|A PLACE IN THE SUN|
This little scene happens right after "Politics" and was written (at least in part) because one of my readers thought Jenna Farnham was an interesting character. As it happens I agree and so I doubt this is the last we get to see of her.
“Oh, my poor knees.” Boothby slowly lowered himself onto the bench. Only after he had swept the sweat from his face did he turn to the cadet sharing the bench with him. “Shouldn’t you be on vacation, like the rest of your friends? Go out, enjoy life away from the Academy while the vacation lasts.”
As he got no reply he added in a gruff voice, “at least don’t trample through my roses again while you are here, will you?”
“I never...,” Jenna protested but her voice trailed of. “Okay, I did, but I won’t do it again, promise.”
After several minutes of silence she made up her mind and looked at the old gardener. “Boothby, have you ever lost someone?”
“Hrmph. Of course not. I have lost some things, but I never lost some one. You don’t lose people like small change. What makes you think you have?”
“I feel like I let someone slip through my fingers, because I wasn’t honest with her.” Jenna sighed and stared across the garden at the dorm she had shared with Tori Xedon for most of their time at the Academy. “I should have been honest with her, but I wasn’t. Maybe I haven’t exactly lost her, but I think I have lost the chance to tell her how I really feel about her and make it count.”
“Why didn’t you tell her?”
“Because... because I wished I could turn her into something she isn’t. Trying it wouldn’t have been fair.”
“Young people these days.” Boothby snorted and shook his head. “You need to have everything explained to you, don’t you? Now, Cadet, as I see it you may have lost a dream, but dreams come and go and every new day brings new dreams if you only open up to them. But what you haven’t lost is a friend you had and I think you have gained some wisdom from it for yourself. Doing what's best for a friend is a sign of true friendship.”
He stared at her and asked: “So why are you still here, instead of enjoying your vacation?”
After a moment Jenna nodded and stood. “Thank you for your time, Boothby. I think you helped me quite a lot.”
After the cadet had walked out of sight the old gardener moved over to the spot of sunlight she had just vacated. As the heat of the sun seeped into his aching bones he stretched and murmured to himself: “Now that helps me quite a lot.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?
Another little scene set around the same time as "Politics". While I think I never mentioned it during one of the Valkyrie episodes, Rishana Hagen's parents both work on Earth at Starfleet Medical and at Starfleet Academy. With the Valkyrie back at Earth they were bound to meet each other again.
Adira Hagen sat in a chair by her daughter’s side and followed her daughter’s gaze up to the stars. “What happened to you out there, Rishana?”
“Nothing you should worry about, mom.”
Adira turned her head, but with little light coming from the living room behind them she couldn’t make out her daughter’s features. “Don’t lie to me. You came here every evening since the Valkyrie arrived, but you have kept me out of your mind all the time.”
Rishana slightly shook her head, her motion barely visibly in the darkness of the balcony. “I don’t want to, but there are a few things in my head that are classified. Can’t have you run into them by accident. But I haven’t really changed.”
“Yes, you have,” her mother insisted. “I know you could never have blocked me if I tried to read your thoughts. It’s one of the things a mother just knows.”
“But you have tried tonight?”
Adira Hagen shivered, unsure what worried her more about Rishana’s deadpan voice. Was it that the daughter who had always stood up to her parents suddenly wasn’t complaining about her interference, or was it how easily Rishana had pushed her telepathic probe aside?
“Yes. I was worried about you, Rishana.”
“Don’t worry about me, mom. I am fine.” Rishana reached out and wrapped her fingers around her mother’s hand. ‘And I thought my telepathic abilities would be lessened by what has happened... or do I just value my privacy now more than ever?’
“How can I not worry about you if you won’t allow me to speak to you like we are supposed to?”
“You should be used to it by now, after spending so much time among humans,” Rishana casually replied.
“That’s not the same. They are not my daughter.” There was no contempt in her voice for the non-telepaths she had worked with for two decades – only concern for her daughter.
Rishana tightened her grip on her mother’s hand and looked up at the stars again. “Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I have changed, but I still have to figure out what it all means to me, before I can open up to you again.”
The shortest of the Snapshots, set during the end of "To Catch A Thief". I wrote this to bridge the gap between "Thief" and the next appearance of Captain Lafayette and Shadira, but I think it works well as a stand-alone piece. I hope you agree. :-)
“Where to now?”
Captain Lafayette fell back into his bridge chair. “Anywhere but here, now that the Federation got a foothold on Talkha.”
“So you don’t want to go back?”
Shadira didn’t really listen to Andre’s denial. She had seen the way he looked at the Valkyrie. Behind his fear there had been something else, a longing to sail the stars in a ship like that – a ship no freelancer would ever call his own.
