes. I can’t say whether the people we met are typical. Maybe they aren’t. If they are typical, then the implications are troubling. This is a society where women are divided into three types. Bought and sold like cattle, the most expensive seem to be educated and privileged and, I suspect, in some control of their reproductive lives. The second caste is less expensive apparently, and seems to serve as little more than incubators, producing children at the whims of the men and with little control over their reproductive destinies. As for the third type, they seem to be the most isolated. Being a member of the bargain basement caste is, I suspect, not a life that any Daranaean would want to live. =/\= “I’m not sure,” Elemus said, “we don’t normally do this.” 24

“Well, I was thinking, since you’re here anyway, and since Cama has reportedly had a few miscarriages, it might be a good idea for me to give her an examination,” An explained. “There’s little reason to go to such trouble for one that is so inexpensive,” Thessa said. An played his trump card. “Well, what if she’s carrying a male child? If I can prevent a miscarriage, then that would be worthwhile, wouldn’t it?” “The other one did have a male child today,” Doctor Varelle said, “and by all accounts the child is healthy.” “Don’t you wish to see your son?” An asked Elemus. “I don’t do such things until they are out of the pouch,” Elemus said, “right now, there’s nothing to see.” “Got it,” An cringed, “And about Cama?” “Very well,” Elemus said, “but don’t hold her for too long. You already have the other one.” “Well, I’d like to hold Libba and your son for observation for a little while, and make sure that that infection doesn’t come back,” An said, “your son could still die.” “Very well,” Elemus said, but it was clear that he was losing his patience. Thessa went into the back room, and could be heard to say, “Come!” she clapped her hands twice, “You will go to the other ship. You will not touch anything! You will only speak when you are spoken 25

to!” Thessa returned with Cama, who seemed a bit bowed. “Ready,” Thessa said. An opened the door, “I’m Doctor Nguyen,” he said to Cama, who just stared as they walked. Once they got onto the Columbia, she turned to him, “Are you purchasing me?” “No,” An said, “I’m just going to give you a physical examination, make sure you and the baby are okay. And, um, Libba is in Sick Bay; you could visit with her.” “She is foolish,” Cama said. “How so?” “She gives it all up even when she doesn’t need to. It would be smarter to wait until it’s absolutely necessary. That way, maybe it can be bargained for more value.” “What are you talking about?” An asked. “Sex,” she said, “we are compensated with food or blankets or the like, for being compliant. I learned, when I was little, to hold out until it was vital.” “Is that why you’re valued the, uh, way you are?” “No, I was born this way,” Cama explained, “we can’t move from caste to caste. I will be this way forever, until I die.” “Here we are at Sick Bay.” They walked in. “Ah, Libba, you’re awake. Let’s get you something to eat.” “I can eat what Thessa had sent with me.” 26

“It’s no trouble; I’m sure there’s plenty of food in the galley.” “No, I am not allowed,” Libba said. An gave up on that, “Here, Cama, if you could get on this bed, please, I’ll move you into the imaging chamber.” “You are unfamiliar with our ways,” Cama said as she hopped onto the bed, “for no one would ever say please to the last caste.” An just stood there and swallowed, trying not to comment. He looked at the screen and then reversed the bed to get it out of the chamber. “I see you’re going to have a boy as well.” “Ah, it’s good to know that modern science confirms the ancient tests,” Cama said. “Tests?” An asked. “Yes. You see, we can tell, by testing the mother’s saliva, whether the child is male or female. For a male, I allow the pregnancy to go forward. For a female, no,” Cama said. “So those weren’t miscarriages,” An said. “Induced miscarriages, yes,” Cama said, “for it does me little good to have girls.” “I don’t understand,” Libba said. “In the last caste, we pick and choose our children, for there is little to lose, but even that little bit will be lost if there are too many girl children. So I have chosen to only allow the boys to live,” Cama said. 27

“Cama, what if – the doctor here says that I could make it so that I would have no more babies. Wouldn’t that sort of operation also fix things for you?” Cama looked at An, “You should not do that for her.” “Why not?” Libba asked. “I will, one of these days, I will die. I keep getting more and more tired, and weaker. The last time, it was less than a month from when I gave birth to when I became pregnant again. I was sick and weak and still pouch feeding, but already moved onto this one,” she indicated the baby in her pouch. “I do not think I can do this anymore. I don’t want to do it anymore.” “You must,” Cama said, “for they will not allow you to stay if they find out you have voluntarily stopped your ability to bear children.” “And if they find out you have been voluntarily miscarrying, how will they feel about that?” “I can scarcely be treated any worse,” Cama said, “I will manage.” “But when I am done, they are supposed to allow me to live, and care for the children,” Libba said. “You have the chance to do that, yes,” Cama said, “for me, that day, when it happens, when I can no longer have babies, it will be my last day. And I, I need for you to live, so that at least this one,” she patted her belly, “and my two others will be raised by you, and not by Thessa. Can you do that?” Libba thought for only a moment. “I will do that, if I 28

live.” “I take it that Thessa doesn’t have such restrictions,” An said. “No, she does not,” Cama said, “she is already past the time of bearing children, yet she stays, and will stay until her death. She does nearly nothing, preferring to have us fetch and carry for her, even when we are huge with children.” “Is your entire society like this?” An asked. “I suspect it is,” Cama said, “they do not let me out much; I know what I do from before I was purchased.” There was a communications chime. An answered it, “Sick Bay.” “Doctor,” it was Captain Hernandez, Daranaeans want to leave. Can they?”


An looked at the two women. “Yeah, I, uh, I guess they can.” =/\= Medical log, February sixth, 2160. We have had first contact with a sentient marsupial species called the Daranaeans. Females carry their fetuses for about six months and then the child, who is only a few centimeters long, is placed inside the mother’s pouch, which is located on her abdomen. The child then stays there for about a half a year. Daranaean society is a rigid class system oppressing the women. The highest level are 29

treated the best but are well aware of their position and use it to further exploit the other two, lower, castes. The secondary caste is sandwiched in between and mainly serves as a producer of infants for the men. They are expected to bear children until they die doing so or, if they are fortunate enough to survive to menopause, they are granted a retirement whereby they are still required to care for children. As for the lowest caste, they are perhaps the most heartbreaking. With no birth control and no rights, they are locked in their homes, also expected to be baby-making machines. However, because male children are preferred, and because lowest caste women don’t wish to pass their misery on to another generation, they voluntarily miscarry as many female children as they can without rousing suspicion or losing their place. When menopause comes for them, they are reportedly euthanized, considered to be worthless to their society. For them, menopause is a death sentence. An offer to permanently sterilize a secondary caste member was rejected, as being found out by the man would have proven fatal, and the third caste woman needed the other one to survive and ensure the future of the third caste children. Hence, in some ways, what should have been a cure would have only resulted in a worsening of the women’s situations. I do not wish, normally, to add my own value 30

judgments into my medical logs, but I feel, in this instance, that I must. I hope, even though such a species is medically intriguing, that I never have to encounter Daranaeans again. Respectfully submitted, An Nguyen, MD


Take Back the Night

1 You say you want a revolution? - Lennon/McCartney “No.” “No?” “I said no,” said the female. “You cannot,” said the male. “I said no!” There was a hard blow, and a body fell. =/\= The children were all in the learning room. All, that is, except for Seppa, for she was a last caste female, and it is said that they don’t believe in learning. But 32

the eldest male child heard the sound, and ran over. He was chased by the adult secondary female. Even though she was pregnant, again – for the twelfth time – and pouch feeding another, she did her best to follow him. He was a teenager, about fifteen years of age, and readily outran her. The other children followed. There was the secondeldest male, who was the secondary’s first child. There was the eldest female, who was also the child of the secondary. Then the next four were the remainder of the Prime Wife’s children. Then the next seven were more of the secondary’s children. Then the next two were the lowest caste woman’s children. Then followed a very young female, Minna, toddling along, another child of the secondary. The secondary’s last child didn’t have to run, of course, for she was firmly ensconced in her mother’s – the secondary’s – pouch. Breathless, the eldest male smacked the door panel with a hand that had rust-colored fur on its back. The door slid open and the eldest male gasped. The lowest caste female lay on the floor, orange blood oozing from one temple on the side of her whitefurred foxlike face. She was not moving. The secondary caught up and hesitated before entering, but the children ran in before her. She felt compelled to collect them. “Arnis, a thousand apologies,” she said, brindle-furred head bowed. He looked up, a little nonplussed. “Clean this up,” he commanded. “Father,” asked the eldest male child, “what if her 33

fetus was a boy child?” The question hung in the air for a moment. That could not just be carried out like the trash. “We will, we will get the authorities, I suppose. It was, you will see that it was justified. They are not permitted to refuse.” “Mistra,” Arnis said, “you and Cria clean up in here. Everyone else must leave.” “Yes, Arnis,” the secondary female said, and her eldest girl child helped her as they mopped up the blood and rested the dead woman – Inta – carefully on the floor. “Oh, and Mistra?” Arnis said. “Yes?” said the secondary female, looking up from her task briefly. “You will stay in here tonight for relations, now that Inta is ….” “Yes, Arnis,” Mistra went back to what she had been doing and her hand trembled a little. Cria held her hand a little to get her to stop. Arnis left the room and the door closed. It was just Cria and Mistra. Cria said, “Mama is this how it is?” “Yes. This is how it will be when you are sold to your husband as a secondary. But some are not so hot-tempered. I pray you end up with one of them.” =/\= Doctor Rechal came quickly. “That is the lowest caste, Arnis,” he sniffed as soon as he saw the body. 34

“Understood, and worthless for refusing relations. Still, my son Vidam is wondering if she was carrying a boy child.” “This will be a very different matter if she was carrying a boy child,” Doctor Rechal said, “Where is Dratha?” “My Prime Wife is out for the day.” “Very well. I will check right now. But if I find it was a boy child, well, you know the consequences,” Rechal shook his grey spotted head. He went outside to the garden and plucked a sprig of an herb from a boxy hedge and brought it back. He swabbed the inside of the dead woman’s mouth with it, to catch what remained of her saliva. The leaves turned an ashy grey. He looked up at Arnis from the floor. “What does this mean?” Arnis asked. “Call Dratha and have her come home at once, for I must call the authorities. Inta was carrying a boy child, and I believe they will charge you with fetal murder.” =/\= “I have to go!” Commander Reed exclaimed, but he was laughing when he said it and didn’t really mean it. The picture on the viewer was priceless. His son, Declan, was covered in pancake flour. The little fellow was only three and a half, and had taken it upon himself to somehow make breakfast. He had figured out how to get the flour and that he needed a 35

wooden spatula. After that, he had apparently become somewhat lost in the recipe’s details and had proceeded to rap the kitchen floor with the spatula while occasionally tossing small handfuls of flour on the floor in front of and behind him. The still photograph captured him in mid-rap and flour was flying in the air all around him. “Now, Declan,” Malcolm Reed said, as the viewer picture changed and it was the familiar scene of his son and the boy’s mother, “you are very kind to be helping Mummy but I think you should leave the breakfasts to her, at least until you’re four.” “Da-addy! Pancake!” “Oh, that’s a new word,” Malcolm said, “I’m sorry I’m missing that.” “It’s what we both figured would happen when we had him,” said the boy’s mother, “You’ll be back soon, though, right? I’ve got lots and lots of artwork to give you. And I miss you like crazy.” “Yes, I will, my love,” Malcolm said. There was a Communications chime. “Sorry, but now I really must leave. My best to everyone. I love you both.” “Bye-bye, Daddy!” Malcolm answered the chime. “Yes?” “Malcolm, I need you in the main conference room,” said Captain Jonathan Archer, “there’s a message coming in from Admiral Gardner.” “On my way, sir. Reed out.” The USS Zefram Cochrane’s entire Bridge crew was 36

present. Malcolm – the First Officer and Armory/Tactical Man – took his place next to Captain Archer. They had worked together on the old NX-01 – the Enterprise – but that ship had gone to a museum. It had been the first Warp Five vessel. But the Cochrane – DC-1500 – was a Warp Six ship, in the brand spankin’ new Defense class. It had a cloak and everything. Compared to the Enterprise, most of the rooms, even the brig, were like ballrooms. The remainder of the Bridge crew was present – Communications Officer Lieutenant Commander Hoshi Sato, Pilot Lieutenant Travis Mayweather and Science Officer Ensign Lucy Stone. Lucy was new, replacing the Vulcan T’Pol, who had gone back to her home world when the NX-01 was decommissioned. Rounding out the group were Chief Medical Officer Doctor Phlox and Chief Engineer Jennifer Crossman Ramirez. Jennifer had been promoted when Tripp Tucker had died and, truth be told, so had Malcolm. Jonathan had been planning on making him a Commander but it was Tripp who was supposed to be the First Officer on the Cochrane. But things had not turned out that way, and so Malcolm, who had recently returned from paternity leave, was made First Officer instead. “On screen, please,” Jonathan said to Hoshi. She fiddled with controls and Admiral Gardner’s face appeared in a split screen with a similar conference room on the DC-1502, the Excelsior. “I’m glad I’ve got everyone,” Gardner said, “We have an interesting situation. The end of the Romulan War didn’t just help us bring together the 37

Coalition of Planets, which is now called the Federation, as you all know. In addition, it exposed other threats. With the relatively recent loss of the N’Vak Colony, the Klingons are looking to expand.” “I thought you said Romulans,” Jonathan said, “are they working together now?” “I think they’re giving each other a wide berth,” Gardner replied, “but they are definitely working in concert, even if it’s informally. It’s like they want to approach us and our allies from both sides and slowly contract the area around us.” “A pincer movement, much like Daniel Morgan used at the Battle of Cowpens in the American War of Independence?” Malcolm asked. His counterparts on the DC-1502, First Officer Hamilton Roget and Tactical Officer Stacey Young, nodded in agreement. “Precisely,” Gardner replied, “but things are a bit different now.” “I imagine they would be,” Captain Erika Hernandez of the DC-1502 replied, “how so?” “There’s a system that’s asking for our help. They’re located near the Klingon-Romulan border. There’s a planet called Khitomer nearby. But this other world, they don’t want to just let the Klingons or the Romulans roll over them. I think we’ve got a tremendous chance to not only make friends but to really drive a wedge in there and prevent the Klingons and the Romulans from ever making an effective pincer formation. These people are reportedly very loyal. If we get them on our side now, I’d say we’d have allies for a very long time.” 38

“What’s the name of this planet?” Lucy asked. “Daranaea.”


2 Know your rights, all three of them – The Clash

“So we are agreed?” Arnis asked, a bit anxiously. “Yes, yes, of course. I appreciate your supporting my research into finding a cure for thylacine paramyxovirus,” Doctor Rechal said. “And you will not say anything?” “As we have agreed. The blame will lie with the secondary, and we will say that she was jealous of your attentions with respect to the last caste female.” “Plus the secondary has had two daughters recently. Who’s to say she isn’t having another?” Arnis complained. “Useless.” 40

“You know that I can check the gender of her fetus as well.” “Don’t,” Arnis said, “I have enough going on right now. We have contacted that Federation of Planets. They are going to send representatives here. Elemus is now on the Council and he met them a few years ago. He says they seem to have different ways but their ships look to be powerful. They are odd, though, humans. They even had a female captain on one of their vessels!” “Perhaps it was some special program,” Rechal said, “maybe she had men advising her. I cannot imagine a female being put in charge of anything so important and complicated.” “They may be strange, but I think they can help us with the Klingons. And I don’t need the distractions of a murder trial while I am negotiating with them. I will now contact the authorities, and have them take Mistra away and have her pay for the death of the boy child held by the female vessel from the last caste.” =/\= “Daranaea?” Erika asked, “So it’s them again.” “Yes, I feel it’s important to bring you in, Captain Hernandez, as you’ve had contact with the Daranaeans before,” Admiral Gardner said. “I think I remember that name,” Jonathan said, “There was a First Contact report a few years ago. But I can’t recall the details. Intelligent marsupials?” “Captain Hernandez?” the admiral asked. 41

“Actually, Doctor Nguyen spent the most time with them. Care to talk about them?” she asked An Nguyen, her Chief Medical Officer. He looked a little green around the gills. “I, it was a few years ago. We were contacted by a pleasure craft and I was asked to look at a patient. When Captain Hernandez and I got there, we learned they had a doctor, but that he had refused to treat this patient, a pregnant woman.” “But why?” asked Jennifer. She patted her own belly. Ines wasn’t due for another seven months. “It is,” An continued, “they have a rigid caste system, but it’s apparently only for the females. This woman was in the middle caste. Evidently only the upper caste is allowed Daranaean medical care, or at least is allowed it under all circumstances. So this, this secondary, she was basically being kept barefoot and pregnant. She told me that she had become pregnant while still pouch-feeding her youngest.” “My,” Malcolm said, touching a dull grey metallic cuff on his left wrist. He often touched it when he was troubled or upset. It was a gift from her – Declan’s mother – and he never took it off. Touching it made him feel a bit like she was there, with him, when he was away and needed her the most. “There is also a third caste,” An stated, “they aren’t let out much at all. I was able to give her an examination, but it was after a lot of convincing of her husband. She was not supposed to get medical care at all, despite the fact that she, too, was pregnant. And,” he took a deep breath, “I’m not even 42

so sure that husband is the right word. Owner seems more correct. They used the terms husband and wives, but those women were all purchased.” “Yes,” Erika added, “the first thing that the Prime Wife said to us, not even a hello – she told us that she was very expensive. It seemed like a point of pride with her. The secondary told us that she was somewhat expensive. As for the third one, she didn’t talk until Doctor Nguyen had her alone in Sick Bay. I am thinking that being cut-rate isn’t something to brag about.” “And now they want our help?” Jonathan asked. “Yes,” said Admiral Gardner, “they have Warp capabilities and they have a militia, but they aren’t really set up for space battles and the like. Now, I realize that dealing with them might be difficult, but they are in a strategic location and they are trying to be friendly. Elemus, the owner of the pleasure craft from First Contact, reportedly set up the connection. Elemus is now on their Beta Council. Their Alpha is the leader of their government, a man named Arnis.” =/\= Mistra was still a little shaky, so she did something that often made her feel better. “Come here, children, and we will do more learning,” she said, and led them back into a room devoted to that, which had a small board and writing implements. Even Vidam came over, although he knew all of this already, for he was beyond home learning and attending a big school in preparation for his maturity. He was already in the sixth year of ten, and 43

had received more big school learning than Dratha and any other Prime Wife on Daranaea. But then Seppa came over. “No,” he said to her, “this is not for you. It is Father’s rule. You are last caste. You must go in the other room.” Seppa did as she was told but she cried a little. She was only a little child, and didn’t seem to understand. “All right, ready?” Mistra asked, looking a little sadeyed that Seppa could not join them, but that was Arnis’s rule. “We will look at the picture writing today. We put pictures together and make bigger words. Here, now,” she drew on the small board, a figure eight on a forty-five degree angle, “what is this?” “That is the symbol for sun,” said Cria. “Right! And this?” Mistra drew a kind of backwards J character, with a double line.

There was silence. Finally Vidam spoke up. “That means up or high.” “So when I put them together, what word do I get?” Mistra asked. This time the second-born son – her own son, Trinning, who had had a year at the big school, 44

answered, “Sunrise?” “Right!” Mistra smiled, “You are all so clever. Arnis, Dratha and I, and, Int –” she almost mentioned Inta, “We are very proud of you.” “Why doesn’t Seppa learn?” Cria asked. “Seppa is in the last caste,” Vidam explained, “they aren’t taught to read and write. Father says that they don’t believe in it.” “But Seppa wanted to be here with the rest of us,” Cria insisted, “she has no mother now, and is afraid to be alone. She is but a little thing.” “She was wrong,” Vidam said, “for Father says she does not belong here. When she is older, she will understand better.” There was a sound and the door of the children’s learning room opened. It was Arnis, with Rechal, but there were also two armed security officers. Mistra stood up as quickly as she could. “What, what is this?” “Are you Mistra?” asked one of the security officers while the other one sniffed her. “She is from the secondary caste,” concluded the sniffing security officer.


“I, I am Mistra,” she said, getting scared. “You are being charged with the death of a boy child,” said the first security officer. “What? I do not understand.” “The last caste female. When you killed her, she was carrying a boy child. This act carries with it severe penalties,” said the second security officer, “and execution is not uncommon.” “I did not – Arnis! Arnis, tell them! I did not hurt Inta! I would never hurt Inta!” The children all looked up, furry faces framing big, alarmed eyes moving to gaze at one parent’s face and then another. Arnis was silent and impassive. The two security officers took Mistra’s hands and put them together. One of them shot a magenta beam from a wand. “Do not try to move your hands apart,” he said, “or the paralytic field will become bigger. Come with us. You are to be incarcerated. Your penalty will depend upon whether you, too, are carrying a boy child.” “Arnis! Please! I am, am, I am innocent!”


3 When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right – Victor Hugo Dratha came home to a house in disarray. The children were either crying or aloof, all with sad eyes. Only Cria was doing anything. She was trying to start dinner, which would be a simple dish of meat with vegetables and gravy. “Where are Mistra and Inta?” Dratha asked her, “This is their job.” “I, Dratha, I don’t ….” Cria turned away, so as not to show the Prime Wife her sad eyes. Arnis came into the kitchen. “Greetings, my priciest one! I desire you this evening.” “Arnis, what is going on? The children are upset for 47

some reason. Only the eldest secondary daughter is helping with anything. Even my own are overwrought and showing sad eyes. No one will tell me what is happening. Where are Mistra and Inta?” “They are at the Security Office.” “Security?” asked Dratha, “What has happened?” Vidam came in, and he, too, had sad eyes, but he was lured by the smell of cooking food. He was in time to hear his father say, “Mistra has murdered Inta. She was taken into custody, and the body brought there for evidence. It is very shocking.” “Husband,” Dratha said, “that is so very strange. Mistra is flighty and a little dumb, perhaps, like all secondary females,” she said this even though Cria was standing right there, “but she is not – at least, I have never known her to be, to be violent. I have known her for over ten years.” “Are you questioning me?” “No,” Dratha backpedaled, “I am merely pointing out how very strange it is.” “Vidam, you will explain that I speak truth,” Arnis said. Vidam swallowed hard and shifted his weight from foot to foot, “I, uh, I did not see it.” =/\= Doctor Rechal had come with Mistra and the security officers. “You will determine whether she is carrying a boy child,” one of the security officers had commanded him. He plucked a leaf from a nearby 48

common plant and brought it to her. “Put this in your mouth and get your saliva on it, then take it out and give it to me.” Mistra was still too shocked to do more than what she was told. She presented the wet leaf to him. It had turned to an ashy grey. “She is carrying a boy child,” Rechal said, “This is incontrovertible proof.” “Then she is not to be executed immediately. We will appoint an advocate and a guardian for the boy child,” said the other security officer, “Her trial will be in a few days, if we can get a judicial panel together quickly enough.” There was a noise at the door to the Security Office. “The damned press!” swore a security officer. “What the hell do they want?” The door opened, and four Daranaean males came in, with small cameras and PADDs. “Are you the secondary to our Alpha, Arnis?” one of them asked Mistra. “I, I am.” “What are you being charged with?” “I, I’m not sure. Inta ….” “The last caste one’s body, I see it over there,” said one of the reporters, “you must be charged with her killing.” “I suppose so,” Mistra said, “but ….” “You will leave now, and give the Alpha his 49

privacy,” Rechal commanded. “There is a story there,” said one of the reporters as he left. =/\= “What do you expect us to do?” Erika asked. “We’d like you to go there. It should take less than a day, we figure,” Admiral Gardner said, “and then go to the surface, make friends and see what they really want. I’d like to know just how bad these incursions really are – are we talking about a misunderstanding that maybe can be resolved diplomatically, or are they on the brink of an all-out war?” “We could study them a bit more medically and scientifically,” Phlox said, “I realize that’s not the mission, but this is an extraordinary species. We don’t know of any other sentient marsupial species anywhere in the galaxy.” “Can I speak freely?” An Nguyen asked. “Of course,” Erika said. “They aren’t easy to be around. It took me over a year to stop feeling guilty about leaving the two; I guess you’d call them lesser wives to their fate. I found it jaded me a bit, as both a doctor and an explorer. Just, just be prepared. I am happy to pass all of the data, every scrap of a report I’ve got about them, to everyone in this meeting, but I want you to know that this might be emotionally draining.” =/\= Lucy read over the reports, the medical logs, 50

everything that had been given them. Then she read them again. She sighed. An Nguyen had been right – it was taking something out of her to read about the plight of the Daranaean women. She contacted the Communications Officer. “Hoshi, I’d like to call Ben Collins, on Europa.” “Sure thing, here ya go.” “Thanks. Hi, Ben, how have you been?” “Pretty good. I’ll get Gina,” Ben said, looking uncomfortable. “Look, Ben,” Lucy said, “I know things between us aren’t always great, but you have been such a wonderful father to Gina. I can’t imagine anyone who could have ever done better.” “What’s bringing this on?” he asked. “I just, I just wanted you to know. I know I don’t say it often enough. I know we haven’t been in love with each other for years, but you have made it possible for me to be out here. I don’t know if that’s an act of love, but it’s definitely an act of kindness.” “Without you,” he said, “there wouldn’t be a Gina. So I owe you,” he said, and then he turned away from the viewer, “Gina! Your Mom’s calling!” =/\= Jonathan and Malcolm sat down together in Jonathan’s Ready Room. Porthos, the captain’s beagle, lay on a dog bed nearby. “Are you comfortable with this mission?” Jonathan asked. 51

“I am prepared for anything you need for me to do.” “I know that. I am talking about the specific fact that you are a father. The report said that their treatment of female children isn’t exactly nice.” “I’ll make sure I’m all right, sir. Have you gotten a chance to look at pictures?” Malcolm asked. “They’re very furry.” “They seem to resemble Porthos here a bit,” Malcolm said, “I wonder if their hierarchy is what a wolf pack evolved into.”


