240: Sacrifices

By Lt. (jg) Rada Dengar
Hours After Foraging

-= Melbourne , Victoria , Earth=-

Rada materialised on a platform in what was still referred to as Flinders Street Station; it was the type of building which had clearly spent centuries in perpetual combat with father time. The walls were that sort of off yellow clearly popular with the Terran craftsmen of its time. They were once supported by what appeared closest to concrete pillars, now those pillars remained as purely decoration. They were here just to maintain the illusion of what had been whereas Rada was here to see if what had been was more than just a mere illusion.

He had been given the option of being beamed to various major stations and he had found that their Southern Cross Station was in fact closest to where he was heading but upon realising that the Terran engineers at the time couldn’t even put the roof on straight he had decided that it was probably safer to travel this way.

^Attention Passengers. The Next Train to Depart from Platform Three will be the Twelve Thirty Eight City Spiral. Stopping All Stations to Cochrane Street ^ The Station’s Computer announced loudly before repeating itself. Rada could only assume this repeat was for those few people who had been deaf enough not to hear the first time and who had been able to survive the ordeal without becoming deaf for the second time. It was unusual to hear Terran time spoken with out the term hours being included but Rada found nothing usual about this place. Rada had been to the Earth many times before but every time he went somewhere new he found it strangely unique. This was a relaxed city. Though the platform was crowded, people did not fight to be in the front line ready to jump on the train but instead preferred to fill up the various seats throughout the middle of the platform. Strangely, many people who did not get seats had actually chosen to sit down leaning against the walls. This was a terrifyingly relaxed city to Rada.

The train eased quietly into position in front of them and the doors whooshed open. A small crowd ambled out towards the archaic stairs and after their passing, those located on the platform made their way towards their respective entrances. Rada did his best to match their speed and eventually found himself wedged into the corner between the door on the opposite side of the train and a barrier placed behind a nearby seat. How this city had been once considered to have one of the Earth’s best public transport systems Rada couldn’t imagine. Little did he know that things hadn’t really changed that much in the last four hundred years as these trains had been modelled on their ancestors as a tourist attraction. This vehicle seemed to lack an adequate inertial dampening system causing Rada to almost crush a nearby small child when he lost his balance. He looked around for some type of handle to grab onto but in lieu of that had to push his hand as against the roof, as he observed others doing, for some degree of balance to be possible. He was glad that he wasn’t any shorter or else he didn’t know what he’d do.

The short trip gave Rada an unfortunate space of time for him to think. The shuttle trip to the Earth had been quite a bit longer but the situation had only really just begun feeling like a reality. He felt a definite sinking feeling as he looked down at his civilian clothing, realising that he may never wear the uniform again. By this time tomorrow he could be an unemployed engineer living on Earth with his family. He didn’t know how he would face Zanh Liis with his resignation. His heart rate became rapid as he reminded himself that everything could be about to change. His life could be about to simultaneously end and return.

He steadied himself as he realised this was his stop. He was wondering how he was going to make his way to the door as he was currently quite squashed against the other side when the door on his side rapidly slid open. This caused him to almost fall out onto the platform but he was luckily able to maintain his composure and to move slowly towards the exits.

It was a quick walk to the school, not that Rada realised this. His mind was far too full of trepidation and hope about what he would find to consider something as trivial as time.

He realised that it would be a couple of hours before the children would be released from the school. He wanted to run into the school and to demand to see Tam Dengar but knowing that the child would see him as a stranger decided that such an introduction was not desirable. He decided that it was best to wait. He found a café just across the street called Castro’s. This city was full of them. He walked up to the counter, slowly absorbing the atmosphere; it could best be described as loud with a hint of painful. He didn’t much care for coffee but he needed to order something.

He examined the menu on the wall in order to ascertain what constituted medium here. He had observed that no one on Earth seemed to be able to decide on which names to use for their cup sized. Some places used a simple ‘small, medium and large’ system, some used a ‘regular, medium and large’ system, others used a more realistic ‘small, regular and large’ system and others used a strange ‘regular, large and extra large’ system. Strangely though they only ever used the same three cup sizes. Rada concluded that medium was indeed medium here.

“Medium cappuccino, Two sugars, thanks,” he told the girl behind the counter.

She smiled that persistent smile typical of many people working in café’s. Rada always wondered what made their job so satisfying.

“Medium Cap with Two coming up,” she announced as she typed the order into the screen in front of her.

Eventually Rada’s coffee was prepared as a tall Terran woman with a shaved head practically sang “Medium cappuccino. Two sugars!” and placed the beverage on the counter. Rada smiled at her as he took it. He made his way to a bench on his own by the window so he could watch the traffic. He took a sip, he actually quite liked this coffee; it wasn’t too hot or too strong. He smiled to himself as he heard the rather loud complaints from a large Terran male behind him about how his coffee was far too weak and not nearly hot enough.

