[USS Vanguard] The Wedding of Zena Quetan (Part I)

  • From: Andy <andywoho@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2012 07:55:13 -0500

Out of chracter introduction: The following takes place outside of normal
continuity--whatever THAT is for the Vanguard. For those of you still able
to keep up with continuity (or care)--and bless you for THAT--this takes
place sometime after the last normal mission "Carillon" and before the two
truncated attempts at "flashing forward" to their futures--1. Vanguard crew
finds itself in the 20th Century and 2. Commodore Santos discovers he had
an impostor.
Kirk and Picard were right. The privilege of performing a wedding is a very
happy privilege for ship masters. Mel (Zena) and I have written hints about
the Zena/Jaav wedding, but dammit, we've never seen it! And, selfishly,
I've always wanted to write one! I've promised that things are winding
down. We're all growing a little older, and I acknowledge that there's been
a bit of a lack of interest, on my part, perhaps on everyone's part. Or
maybe it's not a lack of interest, but a lack of time and maybe motivation
to do anything about that interest.

At any rate, if the Vanguard is going to be "decommissioned" once and for
all, I have a few stories left to tell that maybe nobody but I would be
interested in telling. Here's one. As usual, please forgive any continuity
errors or out-of-character behavior or speech. Any of that belongs solely
to me. The characters belong to you, especially the wonderful Zena Quetan
(Melanie) and Dr. Jaav E'thexx (Jonathon).

RP: The Wedding of Zena Quetan (Part I)

Dominic Cesar Santos burst from his quarters like a Grizzela [1] disturbed
from its hibernation. He raced down the corridor and adjusted his uniform
as he half-walked/half-ran.

 Along the way, Cynan Mandrake caught sight of him and shouted, "Nick!,"
waving his arm to get the commodore's attention.

 "Report, Mr. Mandrake," Santos said formally as Mandrake caught up and
started racing down the corridor with his commanding officer.

 Mandrake replied, "They're all here. The supplies are accounted for. We've
established orbit around Trill. Trill flight control has cleared our orbit.
The ambassador wants to see you--"

 "Later." Santos barked.

 "Of course, sir.

 Mandrake paused. "We're ready for you."

 Santos and Mandrake stopped outside the turbo-doors and studied one

 "How do I look, Lieutenant?" Santos asked.

 "Fat," Mandrake said. "How do I look?" He spread his arms as if giving
Santos a better look at the dress whites he was wearing.

 "Fatter," Santos replied.

 They grinned at one another and Santos held out his hand toward the door.
It shushed open.

 Santos' arboretum had been transformed. At the rear of the arboretum two
artificial lights gave the impression of sunlight streaming down on the
podium. Sam McCaw and Kavan had worked all night to get the effect right.
Kavan's crew had worked most of the week to clear out a space in the middle
for seated guests. The ceremony was private, so there were only a small
number of guests, but nevertheless, a large space was needed. Darkwater had
done the calculations, and, of course, the numbers were indubitably correct.

 Desdemona Barrett-Brown had organized most of the ceremony herself.
Initially, she had been invited but not asked to handle the arrangements.
One night, in Event Horizon, while the couple enjoyed dinner, she had
marched over to their table (April literally had jumped out of her boss'
way) and demanded to know why she hadn't been asked to organize the
wedding. When told she was a friend, not a hired hand, she grinned and
said, "I don't trust anyone else in the galaxy to handle this. Fire
whomever you asked. Now." They did.

 The seated guests were perched on replicas of early Vulcan Kolinahr style
chairs hand-crafted by Vulcan master woodworkers. (Some wealthy Ferengi
have been known to wait years for a chance to bid on one. Des somehow
rounded up 50.)

 The arboretum was divided into three sections, each section surrounded by
expansive purple chiffon. They were confined but didn't feel confined.
Butterflies floated through the air on lazy currents.

 Near the podium, Des had tapped Bethany Yang from Security to play the
harp. The fingers that had mastered most of the Alpha Quadrant's known
weapons danced luxuriantly over the harp strings, producing sounds Santos
hadn't known was possible from the instrument. She was accompanied by
Arkady Romanov, a maintenance crewman on Starbase Brigadoon. Romanov's
transcendant handling of the violin moved in time to Yang's harp.

 The room was filled with fragrant lilac and the lesser known viburnum [2].
Where lilac and viburnum weren't visible came long strands of ivy. There
was so much plant life, it gave the impression that the wedding party had
returned to a Genesis planet for the wedding.

