Posted by Lieutenant Duncan Rhodes (Chief Science Officer) in Lily in the Sky with Diamonds
Posted by Ensign Lily Locksley ((A) Chief Medical Officer) in Lily in the Sky with Diamonds
Posted by Lieutenant Duncan Rhodes (Chief Science Officer) in Lily in the Sky with Diamonds
Posted by… suppressed (9) by the Post Ghost! 👻
“One thing you can explain to me though, is that spiritual thing and being bound for all eternity. Is it some kinda cult?” Duncan teased her, looking at her sideways. “Do we get to seal the deal with blood or the soul of our first born? Sacrifice a coyote under the full moon to Ramen the sun gods twin brother? Ohhh I know,” Duncan said with mock excitement, “When we are old and wrinkly and can’t do the deed anymore do we get to drink poison and reincarnate into new bodies and start afresh?”
Lt Rhodes, CSO
“Yes to the newborn, no to the coyote, and I would rather throw ourselves off a cliff before we are reincarnated but that is completely up to you,” she responded leaning against the gate in front of a house. “So we are here,” she gestured widely at the house behind her. “We are home.”
The building was not grand or even picturesque but what it was was homey. A large porch wrapped around the front with several rockers waiting for someone to while away an afternoon with ice tea and good company. The second story had what was once referred to as a Juliet balcony on all the bedrooms. A large garden filled with colorful flowers lined the house foundation and the path to the front door. “Now don’t be afraid. We got this right,” she held out her hand for Duncan to take as she opened the gate.
Taking her hand, his grin widened. “Why would I be afraid? Of course we got this, we always do.”
Lt Duncan Rhodes, CSO
The sound of activity in the room beyond the screen door erupted with the noise of someone coming forward. “Lily O’my valley,” a chipper voice called out from inside the room. It was followed by several other voices all replying things like Lily is home, our Lily is back, and Lily!.
“Yeah, we got this right?” Duncan asked her, his grin dropping slightly and he gave her hand a squeeze.
“I am not sure we do. Have this I mean,” Lily looked at Duncan going slightly paler. Putting a hand on his chest, Lily tried to push Duncan backward yet the people approaching beat her in approaching compared to her plan for retreating.
Four men exited the house filling the porch forcing Duncan and Lily to back up slightly so everyone could fit. Lily could see the men gearing up for a song. The deep inhalation and rigid posture meant at any second song would be pouring from their lips. She had to warn Duncan. Later it would take far more explanations but at least being prepared helped. “Duncan,”’ she whispered out of the side of her mouth. “Remember when I said we were not a cult....just keep an open mind and know I can explain everything.”
Duncan watched with wide eyes, his lips frozen in a half grin half smirk… thing. “Are they, gonna sing?” He asked her, and his voice sounded a little confused. “How much of an open mind do I need to have, love?”
“You need to close your mind,” she whispered softly, “and blot out everything that is about to happen.”
As if her words were a small whistle getting everyone on key, the men began to sing in a harmonious quartet. The men hummed for a few seconds finding their key before song erupted as a greeting.
I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
Lily is the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in her alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
“Okay so remember when we were talking about spiritualism....we adopt all sorts of bits and pieces from everywhere. This sounds really religious,” she let her voice trail off knowing that when a song out right used the word Jesus it was hard to not make the connection to Christianity. Her family was not the church-going type but so far all Duncan had heard was afterlife this and now Jesus was thrown into the mix. She bit her lip looking at him for a reaction.
“Well, the tune is catchy at least,” he said out of the side of his mouth, she would be able to see the tease in his eyes. “Is this like, a forgiveness song from you running away from the community or more like they’re putting you up on a pedestal.?” Thinking back to his comment about this being some weird Mintaran thing going on in the village, his eyes widened. “Oh my god, you people run some kind of Matriarchy here don’t you, a proper little Mintaran style family system!”
“Okay I will give you that and it is officially a Christian hymn but look at it more as…happy… and less leave your name on a card as you exit the church so we can recruit you,” Lily struggled to explain why four men were greeting her with a religious song on her parent’s doorstep.
