<USS Banshee> "The Cardinal Rule"

  • From: "Brad Ruder" <GroundZero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ussbanshee@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2003 02:41:55 -0700

?The Cardinal Rule?
by Lieutenant Joshua Asper

?You know you?re always late??

?You know you?re always whining??

She stood there with a wicker picnic basket dangling on her arm. She was dressed in a loose white shirt and denim jeans. Cradled in her other arm with dirty blond hair the color of sandy shores and blue eyes the shade of Risa?s ocean, her son smiled playfully. He snuggled comfortably against his mother?s chest and sucked on his middle two fingers with much satisfaction.

?Whine? Me?? A look of complete innocence floated across her face, but the curve in her mouth smoked out her devilish intellect. She smiled and turned to face the holodeck?s control interface. The boy in her arms looked at Josh curiously over his mother?s shoulder. He smiled at Josh again.

Josh offered his index finger and tapped the young boy on the nose, who recoiled with a grin and an almost inaudible giggle. ?Who?s this cute fellow??

Telsia whirled around almost knocking Josh down with the basket, ?This young one is Cameron, my only. I?ve spoke of him to you. He?s two as of last week. I hope you don?t mind but I decided that the mouth of the St. Lawrence would be a bit too cold for Cameron. Instead we?re going to the shores of Lake Monachocho in the Bandacay Mountains of Tresek Prime.?

?Never heard of it.?

?It?s a little place I found on Eric and I?s honeymoon.? She smiled and practically tossed the basket at him. An apple came out and fell to the floor. The crimson red skin sparkled in the Starfleet vessel?s lighting. Josh picked it up and tossed it back into the basket with what he saw to be sandwiches and drinks and other assorted fruits.

The doors parted with a redundant hiss and the trio ? the Lieutenant, the Ensign, and the young child ? walked into the sun-soaked forest. The green canopy shifted and shuffled in the breeze and every so often a leaf would slowly fall down from the treetops. The lake tides were unusually aggressive and the water lapped at the shoreline with increasing volatility.

The crystalline blue waters stretched out as far as the eye could see and nothing but green foliage lined the shore. There was no sandy beach, or places to slowly wade into the azure liquid; it was a simple step and a steep drop into the all but shallow waters. The sun glistened and reflected off the surface of the water and rippled in the moving currents.

?I see why you came here on your honeymoon. It?s beautiful.? Josh complemented her internally on her choice and taste for the spot for a picnic. She was an outstanding woman ? one that he foolishly left for pursuit of a career in Starfleet ? and a suave and debonair man quickly snatched her up. He cursed himself for what might have been, but more so because she was happy without him.

Telsia laughed, showing her brilliant smile, ?I didn?t choose this spot, Eric did. And it wasn?t much of a honeymoon, he was stationed at the advanced engineering depot on the other side of those mountains.? She pointed to the rocky crags that reached out like ladders to the heavens. Their snowcapped peaks were the perfect compliment to the dark granite slopes. ?It?s all work and no play with Eric.?

Josh couldn?t help but laugh, ?And you married him why??

She stopped for a minute and looked at him without her inviting smile, the question had obviously caught her off guard and Cameron looked at her with the same inquisitive glance that Josh was giving her. She stuttered over the first sentence, unsure of how to answer the blatant question, but she recovered, ?I loved him and what he stood for. That?s all I needed in a husband.?

The flannel blanket was already spread out on a grassy knoll under the shade of two large trees, which resembled the oak variety on Earth. Their long branches extended out into a thick grove about twenty feet from the water?s edge and provided just the right amount of calm surrender from the harsh sun in the sky above. ?I didn?t know what food you liked, I couldn?t remember.?

?You know, I like everything as long as it doesn?t move.?

?Well, damn, all I packed was Gagh.?

?And here I thought you had just filled the basket with cheese.?

?Cheese?? Telsia shot back the inquisitive glance and began shelling out utensils, cups, bottles of amber colored liquid, and various fruits of different colors.

Josh smiled, knowing he couldn?t help himself, ?You know. Cheese to go with your whine.?