 While Santos had been sitting at the bar one night, Des had come up to him
and slapped a PADD on the bartop.

 She said: "Okay, this is important, but I don't want to spend the next
three days thinking about this. You know the answer better than anyone, so
just give me an answer. No explanation, no questions, no
hemming-and-hawwing. Ready? What flowers should we use for the wedding?"

 Santos had chosen purple lilac and a mix of colorful viburnum. He quickly
added ivy before Des finished her writing and walked away. She waved over
her shoulder as she raced off.

 Santos looked to the front of the room and saw the podium. He saw the best
man, Sam McCaw, fidgeting in his dress whites. McCaw had always sworn he
would only wear the dress whites once, and on that occasion, he would be
lying horizontally.

 The wedding party had gathered one night in Event Horizon, after closing,
to discuss the McCaw problem. Mandrake had hit upon an idea. The next day,
he challenged McCaw to a best-of-three contest, knowing McCaw could never
turn down a bet (or dare). Mandrake chose one contest (fencing), McCaw the
next (shuttle racing) and they let the commodore choose the final (poker).

 Mandrake had won the fencing contest, even after McCaw had disarmed him.
Mandrake feigned, and ran toward the walls of the holodeck "Monastery."
McCaw had stood triumphantly over Mandrake's fallen katana then gave chase,
his English heavy-cavalry sword [3] in his left hand. Mandrake ran around a
column, and emerged behind McCaw with his scabbard in his hand. He jammed
the scabbard between McCaw's legs. The Chief Engineer went sprawling and
dropped his sword. Mandrake stood over him with his scabbard at his chin.
It was over at that point.

 For the second contest, McCaw had chosen the captain's yacht, Copa del
Rey. Mandrake smirked and knew he had been beaten. Even so, McCaw had won
only by the slimmest margin. They had called upon Darkwater to examine the
photonic-finish in the holodeck, knowing (a) he would be accurate and (b)
he would be impartial. Darkwater went into the holodeck by himself after
loading the footage of the race. He emerged an hour later and stood before
the senior officers. Finally, he turned toward McCaw and gave a slight nod.
McCaw had pumped his fist and yelled, "YES!" As he ran down the corridor,
whooping and slapping shocked junior crew on the back, the officers turned
toward Santos. Santos looked at them, grinned, and said, "Don't worry."

 For the final contest, Santos had held a poker game between the two men
and himself. McCaw easily won most of the hands, but then foolishly threw
away all his winnings on one hand. Poor McCaw had fallen for a bit of a
con: First, the longer one gambles, the more he or she is likely to lose
eventually, Santos knew. Secondly, Santos knew that McCaw at some point
would let pride take over and continue to bluff with no hand when he
suspected the others of having low hands. As the House, Santos had
unlimited resources and continued to play until his pair of twos beat

 And that was why McCaw was forced to wear dress whites.

 Santos and Mandrake stared into the arboretum as all eyes turned and
stared at them. As if by magic, Desdemona emerged from behind the podium
and made a beeline for Santos and Mandrake. She had a huge smile frozen on
her face, as if in rigor mortis. She kept her eyes trained, laser-like, on
the pair and as she approached, she never lost her smile as she said
between gritted teeth: "Where the hell have you been? You were supposed to
be here half an hour ago."

 Santos opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by Des: "Never mind.
I don't know. I don't care. I need you, Nick, up in front. Now. And Cynan?
Take your place next to Jaav."

 "Yes, ma'am," they both replied. They let themselves be led to the
podium-- wisely, they kept their mouths shut.

 As Santos walked up the aisle, all eyes followed them. Santos recognized
members of Jaav and Zena's families, as well as various friends from
Starfleet who served on other vessels and had made the trip to be part of
the ceremony. Santos recognized Vanier Lee in the second row. Lee said
nothing but nodded as Santos walked past, keeping his eyes focused on the
commodore. Santos nodded back at the admiral.

 As they approached the podium, McCaw winked at Mandrake and made a
snick-snick noise from the side of his mouth. Mandrake smirked and took his

 Santos looked at Dr. Jaav E'thexx as he walked past and placed a
comforting hand on the groom's elbow. Dr. E'thexx grinned gratefully at his
commanding officer and continued to stare into space.

