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Run, Rabbit, Run!

Irina Pavlova

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((Irina’s Quarters, USS Vigilant-A))

::For the last two weeks Irina’s days have been occupied with trying to solve too problems. The first was to find someone she could trust, and who was willing to assume responsibility for her daughter Katya in the event something happened to Irina. The second and more promising option was for Irina to try and way back to the 22nd century which would make the first problem irrelevant.::

::In Irina’s era time travel was just the stuff of science fiction, but in the over two centuries that Irina had spent on the surface of Kjenta II time travel had not only been discovered, but had been successfully accomplished. Of course there were rules against going back in time, and upon her rescue from Kjenta II those rules had been clearly explained, but still the seed had been planted and in the year that followed, there was not a day that went by without Irina thinking about finding a way home.::

::Home, as in a place, was easy. It was home, as in a time, that was more difficult. Home the place was Sochi, Russia, with considerable time also spent in St. Petersburg and Odessa. The two big cities on account of her father’s occupation as a professional symphony violist, while Sochi was the place of Irina’s birth and where the family had always maintained a small cabin in the mountains.::

::Irina loved Sochi. It was a magical place to be a child, with unspoiled mountain landscapes, rivers flowing with clean water and to Irina’s particular delight since the age of six when she started it was a wonderful place to hunt. While Irina lost interest in most activities quickly after mastering them, hunting was always a pleasure. The smaller, faster and farther away the animal, the more Irina enjoyed it.::

::Better than perfect 20/10 vision combined with naturally outstanding coordination and real feel for it to make in Irina a very rare breed of hunter. She only hunted animals that she and her family would eat, and only those that were overpopulated for the region. Rabbits were her favorite as they were beyond plentiful, extremely fast and quite small. She would, after the age of ten when she had truly mastered aim and trigger control, try to spook them first, making them run before she took the shot. She even had a sort of deal that she had made with the rabbit god, if there was such a thing, and that was that if she missed, the rabbit won and would go free. She never missed.::

::After Discovery’s return to earth and before her assignment to the Vigilant, Irina had taken her three-year-old daughter to Sochi for the weekend. The cabin was where it had always been, but in a horrible state of repair. The windows were mostly broken and much of the wood rotten. The place had been thoroughly looted a very-long-time-ago, but in the floor she found the loose board under which she had always hidden her treasures, and inside remained the small metal box she had last opened 224-years-ago. Inside were the rotten remains of the friendship bracelet her neighbor, friend and later lover and fiance Dimitri gave to her in junior high school, which she removed prior to reporting to Earth Defense Academy. There was a .303 caliber bullet, the first bullet that Irina had ever loaded herself at age 9. A rabbit’s foot, properly preserved by her father who in addition to being a professional musician was also an video taxidermist. A pair of keys to the car she and her younger brother were helping their father to restore. It was a 2092 Mercedes-Benz convertible that her grandfather had purchased new and maintained well, but sat neglected after his passing in 2130. In 2160 father had declared that if they got the car running, it would go to Irina and Gregori. Sadly, the garage behind the cabin no longer existed and there was no car anywhere on the property, restored or otherwise.::

::The last item in the box was the most precious. A plastic envelope containing old-fashioned pictures on paper and a small book. There was a mixture of photographs ad drawings, and the book was Irina’s diary. She opened the book to the last entry and read it aloud for young Katya to hear.::

Pavlova: My bags are packed and tomorrow Dimitri and I leave for San Francisco to start our careers in the marines. I still remember grandpa re-telling the stories of his youth, about first contact, early warp travel and even about his playing chamber music at President Archer’s inauguration. I cannot help but wonder what stories I’ll have to tell my grandchildren.

Katya: Do you have any stories yet mommy?

Pavlova: Oh yes, Printzyessa, I do.

