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Romyana Casparian: Three sneezes


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Cadet Romyana Casparian stood at the back of the bridge of the long distance federation transport vessel from where she could see the spectacular Trojan class Starbase growing bigger and more beautiful on the large view screen. The ship moved carefully closer toward the upper section of the base, preparing for the docking maneuvers. She was totally amazed by the enormity of the structure as it quickly occupied the entire view screen and continued to dwarf the entire ship. 

Then the view screen snapped into focus on an impossible sight - a blue planet she immediately recognized as Earth - the Starbase was nowhere near Earth! How could this be? A voice from her past spoke to her, and when she turned to look, she saw her good friend Cadet Nommi Jarr suddenly standing next to her. He sure wasn’t there before, he couldn't be, he was back on Earth. Then Romyana remembered how only a little while ago they stood, exactly like this, side by side watching the view screen on their voyage towards Earth.

“We will beam down to the Academy directly from the parking orbit?” Nommi asked.

“Yes. To San Francisco, the city. And finally we will take the monorail to cross the campus grounds.” Romyana whispered to not disturb the bridge crew.

“Oh, I hope we don’t make any mistakes and get lost.” the Cadet worried. 

“Don’t worry, I’ve done it before. I’ve lived in this city for 2 years. We won’t get lost.” Romyana reassured him.

For him it was the first time, though Romyana was returning from her cadet cruise to finish her fourth year. They had met on the deep space station and during those months became inseparable companions - two young and naive students whose mission seemed to be to give their mentoring superiors headaches, while enjoying a carefree life. She'd been ecstatic when he got the news that he was accepted to the Academy.

***

“Well, this is it, the first year student dormitories. My room is in the thin high building way over there. The petty officer will fill you in on the rest.” Romyana said to Nommi when they had arrived at the entrance of building FD3 on the Starfleet Academy grounds.

“So, where are you going now? You still have some free days left. How will you spend them?” 

“I haven’t thought of that yet.”

“Maybe you can visit your family. They live in this city, you told me once.” 

“Hmm, maybe. Though, I think they are not very eager to see me.” Romyana said somberly. 

“And you? You must have missed them. Just go and see them... while you can.” Nommi tried to convince her and placed a hand on her shoulder to convey the importance of the last couple of words. 

Romyana decided to follow Nommi’s advice. He had lost his father a few years ago and he used to say that ‘you don’t realize how much you love a person until he is gone, then it will be too late’.

“All right then. See you tomorrow!”.

So Romyana put aside her stubbornness and went to see her mother and father. They both had positions at Starfleet Headquarters at the moment, so that is where she went first. It was right next to the Academy campus, she walked there through the park. It was a calm and sunny December day and it had been snowing the day before, so the grass was all covered in snow. It had been a long time since she had seen snow and her nose felt cold and tingly in the freezing air. At that moment she felt very content being back on Earth. 

It took the Ensign a while to find the whereabouts of her father and mother. Father had a free day and was at home, in the center of San Francisco. Mother was in her office, some floors up in the Headquarters building. Romyana went to see her first, as it was nearest. 

When she announced herself to the secretary, she was told to wait. The Ensign took a seat in the waiting lounge, but it took more than an hour before she was called inside the office. 

“The Captain will receive you now.” the secretary said monotonically. 

Anxiously Romyana stepped inside the office and approached the desk. While doing so she noticed the stern expression on her mother’s face didn’t change. The Captain didn’t show any sign of gladness for her daughter’s return. About halfway to the desk Romyana halted and croaked a greeting. 

“Hi mom.” 

“Have you forgotten how to salute an Officer, Cadet?” her mother said sternly, with the emphasis on Cadet. 

The young Cadet knew her mother was never one to show much emotion due to her Vulcan upbringing, but she was also half human and had been able to show some kind of tenderness when Romyana and her brother were young children. This certainly was not quite the welcome she’d expected.

She stood at attention to salute her mother, who was a Captain in rank. 

“So tell me, they have sent you back home because they couldn’t use any inexperienced students out there.” mother said nastily and without any kind of expression on her face. 

