Sojourners of Time
Location: Short Range Transport to Pathfinder Station, Ship's Lounge
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 0900
Sleep had been a quick thing, pulling Kestrel down into its embrace with the image of Danica True in her mind's eye as she imagined the woman in swift strokes of pencil on good paper. She'd woken with the same image in her mind and, hurriedly, dressed, asking the computer for Dani's location.
"Lieutenant Danica True is in the ship's lounge," the computer supplied helpfully, the pleasant tone making Kestrel smile.
"Thank you," she said back even though she knew the computer didn't care if she thanked it or not.
Sketch book and pencils were quickly snatched and she was on her way for the short trip to the lounge, eager to make sure she didn't miss the other woman. They arrived at Pathfinder today and she had forgotten to ask where Dani was stationed. Concern and anticipation laced her steps pushing her to walk a bit faster. Would Dani still be open to being drawn? She didn't know, but she didn't want to chance losing the opportunity either.
Eyes scanned the small lounge, looking for the other woman and hoping she hadn't missed her in the short trek from her room. And there she was. Cast in the brighter light of the lounge late in the breakfast hour she cut a vivid figure. A smile pulled at the corners of Kestrel's mouth and she began to pick her way through the room.
She was doing the 'patrun', second rank, moving fluidly from one step to the next. It was something the Azhadi could do, synchronize their movements, a feeling like no other. The children of the camp, bare toes and short blue robes, stood among them, trying to get the movements right. One of the children aimed a strike at Jessyn and he fell down at once and that set them off. Before long, they were all falling when struck by tiny fists, some even courting additional strikes. She could smell the scent of fresh-brewed 'tcha and whatever it was they would have for breakfast. Someone called out and they all bent so that the children could climb on their backs and then ran the short distance to the campfires with the shrieks and laughter of the children in their ears.
Dani stood near the windows, a cup of coffee in hand, and let the memories play out in her head. In transit, with little to occupy her mind, left an opening and it all came rushing back. The life she had had. The one that had been stolen from her by the traitorous Moaku. She was dressed this morning in her uniform since the transport vessel was only an hour or so out from Pathfinder station where she would find her new ship and begun the process of forming her edun. Among the Anakei, one lived one's entire life among the same people and there was such comfort in that. An Azhadi among strangers was someone who could never quite relax. Always on duty. Finding a way past that training had been difficult to accomplish since most, if not all, Federation worlds had no similar concept and she had never been good at explaining. What need did a warrior have for words?
"I'm glad I caught you," the Argelian woman said, a small pleased smile on her lips as she stepped up next to Dani. "Is... now... ok? For a quick sketch, I mean. I'm supposed to report to my new assignment upon arrival, so I'm not sure there will be another opportunity."
It struck her that she was a weird bundle of energy, part nervous prattle and part enthusiasm. Maybe too much enthusiasm. It had been such a long time since she'd connected with someone so easily though, and she was eager for more of that. Even if it was only a few stolen moments with her pencils to take with her on to the Sojourner.
Dani turned toward her and smiled. It was an expression born of the thought that Kestrel was very much like the Amrazi of her tribe, gentle, creative, kind. And it was that thought that informed her actions. She nodded and her eyes were alight with a warmth that was as much for what she had lost as for the woman who stood before her. Amrazi, she thought. If we shared a ship, she would be edun. "Yes," she said. "What do you need me to do?"
"Nothing, really," Kestrel replied, smile broadening. "Just... whatever you were doing." The Argelian cast about, looking for a quick spot and finally settled on the table next to where Dani was standing. She quickly settled into a chair, turning it slightly so she could see Dani better before she flipped open her sketchbook and laid out her pencils. She considered the colors for a long moment before selecting one, flipping it in her hand and then glancing up to Dani's profile, studying.
"You don't have to stay still or anything," she explained, her pencil finding paper and beginning to slowly press curved lines into the paper. "And it's fine if you want to sit."
