“Where are you off to this early?”
“Father, you know very well where I’m going. For the past week I have been building on the new lodge. Why do you keep asking me each morning, when the answer is already common knowledge?”
Not giving Qantuin the chance to reply, Suttonay walked outside slamming the door behind him.
~ * ~ * ~
For 14 years Qantuin had dominated Suttonay’s life, ever since his real father Levinak passed away. Suttonay had just completed his Coming of Age Ceremony and had thought his mother would accept his attempts at taking responsibilities for his family. But Emoriki was concerned for the well being of her two younger children, Lorakish and Heminika. She had accepted Qantuin’s marriage proposal almost immediately knowing he could support the family.
Most people in the village hadn’t understood her decision and had tried to stop her from what they thought was a big mistake. Her marriage was stable, but not happy. From the first day he entered the house, Qantuin had set down the new family rules. The three children mostly ignored them in the same way their new father ignored his family. He continued living the way he lived before, except now he didn’t have to worry about the daily care of maintaining a household. Or as in the immortal words of the youngest child, 16 year old Heminika: ‘A guest should always be treated as a king for he won’t be staying long.’
Of course she had never told anyone except her best friend, Teresini, daughter of Kolopak. The girls were inseparable even though their fathers were at odds. Teresini often coaxed her friend into bringing her to her house for dinner, never missing an opportunity to spend an evening gazing at Lorakish, Heminika’s other brother. Not wanting to be outdone by her friend, Heminika used those exact same tactics only to try to be in the company of Teresini’s brother Chakotay. The idea of her best friend fawning over her brother completely baffled Teresini. After all he was old (way to old in her opinion), moody and broody (especially when he had trouble contacting his spirit guide), and the he was practically like an older brother to Heminika: he had lived with her family for almost all her life. Still the two girls continued their routine on a daily basis.
~ * ~ * ~
“Suttonay, wait up!”
He slowed his pace but never stopped. The young man who came running after him could barely keep up. “What’s your rush, brother? The lodge won’t run away.”
“I know it won’t, although sometimes I wish it did. What had you out of bed this early, Lorakish? Not another young woman?”
“Well, no. Not really. You just missed Heminika’s latest gossip, and I thought you’d want to know what she told me. Besides, I though I’d give you and the others a hand today.”
“Why would you think I’d be interested in Heminika’s latest ‘did-you-know-what-Chakotay-did-yesterday’?”
The younger man had to laugh at Suttonay’s apt description of their sister. “No it isn’t that. She told me that Teresini had heard from her mother about the Starfleet Officer.”
“Yeah, he’s supposed to arrive this morning, isn’t it?”
“Supposed to is the keyword. Because you see, your good buddy Chakotay picked her up late last night.”
Suttonay stopped in the middle of the road. “A woman? Starfleet sent a woman? Wait till Qantuin hears about this, now he will finally have a reason to attack Kolopak in front of the Elders again! What does Kolopak have to say about all this?”
“Apparently he requested her. Says she is the best they could have send.”
“I don’t believe it.”
“Isn’t it amazing? And guess what? Teresini also told Heminika her mother had said she is extremely pretty.” Lorakish looked up at the sky and smiled broadly, “and I will get to work with her daily. Isn’t life great?”
The older brother didn’t answer, lost in his own thoughts.
~ * ~ * ~
“I thought we’d see how much progress they have made on your lodge before going down to the lab. Is that alright with you?”
“Yes, of course. I kinda like the idea of getting to know my new environment before starting at the lab. When do you suppose they will be finished?”
“My dear Kathryn, I have no idea. You’re not getting tired of us already?”
She grinned and looked at the older man, “No, it’s not that, I just don’t want to be a burden.”
“Well, you’re not a burden, but we can ask Suttonay, son of Levinak: he is overseeing the construction. He will be able to give us an estimate.”
A door slammed open, and a young girl came running into the kitchen.
“Father? Is it true? Did Starfleet really send a…,” she stopped the moment she saw Kathryn. “Oops sorry, I didn’t know you were here. Well, of course I knew because Ama told me, but I didn’t know you would be here – in the kitchen.” She smiled self-consciously, sharing the by now familiar trademark dimples.