He spent a good two and a half hours sitting there in that café, it was actually quite enjoyable. The chairs were comfortable and thanks to some ear plugs he couldn’t hear the music. His mind kept wandering back to what was about to come but that combined with the caffeine was dangerously overstimulating his heart and he began to lose feeling in all of his extremities. He distracted himself by reading the local news on a PADD he’d brought with him. He concluded that he was glad that he had not been raised here upon reading about the restoration of what was called the Royal Exhibition Building and discovering that many school based examinations had actually been held there. He had felt like he was on show enough when he was participating in any kind of examination but it seemed here they took it to a greater degree.

His mind was quickly distracted by reality. There she was outside. She still looked as beautiful as ever. She looked a little sad as she stood alone outside of the school gates. Dressed in loose black clothing, she was not as he remembered her. At first Rada could barely stop himself from running over to her immediately. Then he couldn’t stop himself.

He deserted his cup and PADD where they stood, completely forgetting about their existence. As Wren spotted him, she immediately was at a loss of what to do and just turned around to face away from him. When Rada put his hand on her shoulder she was forced to face him but she was still at a loss for words.

Rada what was almost fear in her eyes and he just did the only thing which came to mind. He embraced her.

“Rada…” she stumbled “I….”

“I know,” replied Rada, releasing her from his grasp “I know about Tam, I know about our child.”

Wren looked away now. She couldn’t look him in the eyes. He didn’t understand.

“I know you think that I wasn’t ready back then but I am now. I’m ready to be a parent….I love you Wren,” he spoke openly those words he had waited so long to say.

Rada noticed that she was suddenly crying.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, handing her a cloth from his pocket to wipe away her tears.

“You can’t be here, Rada. I’m…it’s…” she couldn’t finish.

“It’s okay,” said Rada soothingly.

“No, it’s not okay.” Wren protested, regaining some composure as she dried her eyes “It was never that I didn’t think you were ready. You were always so much more organised than I was…but you had a life to live. You were going to be a Starfleet Engineer and now you are.”

“That doesn’t matter.” Rada assured her “I’ll resign in the morning. I just want us to be together again.”

Wren started to cry again. She couldn’t do that to him. She had been dreading this day for so many years.

“No, you don’t understand,” she protested “Tam isn’t…”

At that time the child walked up to them and immediately began hiding behind his mother. He seemed so scared. He had his mother’s eyes.

“It’s okay…” said Rada, reaching a hand out to touch the child on the cheek, but Tam didn’t believe him.

“He’s already developed some empathic ability and he’s scared because he can’t read you,” replied Wren, realising that seeing that Rada had made her cry was probably not instilling too much confidence in the child either.

She got down on one knee to look Tam in the eyes. “I’ll be okay, honey. You just run back inside and I’ll come get you in a couple of minutes,” she said, lifting Tam’s hat off of his head.

It was then that Rada saw his ears. They were pointed. If this child’s mother was Betazoid then his father was certainly not Angosian. Rada felt literally as though his heart was breaking and that was one emotion he couldn’t hide from Wren. It hurt her so much.

Tam didn’t stop to collect his hat and instead ran back inside as quickly as his tiny legs would take him.

“So Tam’s father…?” Rada asked.

“A Half Vulcan Half Betazoid who came into the Tavern one night when you were out. It was a stupid mistake, a one night thing and I’ve regretted it everyday since.”

Rada was angry but not about that stupid mistake. He was furious that she left him because of it.

“I would have forgiven you though. We could have been a family all of these years,” he protested.

“That’s why you couldn’t know.” Wren replied “I could never let you give up on your dreams then. Just like I can’t let you give up on them now.”

Wren stared into Rada eyes and saw that he didn’t care that Tam wasn’t his child. He still wanted to be a part of his life.

“You gave him my name. Why would you if you didn’t want me in his life?” he asked.

“He needed a father figure,” she explained, the tears returning “I tracked his real father down once but he decided that it wouldn’t be logical,” she spat that last word “for him to look after his own child. That’s why when anyone asked I told them that you were his father. Obviously I told them that you were half Vulcan but everything else I told them about you was true.”

“None of that matters. If you don’t want me to leave Starfleet then you can join me.” Rada objected “At least let me help out with money or…”

Wren sighed and kissed him. She knew he wouldn’t settle for not being part of Tam’s life.

“I’ll let you help but I can’t come with you. I have a life here. You can come and see Tam and I, you can help with money and send gifts for holidays and we can even talk over subspace on one condition.”

“What’s that?” asked Rada, knowing that whatever it was he would do it.

“Don’t resign.” Wren stated “If you stay in Starfleet then you can be part of Tam’s life but if you abandon your dream for us then you can never see either of us again.”

Rada reluctantly agreed, then asked, “Do you think that there could ever be a future for us?”

“I know there could.” Wren smiled that smile he had so sorely missed then asked, “How isn’t there someone else already in your life?”

“I’ve never found anyone else like you.” Rada explained “I thought I had once, but it turned out she was just a hallucination caused by a severe mental breakdown.”

They laughed although he was quite serious. He lent in and kissed Wren once more. He had one day here on the Earth and he was going to make the most of it.

Lt. (jg) Rada Dengar
Assistant Chief Engineer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012