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Lt. Jona ch'Ranni - Backsim: Chill of the wind (Parts 1-4)


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((Some ooc backstory, the Columbia is being decommissioned. I have included @Jona ch'Ranni's ooc note regarding that. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, tragic, personal story with the crew.  I think the whole fleet deserves a chance to see it.))I


((OOC Note: This series of sims was something I was holding on to for our next shore leave. I'm altering it a bit setting-wise to have played out during our last shore leave because I wanted to share it with you all before Columbia is decommissioned. Hope you enjoy.))

((Observation Deck, Freighter Bion J. Arnold))

ch'Ranni: Look there's Talar! That means the bluish one over there is Gamma Trianguli and the orange one is Kappa Persei.

::Jona pointed to each star point in succession as Vexa looked on. She was not as enthusiastic as the former helmsman but she tried desperately to feign interest in what was unmistakably an obsession with her counterpart.::

zh'Lev: Wonderful. And how much longer will it be?

ch'Ranni: We should dock at Starbase 47 within two hours. After that we will board the USS Abilene who is traveling at high warp to Pollux. And from there three more days to Andoria aboard the IKS Chang'Kza.

zh'Lev: Ok. I think I can manage that.

ch'Ranni: ::peeling his eyes from the starscape:: What's wrong, Vexa?

zh'Lev: Nothing.  ::beat:: I'm bored.

ch'Ranni: Well, just wait til you see the Betreka Nebula!

((Timeskip: Nine days later))  
((Transporter Room, IKS Chang'Kza))

::The two Andorians stood atop the transporter pads awaiting their final departure approval. The Klingon male at the console leered at them as if he'd drunk some bad prune juice. A high-pitched beep signaled on his board and the operator barked at the passengers.::

Veng'tuk: Your departure has been approved! I will transport you to the surface now!

:: He tapped a key combination on his controls but nothing happened. The Klingon quickly lost his temper and slammed his hand on the side of the station.::

ch'Ranni: Did you remember to engage the primary energizing coil?

Veng'tuk: Do not tell me how to do my job!

zh'Lev: Hey! Don't yell at him!

:: A low growl began in Veng'tuk's throat as his voice grew quieter.::

Veng'tuk: Control your woman, pet'Q.

ch'Ranni: Vexa, step back on the pad.

zh'Lev: But he ...

ch'Ranni: It's alright. Step back on the pad, please.

::The two Andorians returned to their positions as the Klingon operated the console once again. Jona was quite satisfied to see the Klingon engage the primary energizing coil and then felt the slight pull as they dematerialized in a swirl of reddish-gold.::

((Spaceport, New Sheras, Andoria))

::The two Andorians rematerialized in the bustling Arrival Sector of the New Sheras Spaceport. People milled about them on their way to their own individual destinations.::

ch'Ranni: Come on. This way.

::Jona grabbed Vexa's hand and lead her to the left. They advanced to a large waiting lobby. Above the expansive room, a glass ceiling kept the frigid temperatures and snowy wind at bay, yet still seemed to let the starkness of Andoria's surface shine through.::

::Weaving their way through the crowded terminal, Jona spotted his destination. A tea cart that always seemed to be set up in the same spot every time he visited stood in an offset corner of the building. Jona ordered each of them some srjula tea and gratefully accepted the steaming cups of bright yellow liquid from a wizened Andorian woman.::

zh'Lev: How long must we wait?

ch'Ranni: Not long I think.

::Jona proved correct as he heard his name shouted by someone from far behind them. He turned and broke into a wide grin as he spotted his shreva waving wildly from across the spacious room.::

ch'Ranni: There she is.

Lt. Jona ch'Ranni
Assistant Chief of Operations
USS Columbia (NCC-85279)

((Spaceport, New Sheras, Andoria))

zh'Lev: How long must we wait?

ch'Ranni: Not long I think.

::Jona proved correct as he heard his name shouted by someone from far behind them. He turned and broke into a wide grin as he spotted his shreva waving wildly from across the spacious room.::

ch'Ranni: There she is.

:: The middle-aged Andorian woman jogged toward them and threw her arms around Jona's neck, hugging him close. Vexa stayed a few steps back letting mother and son have a private moment in the crowded terminal.::

Nota: I've missed you, Jona.

ch'Ranni: ::tears welling up in his eyes:: Me too.

::The older woman took a step back and touched her forehead to Jona's until her eye caught sight of the petite girl standing a few feet away.::

Nota: Who's this?

ch'Ranni: My shreva, this is Vexa zh'Lev. Vexa, please meet Nota sh'Ranni. Vexa is a scientist assigned to a research base in the region that my ship is assigned to explore. ::beat:: She's my girlfriend.

::Nota raised her eyebrows for a second and then her face softened. She held her arms out to Vexa and embraced her lightly.::

Nota: Welcome. We're so glad you could come. Please, let's gather your things. Mir is preparing a meal back at the house. We shouldn't keep her waiting.

