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Out There

Irina Pavlova

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Out There

July 20, 2169

Dimitri was a very happy man. He woke up more content than ever. He and Irina had been friends as long as he could remember, which made sense as they were born only 4 months apart and lived right next door to one another all their lives. This morning was different though, for after 23 years of sharing everything from babysitters and playpens, the barracks at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School and everything in between, the one thing they had never shared was a bed.

Dimitri had been in love with Irina ever since the first hints of puberty hit, but he had never said or done anything out of fear of losing the girl who was as more of a sister than his real sister was. Irina likely felt the same, as she never hinted at any romantic interest even though she didn’t date much. She was also always locked away in her apartment practicing that violin of hers. It was only the sudden attack by the Romulans that ended her plans for a life of music and found both of them joining the marines together to defend their planet.

Even through four years at the academy and the end to the Earth-Romulan war the two had remained the strongest of friends, but neither had had the courage to move things to the next level. It was only when Irina was selected for the USS Columbia and her five-year-mission that she had finally told him how she really felt. Of course Dimitri hated the fact that she had been in love with him all of those years that he had been in love with her, and neither had said or done anything about it.

But now, on the morning she was set to depart with the Columbia for parts uncharted, he woke up with a smile, not to mention her face nuzzled on his naked chest. It had been a long and wonderful night, far better than he had ever imagined it could be.

November 18, 2169

Dimitri had moved mountains, or at least starships, freighters, lots of red tape and even the Vulcan high command to make this possible. The string of relays was extremely complex. The powerful Luna base transmitter’s signal was the longest-ranged system available to Earth, but Columbia was so far out that the signal needed to relay off the Centauri gateway station, a Bolian freighter, Columbia’s sister ship Enterprise and even a Vulcan battleship to finally reach the USS Columbia’s communications range. It was worth the effort, however, and Dimitri would have even reached out to the hostile Klingons and their vanquished Romulan adversaries if necessary after learning in her last letter that Irina was pregnant with their child. Two more letters back and forth, one for him to propose and the other for her to accept and the plan was in motion.

It wasn’t a legal ceremony, but that didn’t stop him. Both the communications room on the Columbia and the one at Luna base were decorated for a traditional Russian wedding or at least a miniature version thereof. The Russian Orthodox chaplain was standing just behind him and both sets of parents were all crammed into the tiny communications hub. It was only the physical placement of the ring and final kiss that stood in the way of the ceremony’s legality as both had digitally signed all of the required documents. It would be good enough for now. Columbia was due to rendezvous with a Vulcan ship for crew rotation, and the now 4-months-pregnant Irina was at the top of the list of reassignment. They could make it legal then, but at least in the eyes of god and their family, baby Katya would be born inside of wedlock.

“The link is established Lieutenant” Luna’s communications tech announced and immediately everyone moved into their respective places.

May 7, 2172

Dimitri read the headline again. He just couldn’t believe it. Hadn’t the Romulans surrendered over a decade ago? He didn’t care if this meant a return to war, he just focused on the single word “Columbia”.

Irina was supposed to be transferred off that ship two-years-ago, but the rendezvous with the Vulcan ship never happened and the decision was made to not make another crew rotation attempt. Katya was born on a starship and was probably talking by now, or would be if the Columbia was not lost with all hands after an attack by three unidentified vessels that everyone knew were Romulan.

Dimitri just didn’t believe it. There had to be something else going on. Were they on some sort of secret mission? Had they found something that fleet didn’t want public? He just could not accept that his wife and the daughter he had never met were dead. It was not possible. He’d already closed escrow on the little house outside of St. Petersburg and had put in his separation papers to take effect immediately on expiration of his service obligation in late August.

November 18, 2199

As the sun went down Dimitri lit two candles in the window as he did every year on the anniversary of his wedding, and again every year on Katya’s birthday. It was the same routine these last thirty years. Light the candles, pour a very tall and strong drink and then sit out on the porch and look up at the stars until he either fell asleep or the sun came up and overpowered the stars.

He knew she was still out there somewhere. No debris had ever been recovered, no acknowledgment of any attack by the Romulans or the Klingons, and never a detailed report from Earth Defense or later Starfleet.

Dimitri had never married, never moved from the little house outside of St. Petersburg, and never stopped waiting for the love of his life to return home. He took and left jobs, stayed in touch with Irina’s family, but every night he cried himself to sleep and woke every morning to an empty bed and an empty soul.

March 10, 2274

Irina’s grand-nephew Igor stood at the head of Dimitri’s grave as he read the eulogy. Most of it was the usual stuff, descriptions of his accomplishments, his education, his record in the Romulan war and his decades of service at the observatory.

It was only when he got to the last sentence that his voice broke. “Dimitri is survived by his wife Irina and daughter Katya, who are out there, somewhere in the endless nothing of space.”

Major Irina Pavlova

Chief Tactical Officer

Duronis II Embassy / USS Thunder A

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