Star Trek: Lineage Ch. 07byMagicMouse©
2302, Deck 10, Main Crew Lounge, 1800 hours, USS Athena, in orbit around Makav XI
"You will only have one opportunity, Lieutenant," Suvak warned her. "It must be correct on your first attempt."
"Everything is riding on this, Harry," Casana said, her eyes wide as she sat vibrating with anticipation. "Get this right and everything else is cake."
"Come on love, you can do this," Kara reassured her, squeezing Sahar's hand.
"Okay, here goes," Sahar sighed, closing her eyes. After a brief pause she opened her mouth and spoke. The words flowed out beautifully. Soft, delicate tones, sweeping gently up or down, were punctuated by an occasional dramatic jump in pitch. The sound was beautiful and rhythmic, lasting only a few seconds. When she finished, Sahar opened her eyes and looked up. The others were wide-eyed. "How was that?" she asked nervously.
"Interesting," Suvak remarked, cocking her head.
"Wow. Just... wow," Casana gaped.
Sahar turned to Kara, who stared silently at her for an instant. Then she exploded in uncontrolled laughter, clutching her stomach and falling from her chair. Sahar scowled at her.
"That was incorrect, Lieutenant," Suvak told her.
"It was perfect!" she protested as Kara rolled on the ground next to her.
"No, not really," Casana said, starting to giggle herself.
"The Makavian language is very nuanced, Lieutenant," Suvak reminded her as Casana clasped both hands over her mouth. "Several frequency sweeps were reversed, and your inflection was off on three occasions."
"So what did I say?" Sahar asked, hanging her head. Casana lost her control and laughed incessantly, grasping the table to stay in her chair.
"You were supposed to express your delight at having the privilege of bearing witness to this great occasion," Suvak reminded her.
"Instead, you expressed your enthusiasm for your assigned task of cataloging his daughter's carnal skills." Sahar blinked at her.
"Well, I can hold my own in a fight," she sighed, taking a sip from her sharbat as Casana lost her grip on the table and collapsed on top of Kara.
"Actually," Suvak said, "given Makavian society's general sexual permissiveness, especially in regards to voyeurism and homosexuality, your statement would likely have been greeted favorably."
"Oh," Sahar smiled, leaning back in her chair. "Maybe I should keep it at that, then."
"You said 'catalog', not 'sample'!" Kara howled from beneath the table.
"Hey, Harry, ya' think I can come along for your visit?" Casana squealed from under the table. Sahar kicked out a leg.
"Ow!" Kara yelped as Casana laughed harder. "Bloody hell, what was that for?"
"Wanted to know who was who down there. And for laughing at me." Sahar adjusted her aim, and kicked out harder.
"Hey!" Casana cried.
"That's for calling me Harry," Sahar scolded her as she kicked again. "Twice."
Deck 7, Officer's Quarters, 1930 hours
Sahar plodded slowly across the room and threw her limp body onto the bed, whimpering pitifully. "Wow," Kara remarked, "that was really pathetic."
"I'm trying," Sahar sighed, rolling over onto her back and staring up at the ceiling.
"I meant that flop onto the bed, love," she laughed softly, sitting down next to Sahar.
"I learned Klingon in three weeks," Sahar whined. "Why can't I say one sentence in Makavian correctly?"
"Klingon has much simpler transitive and intransitive rules," Kara said reassuringly, brushing back a lock of black hair from Sahar's face. "You'll get it, you're just nervous."
"If I'm nervous now, what will I be like when I'm on the surface?" Sahar cried.
Kara thought for a second before shrugging. "Oh well, I guess you're buggered."
"Thanks," Sahar said sarcastically before rolling onto her side away from Kara.
"Oh, don't pout. I'm just kidding. You'll do fine. You're at your best under pressure."
"I hope you're right," Sahar sighed, "because there aren't many higher pressure situations than first contact."
Kara reached down and rolled Sahar over. Before she could protest, Kara planted a kiss on Sahar's lips. She let her tongue linger, savoring Sahar's powerful, exhilarating taste. When they parted, Kara gazed into her dark brown eyes, smiling lovingly and running the back of her hand along her cheek. "I'm always right."
"God, stop talking," Sahar groaned before grabbing Kara's head and pulling her into another kiss.
Deck 7, Officer's Quarters, 0530 hours
Sahar yawned as she read the PADD, sitting up in bed. She was going over Makavian traditions and customs, as well as her duties in the days ahead. Setting the PADD down for a moment, she rubbed her eyes. The low light made reading hard, but she did not want to risk waking Kara.