((Ranni Clan, New Sheras, Andoria))
((Time Index: An hour later))

::The winding tunnels leading to Jona's boyhood home were as familiar as they were worn. These particular passages were hundreds of years old. Where they occasionally broke through the ice and rock to the surface, forcefields kept the inclement weather away. Jumping thalaas frogs licked up ice mites along the walls of the spacious corridor, unconcerned as people came and went.::

Nota: So tell me about your work, Vexa. Jona said you are a scientist?

zh'Lev: Oh my, yes. My specialty is in energy fields. At Dehner Base we are studying the long and short-term effects of the Galactic Barrier on living tissue. We have some very promising results we have discovered recently. What with the Barrier contracting over the last few years, we may have a whole new region that could potentially be opened for habitation.

Nota: That's very interesting. Sh'letha sren granta lullsla. ((Andorian Graalen for "You are quite talented."))

zh'Lev: Thank you, Nota. And Jona tells me you are a linguist in the Andorian Guard?

Nota: Yes. Aboard the Marvassi. Vorka, Jona's charan, also serves aboard as the helmsman. That's probably where Jona got his love of piloting.

ch'Ranni: And you are the one I got my love of languages from. vImuSHa' SoS ((Klingon for "Love you, mom"))

:: As they continued conversing, Jona noted the recent construction that had taken place around the clan settlement. Impressively reinforced structures stretched upward a hundred meters to the ice cave ceiling above. Small patches of vegetation with artificial overhead lighting provided micro park-like areas that broke up the more austere surroundings.::

ch'Ranni: When did all of this happen?

Nota: Oh, there have been lots of changes in the past two years. We received a grant to protect the clan holdings from icequakes and the resources have gone a long way to modernizing the Ranni clan.

ch'Ranni: That's great! ::pause:: How does Spel feel about it?

::The mention of ch'Ranni's thaven, one of Nota's co-husbands, made Nota's face darken ever so slightly and the smile on her face faded away slowly.::

Nota: You know your father. He's set in his ways.

::Jona shook his head at his father's stubborness. He was a history professor but he himself was stuck in the past, just like the clay artifacts he proudly displayed in his office.::

ch'Ranni: Yes, that's Spel. I assume he's at the Military College.

Nota: You know he is. He'll be home late tonight.

ch'Ranni: oO He couldn't come home early to see us. Figures. Oo

::The trio turned left down the worn path and Jona's boyhood home came into view. Jona took a breath and let it out slowly. He turned to Vexa and grabbed her hand.::

ch'Ranni: Home.

Lt. Jona ch'Ranni
Assistant Chief of Operations
USS Columbia (NCC-85279)

((Ranni Clan, New Sheras, Andoria))
((Three days after arriving on Andoria))

::Jona padded barefoot into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He stretched his lanky frame to work out the kinks of sleeping on an unfamiliar bed and smiled at Vexa who was sitting at the table with a steaming cup of srjula tea. He poured himself a cup and sat next to her.::

ch'Ranni: Morning. Been up long?

zh'Lev: About an hour. ::smiling impishly:: Mir had some wonderfully embarrassing stories to tell about you.

ch'Ranni: ::in mock horror:: Surely not!

zh'Lev: Your first day of school.

ch'Ranni: She loves telling that one. Gods, that was the worst day.

zh'Lev: And the time you fell from the ice sculpture in the clan square? How did you manage to end up naked?

ch'Ranni: That was not my fault. It was ... unavoidable.

zh'Lev: ::patting his cheek:: I'm sure it was, Jona. Now, what's on the schedule for today?

ch'Ranni: Lunch with Nota and Vorka. And then I thought I might show you one of my favorite museums in the city.

zh'Lev: Sounds nice. I can't wait.

((Timeskip: Two hours later))

Vorka: So there we were, facing the business end of a Nausicaan warship. I banked the ship hard to port and cut behind a slew of asteroids. We used a modified tractor beam to scoop up one of the large ones. ::The aging Andorian used his fork, in-between bites of food, to illustrate the path of the ship:: Then we slung it around in a wide arc, accelerating it as it went. Smashed those pirates right in the engineering deck. COM-pletely destroyed their ability to manuever. Let me tell you something, Little Miss, they were a lot nicer when Nota re-established the comm-link with them.

zh'Lev: ::patiently:: I can imagine. 

Vorka: And then there was the time we had a Tholian cruiser try to tear through our supply convoy...

ch'Ranni: Dad? Dad ... hold on a minute. I think Vexa has heard enough of your stories for right now. There will be time later to talk more.

Vorka: Hmmph.

zh'Lev: ::grinning:: Vorka, tonight I promise. I want to hear about those Tholians.

Vorka: Fine, fine. ::He stopped to look at his son before taking another bite from his plate.:: So, Jona, still in Starfleet?

ch'Ranni: Yes. A full lieutenant now. I'm serving as the Assistant Chief of Operations aboard the USS Columbia.

Vorka: Lieutenant? Took me three years to make that rank. And Operations you say? Well, its close to piloting at least.

ch'Ranni: I served as the Helmsman for nearly a year before taking on this assignment. ::beat:: Starfleet's been good to me. I've learned a lot.

