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Paradise Lost

Posted on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 7:47am by Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake
Edited on on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 7:47am

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: Earth
Timeline: 2388

The prismed streaks lurched to a halt, returning to their former pinpricks of light against the velvet blackness that surrounded the Danube class shuttle as it dropped out of warp. Earth hung like a blue marble in space, orbited by the moon afar and several space stations, ships and various other structures in lower orbit.

Storr listened to the comm chatter for several moments...this was the most radio traffic that he had ever heard on one frequency and waiting for his "turn" was more art than science. Clearing his throat before depressing the comm transmit button on the LCARS display, the MCO jumped in immediately after an ore hauler exited the nadir.

=/\=Starfleet Control, Earth Approach, this is USS Ribble=/\=

=/\=USS Ribble, this is Earth approach, state your intentions.=/\=

=/\=Request vectors for a coupled approach to Johannesburg skyway followed by visual completion of the RDS procedure, landing port nineteen epsilon.=/\=

Two beats followed before the controller replied in a rapid-fire radio call. =/\=USS Ribble, fly a heading of two-four-oh mark three eight mark three, you're number two behind a Mark Six runabout.
Vectors for the final coupled approach to Johannesburg, cleared to land port nineteen epsilon following RDS completion, remain my frequency until you have optical contact with the landing pad. Do you have the latest ATIS for your sector?=/\=

Frak Storr thought. He hadn't checked the weather...he had practiced more for deep space/planetary maneuvering rather than instrument arrival procedures and his situational awareness was barely (figuratively) holding onto the aft ventricles of the nacelles.

=/\=Negative=/\= he replied with an inward wince. One of the main things that Annie had taught him was one, to look good and two, sound good on the radio; admitting you had not done your job was probably a violation of the second rule.

=/\=Current weather at Johannesburg as of 2422 zulu, wind 320 at 8 gusting 12, scattered clouds at 220, temp 10, dewpoint 06, altimeter setting 29.95.=/\=

The MCO repeated back the weather as he followed the guidance on the LCARS, slowly shifting the direction of the shuttle in three dimensions as he looked both out the viewport and at the sensor readout.

=/\=USS Ribble, I have visual on the Runabout, initiating vector guidance.=/\= With that, Garlake sat back in his chair and exhaled a breath he didn't know he had held. Now, the automation mostly took over until they were in visual range of their landing port.

Turning, he couldn't resist winking at Jaya, transfixed by Earth on the viewscreen.

"It's beautiful." It contained more land than her homeworld, but the rich oceans still called up memories of Seyalia. Her own upbringing on Seyann, the largest moon of Delta IV, had afforded her a constant view not unlike the one before her now.

Jaya turned from admiring the beautiful blue jewel that contained Starfleet Headquarters and turned to her betrothed at the helm.

"Nicely done, darling. If I didn't know better, a girl could think you had done this before."

Storr chuckled and curled his fingers, motioning for the curvaceous Deltan to come to him. Grasping her at the waist as soon as she came within striking distance, the MCO set her on his lap with a resultant joyful squeal that he returned with a low growl in her ear. "Not as beautiful as you, and I might have even more surprises for you in store if you're good."

"Yeah, yeah," she muttered in a playfully sultry tone to match his own. "Which landmass are we going to?" Jaya looked upon Earth once again, trying to peer through its swirling clouds to take it in better. "I never ventured far from San Francisco."

Garlake met her cheek with his and pointed, the sun just peaking over the horizon like a flaming yellow diamond, throwing shafts of light through the clouds and glistening off of the crystal blue ocean while chasing away long shadows that quickly disappeared into nothing. "There...Africa. The southern portion is where I call home and is the heart of the South African Union. Beaches, jungles, mountains, deserts, my family's farm and ranchland...I know you'll love it. I...I'm sorry that your family won't be able to see it"

The reality of Jaya's family's view of him as nothing more than a sentient sex toy hurt but the fact that they wouldn't be there to be present in the wedding stung even more. That they had made the trip to Earth in order to have his family involved made it even more prominent.

"They would be fish out of water," Jaya said glibly. "Give them time to adjust to my decision." She corrected herself. "Our decision."

