USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Letters from Home

Posted on Mon Jan 30th, 2017 @ 1:00am by Major Storr Garlake

Mission: S1E3.5 - Interlude
Location: USS Vindex (Deck 25)- MCO's Quarters
Timeline: Mission Day 38: 2145

Kevin and Dorthy Garlake smiled as they sat close together, their faces and upper bodies framed well in the LCARS panel through which they spoke; it belied many, many previous conversations through the medium with their sons. Of course, it helped that the couple was going on thirty-seven years of marriage and, in their own words, "somewhat liked each other".

"It's great to see you Pa, Man," Storr said with a sincerely returned smile. Their communications had come to a stop with the wormhole closed by the Consortium but with it opened again, a son was able to accomplish his filial duties. "How's the homestead?"

"Things are going great, Storr," his dad answered, quickly to be co-opted by his mother. "Wish you were here...Odele is just about to have her second daughter and we're leaving tomorrow to be there for the birth. You know, we're still really looking forward to some grandsons..." she trailed off, looking wistfully at her eldest. Garlake chuckled; she had been asking him about settling down for nearly 16 years now and hadn't let up. The woman's tenacity was legendary in South Africa.

"I know, Ma, I know..." he answered, his Dad thankfully cutting in and saving him from the always awkward line of questioning.

"Dorothy, stop pestering the boy. There's more important things to discuss. Like that new gold leaf on your collar! Major? That's incredible, boy! I thought you wouldn't be due for a promotion for at least four more years. What, was there some temporal distortion when you went through that wormhole?"

The MCO chuckled. He didn't doubt that his dad had a calendar with his and Altus' date of ranks on them, counting down until the next promotion, PCS (Permanent Change of Station), probably even performance report. One of the problems with having a martial family tree was that there was no hiding from it.

"Yes sir, it is, and can I just say that I'm as surprised about it as you are. I suppose liberating an entire planet can have an effect on the rank structure," he replied, somewhat in jest. There was a continual one-upsmanship between him, his brother, and to a lesser extent his father and all the generations before him. It was a weighty burden at times, but a comforting load nonetheless.

"What?!," his mom squawked, her ears perking for juicy tidbits to tell the stitching circle and the bridge club. "Tell me everything!"

So Storr did, for the next half hour, regaling them with events up to this point, from the actions aboard the Bozeman, to the carna, to Gavara IV. Other than over much drinking, Garlake was not fond of talking about himself and more often than not boasted about his men rather than his part in it. His parents, however, were a different beast entirely and they had broken him down with enough pestering and persistence that he began "tooting his own vuvuzela" a few years back and they hadn't let up since.

"Incredible," his father said at the end, smiling and nodding his head. "I knew that you'd amount to something, especially after you accepted that commission." The elder Garlake winked at his son. The old man Captained his own mercenary cruiser for several years before hanging up his hat and had unhidden desires of similar accomplishments for his boys.

"Are you happy there? How's the crew? The Captain? The food?"

Storr rolled his eyes and chuckled. More standard mom questions. "Yes, they've kept me alive despite my best efforts, she's managed to secure to quadrant against the Consortium, and I've gained 4 pounds of muscle since I reported aboard so...overall, great."

"Storr, bokkie...are you seeing anyone? I really worry about you and I just want to see you make someone happy."

There it was. The question that he had both been dreading and...well, mostly dreading this entire conversation. The MCO took a deep breath and let it out, smiling at the end as he did so.

"Mom, Dad...I am seeing someone, actually. Her name's Jaya."

His mother sprang up and away from his father and leaned in closer to the viewscreen. "What? That's great! What does she do? What does she look like? Where's she from? How did you meet?" She stopped her rapid-fire inquisition to allow her face to go cold and voice to fall flat. "You're not sleeping together, are you?"

"Mom, Mom...no, we're not. We're staying proper, just as you and dad want, according to the deal." Storr replied, waving his hands in the air between them as if fending off her verbal assault. *The Deal...* he thought, dismissing it as he began to answer the other questions. It would come out soon enough. "She's the ship's counselor, she's nearly as gorgeous as you, and we met during a counseling session following a funeral service for one of my men."

"...and?" his father asked, his face expectant. Storr's stomach sank at the thought of letting his old man down. The argument that was about to follow was not one he was looking forward to.

"And...she's a Deltan."

"A WHAT?!" Kevin Garlake said, exploding from his chair. The man was not one to be known for emotional outbursts and this was maybe one of three times he had ever seen his father so livid. "You KNOW that she's got you wrapped around her finger because of those pheromones! And how can you even touch her with such physical and telepathic power threatening to short-circuit your brain? Not to mention their oath which wouldn't even LET you get married?! Storr, there's a REASON we find wives back here in the home country or at least HUMANITY, and that was part of the deal. Remember?" His father's chest was heaving and his head nearly cut out of the frame. His mother sat there like a statue for several moments before tugging forcefully at Kevin's sleeve to try and get him to sit down.

