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Lt. (j.g.) Tahna Meru - The Starfleet Problem Pt. I & II


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The concern, dislike or rejection of parents for a character joining Starfleet is a common, but always re-experienceable, theme in our shared world. Here @Tahna Merudoes it in a beautiful, emotional but subtle way, telling us much of the motivation of all the characters on the scene and leaving the conflict as an open wound to be developed in the future. Wonderfully written, congratulations Meru!!!



((Tahna’s Quarters, Deck 5, USS Gorkon))

Meru set down her mister, plants sufficiently watered. Shore leave would be coming to an end. Her quarters were slowly filling with plants thanks to Meg, she’d spent some time brushing up on her phaser and piloting skills, explored Earth, and met up with Ena. She’d crossed off most of the items on her itinerary and several that weren’t on there at all, like the disastrous tea party.

The PADD on her desk chirped with an incoming hail. She wasn’t expecting a call today, and she was out of uniform in a comfy crocheted green cardigan and slacks so she hoped it wasn’t some official Starfleet business that she’d forgotten about. She ran a hand through her hair as she walked to her desk and sat down to answer it.

Not Starfleet, worse: her family.

Tahna: Hanyu, marnah.1

Tahna Y.: Hanyu, ja'ral.2

Meru could count on one hand the number of times she’d seen her mother smile. This was not one of them. Meru took a sip of the raktajino on her desk, forgotten long enough that it was now just lukewarm, to brace for the awkwardness that was bound to crop up every time her mother called.

Tahna Y.: Renas was accepted to the Academy, I’m sure you heard.

Ah, so that’s what this was about? The one thing she hadn’t checked off her itinerary: talk her family into letting another one of their children go galavanting around the galaxy. Yani3 Aleni would be both proud of his son, and disappointed that he didn’t plan to stay and help his sister run the farm. Meru’s father supported whatever made them happy, even if it made him nervous. And her mother didn’t think Bajorans had any business going off-planet when they were still rebuilding their world from the Occupation. Nevermind that Starfleet had helped them rebuild, and aimed to stop other planets from experiencing occupations in the first place.

Tahna: First try, too. He’s really clever, he’ll do great there.

Her mother simply nodded, frown as stern as ever. The more Meru learned about Vulcans the more she thought her mother would fit right in with them, stoic and practical to a fault.

Tahna Y.: Too clever, maybe.

Tahna: Does he know what track he’d like?

There was a long pause as her mother took a sip of something, probably springwine. She’d drank everything out of mugs because she didn’t understand why you needed to collect a bunch of different specialized glasses for different drinks when they all hold liquid.

Tahna Y.: He fancies himself a captain. He’s the youngest and so used to being bossed around by everyone else in the family, I’m not sure how that will work out for him. ::She paused again, this time without taking a drink to cover the awkward silence.:: His transport leaves next week.

Tahna: Is he home?

Her mother nodded and stood, carrying Meru from her office down the hallway to the main room of their family home.

Tahna Y.: Aleni and Tara are out at the market, but Renas and your father are here. ::Calling out louder.:: Renas, Rej, Meru would like to speak with you!

Her father was the first to appear, his face smudged with paint. This was such a common sight that the paint had probably permanently dyed several spots on his skin, but it was always too present to know for sure.

Tahna R.: ::Smiling:: Meru, ja’lat!4 It’s good to see you. How’ve you been? Got your own command yet?

Meru had always believed in “opposites attract.” How could she not, when her parents were such a perfect example?

Tahna: It’s good to see you too, fa.5 I’m alright. Command is too much paperwork for my liking, but I am a lieutenant junior grade now. ::Renas picked that moment to join the family huddle on the other end of the PADD.:: Ren! Congratulations!

He’d cut his hair recently, no longer the long-haired wild child who left notes in the margins of Meru’s books pointing out all the inconsistencies. She’d always had a hunch he’d be the smartest of the cousins if only he would calm down.

Valis R.: Mer! Congratulations to you, Lieutenant!

Tahna R.: Congratulations!

Renas raised his hand in a salute and she giggled.

Tahna: At ease, Cadet.

He dropped the salute with all the formality of someone who’d been drilling that gesture for days, though even in his mock-seriousness the smile never left his face. 


1 Bajoran: hello, mother

2 Bajoran: hello, my daughter
Bajoran: uncle
4 Bajoran: my dear
5 Bajoran: father
Science Officer
USS Gorkon (NCC-82293)



((Tahna's Quarters, Deck 5, USS Gorkon))

Renas dropped the salute with all the formality of someone who’d been drilling that gesture for days, though even in his mock-seriousness the smile never left his face.

Valis R.: Any recommendations? Or am I just supposed to figure everything out on my own?