Sahar looked down at her, smiling to herself. Kara's head was resting on her midsection, her arms wrapped around her torso. Red hair cascaded across Sahar's stomach and onto the bed covers, and she could feel the warmth of Kara's breath on her skin. Occasionally, Kara would twitch slightly and then softly rub her nose on Sahar's flat stomach before settling back down.
Sahar found it mesmerizing. The feel of Kara's body next to her own was comforting and familiar, like a child's favorite blanket. Her touch was soothing, even if it was just a tap on the shoulder or a touch of the hand. The redhead's caresses never failed to put her at ease, an effect that Kara's personality only added to. Sahar's own fatalistic tendencies were perfectly offset by Kara's relentless, uncompromising resilience. Kara gave her strength when she needed it most.
Still, Sahar was troubled. Kara may have brought her strength but she could be difficult as well. She was stubborn to a fault and seemed to always want to have the last word. They had never had a full blown fight, but there had been some tense moments.
Besides, Sahar was the type of person who yearned for new experiences. And while their lovemaking was always wonderfully pleasing to Sahar, it now sometimes seemed old and familiar, lacking the fire of a new relationship. It seemed as though Sahar's deepest, most secret fear was coming to pass: she was growing bored with Kara. And something else was bothering Sahar.
For the first time in nearly two years, Sahar had dreamed about Casana.
Deck 23, Auxiliary Transporter Room, 1300 hours
Sahar and half a dozen others milled about in the transporter, waiting for permission to beam down to the planet's surface. Normally, Starfleet tried to keep first contact incidents as discreet as possible, especially when the race in question had not already made contact with intelligent life from another planet. When a massive starship like the Athena swoops down out of the sky and announces not only the existence of intelligent alien life, but the fact that said life is vastly more powerful and advanced than anything the native population had ever imagined, the general populace reacts unpredictably. If handled improperly, first contact can result in anything from mass jubilation to a full-scale thermonuclear attack.
In order to avoid such reactions, the Federation had discreetly contacted the Makavian government several weeks before, intending to determine how best to make their existence know to the Makavian people. The Makavian leadership's reaction was to immediately call a press conference and announce that they had made contact with a powerful, benevolent alien civilization, and that there would be a public ceremony and cultural exchange in a matter of days. Despite the fact that no such arrangement had ever been made, Starfleet had agreed. The Makavians had recently developed warp technology and were situated uncomfortably close to Cardassian space.
Sahar was to be among the first Starfleet personnel to (officially) set foot on Makav IV as part of the cultural exchange. The actual ceremony had been going on for nearly an hour. It featured all of the Senior Officers except for Commander Fuller, who was left in command of the ship, as well as Starfleet personnel from as many different planets as possible, including Suvak, Casana, and Zula. Captain Lowe had even gone so far as to have several crewmen from races not represented by any of the Athena's crew temporarily transferred aboard.
Sahar was scheduled to beam down with two dozen other specialists as part of the end of the ceremony, after which she would meet with her Makavian counterpart. They would then spend the next few days discussing military tactics, philosophy, and culture, trying to learn as much about each other's armed forces as possible.
"Transporter Rooms, Bridge. You're cleared for beam-down," said Fuller through the intercom. The landing party silently took their places on the transporter pad, and she was immersed in bright blue light. The last thing she saw before dematerializing was the transport officer mouthing two words: "Oh, fuck."
They rematerialized in an alley between two multistory buildings with boarded windows and peeling paint. In front of them was a city street, with automobiles passing by every few seconds. The team stood in stunned silence for a few seconds, unsure of what had happened or what to do. Sahar's communicator chirped, causing the young man next to her to jump. "Easy, Ensign," she said as she reached for the device. "Lieutenant Tehrani here, where are we?"
"Sorry, sir," said the transport officer. "We got bad coordinates, and I had to adjust mid-transport to keep from beaming you into a wall."
"I appreciate that, Ensign," she said gratefully, "but where are we?"
"About two or three kilometers from the ceremony, on the far side of the river. Do you want me to transport you there?"
"No," Sahar said quickly, trying not to reveal how much nearly being beamed into sheetrock bothered her. "We'll make our way on foot. Tehrani out." She flipped the communicator closed and turned to the rest of the team. "Come on, let's get going."