4 The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall – Che Guevara The trip was, as promised, done in less than two days. When they were within range, the Communications stations on both ships got mighty lively. “Captain, I’ve got, well, it’s not just hails,” Hoshi Sato said, “but it’s also, well, there’s entertainment programs, news, military broadcasts, even a cooking channel.” “Well, I think I just want to talk to the, what do they call their leader?” Jonathan glanced over at Malcolm. “The Alpha, sir.” “Alpha, then, uh, his name is Arnis. Maybe we’ll 53

take in the Daranaean late box scores later.” “Of course, sir,” Hoshi smiled, and then got the communication on the main viewer screen. “I am Arnis, the Alpha of the Daranaeans.” He was tan-furred, greying a bit, and was sitting in what appeared to be a Council Chamber with what seemed to be other Daranaean dignitaries, all male. “I’m Captain Jonathan Archer of the starship Zefram Cochrane. You, uh, Admiral Gardner informed us that you would be expecting us.” “Ah, yes, excellent. There is a second ship arriving as well, we see it on our screens,” said Arnis, “we are very pleased that you are here! You may have seen, as you were coming in, the issues with the farthermost planet in our system. There is a modicum of construction going on, and I assure you that it is not of our doing. It is the Klingons, and while we are unsure of their intentions, well, it is not their planet to conquer or build upon, even if all they are adding are small settlements.” He paused for a moment. “I see your counterpart ship is hailing us as well. Split screen, please,” he said to a male Communications specialist nearby. “This is Captain Erika Hernandez of the USS Excelsior.” “We have heard of you,” Arnis said, “for Elemus, who met you and your doctor – he is now a member of our Beta Council. He informed us that your people are very interesting, and your technology is impressive.” 54

“I’ll, I’ll tell our doctor that we saw you again,” Erika said, swallowing a little when she spotted Elemus in the Council Chamber. “We hope you will come down to our planet’s surface,” Arnis said, “For we are asking, we know, a very large favor. We hope that we can show you some hospitality. I will combine my household with Elemus’s for the evening, so that we may most properly welcome you.” Jonathan turned away and surreptitiously motioned to Hoshi to cut the sound. “I didn’t think we’d be breaking bread with them.” “Well, sir, perhaps it could be both ships’ captains, doctors, science officers and first officers,” Malcolm suggested, “so, four of us from here and three from the Excelsior. At the very least, we could get scientific readings, even if the rest of it goes pearshaped.” Jonathan nodded at Hoshi to get her to restore the sound. “We’d love to. Thank you for extending such a warm invitation.” =/\= Doctors Phlox and Nguyen had some medical scanning equipment with them. “I suppose I’ll see them again,” An sighed, “I’m not so sure I can face them.” They had gotten out of their shuttles at nearly the same time, just outside of a stone dwelling with large windows. Lots of little furry heads of various colors, and pairs of brown or blue eyes, watched from the many windows. “Well, from what you’ve told me, and what I’ve 55

read, I don’t think that Elemus’s two lower-caste wives will bear you any ill will. For them, unfortunately, this is all somewhat business as usual,” Phlox replied. Hamilton Roget and Lucy Stone had scientific scanners. “I hope it’s not considered impolite to use one of these,” he said. “Maybe after dinner,” she suggested. Malcolm just stood with Jonathan and Erika. “At least it’s a beautiful day,” he finally said. Arnis and Elemus came out to greet them. “Come in, come in!” Arnis exclaimed. “We would have used my home, but I am only down to one wife.” “Oh, uh, that’s fine,” Jonathan said, already feeling the odd vibe. A greyish rust-brown woman came out first. “I was very, very expensive,” she said. “I am Dratha, Prime Wife to Arnis.” Just behind her was another grey female. An recognized her – she was Elemus’s Prime Wife, Thessa. “I was very expensive,” she said, before adding her name, “Please come into my home.” An enormous raft of children ran by – tan, brown, brindle, reddish and even two were off-white. “Are these all yours? You seem to have had more since we last saw you,” Erika said to Elemus. “Oh, only fourteen of them are my younger ones. The others are Arnis’s. He is down to only one wife, and he cannot leave them all alone at his home.” 56

There were three women putting out food. An recognized two of them – Libba, Elemus’s secondary wife, and Cama, his lowest caste wife. They both looked older, and tired, and pregnant, weary with the weight of the world. The other one was brindle and seemed considerably younger. “I thought you only took three wives,” An said to Elemus. “And we do. Oh! You must mean Cria here. She is Arnis’s eldest daughter, the child of his, his secondary,” Elemus stated. “I am hoping to sell her for at least eight hundred Stonds once the time is right, a few years from now,” Arnis said, “once the scandal blows over.” “Scandal?” Malcolm asked, touching the metallic cuff on his wrist just a little bit. =/\= On board the Cochrane, Hoshi was in command but the detail was a bit slow. Travis turned back to her and said, “The captain said maybe they had late box scores.” “You do realize that was a joke, don’t you?” “Well, sure, but we’ve got a chance to learn about a culture from its own transmissions. It might be more telling than what they’re doing down there on the surface.” “Hmm, I guess it won’t do any harm,” Hoshi said. She went to the Communications station and toured around the broadcasts until she hit one that sounded really interesting. 57

=/\= “Doctors, would you care to speak with some of our physicians?” Elemus asked Phlox and An. “That would be good,” Phlox said. An nodded. Elemus took them to a small private room and helped them to get a Communications link to Doctor Rechal. “He is our foremost physician,” Elemus explained. “I am willing to answer any medical questions you have about us,” Rechal said. They spoke for a while, and then An asked, “What’s your average life expectancy?” “It depends. For males, it is one hundred and seven years. For Prime Wives, it’s ninety-three years. For secondaries, it’s sixty years. For the last caste females, it’s forty-five years.” “Is there a reason for the disparity among the castes?” asked Phlox. “Yes, it’s due to the large number of pregnancies sustained by the two lower castes. Plus last caste females are always euthanized when they are fully menopausal.” An and Phlox looked at each other a little nervously. “Do you have any questions for us?” An asked. “I do, actually, if you don’t mind,” Rechal said, “I have a major illness I have been studying, called thylacine paramyxovirus. It crosses both genders and all caste lines. I do not wish to have you find a cure 58

for me – please don’t misunderstand my intentions! We value our independence as a people. But I do hope that there will be some ways to exchange information and ideas. The deaths that the paramyxovirus causes – we do our best to replace our population by having many children but we are not quite perfectly keeping up these days.” =/\= In a small cell in the Security Office, Mistra lay on her side. She had been given two mats – most prisoners only got one – because of the boy child she was carrying. But she only had one blanket. At home – a word that made her sniffle a little – she would have had a big blanket and a little baby blanket. The smaller blanket would have been put around her shoulders with the big one on her legs. She had to keep her belly bare because of the baby in her pouch. Covering her belly could mean possibly suffocating the pouchling, so she was very careful. A security officer came in. “You have not been eating,” he said. “I have not hungered,” Mistra sat up on the mats. “You must eat for the sake of the boy child,” he said, “If you refuse another meal, we will begin to forcefeed you. So I advise that you eat this meal.” “Y-yes.” She began to eat, slowly. For the boy child, she thought to herself, and for the girl pouchling. “We have determined that the boy child is innocent,” said the security officer. “Oh! That is good news, yes?” 59

“For him, yes. As for you, we will have a trial but it does not look good for you,” he said. “But I am innocent. I know this.” “Your testimony is worthless, you must understand. Not even Prime Wives are allowed to simply testify in open court. No female’s testimony can be authenticated without corroboration from a male. So when you are convicted, you will be allowed to live until the boy child is born. And then you will be executed.” “Executed?! But you said I would have a trial!” “Which I am certain you will lose,” the security officer said, “for the Alpha has said that you are to blame.” “But my pouchling! What will happen to her and the boy child?” “The boy child will be given to your husband and his Prime Wife to raise.” “And the pouchling?” “That is an accomplice,” said the security officer. “How is that possible? This is a pouchling, less than half a year old!” Mistra cried. “I do not make the laws,” he said, “but the pouchling is a witness who did nothing to stop you from committing your foul deed. Our laws are that witnesses to foul deeds must try to prevent them, or risk being accused as well. The pouchling did nothing to stop it.” “She’s a pouchling!” 60

“Are you questioning my interpretation of our laws, things that you, a secondary, cannot possibly understand?” “But I could – could I give her to my husband and his Prime Wife? Please?” “And let an accomplice get away with murder? I hardly think so.”


5 Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one – Marianne Williamson “Captain, have you any children?” Arnis asked Jonathan. “No, I never married,” he replied. “Never married? You are indeed different from us,” Thessa said, “for we all wed.” “Except for the lowest caste, if there are extras, and there are sometimes,” Elemus said, “they are sometimes not sold as mates, and are practically given away to medical facilities for their experiments! And then there are some poor men, and 62

they sometimes take pity on them, I suppose, and take them in. It is a practice that is just barely this side of legal.” “What is, if I may ask, other than cost, the difference among the three castes? Is it coloring, perhaps?” Malcolm asked. “You cannot tell?” Thessa was incredulous. “No. What is it we’re supposed to be observing?” Hamilton asked. “The aroma,” Elemus said, “it is rather strong to us. Prime Wives always smell the best. Then the scent of the secondaries is pretty good. Come closer, Cria, and let the captain smell you.” “Uh, it’s all right,” said Jonathan, “we don’t have very good noses.” “The lowest caste barely smells at all!” Thessa said. “Is anyone here from the lowest caste?” Lucy asked. “There is Cama from this house, but there is just one child,” Dratha said, “for the lowest caste female who belongs to this house has only had boy children.” An raised an eyebrow. He knew why – it was due to selective abortions. “Where are the children?” “Most of them are in the learning room,” Dratha said, “except for the last caste child.” “Why isn’t she in there?” Erika asked. “They don’t believe in education,” Thessa said. “I, I see. So this one child is your daughter, Arnis?” 63

An asked. “The child of Arnis’s lowest caste female, where is she? They should see her. Cria, go get Seppa,” Dratha said. Cria returned with a little girl with off-white fur. The child was, perhaps, four years old. “My, my son is about your age,” Malcolm said to her gently. The little girl looked down and said nothing, fidgeting a little. “Are you his Prime Wife?” Cria asked Lucy, referring to Malcolm. “Oh, no,” she said, “we just work together. But I have a little girl. She’s a little younger than you, I think. Where is your mother?” Cria looked down, a little panicky. =/\= On the Cochrane’s Bridge, they watched the broadcast coming from the surface. “We’re receiving sketchy reports,” the reporter said, “but it appears that the Alpha’s lowest caste female was killed by the secondary. Mistra, the secondary, is being held pending trial. A trial is allowed, and not just an immediate execution, because the prestigious Doctor Rechal has determined that she is carrying a boy child.” “What?” Hoshi asked as she and Travis and the rest of the Bridge crew watched the broadcast on the main viewer screen. 64

“You better make sure to record this,” he said to her. “Good thinking,” she fiddled with controls at her station. The broadcast continued. “What is most interesting is that Mistra is apparently protesting her innocence. This appears to be a contradiction to what the Alpha said and, if she speaks truth, it could be a source of some discomfort for the Alpha while our guests are here. We have sent a reporter to the Alpha’s home as we understand the Federation guests are there, and should be able to get you some exclusive first-ever seen pictures of barefaced humans.” Hoshi went back to her station and contacted Captain Archer. “Sir, we were just watching a broadcast from the surface. It looks like the press is coming over.” “They’re already here,” Jonathan said, “uh, Archer out.” =/\= “Captain, I must apologize for the disruption, but we have a very free press here on Daranaea. It is one of the prides of our democracy. They do ask a lot of prying questions, but the people must be kept informed!” Arnis said, “Do you, uh, mind the intrusion?” “Not at all,” Jonathan said, smiling tightly. There was one reporter, who had a kind of greyish 65

blue merle coat, and a photographer, who was tan. The reporter spoke. “My name is Craethe. I would like to interview you and your subordinates.” “Well, Captain Hernandez is equal in rank to me,” Jonathan said, pointing out Erika to the reporter. “How very strange,” said Craethe, “and that brings me to my first question. Is she your Prime Wife?” “I thought I answered this one,” Jonathan joked, “I’ve never married. In fact, the only one of us here who has married is Doctor Phlox.” “You are a different species, yes?” “Yes, I am Denobulan,” he said. “And your Prime Wife is at home?” asked the reporter. “I have, well, I come from a culture that also has three wives, but we refer to them as first, second and third.” “So, your first wife is at home?” Phlox smiled. “The only reason they’re called first, second or third refers to when I married them. It does not refer to status. And, I might add, each of them has three husbands.” “That is rather shocking,” Craethe said, “females on our world only have one husband, even if he dies young. May I ask about children? I realize these are intimate questions but our viewers would love to get to know you a bit as individuals. There is much curiosity and speculation. This will give you a chance to set the record straight.” 66

“I have five children,” Phlox said. “And how many are boys?” “I have three sons and two daughters,” Phlox said. “Do any of you others have children?” Craethe inquired. “I have a son,” Malcolm said. “And I have a daughter,” Lucy added. “Are they promised to each other?” Craethe asked. Malcolm laughed a little. “My son is only three and a half years old! Lucy’s daughter is – how old is Gina again?” “She’ll be nine later this year.” “Well, perhaps he’ll prefer an older woman, and take after his old man,” Malcolm said, “but I don’t think he’ll care much for at least a few more years.” He smiled a bit. “Do you arrange marriages?” Erika asked, “We were under the impression that brides were purchased.” “They are,” Craethe explained, “but in wealthier households, like Elemus’s and Arnis’s, sometimes the transaction is agreed upon beforehand. Prime Wives generally aren’t auctioned off to the highest bidder.” But apparently the other two are, Malcolm thought to himself, and quickly his merry mood went back to being nervous and unsettled and he sought solace, as he often did, by touching metal.


6 The seed of revolution is repression – Woodrow Wilson Hoshi and Travis kept watching the Daranaean broadcast. “We have some still photographs from the home of Beta Councilor Elemus. Oh, this is exciting! These are the first ever pictures of barefaced humans!” gushed the news reader. Pictures were then projected on the broadcast. There was Jonathan standing and smiling and shaking hands with Arnis, and another was of the two doctors standing together with Elemus. There was another one of Malcolm and Hamilton standing with Elemus and Arnis. “I don’t see any photographs of Captain Hernandez 68

or Lucy,” Travis pointed out. “And there aren’t any of the men’s wives. Didn’t the reports say that the wealthy ones all have three wives? There have gotta be women there, I figure,” Hoshi said. “Maybe they’re camera shy. Or maybe those pictures just aren’t up yet,” Travis suggested. =/\= There were no pictures of the human women because they had been looking to escape the press’s questions. Erika and Lucy walked toward the back of the house, exploring a little. They almost stumbled over Cama, who looked down. “It’s all right,” Erika said, “do you remember us? You met Doctor Nguyen a few years ago.” “Yes, I remember. He is kind,” Cama said. “I hope we’re not intruding,” Lucy said, “but those questions were getting to be a bit much. When they asked us to show off our pouches, well, we don’t have pouches.” “And we’re not exactly interested in baring our stomachs just for a press photograph,” Erika said. Cama shrugged. “I am not asked to because I am in the last caste.” An came over. “You had about enough, too?” Lucy asked. “Yep, I was a little tired of the prying, asking why I wasn’t married yet. Reminded me of my grandmothers! Cama, how are you feeling?” He 69

couldn’t help it, to be a doctor, and took out a scanner and checked her. She had lost some weight since he had last seen her. Her pouchling moved, its silhouette visible just under her skin. “I am often tired, as is Libba. We are, as you can see. It gets harder every time. Doctor, can I, can I ask you something?” “Of course,” he said. “Do you use Krivian Weed?” Cama asked. “I’ve never heard of it,” he said. “It is how we determine the gender of our young before they are born. Come outside, and I can show you, if you like.” With little else to do, the three of them went outside with her and over to what looked like a box hedge. “See, all you do is you take off a little sprig. And you stick it in your mouth and get saliva on it.” She demonstrated, and then pulled the leaf out. “It has turned grey, see? That means I am carrying another boy child, just like my pouchling.” “What color does it turn for a girl?” Erika asked. “A dark purple-red,” Cama replied. “And what if you do this and you’re not pregnant, or if a man does it?” An asked. “Then the leaf stays green.” Cama took a deep breath. “It has a good smell, kind of a mint, so many families grow it. I do not leave here often. I am not allowed to leave without a male escort, but the garden is pleasant, and today is a pretty day.” She 70

sniffed the air. Libba came over to see what was going on but didn’t take a leaf for herself. “Children’s learning is done for the day.” Her own pouchling seemed to turn over. An scanned the hedge and its leaves and didn’t find any poisons. “I wonder if this would work on humans,” he said, “I can’t find anything in here that can possibly hurt us.” He broke off a sprig and stuck it in his mouth, then fished it out. As expected, it was green. “It even tastes a little minty. Anyone else care to try?” “Uh, sure, why not?” said Erika, who broke off a leaf. Lucy did the same. When they presented their sprigs, Erika’s was green and Lucy’s was a mulberry color. “A girl child!” Cama exclaimed, smiling and clapping her hands. “But I’m not, uh…” Lucy said. An turned the scanner on her. “I take it this is unexpected,” he said, “I think you’re about a week and a half along. Phlox will be able to tell better once he gets you into the imaging chamber.” “We have a ritual,” Libba said, “when we find out that a wife is carrying a child. Would you like to participate in it? It’s very fast.” She, too, was smiling – it seemed as if it was the first time since they had arrived. “Um, sure,” Lucy said, still a little shocked. 71

The two Daranaean women joined hands with her, and with each other, forming a triangle. “First, the Prime Wife would speak. She would say, ‘I am the Prime Wife. From me you will receive guidance.’ And then the secondary,” Libba said, “that’s me, I say, ‘I am the secondary. From me you will receive learning.’” “And then I speak”, Cama said, “and I say, ‘I am the last caste female. From me you will receive service.’” “Then the mother speaks,” Libba said. “What do I say?” Lucy asked. “You say, ‘I am the mother.’” “I am the mother,” Lucy repeated. “‘From me you will receive love.’” “From me you will receive love.” Lucy repeated. “That’s beautiful.” “We also have a ritual for birth. That is for all of the women in the household. Would you join us, Captain?” Libba asked. “Why not?” This time, Erika, Libba and Cama joined hands and Lucy stood in the middle. Libba again began. “First the Prime Wife would speak. She would say, ‘I am the Prime Wife. I will give direction.’” Then I speak, and I say, ‘I am the secondary. I will give time.’” “Then I speak,” said Cama, “and I say, ‘I am the last caste female. I will give labor.’” “Then the mother speaks”, Libba said, “She says, ‘I 72

am the mother.’” “I am the mother,” Lucy repeated. “‘I will give nourishment.’” “I will give nourishment,” Lucy repeated. “Then the daughters speak,” Cama said, “they go in turn, first the Prime Wife’s daughters, in age order, then the secondary’s, and then the last caste female’s daughters. What they say depends on whether it is a boy child or a girl child. For a girl child, they say, ‘I am’ – and then they say their name.” “I am Erika,” Erika said. “‘And I offer sisterhood’,” Cama said. “And I offer sisterhood,” Erika repeated. “What’s the difference if it’s a son?” An asked. “Then the sisters say, ‘and I offer sisterhood and obedience when you are older.’” Libba said. “Oh, and your baby must have a gift!” Cama broke ranks and rushed into the house. “You don’t have to give me anything,” Lucy said. “Oh, we have extras. Ah, there it is,” Libba said. Cama had in her hands a small, light yellow baby blanket and presented it to Lucy. “I think this is the softest thing I’ve ever felt,” Lucy said. “It is, their skin is very delicate,” Cama explained. “The mother, while the child is a pouchling, the 73

mother cannot cover her own belly with a blanket, because the pouchling cannot get enough air. So the mother uses a regular blanket on her legs and a little blanket like this by her face and chest. This also passes over the mother’s scent to the blanket.” “When the pouchling comes out for the first time,” Cama said, “the entire family is involved. The baby is named, and swaddled, and given the blanket that the mother has been sleeping on. This keeps the baby warm and it helps the baby to sleep better.” “Thank you so much,” Lucy said, voice breaking a little bit. “Even girl children deserve a gift,” Cama said, “yes?” Lucy just nodded. “Could, um, could we keep this between ourselves until we get back on the ships? I, uh, I better talk to Andrew before I talk to anyone else.” “Of course,” An said as they made their way back to where the others were. =/\= “Look, you’re right, there’s a picture of the women,” Hoshi said after several more minutes. It was a picture of Lucy and Erika. The news reader said, “How very strange! Our reporter on the scene, Craethe, tells us that the women state that they do not have pouches. What a fascinating race these humans are! We will tell you more as this story develops.”


“I wonder if they asked for proof,” Travis said. Hoshi was about to comment when there was the sound of a Communications hail. She went over to her station to answer it. “Hiya, Tate,” she said. It was the Communications Officer from the Excelsior. “Hoshi, we think we picked up something on longrange sensors. Can you confirm? We’re looking at the farthermost planet in the Daranaean system; you know the one where the Klingons are building something? We think we’re detecting nuclear fission there.” “I’ll check it out, and alert Captain Archer. You’d better call Captain Hernandez as well. Sato out.” She first turned off the Daranaean broadcast so that they could see the main viewer, and then worked the controls, “Captain Archer?” “Go ahead.” “We think you’re about to get some company. Actually, we all are. The Excelsior thinks they detected nuclear fission on that remote planet.” “Got it. We’ll head back. Archer out.” “Are your people in danger being here?” Arnis asked. “No, but the shuttles could be fired upon,” Malcolm said, “I recommend beaming up, sir. We could collect the shuttles later, I suppose.” “Good idea,” Jonathan said, “do you, uh, mind if we leave them here?” he asked Elemus. “Not at all. Hopefully, this will only be a short 75

interruption in your visit.” They got into the shuttles. Libba came over to say good-bye. “Doctor Nguyen,” she said, “I hope we see you again soon.” “I hope I see you, too,” he said. She looked so thin and tired, despite her pregnancy. He had been pleasantly shocked that she was still alive. They departed. =/\= Mistra waited in her cell. For what, she did not know. She leaned back on the mats and lifted the top of the pouch carefully. Looking back at her were huge dark brown eyes, framed by a little face with brindle fur and soft, whisper-thin whiskers. The pouchling continued nursing but watched her intently. “I know I’m not supposed to do this, for you can get cold,” Mistra said, “but I know you’ll be out in maybe a week.” She reached in with her right hand and gently stroked the pouchling’s head. “The family is supposed to welcome you when you come out of the pouch for the first time. I’m afraid it will only be me. But I will welcome you, and I will name you then.” The pouchling just kept nursing and staring at her as she spoke. “And then two months after that, your little brother will be born. Can you feel him, moving around just below you? He will come out and, and, we will welcome him and,” she paused. Normally, the child would be welcomed by the females just after he had gone into the pouch. But she was it, and she knew 76

that, once the boy child was born, he would be taken from her, and would never be placed inside her pouch. And then she and the pouchling would be taken away for execution, “I,” Mistra couldn’t help it, but began to weep a little, “you and I, we will, when your, your brother is born, you and I, we will go to the place with all of the good smells. We will be together forever and we will never be cold or sick or hungry. I, I just wanted to, to look at you right now, so that we would be sure to remember each other, and be able to find each other, when we go to the, the place with all of the good smells.” She could not help it, and wept, looking down at the pouchling who would not be permitted to live for very long, and for the most foolish and unjust of reasons that she did not fully understand.


7 If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution – Emma Goldman Hoshi began to get a bit more alarmed as sensor readings came back. It wasn’t just nuclear fission that was going on. It seemed that there were energy signatures. Those were, perhaps, indicative of Klingon ships coming into the area. She sent Jennifer Crossman Ramirez to run the Transporter, two at a time and then thought better of it and went over to meet the captain and everyone else in person, leaving Travis briefly in charge on the Bridge. Malcolm and Phlox beamed up first. “What’s the trouble?” Malcolm asked as soon as he saw her. “I think we’ve got ships in the area. There are 78

energy signatures.” “Very well. I’ll go to the Bridge and relieve Aidan and take a look at whatever readings he’s got. Doctor, I suggest you prepare for the possibility of triage. And, and, I’ll sound the alert.” Phlox nodded, and jogged down a hallway to get to a lift and head to Sick Bay. =/\= “Call an emergency meeting of the Beta Council,” Arnis said to Elemus as the humans were departing, “I would like to send our fleet. We may not have a lot of firepower, but we should show our good faith, and try to help out our new friends. I want them to know that we don’t want them to just do everything for us.” “Yes, sir,” said Elemus, who got the Communications specialist to open a channel to carry out the Alpha’s request. =/\= “Mother, may I speak truth with you a moment?” Vidam asked Dratha when they had returned home. “You may always speak truth with me, my first born.” “Mother, I, I went into the room, into Father’s room when I heard a crash. And, and it was just he and Inta. She was on the floor and bleeding from her head. She was not moving. Mistra then came in after me and so did the younger ones. Mistra was only coming over in order to intercept the younger ones.” “I want to understand what you are saying, Vidam,” 79

Dratha said cautiously, “when you came in, you were but the third person in the room? And Inta was already gone to the place with all of the good smells?” “Yes, Mother. It, it seems so wrong, what happened, and for Mistra to be blamed. I feel she did nothing, but will pay horribly. It is, I feel, it is unfair and unjust.” “You speak truth?” “I speak truth.” “We will, something must be done,” Dratha said quietly, “let us think about what can be done about this. Tell no one what you have just said to me, my first born. I, I feel it would not be safe for you.” “I will be careful, Mother.” =/\= As they flew out to the farthest reaches of the Daranaean system, there was a Communications hail. “It’s from the surface,” said Hoshi. “On screen,” said Jonathan. “Captain, I’m glad we caught you,” said Arnis, “we have contacted our fleet and sent a pack to intercept you.” “A what?” “We have small ships. They do not have very good firepower but they are fast, and will probably get there before you do. We use a pack formation. The Alpha pack leader is named Acreon. He will be contacting you. Perhaps you can work together. We 80

are prepared to help you – we do not wish for you to fight all of our battles for us. We do value our independence.” “I’ll wait to hear from him. Archer out.” He turned to Malcolm. “Anything?” “Ah, I can see them now, Captain,” he replied, “There are a few dozen ships coming in. He’s right; they’re rather small. I suspect they aren’t much larger than our shuttles. Decent armor but, as he also said, the weaponry is not the best. And they are definitely moving quickly.” “Travis, can you estimate a speed for them?” “Warp Seven, I think,” Travis said. There was another Communications hail. “I’ve got Acreon,” Hoshi said. “On screen.” “I am Acreon, Alpha pack leader.” He had white and brown fur patches. “I’m Captain Jonathan Archer. We’ve got your ships on our sensors.” He glanced over at Malcolm, who nodded. “Good,” Acreon said, “we can draw fire and give chase. Let us know how we can work with you.” “Malcolm?” Jonathan asked. “Actually, sir, can we get Captain Hernandez and Lieutenant Young? I have an idea.” “Hoshi?” Jonathan asked. “Getting them now, sir.” She paused. “Go ahead.” 81

It was a split screen. “Commander Reed’s got an idea for a strategy,” Jonathan said. “Yes, well, Lieutenant Young, how do you feel about reenacting the Battle of Cowpens?” “Yes!” Stacey Young exclaimed. “You do realize it’s how the Americans kicked your ancestors’ keisters, don’t you?” “I do,” he said, “But a good battle plan is a good battle plan, I figure.” “You’ll have to tell me the details,” Acreon said, “for I am unfamiliar with your history.” =/\= Mistra must have nodded off. Her fingers had slipped slightly – the ones that she had stroked the pouchling’s head with. Her right index and middle fingers were now a little farther down. And they were being gripped, tightly, by a tiny hand. She lifted the top of the pouch again. “I should not just show you sad eyes. You deserve to see happy eyes a bit, too.” She smiled at the pouchling, who continued nursing and staring, and gripping her fingers. “You are my littlest girl child,” Mistra said, “the eldest of the ones where I was the vessel, he is Trinning. Then comes Cria. There are eight more, can you believe that?” =/\= They engaged their cloaks and got into position. The Daranaean ships did not have cloaks. They 82

seemed to be very spare, with the only extras being defensive ones or related to speed. Those ships could do Warp Eight, although it did strain them to do so. They were roughly cylindrical in shape, and were only big enough for two men. A few slowed down and showed themselves, and began to orbit the planet. Others made lines either just above or below the poles. Most of the other Daranaean ships hung back. A Klingon ship appeared from behind the planet. “Klingon vessel,” Acreon sent out a hail, “we are here to defend what is ours. This is your only warning.” “Puny ships!” laughed a Klingon captain. “You’re like ankle nippers. This should be simple.” He closed the connection without further comment. The Daranaean ships continued on their courses, either orbiting the planet, traveling in a line by either pole, or hanging back. And the strategy worked, for a disruptor shot was fired. The Klingon ship fired upon one of the lead Daranaean ships and destroyed it. Other Daranaean ships circled back behind it and then another Klingon bird of prey appeared, dropping out of warp. Then a third Klingon vessel appeared, on the other side, also dropping out of warp. The Excelsior briefly reappeared and fired on the second Klingon ship, and then recloaked itself. Jonathan looked to Malcolm, “What’s next?” “We need to come about,” he said, “Travis, run us 83

back to just starboard of the second Klingon ship, see? The Excelsior will be coming ‘round to the other side, here. The Klingons know about the Excelsior, but not about us.” More Daranaean ships moved in, drew fire, and got the Klingon ships to maneuver. Pretty soon, the three Klingon ships were relatively tightly bunched together. “We can see the whites of their eyes,” Jonathan said, “I’d say it’s time to decloak and fire.” “Right you are, sir,” Malcolm said. He disengaged the cloak and brought the weapons up quickly. The Cochrane turned and fired at the second Klingon ship’s port nacelle, and damaged it, but that ship did manage to get off a shot at the Cochrane. The Bridge rocked. “Report!” Jonathan yelled. “Engineering is a little shaken but it’s nothing we can’t handle,” Jennifer shouted back as two people behind her worked to put out a small fire. The Excelsior then decloaked, too, and they fired upon the first Klingon ship’s starboard nacelle. That ship, too, was damaged. The Excelsior then recloaked. The third Klingon vessel was the one in the middle. It was busy picking off Daranaean ships, but now the ones that had hung back maneuvered behind. They fired their weapons, all at the same time, at both of that ship’s nacelles. “How bad is the damage to that last ship?” Erika asked. “Not as crippling as I’d like,” Stacey Young said, 84

“Permission to decloak and fire?” “Granted.” A shot from the Excelsior hit that ship’s port nacelle just as a shot from the Cochrane also hit the same nacelle. The nacelle exploded from the impact. That ship seemed much more seriously damaged than the other two. The three Klingon ships departed as quickly as they could. Acreon opened a channel to the two Earth ships. “Ankle nippers, indeed.”


