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Ahhh, Family

Posted on Apr 20, 2018 @ 6:05am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Apr 20, 2018 @ 6:06am

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale

"Ahhh, Family."

(Cont. "The Other Side of The Story")

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Location: Sherman's Planet
Stardate: 2.18.0419.2149
Scene: Outside the Governor's Mansion.


“Kassandra, now why dinnt you tell me ‘n yer ma you were beamin’ down planetside?”

Kassandra froze, suddenly aware of the input she should have been paying attention to, rather than the rather futile, and ultimately hideously boring entertainment of counting blades of early quintotriticale in the fields outside the Governor’s mansion.

“Ahhhh-” Kassandra said stupidly and blinked at her mother and father, contemplating how, best to quickly escape.

“Don’t you dare lie to me, that’s yer lyin’ face, Kassandra Urania Thytos, I kin sniff it a country mile away,” Kassandra’s mother said, hands on her hips. Kassandra felt herself withering under her mother’s stare.

“You know how much yer Ma loves having company, an’it ain’t as though you come here very often. Ain’t been back here to visit since, well, more n’ fifteen years ago, while I’m thinkin’ on it,” her father joined in, turning the guilt trip screws another half turn.

“You know I’m busy, an’ I sent yer damn grandkids back every summer, so you ain’t got no call for bitchin’. Come ta’ that, I’m sure if ya called ‘em up they’ve got buckets a’ friends they’d like to bring down fer some triticale mush or somethin’ like,” Kassandra grumbled. She hated the way her parents made her feel as though she was a small, bumbling child again, as though all the years that had turned her into a confident, strong, and capable woman had been stripped from her.

“Yes, but *they* ain’t the Captain and the Command Crew of the first capital starship ta visit this planet in th’ last century, are they?” Her mother crossed her arms and stared ferociously at Kassandra. Kassandra made a pleading face towards her father who held his hands up in a gesture whose meaning was undeniably ‘sorry, can’t help you kid.’ “Do you have any idea what this’d be fer me socially? T’ be the one to entertain ‘em and show ‘em around James T Kirk day?”

Kassandra had all too much of an idea what this would mean socially. It’d be a coup de grace for her mother, something she could lord over all the other homemakers in the Rotary Club for years to come. It also meant that whatever she had planned, her mother had probably been plotting it since the moment she’d gotten news that Kassandra’s ship would be the one bringing the heirloom triticale to Sherman’s Planet. Hell, her mother had probably planned to do it whichever ship had been tasked with bringing the triticale.

“Yes, ma’am,” she said, careful not to roll her eyes or let out the hefty sigh which was building up in her chest. “I kin ask, but the Cap’n and the crew are real busy, me too, fer that matter, there’s all sorts of diplomatic shi- stuff that needs doin’, but I kin see if we can at least make it fer dinner.”

“I’m expecting to see you, Lysander, and Asta there, regardless of what the rest of yer command crew is doin’. An’ see if you can’t get that Iphie girl down here, I promised her I’d lay out a good spread a’ the best cookin’ she’s ever seen. Girl could use some meat on her bones, so she could. An’ see that you dress properly, an’ do somethin’ with yer hair. Can’t have you at dinner lookin’ like a disgrace, embarrassin’ me an’ such.” Her mother sounded slightly mollified, but Kassandra zeroed in on the last part of her statement.

“Embarrassin’ ya? Exactly how many people’re ya expectin’, ma? Cap’n ain’t gonna like it if you’re gonna make it a whole fuss an’ bother,” she said, eyeing her mother suspiciously. She was wearing her best- one step below festival or town meeting clothes- and she was particularly well coiffed and made up.

“I’m makin’ no more fuss an’ bother than is appropriate,” her mother retorted archly.

“She’s been cookin’ up enough food to feed an army, Kassy, so ya better get yer friends ta come, or I’ll be eatin’ leftovers fer a week, an’ I won’t be able to fit behind the seat in the harvesters. Plus it’s been so long since we’ve had a family dinner, shore would make an old man happy ta have his daughter and grandkids round the table…” Kassandra’s father chipped in again.

“Fine,” Kassandra deflated with a sigh. Her father was as good at getting his way as her mother, when he put his mind to it. It had been a while since she’d last seen him, and he looked so old now. Not enough to be diminished, or to seem frail, but enough to give her pause and bring her to the unsettling realization that he was mortal, and that someday, sooner than she liked to think, he would no longer be there. “I’ll do my best.”

“An’ try ta wear somethin’ nice, you know how ma likes us to treat a family dinner as somethin’ special.” Her father patted her on the shoulder. From the door of the Governor’s mansion, Kane stepped out, looking around for Kassandra. Her father waved at him, and gestured to Kassandra “Hello Sir. Jus’ talkin’ to my daughter, but if you need her, I won’t keep her.”