“Kathryn, I’d like to introduce you to this whirlwind of boundless energy and joy, my daughter Teresini. Sini, meet Lt Cdr Kathryn Janeway of the Federation.”
The young girl stepped upto the woman almost hesitantly, ready to salute if it became necessary.
“Hello Teresini, it’s so nice to meet you. Chakotay has told me a lot about his baby sister.”
“I’m not a baby! That big oaf, I’ll get him for that.” The girl looked indignant at her, before she caught what Kathryn had just said, “Chakotay told you?” One look from her father was enough to calm her down. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, but well, you see, Chakotay rarely talks to strangers, especially if they’re off-planet and, uhm you know, ‘Starfleet’.”
“Teresini! Where are your manners?” Her father reminded her.
The look of total shock made Kathryn smile encouragingly at the girl.
“I’m sorry,” Teresini giggled, “again. Welcome to our house, Commander.”
“Please call me Kathryn. Your father has explained to me that I will soon be a wanted criminal on this planet, so it’s best if I temporarily ignore my connection with he Federation and Starfleet.”
“That is so cool,” Teresini replied, “I mean you ‘are’ Starfleet, right? Don’t you guys always have to do the right thing and stuff?”
Kolopak had gotten up and returned with some more coffee for Kathryn and tea for Sini and himself.
“Starfleet does uphold that principle, but I think my work here is not going to combine Starfleet’s idea of what’s good and proper with my own ideas on the subject.”
“Wow, you are so awesome!” The girl exclaimed making Kathryn laugh.
Just then the kitchen door opened again.
“Look who’s here! If it isn’t my estranged little baby sis!” Chakotay walked over to Sini and crushed her in a bear hug. When he set her down, he took a seat next to his father, leaving his sister standing in the middle of the kitchen.
She couldn’t believe it. Her constantly moping and almost always ill-humored brother had all of a sudden turned into a smiling and laughing man. He must have finally been able to contact his spirit guide, because Sini could not think of anything that would cause this change in attitudes in him.
“Father, is it okay if I join you and Kathryn when you’re going to the lodge? I’ve been meaning to speak to Suttonay about something.”
“Of course it’s alright. Unless you disagree, Kathryn? But Chakotay, you don’t need my permission to speak to Suttonay.” Paka smiled at him, knowing full well why he had asked, but he couldn’t stop the urge to tease his son a little bit.
“I know, I don’t need your permission, but I wouldn’t want to interrupt anything. After all, I wouldn’t want to inadvertedly over hear any sensitive secrets you’d discuss.”
“Chakotay, I don’t think Kolopak will divulge any sensitive secrets to you he doesn’t want to divulge in the first place, don’t you think?”
Kathryn baited him, but he was too distracted to notice. When he came in, Chakotay had quickly moved to hug Teresini out of fear for walking up to Kathryn and pledging his eternal loyalty to her.
~ * ~ * ~
After they had overcome their initial awkwardness this morning, Kathryn went downstairs for breakfast, while he showered and changed and left the house in search of Suttonay. He didn’t find him, but his mother told him her sons were at the new lodge. Figuring Paka would take Kathryn there, he had walked back to the house to see if he could join them.
~ * ~ * ~
“Father, is it alright if Heminika joins us for dinner tonight?” Teresini asked, ignoring her brother’s groan.
“Sini, you’re going to have to ask Mika. But when did you ever ask if she could come?” He looked at Kathryn, “Forgive my children, they were raised to be autonomously thinking humans, who could judge each situation themselves, but it seems that your arrival has changed them into permission seeking darlings.”
Chakotay looked acutely embarrassed but he had to laugh nonetheless. “If that’s how you feel, father?” Winking at Kolopak, he continued, “Of course that’s not what he told us when we were growing up.”
Kathryn leaned forward toward Teresini and Chakotay. “I know exactly what you’re talking about, but don’t tell my mother: she claims the exact same thing.”
Looking at the three young people, Kolopak knew he was outnumbered and he gracefully accepted defeat. “Miss Janeway, I think you will fit in perfectly here. You have just shown you master the ‘indulge-your-parents-but-don’t-let-them-know-we-know’ art to perfection.” His expression had them all laughing, and when Paka noticed his wife looking at them from the doorway, his heart swelled when he saw her happiness.
The Spirits had been right.