The small computer screen snapped into focus, a familiar sight in the background. Her Zhavey’s office, and taking up the foreground, Ejherenna zh’Qynallahr, her Zhavey. Piravao sighed and sank back in her seat, antennae flicking away to focus on some other part of the small shuttle.
“What do you want, Ejherenna?” Her tone was dismissive, uninterested and mildly irritated.
“Is a Zhavey not allowed to call her child from time to time?” Ejherenna’s antennae flicked in a way which indicated her feelings had been hurt by Piravao’s dismissiveness.
“Last time we spoke you tried to convince me that I needed to come home and form my bond with those three you picked for me.” Piravao’s antennae flicked forward, posturing aggressively toward her Zhavey. She knew the names of the three selected for her, she had spoken with them numerous times in letters and the occasional subspace call, yet her Zhavey need not know that.
Ejherenna’s antennae flicked to a defensive posture “Yes, but it’s for--”
“I don’t want to bond with them,” Piravao cut her off ”and I’m confident they don’t want to bond with me either.” That was something she had learned in their letters. Like her, they all came from old families, and like her, they had been told that they would bond with people they had never met. They were all nice people, and Piravao considered the three of them her friends, yet there was no love between any of them. She had experienced love, Ezitesh zh’Reiji, the zhen she had shared a wild winter with on the shores of Emarnl Lake. Her hand strayed up to her shoulder, stroking the fabric above the tattoo she shared with the zhen.
Ejherenna noticed the movement, her antennae curled in disdain “You still hold feelings for that nomad? You would rather court that barbarian than those whose bloodline is as noble as yours?”
Piravao’s antennae lashed about in anger at the comment. “There is nothing ignoble about clan Reiji, they honour the ancient ways of our people. You could learn a trick or two from them.”
Ejherenna’s expression hardened, her antennae moving together and angling toward Piravao. Then she sat back, her antennae relaxing as she did so. “I...apologize, that was rude of me.”
Piravao relaxed her antennae too “It was”
“I’m trying to meet you halfway here my Shei, but you have to give me something to work with.” Ejherenna’s expression was one of sadness, her antennae drooping over her forehead. “I don’t want a repeat of the day you left.”
“I regret my actions that day, but I do not regret the outcome.” Piravao’s eyes met her Zhavey’s, her antennae flicked forward as her Zhavey’s flicked up, they wobbled back and forth, measuring each other up.
“You broke Jhozahosh’s nose, Zartholh, Ashryvoss and I were quite upset when you left.” Ejherenna’s antennae sank down again, her expression mournful.
“Jhozahosh has survived worse, and I’m sure Charan and Thavan got over themselves soon enough” Piravao saw her Zhavey flinch slightly at her choice of words, calling her Shreva by her name, while referring to her Charan and Thavan as her parents. It was deliberate, yet also unconscious. Her Shreva and Zhavey had been absent for much of her childhood, and as such she had formed a much closer bond to her Charan and Thavan.
“She wanted to come after you. Ashryvoss spent almost three hours talking her down. I had to call the families of your bondmates and explain why--”
“They are not my bondmates!” Piravao yelled, her antennae flicking up aggressively “When will you get it into your head that I will not bond with them.”
“I had to talk them down!” Ejherenna yelled back “They wanted to go after you too! Were it not for me you would have been dragged back to the keep kicking and screaming!”
“Oh, well thanks for letting me live my own life Ejherenna!” Piravao’s antennae lashed back in anger, almost burying themselves in her hair. “Did it perhaps occur to you that I might want to form my own bondgroup? Perhaps with people I love rather than people who were chosen for me?”
“That is not our way. There are traditions that must be followed.” Ejherenna’s tone was much calmer, however her antennae were angled forward, a sign that she was ready to fight her position.
“Traditions which are hundreds of years old! Traditions, which predate our people discovering warp travel. Traditions, which in times gone by would have involved blood sacrifices of Shens and children to try and prevent the snowmelt from drowning towns!” Piravao’s face was flushed a dark blue, verging on purple. Her antennae had almost vanished into her hair at this point.
“Don’t compare the Spring Water Festival to your Time of Knowing Ceremony.” Ejherenna’s antennae flicked as though she found this comparison amusing. “They are nothing alike.”
“Not any more, the Spring Water Festival has evolved. We’ve grown wiser and realized that blood sacrifices change nothing. Yet we still cling to thousand year old traditions when it comes to bonding.” Her antennae relaxed slightly, her face returning to its more natural shade. “And why? Because we are ‘the old blood’. So what? There is no real advantage to that in this age. All we are doing is clinging weakly to the glory of our ancestors and telling the rest of Andoria that we are stuck in the past. The rest of Andoria woke up when we helped to found the Federation, they discarded outdated notions and advanced. They started bonding for love, not power. So why should I bond with people whom I do not know simply to increase your standing in parliament. Your career is yours, what I do has no bearing on that. If I wish to bond for love then I shall, and if you have a problem with than then you--”
Piravao paused for a moment, her Zhavey’s antennae were focused on her, yet her eyes had drifted off to the left, and Piravao could hear the faint taps and beeps of a PADD “Are you working while I’m talking to you?”
Ejherenna’s eyes snapped back to Piravao “Oh, um, no. I wasn’t working, just, ah, checking a message from the council.”
Anger flashed through Piravao’s eyes. “Don’t lie to me Ejherenna! If you cannot honour me with your full attention then there is no point in us continuing this debate. Goodbye!” Piravao slammed her finger down on the console before her, ending the call in a flash of anger.