8 You can jail a Revolutionary, but you can't jail the Revolution – Huey Newton The remaining Daranaean ships returned to their base. The Excelsior and the Cochrane returned to orbiting Daranaea. “I suppose we need to collect the shuttles,” Jonathan said, “open a channel to their Beta Council,” he said to Hoshi. “Ready.” “Captain! We were just about ready to contact you. We want to thank you for what you have done for us,” Arnis said. “Would it be all right if we returned tomorrow to pick up our shuttles? I think my people would like to rest and, frankly, I wouldn’t blame them.” “By all means. Next time, I hope to have purchased 86

new wives and will be able to properly entertain you in my own home. We are a loyal people and we owe you our appreciation. Thank you again. Daranaea out.” Jonathan sighed. “I’ll be in my Ready Room.” =/\= Jonathan dictated once he got into his Ready Room. “Captain’s star log, April nineteenth, 2165. Today we spent some time with the Daranaeans. The reason was twofold, so far as I am concerned. One reason was to see if we could, perhaps, get off on a better foot with them, as First Contact was rather difficult. The second reason was to determine whether a perceived threat by the Klingons was truly as bad as they had said. We learned that it was.” He paused to sip a glass of iced tea. “We engaged in a small battle with three Klingon Birds of Prey. We managed to damage all three of those ships, including fairly heavy damage to one of them. I don’t know if the Klingons will be returning. There was nuclear fission detected and so I figure they will probably want to return and continue whatever they were doing, whether it was weapons testing or generating power. I fear that there will be more of these engagements.” He paused briefly. “The battle was conducted with not only the Cochrane and the Excelsior, but also with a 87

number of Daranaean ships, under their Alpha commander, a man named Acreon. The Daranaeans don’t have a lot of firepower but they did draw fire from the Klingons and helped to corral them so that the Cochrane and the Excelsior could fire most efficiently. Several Daranaean ships were lost in the attempt, but they also succeeded in helping us repel the Klingons. Their help was invaluable. We were damaged only slightly. I doubt we would have gotten off as easily as we did without them.” He backed up the log to listen to what he had so far, and then continued. “The Daranaeans’ willingness to fight and die with us makes the rest of this that much more difficult. These seem to be decent people, with much to offer the Federation, and not just in terms of our being able to study them. But their treatment of women is appalling, and it makes me wonder – as the Federation grows, will we begin to have minimal standards for membership? Or will we take in just anybody? What I am asking is will we ever have a minimal standard for sentient beings’ rights?” He stopped dictating, unsure of what to say next. =/\= Back in his quarters, Malcolm made a call. There was only one person he wanted to talk to. “Oh, hi,” she smiled as soon as she saw it was him on the viewer. “I’ll go get Declan.” 88

“No, no, please, not yet. I should like to speak with only you.” “Of course,” she said. “We had contact with a species today, called the Daranaeans,” Malcolm said, “and I, I don’t quite know what to do.” “I’m sure you’ll figure something out. You always do.” “We, it’s that, we fought a battle with them today. Side by side, as it were, and some of their ships were lost and their people were killed.” “What about the Cochrane? Are you okay?” she was distressed. “I am all right, and we didn’t have any injuries beyond a few little bumps and bruises. But they had some deaths and ship losses. They, they wanted us to help them repel Klingon incursions, and we did. But I wonder if there will be more days like today. The Klingons, I suspect, will return.” “So you think this is a sticky tar baby you’re getting yourselves into?” “That’s a part of it. But, you see, it’s also because of the way they treat their women. They buy and sell them, they readily dismiss their opinions, I, it’s hard to watch.” “You don’t have to spend time with them all the time, you know.” “I know. But if this wasn’t a strategic location, I doubt very much that we would be here at all. We 89

are caught, a bit. They are,” he said, touching the metallic cuff again, “rather hard to take. I met a little girl, about Declan’s age. Under other circumstances, I would have encouraged the parents to stay in touch, and perhaps the children could play together some day. But this little girl was frightened of me.” “Well, you were a stranger.” “Probably, but it was also that they said that all of the younger children were in some sort of learning room, except for that one. She was deliberately being kept out of it. They said that that caste didn’t believe in education.” “Well, if they’re bought and sold, I imagine they’re a bit like slaves,” she said, “and didn’t American slave owners keep their slaves illiterate?” “That’s right,” he said, “I, can I ask something?” “Ask anything, any time.” “Would you be very disappointed if I were to resign?” “Resign?” “Yes, I, I haven’t thought this all the way through, but I am thoroughly disgusted by this. Their people clearly have impulses to help, but with the way they treat their women, I fear I shall never be able to look any of them in the eye. They are wrong, they are so very wrong.” “Have you talked to Captain Archer yet? Maybe you won’t have to deal with them.” “I am the First Officer, my love,” he said, “I know I 90

cannot get out of this. It was as if, what if Declan was a girl, named Diana, perhaps? And we were Daranaeans. We would, in perhaps ten or more years, begin hunting ‘round to find a mate for her, someone to purchase her for good capital. Or, rather, it wouldn’t be the both of us. It would just be me, for your opinion, it would mean absolutely nothing.” “Oh, Malcolm.” “I wish to make a stand,” he said, “I have always been an obedient soldier, an officer, respectful of the chain of command. But I feel that I must, I must protest.” “Listen to me,” she said, “stand up for what you believe in. It’s one of the reasons that I love you. And if you have to resign your commission, or even leave Starfleet entirely, then so be it. I work! We’ll be fine. No one will starve. You can always come home.” He looked at her, so far away, on the viewer. “I would die if we did not have the kind of true equal partnership we have. I shall go to the captain, and tell him tomorrow morning.” “Malcolm, there is one thing.” “Yes?” “It’s possible that, by sticking around, you might show by example that things can be another way. Those people are probably so used to the way they are, they can’t conceive of any differences. Maybe you can help to show them that there’s another way that things can be.” =/\= 91

“Andrew, can I talk to you?” Lucy jogged to catch up with Andy Miller, who was coming out of a lab. She had the soft baby blanket in her hands. “Sure. We having dinner again tonight?” he asked. “Well, um, okay. Can we talk somewhere private?” “The biology lab I was just in is empty. Is that okay?” She nodded, and they entered the lab. “So, what’s up?” he asked as soon as the door had shut and he had kissed her. “Andy, I know we haven’t been that serious.” “Not too serious,” he said, “we have fun together.” “Well, uh, maybe we have too much fun,” she said. “Can you tell me what that means?” “Andy, while I was on the surface, I figured out that I’m pregnant.” “Oh,” he said, and sat down on a nearby stool. “What does Phlox say?” “He doesn’t even know yet.” “Huh?” “Doctor Nguyen checked me out. It was, I didn’t even think about it, but on the surface two of the women we met, they said if you swabbed this kind of leaf in your mouth, you could figure out the sex of your baby. And I figured I’d do it and it would turn up with nothing. But, um, I was mistaken.” “I see. You said it could tell the baby’s sex. What did 92

it tell you?” “The leaf turned purple. They said that meant I’m having a girl. I guess we’d have to wait for an imaging chamber scan to confirm. It’s possible that the specifics are wrong. But Nguyen did scan me and he said I was maybe ten days along or so.” “That was after Movie Night,” he said absently, “uh, do you wanna go through with it? I’ll abide by whatever you want to do.” “I’m still thinking it over,” she said, “You know, you have rights, too.” “I know, but it’s not going to be my body. Plus I don’t have a daughter at home to talk to about this.” “Right,” she said, “I haven’t thought of what I’ll tell Gina yet.” She turned the blanket over a few times in her hands. “Well, I want you to know, I’ll go with you to all of your appointments with Phlox,” he said, “even if it’s just to, uh, if it’s to not go through with it.” “Thanks. It’s funny.” “What is?” “The women on the surface – they’re completely repressed. They live pretty much at the whims of their husbands and, so far as I can tell, they must be giving in to relations pretty much all of the time, by the sizes of their families. Birth control must be nonexistent or forbidden to them. Yet when we figured out I was pregnant, they were so happy for me. They showed me their rituals. There’s one for when you conceive, one for when you give birth, and 93

the last one is for when the baby comes out of the pouch and is named. They even gave me this.” She handed him the blanket. “That’s nice and soft. Any kid would be comforted by it.” “They said the mother, when the baby is in the second stage and just lives in the pouch; the mother sleeps with the baby blanket. And that way the blanket gets her scent. When the baby gets the blanket, it’s very comforting. It’s the softness and the smell. I guess it’s also the fact that it comes from the mother, too.” “That makes sense,” he said, “all that their babies know is the mother during that stage. They’re pretty amazing creatures, biologically speaking.” “They are,” she agreed, “but it was also – these women had so little. They have few rights and a boatload of responsibilities. Yet they gave me something that they found to be valuable and they shared their rituals and they showed me that they get something out of it all. Will a relationship with the Federation help their people to see the light and set them free?” “Freer,” he suggested. “Or will it look like we’re condoning their more abominable practices?” =/\= Doctor Phlox wrote a letter. To the attention of Doctor Jeremy Lucas, care of Cold Station Number Twelve 94

April nineteenth, 2165 Dear Doctor Lucas, I trust that all is well with you. I am writing because I have had a chance to meet and examine a number of Daranaeans. You may have read of them in the literature. They are a sentient marsupial species – the only one known so far in the galaxy. I was also able to speak with a Rechal, who was identified as being their foremost physician. He informed me that there is a major disease that they have not yet been able to cure, called thylacine paramyxovirus. I was favorably impressed that he did not want us to do his research for him – he was just hoping for some hints and an exchange of ideas. Doctor An Nguyen and I were also able to ask about the average life expectancy of Daranaeans. The disparity between males and females, and then among the three feminine castes, was most troubling. Males have the longest average lifespan by far. The last caste females can be expected to live less than half that time, on average. Their lives are cut short not only by numerous rapid-fire pregnancies but by mandatory euthanasia once they have gone through menopause. It is a tragic existence. I am writing to you because, not only did I wish to share my findings with you, but also to 95

ask a little advice, if I may. Jeremy, I do not believe this to be a situation whereby we would be interfering with the development of a culture. This is an advanced Warp-capable civilization. Yet their treatment of females is barbaric. I find myself wondering whether some form of intervention would help at all, or whether it would simply make me feel better while doing naught for these women. Would you speak to their government, or at least to their medical community, if you were me, and speak out against their treatment of women? I fear my emotions are clouding my judgment in this area. I thank you for any guidance you can give me. As ever, Phlox =/\= On the Excelsior, Erika also dictated a report. “Captain’s log, April nineteenth, 2165. Today we had a rather full day with the Daranaeans. What started off as a dinner at a Beta Councilor’s home ended up turning into a fullfledged battle. The Excelsior only sustained minor damage and very minor casualties. The Zefram Cochrane received a little more damage but it appears that repairs are either finished or close to it. Captain Archer can obviously speak better to that than I can.”


She took a breath and then continued. “The Daranaeans were extremely helpful in defeating a group of three Klingon Birds of Prey. We determined that nuclear fission was going on, on the planet that the Klingons have been trying to occupy. I can understand the Daranaeans’ concern. Aside from the strategic importance of this system’s location, it is also obvious that a weaker system is being preyed upon by a stronger one. It seems that, as a general policy, the Federation might want to consider getting involved in some of these sorts of disputes as there is a very real opportunity to do the right thing.” She looked out the window a little at the planet below, and then started dictating again. “The troubling thing about the Daranaeans is their treatment of their females. Casual sexism is tossed around just as readily as are vapid discussions about the weather. I was privy to two rituals engaged in by the females, which centered on pregnancy and birth. Within these rituals are subtle distinctions among the castes which serve to promote Prime Wives and denigrate the last caste women, while walking a thin line when it came to the secondaries. In addition, we learned that a last caste child of perhaps three or four years of age was not permitted to join in with the home schooling that the other children enjoyed. Whether this was by law or custom or both, I do not know. When asked, we were merely informed that 97

that caste “did not believe” in education – a statement that I find difficult to believe.” =/\= Hamilton Roget dictated as well. “Personal log, April nineteenth, 2165. I met Daranaeans today. I can’t say I was completely surprised by them as Doctor Nguyen had filled me in on a lot of the details. I recall a dinner with a few of them, a few years ago, but I suppose I had put it all out of my mind. But now I remember.” He sipped some coffee and then continued dictating. “They are obsessed with marriages and matings. It’s a lot like my maternal grandmother was before I came out to her – always pushing me to find a nice girl and settle down. My grandmother came around, but I bet the Daranaeans never would. I get the nagging feeling that, if there are any gay Daranaeans that they must be rather firmly stuffed into whatever their equivalent is of a closet.” =/\= An just stood in the Excelsior’s Sick Bay, a little stunned. The doors opened. It was Erika. “Something I can do for you?” he asked, eager to think of something, anything else. “Can I talk to a friend?” “Always,” he said, “I doubt I have to ask what’s on your mind.” 98

“No, I’m sure you don’t have to,” she said, “What did you think? You’ve spent more time around them than any other human has.” “I, well, it’s like this. I know that the Federation is small. And I recognize that this is some sort of a strategic locale. I get that. And I also get that they called on us, again. They keep unlocking the door to a relationship with us. And we open it, and then we don’t like the things that we see. I can’t see that changing any time soon.” “You’re probably right about that,” she allowed. “I was wondering, just when do we give up on them? And then, what does that mean for the Daranaean women? Have we let them down?” “I keep wondering the same thing,” she said, “and I wonder if, being female, I’m somehow reacting more strongly to this than I suppose I should.” “I don’t think you’re overreacting,” he said, “I’ve got that old feeling, that guilt, that nagging feeling that something should be done. But what?” =/\= In her cell, Mistra decided to do the thing that always made her content – learning. “I do not have a board or any writing implements,” she apologized to the pouchling, “and you won’t know much of this. Your brother,” she choked back a little sob, “won’t remember any of this. Still, we should do this. If there are signs in the, in the place with all of the good smells, I want you to be able to read them.” She put her right hand on her own belly and began 99

to trace with her index finger. “First is the first pictograph. I know it’s backwards.” She made what looked like a capital Y.

“That is the first term. It means male. See how the arms are raised to the sky? That is because he is powerful and mighty and bows to no one. Next I will show you the term that is in the middle of all of the many pictograph terms,” she drew one straight vertical line, short, with one finger.

“This means baby. This means any kind of baby, at any stage. The arms are not up because it is dependent. And we don’t know if the baby is a male or a female. So it could be a pouchling just like you!” Then she drew a half-circle. The arc was at the bottom, “This term is the very last of all of the many, many pictograph terms. It means female. See how the figure looks like a pouch? I have one, and you have one. Your little brother inside, he will not have one.”

She then drew a semi-circle with a capital Y in its 100

center. “This is a compound. It means Prime Wife. See how she has a boy child in her pouch?”

“And here,” now Mistra traced a semi-circle and several straight short vertical lines within it, using all five fingers of her right hand.

“This means secondary. See how she has lots and lots of babies in her pouch? That’s me. And that is you. We have the most babies of all, for Prime Wives can refuse relations and the last caste they, they sometimes, I think they lose their babies more often that we do. It is sad.” Then she traced a semi-circle with only one short straight vertical line inside it.

“That one means third caste female. She has but one baby in her pouch. But I want you to know that even last caste females are valuable and loving. Inta,” she paused, remembering a little sadly, “Inta was very kind to your big brothers and sisters. She could 101

not read or write with them, but she cleaned and fed them and kept them company, just as much, and just as lovingly, as if she had been the vessel for them. I wish you could have known her a little.�


9 The only way to support a revolution is to make your own – Abbie Hoffman The next morning, Jonathan sat in his Ready Room on the Cochrane and petted Porthos. There was a door chime. “Come on in.” “Sir,” Malcolm said, “might I have a word with you?” “Of course. You’re thinking about our friends on the surface, right?” “If friends is the right word, then, yes,” Malcolm said, “Sir, I’m not certain that I can, that I can continue.” “I don’t understand.” “I, sir, I am only here to serve. And I like to think I 103

do a good job following orders.” “Of course you do. I wouldn’t have wanted you for my First Officer if I didn’t think you excelled.” “Well, thank you, sir. But I don’t believe I can, that we should, that is to say, I don’t see that I can continue as your First Officer if we are to simply watch the Daranaeans and what they are doing, and just sit idly by as they exploit so many of their people.” “Not continue?” “No, sir. I would rather resign my commission – and even resign from Starfleet, if absolutely necessary – than continue with dealings with the Daranaeans as they stand. I just, I feel that we should not be simply letting this happen. I feel that we should – or at least I should – I would like to, sir, I would like to take a stand for human – er, sentient species – rights.” There was a silence, and it was broken by a Communications chime. Jonathan answered it. “Hoshi?” “Sir, you should watch this. It’s a Daranaean broadcast. There’s some sort of a trial going on.” =/\= On the Excelsior, there was a Communications chime, “You’d best watch this,” Jonathan said to Erika, “I believe this is the scandal that Arnis mentioned but never actually got around to really telling us about.” “How interesting,” she replied, and then motioned to Ensign Tate to switch to the broadcast. 104

=/\= “We’re here live from the trial of Mistra, the secondary wife of our Alpha,” said Craethe, “this case has proven to be fascinating as Mistra has consistently protested her innocence, in direct contradiction to what the Alpha has said is spoken truth. Now, we all know that only females can testify with male corroboration, but it does raise some interesting questions.” He stood in a court room where there was a fivejudge panel and a small audience. Mistra was nearby, looking scared. “Yes,” agreed a man who was evidently an anchor, “while contradicting the Alpha is not a crime, it is not recommended! The secondary probably feels she has little to lose. Is there an accusation directly against the Alpha?” “There is not,” replied Craethe, “all we have heard from Mistra is her proclaiming her innocence, but she has not stated anything about any other person as possibly being responsible for the boy child’s death.” “And the vessel,” reminded the anchor. “Vessel?” asked Erika. “Vessel,” An repeated aloud, alone in Sick Bay. He knew that the anchor meant that the deceased was not even born yet, and the vessel was the fetus’s mother. There was a second victim, and she apparently was not even worthy of mention on the 105

news. =/\= In the Alpha’s home, Dratha paced. “This is absurd. Mistra would not hurt anyone.” “Mother,” Vidam said, “I do not wish to accuse Father of anything. He is at the Beta Council. I am certain that they, too, are watching the trial.” “Everyone is watching the trial,” she replied. “You’re right,” he agreed, “but also – I agree – Mistra is not a violent person. I don’t know what happened. And I don’t know why it happened. Perhaps there was a prowler who came and went very quickly? But I do know that this is wrong. Mistra does not know what to do. She must be very frightened. She has been nothing but kind to me, to all of us. We cannot let this happen.” “Will you go with me,” Dratha asked, “and back me up, corroborate if I go into court and speak truth?” He thought for a moment. “I will do this.” “Perhaps, at least, we can save her pouchling. Come, we must hurry,” she said. =/\= At the trial, a witness was called. “Doctor Rechal, what did you observe?” asked a judicial panel member. The panel was composed of all male Daranaeans. Two were brown, one was grey and the other two had black and white spots. The grey one appeared to be in charge. “I was called to the Alpha’s home and found 106

the last caste female on the floor of the Alpha’s bedroom. She had already gone to the place with all of the good smells. There was a gash on the side of her head.” “The place with all of the good smells?” Jonathan asked, on the DC-1500. “I imagine that’s supposed to be their heaven, sir,” Malcolm said. =/\= On the surface, in Elemus’s home, the entire family was agitated, even Thessa, who was normally unflappable. “This is outrageous,” she finally said, “a public trial, for all to see.” “I understand that it is her right,” said one of the secondary’s boy children. “I know, but it all seems so, well, pointless. Why have trials if the Alpha is right about everything, anyway?” “Perhaps the Alpha is mistaken,” Libba said quietly. “Or does not speak truth,” Cama said, even more quietly. Thessa thought about that. “I have seen Mistra and have known her for several years. And on the viewer they are saying that Inta had a large gash in her head and had gone to the place with all of the good smells, and went there very quickly. That would imply a very heavy blow,” she paused, “I do not wish to sound like I am contradicting the Alpha but, that seems to me, to be something that Mistra might not 107

be capable of. She was pregnant and pouch feeding and made such a heavy blow with her hands? Is that even possible?” There were sounds outside their home. Cama looked through a window. “There are some people in the street. They are, listen to what they are saying.” They could hear it, others, males and some Prime Wives, they were saying “Mistra may be innocent! Give her a fair trial!” The viewer cut away to a scene outside the court. “This is strange,” the field reporter said, “but there are people coming. They are saying Mistra might not be guilty. There are demands for a fair trial.” Libba looked Thessa in the eye, “If this is wrong, we should say something, and not just in here where we are the only ones who can hear it.” “We cannot leave the children,” Thessa said, “and Cama cannot go out without a male escort.” “Then my eldest son will be her escort,” Libba said, “and we will all go. We will leave no one at home.”


10 Revolution begins with the self, in the self – Toni Cade Bambera “Are you seeing that?” it was Erika, calling Jonathan. “I am,” he said, “it looks like an old-fashioned protest.” The viewer cut away to the court again. “We are finished with your testimony. Thank you, Doctor Rechal,” said one of the brown members of the judicial panel. Mistra stood up. “I wish to speak truth.” “You are not allowed without male corroboration,” replied one of the panel members, “You know this is our law.”


“But I am innocent! And the pouchling is innocent! Please let me speak truth! At least for the sake of the pouchling!” Jonathan looked at Malcolm, “Did you mean what you said in my Ready Room?” “I did, sir.” “Then – I have an idea. All of it except for the resigning part? Wanna repeat that in open court?” “With pleasure, sir.” “Lucy, care to return to the surface?” Jonathan asked. “If you want me to stand up for that woman, I will,” she said, “I don’t know what she’s done or hasn’t done, but surely her pouch baby is innocent.” “Hoshi, you have the Bridge until we get back,” Jonathan said, “and ask Doctor Phlox to meet us by the Transporter. And kindly ask Captain Hernandez if she and her people would like to join us.” =/\= On the Excelsior, they had virtually the same idea. “Hamilton, how do you feel about visiting the surface and taking a detour before we pick up the shuttle? Say, a trip to a court room?” “I could do that,” he said, “and we should bring Doctor Nguyen with us. I think he’ll have something to say, too.” “I think we both know that Starfleet doesn’t want us interfering with domestic affairs like this,” she said. 110

“True,” he said, “but I feel it’s the right thing to do. And this might color our future relations with this species.” “Good idea. I’ll say that when I report this – after we’re done,” she said. =/\= Once Dratha and Vidam had departed, Cria looked at Trinning and the others. “Mama and our littlest sister are in peril. I think we can do something. We can all go into the streets and make our voices heard.” “Seppa cannot go out without a male escort,” Trinning reminded her. “Then that shall be you, brother,” Cria said, “We will bring everyone. We will move slowly but we will go to the street outside of the court and stand and speak truth for Mama and our smallest sister.” =/\= The seven of them beamed down, two by two, from both ships. “Got a specific plan?” Erika asked Jonathan. “Not unless someone here suddenly went to Law School,” he said. “I guess we’ll do our best,” she said, “Far as I can tell, things can’t get any worse in there.” They burst into the court. The five judicial panel members all stood up as one. “You can’t come in here!” 111

Outside, Craethe reported excitedly, “The barefaced humans have arrived! Keep watching – this is a most exciting development!” he, too, went into the court and the camera followed. “We’re surprise character witnesses,” Jonathan said. “Character? I’d be surprised if you had ever seen this female before now,” said one of the brown judges. “We still want to speak,” Erika said. “If you want to make friends with us, trade with us, exchange medical information with us, and fight and die with us, I suggest you let us say a few things,” Jonathan said. “Very well,” said a spotted judge after the five of them had discussed the matter, “but one at a time.” “Malcolm?” Jonathan asked. “Yes,” he said, and swallowed hard. He was not accustomed to public speaking. “I, well, I just wish to say that this, this trial seems to be little more than what we call a kangaroo court. It’s, it seems, to me, to be a sham when you won’t even allow the accused to testify.” “The accused cannot have verified testimony,” said one of the brown judges. “But why is that? Is that due to a perceived issue with her lying, or is it because she’s got a bloody pouch and you don’t?” he asked, reflexively holding his cuffed wrist with his other hand. “Females can only testify with corroboration from a 112

male.” “But that rule is ludicrous! You’re discriminating against this woman, so far as I can tell, because of a factor beyond her control – her gender. That is what is determining, for you, whether she is trustworthy?” Jonathan put a hand on Malcolm’s shoulder. “Lucy?” he said. “Accusing her may actually be valid,” Lucy said, “but the pouch baby? My understanding is that they can’t speak, can’t see clearly and can’t walk. How do you propose that that kid could possibly be guilty? My, my daughter, she’s eight. She could do something wrong. She does wrong things sometimes. But when she was a tiny infant, she couldn’t possibly be held responsible.” “Anyone who sees a crime and does not attempt to prevent it is an accomplice,” replied the grey judge. “But that’s an infant!” An stated. “All you do here is, you don’t – we have a symbol. It’s the scales of justice. And they are supposed to be as balanced as possible. But this is anything but balanced. It’s like you’re leaning on the scale with all your weight when it comes to women. And the lower the caste, the heavier you lean.” “We have a hierarchy,” explained the grey judge, “we have had a hierarchy since, well, since even before we became sentient. We evolved from a species which lived in hierarchical packs.” “But that was generations ago, was it not?” Phlox asked, “You have evolved in plenty of other ways. You have industry, and a free and open press. You 113

have democratic government and agriculture and you live in constructed homes. You have Warp drive! And yet you cannot let the deep past release its hold upon you?” “It is important that families remain intact. It is important that children are born, and are protected,” said a spotted judge, “There is a virus that is decimating our population.” “But what about families where they can’t have children, or maybe they won’t?” Hamilton asked. “Won’t?” asked a brown judge, “Who would not want children?” “Not everyone does, or can,” Hamilton said, “My partner and me – if he and I wanted to become parents, we would adopt, or work with a surrogate mother. And we would love our child but, together, we can’t biologically have one. Are we worthless to you?” There was a lot of murmuring among the spectators. Erika spoke, “I am a female human. And I am no one’s wife. And I am beyond the age where we can have children. I’m not a member of any caste. You would put me to death, right? You’d throw me out with the kitchen waste. Yet in the Federation, I’m a starship captain. I don’t pretend to tell you I’m the best captain who ever was. But I have a job and I do it. My job isn’t making babies. It’s exploring. And sometimes it means going to war, too. We aren’t saying that you have to change everything. We can’t impose all of our values on you. I’m sure you have 114

values you could teach to us. But we are here because we were watching the trial on the viewer, and we spent time with your Alpha and his family last night, and five years ago we met Beta Councilor Elemus and his family, and I have to tell you, there is a major disconnect there. There is a complete and utter lack of fairness.” “What Captain Hernandez is saying, if I may,” Jonathan said, referring to a PADD, “is that the Federation is a kind of successor to an organization that we created on Earth a good two hundred years ago. It was called the United Nations, and it came out with a Declaration of Human Rights. Now, we know that you aren’t human. And we realize that our ideas of rights may differ from yours. But we think that three rights have got to be available to everyone, regardless of species. And those are the right to free speech, the right to a free press and,” he said, “the right to a fair trial.”