She hurled a sandwich at Josh, which he caught and began to unwrap. She shook her head and handed a half of a sandwich to Cameron who began chewing on it with the little teeth that he had. His eyes still stared at Josh with the ?who are you and what are you doing? look that every child gave everyone. A smile tugged at Telsia?s lips, but she couldn?t contain it and giggled slightly. ?Still go it, Mr. Asper, still got it.?

He shrugged, ?I?ve had time to hone and sharpen the skills. This is an excellent sandwich.?

?Thanks, I replicated it myself.?

?So, how?s your life treating you??

She matched his shrug, ?It?s life, I guess. Cameron?s my pride and joy. And married life, well, it?s married life to say the least. It hasn?t been all that great as of late, but I don?t want to talk about it if you don?t mind.?

Not being a counselor, Josh didn?t know how to talk to her about how to handle her problems. He did, though, have practice in determining when something was wrong with someone and when they were obviously trying to hide it under a cloak of constant subject changing. He put a hand on her knee and stared her in the eye, showing her his concern for her, ?What?s going on Telsia, you can talk to me.?

Telsia brushed his hand away, ?It?s nothing. We?ll work through it, all married couples do.?

?Telsia,? Josh reached out and grabbed her arm lightly and she pulled back ? rubbing it softly. She looked at him with a pained heart, but the words got choked up in her throat as she burst into tears. ?Telsia, does he hurt you??

?Josh, please, don?t do or say anything...?

Josh was livid and ready to start down that road that he?d traveled so many times before. The road that left sanity and dived into complete rage was not a road that he wanted to take - not yet anyway. He fought his pride, his convictions, and his morals. He took a deep breath and stared into the blue sky; there wasn?t a cloud in sight. ?He hits you??

She shook her head, ?No, only when he?s upset or we fight.?

?He shouldn?t hit you at all, Telsia.?

?I know, but I fear for Cameron.?

The words came like a bad omen. A splash sounded from behind them and Josh snapped out of his boiling rage. His eyes darted frantically around the area and he bolted to his feet, followed by the raving mother who was now covered in more tears than she was before. The bushes were silent and unmoving, even in the gentle breeze.

Whirling on his heel, Josh stared at the ripples circling out into oblivion with the focal point just a foot or two off the plant-covered shore. He knew where little Cameron had gone and it wasn?t any place filled with teddy bears or lollipops. Josh sprinted to the shore and dived in; the water parted and he was immersed in the icy cold waters. His eyes strained to see the dark lake bottom, but the water?s low temperature stung his eyes and made them blurry.

Even in the water he could hear the screams of concern emanating from the frantic mother on the shoreline above. Josh kicked and thrashed as he dove deeper; a small bundle of clothing was sinking fast and he swam at full speed to reach it. He clamped his hands around the tiny body and bee lined for the surface. Surfacing like a submarine, Josh made sure the boy was above the water and floated to the water?s edge.

?My baby! Cameron! Honey!? Telsia reached out as far as her arm length would let her and snatched her child from the arms of his rescuer. ?Computer, end program!?

The crystalline, but icy, waters degraded into nothingness and the thicket and forest receded into the holomatrix tubes that lined the walls. So sterile and clean, there was no sign of nature anywhere. The boy started crying, bawling after his strenuous ordeal, and his arms shook and he nuzzled into his mother warm embrace.

Josh lay on the floor, still damp from the water and slightly fatigued. He ran a hand through his dirty blond and dripped on the dry holodeck floor. He shook his head and stood up in his wet clothing; the steady dropping of water bringing a more tranquil and soothing feeling to the perilous adventurers.

?Thank you, Josh!? She walked towards the door, ?I better get him home and dried off.?

He couldn?t do anything but nod as she disappeared into the bowels of the ship. Josh wondered why she put up with the hitting, but figured it was something outside his comprehension. He did understand one thing and that was you never hit women ? ever.

Josh decided that he?d make damn sure that Eric never raised a hand to either Telsia or Cameron again.

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