"Here is fine," Dani said and returned to her study of the star field outside the viewport. Among the Anakei what Kestrel did would have been forbidden to her. And it had never occurred to her, in those years, that she was missing anything. She had learned at a very young age how to do exactly what she was doing now, stand still. Not in the way that the people she served with now understood the term but still. An entire absence of movement.
Young for the task, she stood behind the Imai and listened to the Ne'Anakei who came to treat for the services of the Azhadi. They came with promises, offering gifts that meant nothing to her or really to any of the Anakei. What they wanted was clear. They wanted a living weapon. They wanted to set the Azhadi against their enemies without shedding a drop of blood themselves. They wanted an army. They wanted power. What made the Imai choose one service over another was nothing something she understood. It was enough that the Imai said to her children, 'do this." It had always been enough. And so, she stood unmoving for hours on end and listened to the Ne'Anakei and pitied them because they were not of the people.
Kestrel was quiet for long moments, the only sound coming from where she sat the rough scrape of her pencil's tip on the paper. Her movements were quick, but careful. Practiced. And very quickly the shape of Danica True's face began to form on the paper in front of her. After a few minutes like that, she spoke, not looking up from her work. "You're impressively still," she commented, the remark an offhand observation. "Most people I have sketched can barely help fidgeting every 5 seconds."
The comment didn't warrant a response and so she continued to draw a moment before adding, "Where are you headed from here?"
"To my next duty assignment," Dani said. "The Sojourner. I confess that I do not know much about the ship as yet, just that it is small and headed for the Delta Quadrant."
Kestrel's pencil stilled and her head rose quickly, eyes wide. "The Sojourner?" she asked to confirm she had heard correctly.
"Yes," Dani said. She remained still though her eyes slanted to the side, watching Kestrel's reaction. "You know this tiny ship?"
Kestrel's eyes sparked, a grin spreading across her features as they did. She set her pencil down, turning her full attention on Dani. "I'm also assigned to the Sojourner," she said, something like excitement in her tone. "Tactical officer."
"It is good," Dani said and the idea of edun returned, stronger now. "It is good. Tell me, Kestrel," she said. She smiled and it lit a twinkle in the depths of her eyes. "It is acceptable to move if you are not ... drawing?"
The Argelian laughed, the sound bubbling out of her as if it had surprised her in its rush to escape. "You can move," she said, eyes gleaming, "even if I am still drawing."
"It is good," Dani replied and though she had permission to move, she remained still, her gaze resting on Kestrel and the twinkle? Never quite left her eyes.
Patrun: Similar to a kata, a set of patterns, that are used to create muscle memory and to improve one's ability in a fight.
'tcha: Spiced tea generally served hot. Made from local plants, there are no equivalents in the replicator system.
Moaku: One of three castes in an Anakei (their term for the people) tribe. Moaku are keepers of the mysteries, historians, who hold themselves separate from the tribe by choice.
Azhadi: One of three castes in an Anakei tribe. The Azhadi are the warriors who are also called 'the outward-turned face', 'the star that shines brightly but briefly'. Azhadi are forbidden to marry, to have children, and generally live short, violent lives. They live to serve the Imai, spiritual leader and mother to the Anakei.
Amrazi: One of three castes in an Anakei tribe. The Amrazi are artisans and caregivers. They are considered the heart of the tribe. It is their duty and privilege to care for the Azhadi, to give them comfort, and to raise the children of the tribe.
Edun: Probably the hardest word to translate. The tribe is all but a warrior that is sent into service must leave the tribe for the length of their service -- sometimes a few months, a few years, even lifetimes. To send them alone, without the comfort of the tribe, would be criminal and so, an edun is formed. For longer, more difficult, services, members of the three castes are chosen as is an Imai. An Azhadi needs an edun when away from the tribe because within an edun is the only place that they are literally able to be themselves.
Anakei: Literally, 'the people' -- what the Federation would refer to as the Dusani.
Ne'Anakei: Literally, not of the people -- anyone who is not part of the tribe or a member of the people.
=/\= Mission Post By =/\=
Lieutenant Danica True
Assistant Chief of Security
Lieutenant JG Kestrel