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Where Will I Walk

Posted on Wed Mar 3rd, 2021 @ 12:13pm by Captain Gabriel Lucas
Edited on on Wed Mar 17th, 2021 @ 1:13am

Mission: To Boldly Go
Location: Starfleet HQ, San Francisco, Earth
Timeline: 23 April, 2383 -1100 Hours

[ON]

Gabriel sat on the stone bench, his rough, worn hands dribbling seeds onto the perfect flagstone. The seeds were small and when they hit the stone, they scattered in a surprisingly large circle. He'd arrived early and had brought a large bag of seed. As a result, he had attracted the attention of a large number of birds. He saw sandpipers, white-crowned sparrows, a handful of ruby-crowned kinglets, and a whole swath of blackbirds.

The birds were obviously no stranger to his handouts. Gabriel thought if he tried hard enough, he could get them to beg. He smiled and threw out the handful of seeds in a wide arc, scattering them and the birds in the process. He rubbed his hands together to rid himself of the few seeds that had clung to him and then looked up. The sun was shining, but mostly through clouds. He was used to San Francisco weather, having lived there for most of his life, both pre and post-Starfleet. The spot was one of his favorites. He had a wonderful view of the Golden Gate bridge on his left and he could also see the main building of Starfleet Academy on his right. The small plaza had been built to honor those who had fallen in the Dominion War and he felt a kinship with the place that went beyond the stone benches and the curving wall of names that enclosed the plaza. It was a strange place for a meeting but not altogether unexpected.

The wind gusted, bringing a chill from the water. He ignored it. Gabriel Lucas was fifty years old and he was used to being uncomfortable. The sound of footsteps made him turn his head and he saw a tall, thin woman with shocking white hair walking towards him. Gabriel moved the bag of seeds from his lap to the bench and then stood up to face his visitor. Her face had been beautiful once but time and war had taken their toll. He couldn't help but remember her as she had been when they'd first met so many years ago.

"Hello, Laura," Gabriel said. He hated the way his voice sounded. It was like two stones grinding on each other. His friends always insisted that it was imposing and powerful but he had always thought it sounded crude.

"Hello, Gabriel," Laura said with a small smile. She stopped in front of him, leaned forward, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She drew back and examined him with a keen eye. "I see you are still wearing that old coat and the same worn-out shoes."

Gabriel looked down at his shoes. They were worn. Beyond worn, to be honest. "These are my new ones, actually. I threw the old ones away," he said.

"No you didn't," Laura said.

"No, I didn't," Gabriel said.

Laura sat down on the bench, ignoring the scattered bird seeds. "You've probably stuck them in a closet somewhere."

Gabriel grunted and sat as well. "Hall closet."

Laura laughed. It was a high, tinkling laugh that sounded like a crystal wind chime in the breeze. "Some things never change," Laura said.

"And some things do change," Gabriel said. The conversation lapsed and the birds began to creep in close once more. A middle-aged couple entered the plaza and began walking along the wall. Gabriel and Laura watched them as they stopped at one section and began running their fingers down the long list of names. The man began to cry and the woman wrapped her arm around him, drawing him close. Gabriel looked away.

"I didn't think I would hear from you again," Gabriel said. "We didn't part well."

Laura cocked her head to the side, her white hair cascading over her shoulder. "We never part well, Gabriel. That's kind of our thing," she said.

"Hell of a thing."

"Indeed," Laura said and sighed. "But when we work together, we can do great things."

Gabriel sat still for a moment, his mind casting back many years to a time of death and destruction. "Great is a matter of perspective, I think," he said. He glanced over at the couple and saw that they were slowly making their way out of the plaza, the woman with her arm still around the man. "I don't think they would agree with you."

"I'm not here to argue with you about the past, Gabriel," Laura said. Her voice was tight with restrained emotion. She took a deep breath. "I'm here..." she started to say but he interrupted her.

"You're here to offer me a ship," Gabriel said. "A brand new Akira. And you want me to take that ship to the Delta Quadrant."

"I see that your contacts in Starfleet are as good as ever," Laura said. Inside she was appalled. The ship and its potential mission were classified. She would love to know how Gabriel had gotten his information but she knew he'd never tell her.

"I left Starfleet two years ago, Laura. I still have a lot of shipmates who like to tell me things," Gabriel said. He grabbed the bag of seed and scooped out a small handful. The birds edged closer.

"In that case, I'll skip the sales pitch. Will you do it?" She asked.

Gabriel let the seeds dribble through his hands. He idly wondered what would happen if he tried to plant them. Would anything grow?

"No."

Laura crossed her legs and turned her torso to face him. She'd known from the beginning that getting Gabriel Lucas back in the saddle was going to be a challenge. He'd left Starfleet for good reasons and all of her information indicated that those reasons were still valid.

"Gabriel, this mission is important. The ship is going to be out beyond the edge of known space. You know, going boldly where no one has gone before," Laura said. "This is the kind of mission you always talked about."

Gabriel shook his head as he watched the birds dart forward and peck at the seeds he'd sown. "Then why are you sending a warship?"

Laura had been expecting that question. "After the war, Starfleet is being more cautious. It might be an Akira but she's fully outfitted with diplomatic and scientific capabilities. This is not a conquer and destroy mission."

"I'm busy," Gabriel said. "There's got to be someone younger who can take command."

"Busy? You're busy? Gabriel, you've been coming here to this plaza every day for two years. You're possibly the least busy person I know," Laura said.

"I see I'm not the only one with contacts."

"Of course you aren't," Laura said. She reached out and rested a hand on Gabriel's shoulder. She pretended not to notice the flinch. "Gabriel, you're not an old man. Starfleet needs you. I need you." She paused a moment and the wind gusted, scattering the remaining seeds and birds in a whirlwind. Her coat collar flapped against the side of her face. When she spoke again it was in a small voice. "Gabriel, sir, you've grieved long enough. Take this ship. Do it for them."

Gabriel let the words wash over him. Each one felt like a stone. And he felt like glass. The words crashed against him and he felt a breaking inside. He lowered his head, letting the tears run down his face. They dropped onto the flagstones and landed near the seeds he'd scattered. He felt Laura's arm around his shoulders. She squeezed him and then let go. He heard her stand, her shoes clicking on the stone.

"I'll give you two weeks, Gabriel," she said and he heard her walking away.

He sat with his head bowed for a long time. He was both on the bench and in a chair far away. Finally, he grabbed the bag of seed and stood. He turned and walked to a familiar section of the wall. He ran his hand over the two hundred and ninety-four names. He was ashamed that he couldn't remember all of their faces. Where would they all be today if they'd lived? Would any of them be on the Akira that Laura had offered?

He let out a ragged sigh and used his free hand to wipe his face and then turned away. He opened the top of the bag and scattered the remaining seeds. The wind grabbed them and blew them far and wide and the birds scattered as well.

"To boldly go," Gabriel said to himself.

[OFF]

 

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