11 At the time of the Revolution, dogs howled day and night all over Russia – Andrei Platonov Outside the court, Dratha and Vidam fought to enter. They passed right by a field reporter, who said, “It’s the Alpha’s Prime Wife, and their eldest son! Are you here to pass judgment?” he asked eagerly. “No,” Dratha said, a bit annoyed, “we’re trying to get in and testify.” The field reporter motioned to get someone to assist them, and then addressed the camera. “I wish we had a means for transmitting smells through the viewer. The Alpha’s Prime Wife is truly legendary.” On the Cochrane, Travis said, “I bet they’ll pay good money if someone could invent Smell-o-Vision.” 116

“C’mon, this is serious,” Hoshi said. =/\= The scene shifted to inside the court room again. The Starfleet contingent was still standing at the front. “We don’t presume to make you follow our ways,” Jonathan said, “we just think that some things shouldn’t be negotiable. Our Federation may need members, but everyone here is going to recommend – we are, potentially, going to jeopardize our careers,” he glanced over at Malcolm, who was touching the metallic cuff something fierce, “we are going to recommend these three minimal standards. You are already one-third of the way there. Your press is free and open. It’s an admirable standard that we all should follow. But it’s hardly worth much if all they do is report on unjust laws and rulings, or if they can’t really speak openly at all. You talk a lot about speaking truth, and that’s good – you should speak the truth. Yet so many of you seem to be afraid to do so.” “I am not afraid,” said Dratha, entering. There were murmurings. “It is the Alpha’s Prime Wife! She is even more of a beauty than I had thought! Such a trendsetter! Look at how she wears her whiskers! I have lived to see this day!” She strode purposefully to the front of the room. “I will speak truth.” “Do you have a male to corroborate your testimony?” asked a spotted judge. 117

“I shall confirm her testimony,” said Vidam, following right behind her. “Then do you swear, in the name of all of the good smells, to speak truth?” asked a brown judge. “I do.” “What was your price?” “My name is Dratha.” “That is not the question,” insisted the grey judge. “I know that,” Dratha gave the entire judicial panel a withering glance, “but it hardly seems courteous for you to inquire as to my value before my name. Unless you are planning on purchasing me?” The brown judge swallowed hard and remained silent. “You couldn’t afford me, anyway. I was purchased for four thousand, eight hundred and twenty-three Stonds.” There were gasps in the audience. “You are indeed legendary,” replied the brown judge, a bit taken aback. “What truth do you wish to speak?” “I have known Mistra for over ten years. She has been a loving vessel and mother for that entire time. She has cared not only for the ones where she was the vessel, but for the ones where I was, and even for the ones where Inta was.” “Inta?” asked the grey judge, “Which female is that?” “The dead woman is Inta,” said Dratha, “you did not 118

know that? You did not even know her name?” “It was deemed unimportant,” said one of the spotted judges. =/\= Outside the court, the crowds were getting larger. Cria and Trinning fought to keep their siblings together. They saw Thessa, Cama and Libba with their family, and joined them. “What is happening?” Cria asked. “History, I think,” Thessa said. They could hear others speaking. “They said the dead woman’s name was unimportant!” exclaimed a nearby secondary female. “Well, she was only a last caste female,” replied her companion, another secondary female. “But she was the vessel for the Alpha’s boy child!” insisted the first female. “Shouldn’t that have counted for something?” “Are they saying that Inta was not important?” Trinning asked, “Inta fed and swaddled me when I was an infant and my own vessel – mother – was sick or had to care for one of the others. She cared for all of us, regardless of caste. Inta was, she was good to us.” All around them, the females – and the males in the streets, too, for there were some of them, acting either as escorts, or they were the sons of some of the females, and even a few of them were husbands – they all began chanting together. It was one word, one name. 119

Inta. =/\= The Beta Council chamber was only a few buildings away from the court house. There was a camera crew, and they would not leave, even though they were supposed to do so when asked to by the Alpha. “We cannot get anything done!” shouted Arnis. “Arnis don’t lose your temper,” Elemus said to him, “this was bound to be a difficult day.” “Alpha, do you have a comment?” asked a field reporter. “I will be silent,” he replied, fuming. In the background, it could be heard on the broadcast, wherever the broadcast was heard – and that included the Cochrane and the Excelsior, and in all of the provinces on Daranaea – there was the chanting of the dead female’s name. =/\= “Inta and Mistra and I all worked together to raise the children,” Dratha said, “I may be the Alpha’s Prime Wife but changing dirty swaddling is not beneath me when it is one of our own. And I say our – not my – for I cannot bear to see a child who is uncomfortable or frightened.” “Do you have any more to say?” asked the grey judge. “Yes. If Mistra loses her case, I wish to adopt her pouchling in addition to her unborn boy child,” Dratha announced. 120

“We will need to deliberate about this,” said one of the brown judges. “Do you speak truth?” asked a spotted judge. “I speak truth,” Dratha said, and gave him a look that seemed to say – how dare you assume otherwise. Vidam looked around, “I, before you deliberate, I, too, wish to speak truth.” “You swear in the name of all of the good smells?” “Yes.” “Speak truth,” said the grey judge. “I, we were in the learning room. It was everyone except for Dratha, who was not at home, Father, Inta and Seppa.” “Who is Seppa?” asked a brown judge. “She is Inta’s girl child and was not allowed to be in the learning room. I, I don’t know why,” Vidam replied. “A third caste child has no business with learning,” sniffed a spotted judge. “Go on.” “We heard a crash,” Vidam said, “and we all got up to investigate. I began to run over to Father’s room. We are not supposed to go into Father’s room when he is alone with one of the wives but it sounded like someone had been, had been hurt.” “And what happened then?” asked the grey judge. “I ran in and I, I saw Inta on the floor. She was bleeding and not moving. I think she had already gone to the place with all of the good smells,” Vidam 121

said. “Where was the accused?” asked a spotted judge. “Mistra was behind me,” Vidam said, “when I first ran in; it was but the three of us. Four, I suppose. It was me, it was Inta, it was her boy child and it was Father.” There was talking in the audience, and it was getting louder. “How can this be? The Alpha, what did he do? Did the Alpha slay his own boy child?” =/\= The scene on the viewer then shifted back to the Beta Council. The field reporter asked, “Alpha, will you comment now? This does not look good.” Arnis looked flustered, and said, “She refused relations. Any of you would have done what I did.” “No, Arnis,” Elemus said, “we would have gotten angry, yes. Taken away privileges, perhaps. But we would not have struck and we would not have slain. That is wrong. It is not our way.” Arnis became even more agitated. “Rechal was in on it! The prestigious Doctor Rechal stayed silent in exchange for research funding! You must accuse him if you are to accuse me!” =/\= “Have you spoken truth?” asked a brown judge. 122

“I have spoken truth,” Vidam said, “Please do not euthanize my, my secondary mother. Or my half- , uh, my sister.” “We will deliberate,” said the grey judge, who motioned to a security officer. The security officer went over to Rechal, “Hold your hands together.” When Rechal did as requested, the officer shot a magenta beam. “Do not attempt to pull your hands apart, or you will increase the range of the paralytic field.” Rechal spoke. “Doctor Phlox! Doctor Nguyen! Thylacine paramyxovirus is still a problem for us, a horrible killer of any kind of Daranaean! I know that this is wrong, what I have done. But I still hope that our doctors – perhaps Varelle could work with you – I hope that our doctors can still exchange information with you. Regardless of my faults and my greed and my motivations, our people are still suffering. I ask that you not punish them because of me.” In the background, there could be heard more chants from the outside, of “Inta! Inta!” The security officer began to lead him away, and Rechal said one more thing, “Please take me over so that I may face the accused.” The security officer did so, and Rechal said, “I, it is rare that a male apologizes to a secondary such as yourself. But I must. I must tell you that I regret endangering you and your pouchling. And I regret possibly setting back our research. I will be back in this court soon enough, and humans and Prime Wives will not come 123

to try to save me. You have powerful friends. I hope you realize that.” =/\= “Holy cow,” Hoshi said, “you think she’s been exonerated?” “I dunno,” Travis said, “look, there’s more. They’re switching back to the Beta Council.” =/\= “Do not try to move your hands apart or the paralytic field will –” “I know what the damned paralytic field will do!” yelled Arnis. But in his angry mood he lost his judgment. He pulled his hands apart, hard, and the field did, indeed, spread. He could not hold himself up, and he fell. Two security officers had to make the Alpha of Daranaea suffer a most regrettable indignity, of being carried out of the Beta Council chamber, not unlike how a Prime Wife in labor is carried to a doctor’s office.


12 No real social change has ever been brought about without a revolution... revolution is but thought carried into action – Emma Goldman It was slow going to get through the crowds and return to Elemus’s home. Erika spotted Cama and the two groups merged as they walked, and then Arnis’s family also joined. The other Daranaeans gave them a bit of a wide berth and continued to chant, but now it was more like a song than a protest, “Inta! Inta!” Malcolm got a little impatient with the slow going and ended up picking up one of the smaller children. “And what is your name?” he asked the little girl, who was brindle-colored. The little girl hid her face, shy but not scared. “That is Minna,” Cama said, “She is a daughter of 125

Mistra’s. The youngest before the pouchling, I believe.” “I have a son who is, I believe, a little bit older than you are,” he said, “would you like for your Mummy to keep in touch, and maybe someday you and Declan could play together?” Minna hid her face again, but there was a smile behind her furry hands. She then tentatively touched his face, giggling a little at how hairless it was. “She is very shy,” Cama said, “many of the littlest ones are. And I suppose we teach them to be shy, and to be meek and let everything happen to us. Maybe we should teach them to be stronger. I don’t know.” “I think their generation has an excellent chance,” he said, “of becoming the independent persons who I think you all, deep down, want them to be. Male and female, for I think your males are a bit restricted as well. They are taught to think a certain way, and to behave a certain way, and it seems to me that some of them, like, like Vidam, they see that it is wrong, but they can’t quite articulate as to exactly why.” He adjusted Minna in his arms. “I think our peoples have a very good chance of becoming good friends. And, and not just on our terms, but on yours as well.” “Do you think someone of my age could benefit from learning?” Cama asked. “Yes,” Malcolm said, “I think you could.” “Do you think I am capable of understanding learning?” Cama asked, “For I have never tried it before.” 126

“I believe you are capable of a lot more than anyone has probably ever said that you could do.” “I now believe I am, too.” =/\= They found the shuttles just where they had left them. “Will you be all right?” Jonathan asked Dratha. “I believe so. I can ask Elemus to look in from time to time. But Vidam will be the head of the household now. He is young but I believe he is up to the task.” “You will help me, yes, Mother?” “I shall provide quiet guidance,” she replied, “but if you make all of your decisions the way you made them today, then you shall make good decisions.” “Good-bye, Doctor Nguyen,” Libba said, “I hope you understand our ways better.” “I think I do,” he said, “and I hope you understand ours, too.” =/\= On the Excelsior, Erika dictated her report. “April twentieth, 2165. We are leaving the Daranaean system and heading to Andoria. Repairs are complete and no one is in Sick Bay. I think we judged these people based upon First Contact. At the time, that was the only information we had, but now we know a bit better. And I have to say, there is value there, value beyond strategic positions and scientific studies. This is a society in transition. I think 127

we can have ringside seats to a transformation. I hope we stay close with this species, and help them to see it through. If they want our help, that is. But it’s not often you get to see a society at the time of its first emergence from its Dark Ages.” =/\= Hamilton Roget, in his quarters, received a call. “Hey!” he said, smiling when he saw the familiar face of his partner on the screen. “What brings this?” “Well,” said his partner, “I wanted you to know that history was made today. Your grandmother actually called me and asked me to lunch. And we went. We had a really nice time. I think she’s coming around.” “I’m glad she’s finally starting to accept you,” Hamilton said, “today I saw history made, too.” =/\= Doctor Nguyen also dictated. “Medical log. I have had occasion to meet with a couple of former patients, the Daranaeans Libba and Cama. Both of them were both pregnant and pouch feeding when I saw them. This is five years after I last saw them. I expected them to appear older, and they both did. I suspect their fur turns grey in much the same way that our hair does, and they are both a bit grey now. They are also, unfortunately, a bit thinner. Clearly this is an issue during pregnancy. I advised them and their husband that they need to be consuming 128

more, for the sake of not only the children’s health but also their own. I also advised that the time between pregnancies should be lengthened next time. I believe they understood. My hope is, after recent events on Daranaea, that they might have a chance to, in the future, refuse relations or use birth control. I suspect that neither woman’s body can take too many more pregnancies.” =/\= On the Enterprise, Doctor Phlox also dictated. “We are leaving the Daranaean system and will probably not return for a while. I have been able to take several medical scans of various Daranaeans of both genders, all castes and in various stages of pregnancy, pouch feeding, both, neither, premenarche and menopause. They are a fascinating species. One of their foremost physicians has been taken into custody, but he did manage to tell myself and Doctor An Nguyen about a disease that his people are facing – thylacine paramyxovirus – it is reportedly a killer crossing all caste, gender and age lines. One thing that impressed me was the doctor’s desire for some exchange of ideas but he was adamant that the Daranaean people do not wish to have us doing their work for them. 129

They are committed to finding the cure for themselves, and desire a more equal partnership than a lot of other species in their same circumstances have. The virus appears to be genetically similar to Newcastle disease and some forms of influenza. Current treatments include bed rest, analgesics and emergent retroviral therapies. I am confident that they will have a cure soon, possibly within the next decade or two, and it will be exciting to see how their medical knowledge evolves. In other news, Ensign Lucy Stone has made an appointment with me and asked me to give her a pregnancy test.” =/\= Lucy was in her quarters, with Andrew. “Are you about ready for your first appointment with Phlox?” “I am,” she said, “but first, this.” She selected the Communications option from the desktop’s screen. “Hoshi?” “Yes?” “I’d like to talk to Ben Collins and Gina Stone, on Europa.” “Hang on,” there was a pause, “okay, go ahead.” “Mom!” Gina exclaimed. “Sweetheart,” Lucy said, smiling, “you remember Andy? We, uh, we have some good news to tell you.” 130

=/\= Malcolm was also on a call. “Is he bigger than when I last saw him?” he asked, referring to Declan, who was sitting on his mother’s lap. “That was yesterday. So, uh, I don’t think so. I see,” she gestured on her clavicle, mirroring where his insignia were on his uniform, “you didn’t resign or lose your commission.” She touched an old-fashioned skeleton key charm on a chain around her neck. The chain and the charm were both made of the same dull grey metal as Malcolm’s cuff. The key was a gift from him, and she never took it off. She touched it, sometimes, as she thought of him far away, across the light years. “I did not,” Malcolm said, “we all went to surface, and we all said our, our piece. I think Daranaean people understood. I just feel that people we intimately deal with should be committed to freedom as we are.”

the the the as

“I’m glad Captain Archer agreed with you on that,” she said, “and I certainly do. Your desire to stand up for what’s right is one of the many, many reasons why I love you.” She held up a bit of finger painted artwork. “I think this is a bunny. Is this a bunny?” she asked their son. “Doggie,” he replied. “That actually looks a bit like the people I met,” Malcolm said, “Daranaeans look a little like that but their ears aren’t as long.” He paused a moment and then looked at them both fondly. “If I had lost my position, I would have come straight home, you 131

know,” he said, “and chased you ‘round the garden.” “Hopefully not while I was getting ready to go to work!” “It would be after you come home from work, then.” “I’d be tired then,” she said. “On the weekends, then,” he said. “We’d get a sitter sometimes,” she looked at him a little mischievously. “I’ll get leave soon. I cannot wait to see you, love.” “I will be counting the days,” she said, “and Declan here will count with me, won’t ya, Dec? Remember how we practiced? One, two.” “T’ree!” Declan exclaimed, laughing and throwing both hands up in the air. =/\= Jonathan was on a call of his own, to Starfleet Command. “And that’s what happened,” he said, “I want you to know that it was all my idea. If there’s any blame to attach to this, any reprimand, let it just be on my shoulders. If you need for me to resign, I can do so. Malcolm Reed could take command.” Admiral Gardner looked at him. “I can’t say we loved that you just went ahead and did this. But we do understand your motivation. By all accounts, the Daranaean society is an odd hybrid of modern and backward thinking and behavior. Maybe now they’ll throw off more of their backward ways.” Admiral Black added, “We have found that the 132

Federation is currently of two minds when it comes to new members. Some current member species want to take in pretty much anyone, so long as they promise to protect and defend the current member species. I can understand that desire. The Federation is small and, as we all know, all too painfully, space can be a dangerous place.” “But there are others,” Admiral Gardner interjected, “who agree with you about the idea of minimal standards. It would be very hard to take, if we were, well, the way we are, with our government system, and making nice with a bunch of brutal dictators.” “For us,” Black said, “it’s somewhat analogous to the old Earth United Nations.” “I remember that from history,” Jonathan said, “it became a lot of member nations. And it was not all democracies. There were definitely dictatorships and democracies in name only, in the mix.” “Right,” Black said, “but there was also the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The member states made it known that there were certain ideals that they admired, and hoped future member states would also admire, and try to uphold and live up to.” “We don’t want to tell the Daranaeans how to live, or how to govern themselves,” Gardner said, “it’s a bit of a delicate balancing act. But it’s also, you’re right, if we don’t speak out against obvious injustice, how are any of us supposed to sleep at night?” “When we left, it looked like Elemus would be put in charge on a provisional basis until they could have a special election,” Jonathan explained, “he’s got 133

more experience with humans than any other Daranaean official, so that bodes well. But,” he shook his head, “I doubt that women will be voting in that special election. Who knows how long it will take for them to wrap their heads around that idea?” “Baby steps,” Gardner said, “remember it was hundreds of years between the Magna Charta and the American Declaration of Independence.” “Oh, and another thing,” Admiral Black said, “This is confidential, but Malcolm Reed’s going to get the DC-1505 once it’s built. But that may be a while. The budget isn’t what it used to be. Amazing what peace will do to budgets!,” he smiled wryly, “Plus there are more innovations in design, I understand. It could even take as long as a decade to get it built and the way it really should be. So don’t resign just yet or we’ll need someone else to command that ship. And I don’t relish breaking in another captain over time.” “I’ll keep quiet, no matter how long it takes. Don’t want to spoil the surprise. I know he and his family will be thrilled,” Jonathan said, smiling, “Archer out.”


13 Women Unite, Take Back the Night – Anna Pride “It is time for learning,” Mistra said a few days later. Happy to be home, all she wanted to do was learning. “We were interrupted last time. Will we be interrupted again?” asked Minna, a little scared. “I don’t think so,” Mistra said, “come and let us go to the learning room.” They all went in except for Seppa, who knew she wasn’t supposed to go. Mistra counted little noses. “Where is – who are we missing?” Vidam and Trinning counted, too. “I think that’s everyone,” Vidam said. “No, wait,” Trinning said, thinking, “We are missing 135

Seppa.” They all looked around. “She should join us,” Vidam finally said, “for the child of one so brave should not be denied learning any longer.” “Are you certain?” Dratha asked. “It is against what Father did. Is that an unwise choice?” Vidam asked, a little nervously. “No, it is a fine choice,” she replied, “but it is also a very different one. It is one that others will not necessarily follow or approve of, even though I understand that it is legal.” “Perhaps they should follow it, too,” Vidam said. He walked through the hallways of their home and found Seppa sitting near one of her mother’s old blankets, holding it and sucking her thumb and crying a little. He scooped her up in his arms, blanket and all. “You are going to do learning today with everyone else,” he said, “and you will do learning any time the rest of us do, from now on.” “I am not supposed to,” she said quietly, “Father said not to. Is Father coming home?” “I do not know. But that is the old rule. There are new rules now, maybe. I run the household. I suppose I can make any rules I wish,” he said as they entered the learning room. He set her down on the seat next to Minna, who was close in age to her. Mistra and Dratha smiled at the new addition. “This is a good day,” Dratha said. Mistra drew on the board, a Y, “Can anyone tell me 136

what this symbol is?” she turned to face her students.

Minna pointed at her. “Mama!” Mistra looked down and could see a little brindlefurred hand emerging from the top of her pouch. “It is a very good day!” she put down the writing implement and sat near the little girls. Cria left and returned with a soft off-white baby blanket. “Oh, you kept it,” Mistra smiled. “Of course we kept it,” Dratha said, “Minna could only sleep when she was near your smell. And we, we always wanted to believe you would be able to come home to us again.” Her eyes shone a little but it was not from sadness. “Can we help the pouchling?” Seppa asked. “No, we must let her do this for herself,” Dratha said, “but we are here in case she is in any real distress.” The pouchling slowly grasped the top of the pouch with one hand, and then another. And then she figured something out, for she pushed down a little on the top of the pouch. The top of the little brindle head began to emerge, and then the rest. She looked up at her mother first, and then out and around to her surroundings, to her family, little mouth agape. She then scrambled a little more, holding onto the 137

top tied part of Mistra’s blouse until, finally, she was completely out. Mistra held onto her and they got the baby onto a table. She and Dratha cleaned up the pouchling – she could no longer be called a pouchling; she was an infant – and swaddled her. Mistra picked her up to face everyone, who stood in a circle around them. Vidam spoke first. “I am, I am the head of this household now,” he said, “I am not your father. I am your half-br- your brother. You will receive everything from me,” he said, following the normal pouch emergence ritual, more or less, but then stopped, “I am, that is not right, for I know you will receive many things from everyone else. So, I, I will promise to make sure you have a home.” “I am Dratha. I am the Prime Wife. I promise to guide you. My children are supposed to speak next, but I think your mother should speak now, for she has been so brave.” “I am Mistra. I am the secondary. I promise you an education. And I am your mother. From me – and I think from all of us – I promise care.” “There is no last caste wife here,” Trinning said, “so who should speak?” “I will,” Seppa said, with her tiny voice. “I am Seppa and I will serve.” She was copying what she had heard her mother say when Minna was born. “But you are the child of a very brave one indeed,” Vidam said to Seppa, “so you will serve, yes, but you will also grow together and learn together. I will insist upon it. That will be a rule in this house, for 138

Father’s rules no longer apply. All will have the home learning. All will know how to read and write.” “I am Trinning. I will one day run a house. And I think I will run it like this one is now being run. For it seems wrong to leave one out of the learning.” And they told the infant their names and made their promises, all down to little Minna, who said, “I am Minna. We will both be secondaries someday.” “And we will make sure that you go to the best and kindest males possible, and not just the highest bidders,” Vidam said, “we are wealthy. We don’t need to be bargaining over a few Stonds when it is for the health and safety and comfort and care of all of you sisters.” He looked Mistra in the eye and handed her the offwhite baby blanket. She wrapped up the infant, and he asked, “What do you name this new child?” And Mistra, who had been planning all along to name the infant Bayla, said, on an impulse, “Inta.” “A name for one who was very brave,” Vidam said, “welcome to the world, Inta, and come and see all that is beautiful in it.” Mistra drew a semi-circle on the board to show all. “We will all learn. This term means female. And this term,” she pointed at the Y she had drawn earlier, “it means male. And I think maybe they are both important, in their own ways.”


And baby Inta, who was still very small and could not quite focus her eyes too well yet, saw her family, and could not tell male from female, or young from old, or the first born from the last, or who had been the vessel for whom. And she could not tell castes at all.



1 Cria carefully counted the number of little cakes in the jar. There were seven, she was sure of that. Then she counted again – just to make absolutely sure. She walked over to where her mother was sitting and reading. “Mama?” she asked, “May I have some friends visit this afternoon?” “Have you finished your learning?” Mistra asked. Cria nodded, and presented the materials. Mistra looked them over. “Oh, this is very good. So you are free to have visitors. How many, and will they be staying to dinner?” “I would like to invite Kathalia, Morza and Jamae,” Cria said, “and I don’t think they will be staying to dinner. Just a few hours to play some games together and chat.” 141

“Of course, my dear,” Mistra said, “your brothers will come home in about an hour’s time. Please, just make sure you do not interfere with any learning they have brought home from the big school.” “I understand,” Cria said, “we will be quiet during that time.” =/\= The girls arrived and sat together in the learning room. They spent their time playing a game where the players go around the room and associate words together in order to make sentences. Morza kept deliberately messing up, and the four girls laughed and laughed. They also carefully combed each other’s fur and trimmed each other’s whiskers in the modern, graduated style, and Kathalia, who was an elegant Daranaean beauty already, proclaimed their efforts so close to professional it was not possible to tell that they had not had any specialized training. They also told secrets, and Jamae confessed to the other three that she thought Trinning, one of Cria’s elder brothers, smelled the best of any boy. Soon afterwards, Trinning and his older brother, Vidam, came home from the big school and Jamae’s nose and ears turned all red when she saw him. Because the boys had to study, the girls came out of the learning room and went into the kitchen. “Where is the rest of the family?” Jamae asked. “Dratha has taken them on a day trip to the countryside,” Cria explained, “but Trinning and 142

Vidam had to go to school, and Inta is too young to go, so Mama stayed home and I decided to keep her company.” “And I appreciate your company. We have gotten a letter,” Mistra said, “It is from the human, Commander Reed. Would you like for me to read it out loud?” “Humans? How interesting,” Kathalia said, “My father says they fought together with us when he battled the Klingons. I am sure they helped him. I should thank them for keeping Father safe.” “I am certain they would like to hear from you,” Mistra said. “Plus you will be a Prime Wife someday,” Morza pointed out. “And you will all be secondaries,” Kathalia said, “But it does not mean that what you say is unimportant, or that we cannot be close. You are my sister, of course, Morza!” It was still quite a coup to say that someone with a different mother was one’s sister. So many Daranaeans still said half-sister and half-brother which, while technically true, was beginning to be seen as a bit unnecessarily cruel. “And Cria and Jamae, we are such good friends; you are like having more sisters. I don’t think the castes should matter in that way, do you?” “I value all of my friends,” Cria said, “Mama, what does the letter say?” “It says,” Mistra read, “November fifth, 2165 143

Dear Mistra and family, My apologies for not including all of your other names. I am so afraid I would leave someone out. I do remember all of your faces. I do not know when I will next be in the area, but at some point, I should like it very much if my son, Declan, could have some play time with some of your younger children. I believe that Seppa and Minna may be the closest in age to him. You are very fortunate to be spending so much time with your loved ones. I’m afraid my work often takes me rather far away. I hope we can all get together soon. Sincerely Yours, Malcolm Reed Commander, USS Zefram Cochrane DCC – 1501 Mistra paused for a moment, “Oh, there is a picture enclosed. Look!” It was a child’s drawing of one of the shuttles belonging to the Zefram Cochrane. “Oh, that is a pretty good likeness,” Jamae said, “How old is this little boy?” “Four, I think, and that is counting from birth, and not pouch emergence, for their women do not have pouches,” Mistra said. “How odd,” Morza said, “it must be difficult to go 144

through life without a pouch!” “I understand that they are barefaced, as well,” Jamae said, “and I could not see any whiskers in any of the pictures I have ever seen of humans. Still, this Declan, he is a good artist already.” “Would you like some little cakes?” Cria asked, ever mindful of being a good hostess. Morza brought over the jar. “There are not enough.” There were only two in there. “Huh, there were seven in there before I asked you over,” Cria said, “I am sorry.” “It is all right,” Kathalia said, “perhaps we could make more. Would you mind?” she asked Mistra. “Not at all, here, I will show you where the flour is.” Mistra was pleasantly surprised. A first caste female such as Kathalia was not obligated to ask for permission of a secondary such as her, even taking the age difference into consideration. Daranaea was changing, and that felt like another positive change. “Where is little Inta?” Vidam asked. He and Trinning were taking a break from their studies, so he came into the kitchen. “She went into the sleeping room,” Mistra said, “and good and early, too! She is often so much trouble when it comes to her naps. But today she went right in there.” Trinning came out of the sleeping room and Jamae again got very red in the face, “Mama, I think you should come and look in on Inta,” he said. 145

“Is she all right?” Mistra got up, a little alarmed. “Yes, but, you will see what I mean,” Trinning said, and he showed a secret smile that only Jamae saw. They all went into the sleeping room. There was a bit of a crunching sound where they put their feet. Inta was lying more next to her blanket than under it, wearing naught but her swaddling. There were crumbs all around where she was sleeping, and two of the little cakes were stuffed into her tiny pouch, but she was so small that they stuck out of the top. There were crumbs in her whiskers, too, and around her little mouth and in her hands. “So that is where the other five little cakes went!” Cria exclaimed. “She must have carried one in each hand, one in her mouth and two in her pouch,” Morza said. “Then that would mean she was walking upright!” Vidam said, “And she has only been crawling so far.” All of the noise woke Inta up, and she began to cry a little and hold her belly. Mistra came over, “Oh, Inta! You have been naughty! I imagine you have quite a bellyache, little one. Here, let us get you some fizzing water. That will make the pain go away.” “I guess that is why there weren’t enough little cakes,” Cria said, again apologetic. “Oh, I don’t mind making more,” Kathalia said, “if my friends will help me.” They baked a batch of little cakes and everyone enjoyed them. Everyone that is, except for Inta, who had had quite enough, but was feeling better once 146

she had drunk some of the fizzing water. There were some leftover little cakes, and it was getting to be close to dinner time. “You should take the remaining little cakes with you,” Mistra suggested to the guests, “so that someone is not tempted again.” They wrapped them up into two packages – one for Kathalia and Morza’s family, and the other for Jamae’s family. “Uh, Trinning and I will carry the packages,” Vidam volunteered, even though the packages were very small and the girls were more than capable of carrying them by themselves. Mistra took one look and nodded, understanding. It was early to be thinking of such things, but she could see a glance exchanged between Trinning and Jamae, a girl from a fine family. And Kathalia and Morza were two of the daughters of Acreon, the war hero! They would all make fine additions to the family, when they were ready, and of age. The five of them left, and Mistra and Cria cleaned up the mess in the sleeping room and Inta helped as well as she could so that she would learn to be more considerate. Then Cria and Mistra straightened up the kitchen from the baking and got dinner ready as the rest of the family came home and began to speak of the day’s adventures. Minna was very excited that they had ridden on a big boat and seen fish jumping out of the water and splashing as they landed again. And little Inta, who was sitting in the corner of the kitchen and watching and listening very intently, stuck her hand in her pouch and pulled out a forgotten broken off morsel of a little cake and ate it while no one else was looking. 147

Some Assembly Required

1 The little girl had off-white fur on most of her body, except for her hands and her bare feet – and her belly, which had a pouch, but that could not be seen as it was covered with her clothes, of course. The tips of her ears were covered with caramel brown fur, very much like her mother had had. She was only four years old, and ran out of the learning room, crying. “What is the matter, Seppa?” asked one of her older brothers, Trinning. He had brindle fur and was about eight years older. “The, the toys! The human toys! They are all, they are all …” her voice trailed off, crying, as if it were too horrible to finish her sentence. 148