Sahar walked out of the alley onto the sidewalk and looked down the street in both directions. The Makavians were humanoids with horizontal ridges spaced a few centimeters apart, running around their heads from the eyes to the base of the neck, with a channel on either side of the head as though someone had drawn their finger down molded clay to make it. They had brightly colored hair that usually was kept long by women and short by men. She noticed a bus stopped a few meters away, letting on passengers, and led the team over to it.
When the rest of the passengers had boarded, Sahar stepped up the stairs and looked at the driver, pulling the long, cylindrical universal translator from its sheathe and turning it on.
"Excuse me, sir, but do you know the way to the First Contact Ceremony?"
Makav IV Capitol City, 1410 hours
Sahar's palms were sweating as she stepped off the bus last, thanking the driver. They had arrived at a large square in the center of the city, now occupied only by clean-up crews, Makavian police, and a handful of Starfleet personnel and Makavian officials. Sahar spotted Captain Lowe and walked towards him. He was talking with a tall Makavian woman with bright blue-green hair, her back turned to Sahar.
"About time, Lieutenant," he frowned when he noticed her. "What the hell happened?"
"Sir, we were beamed to the wrong coordinates," she explained "We had to use local public transportation to get here."
"I know that," he snapped. "Why did it take you over an hour to go two kilometers?"
"Traffic in this city is hideous, Captain," the woman said, turning to face Sahar. "Hello, Lieutenant. My name is Major Aka'i Soo'u, Chief of Staff for General Ha'atu of the Makavian Army," she said, flattening her hands and placing the thumb against her face just outside of her eyes, palms in, and taking a slight bow. "It is an honor to meet you."
Sahar took a deep breath, and turned off the universal translator. She opened her mouth to repeat the phrase she had practiced so many times over the last few days.
"Oh, forget it, Lieutenant," Lowe said, cutting her off. A bit disappointed, Sahar clicked the universal translator back on. "You and the Major have a lot to discuss, and you're already behind schedule. Get to it."
"Aye, sir," Sahar sighed as Lowe walked away.
"Shall we?" Aka'i said with a smile.
Makav IV Capitol City, 1930 hours
"This is awesome!" Casana gasped, petting the small animal on her wrist. It was the size of a small rabbit, covered in short brown fur, clinging to her wrist with two thin paddle-like appendages, wrapping them around her arm. Its head was short and flat, with two tiny black eyes on the top. When she touched it, the creature cooed softly and gently squeezed her wrist. "Holy crap, that was adorable!"
"It's called a 'la'oont'," the man next to her said. "They're indigenous to the temperate forests, but many Makavians keep them as pets."
"I can see why! It's so cute!" she squealed, tickling the animal. "What kind of diet does it have?"
"They eat small insects. Here, watch this," he smiled, reaching into a drawer. He pulled out a small stick with piece of string attached to one end. At the end of the string was a small, plastic insect. The man dangled the insect above the creature, swaying it back and forth slowly. After a few seconds the creature opened its mouth, also on the top of its head, and its long tongue shot out, wrapping around the insect and pulling it into the animal's mouth, only to immediately spit it out.
"Wow," Casana gaped. "It just waits for a bug to wander by?"
"Aw, who's a lazy little ball of cute?" she smiled, tickling the creature again.
"Lieutenant Tehrani to Lieutenant Shen," her communicator chirped.
Casana used her free hand to open her communicator. "Hey, Harry, have you seen a la'oont yet? It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen!"
"Don't call me Harry," Sahar said, almost as a formality. "And yes, I've seen a lute."
"Not a lute, doofus. A la'oont," she laughed. "It's an animal."
"This isn't another vampire rabbit, is it? Or a bat that I'm going to have to chase?"
"Actually, he kinda looks a bit like a bat, and he eats bugs, but no, it's not."
"Good, cause you find the creepiest things interesting," Sahar observed dryly.
"He's cute," she insisted. "So, what's up?"
"The Major and I are going to get something to eat with Suvak. You wanna come along?"
"Sure," Casana smiled. "Hey, Unoo'a, you want to get something to eat?" she asked the man.
"No, I still have some work to do here," he frowned.
"Oh well. Okay, Sahar, I'll meet you there. Shen out," she said, flipping the communicator closed. Casana immediately flipped it back open. "Hey, where am I meeting you?"
Makav IV Capitol City, 2200 hours
"So then, Unoo'a gets this little stick with a bug on the end, and dangles the bug in front it, and then..." Casana said excitedly before sticking her tongue out and bobbing her head.
