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JL | Cmdr Luka, Lt Edden-Parami | "Say Uncle"

Posted on 241902.28 @ 15:31 by Commander Luka Kane & Lieutenant Takara Edden-Parami

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: Prior to departing CST

"Are you still working on that?"

Luka didn't look up from his chosen task, despite the sudden invasion of an unexpected but familiar voice upon his concentration. His eyes squinted slightly as he tweaked the next relay in the sequence, his lower lip gripped between his teeth by his subconscious, as if it might somehow sharpen his focus. The hand that gripped the electron probe was more gnarled and aged than the version in his mind's eye, but he ignored it: his hands still obeyed his instructions with reasonable functionality, and that was all that could be reasonably asked of them, after everything he'd put them through over the course of his lifetime.

"Oh my," he said quietly, his voice offhand and glib, as he finished the last few dextrous adjustments to detach and extract the phase compensator from the Bajoran designed phaser rifle balanced across his knees. "That's the sound of someone at my door, ringing the chime like a normal person. Oh! Lieutenant! What a pleasure to see you." His eyes rose, finding the source of the disturbance, and fixing her with a steely-eyed glare. "Please, come in."

Takara would have rolled her eyes, if the expression had been anything more to her than an odd literary turn of phrase in the outdated Earth novels her father was so illogically fond of. She understood the concept, and for the most part, could visualise the act of doing it, but whenever she tried it felt clunky and unnatural, and never quite seemed to convey the feeling she wanted to. Instead, she fired back at Commander Luka with a knowing smile, ignoring his sarcastic protest as she strode over to the replicator and keyed in an order for an apple.

No, not *an* apple. The Apple. Or at least, one of The Apples. It was her brother who had destroyed the illusion for her, her beloved twin who had one day posed the philosophical question. They had been children at the time, but both old enough and smart enough to understand the premise of replicator technology. It converted energy into matter, reconstituting and reconstructing the objects, items, and foodstuffs that had been either scanned or programmed into its matrix. But, Alexander had posited, did it create an example of that item, or was it, in fact, a perfect copy, an identical duplicate of the pattern that the replicator held? For an object, the answer seemed obvious. Every bowl, mug, boot, jacket, phaser, obviously must have been identical to every other, right down to the atomic level. There was no reason for it not to be. But what of food? What of organic items, where a certain level of variation was to be expected? Was every chocolate sundae, every serving of lasagne, every Risian bean burrito identical to every other, down to the last atom? When you asked a replicator for an apple, did it give you an apple, randomised and chaotic just as it might be in nature? Did it draw from a randomised selection of similar apples that had been programmed into the replicator to offer some degree of variation? Or did it provide you with yet another copy of the exact same apple, over, and over, and over?

It was a question that Alexander and Takara could easily have found an answer to, had they wished. Somehow, that seemed like cheating. It was like setting up recording equipment to find out what happened if a tree fell in the forest while no one was around to hear it. You got your answer, but you missed the point of the question.

Takara turned the apple idly in her fingers, trying to match the markings on the skin, and the deviations of its shape with the half-attentive memory of apples past. "You realise you could just replicate one of those, and save yourself a few hours of unnecessary tinkering, right?" She corrected herself almost immediately, voice thick with sigh and snark. "I know, I know. It's not the same, Takara. This rifle is vintage. This rifle helped drive the Cardassians off Bajor. Back in the Resistance, we didn't have the luxury of waving our magic wands and replicating our troubles away. Blah, blah."

The corner of Luka's mouth tugged into the faintest flicker of a smile, a gentle huff of a laugh leaking out through his nose as the Lieutenant slumped herself onto the sofa of the temporary guest quarters provided for him here on Cold Station Theta, and sunk her teeth into the replicated fruit. Luka didn't understand her obsession with that particular snack choice. Confronted with a universe full of alternatives, she always chose that same one, no matter how often anyone - Luka included - urged otherwise. There were at least a dozen better options from his native Bajor alone, and he'd told her as much. Not that the technical wizardry of a replicator could ever hope to compare with the succulent tang of a lovingly-nurtured moba fruit from the monastic orchards of the Kendra Province, but still. Regardless of logic, regardless of options, Takara Edden-Parami remained entrenched in her dubious habits. It was perhaps one of her more endearing qualities; or at least, one that Luka himself found easiest to relate to.

"How about you talk for you, and I'll talk for me," he suggested, conceding that he was the initiator this time around. Thirty-some years, and he still hadn't learned how unwise it was to engage with Kara on her own terms. Foolishly, part of him had hoped that Starfleet would knock a little respect into her - but as she had once so eloquently put it: Respect is for strangers, not family.

Not that they were family: or at least, not in a conventional sense. According to Federation Standard, an Uncle was the male sibling of a parent, something that Luka Kane most certainly was not. But Takara's parents had no siblings. To her, the term was understood to have a different meaning: not a brother by blood, or a brother-in-law, but a brother-in-arms, a sibling through shared experience and shared loyalty. It was a term that Takara's father had extended to him and a handful of others, a way for Jacen to bind Luka to his children through misapplied terminology, and in so doing bind the two of them together by proxy. Luka understood the sentiment, if not the act itself: orphaned by the Cardassian Occupation, the Bajoran Resistance had been the only family that Luka had ever known. Jacen Parami would have described those Resistance comrades as brothers and sisters, and Luka's heart would not have disagreed.

