“Pappa, tell me a story,” the girls voice said pleading as her small hand reached up touching her father’s chin pulling it down to get his attention. As she swayed side to side, the man gentle removed her hand smiling as he picking up an elliptical shaped stone coloured with intricate black and blue shapes and lines. Attached to the oval stone was a long cord. Ariki handed his daughter the object.
Rex handled the carved purerehua that had been given to her father’s father for generations. Though she knew the story by heart, it remained her favourite. This prized possession was the only remaining one from her parents ancestral home on earth. Rex had never seen the bright blue marble covered with majestic oceans and mountains. Someday. Soon. Whaea had promised and such a promise could not be broken. Oaths had been sworn to Papatūānuku. Unwrapping the cord from instrument, Rex let it dangle and move freely with the light breeze. Light scents of floral mixed with the earthy musk of promised rain, here in tranquillity and peace. watching the hues of black and blue swirling together, secure and complete.
Soot and ash covered the glare of the sunlight yet allowed a molten gold to splash across her face and directly into her eyes. Rex opened her eyes fully just as the rover came to a jolted stop. Sealing memories away, wiping pain and sting, she pushed opened the rear door and felt the crunch of hard earth beneath her feet. Picking up the engineer kit, she called out to Shenohl, “Wait for me. This won’t take long.”
Making her way to the outpost tower, Rex kicked a couple of rocks and took out the stone and cord of the purerehua that had belonged to all her father’s fathers and let it extend, swaying it softly to catch the rhythm of the breeze and her ancestors spirits. Raising her arm, Rex made larger circles, speeding and slowing, ebbing and flowing, she lifted her voice joining the stones deep whirling baritone, calling to the mountains and seas only her heart could imagine lay around her feet. Pieces of her heart pulled back together, resurrecting the souls and spirits of all her people in harmony. For a brief moment, Rex allowed herself to remember all that she had lost, all those she had lost, then sealed them away again. Just one moment longer than the others, Elehaa stayed before disappearing with the others. Breath caught in-between exhale and inhale, mixing twilights of this life and the life after, purifying the unconditional love that always remained.
Pocketing the stone once more, Rex waved her hand in front of the access control panel and waited impatiently for the door to swish open. As the door slide back, fermented stale air assaulted olfactory senses. With another wave of her hand to push the foul odour away, the engineer stepped in as the lights illuminated cutting through the darkness. Outpost was a bit of an overstatement. Inside the non descript building was nothing more than rows of compartments containing relays. Very vital relays that supplied this far flung corner of OED with oxygen, protected delectate skin from burning and a small amount of power. Plans to begin work to increase power to this section were, as always, “in progress”. Terraforming Camp Z189, affectionately known as Camp Tsisteel by the hundred odd residents, was as far from the thriving capital of OED, out of site and out of mind. Doubtful even those in charge remembered the camp existed. For all purposes, the camp was exactly the middle of nowhere.
The workstation though was state of the art and the most technological advanced anywhere perhaps ever. How the governor and Starfleet managed to get so many different groups together to create such a wonder was a feat within itself. Rex sat down and starred at the sprawling display of lights, looking at each readout and measurement slowly. Making her eyes wide open as possible, she blew air into her cheeks, exhaled sharply, then extended her tongue and raised her fists upwards. Right. Intimidating the screen wasn’t going to fix it. Lowering her hands, she tapped the screen until the culprit was isolated. What was going on with the packs? That was the fifth this month. Pulling out a PaDD from her tool kit, Rex downloaded all the information and paused. Glancing at the screen again, something odd in the pattern of burnouts caught her attention. She shock her head. Tomorrow there would be more time to analysis and notify headquarters. For now, she would repair the pack. Again. The thought of fry bread and Mashku compelled her to finish quickly.
Rex Ariki, Engineer
The rover came to a halt once more. Rex climbed out and grabbed her tools and shovel. No laws or leaders governed the camp as it Tsisteel seemed to naturally take direction from collective cooperation and unspoken rules. Two main rules being no animals were to be eaten and each being contributed to chores within capabilities. Outside of her job she had been hired to do, maintaining the power grid for this sector and terraforming in between, her main camp duties involved animal husbandry. Scents of frying vegetables mixed with herbs and spices mingled with handmade perfumes, wines and spirits. Most of the residents contributed crafted items and passed on knowledge to others willing and eager to learn. In this sense, the camp was more a commune, dependant each to the other.
Passing rows of large tents that served as dormitory style housing, Rex meandered her way through the canvas lined footpaths until she came to smaller tents a bit away from the larger ones. Here were a few scattered single dwelling occupancies for those who preferred solitude or more privacy if desired. Soon, family tents would be required as children would be arriving in a few months as indicated by more than one swollen abdomen. Life found a way. Thankfully, Rex planned on being long gone and sleep not interrupted by cries of hunger or need of changing. While Tsisteel had not been as unpleasant as other stops along the way to Earth, she could not say she would miss any of it or anyone. To her dismay, Mashku had returned to another camp where her husband and children resided.
