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Ens T'Rehu & Cn Popples - "No One Could Ever Know Me" - Part 2

Posted on 2020-07-12 08:21 by Ensign Lia t'Rehu & Crewman Fearne Popples

Mission: Grains of Sand
Location: North london

The event of the first Romulan visit to Wheathampstead might have been an occasion for the history books. As it was, two Starfleet officers had made their way through the streets of the village and inside an old 1930s semidetached house with no notice paid or comment given. Fearne Popples had offered Lia t'Rehu rest, relaxation and hopefully good times with her family. Lia had accepted.

A short while after Fearne and Lia's arrival at the house and having been given the opportunity to change and freshen up family Popples were congregated in the garden. This was H’s domain, whenever he wasn't teaching martial arts and the weather was acceptable he would be out tending to the vegetables and fruits growing in the raised planters that took up a large portion of the space. Almost the entire rear of the house was a vista of transparent aluminium, split into two concertina doors that could open the entire ground floor to the meticulous garden beyond. The large rectangular shape was enclosed by wooden fencing. As one stepped into the garden from the open concertina doors to the left and rear corner was wooden decking with permanent metal garden furniture in place, a dark, ornate table and chair set that despite the harshness of the materials was surprisingly comfortable when furnished with some cushions. A small force field generator could protect the area from rain or excessive ultraviolet rays from the Sun as required and a small waterproof computer terminal and Holo projector was built into the table for sending communications or controlling music playback. The rest of the garden was paved with large patio slabs that fitted perfectly between the eight raised planters that were spaced evenly in an L shape around the decking sported force field generators of their own to keep away fauna that might be after a free meal. Apart from a few dramatic and interesting potted plants the rest of the flora was cultivated vegetables and fruits which led to one of the slightly strange dualities of the family in that they replicated the vast quantity of their meals, except for when there was fresh fruit or vegetables to be had in which case everything except the fruit or vegetable portion of a meal was replicated and the family enjoyed the fruits of Holland's labour alongside with great relish. As it was there were tomatoes ready for eating, something Fearne often did as a snack, simply biting into one like an apple.

Fearne had changed quickly, opting for a lime green sports bra over which a loose gun metal tank top advertising the metal/new wave retro-fusion band Cowtronic was draped. Ratty denim hotpants in a rich and dark black and bare feet finished the look. The family were situated at their traditional spots, John seated with his back to the house, Holland to his left with his back to the side fence and Fearne to John's right, leaving the space opposite John facing the back of the house open, the chair made up with cushions for their guest. There was lots of excited chatter and the sound of beer bottles being lifted and replaced on the hard surface of the table.

Lia had opted for a navy blue karate gi, her go-to relaxing clothes. She had on a thick long sleeve t-shirt below and thick socks. Simple slip on sneakers completed her ensemble. Stepping out in the to garden, Lia was awestruck. She had admired some of the simple gardens people had on the walk in from their arrival, but this was special. Ignoring the conversation, she walked around, smelling the flora. The tempting tomatoes. Fragrant roses. It hit her like a ton of bricks. To be able to plant specifically for want instead of need. The visual attraction of it all was too much. She almost sat in the grass and prepared to take it all in when laughter behind her mentally slapped her. She wasn't alone and ignoring the family that took her in was not polite.

Sitting on one of the cushions, she took an offered beer. It was a caramel reddish color. Sniffing it lightly, Lia took a tentative sip. Slightly bitter, just a hint of citrus. Her brain analyzed the flavors profiles. Reading the colorful label with the large red triangle, she wondered what the name implied.

She visibly relaxed more as she took a larger sip. "Your house must be wealthy. I could spend much time in the garden. It's.......breathtaking." Lia said in English, trying no to use the UT. H looked visibly pleased by the observation.

"Hey, thanks!" he exclaimed, raising his beer to Lia in gratitude. "Garden’s kinda my thing. I just love it out here."

"I guess people just live the way they want to live in the Federation," Fearne observed, picking up on Lia’s references to houses and wealth. "We don't really have like noble houses or money or anything like that? I mean, occasionally people get kind of greedy but most people just kind of want to chill and just do their kinda thing, explore opportunities, find out what is right for them and then kinda just make that work, y’know? H’s thing is gardening and judo, John is school headmaster and Brazilian jujitsu, I'm tae kwon do security makeup and metal bitch."

"What is your vocation in Starfleet Lia?" John asked her.

"I am the combat medic, though I served as a doctor in Romulan hospitals. In my previous...postings," Lia had trouble with the right word, "I have gained many skills. Botany was one, from the need to keep my comrades alive, though I was originally on a command track I believe is the term. Your daughter now has firsthand knowledge of my fighting skills. There is no literal translation for the discipline. The closest would be 'laughing murder'. We are fairly matched, though my practice is a bit corroded." Lia said, meaning rusty.

"She's really good!" Fearne told her parents earnestly. "Like, neither of us could really get anything to stick on the other? I did manage to throw her but I totally ended up on my arse."