Takara shrugged off her uncle's suggestion, adjusting her posture to drape her legs over an arm-rest of the couch, steering her uniform boots away from the coffee table currently groaning beneath the scattered weight of tools, components, and dismantled parts. "What are you doing to that thing, anyway? I thought all your Bajoran gizmos were supposed to be vastly superior to everything else."

The laugh that escaped Luka was more audible and genuine this time. It was a jab that he deserved. In his youth, he had been somewhat obsessed with that particular topic. Federation technology might be sophisticated, he would explain to anyone foolish enough to listen, but Bajoran technology was built to endure. His younger self was the kind of man who wore a Bajoran combadge on the cuff of his sleeve, so he didn't have to rely upon the Federation counterpart. He was the sort of person who looked at Starfleet issue phasers with dismay, not at all won over by the comparison to cobras and dolphins, uncomfortable at the prospect of his life depending on the proper functioning of a device that felt so feeble and paltry in his hands. If he was to get introspective about it, he would have suspected that it was the defence mechanism, a form of compensation from a man trapped between Starfleet and the Bajoran Militia, feeling his hard-fought Bajoran identity and independence slowly slipping away as they became part of the Federation. He wasn't that man anymore, for better or worse, though the change was likely more to do with old age and cynicism than any sort of admirable personal growth.

"This," he explained, gesturing towards one of the components, the grey tones of its design strangely out of place among the more earthen and autumnal tones of Bajoran technology, "Is the frequency compensator from a Starfleet compression rifle. I've modified it to fit inside the casing of this Bajoran rifle: it should boost the particle confinement, giving a bit of a kick in range and accuracy, while shaving a few percent off the energy consumption." His calibrations continued, fingers switching the electron probe for a pair of tweezers, carefully pulling out a small card of isolinear circuitry, and replacing it with a waiting alternative. A satisfying click escaped as the new component settled into place. Luka glanced over at the Lieutenant. "It may be clunky, old, and Bajoran on the outside, but it can still be useful and effective, as long as what's on the inside is still up to par."

Takara's eyebrows climbed, apple lingering in her grip, half-full mouth faltering as she contemplated the thinly veiled analogue. "Wow," she muttered, partly chewed apple pulp pressed into a cheek to allow her words to pass by. "That's deep, Uncle Luke." The Bajoran's eyes narrowed into a scowl. "No really!" she protested, swinging her legs down, and sitting herself up on the couch. "I'm serious. Super profound. I totally get it, especially the part about you being an outdated Bajoran antique."

Luka grunted out a wordless retort, reaching for the frequency compensator, and sliding it into the freshly modified housing. "That's Commander Antique, thank you very much."

He sighed at that. It was a circumstance he was still getting used to, being back in service again; back in uniform again. It hadn't been entirely voluntary, though Luka had hardly been compelled at gunpoint. Takara's father was more subtle than that, instructions disguised as requested favours, there to be complied with or refused at your discretion: but it was always the former, with anyone who knew him well enough to have learned that Admiral Parami seldom decided upon anything unless it was for some greater good or carefully considered logic. It was never outright stated why Parami wanted Luka back in service, though the Bajoran had his speculations. One of them was seated opposite him, embarking on a new phase of her career without the support system that Jacen had subtly and carefully surrounded her with back aboard the Orion. Whether it was the primary motivation or not, Luka understood that keeping an eye out for Takara was an unspoken side objective. Of course, if they ever talked about it, Luka would likely find that Takara was under a similar impression, convinced that she was here to keep an eye on him. Her father did that: combined people, brought them together, gauged their missing pieces and calculated a means to help reinforce them.

"Is there a reason for this unannounced visit," he asked, shifting his contemplation to focus on the here and now, "Or are you just here to be a nuisance?"

Kara pretended to be offended, for a solid few seconds before she settled back into a normal expression. "I received word from Ops," she explained. "The Vindicator has pushed up their timetable. They'll be departing in three hours. I figured that you wouldn't want to be left behind, and, well -" A mischievous grin curled across her features. "- I know how long it takes a man of your advanced years to get ready to do anything. All that forgetfulness to fit in, all those bathroom breaks to schedule..."

Like lightning, Luka's hand grasped the Starfleet issue throw cushion beside him, and hurled it across the room at the Lieutenant. She deflected, her reflexes too fast for such a crude projectile; the sound that escaped her was almost a giggle, and for the briefest of moments she was almost a teenager again, and Luka was almost a quarter of a century younger. "Get out," he grunted, but the frustration in his voice was all play, and Takara was all smiles as she began to comply, extracting herself from the couch and skirting her way around the coffee table towards him. "I'll meet you at the airlock," he added, as Takara hesitated long enough to bend down and plant a platonic kiss on the top of his head. "And try to behave. I don't need you embarrassing me on my first day."

Takara grinned as she backstepped her way towards the doorway, reaching for the controls with one hand, and throwing a casual salute with the apple-holding other. "Best behaviour. Aye aye, Commander."

And with that she was gone, leaving Luka to sigh and grumble to himself in the once again peaceful solitude of his guest quarters. "Thank the Prophets," he muttered, another component clicking into place, a warm hum suddenly emitting from the rifle's circuits as stable connectivity was achieved, "For granting me the wisdom not to have children of my own."

---

Commander Luka Kane
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

Lieutenant Takara Edden-Parami
Tactical Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

 

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