“Cap’n Kane, this is my father, Hector Thytos, and my mother, Alessandra Thytos. Ma, Pa, this is Cap’n Kane, Commandin’ officer a’ the Phoenix,” Kassandra said reflexively, gesturing between the two of them.

“Call me Sandy,” Kassandra’s mother didn’t need any more of an opening to jump in. She looked Kane up and down in the embarrassingly frank way that the people of Sherman’s planet had. Sizing him up and taking mreasure. “Why, Kassandra, you never mentioned your Cap’n was such a handsome man! Tell me, Cap’n, you got a girl already? Cos I know quite a few eligible an’ respectable ladies-”

“Ma! He ain’t han- he’s- Uh- not that you’re ugly sir-” Kassandra spluttered, her ears going red with the humiliation of it all. “Ma, yer not going to try to set my Cap’n up! Enough already!”

“So he *is* single,” her mother said triumphantly. “Well, if you want that problem fixed fer ya, Captain’ I kin help ya. Don’t end up like my Kassandra, left on the vine ta rot-”

“MA!” Kassandra’s nets honed in on the Captain, searching for any sign that he was offended by her mother’s candor. Instead, she picked up the telltale tensing of muscles around his lips which told her that he was trying very hard to keep a solemn front in the face of something he found amusing, though whether it was her mother’s backwards country ways, Kassandra’s discomfort, or something else, she wasn’t sure.

“Don’t squawk like that, Kassandra, make ya sound like a raven. Anyway, Cap’n, me an’ Hector, we’d love ta have you over for dinner. Our holdin’s ain’t far outside of Port Emily, an’ while our place ain’t as fancy as that there hotel they’re puttin’ you up in, I can guarentee the food’s better. I’ll give you some food that’ll stick ta yer ribs, better n’ all that foreign stuff you’d get in the town. Ya know, I went to the hotel fer lunch with the ladies at the Rotary, an’ you know what they were servin’ there? Cream a’ mushroom soup with shit-ache mushrooms! You don’t wan’t *that* in yer food, now do you!” Kassandra was now behind her mother, so she desperately caught the Captain’s eye, shaking her head and gesticulating wildly, attempting to tell him not to accept the invitation under any circumstance. But it was to no avail. After several moments of demurrals, and her mother plying the charm, the Captain finally nodded assent. Her mother turned away, glowing with pleasure, looking like the cat that ate the canary, and gave Kassandra a perfunctory hug. “Now, remember, dress nicely, won’t you?”

Kassandra watched as her parents walked away back to their vehicle. Once they were out of earshot, she rounded on the Captain.

“Now why’d you gotta spoil the whole evenin’ like that?” Kassandra said with a groan of frustration.

“We are on a diplomatic mission,” the Captain said gently. “And part of a diplomatic mission is not keeping to ourselves. I’ve been informed that your family is considered to be a prominent one, and bearing that in mind, I think it would be good for us to be seen to mingle.”

“I woulda been happier mingling with a bottle o’ triticale moonshine in the spaceport dive bar,” Kassandra groused, heaving a sigh.

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Scene: The Thytos Farmstead


Kassandra understood that some people found Sherman’s planet pretty, and she supposed she could see why on occasion. If you were in to nodding amber waves of grain without end, red barns, the occasional orchard or vegetable patch, and some flocks of livestock placidly munching on the biomass remaining in already harvested triticale fields, then Sherman’s planet was definitely for you.

Bucolic, the word was, which felt to Kassandra like it ought to mean it was ‘something that causes intestinal distress,’ which, ironically, was exactly the effect Sherman’s Planet had on her.

She’d always felt discomfort in the peaceful setting, like it was a straightjacket made of fields and farm equipment, and cheerfully obliging people. She’d felt like the random islands of what remained of the Sherman’s Planet’s ecosystem that rose here and there throughout the gently rippling pools of triticale where there was a hill too steep to farm, or a farmer was too lazy to tame a rocky outcropping with firepower; Something wild and elemental contained, fenced in, raging against the neat order around it, never able to break free of the infernal prison of triticale.

As a young girl she’d always felt that there was something innately wrong about Sherman’s planet, about the fields of grain, the strict regimen of planting, pesticides, the way everything was controlled, even the people. As an older woman she had a name for what it was, devastation in the name of progress. You could give the earlier settlers a pass, it was a time of massive expansion, when people didn’t think about the consequences their terraforming had on the delicate balances of the planets they colonized, where people clung to familiar things, and grew familiar foods, rather than exploring the bounty of the planets they decided to call home, but Kassandra felt that the modern colonists should have become more mindful of the planet they lived on. Sure, everything was in balance, but it was a new balance, an unnatural balance, and their arrival had amounted to little more than ecological genocide.