 Santos took a moment to compose himself. One breath, two, three. He turned
and faced the assembly. He saw Jaav, McCaw and Mandrake to his right, and
as was customary on the free worlds, those standing for the bride on his
left. In this case, at this moment, it was just Nostrova. He/she was in her
female identity and wore the color selected by Zena for the bridal party
(royal purple) [4]. Santos could hear Des behind him and to his left,
hyperventilating. Suddenly, there was a commotion to his left. Des had
dropped the bag she had been breathing into and spoke into her fashionably
small communicator. "What?...Really?...Now?...If that's what she wants.
It's her day...Okay, I'll get him."

 Des re-emerged, smile plastered to face, and took Santos by the elbow.
Santos leaned toward her as she whispered in his ear, her breath hot. "Zena
wants to see you."

 Santos wisely did not ask, "Now?" He knew this would have earned him a
kick to the knee.

 Santos looked at the assemblage and gave a smile. He turned toward the
arboretum supply room and walked as if he hadn't a care in the world.

 The supply room had been transformed into the bride's ready room.

 Santos knocked as Des danced next to him.

 "Come in," came the soft reply.

 Santos nearly bumped into the door, but then remembered his history and
opened the door by turning the handle. He walked into a simple but elegant
ready room. On one side was a large mirror. In front of that mirror was a

 Tails to Ennien greeted Santos with a nod, her tail twitching from side to
side. Ordinarily, Santos didn't think a tall humanoid feline could wear a
purple dress, but she proved him wrong.

 "She needs a word, Commodore," Ennien said quietly, in an almost eerie

 Santos nodded and turned to Des. "Des, would you and Tails please give me
a few minutes?"

 They looked at him and nodded. Both turned and left, closing the door
quietly behind them.

 Santos turned and looked at Commander Zena Quetan--Trill, scientist,
Starfleet officer, friend, and today, soon-to-be bride.

 She turned from the mirror and smiled at him. She wore a white gown with a
large train. The top seemed to shimmer with hints of pink, like silverfish
winking in the water then disappearing again. The train was elaborate--it
was long, and if one looked closely, Trill script was patterned into the
lace. Santos looked into Zena's face, made up with a light golden brown
blush and eye shadow. It was all she needed. She was radiant, she glowed,
she was beautiful. Her Trill spots completed her look--running from her
temples, down her shoulders, into the dress. Her eyes were clear if a bit
faraway. She looked at Santos as if seeing him for the first time.

 She serenly said, "Hello, Nick. Thank you for coming today."

 "Thank you for having me, Zena."

 She smiled. "Thank you for officiating."

 "Thank you for asking me."

 One day, a few weeks ago, Santos had been in his ready room, enjoying
leisure time. McCaw had discovered the ancient Earth custom of something
called "the weekend." He had become fascinated--nay, obsessed--with the
idea and had lobbied the senior staff until they agreed to try it.

 This was their third "weekend," and Santos had noticed an increase in crew
efficiency. He was about to order it permanently added to their schedules.

 Santos was working on his desktop computer when the door to his ready room

 "Come in," Santos said. Jaav and Zena entered together. Santos sensed they
were happy but nervous, as if they had something to discuss.

 "Commodore, is this a bad time?" Jaav asked first.

 "For you two? Never."

 They smiled and took the two chairs in front of Santos' desk.

 "What are you doing, Nick?" Zena asked.

 "I'm playing Replicant," Santos replied, steeling himself for their

 Jaav cocked an eyebrow. "You? Replicant?" Zena laughed.

 Santos smiled back. "Well, I tried Fantasycraft, but I didn't care for it.
I was constantly trying to book holodeck time so that my clan could get
together for our dungeon time."

 Zena pointed at Santos. "I've played it. It's time consuming, unless you
know how to manage your time. I played a magic-casting damage-dealer. How
about you? Wait, let me guess--Knight-Errant. You took damage for the
entire party."

 "Healer," Santos replied.

 Jaav and Zena both laughed. "Would never have seen you staying behind the
scenes, curing your band of warriors."

 "I enjoy it. It's a unique challenge. But it grew too time consuming. I
started playing Replicant."

 "Is that the game that's so popular? Like Disgruntled Avian for the PADD?"

 "It's a historical simulation. You choose a historical time period--in my
case, early twenty-first century--and write scenarios based around your
character and how he would interact with other player-characters."

 "Who's your character?" Dr. E'thexx asked.

 "His name is Andrew. He performs maintenance work on early computers."