"Fit in here then!" John told Lia kindly but with a certain swagger. "No subject is really off the table in our family,” he continued, "but we understand not everyone is that way. Are there subjects you would rather not discuss, Lia? Curious… about our daughters friends and colleagues… starfleet is pretty new to us."

Lia thought hard as she drank her beer. "I would say there are subjects that are...less desirable from a Romulan viewpoint. It's situational. There are things you would tell family that you might never divulge to your government. Since I am new to the Federation, perhaps there can be a mutual sharing of information." Lia paused. "I trust Fearne. There seems to be a bond shared with fellow crewmembers over time, similar to comrades I knew in the Dominion war. Fearne and I have that I think." Her family seemed genuine and she started to open up. "Other than sexual preferences, I would say ask away. The answer is men, by the way." She said making a small joke and cracking a genuine smile. John smiled back.

"Can't blame you," he retorted with a sly look at his husband. "May I ask how you came to serve in Starfleet? You were… A doctor on Romulus?"

Lia took a breath. "The short version. My parents were executed for sedition. I was stripped of rank and sent to the front lines in the Dominion war. Afterwards I served as a nurse practitioner in a Penal colony. Eventually, Elements be praised, I was granted the opportunity to finish my doctorate by saving the life of my future commanding officer and recapturing a warbird taken over by the enemy. I then served on the Decius as the Assistant then Chief Medical Officer, for 25 years. My former commanding officer managed to get me the opportunity to serve in the Officer's Exchange Program. Something I am sure the Senate is grateful. I love my people dearly, but being with them is no longer an option. I represent everything the propaganda tells my people to hate. A lying half-breed from dishonorable lineage." She finished her beer. "Please do not move. I will return shortly. Most of this I have learned to live with decades much as one can.

The family listened attentively but as Lia got up and went inside the house some confused looks were exchanged.

"Did I say something?" John mouthed to his daughter, the men looking at her for answers with some concern. Fearne shook her head.

"I don't think so," she mouthed back silently with an accompanying shrug. At the same time Lia emerged from the house again and the purpose for her sudden departure was made clear.

Lia returned shortly with 4 brandy glasses on a simple tray. Her own blood red bottle along with it, freshly washed. Unsealing the bottle, she poured each of them the same amount and handed each of them a glass. "I did not want to burden you with my past or my pain. Accept this a token of friendship in the spirit I offer it." She downed the red liquid in a single gulp. Warmth radiating from her throat to extremities.

Three glasses were raised and the toast was repeated before family Popples got their first taste of Romulan brandy, consumed in the same way as they were shown; in one quick go, a method they were certainly no strangers to. Fearne ruminated on the taste for a short time. There was something sweet, almost plum-like about it yet there was also that fire and warmth that only a decently strong spirit would bestow. It made a lovely gift. Her mind travelled to Lia’s personnel file, the basics of which Fearne had committed to memory along with the rest of the crew when she had first come aboard the Joshua Norton. While plenty of detail was inaccessible to those of lower security access, Lia’s statement regarding the Dominion war and thusly her rough age was no surprise to her young colleague. Fearne seemed to remember the number 90 being mentioned. "I am not even ninety yet by your calender, Fearne.” Not even ninety. Vulcans and Romulans certainly thought about age in a very different way, but Lia was proving to be vastly unlike anyone Fearne had ever met. She was a conundrum, but an interesting one.

"That's really nice!" Fearne commented to their guest brightly.

Lia nodded. "A rare treat. Like you sharing your family with me. I am honored and humbled. Before coming here I was wondering if I could manage this new existence or rot away in sickbay. With your help, I wonder no more." She poured each of them another shot. Turning to her dads, she spoke softly but firmly. "Names in Rihannsu culture have power. We have our first name, and our surname. We are also given a secret name. It is rarely shared as we believe it has power over us. Only between us, please call me Hilea. Fearne already knows that. Now I am offering it to you as well John and Holland Popples." She held the glass raised this time, waiting for their response.

She need not have worried. Three glasses were raised again in response.

"Thank you. We’re glad to know you, Hilea," Holland said earnestly.

"Honoured," John added. "And looking forward to knowing you better."

Fearne smiled at her family as another round of romulan brandy was knocked back. She was so proud. She felt so lucky to be from such a loving background and since knowing Hilea she had began to wonder what her life had been like, the constant pain, and the rejection, the confusion, the injustice. It was becoming clear to Fearne that she would never know entirely, but thanks to her eyes she had an inkling. She had experienced the stares, the hushed chatter, the looks of surprise on people's faces. It occurred to the teenager that if she were to take that aspect of her life and dial it up to 11 it might begin to be something like what Hilea had experienced and she didn't like that prospect one little bit. She had to admire her friend’s determination and resourcefulness in escaping what sounded like a difficult and distressing life.

Now Hilea was going to make a new life for herself in the Federation. The adjustment had begun but it was going to take some time. Still, Fearne resolved that she was going to be there to help, whatever their next posting would bring.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Ensign Lia t'Rehu
Combat Medic
USS Joshua Norton NCC-74819-A

Crewman Fearne M. Popples
Security Crewman
USS Joshua Norton

NPCs by Jessica: John Popples, Holland Popples-Mayhew


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