::Could a year really have passed? Irina took the metal box out of her night table drawer and looked at the diary inside. Someday she would have to put in entries for her time on Columbia, the 219 years on Kjenta II and then her year on Vigilant. She had thought about many times, but if she did find a way back to her time, such a record would be problematic. No, she would wait, and hopefully a successful return in time would solve the problem for her.::

::Irina and T’Mihn had solved the equations earlier today, and she had the release codes to steel the small dispatch ship out of DS6 impound. Tomorrow would be the day, and so with contented thoughts of Russia in 2173, Irina finally turned out the light and drifted off to sleep.::

((Sochi, Russia, October 10, 2173))

::Irina stood up on the hilltop looking down on the valley below. The cabin was there, mother in the yard, brother Gregori polishing the old Mercedes which was no longer on blocks. Smiling, she started walking down the path, excited that she had finally made it home.::

::The walk was peaceful, with a crisp breeze, flowers in bloom, birds chirping and animals seemingly at play. She heard the sound of a rifle bolt being rammed forward and turned, expecting to see her father.::

::It was father, but not. He was himself, but he was also, somehow, a rabbit. A 6’ tall rabbit, with father’s face and father’s rifle. He smiled as he brought the rifle up to eye-level and aimed it at Irina.::

Rabbit Father: Run, Irina, run. If I miss, you win the game.

Pavlova: And if you don’t miss?

Rabbit Father: Then we eat you for dinner.

Pavlova: But, I’ve come home. Gregori, the car, mother in the yard.

Rabbit Father: There’s no coming home Printzyessa. Now run!

::Irina watched as her father the rabbit smiled and slowly leaned down to look through the scope, and without even realizing it she was running.::

::She could see and hear him through the trees, but she was very limited in where she could go. Out in a clearing and he would have an easy shot. In the trees her advantages of strength and endurance were negated.::

::It didn’t escape her how ironic that she had survived over two centuries on Kjenta II, broken all of the rules to come home, only to find herself hunted by her own father, who had somehow taken on the identity of the rabbit god to whom she had made that promise so many decades ago.::

Rabbit Father: I see you, better run faster than that Printzyessa.

::Irina pushed herself, harder and harder, trying not to present a target, but knowing that eventually she would come into the rabbit’s sights. oO The car Oo.::

::Irina headed in the opposite direction, but slowly looped back around until she had a view of her brother Gregori and the old Mercedes. The metal box was in her shoulder bag and the car keys were still inside. The car looked clean, had new black tires and everything sparkled, but as she approached she noticed that Gregori too was a rabbit.::

::Staying hidden in the bushes, she called out to him.::

Pavlova: Gregori, its me, Irina. I’m back, but I need help.

Gregori: Irina! You shouldn’t be here. You have to leave.

Pavlova: Yes, I know. Let me take the car. I can’t run fast enough, but with the car I can get free.

Gregori: Where will you go?

::Irina stopped cold.::

Pavlova ::to herself:: : Where will I go?

Rabbit Father ::from behind, touching the rifle barrel to Irina’s back:: : There is nowhere for you to go Irina. You should not have come back.

Pavlova: What else was I to do?

Rabbit Father: You needed to stay where you were. Katya needs a mother, not a prisoner.

Pavlova: I am a prisoner on Vigilant, no, anywhere in that time. I do not belong there.

Rabbit Father: The universe says otherwise, and while you always have a place here, that place is in our memories. You have to go.

Pavlova: Please.

::Irina collapsed to her knees and started sobbing uncontrollably.::

((Irina’s quarters, present day))

Katya: Mommy, don’t cry.

::Irina opened her eyes and realized her pillow was veritably soaked while Katya stood above her, tears in her own eyes.::

Pavlova: Its okay Printzyessa, go to sleep.

Katya: Who were you talking to?

Pavlova: Just a rabbit I used to know.

Katya: Are we going home tomorrow?

Pavlova: Yes Printzyessa, mommy found a way.

::Irina hugged her daughter in tight, weird dreams aside, her plan was well in motion, and this time tomorrow would be this time 219-years-ago.::

Rabbit Father:: distant voice:: : Run, Irina, run!

Lieutenant Irina Pavlova

Security/Tactical, USS Vigilant-A

Edited by asiafish
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