“Penny for your thoughts, Kass,” the male voice broke into her musings rudely. She stiffened but didn’t turn. Tall, dark, heavily muscled, the Klingon standing behind her was another thing from her past that she wished was still in her past.

“Valdyr. What the hell are you doing here? Ferget it, don’t wanna know, leave me the hell alone,” Kassandra snapped.

“Well that ain’t very hospitable,” the man said reproachfully. “I’m here cos yer ma invited me, on accounta me helpin’ them out on the farm. They’re plannin’ on leavin’ the farm ta me when they retire.”

“Yer welcome ta it, an may you git much happiness outta it, cos it’d give me none, an I’m glad they’ve got the son they always wanted.” Kassandra knew full well her parents wishes, lord knows she’d heard it enough.

“Don’t be like that, they’d prefer ta see you takin’ over, or else one a the twins. You know, you could come back an’ we could both run-”

“The hell, Valdyr? You comin’ on ta me?” Kassandra spun to glare at the Klingon. “Jis cos you’re gettin’ the farm don’t mean you gotta become parta the family. An I ain’t forgot all the times you made me eat shit when we was young, where d’ya get off actin’ all buddy buddy an’ interested now?”

“Hey, I always liked ya, but you know, I didn’t learn any way t’ say so other n’ bein’ a jerk. But I liked you then, I admire ya’ now. I hear about all of your exploits, they’re thrillin’, real hero stuff. Could see that in ya when you were younger, honor, fightin’ spirit, you’re everythin’ a Klingon is supposed to aspire-”

“Don’t you pull that ‘it’s in my blood’ shit, ain’t no one buyin’ that. Everyone else knows poundin’ a person’s face inta the dirt aint courtin’. An’anyway, this here is exactly why I have avoided comin’ t’ this godforsaken planet for the last two decades! It’s been thirty years, an’ you’re still carryin’ some damn torch for me? No one on this damn planet moves on! Marryin’ high school sweethearts, livin’ all their lives on th’ wave of th’ glory days of their twenties,” Kassandra felt all her frustration flooding out of her like- dammit, the only simile she could come up with was fuckin’ triticale out of a goddamn silo- well, flooding out of her. She stabbed a finger at the farmhouse. “Twenty fuckin’ years later, and they’re still sittin’ in that damn farmhouse that looks the same, still playin’ Cyril’s fuckin’ music. Nothin’ ever changes here, nothin’ it’s one big stagnatin’ pile a’ shit! Like I could come back. An’ anyway, if you’re so into honor an’ the old ways, you could a joined the Marines too, ‘stead of wasting away on Sherman’s planet.”

“Unlike you, I’m happy here, an’ I aint so obsessed with the glory days as Sompek, whom I gather you’ve had a run in with,” Valdyr joined her at the rail of the porch and leaned on it, staring at the pitch black fields. “Of course, my family were scientists, so it wasn’t as though we got all that much respect from the Klingons, either.”

Kassandra considered glowering at him, and making it clear her personal space shouldn’t include him, but realized belatedly that if she held on to her enmity to her one-time bully she was doing the exact same thing she’d accused everyone on Sherman’s planet of. Instead she mentally relaxed, let her hackles down, and searched for small talk.

“Is Sompek the majority or the minority?” The sudden tensing of the Klingon’s muscles told her that her question had been the exact opposite of small talk, but he took a breath and sighed, instead of getting his feathers ruffled.

“Somewhere in between. Mosta us got more n’ one human family member. You know how it is here. Even me n’ Sompek’s house, which kept to ourselves got lots of humans on the outskirts of our family tree, an’ the whole concept of breedin’ pure is really fallin’ by the wayside, ‘specially now that mosta them that remember bein’ raised like a pure Klingon are dyin’ out. Mosta us don’t even speak the language anymore. Me, I figure that I’m more like the Humans n’ like the Klingons a old, an’ I figger that you guys are closer t’ bein’ like us than you are Humans on Earth.”

“Ain’t that the fuckin’ truth,” Kassandra’s lip twitched. “Halfa th’ time I say somethin’ and they give me a look like I’m speakin’ in tongues. An’ they ain’t got no concept a’ courtesy through plain speak neither.”

“Ain’t to say I don’t see problems with what we got now either, though. But it gets better every generation. Ain’t there yet, but we’re gettin’ there. You know what I mean. I ‘member you were always real outspoken whenever you thought somethin’ wasn’t fair, no matter who it pissed off,” he paused. “Speakin’ of unfair, you gonna enter in the Tribble Shoot this year? I’ve bin practicin’, an’ I think I can beat yer record. I feel as I oughta give you the chance t’ defend.”

