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Cadet Valis Renas - Only In Silence The Word

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This is a really lovely sim by Tahna Meru; beautifully written, with lovely character development. A great way to explore a character from a different perspective. Bravo!

((Starfleet Academy, San Francisco Campus, Earth))

The windows of Archer Hall reflected the sunset, pinks and oranges and golds splashed across their glistening surface, the vibrant colors of the sky slowly chased down into the bay by the deep blue of oncoming twilight. Trees and shrubs lined the path back to his dormitory, still the boring, unimaginative green of summer vegetation. Renas wasn’t sure when they’d begin turning, but he was excited for his first autumn on Earth, reportedly cooler and more golden than summer. 

It would be weird, experiencing an autumn without helping with the kava harvest. He’d laughed when, at the end of spring semester, Alex had suggested they spend an afternoon picking strawberries “for fun.” He’d intended to leave picking and weeding and farming and growing all behind on Bajor, leave it to the folks who actually enjoyed that work, like his father and sister. 

Now, eight months into his time on Earth, the harvest season was coming up. And he wouldn’t be participating in any harvest rituals or celebrations, wouldn’t be sorting kava and hauling it all to market. Now, instead of feeling incredulous at the idea that someone would farm “for fun,” he felt…something else, something he couldn’t name. Something that wasn’t hunger, but was gnawing at the pit of his stomach, making him feel twitchy all over. Guilt, maybe? Longing? But it was different, this time, from when he’d felt those emotions in the past. 

He didn’t like it. 

He looked down at the PADD in his hands, two quick movements swiping across the screen to forward his new schedule, and place a call. It rang thrice before the screen lit up with a familiar face. Warm brown skin, less tanned now than it was when they were both back on Bajor, unruly hair pulled back in a messy knot, a violet blanket wrapped around her shoulders like a cape. The odd opposite to him, in his freshly-pressed Academy uniform and well-gelled hair. She yawned, covering her mouth with one hand.

Tahna: Hey, Ren.

Valis: Hey! So I just got next semester’s schedule and sent it your way, did you have any of the professors?

She huffed, shifting slightly, and her eyes began slowly scanning the text. 

Valis: What time is it there anyway?

Tahna: You have just interrupted my morning raktajino, thank you very much. 

He grinned, sporting the same rascal-ish look his family would probably forever associate with him, despite his neat new uniform and sense of duty. Professionality was so hard to maintain; for all that he’d tried, it simply wasn’t in his nature. 

Valis: Oops. Anyway, see any familiar names?

He paused, leaning up against a tree just off the path, rubbing a hand over his chin. She sipped at a raktajino in a Brew Continuum-branded mug. Extra sweet with kava, if he had to guess. He couldn’t stand the stuff—no amount of sweetener was able to mask the bitter, drying tannins, no matter what anyone told him. No thank you, he’d stick to his Maximum Warp Energy Drinks (Matter/Antimatter Berry Mix was by far the best flavor, and maybe if Meru would just give the drinks a chance, she’d agree…). 

Tahna: I had Commander th’Ellin, Federation Law. 

She interrupted his musings, flicking away the schedule and making eye contact through the screen. 

Tahna: He’s a good professor, but he’s got zero tolerance for late work. Stay on top of everything and you’ll be fine. 

Valis: Got it. What about the others?

Mer shook her head, steam from the mug curling up in front of her face in long, translucent tendrils. She closed her eyes, taking in the drink’s unique (overpowering, off-putting) scent. 

He really appreciated her extra insight on Academy life, but honestly, he’d not had any problems with professors so far. He’d earned straight As, in fact, and he intended to keep it that way. He had every intention of beating his cousin to captain, never mind her five-year head start or her complete lack of interest in a captaincy (he figured those two facts balanced each other out).

Valis: So I guess I’ve gotta call you Lieutenant now, not "Mer" or "vaysh¹."  

She rolled her eyes. 

Tahna: Bye, Ren. 

She didn’t end the call, though, just sat there, staring and sipping her raktajino. He began walking again, slowly, because as soon as he rounded the next hill his dormitory would be in sight, and as long as he was out here, not in there, he could delay his evening plans. 

It was unlike him to delay anything, especially anything where socializing was a key element, but classes and missions and time differences meant this was the first chance he’d had to actually talk to his cousin in months. They’d exchanged notes, of course…

‘Hey, any chance you can put a word in for me with Commander Lowe? I want to join his next project, but he’s only taking upperclassmen,’ he’d write. 

‘You think my word goes a lot further than it actually does,’ she’d write back, ‘How are classes?’

He slowed as he neared the crest of the hill. San Francisco was very different from Kashnar. It was really hilly, for one thing. He still wasn’t entirely used to the fact that it wasn’t just kava fields as far as the eye could see. It was also much, much bigger than their tiny farming town. You couldn’t walk from one side of town to the other in a couple hours or less, and everybody didn’t know everybody here. Compared to back home, he felt like a nobody here, and that was both exciting and intimidating. It felt like…well, it felt like standing at the top of a hill, looking down at a bay of endless potential. 

Valis: How’s your mother?

Meru gave him a funny, tired look. 

Tahna: Let’s talk about something else. 

He knew, as well as anyone, the tension between Mer and his aunt. He’d lived with it for nearly two decades, and it only got worse when he was accepted to the Academy. Everyone else in their family was supportive, sure, but Yania² Tahna…she held too tightly to everyone, like she was afraid of being hurt, and it didn’t seem to work well for her.

But he knew better than to push the subject, especially when Mer still hadn’t finished her raktajino. 

Valis: Okay. Well, I have a date tonight. 

That was one way to change the subject. His cousin raised an eyebrow, hiding a teasing smirk behind her mug. 

