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Lieutenant JG Rennyn - Misspent Youth


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((Shuttlebay 1, USS Atlantis))

::Back from the excursion with Dickens and Mitchell and some unexpected EJS ships, Ren landed his Type 9 shuttle quietly on the deck. That sound of metal resting on metal always surprised him with its softness. Sensors were still active, and Ren could see that the EJS ships weren't showing themselves to Atlantis. He wondered what they were doing out there. Maybe they were as scared of the three Starfleet officers as the officers were afraid of them. "Afraid" wasn't the right word. "Hesistant to engage" was more accurate.::

::He went carefully through the post-flight checkout. Mitchell was in Bay 2, hurrying on his way to inform the captain of their encounter. The Trill took his time. He had other business to see to, something the captain hadn't quite asked of him, but had somehow suggested: He needed to check on Rover.::

::Ren finished the sequence of procedures slowly, deliberately. It reminded him of a time when he'd been in too much of a hurry for his own good...::

((Flashback - Arnmere, Trill - 20 years ago))

::At thirteen years old, Ren Rennyn was the youngest pilot in the quiet town of Arnmere, deep in the farmlands of Trill. He'd already been flying three years, since the first time Miss Tanos from the next farm down the road took him up in her beat-up old shuttle and let him take the helm for a quick minute, as long as his parents weren't there to protest. He'd been hooked. He didn't know yet how far away from home he would fly one day, but he knew for now that he'd take any chance to get in some practice. That year, one of those chances presented itself from an unexpected source.::

::Out of nine Rennyn kids, Rendal was the middle child. He was closest with his brother Fess and sister Vye, each one year apart from him in age. The littlest three Rennyns were still the littlest, and always would be. Thara, his older sister, was sixteen, and way too cool to even notice him any more. Then there were the oldest two boys, Norvil and Dirin. Dirin was nice enough to the younger siblings, but Norvil, the oldest of all of them, was, and always had been, distant.::

::Ren idolized his oldest brother. His quiet reserve, his inner strength, his solid work effort, and the easy way he had of always following the rules. Ren wanted to follow the rules when he grew up. It was all he could do to keep himself from getting hollered at for five minutes at a time. Seemed he was always doing something wrong. Norvil never did anything bad. At nineteen, he was setting an example of good behavior and obedience that none of his siblings would ever live up to. Ren wanted to be just like him. Ren wanted to punch him in the face.::

::It was the first light of the first day of the first break from school in months. The sun was rising on a glorious early summer morning with a sky as blue and as clear as you please. All the other thirteen-year-olds in Arnmere and the surrounding area were sleeping deeply at this hour, recovering from their tortuous studies by slumbering through to the hot daylight of noon. Ren had other plans. He was taking Miss Tanos' old shuttle for a joyride.::

::She'd promised to let him go out alone if he made the grades at school, and his parents had agreed to the plan. He made those grades. Now, the day had come. All alone, coursing through the air, coasting up towards orbit, maybe picking up some friends and impressing them with dangerous maneuvers, if he thought he could get away with it.::

::He did his preflight checks as carefully as he could. He was going to forget to be careful later, and take risks, and probably get into trouble. For the moment, he was trying his best to take it slow and do what was right. He was a good kid at heart, just exuberant and given to take risks. He was quiet at times, but he was social by nature. In a big family, you had to be. In a small community, you had to be.::

::The hatch closed on the shuttle, sealing Ren in. Alone in a shuttle for the first time. He folded his tall, growing form into the pilot's chair. He worked the controls with his awkwardly large teenage hands, warming up the drive, making final checks. Norvil and Dirin might look down on him as still just a kid, while they were both starting in on college and impressing everyone with their plans for the future. But neither of them had done anything like this. Ren almost couldn't wait for the moment when he'd see them that night and tell them everything he'd accomplished on his own, without anyone's help.::

::He tapped the sluggish old controls. It would be surprising if this rust bucket could even break orbit. Miss Tanos and his parents had forbidden that anyway. With the push of one more button, he was on his way. His finger stretched toward it. He started to say out loud: "Engage."::

::There was a tap on the window. Ren jumped, drawing his hand back from the controls. He looked up at the screen to his left. He had dreamed of seeing stars and the blackness of space out of that window. He'd have rather seen livestock out that window than what was there. Norvil, his perfect older brother, the idol whose shadow he lived in, was knocking on the window from outside, and he was trying to say something to Ren, something that couldn't be heard, but looked a lot like "Let me in!"::

((Shuttlebay 1, USS Atlantis))

::Ren worked down his post-flight checklist, while he thought about a day he'd spent flying with his oldest brother, Norvil, many years ago.::

((Flashback - Arnmere, Trill - 20 years ago))

::At the age of thirteen, Ren Rennyn had barely begun to explore the depth and breadth of his wild-eyed temper. He'd been angry, he'd been frustrated, he'd been heated up and hopping mad. But the time when his effortlessly perfect, immaculately calm, everyone's-favorite-son older brother Norvil showed up to ruin Ren's first solo shuttle flight was the first time that the quick-tempered, much-overlooked middle Rennyn child ever blew a whole entire gasket.::

NORVIL: Take me with you.

