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I don't know how @kimstapledon didn't die of embarrassment as a teenager because I sure would have if this happened to me. Great job on making me feel things, lmao.


((Paioke Colony ))

Kim checked in on her staff as they made the necessary adjustments.  The couplings on the buildings were coming along well.  She was glad to have both the experience of the older crewmen and her own training to guide her.  When she'd initially started working on these buildings she'd felt a twinge.  Just a slight one, but it was there nonetheless.  Kim's first brush with modifying public infrastructure had not gone so well.

((Flashback - New Cyprus, 8 Years Ago))

Civics was a mandatory course.  It was a pointless course.  Who cared if this place had once been home to a bunch of drug dealers, slavers, and ne'er do wells?  It was fine now.  But, as part of her requirements to pass civics, Kim had to sit through ten public ceremonies in Oar's Rest, just to show a little support to people as they built a life here.  

MC:  Your love story is a testament to the power of connection in a universe vast and infinite. Today, you stand before us....

Kim yawned.  Beside her sat a few other students from her class.  They talked amongst themselves, some snorting quietly as the MC continued to blather on about love transcending all things.

The sky was blue and Kim wished New Cyprus had a moon.  Looking around herself she could take solace in one thing:  Her work on the holomatrix in the town square was being put to good use.  While more permanent structures were built, event planners were using it to try out all sorts of venue styles, including temporary structures that extended the town square out into the water as this one did.

MC:  Living together forever means more than just sharing a home; it means sharing dreams, aspirations, and moments of both triumph and challenge. It means being each other’s anchor in the storm...

More giggling beside her, as one of the kids showed the other a palm sized holo of the MC with buck teeth and a handlebar mustache.  One of the girls caught Kim's eye and gave her a 'what the hell are you looking at' look, and she looked away.  Whatever.  

She could only hope this ceremony would wind down soon.  Sitting near her, on the side opposite the kids from her class, was a finely dressed couple who looked to be in their fifties.  Both men held hands and smiled knowingly as the MC made a joke about forgetting where they parked the shuttle when they went on their honeymoon.

Kim felt a tap on her shoulder.  She turned to see some kid jumping back to his seat, clearly having been the culprit.  What kind of idiot thought it was a good idea to just let any kid in high school attend a public wedding?  All the bride would remember would be the immature dolts in the back giggling and not taking it seriously.

Just then the MC continued,

MC:  Before we proceed, let us invite some special guests to join us on stage. These holographic representations of your loved ones, who couldn't be here in person, will now appear to share this significant moment with you.

A tree that had been standing behind the bride and groom fell down with a loud and thunderous CRRRAAAACKKKKK!!!!!

And then the screaming began.  Kim's eyes widened as a massive spider the size of a house roared and charged at the young couple.  Both bride and groom dove in opposite directions  as the MC shrieked, scampering away and leaving robes behind.  

She recognized the spider immediately.  It was the monster from "Training Days," her first holonovel set in her adventurers league universe.  By now the attendees were scattering in all directions, screaming as chairs were knocked over.  

And then came a voice, thundering.

Grendel:  At last!  I've found you!!!!  Prepare to DIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

With that, the hideous giant charged at Kim, pancaking the fold up chairs and the wedding cake as he made his way straight toward her.

Kim looked beside her, mortified to see Larisa, one of the Betazoid girls, looking at her incredulously.  Of course she knew it was her program that had started up by mistake.  What was worse was that this entire installation was suspended over the waterfront.  If Kim turned off the holoemitters everyone would fall into the water.  That left only one other choice.  To beat the monsters so the episode would end.

Kim stood, channeling her fear and mortification and doing all she could to transform it into pure rage, and screamed,

Stapledon:  Neptune's Moooonnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And with that the holoprogram gave her her combat outfit.

She could hear giggling from somewhere nearby and, in order to escape it, she charged head on at the massive spider, partly hoping it would kill her before she had to face the humiliation of showing up in class tomorrow.  At least she would be able to redeem herself by showing off the acrobatic fighting skills she'd learned in the holosuites.

She screamed out a battle cry, drawing her sword to protect the scattering wedding guests, and launched herself into the air.  And then the ground disappeared.  She felt cold stabbing at her body, now back to wearing her original clothes, as she realized she had landed in the water.  Bits of cake and hors d'oeuvre landed around her, some splattering her head.

She turned in time to see several people lining the raised bank at the water's edge.

MC:  Are you okay?

Stapledon:  Yeah.

She wanted to dive under the water and hide on the bottom and wait for everyone to leave.

((Short time later))

Kim sat in the small office in city hall, holding the old towel someone had given her around her soaking clothes, sitting across the table from Ahn Bozz, the council member she'd initially met with to get permission to install holoemitters in the town square.

Kim could feel her mother's anger prickling just above her as she heard her shift.

Bozz:  Kim, I'm going to have to take away your  ::She stiffened, dreading what would come next::  holography privileges on city property for a period of one month.

Kim blinked.

Bozz:  I fought long and hard just now to keep the mayor from terminating your privileges completely as punishment.  I hope this will at least engender a greater appreciation for--

Kim's Mother (Lisa):  Oh don't worry, not being allowed to use town holograms will be the least of her problems!


In the end, Kim's life had taken a downturn for a few months.  It had been a terrible period for her.  But, seen from her present vantage point as she and one of the crewmen fastened the last of the connectors on one of the homes, it was insignificant.  She heard someone hollar "Thank you" from inside as they heard the gentle whirr of machinery coming back to life.

One of her professors at the academy had once told her, "Sometimes you have to fail a hundred times before you can make that huge breakthrough."

For a while, she'd been called "The Wedding Diver" and "Neptune's Loon" and "Spider Girl" and "Beowulf the Wedding Crasher."

And yet, instead of being shunned and reviled throughout Oar's Rest, she'd come to discover during her final years living there, that her embarrassing moment had changed in the telling.  People spoke laughingly of "the legend of the wedding spider".  And when she'd finally started building more with the holoemitters she'd managed to regain peoples' confidence, other holoprogrammers and engineers occasionally coming to her defense during those first few months.

Stapledon:  Well, sir, we've replaced at least 30 percent of the homes' power couplers with weather resistant ones.  At the pace we're going I'm almost wondering if we shouldn't just do the same job on all the residences.

Ch'Nilmani:  Response

Lt. Jg Kimberly Stapledon
USS Constitution-B


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