Tahna: Really? Who’s the unlucky guy this time?

He snorted. 

Valis: Okay, rude. I am a great date. And he’s a very handsome Orion, in the nursing program. Fixed me up when I dislocated my elbow sparring last week. 

He’d even made fun of Renas for the injury, calling him “one of those no-good Command hopefuls,” while he adjusted the joint, his beautiful shoulder-length curls pulled back in a very professional ponytail. Ren had retorted that he was “just another fussy nurse”—it was all very charming, and they were going for seafood tonight. 

Ren still had to get ready for that date, and he would, as soon as his lazy walk back to the dorms reached its inevitable end. But he considered Mer just as much a sister to him as Tara, despite any technicalities about how they were related, and they hadn’t had a chance to catch up in a while. He didn’t want to end their rare call prematurely, or leave her with the impression that since he joined Starfleet he only cared about how much she could advance his career

Tahna: Sounds like an amazing first impression. Think this one’s gonna last any longer than the last–::She paused, making a show of counting up his previous dates on her fingers:: fifty or so?

He made a show of pouting. 

Valis: Why do I bother calling when I know you’re just going to bully me? And yes, this guy feels different

She was kind enough not to point out that he’d also said that about the previous “fifty or so” guys. He meant well, he really did want to be in a relationship, not just date. But it was weird going from knowing all six people in your town who were eligible, to a massive city full of single folks, each as unique as the grains of sand on the beach. 

Valis: Anyway, you’re one to lecture me about relationships. When was the last time you even went on a date?

Another one of the many ways he differed from his cousin. They shared the traits of being overachievers, of longing for the stars, but he’d always been the wild child to her quiet, reserved intelligence. He looked at her now, her expression notably blank. 

Tahna: I’ve been… busy. 

Yeah, busy, for what, three years? Four? He didn’t know the specifics of her last relationship, only that Tara told him it ended badly, and since then she’d made the excuse that she was just “too busy” to date. He was living proof that being a chronic overachiever wasn’t entirely at odds with wanting a bit of romance. He wanted to help! She deserved to find a partner to be happy with, but this was a subject she’d consistently avoided with him and Tara both. Not because she wasn’t interested in dating, but because she was scared, and hid it behind excuses of “not having time.”  

But this was another topic that would go nowhere if he pushed it; Mer could be just as stubborn as every other Tahna and Valis. 

This time, she changed the subject. 

Tahna: You’re still going for the Command program, right? 

He nodded.

Valis: Yeah. But it’s… weird. I can’t do much specifically Command track as a first year, and people keep encouraging me to consider other tracks, and it’s… ::He stopped, considering his next words.:: I’m not used to not knowing where I fit. 

Tahna: There’s a million ways to the chair. 

He nodded; he’d heard those very words about a million times from different professors, and he knew she’d heard them plenty too, even if she’d never considered that path for herself. 

Tahna: I don’t think I ever told you—it was too embarrassing at the time—but my first year roommate introduced me to everyone we met, incorrectly, for a year. 

Ren’s eyes widened as his thoughtful look morphed into a curious smile, his command woes temporarily forgotten. She hadn’t told him this, or Tara, or anyone else in their family as far as he knew. And what a quintessentially Meru story it sounded like! She was never smart enough to stay out of trouble for long.

Valis: No, really?

Meru nodded, one corner of her lips tilting up in the tiniest dimpled smile.

Tahna: Yep. She was human, and so proud of herself for reading up on Bajoran culture before we met. She read enough to know that Tahna was my family name, but not enough to know that typically only their closest family and friends use a Bajoran’s given name. She proudly introduced me to all her friends as “my roommate, Meru!”

Ren gasped, then laughed, a boisterous laugh he got from his father.

Tahna: I was too timid to correct her, and no one else she introduced me to knew better so I didn’t want to seem rude, and she seemed so confident. ::She shook her head.:: It was uncomfortable at first, and then I got used to it, I guess. 

She paused to sip her raktajino before setting the mug aside. She must’ve finally finished it. Her face was more serious now, more alert. 

Tahna: Then, I joined the Gorkon, and I was so used to being known as Meru and so scared of seeming standoffish, because of that well-meaning roommate, that I didn’t know how to introduce myself anymore when I met my crewmates outside of a work setting. Thankfully, they’d all had a lot more experience with Bajoran culture than her, and no matter how I introduced myself, even the people who became my friends called me Tahna. Still do. ::She smiled softly, and the look in her eyes was that of a person a million lightyears away from their body, lost in a fond memory.:: They didn’t even realize they were doing it, but they gave my name back its power. 

Valis: That’s…yeah. 

He trailed off, lacking the words to respond, but he understood. “Timid” had never been an accurate descriptor for Renas, but he understood feeling out of place, even among friends, even in your own body. But she just smiled at him from the screen of his PADD, the same encouraging smile and deep brown, nearly black eyes she shared with Tara. The same sisterly attitude, too; always ready to help others, but hesitant to accept help herself. 

Tahna: Keep at it, Ren. You’ll find your place. 

He nodded, standing outside the entrance to his dorm now, with the sun hanging so low in the sky it almost appeared to melt into the sea. He ran a hand through his hair and cleared his throat, grinning with all the cockiness he usually boasted. 

Valis: Aye, Lieutenant. Now if I’m dismissed, I’ve got a date. 

¹ Bajoran: jerk
² Bajoran: aunt

Cadet Valis Renas
1st Year Cadet
Starfleet Academy

as simmed by

Lieutenant (j.g.) Tahna Meru
Science Officer
USS Gorkon (NCC-82293)

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Trully awesome, and a super interesting point of view to have a deeper insight into Meru, great job!

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