“Dratha!” called Trinning, “please help. Poor Seppa is distraught.” “Oh, come here, sweetheart,” Dratha said. She was an older Daranaean woman, rust brown fur going grey, and was not mother to either of them. Their father had had three wives, like most wealthy Daranaean men. Dratha was the Prime Wife; Trinning’s mother, Mistra, was the secondary; and Seppa’s mother, the late Inta, had been the third caste wife. Dratha held Seppa and rocked her until she calmed down a little. “Now, what is the matter, child? Why do you have such sad eyes?” “It, the human toys are all broken,” Seppa cried, “I went to play with them and I opened the three boxes, and they were all broken up into bits.” “That happens sometimes,” Dratha said soothingly, “the Tellarite freighter captain who forwarded the toys to us, she must have made a mistake, and they were damaged. We can call the humans and tell them.” “But they will think that I broke the toys!” Seppa cried. Trinning went into the learning room and brought one of the boxes back with him. “I don’t know why they broke,” he said, “The material is some form of wood. It seems sturdy enough.” “See? They will, I was, I was going to write a thank you letter and tell them how much I, I liked playing with the toys, and I was going to tell them how I played with them,” Seppa explained between sobs. “Mistra, I was going to ask Mama Mistra to help me 149

to write the letter to, to Captain Archer. And now they will decide that I broke the toys, and they will be so cross with me.” She dissolved back into tears. “Oh, no, no,” Dratha said, “it will be all right. Let us contact them now, and we will get it all straightened out. The toys arrived damaged. They will not be angry with you. It was an accident. They will send new ones, I am sure. Shh, now, don’t cry. Trinning, please open up communications.” “Yes, of course. Here we are.” “This is Captain Archer. Hello, Dratha,” he said, far away in his Ready Room on the DC-1500, the USS Zefram Cochrane. This was the successor ship to the NX-o1, which had gone into dry dock a few years previously, “and, uh, Vidam and, um, Minna?” Jonathan Archer had trouble remembering the names of all of the children in that family. Like in most Daranaean families, there were numerous children. But he had just called Trinning by his elder brother’s name – Vidam – and Seppa by her younger sister’s name – Minna. Dratha smiled. “I imagine so many names must be so difficult for you, for I have Seppa with me on my lap, and Trinning standing nearby.” “Oh, I’m sorry. What can we do for you?” “We wanted to thank you for sending the human toys, but they seem to have been damaged in transit,” Dratha explained, “Seppa here wanted very much to play with them today, and she thanks you for your kind intentions.” “Yes,” Seppa said in her tiny voice, “thank you. I’m 150

sorry the toys are broken.” Jonathan searched back in his mind. Toys? They had sent a few gifts as the holidays were right around the corner, but he hadn’t chosen them. “Just a moment, I’ll ask Commander Reed. He’s the one who made the arrangements.” He cut the sound for a second and contacted the Bridge. “Malcolm, can you come in here a second? The Daranaeans are calling – something about broken toys?” Malcolm was sitting in the captain’s chair and got up. And then he remembered, and smiled a little to himself. “I’ll be right in, sir.” He chuckled a little as he closed the communications link. Hoshi Sato looked up from her station. “What’s so funny?” “You’ll see,” he said, “uh, please take command for the next few minutes whilst I explain things.” He walked into Jonathan’s Ready Room. “Ah, Commander Reed,” Dratha said, “it is good to see you, but I am afraid Seppa here was hoping to play with the pretty toys you sent, but could not, as they were all broken into bits.” “They are supposed to be that way,” Malcolm said, “They are what are called jigsaw puzzles. You see, they come in all of these pieces, and what you do is, you put them all on a flat surface and you turn them all colored side up, and then you interlock them together, to make the picture on the front of the box.” Jonathan breathed a sigh of relief. First contact with the Daranaeans had been difficult. Second contact had ended up being far better but things could still be 151

a little dicey. That had been just under eight months before. “We received your gift as well, Dratha,” he said, “but I hope you don’t mind, we’re going to hold it for about two weeks until our holiday party, and then we’ll open it.” “By all means, Captain,” she said, “but I want you to know, if our gift is in pieces – it is not supposed to be that way.” “Understood,” Jonathan said. Dratha let Seppa off her lap and Seppa went running off, happily calling out, “Minna! Minna! It is supposed to be that way! Come and get the boxes and we will play with the human toys now! I know how to play with the human toys!” Malcolm smiled a little at that, “Dratha,” he said, “you might want to use a flat surface that is not your dining table, as it might take a while for them to put everything together.” “There is the big table in the learning room,” Trinning said, “we could use that.” He still had one of the boxes in his hands. “What is this a picture of?” “Oh, that’s a large clock called Big Ben,” Malcolm said, “it’s, well, I attended school near there. The others are a picture of Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. The third one is a picture of our ship.” “Uh, Trinning, is it?” Jonathan asked. The Daranaean boy nodded, and Jonathan continued, “Are all of the pieces separated out into the correct boxes?” 152

“I, I do not believe so,” Trinning said, “for I can see in here,” he rooted around in the box’s contents, “there are red pieces and black ones and white and grey ones as well. The red ones do not seem to go with the picture on the front of this particular box.” “That’s going to increase the challenge level quite a bit,” Jonathan said, “you might want to help them a little.” “We can all help them, and play together as a family,” Dratha said, “and I thank you again. Sorry to have troubled you for what turned out to be such a little thing.” “No trouble,” Jonathan said, smiling, “all of the calls between our people should go this smoothly. Give our best to the rest of your family. Archer out.” He closed the connection and looked at Malcolm, “I, well, it was a good idea, certainly. I know you meant well.” “Who knew that a jigsaw puzzle would be such an alien concept?” Malcolm asked. =/\= Two weeks later, they were at their holiday party on the DC-1500. Security Crewman Azar Hamidi and Engineering Crewman Josh Rosen brought the Daranaean gift over and placed it on a table. The gift was large, flat and circular. And it was obviously heavy. “You should open it, sir,” Malcolm suggested. Jonathan tore at the brown wrapping paper. “It’s, it’s a serving platter, I think.” “For at least twenty people,” Hoshi said. “Well, their families are enormous,” Malcolm 153

explained, “in the Arnis household, there were, uh,” he paused to remember, “five children by the Prime Wife, a dozen by the secondary and two were the children of the third caste wife.” “Nineteen kids, wow,” Hoshi said. “What an interesting decoration,” Jonathan said, looking at the platter more closely. “Sir, I think that’s their writing,” Hoshi said, “I know that they use pictographs. Some represent letters like we have, others represent syllables and still others are complete words, plus they combine them for compounds.” “Can you read it?” Jonathan asked. “Give me a day.” =/\= The next day, a letter arrived, with more of the pictograph writing, and an enclosed photograph. Jonathan brought it over on his PADD to Hoshi, who was sitting in the cafeteria having lunch with Malcolm. The huge platter was on a nearby table. “Any luck with the translation job?” Jonathan asked. “I’ve got it,” she said. “And?” “And they seem to make up new pictographs if they need to, sir,” Malcolm said, “I was never really interested in languages, but this one is rather intriguing.” “Maybe you can read the letter, too,” Jonathan said, 154

giving his PADD to Hoshi. She began to check the letter over. “Now,” Malcolm said, “see all of these capital Ys? Hoshi has determined that they mean male. And do you see the capital Ds on their sides? Those mean female.” “Uh, all right.” “The middle part is an inscription and all of the other, smaller parts, those are signatures. See how the handwriting for them is all different? Some are children’s writings, others by adults,” Malcolm said.

“They all signed their names?” Jonathan asked. “They must have, in some sort of glaze, and then the piece was fired,” Malcolm said. “What does the middle inscription say?” Jonathan asked. “Hoshi, kindly correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that it says, ‘We have a new saying on Daranaea: When human friends come, happiness is sure to follow.’” “That’s the gist of it,” Hoshi said, “and I’ve got your letter translated, Captain.” 155

“Any more newly made up pictographs?” “Just one,” Hoshi said, “on the platter, the symbol for human was new – see this one that looks like a circle on top of an X? That one means human. And here on your letter, see the square with the wavy line cross inside of it? I’m pretty sure that now means jigsaw puzzle.” “They wrote a new word, just for us,” Malcolm said, smiling. Hoshi read the letter... ‘Dear Captain Archer and the crew of the DC1500, Thank you for the wonderful gift of the jigsaw puzzles. We had fun playing and putting everything together. Are there more puzzles like this? We have asked an artist to paint a portrait of Mama Dratha and cut it into pieces so that we can play some more. Mama Mistra helped me to write this letter. Thank you again for helping us. I hope you will come back soon. I love you all. – Seppa.’ “And it looks like Seppa signed it herself.” Hoshi added. “See how the writing differs?” It was a child’s much more careful block printing. Seppa must have struggled to make it absolutely perfect. “Huh, we don’t normally get I love yous in our official correspondence,” Jonathan said. 156

“I don’t suppose Starfleet’s about to start saying that, sir. It is much nicer than our usual letters,” Malcolm said, “I wonder if they’ve figured out that they can take the pieces apart and put it all back together another time. Play again, as it were.” “They might not have figured that out, or maybe they find that odd. I’ll explain it when I send our thank you to Dratha,” Jonathan said, “and a little response to my new pen pal.” “Oh, and the caption for the photograph says,” Hoshi read, “‘Today the Provisional Alpha of Daranaea, Elemus, helped finish constructing a special human toy sent by our new friends.’ And see, there’s, I’m guessing that’s Elemus, putting in the last piece, surrounded by, I am guessing, everyone in the family.”

“Yeah, that’s Elemus. It looks like his family came, too, judging by the number of people in the picture. I recognize his third caste wife, Cama,” Jonathan said, “Funny, so this was an occasion for a photo op?” “I suppose it was rather dramatic for them,” Malcolm said, “Happy Christmas, sir, Hoshi.” 157

=/\= On Daranaea, Seppa gazed proudly at the three completed puzzles in the learning room. “They are all so very pretty. Do you think you will ever see these sights?” her sister Minna asked her. “Maybe someday.”



1 “Order! The Beta Council will have order!” the Sargent at Arms yelled over the din of several dozen voices arguing. He was tall and well-built, with mostly black fur over his body although his ears were tipped in a rusty brown color. “Thank you,” said the Alpha of Daranaea, a war hero named Acreon. “We will speak of the proposal now. First, to speak will be the proponent of this bill, Vidam.” Vidam stood up. He was still fairly young. It was his first year as a Beta Councilor, following in the footsteps of his father, the disgraced Arnis. He had been elected by those who remembered seeing him as a boy, brave and unyielding, defending his second mother at her trial. That had been nearly twelve 159

years before, and he was no longer a callow youth. His fur was completely rust-colored, and his nose was rather triangular in shape, making him looking even more fox-like than most Daranaeans. “I, I would like to put forth a bill that would grant Daranaean Prime Wives the right to vote.” There were murmurs in the room. “Go on,” Acreon said, trying not to show favor, but it was difficult not to. Vidam was one of his sons-in-law, by virtue of a marriage to Acreon’s own Morza. And Vidam’s brother, Trinning, was a son-in-law, too, by virtue of a marriage to Acreon’s daughter Kathalia. So Vidam was family in a lot of ways, and a protégé to Acreon. “We, we all know that there are differences among the female castes,” Vidam said, “and the Prime Wives are given the most education, still. They are certainly the best informed about the issues of the day, and, and they would, I am sure, use this new right wisely.” “And now Boestus will present the opposing viewpoint,” Acreon said. Boestus was older. He rose. His fur was off-white, with brown spots. “I hardly think I need to tell this chamber about what would happen if Prime Wives got the right to vote!” Most of the Beta Council chuckled. “They would vote for more shopping days, and for lower prices! And they would vote for holidays and picnics! And, and what would happen if they got the notion to put up a candidate of their own?! Can any of you imagine taking orders from a Prime Wife?” “I hear Vidam and a lot of the others in the younger 160

generation already do!” said a wag, in a stage whisper. His neighbors laughed. Vidam got up, a bit red about his nose and the tips of his ears. “This is not about my home life.” “But Ethara has you wrapped about her littlest finger, or so I hear,” said the wag. “Now, now, gentlemen, this is a time for debate and not for gossip,” Acreon said. “Is this true?” asked Craethe, a field reporter for the ever-present Daranaean press. “I am the leader of my own house,” Vidam said, “It is not something that I need to assert or prove, to the press or the Council or the people of Daranaea and all of its provinces.” “Wouldn’t the vote for Prime Wives lead, perhaps, to a debate about a vote for secondaries?” asked the reporter, “And then where would it lead? Wouldn’t, eventually, someone think of giving the vote to, to the last caste females?” The members of the Council shuddered, seemingly as one. “We cannot have this,” Boestus said, “I call for a vote now.” Acreon could see that he could not delay a vote on the matter. “All right, we will vote.” The Council stood as one. “All in favor will remain standing!” called out the Sargent at Arms. There was a loud sound of shuffling as dozens of chairs were pulled back and dozens of Daranaean butts returned to their seats. 161

And in the end, showing their support for giving the vote to Prime Wives, there were only two men left standing.


Flight of the Bluebird

1 “Doctor Varelle! Doctor Trinning!” “What is it, Trava?” Trinning came rushing in. “Look! The lab animal! I think it is cured!” she cried, pointing. Varelle arrived. He was older, and it took him longer to get anywhere, but his mind remained sharp. “Let me see,” he said, coming closer. The lab animal was one of their smaller food animal species. “Let us go over what we have done in this instance.” “A few days ago, we deliberately infected this animal with Thylacine Paramyxovirus,” Trinning said, “The disease incubated and then became fullblown about four days previous to today.” 163

“And then, yesterday,” Trava said, “we injected the animal with the formula that we, uh, you doctors, you came up with.” “With the help of Doctor Rechal, don’t forget,” Varelle said, “he may be in the prison, but he has been helping us in correspondence, you know. Even a convict should receive proper credit, if it is so due. And then what was observed?” “The animal was ill like the others were,” Trinning said, “We all saw it. It was wheezing and coughing.” “There was also discharge from the snout,” Trava said, “sometimes bloody, sometimes it was not.” “And?” Varelle prompted. “And it was sleeping a lot, too,” Trava said, “We gave it mild analgesics but nothing else.” “So, we gave the animal no other medicines except for yesterday’s injection?” “Correct, Doctor Varelle,” Trinning said, “The animal has had no other medications.” “We will need to check the blood for antibodies, similar to the ones in, in your system, Trava,” Varelle said, “for we all know that the vaccine was based, in part, on your blood.” “It is convenient for our research that you recovered. So many do not. Plus we are glad that you are healthy,” Trinning said to her. “I am pleased that my blood was of help,” she said. “If this has worked, we will need to test the vaccination in an infected Daranaean. We will need 164

to work with the volunteers,” Doctor Varelle said. “I hardly think the word volunteer is appropriate,” Doctor Trinning said. “You know the law as well as I do,” Varelle said, “And it is a good thing that Alpha Acreon has relaxed it in recent years. There is no more mandatory euthanasia for last caste females! Why, it is how we have Trava here.” “Euthanasia may not be mandatory,” Trinning said, “but this is scarcely better. For a third caste wife who has undergone menopause now has two choices, rather than one, like before.” “A choice is better, yes?” asked the older man. “Not too much better,” Trinning replied, “for they have the choices of euthanasia or giving themselves over for medical experiments.” “Why, I experimented on Trava here six years ago! And she fully recovered. It was most unexpected at the time. And now she, well, we both know she does more than this but we have what we tell others, that she cleans up in here and makes our meals,” Varelle pointed out. “That is right, and it is the truth,” Trinning said, “but it is not the whole truth, for you also help us with the laboratory work.” Trava nodded and downcast her brown eyes briefly. “And you must never say that to anyone,” Varelle cautioned, “I do not wish for us to lose our funding or our laboratory, in particular when we are so close to a cure.” =/\= 165

2 The new ship was sleek and beautiful, a marvel of engineering. It had left space dock and gone to Andoria, and was awaiting its first mission. Captain Malcolm Reed sat in his Ready Room, sipping hot tea and gazing a bit at some of the artwork on the walls. These were works by his son, Declan, everything from a child’s scrawled crayon picture of a dog to a tempura portrait of the boy’s – man’s, really, as Declan was nearly nineteen – mother. Declan had even drawn the ship’s logo. The ship was the DC-1505, the USS Bluebird, and its logo was on everything, from the side of the ship to the china cup from which the captain was drinking his tea. The logo was a stylized bluebird, a reminder of Earth and of Malcolm’s great love, Lili, for she loved the color blue, and, for her and to celebrate his love, it was the bluebird of happiness. 166

He had been pleasantly shocked when Starfleet Command had allowed him to change the name of the ship. It was supposed to be something menacing – the Defiant. But he did not want a ship with a name that screamed anger and conquest. He had come up through the ranks in Tactical, and he knew all too well what it was like to go to war. So he had wanted even the ship’s name to evoke peace. He pulled up his left sleeve slightly, to expose a dull grey metal cuff with intricate scrollwork that he always wore. She had given it to him; the first time she had told him that she loved him. He never took it off. To look at it was to look at her. To touch it was to touch her hand. He consulted it, almost like an oracle, when he was troubled or upset or fearful. She was alive, and very reachable, but communications sometimes took a while or were impractical. A call home during a space battle was simply not going to happen. So he would brush a finger on the metal and could imagine her near. And he could be comforted by the fact that she was far away from the danger. “Thank you for being so accepting of this life, and for embracing it,” he said aloud to no one, “and thank you the most for Declan. Our one and only; I don’t even wish for another.” He straightened up a bit and chuckled to himself. “Of course at my age it’s unfathomable.” There was a PADD on his desk, and it had gone into sleep mode. There were some family photographs – a picture of him and Mark Latrelle horsing around at school, a photograph of Declan’s first birthday party, 167

and any number of others. He touched the screen and it immediately switched over to the time – 0900 hours – and the date – August fifteenth 2180. “I shall be sixty-eight in less than a month. And you, love, you’re seventy-one! It would take quite a bit of fancy medical work indeed for there to be a little brother or sister for our Dec. It’s all right, though,” he said, patting the metal cuff, “I am not disappointed one bit. I love our family just the way we are.” There was a communications chime. “Yes?” It was his First Officer, Lieutenant Commander Hoshi Sato Kimura, “I’ve got Admiral Black. He says he’s got news about our first mission.” “Perfect,” Captain Reed said, “kindly put him through.” “Malcolm,” said the admiral, “we have a diplomatic mission.” “Oh?” “The Daranaeans are going to hold their elections soon. They’ve asked for observers.” “Observers? We’re just going to watch a bunch of people voting?” “Officially, you’re there to just watch. Unofficially, you’re there in case things get ugly. Their Alpha – their leader – is a war hero named Acreon.” “Yes,” Malcolm said, “I remember now. It was during second contact, there was a battle. He was their military commander, if I’ve got the right person. It’s been a good decade and a half.” 168

“You do. And after their Alpha, Arnis, was disgraced and convicted of murder, there was a provisional Alpha, Elemus. Then they had elections and Acreon got in. He’s nearly completed his third five-year term. And that’s the limit for them,” said Admiral Black. “Surely they’ve conducted power transfers before?” “They have, and those have mostly been peaceful transitions. This time, Acreon is a bit fearful. There are nineteen candidates, but only two truly have a chance. One, Boestus, is a conservative candidate who would haul them back into the Dark Ages. The other is a reform candidate.” “Admiral, you and I both know that getting intimately involved in internal planetary politics is a dreadful idea.” “And you will not get involved,” Black said, “if you have one candidate up for a visit, the other one gets equal time.” “I’d rather stay out of it completely, and just spend our time in orbit,” Malcolm said, “otherwise, I suppose we’d be weighing and measuring the foods we served them for supper, so as to assure the amounts were the same! Or are we to hold a stopwatch during both visits so that the durations are perfectly identical?” “Just … try,” Admiral Black said, “after all, you have met the reform candidate.” “I have?” “Yes,” Black said, “during second contact. He’s the 169

eldest son of the disgraced Arnis. He’s thirty years old, and his name is Vidam.” =/\= On Earth, Federation Councilman Jonathan Archer was awaiting a very special call. There was a communications chime, and he jumped on it immediately. “Yes! This is Jonathan Archer.” “Councilman Archer”, said a woman, “my name is Cynthia Brennan. I have a beagle puppy for you.” =/\= On a small ship, the Corumon, Earth was finally visible. “Look at how green it is!” enthused a young woman. She had off-white fur on most of her body and had never, ever been to Earth before. “Yes, it’s beautiful, Seppa,” said her husband, “but don’t overexert yourself.” He patted her pregnant belly. “Don’t want anything bad happening to either of you.” “Of course, Brantus,” she said, leaning near him and smelling him. “You smell so good. My pen pal says that there are all sorts of places that even he can smell, so we should enjoy Earth very much.” “Who knew you would become such good friends with a Federation Councilman?” Brantus asked, “He is the same level as Vidam is on Daranaea. Perhaps they will both be Alpha leaders at the same time.” “Perhaps,” she said, “I care little for power and politics, though I do support my brother’s candidacy, of course.” 170

“He is trying to relax the euthanasia law more,” Brantus said, “so I know I support him. I, I don’t know what I’ll do when the time comes for you. We will; if we must, we can keep traveling. But our daughter,” he touched her belly again, “oh, how will she have a husband if we are outlaws?” “Right now I just want to be sure she is born healthy,” Seppa said, “and hope for the best. If I could vote, of course it would be for Vidam, brother or no brother.” “That is what the Beta Council fears the most. If Daranaean women ever get the right to vote, they’re terrified that you’d all just vote them out of office in one shot!” “But that is not what is being discussed as an issue of the day. Right now, it’s just whether to relax and, perhaps someday, abolish the euthanasia law,” Seppa said. She was only nineteen, but she still trembled a little, even though Brantus was holding her close. It would be, what, another twenty-five years? Thirty? And then she would be faced with choosing whether to be euthanized or give herself up for medical experiments. She was a last caste Daranaean female, and menopause would bring with it that awful choice. “Right,” Brantus said, “you know I do not favor you over my other two wives, of course. But I know I have the least amount of time with you. They are good women, they are indulgent.” “They are,” Seppa agreed, “Vidam made sure I was sold to the man who would treat me the best. And 171

you are, most assuredly, that man. But let us not speak of euthanasia. Instead, let us talk about our visit. Jonathan has never met you before! My own father,” she paused for a second, for her father had been the disgraced Arnis, “is as good as gone. And I have known Jonathan Archer for a good fifteen years.” “Do you mean I will need to prove myself to him?” Brantus asked. “Perhaps a little,” she teased, “but I shall put in a good word for you.” =/\=


3 The Bluebird got close to Daranaea on August twentieth of 2180 and they could pick up surface broadcasts. Hoshi tuned into one at Malcolm’s request, and they watched and listened as intently as the citizens in Daranaea’s many provinces did. A field reporter said, “The Beta Council chamber is normally a hive of activity, but right now, it is, curiously, quiet.” There were then cheers as the Alpha, Acreon, appeared. He raised his arms to call for quiet, and then spoke, “Fellow Daranaeans! Our elections will be in one week’s time. I envy the next Alpha, for he will be in an even closer relationship with the Federation. He will be able to decide whether Daranaea should join the Federation at all. And I shall be pleased when we get to that day, regardless of his decision. We are a part of a much larger 173

galactic community than we had originally thought. There are worlds and peoples that are radically different from our own. We have seen many different societies in the past two decades. Undoubtedly, we shall see many more. These are heady times.” He coughed a little before continuing. “I urge our voters to consider all of the candidates, and all of the issues. I do not throw my support behind any of the candidates, and I will not do so. I do not intend to sway this election in any manner. My desire is to work with my successor to bring about the smoothest possible transition. There is a bright, good-smelling future ahead of us. Thank you.” “And there you have it,” said the field reporter, speaking into a camera, “our Alpha has been very careful to not show favoritism, but he has got to be pleased that one of his sons-in-law, Vidam, is a leading candidate. And as all Daranaeans know, the other leading candidate is the standard bearer for the conservatives, Boestus.” An anchorman cut in, “In a field of nineteen candidates, Boestus and Vidam have emerged as the front-runners. Our latest polls show them virtually neck and neck, and all differences are well within small plus or minus error percentages.” “It’s interesting that the Alpha did not address the main issue of this campaign,” commented the field reporter, “While there are questions about jobs, and about possibly allying with the United Federation of Planets in a more formal and permanent manner, we all know that the main issue of this election is the proposed repeal of the ages-old euthanasia law.” 174

=/\= Malcolm called a meeting of his senior staff, in the Bluebird’s main conference room. It was not only him and Hoshi, but also Tactical Lieutenant Aidan MacKenzie, Pilot Lieutenant Travis Mayweather, Chief Medical Officer Blair Claymore, Science Officer Ensign Lucy Stone and Chief Engineer Ensign Jennifer Crossman Ramirez. Malcolm began, “I have sent reading materials to all of your PADDs. Kindly review them prior to our next meeting. We are going to Daranaea. Some of you have been to the surface, while others remained up here during second contact, a good decade and a half ago.” “I haven’t been there at all,” Blair said. “That’s right,” Malcolm said, “I’m sure you’ll be interested. Lucy?” “They’re fascinating, scientifically speaking,” she said to Blair, “The only known sentient marsupials in the galaxy!” “I’ll be sure to read up,” Blair said. “Feel free to contact Phlox, on Denobula, or An Nguyen, on the Excelsior. I’m certain they’ll have medical and scientific insights,” Malcolm said. “Now, our mission is to observe their elections for Alpha. The Alpha position is rather similar to our position of President.” “Are they expecting violence?” Aidan asked. “I think it’s possible. But I suspect it’s a bit more like the old United Nations observing elections. It’s being 175

presented as a bit of protocol, to assure that everything is going according to Hoyle. But I believe the current Alpha, a war hero of theirs named Acreon, is concerned. They are at a bit of a crossroads.” “How have they progressed since we last were there officially, Captain?” Travis asked, “Weren’t you there several years ago?” “I was,” Malcolm said, “I went to Andoria with my family and we detoured over so that Declan could have some play.” “That’s a long way to go for a play date,” Lucy said. Her own daughters generally didn’t go that far. Gina was already off the ship, but her younger one, Vanessa Miller, was still aboard, a teenager playing the occasional prank but generally a joy to have around. “I suppose I was a bit obsessive then,” Malcolm said, smiling a little, “I just wanted Declan to be exposed to as many different species as possible, at a young age. So he and two young girls, Minna and Seppa, played a few games for a few days and ran around a lot. There were a couple of littler ones who tagged along, Inta and Chellis. Declan was five then, so it was early in 2167; it was also for my beloved’s birthday,” he touched the cuff a little. She had turned fifty-eight then. That had been a good vacation. “So the people are friendly?” Blair asked. “Yes, and rather homey,” Malcolm said, “but there are other things.” “Their society is still really sexist,” Lucy said, “I 176

remember it all too well. The last time we were there officially, there was a big news story, a trial of the Alpha’s second wife. She was accused of killing a fetus.” “Abortion is criminalized there?” Blair asked. “I’m not certain of the subtleties of their laws,” Malcolm admitted, “but this trial was because the fetus was male. And there was,” he shook his head, “no thought for the other victim.” “The mother?” Blair asked. “Yeah,” Travis said, “Hoshi and I watched it from the viewer. The mother was pregnant and she was killed, and so was the baby, of course. But the trial was only about the baby’s death.” “The mother, I remember now,” Hoshi said, “she was in the lowest caste. They have three castes, and the mother was at the bottom so nobody really seemed to care until the end of the trial, when the Prime Wife testified and basically told off the judicial panel.” She sighed. “I bet those women still don’t have the right to vote.” Malcolm said, “I haven’t received confirmation on that either way, but I imagine you’re right. We are, let us be clear about this; we are not going there in order to make judgments about their lives or their government. We have a rather specific mission to perform. We are to observe their elections, nothing more, and to help to dispel violence if it should come to that. But then, only if we are asked to do so by the Alpha and the legitimate Daranaean government. Now, there are apparently nineteen candidates. We 177

shall have them all up for a meal and a chat, and include Acreon. There are two leading candidates but we are not to play favorites. Even an underdog,” he paused and smiled a little, seeing as the Daranaeans were so canid in appearance and behaviors, “could possibly win this one. Dismissed.” =/\=


4 In a few days, the Corumon slowly glided to a stop in a landing bay near Starfleet Headquarters. The family opened the hatch and got out, Brantus going first. He inhaled deeply. “Earth smells good,” he proclaimed. The rest of the family came out. Jonathan Archer was waiting to meet them. He came over quickly. “Seppa!” he called out happily. She cautiously stepped out and he took one look at her. He had not realized that she was pregnant. “A, a surprise,” she said to him, and then hastily added. “This is my husband, Brantus.” Jonathan shook his hand enthusiastically. “I’m glad to know you. And congratulations!” He came closer and Seppa kissed him lightly on the cheek, the tiniest of licks, like a puppy. He smiled at her warmly and 179

took her furry hands in his. “You’re glowing.” “What is that? What does that mean?” she asked. “It means that pregnancy agrees with you,” said the human. “Ah, I understand now,” said Seppa. “I am to have a girl child. We are going to name her something special but we have not decided on the specifics yet.” “I’m sure it’ll be wonderful,” Jonathan said, getting their bags to his car as Brantus’s two other wives followed and he took them to their hotel. =/\= Trinning came home that evening to a rousing reception, as always. He first embraced his very pregnant Prime Wife, Kathalia, and said, “You are the best cook.” The house smelled wonderful as a meal of meat and vegetables was finishing cooking. Then he held his secondary wife, Jamae. “My first love,” he said to her. She had a pouchling and so he held her from the side so that the pouchling could get enough air. He knelt down and kissed her pouch and the pouchling moved a little. And finally he went to hug and kiss his third caste Wife, Tamira. “My sweet,” he said. Their little daughter was nearby and held her arms up. He picked up the baby, who was only clad in swaddling. “Erda,” he said, “are you talking yet?” The baby just giggled at him. “Not yet,” Tamira said, “but it is early. I think we are thinking about talking, though.” 180