"It suffered an epileptic seizure?" Suvak asked curiously.
"What? No! It shot its tongue out and grabbed the bug," Casana explained.
"Did you just suffer a seizure, then?" Sahar laughed.
"Har, har, Sahar," Casana said mockingly. "Hey, wait a-"
"Don't even think about it," Sahar snarled. "The last thing I want is another of your nicknames."
"Aw. And that was a good one, too," Casana pouted. The four of them sat around a table in a bar near the square. Aka'i had ordered for Sahar and Casana, but Suvak insisted on ordering for herself. They had finished their meal, and now sat over drinks as the restaurant slowly emptied.
"So, Lieutenant, how is Kara?" Suvak asked out of nowhere.
"Excuse me?" Sahar replied, caught off guard.
"Is that not an appropriate question?"
"I guess it's okay. Just kinda... random."
"I have been researching human social customs. I was under the impression that it is customary to inquire about a friend's mate in these situations," she explained.
"Well... she's fine, I guess," Sahar said quietly. Casana raised her eyebrows.
"That wasn't very convincing," she observed.
"Kara is fine," Sahar insisted.
"Then something is wrong with you."
"I'm fine, too."
"No, you aren't. Tell me what it is."
"No," Sahar snapped.
"So there is something wrong!" Casana squealed. "Tell me what it is."
"No," Sahar said with annoyance.
"Do it. You know you want to."
"Do it, or I let a bat loose in your quarters."
"God fucking damn it, Tilan, leave it alone!" Suvak, Sahar, and Casana all froze. "Please, drop it Casana."
"Oh, no you don't," Casana said emphatically. "You just called me 'Tilan'."
"It just kinda... came out," Sahar blushed.
"Have you been experiencing dreams again, Lieutenant?" Suvak asked.
"Yes. Yes, I've been dreaming about Casana," Sahar admitted.
"How frequently?" Suvak pressed her.
"Almost every night now."
"What kind of dreams?" Casana asked quietly.
"What kind do you think?" Sahar snapped.
"Is Kara aware?" Suvak questioned.
Sahar looked up at her angrily. "Hey, honey, you look lovely this morning!" she said mockingly. "Oh, by the way, I've been dreaming about that time Suvak almost raped me when she caught me and Casana together. What's for dinner?"
"Wait, you tried to rape her?" Aka'i cried, looking at Suvak.
"Several months ago, Lieutenants Tehrani, Shen, Morgan-"
"That's Kara," Casana interjected.
"... and I encountered a telepathic presence while exploring an uncharted planet," Suvak continued, ignoring Casana. "The message showed us a series of event, with ourselves standing in for key figures. The individual I represented attempted to rape Lieutenant Tehrani."
"And your name was Tilan?" Aka'i asked Casana.
"And this is causing friction between you and Lieutenant Morgan?"
"Pretty much," Sahar shrugged.
Aka'i was silent for a moment. "Your lives are not like ours," she said finally.
"Yeah, no shit," Sahar sighed as she stood. "Look, I'm gonna go take a walk, then head back to the ship. I'll see you guys later."
"Night, Sahar," Casana yawned.
"Good evening, Lieutenant," Suvak nodded.
"I will see you again tomorrow," Aka'i said. She watched as Sahar left the restaurant, then left herself.
Makav IV Capitol City, 2245 hours
Sahar slowly trudged through the park, woefully staring at the ground. The more she wandered, the more miserable she became. She had no desire to leave Kara, but was not terribly thrilled about staying with her, either. She could not decide what she wanted, and it was killing her.
The problem wasn't that she didn't enjoy being with Kara, it was that she wanted more. An affair. Sahar stopped in her tracks. Could I do that? Cheat on Kara? Her first instinct was no, and she continued to walk through the park.
But as she went, the idea seemed less and less like a mistake. Just once. Get it out of my system. A voice in her head objected, but she crushed it. No harm, no foul. But who? Casana? The thought was not unpleasant to her. Casana was definitely attractive, and Sahar knew the feeling was at least slightly mutual. Perhaps this would solve her problems and save her relationship.
Sahar was paying so little attention that she did not notice the person walking next to her. As she picked her head up, she finally saw her. "How long have you been following me?"
"Following?" Aka'i replied. "I wasn't following you. I was right beside you."
"Long enough to know that you just made a decision about something."
"You didn't know humans existed two days ago. Don't assume you know anything about us."
"No, but your friends do. And they know something is wrong."
"I don't want to talk about it."