‘One day you won’t deny it any longer. But will there be a place for me in your home, once you find it again?’
About 60 words too long to fit my definition of a snapshot (1,000 words or less), but this still looks like a good place for it. I may write a few more stories like this, to highlight the presidential elections, but until I do so - and give those stories their own home - here it will stay for want of a better place.
An open letter by David Fisk, UFP Correspondent
[San Francisco, Earth] As the battle for the presidency of the Federation picks up speed I can’t help wonder how much it will really affect the citizens of the Federation.
Right now all my colleagues have run off to watch the latest debate on the live-channel from the council chamber. And here I am, slaving on my latest column not only because it is what I am paid for, but for the most part because I simply don’t care all that much about the upcoming elections.
Presidents have come and gone, but more often than not the Federation has hardly taken notice who held the office. And if you do not believe me, let’s just take a look at the ill-remembered heads of the state we live in.
One of my favorite presidents in the “obscured for all eternity” category must be Tevosh Batgur (2294-2299), the third Andorian to head the UFP. When he was elected in 2294 he promised an ever-vigil Starfleet under his leadership that would not be blind-sided by the (then recent) treaties with the Klingon Empire. At the end of his term the council had turned down all but two of his proposals, one of them to hand over more responsibility in the field to starfleet captains – which holds strong to this day, even if no one but historians remembers Batgur’s name associated with it – and the other one some obscure name change to a plaza in Armstrong City, or so I think. My research has turned up nothing conclusive, but I am fairly certain the latter was something like that.
But if you think that assures him a place in obscurity, you are perhaps not aware of presidents like Adam Tarkabian or Miriam Manpratrah, and I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t. But the sad fact remains that both headed the United Federation of Planets one time, and all it got them was a place on my list of people no one remembers at all (and statistics support me on this count).
Tarkabian was - to refresh your memory, if refresh is the right word, which I sincerely doubt – our president from 2214 to 2219, and he won the election on a bill of bringing stability and continuity to the Federation. He certainly succeeded, as he never introduced a single change to the Federation. That is, in five years in the office, he never opened his mouth to say more than “good morning”, “thank you for electing me” or “ummm”. I suppose we can draw two conclusions from that: One, keeping your mouth shut when you have nothing to say is an eminently wise choice, unless you want to be remembered for some serious blunder (which Tarkabian nicely avoided by not doing anything at all). Two, that office in Paris must be so plush that it is its own reward, if just attaining it can shut up even the most vociferous politician.
Now, Manpratrah was quite the opposite of Tarkabian in many regards, which might be one reason she was elected as his successor in 2219. She promised change to the office of the president, and that promise she certainly kept by not acting presidential at all, where Tarkabian had at least tried to look somewhat presidential. As soon as she was elected she started to hit the media circuit, opened her mouth at every possible, and sometimes impossible, opportunity, and never showed any regard for something that wouldn’t enhance her own prestige. If you remember her for anything more than her sad record of being the president most often banned from council discussions by the council speaker you are either a serious history buff or in need of a real life, as she had no impact whatsoever on Federation politics.
What saddens me most about this list of abject failures is not that they happened – we all make mistakes after all – but that two out of three least-remembered presidents of the UFP share my birthplace with me. And no, I’m not talking about Denvil, New Jersey, I’m talking about Earth.
Let’s face it: The Federation President is not the center of the universe, as much as Earth may be the center of the Federation. In the end he (or she) is not all that much the center of the Federation either. The presidents we remember most now did not achieve their call to fame by just being the president, but by what happened around them. Just a few crucial decisions here an there can catapult a president to fame, and I think that is pretty much as it should be. The day-to-day business of the Federation should be left to the council, which is, after all, supposed to represent the member worlds of the UFP.
And that leaves me wondering why the presidential elections occupy us so much these days. We don’t have a direct say in them, the president is not accountable to any of us directly and - whatever the president does - more often than not it still is the council that makes the decisions that shape our lives.
Will it change our lives to vent so much plasma over this election? I think not, but still we worry about it.
Now, if you ask me, that is just plain silly. The Federation works from the bottom up, not the other way round. It was designed that way, and I think it’s a decent way of doing things. Despite the most heroic – and the most inept – presidents it has seen, the Federation has survived, not because of its presidents, but often despite of them.
I don’t know about you, but I derive a certain pleasure from knowing that I am just a small cog in the grand machine called the United Federation of Planets. It helps me stop worrying about things I might not be able to change anyway, and allows me to just enjoy life and get on with my job.
Isn’t that something we all want to do?
And now that I finished this column, please excuse me. I have to run, to catch at least part of the latest presidential campaign on the holovid channel.
I can’t change the outcome one little bit, but it’s still good entertainment.