“My littlest out of the pouch, you will find that talking is a wonderful thing to do,” Trinning said to Erda as he straightened up, holding her. “And our other daughters?” “Curra and Samitha are helping with the meal and are setting the table,” said Tamira. “What was your day like, Husband?” asked Kathalia. Jamae got the last of the meal together as Kathalia sat down, resting her swollen ankles. “We had a bit of a breakthrough,” he said, “we may be close to a cure, but we need to test our findings in a living Daranaean.” Jamae came out. “Almost ready.” She saw that the others looked a bit serious. “Here, Erda, you will help me with the last part of getting dinner ready, and then you will help to collect Curra and Samitha.” She took the baby from Trinning so that the other three could speak in privacy. “A living Daranaean,” Kathalia said, “That means a third caste woman like Tamira.” “Yes,” Trinning admitted, “I do not like it but we need to test the medicine and determine its effectiveness.” “Who is in your lab these days?” asked Tamira. “We have three with us,” Trinning said. “There is Fyra. There is Darri. And there is Cama.” “Cama,” Tamira said, “she is from Councilman Elemus’s house, yes?” “Yes,” Trinning confirmed, “she lived there before.” 181

=/\= In another part of Daranaea, another domestic scene was playing out. “Boestus,” said an elder Prime Wife named Nitha, “the days grow late and Shura has not ovulated and she has not conceived. It may be close to her time.” “Not, not yet,” said Boestus. His secondary wife, Carya, came into the room. “Husband, you know the laws as we all do. It is a painful law yet it remains the law. And you have said that it is your position for it to remain the law. And what that means is that Shura will, soon, face a horrible choice.” Boestus rose. “This is my house, and I will decide on our conversations. We will speak of this no more.” “As you wish, Husband,” Carya said carefully as she and Nitha left the room. =/\= On the Bluebird, they were in orbit around Daranaea. The date slide by on the chronometer – August twenty-fourth of 2180. Malcolm was on the Bridge, and they were patched in to Sick Bay so that Blair could join in the conversation. “We shall have them all up in a day or so,” he said, “there are nineteen candidates and we will also invite wives. So that shall be,” he did a quick calculation in his head, “seventy-six people.” “Good God,” Blair said, “isn’t that almost as many people as originally manned the NX-01?” “Chef will flip out,” Travis said. 182

“Perhaps you’re right. Maybe we’ll confine the spouses to Prime Wives only,” mused the captain, “I don’t wish to play favorites but the sheer volume makes it impractical to do so otherwise.” “Thirty-eight will be a lot more reasonable,” Hoshi stated. “Very well,” said Captain Reed, “Prime Wives only.” =/\=


5 At Jonathan Archer’s home, the Daranaean family all walked in, one after the other. All three of Brantus’s wives were at various stages of pregnancy. They all sniffed as they walked in. “Cleaning solution,” said Anatha, the Prime Wife. “My housekeeper was here two days ago,” Jonathan explained. “And I believe there is a bit of rotting food in your refrigeration unit,” reported Raelia, the secondary. She put a hand in front of her own nose in order to block out the stench, as did the other two women. “Really?” asked Jonathan. “How can you tell? The door to the refrigeration unit is closed, and it’s supposed to make a perfect seal.” “If I may,” Brantus answered, “there are a few molecules that escape any time a refrigeration unit’s 184

door is opened, yes? That is what my secondary – that is what all of them – are noticing.” “That must be parts per trillion, or maybe even quadrillion,” said Archer. He opened the door to the unit and all three of the wives recoiled and moved away from him, looking a bit nauseous. “I don’t smell a thing. Can you tell what’s gone bad?” “I do not know the word,” Seppa said, holding her nose and looking very distressed. “But it is some sort of plant item.” Jonathan looked through containers as the women all excused themselves and went outside. He finally opened one which held a leftover salad from a takeout place. He took a whiff and still couldn’t smell anything. “That is it,” Brantus said. Jonathan handed him the container and a fork. The Daranaean plunged the fork into the mixed greens and immediately found what he was looking for – he had speared a grape tomato. “The rest is all right, although some of it may have assumed a bit of the foul smell.” Jonathan took the offending item off the fork. “It feels firm and perfectly ripe to me. I can’t smell anything wrong with it.” The salad had only been from the previous day’s lunch. He threw it into the disposer. Brantus called the women back. “It is gone.” “Oh, it was so foul,” Anatha said, “please, I do not mean to embarrass you, but it was just overwhelming.” 185

“We can all breathe more easily now,” said Raelia. “Another one of our many differences,” Seppa shrugged. =/\= “Tamira, are you all right?” Trinning asked his third caste wife as he got ready for work. “I am healthy.” “Yet you are troubled.” “It is because of Fyra, of course,” she said, “Sister to my mother. You will test your new drug on Fyra, yes?” “And I will test it on Cama and on Darri. We do have to be certain it works before we begin to make it available to the general populace.” “I just wish that she would not have to suffer.” “I wish the same. And I will give her and the other two any of the analgesics that they need,” replied Trinning. “They are fine third caste women. I suppose I feel the most for Darri.” “True,” Tamira said, “never purchased, save by you, for the laboratory. Husband, I would not be able to bear life without you.” “You are one of the shining stars of my life,” Trinning said to her, “and your light helps us all to see better.” “But not as bright as Kathalia and Jamae’s lights,” Tamira said, “I know my place, you know.” “The table has four legs,” he replied, “and none of 186

them are any longer than the others. If they were, the table would fall. You are one of my loves, regardless of your caste.” “The elder generation would never speak in such a manner,” she replied. “That is to their detriment.” =/\= The Bluebird was greeted with much fanfare on Daranaea. The Alpha, Acreon, personally contacted the ship. “It is to our great honor that you have returned, Captain Reed.” “We’re glad to have returned,” Malcolm replied. “Our elections will be very soon. It would mean a great deal to our people if you were to meet our leading candidates.” “We would like very much to meet them and their Prime Wives. Let’s say dinner, tomorrow evening, here on the Bluebird?” “It would be to our honor. Acreon out.” Malcolm turned to Hoshi and said, “Tell Mister Delacroix to make a lamb stew for tomorrow evening’s supper, please.” “Got it.” =/\=


6 At the laboratory, Trinning and Doctor Varelle stood with Trava and their three test subjects. “We have a possible cure,” said Varelle, “but it is untried in a living Daranaean.” “We would like to give you the virus,” Trinning said, “and then the cure, and see if it works.” “And if it works?” asked Darri. “Then you will be cured and your blood will be harvested at regular intervals as it is what is used to make the vaccine,” explained Varelle. “How regular would these intervals be?” asked Fyra. “Every month or so,” Trava explained. “But I am mostly able to work. The harvesting, it takes perhaps an hour and I can honestly say that the pain is minimal.” 188

“And if it does not work?” inquired Cama. “Then,” Trinning swallowed, “we will be a little closer to a cure as we will not be bothering with something that does not work. We will do our best to keep you as comfortable as possible.” “But this Thylacine Paramyxovirus, it is generally fatal, yes?” asked Fyra. “Most of the time, yes,” replied Varelle. “I will speak truth to you – we have no idea whether this will work.” “And we must obey you,” Darri said. “There is no refusal of this test.” They were all quiet for a moment. “I know that you have fear,” Varelle said, “that I can understand. But you are here for a specific purpose. If you refuse, you know that we can give you over for euthanasia, despite your choice to become experimental test subjects.” Cama was about to say something, and then seemed to think better of it. “You are speaking truth. We have no real choices or rights in this matter. Nor do we have them in most matters.” “We would not be proposing this if we did not think it could work,” Trinning stated. “We know that there are other laboratories on Daranaea. And they are also working on a cure. But a great many of them are irresponsible, and will inject their test subjects with any old thing. It is like hitting at something in the dark when your nose is clamped closed. It is no better than random guessing, and I am certain that those test subjects, they suffer.” 189

“I get no pleasure out of causing suffering,” said Doctor Varelle. The three test subjects conferred for a moment and then Cama said, “We have agreed. We will do this.” “We can try something,” said Trinning. “You will all receive the virus today. But one could get the cure tomorrow, the twenty-fifth, another on the day after, and then the third on the following day. We could determine whether acting quickly would be a better course of action.” “I shall go last, then,” Cama said. “And I shall go second,” added Fyra. “You need not,” said Darri. “No,” Cama said to her, “you must receive the cure first. You are still young, not yet menopausal. You could still be sold to a husband. Is it not possible?” she asked the men. “Theoretically, I suppose,” Trinning said carefully. “But most unlikely,” Varelle mumbled under his breath as he began to prepare viral injections for all three of them. =/\= Malcolm walked over to the galley on the Bluebird. Chef Delacroix looked up when he saw him. “So, Boss, what brings you here?” “I like this place,” the captain admitted, “it’s special to me.” 190

“I know why,” said Brian Delacroix. “I took over for Lili on the NX-01.” “So galleys and kitchens and the like – they are important to me.” He touched the cuff – Lili’s gift to him. “Are you ready for tomorrow?” “I am. I’ve got lamb, I’ve got root vegetables and I am thinking a salad for anyone who wants something not quite so heavy, plus I’ll make sourdough rounds. Forty guests, eh? Ya couldn’t make our first diplomatic dinner a small one?” “I had to invite all nineteen candidates, and then also the Alpha and his Prime Wife.” “They must have huge families,” said Brian. “Enormous,” stated Captain Reed, “their children alone are like football teams all by themselves.” “Two is plenty,” Brian said. “I can barely imagine the noise level in their homes.” =/\=


7 The next day, Trinning got up early to check on his patients. Varelle had not yet arrived, and Trava was still busy with her morning meal. He donned protective gear before going to visit his patients in quarantine. Cama, Fyra and Darri all looked terrible. They were coughing and sneezing, their noses running. They shivered although the lab’s environmental controls were set to a normally comfortable temperature. He turned the heat up for them. He prepared the injection. “Darri,” he said, “let us see what happens.” She nodded. Her throat was too raw to speak. He rolled up her sleeve for her as she was too weak to do so. He injected her and then she leaned on him, her reddened eyes looking at him. She opened her mouth 192

but was too weak to speak. “Here, you must sleep,” he said. He helped her to a mat and laid her down on it. The other two huddled closer, shivering. He left quarantine and got them more blankets. “Sso, c-cold,” Cama said. Then she erupted in a fit of coughing. “We will get you hot foods,” Trinning said. “Trinning,” she croaked, “water.” =/\= On Earth, Jonathan contacted Seppa at her hotel. “Can you get away for maybe an hour or two, including lunch?” “I suppose so. Brantus, is it all right if I tour with Jonathan for a little while?” “Certainly,” he said, “Raelia and Anatha and I will visit the Presidio.” “Then it’s settled. I’ll pick you up in ten minutes.” =/\= “Where are we going?” Seppa asked as Jonathan drove along. “I hope you don’t mind; it’s an errand of mine.” “Oh? Am I selecting furnishings for your home?” “No,” he laughed, “I’m going to a beagle breeder named Cynthia Brennan.” “What is that?” “Do you remember, when you were little, I sent you photographs, that I had a pet dog named Porthos?” 193

“I remember. He looked a little like the animals we have evolved from. Or, at least, what our scientists speculate about such things from bones and tools.” “Yes. I had Porthos and then I had Prada. Prada passed away about seven months ago.” “I am so sorry,” Seppa said. “They have such short lives.” “Yes, they do. And it takes a while, I’ve learned, before it’s a good idea to get another dog. You don’t want to jump in immediately. This isn’t a problem, though, as getting a dog from a reputable breeder can take some time. I put my name in three months ago, and Cynthia Brennan called me the other day. There’s a litter and they are old enough.” “And we are going to get your new little dog! Oh, how wonderful!” she clapped her hands in delight. =/\= On the Bluebird, the last touches were being put on the meal as the Observation Lounge was being stuffed with even more chairs. Crewmen had been assigned to serve – even people who were in other departments, like Engineering or Tactical – otherwise, the meal would never get served. The guests began to arrive. They were all shapes and sizes and colors, it seemed, from liver-spotted sleek short ones to tall, grey shaggy ones to blue merle-colored short-nosed ones to off-white long-snouted ones who superficially resembled Seppa, although they were not relations. 194

Last to arrive were Vidam and Boestus, with their Prime Wives, with Acreon and his Prime Wife. “Ethara,” Vidam said, taking his Prime Wife’s hand, “I also so pleased that you are meeting humans.” “I have heard things,” she said, shaking Captain Reed’s hand, “and I saw some of you on my viewer many years ago. I think you were one of them, but your fur was brown then.” “Fur? Oh, my hair, yes. It’s a bit grey now,” said Malcolm. “I suppose that’s how time goes for all of us, eh?” Boestus presented his Prime Wife, Nitha. “I was very expensive,” she said as her greeting. “Yes, I have no doubt,” said Hoshi, gulping a little. The younger wives would say their names or would use greetings that were pleasantries such as asking about the ship or about humans. It was the older wives who would mention pricing – the generational difference was rather pronounced. “I am glad you are all here,” Malcolm said, tapping a fork to a glass in order to get everyone’s attention. “I hope you enjoy the meal that Chef Delacroix has prepared for all of you. We here on the Bluebird are very supportive of your representative government and of all peaceful elections. Our wish is for a smooth transfer of power and for continued harmonious relations with you, no matter who becomes your next Alpha.” They drank to that – younger Prime Wives were usually pregnant or pouch feeding and so they drank water. The older ones joined in and drank a bit of the 195

merlot that had been brought out for the occasion. “Whaddaya think?” asked Aidan, who was standing near a wall with Blair. “You never saw them before.” “Yanno, I read up on them,” she said, “but it didn’t prepare me for the sight of so many pouch babies rolling over. It’s funny. They bare their stomachs and you can see every contour of their children. And those kids are active! It’s fascinating, almost like a second pregnancy.” Ethara was nearby and she came over. “I did not mean to overhear, but you are correct. It is very much like a second pregnancy. In many ways, we need to be a lot more careful, as pouchlings can be harmed if we allow the top of the pouch to be blocked in any way. And they stay inside for a good six months, you see. I tell you, it can be chilly to have one’s belly bared for so long.” “How can you remember who everyone is?” asked Blair. “I am related to about half of the Prime Wives here,” she said, “Our families intermarry constantly. These are not sisters – more like cousins and aunts. Some are older, like Nitha – she is my mother’s mother’s youngest sister.” “You seem to have a generation gap,” said Aidan, “The older women talked about how much they cost, but you didn’t.” “Daranaea is changing, whether they want it to or not,” Ethara said quietly, and he had to strain to hear her. “We are bought and sold, yes, but we are finding that most of the other marriages in the galaxy are not 196

begun in such a manner. It is beginning to be seen as poor taste to discuss prices and pricing levels quite so openly. Oh! There is Vidam, I must go.” =/\= Hoshi found herself talking to Nitha. “Can I ask you a question?” “I suppose,” said the older Daranaean woman. “I’ve noticed that all of the wives have names with a th sound in them, like in the word think. Do you know if there’s a particular reason for that?” “That I know. The sound means ‘good smell’, in any combination with any other words or sounds. This is because we are all good-smelling. Secondaries and last caste females cannot have that sound in their names, for they do not smell like we do.” She turned away and Hoshi was left to wonder a bit about that as she could not smell a thing. =/\= Lucy spoke with Vidam for a while. “I remember you have a very powerful mother,” she said to him. “Yes; she is somewhat unique among Daranaean females. It’s a bit much at times, to be the eldest child of the legendary Dratha. She is slowing down a bit, though.” “And there was a secondary, Mistra, am I remembering right?” “Yes, I’m pleased you remember. She is chasing after her grandchildren. My brother Trinning has three daughters – one from each wife. But his Prime Wife 197

is pregnant with a boy child now, and the secondary is pouch feeding another son.” “We are interrelated in all sorts of ways,” said Ethara, coming over. “Why, Vidam’s secondary, Morza, is half-sister to Trinning’s Prime Wife, Kathalia. They are both daughters of Acreon.” “Ah,” Lucy said, “you’ve got complicated family trees.” “Perhaps tree is not the right word,” said Vidam, “something more tangled, maybe.” “Bramble,” suggested Lucy. “A family bramble,” said Ethara, “I like it.” =/\= Cynthia Brennan’s home was small and comfortable – not much more than a cottage. It was right on the Pacific, and had a magnificent view and direct access to the beach. “Come in! Come in!” she enthused. She shook Seppa’s hand warmly. “You are, are you a Caitian?” “No, I am a Daranaean.” “I have never heard of your species before. Please forgive me for staring.” “It is all right. When I was very small, we had never heard of humans.” There were barks and yips as the door was closed, and then they suddenly went quiet. An adult female beagle came over and sniffed at Seppa. “Breezy,” said Cynthia, “come, girl.” 198

Breezy ignored her and continued sniffing Seppa. The dog did not growl, but did not wag her tail, either. Finally, she stepped back a bit and tilted her head in confusion. Seppa knelt down until she was almost at eye level to Breezy. “I am Seppa,” she said softly to the dog. She sniffed the air near the dog, who whined a little. “I know that this is your home. And I am here because my dear friend is going to go home with; I believe it is one of your children, yes? Is that correct?” “Yes, the puppy is from Breezy’s litter,” Cynthia confirmed. “I know that is it sad to see your children leave,” Seppa said to Breezy, “but your baby will have a very good life, filled with love. And your baby could visit. Is that correct?” “Sure,” said Cynthia. “I could arrange to do that sometimes,” Jonathan said. Breezy tilted her head a little and then stamped her front paws and shook her head to the side, a kind of follow me gesture. Seppa straightened up. “She wants me to follow her.” Seppa followed Breezy to a small room off to the side, where there was a whelping box with six puppies in it. They were squealing and moving but they stopped and instead sat in a line when they saw Breezy and Seppa. Jonathan and Cynthia were right behind. “What are 199

they doing?” he asked. “I have no idea. I’ve never seen them do that before.” “Jonathan, please come over here,” Seppa said, “and crouch down with me, all right?” “All right,” he said, knees creaking a bit as he knelt down. “Which puppy did you pick out for me?” Jonathan asked Cynthia. “Buster,” she said, “he’s the one with the green collar.” Seppa looked at the six puppies lined up in front of her. She addressed Buster directly. “You are shy and scared, I see. I understand. But Jonathan is very kind and friendly. You will have a good home with him.” The puppy still hung back. Seppa looked around again. “He is too afraid to go with you. But she, the one with the lighter-colored collar, she very much wants to go with you.” “Windy?” asked Cynthia, “but I was going to –” “Windy,” Seppa said, “is this who you wish to be with?” Windy came over, wagging her tail and nestled her head into Jonathan’s outstretched hand. “Whaddaya think?” he asked Cynthia. “I’d say you’ve got a dog. And I can switch everything around. Buster might be all right with the family I had picked out for Windy. They have a young girl who’s very shy.” “Then she and Buster will have that in common, and can become good friends very quickly,” Seppa said, 200

straightening up again. “Oh, I do hope I have not overstepped my bounds.” “Not at all,” said Cynthia, “I want the puppies and their owners to be well-matched. But tell me, can you talk to them?” “Not really,” Seppa said, “but I suppose I understand their body language a bit, and they understand mine. And we, our smells are somewhat similar. I suppose that got their attention.” “I have never had a female dog before,” Jonathan said, also straightened up, back cracking a little bit. “It’s not much different. Except that she’s always right,” Cynthia said, winking at Seppa, who laughed. =/\= They bundled Windy into a travel crate – Jonathan explained that it was for her own safety – and drove away. “Lunch?” he asked. “Certainly,” she said, “so long as I can have meat. I am supposed to have that at every meal.” “Got it,” he said, pulling into the parking area adjacent to a small café. “Do you want to sit outside?” “Can we? I would love that!” =/\= They sat together outside and chatted about all sorts of things as Seppa attacked a cheeseburger hungrily. At one point, Seppa said, “My little sister, Inta, she is, I fear she will not be sold to a husband.” 201

“Oh?” “She is rather headstrong. She reads many books – Captain Reed and his lady friend have sent all manner of books – and I think she is getting ideas from them.” “What kinds of books?” “When we were small, they were works like children’s readers and classic works, something called Charlotte’s Web – I remember I liked that one. Then romances like Jane Eyre. But they also sent something called The Lysistrata.” “Ah, I can see where that one would be a little problematic,” he said, “it’s a play about, well, women withhold relations in order to stop a war.” “Yes, I also read it, but then our mother saw it and she said maybe it was not such a good thing for us to be reading as, you know, we can never do such a thing on Daranaea.” She looked down. “The women here are so very brave. It is something that even the Prime Wives on my world can never be.” He took her furry hand. “Maybe someday.” Unseen by both of them, photographs were taken. =/\=


8 It was a huge recovery and clean up after such a big meal. Captain Reed was back on the Bridge after a while; Boestus in particular had kept him talking and it was enough already. “Let’s meet here,” Malcolm said, “So kindly open up a channel to Sick Bay and another to Engineering.” “Got ‘em,” Hoshi said. “I think that went all right,” Malcolm ventured. “They’re still oppressed,” Hoshi said, “I haven’t really seen too much evidence of changes.” “I think you really need to look for such evidence,” replied the captain. “Well, there’s a definite separation of not only the genders but also the castes,” Hoshi said, “that part hasn’t changed.” 203

“Actually,” Aidan said, looking up from the Tactical Station, “Blair and I were talking to the wife of one of the lead candidates –Ethara. And she said that there are some changes happening and the older generation and the newer are kind of, I guess you could say they’re at something of a crossroads.” “I had quite a time of it,” Malcolm stated. “Boestus and his wife gave me the third degree about not being married but having a child.” “I also got that,” Aidan said, “even without a kid; they wondered why Susan and I aren’t married. They also wondered why she was working at all; they kinda made me feel like I was some sort of a failure for not keeping her from working. Even after I told them she’s the ship’s teacher, it didn’t seem to matter to them. They just wanted to make their point that men work and women don’t.” “That’s the impression I got, too,” Jennifer said over the hum of the warp engines. “It didn’t seem to matter that I’m married; they couldn’t believe that Frank would just let me fly off and work and be apart from him.” “Same here,” Blair said, “they couldn’t fathom that my husband would allow me to go out into space without him, or would let me – horrors – possibly see the occasional naked man while practicing medicine.” “They thought Takashi should whisk me back home,” Hoshi commiserated. “You don’t wanna know what they thought of me and my daughters,” Lucy said. 204

“They didn’t actively insult you, did they, Ensign?” asked Captain Reed. “No, not really,” she said, “but the older ones definitely made it clear that they disapproved, and that they thought Andrew shouldn’t be letting me work. It’s all about permissions with them!” “Yes,” Malcolm said absently, “the men give or withhold permission and that’s that. What about you, Travis?” “Hmm? I mainly just ate lunch and kept my mouth shut about my family,” he said, “I didn’t want them talking about my mother running freight or anything like that.” “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to deal with the Daranaeans, I’ll wager,” Malcolm said. =/\= When Jonathan dropped Seppa off at her hotel, Brantus came out. “Might I speak with you a bit?” he asked Archer. “Sure.” “The wives are resting. Pregnancy takes a bit out of them, you see.” “Hmm, we could go to my home and let them have some quiet time.” “All right,” said Brantus. They got back to Jonathan’s home and he got them each a bottle of beer. “So, what’s on your mind, Brantus?” 205

“I was wondering,” he said, and he seemed to be casting about for the right way to put what he was about to say. “And?” “And Seppa is enjoying her time on Earth very much.” “She’s a lot of fun to have around,” Jonathan said, “I’ve known her since she was a small child; it’s a joy to see how she’s grown into such a lovely and kind young woman.” “I’m glad you think that way,” Brantus said. He then steeled himself for his next statement. “Jonathan, what would you say to purchasing Seppa?” “Excuse me?” “Would you like to buy my wife?” =/\=


9 Back on Daranaea, Boestus and Nitha went home. Carya and Shura were waiting for them. “I have failed again,” Shura said, “Husband, I have not ovulated and I have not conceived. I am obligated to tell you that my time for having children, it has ended.” She shivered as she said that. “Is this true?” Boestus asked Carya. She nodded. “Perhaps something can be done. Maybe there is an herbal remedy of some sort.” “If there was,” Nitha said, “surely it would have been found before now.” She shook her head. “This is so sad. Shura, you are so young for this to be happening.” Boestus left them, entering his own bedchamber. He looked around in a cabinet until he found what he was looking for. It was an old square of cloth, barely 207

recognizable from what it had once been – an old baby blanket. He put it against his face for a moment and then sniffed it in vain, trying to catch any lingering scent, but there was none. Nitha came in. “You should speak with Shura, and determine her choice – medical experiments or euthanasia.” “I, I cannot deal with that right now,” he said. She left. There was a sound at the door. It was Shura. She came in tentatively. “May I come in, Husband?” He nodded. She came closer. “I am afraid,” she admitted. “I must prepare for a campaign speech tonight. We will talk in the morning.” She left to allow him to prepare. =/\= “Buy your wife?” Jonathan was incredulous. “What are you talking about, Brantus?” The Daranaean looked at him and sighed. “It is not my desire,” he admitted, “but it would be the best thing for her. She is young and fertile, and she is very fond of you. I could give you a very good price for her – but that should not make you think that she has no value.” “Don’t you want to keep her? Brantus, she’s in love with you. Why are you trying to do this?” “It is; this is the only way.” 208

“Only way for what?” “For her to survive. Jonathan, she is a third caste female. When she is menopausal, I will have to give her up. And she will either be euthanized or sold for medical experiments. It is not what I want for her.” “Brantus, she’s only nineteen years old! Surely you want to stay with her as long as possible.” “I do,” Brantus admitted, “I love her dearly. It is not supposed to be possible. We do not have a word or a symbol for wife-love, or husband-love, but we do feel it. But you see we may not get back to Earth again before she is menopausal. I know that she could have asylum here. And you would take care of her. It would be better than somewhere else, like Andoria, where she would know no one.” “And your unborn daughter?” “You can have her in addition to Seppa, no charge,” Brantus said, “for eventually she will have the same problem. All third caste females on Daranaea have this problem.” “Why couldn’t you stay here with her?” “My other two wives are not subject to the euthanasia law, and any daughters they had would not be, either. To leave Daranaea and stay here, it would be isolating. Surely you must realize that my daughter could never marry. Who would wed her? Would one of your friends’ sons fall in love with her? We are very different in appearance, as you are aware. I do not believe that any human could possibly get past that. I do not wish this fate for my daughter but if she must have it in order to live, I 209

suppose I will push for it. But for any sons and for any daughters that I sire with my other two wives, at least if we were on Daranaea they could wed.” “Aren’t there any other Daranaeans who feel this way? Maybe someone else would be seeking asylum, like you are?” Brantus shook his head. “For a son, it would be unnecessary. There is a vote, soon, I understand. An election for Alpha. Her own brother is a leading candidate, but I fear he will lose. The main issue is whether to repeal the euthanasia law. But I fear there is not enough support to repeal it, and things will remain as they are.” “We made first contact, what, almost two decades ago? Hasn’t anything changed?” “They congratulate themselves, the politicians do,” Brantus said, “They claim they are being progressive, by granting a choice for menopausal third caste females. But it is anything but that. A poor choice is not much of a choice at all, for they are choosing death now, or death later. Please, Jonathan, I will give her to you. Take her and our daughter. Give them a good life. I know that you do not love her, but I also know that you will be kind to them. Please, Jonathan, I have few options. You are my only hope.” There was a sound at the door. “I’m not expecting anyone,” Jonathan said. He opened the door, and a reporter stuck a small microphone in his face. “Councilman Archer!” yelled another reporter behind the first, “what is your relationship with the Caitian woman?” 210