Throwing back the opening to her quarters, Rex dropped her gear in a corner and pulled out the cloth bag she had dug up earlier. Unwrapping it carefully, she opened the top and slide her fingers inside the small opening. Touching cold metal, she clutched what felt like a chain and withdrew it from the bag. Wrapped around her two longest fingers was indeed a chain. On the end of the chain was a round charm a quarter of the size of her palm with some sort of mechanism on one side. Bringing it closer to her eyes, Rex ran her thumb across the silver coloured inlay. Puzzled, she could recognize it was not a decorative jewel and something she had never seen. Turning it over, inscriptions glistened against the sunlight let in by the tents flap. Words were also unrecognizable as she pondered what it was and how it came to be buried where no one should have ever stepped foot. As nothing had been disturbed for some time where she had dug it up, only deepened and added to the necklaces mystery. Rex shrugged as she placed it around her neck for safe keeping. Maybe it had value and she could sell it to help purchase passage to earth. Somewhere, stored in the OED police station evidence room, long forgotten, a music box played a faint tune.
Having finally finished her chores, well feed and showered, Rex stood in line waiting to be served her portion of wine for the evening. Ferengi Jo was unusual even for a Ferengi and that was for at least two reasons or three. First being Jo was female. Second, she seemed to be on her own as there were no other of her species. And though Jo wore clothes that was not the third odd thing about the woman. Things were changing, time was moving on. Rex doubted seeing fully clothed Ferengi women moving in and around all societies would soon be as common as Vulcans on Bajor. No, what made Ferengi Jo most odd was that she had no interest in profit. At Camp Tsisteel no resident bartered with another resident. Goods and services were freely given and freely taken. Since Ferengi Jo had the only “bar” in camp, that made her the most popular resident and sometimes, after the wine had flowed freely long enough, she was referred to as the Mayor.
As the line moved and each resident had been in served on front of her, Rex found herself in front of the Mayor, hand held out to accept the dark green bottle containing the nectars of the gods who would ease her struggles by helping her to forget, well, everything. Jo placed a bottle on Rex’s hand and then handed her a second. Behind a row of crooked jagged teeth, the Ferengi smiled, “I heard Mashku left. Think you might need this tonight.”
Rex returned the smile and accepted the second bottle gladly. Then frowned slightly to appear dejected. Actually, she was bothered Mashku had left and felt maybe a tiny bit guilty for taking the second bottle. “Thank you Jo. I think this and drumming is just what I need tonight.”
Shuffling away slowly, head downcast, Rex made her way to the fire pit and took her place behind a drum, sitting on a large rock covered with a black and white stripped cushion. Popping the cork from the first bottle, she took long sips of the fruity wine as she waited for the dancers to gather around the fire and all the drummers to take their drums. Love was an action about making and taking unlike the refuge of music and in each beat, between each note all emotion swept away. Here in lies dreams of dreams reverberating each strand of every lifetime, lived and unlived, loved and unloved, each web of time fulfilled and unfulfilled. This same heartbeat following in perfect cadence with the next. For no reason, for every reason, that need for desire to find that one someone who held the music that was magic. Somewhere, somehow to restore that which was unbalanced, equilibrium restored. All of this Rex did not understand, because she did not understand who she was and where her story began nor its end. Each wheel broken, each circle undone. This heart could not beat in rhythm, the one who mattered most, more than herself was lost in a cosmic journey eternally wrenched and torn asunder. So intertwined with that devotion her soul would burn for a thousand thousands years. This dream, this yearning, this love, Rex was oblivious to. For now, everything lasted and didn’t last forever.
Living fire transcended through expansions of darkness, cutting through the universe herself until it reached sister stars, each ray catching the others hand, breaking off small pieces of embers, shooting up, burning out and returning to the sand surrounding the massive fire pit. Residents gathered round, circling the source of heat and light, kicking sand as they swayed to the beats of living emotions echoing follow and lead of twenty drummers from every far flung corner of known life. Some metal, some wood and yet others used their own bodies to keep rhythm, deceiving ears and eyes, but the soul knew the circle qualified no pain.. Here was only joy screaming never stop, expression of music remain unsilent least fire burned to last coal leaving only cold and ash. Nah. No. Play on drummers. Six years or sixty thousand years from now, these echoes of drums would break through still quite skys filling the heavens with thunder, breathing in water and exhaling rain. Sky, stars, moon and sand would remember, tonight, the drummers drummed temporal beats in all measures for the circle of the living and the dead.
Rex Ariki (Engineer)
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