"Kevin...I'm sure that Storr has a perfectly reasonable explanation about how this is just a platonic friendship. Right, Storr?"

"Well...I..." the Major was cut off by his father before he could finish.

"Son, what happened to Corla? She's still pining after you despite the failed engagement. She's kept up with the family and has been quite impressed with your accomplishments; you've obviously covered the concerns that she rightfully had."

"Rightfully? What, now you're taking her side? She said I was a drunken bliksem that didn't deserve the time of day from a women with half her beauty and charm! Yes, I'll admit that I was quite the carouser but she was a stuck up..."

"Storr!" his mother snapped at him thankfully before he could finish his sentence and say something that he regretted. He had pined after his young love for years now and the pain of losing her still stung deeper than he cared to admit. "Now, Deltans can calm as well as stimulate, right? And counseling is a very important aspect of military life, especially given the emotional hardships you've faced these last few months."

"Yes to both, Ma," the MCO quickly replied. His father's breathing had returned mostly to normal and he had returned to his seat, though his body language still spoke to the distress inside.

"Son...do you, do you remember our agreement? The galaxy is a large place but your first loyalty is to the family and your people." His dad took a deep breath and let it out, pausing for several moments before continuing. "The Garlakes have a proud tradition since 1685 of being a family of colonists, explorers, farmers and soldiers, never forgetting our Dutch roots. 'We were a people set apart here in southern Africa and while feelings of fraternity, of benevolence, of kindness, of respect, and charity supersede ethnic, even species boundaries, the normative love of neighbor, the brotherhood of blood, the mystic chords of memory, and the priority of care are restricted to the members of our race, beginning in our homes.'"

There it was. His father always was one to wax eloquent and his recitation of one of the elements was nearly perfect.

"We're dying, Storr"

"Wha...what?!" the younger Garlkae gaped.

"No, no...your ma and I are fit as a fiddle. I'm afraid you're stuck with us for some time still," Kevin Garlake smiled before continuing without it. "I'm speaking about our people, our family. We were nearly wiped out in the Eugenics Wars on earth and only 'recently' experienced a resurgence, but even that is again on the wane. Everyone is looking outside the people, the faith, even the planet for companionship. I love all men from every tongue, tribe, and nation and would never be so hateful as to desire destruction to anyone’s heritage. The family is the bedrock of society and I desire to diligently defend it. Is that so wrong? Is it so wrong to want to see the propagation and success of our family, our people, our nation, our species? Why can other peoples, races, or planets be applauded for their desire to preserve their cultural purity yet when we call for it are branded racists, rubes, and worse? We simply want to be governed by our own people and by men who support our people, and we grant the same right of sovereignty and self-determination to all other peoples."

The marine Major sat silently as his father finished, the only sound being the soft air transfer through the vent above him and the birds outside with his parents. It was indeed "the deal" that he had made even before leaving for Sandhurst, and it had been an assumed one ever since. An unspoken assumption as well, as Storr hadn't really ever been attracted to anyone so different. It was a duty that he had been given, whether he wanted it or not, and one that he had willingly obliged with...until now.

"Pa, I know and remember the ten elements and I do. I do. I just..."

Dorothy looked over at her husband, then to Storr, then back to Kevin. "This isn't easy in the least. Storr, have you considered speaking with Reverend Siemen about this?"

In trying to be helpful, his mother simply added more eddies and turbulence to the MCO's mind. Reverend Arnout Siemen of the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (NHK) had been the family's pastor since before Storr was born and while easily in his seventies, was as sharp as a tack both mentally and conversationally. The man had personally baptized and led him, his brother, sister, and cousins in the creeds, catechism, confessions, and five Solas, and instructed them in the faith of which harkened back even further than his family's time in the "Dark Continent". He had wandered from those teachings since his late teens but the conversation with his parents now caused it all to come rushing back to him in a tidal wave of emotion and memories.

"No, I hadn't." Garlake replied.

"I think that that would be a big help, don't you agree, Kevin?" his mother asked encouragingly.

Storr's dad sighed, though almost more in a relieved way. "Yes...yes, I do. Son, would you be willing to give Siemen a call? For me?"

Garlake's love for his family and history demanded no less. "Absolutely, Pa. I love you both. Goodbye."

With that Storr sat back in his seat and rubbed his eyes.

"Computer, record a message for Reverend Arnout Siemen, Pretoria, South Africa, Earth..."

 

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