::Ren had mechanically, obediently opened the hatch to let his brother in to the battered old shuttle. This was supposed to be his big day, his first solo flight. He was a little to shocked to say anything about it for the moment, finding himself not solo at all.::

REN: Why?

NORVIL: Because. I'm your cool older brother.

::Norvil helped himself to a seat, the co-pilot's chair next to his kid brother. It seemed like years since the 19-year-old Norvil gave any sign of interest in spending time with Rendal. Ren could hardly believe there wasn't another motive at work here.::

REN: You can't go with me.

NORVIL: Sure I can! I want to spend time with my kid brother!

::That was it for Ren. It wasn't the "kid" part that set him over the edge. It was the lie.::

REN: You Can't Go With Me! Miss Tanos said I could go! Mom and Dad said I could go! You can't go! You're nothing but a low-down, no-account, over-bearing, evil-minded, life-ruining... b-... b-... life ruiner!! Get outta my shuttle!

::Norvil was laughing hysterically so that tears formed in the corners of his eyes. Tantrums held no weight with an older brother. Not even with a good reason behind them.::

NORVIL: You should see your face! It's so red!

REN: It is not! Why won't you leave?!

::Ren was sticking to his seat. If he got up and got any closer to his big brother, he didn't know what he'd do. The blood hadn't just risen to his face. It was rising from his heart, steaming out his ears, flowing to his hands, which he couldn't stop balling up in fists. If he hit Norvil, if he made those perfect, good-boy green eyes turn black and blue, it would be as though he'd attacked the whole family. The perfect older brother, everyone's favorite son, damaged by Ren, the screw-up, the bad kid, the one it would be easy to write off as a lost cause while they fawned over their poor, injured favorite. Ren imagined what it would be like to be kicked out of the house, out of the family. He kept his hands to himself.::

NORVIL: It's not your shuttle. You can't say who gets to go.


::Ren was finally out of his seat. He wasn't about to take being told who he could and couldn't kick out. The shuttle might be borrowed, but he'd earned his time in it. Norvil was working on earning that black eye. Ren didn't strike, but his awkward, lanky teenage body language tried to threaten. Norvil laughed harder.::

NORVIL: You couldn't hurt me if you tried. Why don't you sit down and fly us out of here?

REN: What do you want?

NORVIL: I want to go with you on your flight, Ren. Come on, why not?

REN: Because it's MY flight. I'm going on my own for the first time. I'm going to fly around over town so everyone can see me. I'm going to fly clear to Ledaro and see the city from above. I'm going to kick my feet up and cruise through the clouds till the day grows long. You. Can't. Go.

::Norvil sat forward and spread his hands wide in surrender.::

NORVIL: Okay, okay. Fine. I guess you're right, I shouldn't ruin your day in the clouds. You'll never go wrong with a nice sky full of clouds. It's just too bad you can't think bigger than that.

::He stood and went to the hatch. Just before he pressed the control to open it, Ren let his curiosity get the better of him.::

REN: I'll bite. How could I think bigger?

::Norvil walked back and took his seat again.::

NORVIL: By breaking the atmosphere. By going to the Orbital Platform.

::Ren couldn't believe what he was hearing.::

REN: You've never done one wrong thing in your life. You know I'm not allowed to fly into space. Miss Tanos has friends on the Orbital Platform. They'd report us back to her in a second. I can't believe you'd ever suggest that. How do you think we'd ever get away with it?

::Norvil leaned across and grabbed his kid brother by the neck, a gesture that simultaneously threatened and offered protection, like only an older brother could do.::

NORVIL: Because, kid brother - I have a friend on the Orbital Platform, too. And you and I are going there. We're going to break atmosphere. We're going to dock with the station. And no one is ever going to hear about it...