Tahna: There’s this cafe near school owned by a Denobulan named Grex. Full of books, quieter than spots on campus. You’d love it. He makes the best milaberry biscuits on Earth. ::Her cousin made a face and she frowned at him.:: I know they’re not your favorite, but they’re mine and they’re perfect if you’re missing home. Which you will be, even if you’d never admit it.

Valis R.: Do you miss home, Mer? Or does Starfleet keep you too busy?

Meru sipped her raktajino. Ren hadn’t traveled nearly as much as Meru had before leaving for the Academy, and he meant it as a genuine question. He’d not really seen Meru and her mother’s fights about the Academy either, so he had no idea that question was handing her mother a charged phaser.

Tahna: Of course I miss home, what sort of question is that?

Tahna Y.: You could have fooled me.

Tahna R.: Yavarel, don’t-

Tahna: ::Interrupting:: No. She was so eager to leave she wouldn’t take Starfleet’s initial “no” for an answer. Now that she’s out there she rarely calls or writes us. ::Somehow her tone remained stern and emotionless, despite her words.:: When was the last time you talked to your daughter, Rej? I’m surprised she picked up my call.

Tears [...]ed at the corners of Meru’s eyes, and when she spoke her voice was much softer than before.

Tahna: That’s not fair. You know that’s not fair. I have work, and friends, and there’s the time difference. I stay in touch as well as I can.

Tahna R.: ::Overlapping:: I know-

Tahna Y.: ::Overlapping:: Do you?

Renas studied the floor awkwardly on the other end of the call. Meru fidgeted with her bracelet and looked away from the PADD bearing her mother’s disapproving face. It might have helped, but her gaze fell on the her father’s painting of their kava fields hung over her desk and that only made it harder to hold back the tears.

Tahna Y.: And now you’re taking Renas with you, when he should stay here, helping his sister take over the farm.

This was why she hadn’t called home. This conversation was inevitable, but it seemed her avoidance had done quite a bit of harm. She wrote her father regularly, sending him holopics of the beautiful scenery she encountered for painting inspiration. But neither of them brought that up, knowing it would only hurt her case if her mother realized that Meru didn’t avoid her family, she avoided her mother.

She’d never been good enough for her. She wondered if she ever would be.

She’d emptied her raktajino, but they didn’t know that, so she faked taking another sip. It didn’t give her enough time to compose herself, but a steadying breath was better than nothing.

Tahna Y.: Nothing to say for yourself?

Tahna: What do you want me to say, marnah?1

She felt a single tear streak down her cheek, powerless to stop it, but she was proud of the fact that she at least kept her voice from shaking. Nothing filled the silence left by that question; her mother didn’t have an answer. And then she passed the PADD to Meru’s father and left. After a few seconds, when Meru assumed her mother was safely out of the room, he spoke up.

Tahna R.: She’s gotten worse since Ren received his acceptance. More nightmares about the Occupation. About you two having to fight for Starfleet like we did for Bajor. She worries about you.

Meru nodded and wiped away the stray tear.

Valis R.: I’m sorry, Mer-

Tahna: Don’t be sorry. It’s not your fault. She was like this when I left too. I just thought she’d finally started to accept that…that this is where I want to be, what I want to be doing. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about you all, or about Bajor. There’s different ways to serve Bajor, to make our people proud. ::She took another shaky breath and nodded at Ren.:: You’re gonna do great at the Academy, Ren.

Valis R.: Thanks, Meru. ::He smiled.:: I’m gonna go pack. It’s good to see you. I’ll tell Tara and fa2 you called.

Meru nodded and he left her alone on the call with her father. He let out a deep breath, shook his head, and smiled softly at her.

Tahna R.: I am proud of you, Meru. Your mother is too, even if she won’t admit it.

Tahna: Thanks, fa.3

Tahna R.: Send me a picture of Ena’s home, if you can. I’d love to paint it for her.

Tahna: Of course. She’d love that.

Tahna R.: Good. Good.

They sat in silence for a minute. Meru managed a smile – how, she wasn’t quite sure.

Tahna R.: I’m going to go check on your mother. Ah’kayah’no,4 Meru.

Tahna: Ah’kayah’no.5

He hung up and Meru let her head fall into her hands. She would never be good enough for her mother. Really she’d known that since she applied to the Academy, but it was rarely so evident as it had been today. Normally her mother could pretend long enough to congratulate her on her latest success, even if it wasn’t the most sincere.

Meru told herself not to cry but it was no use. She sat at her desk, sobbing silently for several minutes. Then she took a deep breath. And another. And another. Then she wiped the last stray tears from her face.

She got another raktajino from her replicator, this one extra sweet, and threw on a uniform. She wasn’t supposed to be working today, but stars didn’t have feelings and that fact made them far easier to deal with than mothers. 

Bajoran: mother
2, 3 Bajoran: father
4, 5 Bajoran: I love you (informal)



Science Officer
USS Gorkon (NCC-82293)


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