The Marine smiled at Jaya's correction. "You mentioned having to visit the Deltan ambassador when we arrived? I believe that they have a consulate in Johannesburg if that counts."

"After the wedding, yes," she replied. "We have to submit the official record of our marriage--in person, no less." Jaya turned away from the viewscreen and shifted into a straddling position.

"I'm not a conn expert like some of us, but I thought I heard the voice on the other end initiate auto-control." A finger toyed at the side of Storr's temple and traced down his jawline to his lips, which bat at them teasingly. "Now what are we going to do?"

Goosebumps trailed Jaya's fingertips as a warmth emanated from his loins and radiated outward, growing in intensity at a startling rate. "Oh, I'm sure we can think of something," he replied, rolling his eyes and sliding his hands ever lower past her waist as he nipped at her fingers with a playful grunt.

Jaya giggled as she folded her arms around Storr's thick neck and kissed him deeply, Storr returning it with a hungry passion of his own as he embraced the petite counselor around her supple frame. As his world started swirling around him, the light and heat beginning to overtake the edges of his consciousness, he hoped that he wouldn't have to take the controls anytime soon...

The Johannesburg spaceport was far from small, though it stood head and shoulders below some of the other planetary hubs. Its lone terminal stretched for several miles to accommodate the nearly a hundred landing pads for various passenger and cargo vessels to offload for processing and ground transport.

In light of Jaya's earlier teasing, Storr handled all of their luggage, leaving Jaya free to gaze about in wonder at her surroundings.

Transport from the landing pad to the main concourse consisted of an automated platform which moved from landing pad to landing pad. Typically they could have just transported themselves, but after such a long ride, they both felt up for being on their feet.

"The colors are a bit, um, understated, but overall this is very much like Seyalia," she said. "You humans are a bit more industrialized though."

Storr chuckled, though immediately regretted it as he had to quickly re-balance the load he carried that continuously threatened to topple and bury him beneath it. "Understated? You won't find greener forests or bluer waters than here." Hia statement was originally meant in defense of his fatherland but in quick retrospect, hoped that it did not make her feel disappointed in relation to hers. Quickly changing the subject, he found an anti-grav cart and began offloading his charge onto it. "As to industrialized, I would agree with you though I think that they do a better job here than elsewhere in trying to integrate with the surroundings. I assume it's more...pastoral on Seyalia?"

"No. Seyalia is tropical." Jaya brushed her hand along Storr's bulging
arms. "I've heard it compared to the region of Bora Bora here on Earth, if that's any help."

She trailed off, then stood stockstill.

"Storr. I'm not going to lie." Jaya stared at the approaching concourse, though her focus went through it to their final destination beyond. "I am nervous meeting your family."

Storr sighed and walked up beside Jaya, wrapping a thick arm around her waist and pulling her close with a nod. "I don't doubt it and I know I would be if the situation were reversed...just remember that you're here because of me, not them, and that I'm the only one you need to worry about; let me be oriented to the task of my family and you be oriented to me. They'll love you because they love me and if you're good enough for me, by God you're good enough for them."

Words failed Jaya at the moment. A lone tear shed from her right eye, and she let it trail down her cheek. Her slowly spreading smile caught it.

Garlake snaked his fingers through the alien silken sari and finding flesh between her top and waist, splayed them across her ribcage and pressed gently. "And besides, your beauty and charming personality does you no harm."

"I think we're starting to get the hang of this marriage thing." Jaya chuckled and melted into the safety of Storr's embrace. She looked down at the luggage on the ground. "Though I'm still making you carry those."

Storr rolled his eyes in mock frustration as he pushed the cart beside them. One thing that he hadn't yet "gotten used to" was the sheer volume of luggage that women carried; he imagined the anti-grav unit struggling underneath the weight of the luggage full of duranium bars or whatever forsaken weighted objects Jaya had packed.

When the moving platform finally reached the concourse, Jaya scanned the crowd for a valet holding a sign with their names on it. She had no idea how many sign-holders would be present.

"Are all spaceports on Earth like this?" Jaya whispered as they scanned the crowd together.