((Shuttlebay 1, USS Atlantis))

::As he finished the post-landing checklist on his shuttle, Ren's memory skipped forward through the details of that long-ago launch with his oldest brother, Norvil. He was sure he had been nervous, afraid to falter in front of his perfect brother. But everything went fine. Even at 13, Ren was a capable pilot. And, sanctioned by the family's favorite son, he broke the atmosphere and flew right up into space that day.::

::And everything went smoothly, for a while. As it turned out, Norvil didn't just have a friend on the Orbital Platform. He had a girlfriend...::

((Flashback - Orbital Platform, Trill - 20 years ago))

::Up in space, everything was backwards. At home on the farm outside of Arnmere, Ren was always getting in trouble, always doing something wrong. And Norvil, the oldest of the nine Rennyn siblings, always did everything right. But at 19, home from college for the summer, Norvil had finally done something wrong. He'd insisted on breaking the rules and taking their borrowed shuttle out of the atmosphere, into space. And now Ren, who never cared about breaking the rules, was sick to his stomach with worry and guilt.::

REN: We should go back. We'll get in trouble. We should go back.

NORVIL: Relax. Zoann has our back on this.

REN: She's your girlfriend?

::He wrinkled his nose. They'd exited their shuttle and were walking down a hallway full of people. Trills mostly, but more aliens than they ever saw in Arnmere. The Orbital Platform was a hub of activity for travelers to and from the planet. In season, they could see it from Arnmere, on a clear night. Ren had always dreamed of going there. He'd never dreamed he would fly there himself, aged 13.::

NORVIL: We met at school. Her dad works up here. She pulled some strings to let us dock. And there she is...

::The beautiful Trill girl at the end of the corridor, waving to them and beaming brightly, would one day be Ren's sister-in-law. But that first time he saw her, he thought he'd never seen a more citified, spaceified, non-country Trill woman in his life. He was sure Mom and Dad would never approve if Norvil brought her home. Ren loved her instantly.::

::The two brothers continued to walk towards her. Ren felt important, being the first in the family to meet Norvil's girlfriend. Not that they could tell anyone about any of this. The trip to space would have to be their secret.::

::Suddenly, Norvil was grabbing him, turning him back the way they'd come.::

NORVIL: Back. Back to the shuttle!

::Ren looked over his shoulder to see Zoann waving them away, her face an odd mixture of amusement and terror. Two security agents were following them. Norvil and Ren broke into a run.::

::It seemed the crowd got thicker the moment they needed to get through it. They fought their way back to the docking ring. Ren was in the shuttle and starting the launch sequence like a flash. But Norvil was standing in the open door.::

REN: Get in here! I told you we'd be in trouble!

NORVIL: We lost them. And she's coming!

::Ren turned to see Zoann show up at the hatch. It seemed impossible that she was there before the guards. That she was raised on this station was obvious.::

::Norvil and Zoann's dopey smiles were a perfect match. When they kissed, Ren could only roll his eyes and turn back in his chair, slapping the console in frustration. They were definitely in trouble.::

::The lovers managed to part themselves, as the guards were coming down the hall. Norvil somehow brought himself to close the hatch, and Zoann pressed the manual release, allowing them to separate the shuttle from the station. Ren figured that without her, they never would have escaped. So, for now, he still liked her a lot.::

REN: She seemed nice.

NORVIL: Shut up. Fly!

::Only teenagers would think they could dock and undock a registered ship without being caught. Back home on the surface, a world of trouble awaited them. Ren was grounded in every sense, barred from flying for endless, unbearable months. But knowing he'd been in space, and being able to tell everyone about it after all, was definitely worth it. Norvil's reputation as the perfect son was stained for life. That kiss from Zoann, so he claimed, was worth it.::

::It was good to know that Norvil was a little less perfect than they all thought. And maybe that meant Ren had some hope of not being a total screw up. One thing, though, was certain. At 13, Ren was very sure he was never going to let love make him do anything that crazy, as long as he lived.::

((End Flashback - Shuttlebay 1, USS Atlantis))

::Ren chuckled, remembering how simple love had seemed then. How avoidable, if you wanted. That hadn't lasted long.::

:: He wondered what Norvil and Zoann were doing today. Despite their different backgrounds, they'd found a way to get together. Their kids were evidence of that. Ren was homesick thinking of his family.::

::The post-flight checks were done. He downloaded his sensor data to Atlantis in case it helped Mitchell tell the captain what they'd encountered out there. Ren walked out of his shuttle and found Commander Dickens exiting his. Ren made his way out of the shuttlebay, eager to find Rover and make sure he wasn't causing any more trouble on Atlantis. With the Cloud Dancer, it was Ren's turn to be the big brother, and to be the responsible one.::

LtJg. Rendal Rennyn
Helm Officer
USS Atlantis

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