“I seem ta recall a lot of my bein’ outspoken was directed yer way. As fer the Tribble Shoot, that’d be like shootin’ fish in a barrel. I got military grade sensors installed under m’ skin, makes it real easy to figger out where the clay tribbles are gonna go. Wouldn’t be sportin’ to take part in it,” Kassandra waved a hand dismissively. “But I bet I kin do better than you at the Sheaf Toss though.”

“Pfft. Yer jus’ scared you won’t beat yer old record, aintchya? As fer the sheaf toss, I got two feet on ya an’ at least eighty pounds a muscle. I see ya still like gettin’ your tuckus kicked in sports,” Valdyr grinned.

“Ain’t the size of yer muscles Valdyr, it’s how ya use ‘em. All about the spin,” Kassandra mimicked forking the sheaf with a pitchfork.

“I’ll keep that in mind. I should get mahself moseyin’ homewards now. Gotta be up early to get the machines ready t’ plant the heirloom quadrotriticale so I can get to Port Emily in time fer the festivities.”

“Take care then. I’ll look forward t’ beatin’ you at somethin’ tomorrow,” Kassandra wriggled her fingers over her shoulder, and re-commenced her quiet introspection of how much she hated Sherman’s Planet.

* * *=(/\)=* * *

Scene: Port Emily
Time Index: James T Kirk day, early morning


“... Are you sure you should be eating that Kass? That’s your… Fourth one, and it’s only 7,” Eve said, eyebrows raised as Kassandra cheerfully crammed her mouth full of pastry. Something akin to a greek Kaitafi or a beignet, the confection was something Kassandra called a ‘tribble cake’ which appeared to be a stringy, threadlike dough wrapped around a gooey red jelly filling, the size of, and lovingly shaped to look like a tribble, then dusted with powdered sugar. Eve thought that perhaps the red jelly filling was overkill, since it gave the distinct impression of a bleeding tribble. Eve had found it overly sweet, though the jelly had been nice enough, sweet, tart, and spicy all at once.

“Gotta eat ‘em now, or I’ll be too stuffed to eat other things later, an’ I’ll be too sluggish to take part in any a’ the games, should I get the opportunity. Also, they’re best when they’re warm, an they’re warm in the mornin’ when they come outta the ovens. An ain’t been sittin’ around in people’s stalls. Don’t worry, I’ll get mah protein in with fried things on sticks at lunch.”

“That wasn’t what I was worrying about. You’re going to make yourself sick. And aren’t we supposed to be eating at your parent’s?”

“If my ma’s tribble cakes tasted as good as Mrs. Pappodoupalis’, I’d be eatin’ them there. But ma likes to make hers with raspberry fillin’ instead a sweetberry an’ tartberry fillin. Plus I think she adds spice grass-” Kassandra trailed off as she saw Eve’s expression. “Yeah, they weren’t terribly creative with names when they moved here. Half the farms here are named Stonybrook, or Goodland.”

“Straightforward names for straightforward people,” Even mused.

“Somethin’ like that,” Kassandra popped the last of her pastry into her mouth, then proffered the last one in the bag to Eve.

“Weren’t you saving that for the Captain?” Eve asked archly. “Also, you have powdered sugar all over the front of your uniform, and hello Captain.”

Kassandra tried to draw herself to attention and dust the sugar off her uniform, but instead managed to inhale powdered sugar, and dissolved into a fit of coughing, as she weakly held the bag out to the Captain.

“I see you’re enjoying yourself.” Kane eyed the pastry dubiously. “We’ve got a few events we’re scheduled to attend, but other than that, you’re at your leisure to enjoy the festivities. There seems to be some betting going on regarding the outcomes of Captain Thytos… How did they put it… ‘throwin’ down’ a Klingon named Valdyr.” Kassandra’s coughing turned into choking. “If you do happen to take up the challenge, Captain, do us proud.”

“Ah. This is news t’ me, sir. Also, I’m supposed to invite you to breakfast…”

“Breakfast? I’m still full from dinner last night,”Kane said, his inflection not changing, and Eve couldn’t tell if it was a joke. “Unfortunately, I have already agreed to breakfast with the governor, give your mother my regrets.”

“Greeeaaat. Guess it’s just you, me, an’ Jasmine, then.” Kassandra said with a sigh to Eve.

* * *=(/\)=* * *


NRPG: So it's James T Kirk day, think county fairs with a dash of 4th of July. Have fun, explore!


Alix Fowler
As
Captain Kassandra Thytos
MCO
USS Phoenix

 

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