“Caitian? What?” Jonathan asked. “No, no, no,” said a reporter up front. The door opened wider and Jonathan and Brantus could see there were a few dozen reporters and camera operators on the front step and in the front yard. “The young woman is a Daranaean. Tell us, what is your relationship with her?” =/\= On Daranaea, Trinning looked in on his patients one last time before leaving for the evening. “How are you feeling, Darri?” “A little warmer,” she rasped. “Perhaps tomorrow will be better,” he said, injecting her and the others with analgesics. “Contact me at any hour if you are in distress, or call out for Trava. Tomorrow, on the twenty-sixth, I shall give Fyra the cure, and hopefully she will begin to feel a bit better.” Cama just stared into space and shivered as the other two stayed near and tried to keep her warm. =/\= In the hotel, Seppa, Anatha and Raelia watched the news on the viewer. The gossip portion came on, and a man reported, “Today one of the Federation’s most eligible bachelors was seen around San Francisco today with a most intriguing woman.” The view of the gossip reporter was changed to a photograph. “Seppa, is that you on the screen?” Anatha asked. “Oh, my!” Seppa’s furry hands went to her face in horror as a photo of Jonathan taking her hand was 211

broadcast for all to see. =/\=


10 Jonathan Archer didn’t sleep well that night. He got up early to let Windy out and was delighted by the puppy but nowhere near as delighted by the press, some of whom were still hanging around. He glared at them and went back indoors with the dog. He realized – there was someone he could speak with about dealing with the press, assuming the fellow wasn’t too busy. It was not that Jonathan had never dealt with reporters before. But, until that day, it had never been on such a personal level. =/\= Malcolm was still in his quarters and had just finished shaving when there was a communications chime. “I’ve got Jonathan Archer,” Hoshi said. “Really? Put him through, thank you.” Captain Reed straightened up and adjusted his collar and then 213

smiled to himself. Always trying to impress the old boss, he mused. “How are you, Malcolm?” “Fine, sir.” “Malcolm, c’mon, the need to call me sir stopped, I dunno, at least a good six years ago or so,” Jonathan said. “How are Lili and Declan?” “Wonderful as always. But I imagine you weren’t calling me about them.” “No,” Jonathan said, “I know you’re orbiting around Daranaea – the Federation Council keeps me informed of that. And I remembered this morning, that you’ve had to deal with a less than pleasant press sometimes.” “I don’t understand si – er, Jonathan.” “I have visitors in town. Remember Seppa?” “Certainly. Little white-furred girl, with brownish tips on her ears. Declan played with her and her sisters, Minna and Inta, when they were very small. Declan told me he could not decide which of them to marry and so Lili and I made a big show of deciding and I think we ended up telling him that Seppa would be his wife on Tuesdays and Minna would take Wednesdays or some such. He’s quite a bit older now – I imagine she is, too.” “She’s nineteen,” Jonathan said, “and she is married and pregnant with her first child.” “And?” “And we were out to lunch yesterday and I touched 214

her hand because she was a little upset. It was about Inta, actually – she’s afraid that Inta will never marry.” “I’m still not following you, sorry.” “Malcolm, there was a paparazzi there, and he got a lot of really good, clear shots of me holding her hand. And now it’s a news story in the gossip sections of the press.” “Ah. And now it is revealed.” Malcolm touched the cuff a bit as he remembered. “You recall, of course, when the Cochrane was launched.” “I do.” “Declan was, let’s see, he was just about two years old. And we were the subject of news stories, of course. It was you and I in particular, as Captain and First Officer, respectively. The press was extremely interested in the fact that Declan’s mother and I have never wed and, in fact, that Lili Beckett is married to someone else.” He looked a little away; it was still a bit of a sticking point for him to be the other man in her open marriage, despite her assurances over the years. He wanted to be married to her and wholly above board – the arrangement still felt, at times, odd. And this was one of those times. “I recall it was pretty painful for you,” Jonathan said understandingly. “I didn’t realize just how bad it was until now. And it’s not so much for me, as it is for Seppa. And Brantus too – he’s her husband. How did you combat it? How did you handle it?” “It was Lili’s idea, actually,” Malcolm said, “and perhaps you would do well to speak with her about 215

it. But she suggested we confront it directly.” “Confront it directly?” There was a communications chime on the Bluebird. “Jonathan, I must take this,” Malcolm said, “I’m sorry to cut things short. But talk to Lili. She can tell you better anyway. She should be at home today.” “Okay. And I’ll tell her you miss her.” Jonathan said, seeing Malcolm looking a little distant and tapping the cuff a little. “She knows. But I thank you anyway. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like hearing that. Reed out.” =/\= “We have a communication from the surface,” Hoshi said, “it’s from a Doctor Trinning. Do you know him?” “That’s a familiar name,” Malcolm said, “check – he might be related to the people we met at second contact, or perhaps even as far back as when the Columbia made the first contact. What does he want?” “He says he’s working on a cure for a major disease of theirs. He said he’d like to speak with – and maybe work with – our doctor.” “What does Blair say?” “I haven’t contacted her yet,” Hoshi said, “I wanted to speak with you first.” “I am mindful of our ever-evolving protocols when it comes to planetary development. Huh. Please get Blair on the line.” 216

“A moment.” Blair was up but in the middle of applying makeup. “Captain!” she called out. “I’m a little in the middle of things. I hope this isn’t an emergency.” “Not at all. Blair, what do you think of going to the surface? There’s a doctor –what did you say his name is?” “Trinning,” Hoshi replied. “He reports he’s close to a major breakthrough for curing a disease of theirs. And he asked if he could speak with you. But maybe it would be better for you to actually go down there and meet with him directly.” “I’ve read about them,” Blair said, “According to Doctor Phlox, there’s a disease, um, lemme see,” she clicked around on her PADD, “there it is. It’s called Thylacine Paramyxovirus. It’s not dangerous to humans, but it kills Daranaeans by the score.” “I recall once,” Malcolm said, “on the NX-01 – you might also remember this, Hoshi. There was a species called the Valachians. And they were dying out. It’s not so much that Phlox refused to treat them. It’s more that he felt they were being evolutionarily replaced.” “He also felt uncomfortable, if I’m remembering it right,” Hoshi interjected, “he felt odd because they seemed to be asking him to do their work for them. They just seemed to expect him to be some sort of a miracle worker.” “And now we’ve got some new protocols,” Malcolm 217

said, “they’re still being hashed out by the Federation Council. But my understanding is that the less interference with normal planetary development, the better.” “But there are exceptions for allies with Warp Drive,” Hoshi pointed out. “So the Daranaeans do fall under that, don’t they?” “They’re not Federation members,” Malcolm stated, “although that is something that they are probably going to have their next Alpha decide upon.” “Let’s do this,” said Blair, “I can go there, and with scanners and other measuring instruments only. No drugs, no hypos, nothing like that. I can answer questions, and I won’t lie. But if this Doctor Trinning, is it?” “Yes,” Hoshi confirmed. “If he wants me to just give him the answers, I won’t do it, and I’ll find some pretext for leaving. But if he asks me if they’re on the right track, I can confirm or deny that, yes?” “That seems all right,” Malcolm said. “We’ll beam you down after breakfast.” =/\= “What brings this call?” asked Lili Beckett as she peered at Jonathan. “I hope all’s good with you and your family.” “Definitely,” she said, “Doug’s off doing, um, I think his unit is training on Lafa IX today. Joss is enjoying Veterinary School. And Marie Patrice is finishing up 218

design school. Declan is still at Oxford for now. Um, you’re not calling about my husband and children, are ya?” “Not really,” he said, “although it is good to hear about them. What I really want to know, Lili, is how did you and Malcolm deal with the nosy press?” He explained the situation to her. “Oh, that poor thing! I remember her as a little girl of course. Declan thought she was wonderful – he thought they all were.” “Malcolm said he was marrying all of them,” Jonathan joked. “I think he wanted to kind of follow what Doug and I do. I don’t imagine he quite understood it then. Hmm, I recall I decided to get us some press of our own when the Cochrane was launched.” “Oh?” “Yes. When most of the mainstream press was being ugly to us, I found a way to contact the Queen of Gossip. You know, the Dish with the Dish.” “Who is that? I don’t follow gossip,” said Jonathan. “Rona Moran! Sheesh, doesn’t everybody know who she is?” “When the entertainment and gossip segments come on, I always turn off the news.” “Jonathan, you should watch her. Gotta hear about who’s out on the town with whom, yanno.” “See, that’s the whole point,” he said, “people know and they’re twisting it all out of proportion.” 219

“I know,” Lili said, becoming serious again. “And I won’t deny that listening to her – you might feel she’s a bit silly and superficial. But she has a good heart. A lot of them don’t, but she’s not like that. She truly believes in love and family. Contact her and explain the situation. Have her meet Seppa. That’s what we did – the three of us actually met with Rona. And she realized that it wasn’t a sordid affair and that Doug was okay with it. We give to her charities every year because of that.” “I’ll think about it. Thanks. Oh, and Malcolm – he misses you terribly.” She touched a key charm on its chain around her neck, a gift from Malcolm. “I miss him, too.” =/\= On Daranaea, Blair beamed down to Trinning’s lab. Doctor Varelle was with him. “A female doctor; you humans, your ways are not like ours. But I want you to understand,” he said, “I do not question your competency, although a lot of my colleagues would.” “I see,” said Blair. “Let’s go look at the patients.” Trava came out and gave them all protective gear, but didn’t take any for herself. “Don’t you need to wear a mask and gown and all that?” asked Blair, who then turned to Trinning and Varelle. “Don’t tell me I’m taking her mask. I won’t work with you if you let this woman die just to work with me.” “That is not it at all,” Trava said, “I have had the disease, and I am now immune.” “Really?” asked Blair. 220

“Yes, she is,” said Trinning, “her antibodies are strong. Please feel free if you wish to check.” Blair ran the scanner over Trava. “Well, I’ll be damned,” said the human, “I apologize for jumping to that conclusion.” “It is, I am certain, an easy mistake to make,” said Varelle. They donned protective gear and entered quarantine. Darri was sitting up and eating a little meat off the bone. Fyra was having some soup but also coughing a little. Cama was shivering and rocking, which was interrupted by sneezing fits. They all looked up a little when Trava told Blair their names. “What stages are they at?” asked Blair. “They were all deliberately infected on the twentyfourth,” Trinning replied. “Darri was given the cure on the twenty-fifth. Fyra here was given the cure this morning.” “And Cama?” asked Blair. “We were going to wait until tomorrow,” replied Doctor Varelle. “We need to determine whether the cure can work in a very advanced case.” Blair took out her scanner again and began checking all three women. “I want you to know, Doctor Claymore,” Varelle said to her, “We are not looking for you to simply give us the answers to our problems. Rather, what we really just wish to know is, are our treatments correct?” 221

“I understand,” Blair said, “and I wouldn’t be able to give you more than that anyway. We’re tightening up our rules for worlds that aren’t members of the Federation. I can observe and I can answer questions, but I can’t offer information.” “What can you tell us?” Trinning asked anxiously. “I believe Darri here is nearly free of the virus,” Blair said, “It might be another few days, but she’s close to being completely cured, so far as I can tell.” Cama looked up and, although it was a supreme effort of will, she smiled and spoke, her voice croaking and raspy, “That is all I want.” “And Fyra?” asked Varelle. “A bit behind but she is also on her way to being cured. It may take longer, though. I can’t say whether it will work for Cama as there’s nothing to scan for yet.” “Very well,” Trinning said, “Thank you, Doctor Claymore. You have given us hope where we did not have it before.” =/\=


11 That night, Blair Claymore couldn’t sleep. She increased the illumination in her cabin and began to dictate a log entry. “Today I went to the surface of Daranaea in order to check on their progress in curing a mostly fatal illness, Thylacine Paramyxovirus. Preliminary investigations are good, and I feel they’re really onto something. “ She paused for a moment before continuing. “The bad news is that they are using live test subjects, a practice that fell out of favor on Earth over a century ago. I’m not so sure they realize that they could attain comparable results with petri dishes in a controlled setting. Furthermore, they are delaying treating one case in order to determine whether their cure works in more advanced cases. The methodology is fine – if they were using petri dishes 223

in a controlled setting. Instead, seeing as the cure is working and the test subject is suffering, it’s troubling to see them holding back. They’re giving her analgesics, but still! It’s as if they cannot change their minds and cannot conceive of another way to do things. They seem to see things in mostly blacks and whites. Compromises and grey areas appear to be foreign to Daranaeans. =/\= In the Bluebird, very early on the morning of the twenty-seventh, there was a communications chime. The night shift was still on duty, so Chip Masterson answered the hail, which was from Acreon. “We have reports of sporadic outbreaks of violence,” he stated, “and my security officers are concerned. They say that Daranaeans have set fire to various polling places in some of the provinces. Our voting is tomorrow, on the twenty-eighth and so I fear we may soon see even worse behaviors.” “I’ll go get Captain Reed,” Chip answered. =/\= Malcolm roused himself out of a sound sleep, a beautiful dream where he and Lili were picnicking. He got to the Bridge as fast as he could. “What’s the trouble?” Chip explained the situation. “All right,” Malcolm said, “get your wife and the other MACOs up. I’d like to make a strong show of force. Let’s stop the violence before it has a chance to spread and escalate.” “Aye, sir.” 224

“Oh, and get me Acreon, if you would.” “I’ll do that first.” Acreon seemed about as tired as Malcolm was. “I confess a bit of this is my own fears for my own family,” he explained. “Oh?” Malcolm inquired. “The violence is, at present, centered on the Prisk and Corumon provinces. Two of my daughters live in those provinces.” “I see.” “My daughter Kathalia lives in Corumon province. Her husband is Doctor Trinning.” “We’ve dealt with him.” “Yes,” Acreon admitted, “I suggested that he contact you about his research. I trust I – and he – did not overstep any bounds.” “It was all right,” Malcolm said, “And your other daughter?” “Morza is secondary to the candidate Vidam. If he is a target of the violence at all, I fear she may be in some peril.” “Are they also in this Corumon province?” Malcolm asked, not exactly following. “They are in our capital province, Prisk,” stated Acreon. “Captain Reed, I cannot protect polling places and candidates and also effectively police my populace. I simply don’t have enough men.” “Where is your need the greatest?” 225

“Protect the candidates,” Acreon said, “even the ones who seem to have no hope of success. Please.” “All right. Stand by. Reed out.” He took a deep breath and opened the door to his Ready Room. “Mister Masterson, kindly tell your wife she will be guarding one of the two leading Daranaean candidates, a fellow named Boestus. Get Corporal Frank Todd to guard the other lead candidate, Vidam. As for the other assignments, to guard the other seventeen candidates, please tell your wife that they are her choice.” “Got it,” said Chip. He opened a channel. “Yeah, Deb? You’re gonna guard some guy named Boestus.” =/\= Trinning walked to his lab as he always did, but this time he detoured around a small fire. “What is happening?” he asked an onlooker. “They are destroying the polling places.” “But why?” “My understanding is that the protesters feel that the real issue of the day has not yet been addressed in the Beta Council chamber. They seem to feel that tomorrow’s elections will be a sham, so why vote at all?” “This is about the euthanasia law, yes?” Trinning asked. The onlooker nodded and left. Trinning walked a bit more quickly. Once he had arrived, he opened communications. “Mother,” he 226

said, “can Chellis come to my home?” “The streets are not safe,” said his mother, Mistra. “Mother,” he said, “Kathalia and Jamae, and Tamira and little Erda, Curra and Samitha, they need protection. Please send my littlest brother over to help them. Kathalia is near her time.” “Why are you not at home, my son?” “I have patients with Thylacine Paramyxovirus. I cannot leave them. One is Cama – you know her, Mother.” “Of course,” said Mistra, “I will send over Chellis once he has finished his morning meal. We will make certain that your family is safe.” =/\= The lab was fairly quiet. “Cama has worsened,” Trava said. “No,” Trinning said, emotion in his voice. He rushed over and saw her shaking with cold in quarantine. He quickly prepared the syringe and got into protective gear, not even waiting for Varelle’s arrival. Trava got him into quarantine and he injected Cama immediately. “Please, please, I hope and pray it is not too late for you.” She looked up at him. “Is … Darri … all right?” “I am right here,” said Darri, speaking and behaving as if she were fully cured. “I am here with you,” said Fyra, who then coughed a little. 227

“And I shall stay,” Trinning said, “at least for now. There are people in the streets again, and they feel that the vote tomorrow is ignoring the real issue of the day – this issue – your issue – about the euthanasia law.” “I know … not … of … laws and protests,” Cama said softly, and then erupted in a coughing fit, “I … only … know of … cold … and … my … family.” “I will do all I can for you,” Trinning said. Trava heard a sound at the door and went to let in Doctor Varelle. “You … have … such … sad eyes,” Cama said quietly, “Do … not … be … sad, for … you have … found … the cure.” Trava came back into quarantine. “Doctor Varelle is injured! He was in the streets and a protester knocked him over.” Trinning looked up. “Darri,” he said, “can you care for him? You and Trava?” “But I am still infectious, am I not?” “No,” he said, “I do not believe you are any more. After all, Trava is not.” “Let me ask Doctor Varelle,” Trava said, leaving quarantine again. She returned quickly. “He said he believes you are correct. And, in any event, it appears we have the cure, so he could be injected with it if he does become ill.” “Very well,” Trinning said, “go and tend to Doctor Varelle.” He opened his communicator. “Kathalia, I may not be home tonight. Cama is critical. Is Chellis 228

there yet?” “He is,” she replied, looking at her fourteen-year-old brother-in-law with a little skepticism, “we fear for your safety, Husband.” “I am safer here with the sick, I think,” he replied. =/\= In Vidam’s house, his wives huddled together in some fear. Even Morza, who was often clever and funny, had no jokes for the way they were feeling and what was happening. Kela, his third caste wife, tried not to cry. Ethara said, “They are calling for a Beta Council meeting. You may have to go.” There was a shimmering light as a person beamed in. “My name is Frank Todd,” he said. He was a huge human and was armed. “Captain Reed sent me to protect you.” =/\=


12 Perhaps a minute later, Major Deborah Haddon Masterson materialized in Boestus’s common living area. Like Corporal Frank Todd, she was carrying a phase rifle. “My name is Deb Masterson,” she said, “Captain Reed sent me to protect you from the violence outside.” “Humans!” Boestus seethed, “Always trying to impose their values upon us!” “Excuse me?” Deb asked. “I did not call for a female to do anything!” “Husband!” Nitha said, “This is our guest!” He glanced over at Nitha. “I have a speech to prepare for tomorrow’s Election Day. Entertain,” he spat out, “our unexpected guest.” “I’m sorry,” Deb said, “I’m under orders. Acreon 230

contacted Captain Reed.” “There is much fighting out there,” Shura said, hunkering down a little in fear. “Would you be able to protect us as well as a man could?” “This thing,” Deb indicated her phase rifle; “is not tied to any specific gender. It doesn’t give a damn if the person pulling the trigger has ovaries.” Nitha gently knocked on the door to Boestus’s private bed chamber. He mumbled his assent and she let herself in. She found him holding the little square of cloth. “What troubles you, Husband?” “I am supposed to protect you,” he said, “Acreon is taking on these humans’ ways far too much. You have seen what their women do, and how they act and how they dress. It is; it is not right.” “Our traditional ways, they do have a purpose,” she said, “for with Thylacine Paramyxovirus, we need big families. Our population must be maintained. The humans do not know that or, if they do, they do not understand it.” “Give me some time. I must work.” “As you wish, Husband.” =/\= Back in the common living area, Carya asked, “Is the military where your third caste females go? The extra ones, I mean.” “Extras?” Deb asked. “The ones without husbands,” Shura explained. 231

“I’ve got a husband,” Deb said, “he’s up on the Bluebird right now.” “How strange,” said Nitha, reentering the room, “I understand the military has its own rankings. I take it that you report to your husband, then?” “No,” Deb said, smiling, “Chip is a Communications Ensign. He’s not even the head of his department. But me, I’m a Major. I’m the Commanding Officer for the MACOs on board the Bluebird. So I technically outrank him.” “Such a thing would never happen here,” Carya said. =/\= In his private chamber, Boestus answered a communications hail. “Speeches? Tonight? I thought it would be tomorrow.” “We will have the speeches tonight,” Acreon said. “The violence is forcing us to act sooner than any of us would have wished. You must come to the Beta Council chamber tonight, in one hour. Bring your human bodyguard.” “But it is a female!” “It would still be best for you to be safe, Boestus.” “Acreon, why did I get this one? I demand another.” “That one is the Commanding Officer for that military unit. My understanding is that there is none better.” “But a female? I am very displeased.” “Just,” Acreon said, “be patient. One hour.” 232

“And my wives? Who will protect them from the violence just outside our front door?” “Bring them with you,” Acreon suggested. “Even the last caste one?” “Even Shura.” =/\= At Vidam’s house, he soon received a similar call. “I would rather not leave my wives,” he said, “they would be vulnerable here, by themselves.” “Have one of your brothers stay there, my son-inlaw,” Acreon suggested. “I would, but the married ones are defending their own wives or our mother. And Chellis is with Trinning’s women.” “And where is your brother Trinning?” “My mother said that he was at his laboratory, unable to leave a patient.” “Huh,” Acreon thought for a moment. “Bring Morza and the others. We will find room for them somehow, perhaps in the section reserved for the press. I will not have any of my daughters unprotected tonight.” =/\= Boestus worked on his speech, but he was too distracted to get too far. He came out of his private chamber, clutching the little cloth. “This speech, it will make or break my candidacy, I feel.” “It is, I imagine, about your support for the euthanasia law,” Carya stated. 233

“Yes,” he admitted. “Yet you delay in deciding Shura’s future,” Nitha pointed out. “She is past the age of childbearing. It is your obligation under the law to decide – will she go to a medical facility for experimentation, or will she be euthanized?” They were all silent for a moment. Deb stood near the front door, cringing a bit at the thought. She didn’t know Shura at all, but it seemed a horrible end, either way, for a woman who was guilty of naught but aging out of childbearing. “Husband,” Shura said, coming close to him,” what say you of my fate?” “I, I do not know. I do not have the time! I am busy!” “This is my life, Husband!” “My speech!” “Will you tell them, Husband,” Shura asked, becoming emboldened and raising her voice for the first time in her life, “will you tell the Beta Council about how you cannot impose the law in your own house?” “Shura–” “Will you tell them, Husband, about how, when you are troubled or nervous or sad or scared, you still hold and sniff the blanket your mother gave you when you emerged from her pouch? And will you tell them that you saw her taken away when you were but four years of age, because she was a last caste female who had outlived her usefulness?” 234

He stood there, still holding the cloth, turning and twisting it in his furry hands. He was shaking. “We shall make it easy for you, Husband,” said Nitha. “E-easy?” “Yes,” she said. “I am your Prime Wife. If you give your speech and you tell the Beta Council and, by extension, everyone in all of the provinces of Daranaea –if you tell them that you continue to support the euthanasia law – then you must mark this day down in your own personal history.” “Wh-why?” “For it is from this day forward that you will never have relations with me, ever again.” “And I,” Carya said, “I am your secondary. And while I cannot refuse relations, according to our rules, you must mark this day down in your personal history because of what I will pledge, if you continue to support the euthanasia law.” “What, what will you do, Carya?” he asked nervously. “I cannot refuse you. But you will not see me smile. And you will not hear my laugh or sing or be gladdened by your attentions.” “Is this,” he went over to Deb and began shouting at her, “is this how you human females operate? Is this your, your lives? Do you pressure your husbands by withholding your favors?” She glared at him. “No,” she said, “most of us don’t. 235

But then again, we aren’t slaughtered because we can’t have kids anymore. I’m not gonna be sent to the glue factory about when I turn fifty because I have value that isn’t in my womb. And I bet these women have a value that’s extrinsic to that, too, if you’d only stop to see it. And I think that’s why you’re hesitating. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but that’s what you’re concluding.” He glared back and then glanced at a wall display. “It is time to leave for the Beta Council chamber. All will come along. Even you,” he said testily to Deb. “And I will fight for my political life tonight.” =/\=


13 On Earth, Jonathan heard a door chime and let in Rona Moran but no other members of the press. Behind her and her camera man, they all howled. “How come she gets to go in?” one of them asked. “Because,” she turned and gave him a look, “I’m the Dish with the Dish.” Jonathan shut the door behind her and her cameraman. Seppa, Brantus, Anatha and Raelia were already there. Rona looked them all over. “My, my,” she said, “I can see why the uninitiated would think you were Caitians. But you’re clearly not.” “What is your accent?” Anatha asked. “It differs.” “I am British,” said Rona. “It is like Captain Reed’s accent,” Seppa explained, “And Declan, as he has gotten older, he sounds more 237

like that.” “Precisely,” said the gossip columnist. “And it’s his paramour who contacted me in this matter.” The introductions were made, and Rona could see that Seppa kept looking to Brantus, perhaps for approval, or coaching, or maybe just encouragement. Rona said, “Let’s do this. Here,” she unclipped a tiny microphone and then removed its accompanying earpiece and gave them both to her cameraman. “Let’s you and me talk alone for a while, all right? This will be off the record.” “I, I do not know,” said Seppa. Jonathan looked at Brantus. “We can take Windy out,” he said, “and give those other reporters something to get pictures of.” “All right,” Brantus said. “And Terry,” Rona said to her cameraman, “get some nice shots of everyone, all right?” “Will do.” They all departed. “Now,” Rona said when they had all left, “Let’s just have a conversation. May I start?” Seppa nodded so Rona continued. “My name is Rona Moran. And I am seventy-one years old. I don’t tell too many people that. And, to get truly technical about it, my full name is Verona Linda Moran Dodd Fisher D’Angelo Sherwood.” “Excuse me?” “I have four ex-husbands.” “Were they from the same time?” The tips of 238

Seppa’s ears reddened a bit. “Oh, no, Darling. One at a time! I am currently unmarried. My last divorce was over twenty years ago. Now I just play.” The older woman smiled conspiratorially. “Oh, my. Divorce is not possible on Daranaea.” “What happens if husband and wife do not get on?” “He spends his time with his other wives instead. And if she is a third caste female then, when she is menopausal, he does not even give her a choice. He just has her removed from his home.” Seppa trembled a little, thinking of that awful practice. “I see. I am glad to see that you and your husband seem to get along.” “We do. Brantus is; he is wonderful.” “And you are a member of this third caste, are you not?” Seppa nodded. “I’ve read a bit about your species,” Rona said, “and I must say it is rather difficult for me, as a woman who is past childbearing, to understand the motivation behind destroying a resource such as yourself.” “Resource?” “With age often comes wisdom, my dear. I, too, am a mother. My son is a landscape architect. Losing my connection to him would not only break my heart, but I believe it would break his as well. Do not your children miss their mothers when they are, shall we euphemistically say, deported, from the home? Don’t 239

you?” “My, my situation is different. My mother, she was killed when I was very young.” “Oh, dear. I’m sorry I brought that up.” Rona cast about, trying to figure out how to salvage the situation. “My father is in the prison. And it is not for murdering my mother, but for killing the boy child she was the vessel for at the time.” Rona took Seppa’s furry hand in hers. “I won’t print a word of this. Tell me; let’s think of something I can print. How do you know Jonathan Archer?” “His ship, they came, it was because Klingons had set up something on a neighboring planet. It was at this time that my mother’s life ended. My father was the Alpha then. When he was sent to the prison, Beta Council member Elemus was made provisional Alpha. My brother Trinning, his secondary wife, Jamae, she is one of Elemus’s many daughters. Her mother is a second caste female named Libba.” “You’re related to everyone, eh?” “Almost, or so it may seem,” Seppa smiled a little. “Acreon, he was made Alpha. That is, he was elected. He has been the Alpha since then. They are having elections now. My brother Vidam is running.” “So you’ll be voting for him by using an absentee ballot of some sort?” “I cannot vote.” “I see,” Rona said, “I won’t mention that, all right? 240

But I will mention your brother’s candidacy, if that’s acceptable to you.” “I think so. The election is tomorrow. We have seen some viewer reports of violence there. I do hope he is all right, and that the entire family is safe.” =/\=


14 It was the candidates, their many wives, any children living with them, the human bodyguards and the remaining Beta Councilors. Plus the Alpha and the former Alpha had their wives with them as a matter of courtesy. With no room for the entire press contingent, Acreon selected Craethe to do all of the reporting. Craethe turned to a camera and spoke. “We have a most unusual situation. Due to the violence that has erupted in the streets, the Beta Council has agreed to meet one last time before the general election, which will be held tomorrow, regardless of the condition of the polling places. The Beta Council says voting will occur the old-fashioned way if it must, and a little vandalism should not deter our voters or intimidate them. No one is to be kept from voting tomorrow.” “If we have to count votes by hand, then we will,” 242

Acreon stated. Craethe added, “For their own safety, the candidates’ wives and minor children have been brought to the chamber, along with bodyguards generously provided by our barefaced human friends on the USS Bluebird.” Deb, Frank and the other MACOs and Security officers briefly nodded their acknowledgments to the cameras. “We will have speeches tonight, from the two lead candidates only,” Acreon announced. “We have drawn lots and Vidam will speak first.” Vidam stood up, a little flush with excitement and nervousness, which caused the tips of his ears and nose to redden and make him appear more foxlike than normal. “Cooperation with humans and friendship with other species, like Tellarites and Denobulans, has taught us that most species don’t marry the way we do. Even Denobulans, who also have multiples, they do not place a commercial value on their women.” He paused to collect himself. “Long ago, when we were but tiny ancestral versions of ourselves, litters were large. And they were dominated by female children. The females were mostly stronger, and therefore more likely to survive to adulthood, and so the difference was supported and sustained. This imbalance perpetuated as our ancestors evolved broader, wider teeth, their spines straightened out as they began to walk upright, and they developed opposable thumbs. There were, quite simply, too many females.”