"Most are worse," Garlake answered in a similar manner, his eyes suddenly meeting with those of a very familiar smiling negro holding a large panel displaying his family crest. Taking Jaya's hand and returning the smile, Storr was about to step forward and introduce her when her voice called out.

Before they could make their way forward, Jaya caught sight of another familiar face.

"Riswan? Riswan! What are you doing here?"

Jaya jumped from Storr's side and rushed toward another woman who had presented herself from the crowd. While Jaya hugged the other woman with reckless abandon, Riswan maintained a reserved posture, opting for a simple embrace.

"Hello, sister," Riswan said. Her eyes sparkled with a complex mixture of joy and grief. "I had to come."

Storr's words were caught in his throat as he turned to see Jaya scramble into the arms of her taller elder sister. He blinked twice and instinctively stepped forward the three paces it required to close the distance between them.

Jaya felt Storr on her heels.

"Riswan, this is Storr. He is my... betrothed."

Riswan looked up at the large, burly man with a measured expression. "Enchanted," she said with a courtly demeanor.

Storr smiled pleasantly and looked over the stately and alluring Deltan in both a tactical and...manly way, immediately cursing himself as he felt a very different yet "rhyming" energy tease at the edge of his consciousness. How was that possible when his link with Jaya subsumed his entire attention? Or so he thought. Taking Jaya's hand again to provide comfort to her and grounding for him, perhaps it was a good thing that her family was not coming.

"The pleasure is mine, Commander."

Jaya noted her sister's uniform. "So, how did you come to be here? I thought you were ordered to the Beta Quadrant with your vessel."

"I was." What little mirth Riswan exhibited before now evaporated. "My orders changed."

"Well, that should be a good thing." Jaya gave her sister a worried, sidelong glance, for their unspoken empathy said far more than their words ever could. "Why else would you be here?"

Before Riswan could respond, another stepped forward.

"She is here because she was summoned." A tall, dark-skinned Deltan man stepped forward. His robes were thickly folded and garish. He regarded Storr nearly eye to eye with a look of contempt, then stared down at Jaya with pure disgust. "As, now, are you."

Storr's face turned to stone as the tall Deltan man pushed his way into their small circle, staring down the Marine before looking at Jaya in a way that made the MCO's stomach burn.

"Ambassador Stelio Kontos. Jaya Maera, you are hereby summoned along with your sister to our consulate first thing in the morning." He handed Jaya a PADD with a derisive shove.
"Served," he said, then pointed at Riswan. "Witnessed."
He drilled Jaya with disdain while completely ignoring Storr's existence. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Jaya's jaw gaped in surprise, shame, and embarrassment.

"I am sorry, Jaya," Riswan said. Her serene face twisted with regret. "I never wanted this." After a moment's silence between them, she drifted away without another word.

They both stared at the broad-shouldered Deltan ambassador's back as he stormed off.

Storr silently clenched and released his empty fist while holding Jaya's hand more tightly than he needed. From the side, the valet took a hesitating step forward. "Master alright?"

Storr set his jaw, his eyes burning holes in the back of the ambassador's retreating form. "It will be, Mtendere, tomorrow at the latest. No one speaks to my intended that way nor dismisses me like a mere potted plant." Letting out a deep breath as Jaya's hand untangled from his and slowly slid up and back down his arm, tension released from his body as he turned to his fiancee.

"Let's go and meet my family. Tomorrow has enough worries of its own and we'll deal with it then. For now," he said with a smile, wrapping his free arm around the thin shoulders of the suited valet, "this is Mtendere, a great family friend and servant who will give us a ride to the house. We're here to celebrate and no ambassador with a superiority complex is going to ruin our time together and our wedding."

"Yes." Jaya nodded her agreement, but her eyes never left the summons in her hand.

Garlake cast a worried look at Jaya, her figure seemingly wilted and the energy that he felt emanating from their touch was a crackling grayish-black moroseness. Nodding silently to Mtendere, the black man nodded in return and took the anti-grav cart and began pushing it in front of the couple as Storr kept Jaya close with an arm securely around her shoulders. What home, and tomorrow, would bring, he truly did not know...for the first time in a long time, he was troubled to the core.


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