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Rebuilding [FLASHBACK]

Posted on Fri Jan 8th, 2021 @ 6:31pm by Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt


There had been no way to fix it without breaking it first. Gantt brushed back his long hair that fell like a hood around his face. He fingered the broken guts of the old console he’d found in a junk heap on the space station. It was the same model that had powered his Uncle Mateo’s house. On this same model he’d cut and scraped his hands trying to figure out the inner workings. Uncle Mateo had encouraged the tinkering during drunk moments, and rarely had sobered up enough to stop Gantt.

Gantt began to separate the tubes, bolts, and chips from the larger fragments. There was peace to retooling that he’d never found with new parts pulled from a replicator. Breaking down and rebuilding let him see himself. His entrance to Starfleet was a major result of his uncle’s drunken tutoring. The classes, the practicums, the tutoring all added nuance and refinement to skills picked years before he had matured enough to consider the consequences of a wrong adjustment.

“What are you up to now, Uncle?” said Gantt, glancing up at the photo of the two of them above his desk. He picked up an old fitting and began cleaning it. “What are you working so hard to keep buried? Were you the result of genetic bastardization, like me? Did you try to beat the shadows back and fail, or just drown helplessly wondering how to escape?”

Gantt set aside the fitting. He began another, moving through each part that would go back together. The console had been reconfigured from its original habitational controls to run a life support system, then work on damage reporting and control. A few other jobs, too, until it simply broke. Maybe that’s what had happened to Uncle Mateo.

“Maybe the only difference, Tío, are the people who nudged us back from the edge,” said Gantt. But the bones of the original were there. Fittings. Bafflers. Relays. His magnolinear scalpel honed each piece into clean joints and edges. The junk became a piece of equipment. On the first day as a new ensign Natalie Keys had expected him to perform. Jackson had simply appeared, as though he and Gantt had always been friends. His first measurable steps towards embracing his Bajoran heritage, the connection to Gantt’s mother he had come to this ship to find, had started with aid from Ina Nici. Then, Luka Stern had awakened another part of his heart until the slow realization that he couldn’t take his journey with someone. He didn’t really own his own life yet, and his abuela had told him many times that you can't give away what isn’t your property.

“Actually, Tío, she was always telling you that,” said Gantt. “I heard it a lot because I was almost always with you. Dad worked and Mom was–” He stopped, the rest of the words transforming to thought. A ghost who drifted through the home, taking up almost no space. Gantt took a deep breath and reached for the empty console, feeling the edges with his palms. A drop fell on his hand. Gantt looked down and realized that it was a tear. They were rolling down his cheeks. He slumped forward letting the emotions roll from his year up a throat thick with memories, and stream from his eyes. When they slowed he wiped his eyes and nose and grasped a part from the pile.

Piece by piece. Joint by joint. Circuit by circuit. Gantt began to piece everything together. His fingers nimbly turned parts around as he studied each one, considered its function, and carefully felt them snap into place. Slowly the smaller parts were fit together into components, the components were joined into systems, and the system into a whole. Once connected to a PADD the computer introduced functions, from the most basic methods that talked between components to sophisticated software that interpreted complex verbal input to multivariable actions. Diagnostic reports were within acceptable limits.

Gantt stretched his tired fingers. Midnight had slipped past unnoticed. Crossing the room, he caught a reflection in the mirror of himself with the console in his arms. Everything on the inside was different but you couldn’t see the changes. Outside it was the same but everything internal had been painstakingly reformed. He looked into his reflection’s eyes beneath the thick mantle of dark hair. The console might look the same but he knew home much had changed under the hood. He knew and thanked the Prophets for the help along the way.



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