Vorka: ::grunting:: Well, you were always one to make your own choices. ::turning to Vexa:: Wouldn't listen to a word we said.

ch'Ranni: I'm happy with my choices. ::looking sideways to Vexa:: All of them.

Vorka: Well, I suppose ... if you hadn't run off to Starfleet you wouldn't have brought this pretty young thing home for a visit.  Here, have some more tuber root.

zh'Lev: Thank you. Your family has been so hospitable these last few days. I can't believe we have to head back to the Sagittarius Reach tomorrow. It feels like we just got here.

::Jona smiled sadly and looked at his two parents sitting across the table from them.::

ch'Ranni: Listen you two. I know that you may not have always agreed with my pursuing a Starfleet career. But please remember, I'll always love you and nothing will change that. Maybe some day you'll understand my reasons.

Nota: ::nudging Vorka in the ribs:: Go on, tell him!

::Vorka gave his wife a dirty look and then stood up from the old belayla wood table. He stepped over to a cabinet and fiddled with the metal latch until it popped open. He retrieved a single PADD and handed it to his waiting son.::

Vorka: Here. You should read it on your trip back to the Columbia.

ch'Ranni: What is it?

Vorka: The ramblings of an old man. Communiques that I recorded over the last four years but didn't send to you. I was too caught up in what Spel and Mir wanted for you. I couldn't defy them. But now ... I don't care.

::Jona moved his thumb to the activation switch.::

Vorka: I said read it on your way home! Not before.

::Jona's eyes met his father's gaze and for the barest second he could see the pain and regret that filled the man's soul. The younger man gave a short nod of mutual understanding and set the electronic device on the table top.::

Vorka: Well, then. ::beat:: Where are you two off to this cold afternoon?

Lt. Jona ch'Ranni
Assistant Chief of Operations
USS Columbia (NCC-85279)

((Guest Quarters 5-B7, Freighter Bion J. Arnold))
((Time Index: Two days into return trip to Dehner Base))

::Jona sat on the edge of the cot with his thumb hovering over the power button on the PADD. For some reason he felt nervous activating the device. He knew that Vorka wanted him to view its contents but he didn't understand why his father wanted him to wait until they left Andoria.::

::His finger fell the last few centimeters and the bright screen activated. An image of his white-haired father's face shone on the screen. He looked upset.::

Vorka: Stardate 239111.04. Jona, you've been gone a month now to the Academy and I think it's time I set a few things straight. I don't oppose you joining Starfleet. I think you will make a difference out there among the stars. You are destined for great things.

ch'Ranni: oO Then why did you ghost me with all the rest? Oo

::The recording continued despite Jona's musings.::

Vorka: Of course, I would have preferred for you to join me and Nota in the Andorian guard. The things I could have taught you with you by my side at the helm of the Marvassi ... ::shaking his head:: Well, anyway, I know this is what you wanted and I'm proud of you.

::The screen went black and Jona could see his teary-eyed face in the reflection of the transparent aluminum screen. He cycled back to the index and tapped on the next entry.::

Vorka: Stardate 239112.08. Jona, I hope things are going well for you in your studies. I've been opening up to Nota and I think she feels similar to how I do. We both care about you very much. I wish I had been able to say these things in person. Stay safe out there.

::The young Andorian tapped through the list of message. Stardate 239201.02, 239201.30, 239202.15. The list went on and on. Vorka had crafted messages every few weeks to his son and saved them all here. He swiped up on the PADDs screen and activated the final message in the list which was just less than a year old.::

Vorka: Stardate 239510.17. Jona, my boy. Today you have graduated from Starfleet Academy. You have no idea how it broke my heart to not attend your graduation ceremony. You are truly gifted and I'm sure you'll be assigned to the flagship. Steer her right, Jona. You always did have a steady hand. ::beat:: Spel and Mir both continue to refuse my pleadings for them to reconcile with you. Although, Mir is slowly coming around. I know they both miss you terribly. Perhaps one day.

ch'Ranni: ::nodding:: oO One day. Oo

Vorka: Jona, there's something else. ::pause:: I've been diagnosed with advanced S'sraanian Syndrome. The doctors say they can't do anything. I've lived a long, full life. I'm happy with my choices. ::beat:: All except one. I should have never rejected you, my boy. You deserved better. 

ch'Ranni: oO Dad? Oo

Vorka: The doctors say I have a year at best. I hope to see you again before then, son. Safe travels.

((Timeskip: An hour later))

::Jona sat despondent on the cold, metal floor. He had tried to hail his father unsuccessfully and he knew the truth. Vorka was gone. Vexa had returned to their shared room and sat slowly patting his mop of unruly hair in between the sobs that wracked his athletic body.::

zh'Lev: He was a good man, Jona. You do your best to turn out like him.

Lt. Jona ch'Ranni
Assistant Chief of Operations
USS Columbia (NCC-85279)

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