Some of the lesser candidates seemed a little bored, so he realized he needed to wrap things up quickly. “Thylacine Paramyxovirus has devastated our population, yet we devastate it even more with compulsory euthanasia. Doctors, I know, are working around the clock to try to cure that horrible malady. My brother, the doctor, Trinning – he says that they are close to a true breakthrough.” His voice got louder as he gathered more courage. “What will we do when they have finally cured it? Will we, then, decide to make a law to euthanize our secondaries? Where does it end? I say it ends now. It ends here! Third caste females who are menopausal can do all manner of things. They can still cook and keep house. They can still care for children. They could, I dare say, do more if we gave them the opportunity. A vote for, for me, that is a vote against the euthanasia law. I say we end it now!” =/\= In Trinning and Varelle’s lab, there were the sounds of shouting outside, but the doors seemed to be holding. “Trava,” Varelle said, “you are a good woman. You are a caring nurse.” “I, I only do what I can copy from what you and Doctor Trinning do, sir.” “It is good. And Darri, you are good at, at following my directions. The bandage is put on correctly.” “Thank you, Doctor Varelle,” she said, “We are here to help you find the cure for Thylacine Paramyxovirus. Do you think that Cama will recover?” 244

“I cannot say,” he replied. “Trinning is staying in quarantine with her and Fyra. I fear that his protective gear may not help him for as long as he is staying in there. He has three small daughters at home, and a pouchling, and his Prime Wife is due to deliver again soon. It would be a tragedy if he were to bring the disease home with him.” “Do you think,” Trava ventured, “that the protesting, is it doing anything?” “I do not know. I am not a follower of most politics. If the euthanasia law is repealed, I suppose I will need to find true volunteers. And I do not know what would happen to someone such as Darri, who was never purchased to be a wife. I do hope that Vidam has a plan for what would happen to someone like you, eh?” “I do not know what I would do,” Darri said, “I wonder if someone like me would be permitted to work, like Trava does.” “Trava is, it is all very unofficial and off the record. If our funding sources were to find out, I suppose we would be shut down for good,” Varelle said sadly. “It is a pity, for you are a good worker, Trava. And I do not mean just how you cook and clean. I never thought I would say this, but your work has been a part of us finding the cure.” “I am pleased that my blood could help you.” “It was not just that. It was your ideas as well. I wish I knew a way for you to properly receive credit. It is a pity that Doctor Rechal in the prison will receive some credit for this breakthrough when you 245

cannot, due to your sex.” “I was not born the right way,” Trava said, looking down. =/\= “I think I have everything I need,” Rona told Jonathan. “I will do the broadcast tonight.” “Thank you,” he said. “Do you have a paramour? A real one?” she asked. “I do,” he admitted, “but she deserves her privacy. The woman is,” he sighed, “the arrangement is a less than conventional one.” “Is it like Reed and his lady?” Rona asked. “Yes,” Jonathan admitted quietly. “Very well,” Rona said, “but if you are ever in a position to marry her, will you invite me, and allow me to cover it? I love weddings, and I always, always bawl like a baby at them.” He smiled at her. “Sure,” he said, but had no idea if it would ever happen. Miva was far away, on Lafa II – the same planet where Lili was – and was as married as Lili was. Life was, at times, far too complicated. =/\=


15 “Boestus will speak now,” Acreon said. Boestus stood up, shuffling papers. He looked up at his wives, and caught Shura’s eye. She was looking helpless and her eyes were very sad. He looked at Carya and Nitha, and they were sitting on either side of Shura, their hands on her arms. Solidarity. He discarded his papers. “I will speak without preparation,” he said, “and so this speech will be, it may ramble a bit. Please forgive and indulge me a little, for what I had to say beforehand, it no longer matters.” He cleared his throat. An aide brought him a glass of water. “Vidam, he is right.” Everyone in the Beta Council chamber stared at 247

Boestus. Even the human bodyguards did so. He stood there quietly for a moment. “The euthanasia law is wrong. All right-thinking Daranaeans should oppose it, and support its, its overthrow. I do not normally break with traditions but, in this case, I must.” Shura looked him in the eye, daring to hope a little bit for her own future. “Vidam has said,” Boestus continued, “that we had, and we continue to have, an imbalance between the genders. And that much is true. But it is also due to Thylacine Paramyxovirus. Daranean males are; we are far more likely to contract it. And so that skews the numbers even more.” He sipped a little water. “But if the disease is near a cure, and it is eventually eradicated, then that, that reason for the imbalance, it will diminish and, and eventually, it will completely go away, yes?” He sipped more of the water. “So as the imbalance levels off, our reasons for having such huge families and, and only supporting and nurturing and feeding and giving a, a home to last – I mean, third – caste females who are fertile, those reasons hold much less, well, water.” He looked at his water glass and smiled a little at the sudden absurdity of the metaphor. “These women, they have a value. And I do not mean in terms of what they can fetch on the open market. Instead, they are, they only wish to, to please us. To care for our children, and to, to cook our meals and make our homes the sweet-smelling refuges we all know that they can be. And their value is more 248

than that. It is in their smiles and their care and their laughter and their love. Yes, their love. We have no word and no symbol in our writing for wife-love or for husband-love. But perhaps we should.” Looking at Deb, he chugged the last of his water. “And what does it mean to our human allies, when the main political issue on Daranaea is neither jobs nor membership in the Federation, nor any of a thousand other worthwhile causes. But instead it is how we can perpetuate the senseless disposal of some of our most helpless citizens. How barbaric we must be to them. If this law remains on our books, then they have every right to depart and forget us, leaving us to our sad fate as our citizenry effectively cannibalizes itself, and we shed the veneer of civilization in favor of ancient problems that we should have learned how to look past a long, long time ago.” =/\= “Darlings!” Rona Moran enthused during the gossip section of the news on the viewer. “It is I, Rona Moran, your Dish with the Dish. And have I got news for you!” Behind her, the scene of the studio backdrop changed to a photograph taken that day, of Seppa. “Today I spent the most lovely time with Councilman Archer and his guests. As you can see, darlings, this lovely young lady is not a Caitian at all. Her species is Daranaean.” The background photograph changed to one of Brantus by himself. 249

“The young lady’s name is Seppa, and on the screen behind me is a photograph of her husband, Brantus, who I also met today. Didn’t Mister Oliver capture a wondrous likeness of him? Brantus looks a bit like the ancient Egyptian god Anubis, don’t you think?” The picture changed to one of Brantus with Anatha and Raelia. “As you can see, Brantus has two other wives. On Daranaea, wealthy men have three, and each one is from a particular caste. Anatha, on the left, is from a caste known as Prime Wife.” The picture shifted to one of Seppa and Jonathan Archer together. “Seppa met Councilman Archer when she was rather small. After Second Contact with their species, the DC-1500, you know, the old USS Zefram Cochrane, sent a gift to Seppa’s family for the holidays. And Seppa, being the gracious and polite girl she is, sent a thank-you note. Ever since then, she and Councilman Archer have been fervent pen pals. Her visit with her family is an occasion for Councilman Archer to meet her husband, and for her to share the joy of her first pregnancy. As you can see,” the photograph switched to a picture of just the three wives together, “all three wives are expecting. I imagine there will be a lot of late-night feedings in this family’s near future.” The picture changed to one of Brantus with all three of his wives. “Didn’t Terry Oliver get a wonderful shot of them all? Really, darlings, I think he is the greatest cameraman I have ever worked with! Brantus told me, he said that there is a saying on Daranaea. Let me see if I can say it properly.” She smiled and faced the camera directly. “When the 250

wives all get along, there is no sweeter smell. But if the wives don’t get along, nothing can ever make the home smell sweet.” She paused for a moment. “They do not have divorce on Daranaea. And that made me think a little bit about my four exes. I want you all to know, darlings, that there is nothing greater in the galaxy than love. The love in this family is self-evident. As for my exes, you all know, darlings; that I have spoken less than kindly of them in the past. But to all of them and, particularly, to my third ex-husband, Maurizio D’Angelo, I want to apologize. At the very least, in the name of the love that we once shared, I do hope that you can forgive me, Maurizio. And for my part, whether or not forgiveness is forthcoming, I swear to you I will not belittle you again.” She swallowed a little before wrapping up. “Darlings, the paparazzi had a field day with Seppa. I do hope that her – and her family’s – impressions of Earth and her people can be mended and strengthened now. As for Councilman Archer, his private life,” she smiled, “remains a mystery. But I vow to you, darlings, one of these days, I shall know all about it. And you’ll hear it from me first. Ta, darlings.” =/\=


16 “Are there any other speakers?” Acreon asked. “I wish to speak,” it was a voice in the back, roughened with age. It was the former Alpha, Elemus, who was a rather old man. Two of the younger Beta Council members attempted to help him, but he waved them off. Then his two remaining wives came over. He allowed them – Thessa, his Prime Wife, who was also very old – and Libba, his secondary, who was younger and stronger – he allowed them to help him. He leaned heavily on Libba and smiled a little at her as she gently helped him to stand. He then turned to Thessa and smiled at her, too. She was shakier and the labor was more difficult for her, but she smiled at him just the same. =/\= 252

From their home, Jamae felt her pouchling turn over as she and Kathalia and Tamira watched the proceedings on the viewer. “Come, Chellis! That is my mother Libba on the screen!” she called out. Their fourteen-year-old brother-in-law came over. “So it is,” he commented. “Come over, daughters,” Kathalia said, and Samitha, Curra and even little Erda came and sat down to watch. =/\= In the Beta Council chamber, Elemus spoke haltingly. “A man, a man,” he began, “he needs comfort in his life. And as he gets older, it is the little things that, that matter more.” He looked at each of his wives before continuing. “It is a familiar smell. A touch from one who is well-known. The foods that one is used to, and the cushions and chairs and the bed that a man has known for years. All of those things, they, they are important.” He cleared his throat and Thessa patted his back a little. “When, when Cama was, was removed from our, our house, you must understand, our house, it darkened. We did not think, at the time, to, to protest. But we should have. If she lives, I, I want her back. My, my two remaining wives, I know you both want her back at home.” “Yes, Husband,” Thessa said to him. Libba nodded. “My house does not smell as sweetly anymore,” Elemus said, “Even for someone with such a, such a subtle scent. It does not mean that her scent was not a good one. You just, you had to be close in order to, 253

in order to experience it. And, and such things are, they are private anyway!” =/\= Doctor Varelle had the viewer on, and he and Trava and Darri had been watching. He got up and knocked on the window of quarantine. “Trinning!” he called out, “Your mother-in-law Libba is on the viewer! And they are speaking about Cama!” Trinning blinked a few times as he had dozed off. Cama did not seem to be moving, and he was alarmed. He put two fingers to her throat. There was still a pulse. He surmised that the reason she was so quiet was because she was breathing normally. But he felt cold. “Doctor Varelle, please prepare a dose. For, for me,” he said. “I fear I may have contracted the virus, being in here this long, even with protective gear.” Varelle said to Darri and Trava, “We will do this. And both of you will watch, and will learn how. You will – we will, together – we will prepare two injections.” “Two?” Trava inquired. “Yes. One is for Trinning, to cure him. The other is for me – I wish to see if the vaccine can be used for prevention at all. We need to test that out.” “If it does not work, Doctor, I fear for your life,” Trava said. “I am an old man,” Varelle said, “if I die for science, then I do. But you are all right. And that is what 254

matters – for you to be all right, and for Doctor Trinning to be all right, for the sake of his young ones.” They worked together to prepare the injections, and Varelle showed them what to do. The two women entered quarantine and injected Trinning. He removed his protective gear as it was of no further use to him. “Come out of quarantine,” Varelle said, “if this works as a preventative, the only way to test it will be for us all to sit here together. We may as well.” Darri and Trava brought Cama out as Fyra was able to walk under her own power. “Is she recovering?” Darri asked, referring to Cama. “It seems so, but it is so slow,” Fyra said. “I cannot really judge, but that seems to be the case.” “Your observations are valid ones,” Varelle said. “I suspect you are correct.” =/\= As they watched in Trinning’s house, Erda turned and looked at her mother. “Mama?” she asked. “You are talking! Erda, you are talking!” Tamira said, smiling at her little girl. “Daddy?” she asked, pointing at the screen. “No, that is your father’s brother,” Ethara explained, “His name is Vidam.” =/\= “Have you been following this?” Deb asked, her communicator open. She was calling Captain Reed. 255

“No, I have not. Hoshi,” he said, “get the political Daranaean broadcast on the main viewer, please.” “They’re doing something big,” Deb said. “I gotta go. Masterson out.” =/\= “We will have a vote on the euthanasia law,” Acreon said, “And that will remove it as an issue in this campaign, as both leading candidates have the same opinion.” The Sergeant at Arms came out and yelled. “All members of the Beta Council will rise for the vote!” All of the representatives from all of the many provinces of Daranaea rose as one. “All opposed will return to their seats!” yelled the Sergeant at Arms. There was some shuffling as some seats were pulled out and some of the Beta Council members sat down. The Sergeant at Arms counted, and then he counted again. “We have a tie, sir,” he reported to Acreon. “Then it is my vote to cast, to break the tie,” said the Alpha. “I have seen many ideas in my time. And things are changing. Some of the changes have been, perhaps, too fast, such as an effort to give the vote to Prime Wives.” He looked at Vidam, who had championed that cause years before. “But today’s vote is different. This issue is quite literally one of life or death. It may become difficult to support unmarried women. They may have to work. And I think we will have to allow them to work. And so it is my vote to repeal the euthanasia law.” 256

=/\= On the Bluebird, Malcolm said, “Their elections are tomorrow. But I think the real race was run tonight.� =/\=


17 Election Day on Daranaea dawned. It looked to be beautiful weather on much of the planet. The press reported that there was some damage to the polling places but that most of them were intact. Where the machines were destroyed, Daranaean males voted the old-fashioned way, which was just like the Beta Council voted. A large group would come into a makeshift polling place, and chairs would be provided. Voters would stand and the supporters of Boestus would sit. If anyone supported any candidate other than Vidam, he would go through a second round of standing/sitting voting. But almost everyone was voting for either Vidam or Boestus. With the euthanasia law out of the way as an issue, voters considered jobs or membership in the Federation as their main reasons for deciding on one candidate or another. Boestus favored a wait and see 258

approach when it came to membership in the Federation, whereas Vidam wanted to join right away. As for the jobs matter, Vidam favored aggressively working with businesses in order to create jobs, whereas Boestus preferred giving businesses a chance to create jobs on their own. No one said anything about the possibility of unattached women working, although it was on voters’ minds. =/\= On the Bluebird, Malcolm called back his MACOs and Security personnel, except for Deb and Frank. They were both to remain through the losing candidate’s concession speech. But the other candidates were left to regular Daranaean protection. Hours passed and he was on his usual eighteen hundred hours call. Declan was on one side of the screen and Lili on the other, in split screen. “So tell me about Oxford,” he said to his son, “how are your classes?” “Anatomy is going splendidly,” said Declan, “and so is my course on British History. Painting and Line Drawing are good, too. Calculus, eh, this is why I’m becoming an artist.” “It was the bane of my existence, too,” Lili confided to their son. “That is why when your mother and I play chess, it’s a more or less foregone conclusion – I suppose that’s not your strong suit, Lili-Flower.” “And this is why I make the soufflés,” she replied. “I gotta play to my strengths.” 259

“That reminds me of the Daranaeans a bit,” Malcolm said, “I think they need to understand that people have all manner of strengths. And they need to look past, I don’t know, pouches and who wears what, and just understand the people. The individuals – they matter. Not some preconceived notion of how their society should be, and always should be. They’re stuck in, I don’t know, it must be how they were thousands of years ago. They move forward with their technology but not with their society.” “I saw on the viewer,” Declan said, “that they repealed an awful law last night, about euthanizing menopausal women.” “A good thing, too,” Lili said, “I mean, if I was a Daranaean – you remember this, Malcolm? You and I talked the last time you were officially there, before we took Dec to play. We talked about what it would be like if we were Daranaeans, and Dec was a girl.” “Mum!” “Hear me out, love,” she said, “we were talking, I recall, about what it would be like. My opinions would be ignored. Dec, you would just be sold off like, I dunno, you’d just be sold. And your father would be expected to make all the decisions with no help from me whatsoever.” “At least, no acknowledged help,” Malcolm said, “I met a number of wives at a reception we held. Those women were all Prime Wives, but I got the distinct impression that at least the younger ones have some input. But their husbands can never, truly, admit that they are listening to them.” 260

“Power behind the throne, eh?” Declan asked. “Somewhat,” Malcolm said. He then turned to Lili and his face was pained. “You, love, if you were in their third caste, you’d be, God, you’d be gone by now, for the crime of, of being no longer fertile.” “Then I would have been hauled off to the slaughter when Dec was born, right?” she asked. “Good thing they threw out that law. Otherwise, I’d lose a lot of respect for the new Federation if they stayed friends with them. I’d also have trouble with our Council, even though Jonathan is a member. We may need allies, but somewhere in there, I mean, we should take a stand and hold our allies to some sort of minimal standards, don’t you think?” “Declan,” Malcolm said, “could you please excuse your mother and me for a moment?” “I can just drop off,” he said, “I have a still life I have to finish. Love to you both.” “Love you, sweetheart,” Lili said. “Love you, son.” When Declan was off the line, Malcolm said, “And you might also remember, I almost quit over the Daranaeans that time.” “I remember.” “It was because of you. I don’t know how those men were able to do that to the mothers of their children. Even if they couldn’t feel any love for them. How could they sleep at night after such a barbarous practice?” He touched the cuff a bit before continuing. “I would hold you now, if I could, be as close to you as, as possible. I just want you to know, 261

Lili-Flower, that my love for you, it isn’t disposable.” She smiled at him. “I would never, ever throw it away.” =/\= At Jonathan’s home, they were watching the viewer together. “I feel so much more secure with the euthanasia law overturned,” Seppa said. “We can go home if we wish.” “Yes,” Brantus said absently. Jonathan gave him a look and so he added, “Seppa, there is one thing I need to tell you.” “Yes, Husband?” “Seppa, before we knew that the law would be overturned. I am not certain how to put this.” “You can tell me anything, Husband.” “Even that I offered to sell you if the law was not overturned? Seppa,” he said, looking at her with a bit of trepidation, “I was so afraid that we would travel forever. Knowing Jonathan, I figured you and our daughter; you would have a home with someone who cared.” She looked at him with shining eyes. “This law, it was so horrible, for what was even considered. But one thing is clear – there is a bond between our species, a friendship that at least is at the heart of things.” Windy suddenly jumped up into her lap and leaned into her belly, ear flap up, as if the little dog was listening for the sounds of Seppa’s baby. “What do you hear, Windy? You would have been playmates, I suppose.” 262

“Perhaps,” Anatha said, “someone should honor this bond between our species.” “Yes,” Raelia said, “for I cannot imagine an offer being made on Andoria or Tellar or elsewhere. Only here, only with this good friend, was it so much as considered.” “We have a great affection for canids,” Jonathan said. He went to pick up Windy but she seemed to want to stay with Seppa so he let her do so. “For Windy’s species,” Brantus said, “have you any very important ones?” Jonathan thought for a moment and then consulted his PADD. “The first living Earth creature in space was a dog. She was called Laika.” “Oh, Brantus, can we?” Seppa asked. “Certainly,” he appropriate.”







“I’m not following you,” Jonathan said. “We would like to name our baby Laika,” Seppa said. “I think that would honor the relationship between humans and Daranaeans,” said Jonathan. “May Laika never be afraid to go home.” “Jonathan?” Seppa asked. “Yes?” “You are a council member, like Vidam, yes?” “Somewhat like him.” “If he is elected Alpha, he will need wise counsel, 263

and a friend who is also an Alpha.” “I bet Boestus would, too, if it turns out that he wins,” Brantus said. =/\= On Daranaea, Deb stood at parade rest as Boestus paced a bit, waiting for the results of the election. There was a communications chime. “Come to the Beta Council chamber,” Acreon said. “Yes, of course,” replied the anxious candidate, “My, my family, they may still be a bit in danger. I would rather not leave them behind.” “Bring them if you wish,” Acreon said, “after all, today’s outcome also concerns them. Acreon out.” “Thank you for including me, Husband,” said Shura. “I will do my best not to leave you out of things anymore,” he said, “I can learn new things, you see.” =/\= In Vidam’s house, Frank waited with the family. “Have you a wife and children?” asked Morza. “Me? Oh, no,” he said. “You should,” said Kela. “No,” he said, shaking his head, feeling a little uncomfortable. “But –” Ethara began, and then she saw his face, “there is a reason you have no wife.” “My preference goes the other way,” Frank said. “I wonder if anyone on Daranaea feels that way,” 264

Morza speculated. “I imagine their lives are difficult, if there are such people,” Vidam said, “win or lose today, perhaps my role, in part, can be to let people of that stripe, let them know that they are still citizens. They should not be made to feel uncomfortable, or that they are not safe, due to such, such feelings.” “Repealing the euthanasia law is one thing, changing attitudes is something else,” said Ethara. “Then let the tolerance begin with us,” Vidam said, “Win or lose.” “Win or lose,” his wives said back to him. There was a communications chime, and they were also summoned to the Beta Council chamber. =/\=


18 Acreon spoke into a camera. “I have the results of the election. And Daranaeans, I want you to know that the turnout was tremendous. You have truly cared about this election, with over ninety-five percent turnout. The candidates will all rise.” All of the nineteen candidates rose as one. He read off the percentages, starting with the seventeen candidates with the smallest number of votes. Their total percentage was about six-tenths of one percentage point. They sat as their names were read, until only the top two candidates remained standing. All eyes were on Acreon. “With forty-nine point six percent of the vote, Vidam is second. With fifty point two percent of the vote, Boestus is the winner of the election and is now our new Alpha.” A roar rose up from the Beta Council chamber. 266

Vidam immediately shook hands with Boestus. Acreon gave Boestus the floor. Shaking a bit, he blinked several times before they all quieted down. “I am, I am overcome,” he said. “This is a dream, is it not?” The council laughed a bit at that. He continued. “I, this has been a difficult battle. And the hardest part of it was a decision that, up until last night, I feared I had to make.” He glanced over at Shura and she looked down. “But no more. Citizens,” he raised his voice a little. “Our traditions are important. Our heritage is not to be simply and merely discarded. There remains a value in our past, our traditions and our culture. We have been moving quickly, and now is the time, I feel, to slow down a bit. We must carefully and cautiously make decisions about our collective future.” He glanced around a bit, his eyes settling on Vidam. “My esteemed opponent has many good ideas. I hope he will work with me. For one thing,” he smiled a bit, “if we thought we had a jobs issue before, we truly have it now. I look forward to working with him and listening to his ideas about that. And perhaps advocating implementing one or two of them, if he is willing to work with me. Are you?” Vidam stood up. “I am willing to work with you, for the good of Daranaea. And I will defer to you, as the Alpha. I hope that we – and the entire Beta Council – can have a fruitful five years.” “There will be many things decided, in particular, this year,” Boestus said. “I am confident that we will be moving in the correct, sweet-smelling direction. 267

To the future of Daranea!” “To the future!” yelled the members of the Beta Council, as one. =/\= There was a communications chime at Jonathan’s home. “Darling!” It was Rona, “I’m so glad I caught you.” “Oh?” asked Jonathan. “I just want to convey to your guests that I’m sorry that their candidate lost the election.” “I believe that the truly important vote went their way.” “Ah,” she said, “that horrid euthanasia law. I think I can see now why they were traveling in the first place. All the best to you. Moran out.” =/\=


19 The following day, the twenty-ninth of August of 2180, Deb and Frank beamed back up to the Bluebird. Malcolm placed a call to Acreon. “Are you slated for retirement?” “I am,” he said, “but my third caste wife was taken from me before the euthanasia law was repealed. It is, I fear, a shameful vestige of an earlier time. Still, with other third caste women escaping that fate, I imagine someone will be available. You should contact Boestus as well. He will need to become acquainted with you, and Captain Hernandez and others who captain Federation vessels that come into our airspace.” “Does Boestus know,” Malcolm ventured, “that if Daranaea becomes a part of the Federation that your women will have the right to vote in Federation 269

elections? And we won’t stand on ceremony when it comes to caste – it’s not going to matter to us one whit.” “He does not know that, I suspect, Captain Reed. Perhaps he can be told that at some later date. Acreon out.” =/\= At the lab, Varelle had Trava open communications. “Contact the press, please. We have a major news story.” “Right away, Doctor Varelle.” =/\= The Daranaean press came from many of the provinces in order to cover the news story from Trinning and Varelle’s lab. The two doctors stood outside the building and spoke. “We have,” Varelle said, “a cure for and prevention against Thylacine Paramyxovirus.” “Who developed the cure?” asked Craethe, the reporter. The doctors looked at each other. “We must give credit to the prisoner, Doctor Rechal,” Varelle stated, “for he had good ideas and they were of a great help to us. We must give him some credit for this breakthrough.” Trava came out with Fyra. Trinning looked at them before speaking. “We must also give credit to our test subjects. They endured a lot, and they did it to help our entire species. These brave women must not be forgotten.” 270

A reporter asked, “Can you tell us how you discovered this spectacular breakthrough?” “Come here, Trava,” Varelle said. She came over, a little timid. “Gentlemen, you must know, we used this woman’s blood. She recovered on her own. We would not have a cure without her.” “And it was more than her blood,” Trinning added, “It was her ideas. She is not just our cook and, and the one who cleans our lab.” “I can confirm this,” Varelle said, “Trava is much more like a trusted and respected colleague. If our funding must be pulled for this irregularity, then so be it. We have found the cure and the prevention. They are all that matter. I ask that they be named for Trava, for without her, they would not, they could not, exist.” The tips of Trava’s ears and nose reddened considerably. “I was only doing as you doctors said. We all worked together.” “Has this cure been tested on an advanced case?” asked Craethe. “Yes,” Trinning said. “Darri, if you please.” Fyra went into the lab to help, and together she and Darri helped Cama walk over to where the reporters and cameras were. Cama was shaky but not cold. “I, I owe my, my life to the doctors, and to Trava. And I owe it to Fyra and Darri. All have worked together in order to find and test this cure.” =/\= From his home, sitting between Thessa and Libba, 271

Elemus sat bolt upright. “It is Cama! She lives!” =/\= Jonathan saw his guests off. “So you’re going back to Daranaea?” he asked. “Yes. Laika needs to know her family,” Seppa said, patting her own belly. “She should,” he said, “and I hope she gets an opportunity to come to Earth some time, as I would love to meet her, and I’m sure Windy would, too.” The little dog barked when she heard her name. “Will you run for your Alpha position?” Brantus asked. “Possibly,” Jonathan said, “but I’ll be hounded by reporters.” “I think Rona Moran will put in a word for you,” said Seppa, “and she will drive the rest of them off.” “It is good to have powerful friends,” said Raelia. “It is good to have friends, period,” agreed Anatha. “You will write to me?” Seppa asked Jonathan. “Of course. Even if I do run for Federation President, I’ll find the time to write to you.” “And I will find the time to write back, but after Laika and our others are fed or are down for their naps.” She smiled. “We are still a very different people from humans.” “As you should be,” he answered, “Isn’t the variety what we all like?”


“Infinite diversity in infinite combinations – don’t the Vulcans say that?” asked Brantus. “They do,” replied the human. =/\=


20 A few days later, on Captain Reed’s sixty-eighth birthday, September the second of 2180, the Bluebird was hailed by the Corumon. “Greetings to you,” Seppa said, “for I remember the father of my old playmate, Declan.” Brantus and his other wives stood behind her. “I see you are very grown up now,” said Malcolm, “and expecting as well.” “Tell Declan,” she said, “that I had to deny his marriage proposal,” she smiled, nose wrinkling a little “and I have found true husband-love.” “I’ll tell him. And by the looks of it, I think your husband found, I suppose you’d call it wife-love.” “Yes,” she said, “and there is not much that smells sweeter than that.” 274

“I concur. Reed out.” =/\= On Daranaea, Trinning and Varelle visited the prison. “We will vouch for Doctor Rechal,” they told the guards, “and we have a letter from the Judiciary. He may be released into our custody.” The guards released Rechal. “It is good to be out, and with friends,” he said, “and the free air is of a sweeter fragrance. I am to work, and that I will do.” From the cell that they had shared, the disgraced Arnis looked up. “He gets out? He?!” “He has helped to cure Thylacine Paramyxovirus, Father,” Trinning said. “Our world is changing,” Arnis said angrily, “it is not the world I knew. It is a foreign land now.” “Then perhaps it is for the best that you have a life sentence,” Rechal said, “and you can miss what is happening, and what many of the rest of us are eager to embrace.” “Daranaea will fall if the women get power! You will see!” Arnis thundered. The three doctors departed and shook their heads as one. “I am sorry for my father’s outburst,” said Trinning. “He does not know that his kind are becoming extinct,” said Rechal. “Come, there is more work.” =/\= Boestus had Vidam and his family over. The wives 275

had gone to the back to chat and visit, giving the two men a chance to talk. “Vidam,” Boestus ventured, “we have differences of opinion on many things. But we have one main thing in common. Two, actually.” “Two?” “One is that we both wish for what is best for Daranaea.” “Of course, Alpha.” Boestus smiled a little. “I am unused to hearing that. The other thing is our, our wife-love. Can that be a word, do you think? Do others feel this way?” “I think so,” said Vidam, “I think more than had admitted before. We should, our society, it should not discourage this feeling and it being admitted aloud, and in public.” “Then we are agreed on some fundamental things,” said Boestus. “I have hopes and confidence of a sweet-smelling future.” “As do I,” replied Vidam, “I truly believe it can happen now.” =/\=


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