 "What will they think of next?" Jaav asked, shaking his head.

 "It all takes place in text. Can you imagine? And we're only limited by
how we interact with one another. You can choose to be kind, cruel, loving,
spiteful. I like the aspect of writing with the other players and forming
friendships. They don't know who I am, I don't know who they are. We are
judged solely on our ability to write and move the other players."

 "Sounds like fun," Zena said, smiling.

 "But that's not what you came to discuss. What did you come to discuss?"
Santos slapped his hand on his desk. "Wait, don't tell me. You have
questions about the wedding night." Zena and Jaav laughed. Amazingly, he
saw Zena blush, something he was unaccustomed to seeing.

 "No," Jaav said.

 Santos grew serious. "I've been meaning to discuss this, but I've been
waiting for an appropriate time." He sighed. "If you are looking to

 He stopped when he saw the looks of confusion between them.

 "Transfer?" Jaav asked. "We could never transfer. This is more than an
assignment. This is our, well, this is our home."

 Santos grew serious and nodded. "I'm glad you think so. There will always
be a place on Vanguard--for both of you, for either of you--as long as you
want it."

 Jaav and Zena smiled at one another. "Do you want to tell him, or should

 Zena blurted out, "We want you to officiate. That is, if you're up for it."

 Santos was momentarily stunned. They looked crestfallen. "Is that a no?"
Jaav asked.

 "It's a 'This is my surprised face.' I had expected at some point to be
asked to participate, but, well, I thought I would be 'giving' the bride

 Jaav spoke first: "We've asked Kavan to do that. He's already agreed."

 Santos sighed theatrically. "Well, very well, then. I guess I have to come
up with some pretty words."

 "Not a problem for you," Zena smirked.

 "My answer is yes. It would be an honor."

 Santos thought about their offer as he stood and looked at Zena. She
turned toward the mirror and studied herself again. Santos knew she was not
a vain woman, so it wasn't her attractiveness she was studying but
something else.

 "What do you see, Nick?" she asked.

 "My friend. My trusted right hand. My first officer. A scientist. One of
the best people I've ever known. A woman. A bride."

 Zena smiled. "Sweet talker." She paused, then: "How many times have you
been married?"

 Santos sighed and sat down on the settee. "Once. We may still be. Maybe
we're not. Who knows? The human heart is a...labyrinth. And it wants what
it wants. It's not logical. That's the brain, right?"

 Zena smiled. "That's not even the heart. Love is a chemical reaction."

 Santos was ready for her. "It's a chemical reaction started by the heart,
the eyes, the mind, the spirit."

 Zena shook her head playfully. "I would expect you to say that. You're
avoiding the question."

 "What was the question?" Santos asked.

 "I asked you about marriage."

 "Still am. Liza and I are separated and have been for a long time. But
my...religion forbids me from divorce."

 Zena looked away, as if she hadn't heard Santos, which was all the better,
as far as he was concerned. He had no desire to discuss his messy romantic

 "I've been married twice," Zena said, thoughtfully. "I've had a
husband...and a wife. And today is also the day I get married for the first

 Santos nodded. "It's different every time."

 Zena laughed. "If it's different every time, then every day must be
different for you. It must be so different, I'm surprised you're not crazy!"

 Santos smiled.

 "Sorry," Zena said. "When I get nervous, I self-sabotage. I didn't mean
what I said."

 Santos made a face and waved her off. "Don't worry about it. It's nothing
I haven't thought myself."

 They looked at one another.

 "Today is the very first time you're getting married. I don't care if
Quetan has been married five, six or seven times. For Zena, it's the first
time. And there's an old Earth saying: 'Every bride deserves to wear

 Zena chuckled. "Who said that?"

 Santos sat thoughtfully. "I'm not sure, but I think it was the great
philosopher Oprah Winfrey."

 A minute later, Santos re-emerged from the ready room and took his place
at the podium.

 He expected the commotion behind him and was not disappointed. Des had
finished smoking her cigarette and told Bethany and Arkady to start "Here
Comes the Bride."

 The congregation stood and faced the rear of the arboretum once more. The
doors opened, and Zena Quetan entered on Kavan's arm.

 [To be continued]


 [1] http://tiny.cc/ccnkbw

 [2] http://tiny.cc/uenkbw

 [3] http://tiny.cc/iinkbw

 [4] http://tiny.cc/iinkbw


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