“No, Ma’am. I have returned to finish the last of the fourth year classes, Ma’am. And I thought I might as well come and see you again.” Romyana said hopefully. 

“You might as well. Ah, has it been a year already then?” mother replied dryly. 

“More.” Romyana corrected. 

After a short tense pause, her mother spoke.

“You have seen me now. Thank you for the announcement, you are dismissed, Cadet.”  

She wondered what had changed for her mother to become so distant like this. Was she still angry at her for what she did over a year ago? Despite the insecurity and hurt that Romyana felt due to her mother’s cold words she kept her head high, saluted and calmly left the room. Her mother remained ever emotionless. 

As soon as the Ensign closed the office door, tears came to her eyes. Partly angry, partly disappointed, she marched out of the building into the park and sat down on a bench, in a quiet corner near the water. There she sat motionless for a while, staring across the water's calm surface. 

She wanted to scream, throw something or maybe even punch someone - instead she counted slowly to seven. It was a trick her grandmother taught her on one of the rare occasions that the Vulcan relative left the home world to come see her -mostly- human grandchildren.

“Romyana?” she heard a familiar male voice say in the distance. “What a nice surprise and wonderful coincidence to see you here!”

The Cadet looked back over her shoulder and to her delight she saw her father approaching. She quickly wiped away her tears on the cuff of her uniform sleeve before he’d see she was crying.

A smile came back to her face and he gave her his typical cheerful grin. Also a Starfleet officer, her human father had always supported and encouraged her to achieve the best in life. He sat down next to her on the bench, blew a hot breath on his hands to warm them up and folded them in his lap. 

“Well.” he said curiously, “How was it out there? Did you like it?”  

“Oh yes! It was wonderful, just as you had always told me. I met many people and different cultures, most are very kind. And I’ve learned so much.” Romyana said, her joyfulness had returned immediately when thinking back to her cadet cruise days.

“The adventure you have been waiting for for so long, hey? I am glad it was as you expected.” 

“It was better than I expected!”

“So you are finishing your fourth year classes now. Have you prepared well?”

“Yes, I am confident about them.”

“You have had a lot on your mind there, I’m sure. But you must try to score highest.” her father encouraged her. 

“Yes, I know. I will still go for top grades.” Romyana said reluctantly and produced a thin lipped smile. 

“Oh I’m sure about that. I don’t expect any less.“ he said, which only increased the pressure for Romyana to do well.

“Why are you out here? You don’t have to work today.”

“I thought I’d come and see your mother. I was planning on taking her out to lunch, and it is so beautiful to stroll through the snow.” father explained while looking out across the lake and the snow covered campus grounds. 

“Oh, well. I have to warn you then, she is in a bad mood today. She still hasn’t forgiven me.”

“You have paid her a visit then? In that case, a good lunch is just what she needs.” father laughed the matter away. 

Romyana laughed too but she was not amused. 

“Well, I must be going now. I don’t want to anger her too. Oh, and do come by to have a drink or something. Your brother will be pleased to see you again. Goodbye.” he said whilst getting up from the bench. 

Then he marched away along the yellow path in between fluffy white and sparkling snow. Romyana sneezed. She thought it’d be best if she went inside her dormitory before catching a cold. She sneezed again and stood up from the bench and strolled through the snow, making the bottoms of her trouser legs cold and wet. 

She sneezed for the third time and found that she was suddenly back on the bridge of the transport vessel again and there was no-one standing next to her. It has just been a very vivid memory. On the view screen the Starbase’s huge dry dock area was revealed as the docking bay doors slowly opened. It was a captivating sight, and she stood gazing wide eyed, smiling from ear to ear of excitement.

***

The ship had arrived at the station and it was time to disembark. Usually Nommi would be waiting for her just outside the airlock when she’d come back from a field trip, but now that would no longer be the case. Admittedly, they could always write or call, but she'd still miss him and his ever present positive attitude. The young Cadet would have to build herself a new life with new friends now, but Romyana knew she could do it, because she’d done it during the cadet cruise and she’d do it again on the Starbase.
 

-END-

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