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Ulasso: Fire Flower


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Ulasso sat on his bed in his quarters for the first time in over a week. He was exhausted, mentally and physically. The last mission had taken them to hell and back again, and now that he wasn't running on pure adrenaline, he wasn't sure what to do with himself. He felt like he should still be on the bridge, that the danger wasn't over and he would be needed any second.  He had been ordered to get some rest, and boy was he tired, however he found his mind wandering.

He reached under his bed and pulled out a small wooden box. Ulasso ran his hand over the smooth, sanded wood of the cover. It was Rowan wood, a pale yellow brown, with spots of deeper brown from where the heartwood had been used in the crafting of the box. He had been given the box upon his graduation from Starfleet Academy by his only friend there, V'Len Kel. V'Len had been assigned to the U.S.S Thor and had given Ulasso the box as a parting gift. Kel had wanted him to try and obtain a posting on the Thor as well. He had informed Ulasso that the box was made of Rowan wood, and that in ancient Human Greek mythology, it was a Rowan tree that had saved the life of the god, Thor. Thor had grabbed ahold of a Rowan tree while being swept away in a river to the Underworld. V'Len had told him he thought it would bring him luck if we were to join the Thor.

The box only contained a few items. He reached past a photo of himself and V'Len at graduation and a pressed Fire Flower from his home world, Lyaksti'kton, recognized as Alpha Sauria IV by the Federation. His hand grasped the next item, a small pint of Saurian Brandy. He took the bottle out and held it in his hands for a couple minutes, rolling it back and forth, fighting an internal battle within his mind. He finally took the lid off and took a swig. He felt the liquid run down his throat, and he felt warmth within his chest that seemed to blossom out like a flower of fire. It relaxed him slightly, and gave him the courage to reach for the last item in the Rowan box. 

Ulasso's hand moved cautiously towards the small piece of torn yellow cloth, as if the item might become sentient, grow teeth, and take a bite out of his finger. Honestly, he would welcome that physical pain over the mental anguish that came with this particular article of clothing. "The pain never goes away, you just learn to live with it," V'Len had told him once when they were deep in their cups.

The cloth was faded yellow, with a floral design of the Fire Flowers from his own planet. He raised it to his nostrils and took in the smell that still lingered there, that seemed to hang onto the clothing no matter how much time had passed. The scent flooded his six nasal cavities. The olfactory signals activated his limbic system and he was taken to a moment from his past. A moment that was captured in his mind like a holodeck simulation, and he remembered almost every detail, all anchored by this piece of cloth. 

"The texture of their shirt...I'll never forget the way if felt in my hand that day." He thought to himself.

He had grabbed at her shirt to try and stop her from going over the cliff's edge. The shirt was homemade, and the cloth was thin and soft. She had made it herself, and had been wearing it as a means of silent protest to the Warrior Caste she had been born into. The Warrior Caste demanded clothing that wasn't made for comfort, but rather durability, and yellow was not an approved color. He often wondered if she had been wearing her training uniform, maybe the cloth wouldn't have torn, and he could have saved her.

They had been raised together in the Saurian warrior caste, and while Ulasso had taken to it with no problem, she had never seemed to believe in the extremely rigid doctrine that they were demanded to follow. She believed in free thinking, and that no one person or group's philosophy should ever be followed without question. The elders had tried over and over to put her in line, and Ulasso had pleaded with her repeatedly to stop, as he knew deviation from order resulted in swift, and sometimes brutal punishment. It was after the latest of these horrible punishments that Ulasso had found her standing on the edge of the cliff, with a sea of Fire Flowers behind her. The spot they used to come and play as children. He had been informed by their father that she was to be ostracized. Ulasso's four hearts had dropped at the news. Community was everything to a Saurian, and without it they were lost. The few Saurians he had heard of receive this punishment had chose death as preference to a life in solitude.  

He ran to her as fast as he could, the field of Fire Flowers giving the illusion of burning flames as their petals took in the full red light of the class M star the planet orbited and were illuminated. He ran across the sea of fire, towards he silhouetted form at the cliffs edge with her back to him, the red light of the star directly behind her. He screamed her name over and over, and she turned and gave him a look that broke his heart. He lunged to grab her as she stepped forward and caught the back of her shirt. Time seemed to stand still for a second, and then the shirt tore and she fell into the darkness. No Rowan tree saved her like it had Thor in the story V'Len had told him.

It was because of her he had joined Starfleet. She may have passed away physically, however he could keep her alive by living her ideals and dream.  His younger sister, Ulaini, his Fire Flower. He had nicknamed her that because she was small for a Saurian, more delicate that others due to some physical birth defects, but see had a passion for free-thinking that couldn't be extinguished, like an uncontrollable fire that had threatened to consume her.

Ulasso had turned inward after the event, once loving community and gatherings, but the loss of his sister had turned him stoic, with a face like flint.

Ulasso clutched the cloth to his face, laid down on his bed and looked out the stars. In the seemingly infinite cosmos, we wondered how many others had lost someone. How many others would die for a dream, or live to keep one alive. He got up and went into the lavatory. He looked at himself in the mirror, his yellow eyes staring back at him. Ulaini had always told him to be proud of his yellow eyes, and that she thought they were beautiful. It was a recessive gene, and seen as undesirable within his town. A town of warriors who thought yellow eyes looked weak compared to the imposing black eyes that they mostly had.

He looked at himself and wondered who he would have been if she was still alive. Here he was, living for her dreams, but what were his own? Who was he without his pain and loss? He knew he was competitive, when Ulaini and himself would play games he would do everything possible to win. She always said he should relax more and just enjoy playing the game. She had always wanted to creatively bend the rules which would nearly drive Ulasso to insanity. He believed in rules and structure, and he liked to win. That was part of who he was at his core. Ulaini's beliefs were those that all opinions should be considered, that a strict religious doctrine left little room for growth. Star Fleet fit both of these philosophies. No matter who he may have been, this is who he was now, a Starfleet officer. 

"She would be proud of who you have become"

Ulasso said the words to his reflection, left the lavatory and went to the Rowan box beside his bed. He placed the other items in the box, and this time placed the piece of cloth on top. As he slid the box back underneath his bed. He walked over to the statues of Mellitt and Antidis, the brother and sister founders of the  Saurian race, and said a silent prayer. As he finished, his communicator badge chirped. 

 =/\= Ensign Ulasso, report to the bridge. =/\= 

 =/\= On my way, sir. =/\= 

It would seem rest still eluded Ulasso, but for now he may have finally found some peace.

Ensign Ulasso,
(HCO) Officer 
USS Thor 
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