It had been a surprise. Incessant ticking on his window had woken him up. It reminded him of a woodpecker let loose on a glass tree. It didn’t stop, and getting up he walked over to the window to see what was making this noise. There outside, sitting on the ledge was a pigeon: a plain grey and white pigeon. The bird looked at him almost accusingly for being left unnoticed for so long. He opened the window and it flew in silently, landing on the dresser. Only now did he notice the small container attached to one of its paws. Inside he found a small note saying he was the recipient of a letter.
It took him more than 3 weeks to trace the letter. Each time he arrived at the next Office for Interplanetary Carrier Pigeons, a clerk would hand him a new address. What started out as a simple mail call had now become a quest of sorts. Of all the things he never expected to find on his home planet Dorvan, the local Office was actually run by an old schoolfriend. The only thing he could tell him was the next address to pick up his letter. He explained it was fairly normal for carrier pigeons to be kept on starships and freighters nowadays, creating a network far more reliable than Federation Subspace.
During his search, he discovered a subculture within the Federation only few people knew about. By the time he arrived on Earth, he had seen close to 17 Offices, each more exotic than the previous. The most extraordinary one was run by a Ferengi, an honest Ferengi it seemed, because he had not charged him for sending a subspace message to B’Elanna and Tom telling them he would probably arrive in time for their engagement party.
When he finally arrived at the Office his letter originated from, the clerk just looked at him and handed him the letter. Opening it, he couldn’t help noticing the clerk’s obvious curiosity. He looked at him questioningly.
“Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to stare, but well, you see, this is the longest run a CP Package has ever made and for a while there we were worried it wasn’t going to reach you on time. It seems CP#5 had some trouble when it accidentally landed on an Ambassador’s shoulder, and well, uhm, you know — Cleaning services are all part of the deal, no extra charge.” The clerk looked proud when he made his last statement, hoping he had secured another customer. “Will you be using a CP yourself, sir? To reply to this message?”
Chakotay read the message.
* ~ * ~ *
He’d be the first one to admit his letter had been highly unconventional. It took him close to 2 weeks to even get his request looked at, but once he was through the primary selection committee things went pretty fast. When he finally handed his letter over, the secretary looked at and smiled.
“Is this all, sir?”
B’Elanna called him 9 days later telling him the letter had arrived. She was more than curious to find out what he’d written, and she had even tried to get Tom set him a trap so he would spill the proverbial beans.
But it seemed he had been outsmarted by a master. He first heard of the mail service through Adm. Paris one evening when he told them about the Dominion War. At the time he thought it was a nice and quaint custom. After he’d send the letter he actually thought he’d been a pretty smart man for using it. However, having read his CP Package letter, he knew he was doomed.