Each of the men took turns looking over the couple as they serenaded them. The men smiled warmly at Lily as if they knew her for years. They looked at Duncan as if he was a welcomed extended member of the family like a beloved nephew or such. Their voices not only rang out clear and strong but they also had sweeping arm gestures as if they were performing a show.
“Do they want me to clap? Am I expected to, like, do something with my hands?” He asked her again out of the side of his mouth, but slid his arm around her for the umpteenth time since arriving at the village.
“God no don’t encourage them,” she replied out of the side of her mouth. “I also haven’t told you the best part. If they like you, you will have your own song before we leave. Don’t you feel lucky?” The smile plastered on her face was slowly turning from forced to genuine. She could not help but find humor it the situation. Duncan was so classy and refined. She loved the stability and security he gave her, yet here he was, in the most unstable city in the Federation, shoes covered in mud, being serenaded by four strange men half singing about Jesus. If that did not show he loved her, nothing ever would. “I love you, Mr. Rhodes,” she said laying her body up closer to Duncan’s side. The formality of his name was in stark contrast to the hippy-dippy love commune she seemed to had dragged him into which is exactly what she wanted. Lily needed something to remind her that she would soon be back to her life with him and not in this idyllic existence of peace and love she ran away from as fast as she could.
In sorrow she’s my comfort, in trouble she’s my stay;
She tells me every care on us to roll.
She’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
She’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
“He used to sing this to me when I was little. Well, it was hummed actually,” she got a far off look thinking about the past. “He would hum this and it is a really pretty melody. Take away the Jesus and stuff and it is a catchy little song isn’t it,” Lily hummed a few bars with them as they sang.
“Yeah it is,” he glanced at her when she started humming and grinned, with a laugh. “It sounds like you remember this song pretty fondly, the tune is pretty, you’re right. I doubt it would sound any better with music either.”
He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation he’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I’ve all for him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.*
“Satan? You guys have Satan in here with your Matriarchy?” Looking at her he raised his eyebrows, but his face wasn’t too serious. “You got you your Jesus and your Satan, you sure you guys ain’t some kind of Mintaran offshoot cult here Lily?”
She burst out laughing. “I am not sure but since we are not so big on rules there would be no one filling out that form they have. I met a women from Mintara at a medical conference a few years ago. I thought it was a bit of malarky but her and her husband Max are the perfect couple. Maybe they are on to something,” she shrugged.
“Okay so this is completely religious,” she threw her hands up admitting defeat. She had hoped to hold off the crazy religion of the town until she had at least five kids and the thought of divorce was an impossibility. It was a pipe dream. At some point, Duncan was going to have wanted to meet her family. Lily bit her lip wondering if she should have however stuck with the story of her parents moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Yes it made her parents sound like rather grumpy people but grumpy was easier to explain than crazy. Grumpy was a way of life. Crazy was something that you could be born into. The last thing she wanted was for Duncan to assume exactly what he was thinking. She had been with him long enough to see the slightly widened eyes and tight lipped posture. In about ten seconds Duncan was going to break out laughing or throw his hands up and say that he had nothing.
She’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
She’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
“A huh,” he nodded, slowly, clear he was listening.
“But that doesn’t mean we embrace a religion. We…they embrace all of them. Jesus here, Buddha there, Prophet every once in a while. It’s quite a potpourri of spiritualism,” she wore a strange expression on her face as if Lily was counting off the number of deities the village claimed as the song swindled to an end. The silence that ensued at the song ended was almost as jolting as how it started. The four men waited as if they were looking for applause or just processing the look on Duncan’s face. Before words were spoken however one man stepped forward and embraced Duncan as if he were the one returning home instead of Lily.
“My boy, my boy, my boy welcome home,” Lily’s dad said patting Duncan on the back. “It is so good to have you home.”
“Um, Thank you,” Duncan answered with his own nod, holding out his hand in greeting. The side glance he gave Lily however spoke volumes, Wait, is this your Father? Shouldn’t he be greeting you? Or did you used to be a boy and taller? What was that about me being home? Lily.... help.
“Come here,” the man completely ignored Duncan’s hand and embraced him in a hug. The hug was a lot longer than was appropriate for a stranger but short enough that it was over before Duncan had to figure out whether to pat the man on the back signaling he wanted to get free. “Welcome. Welcome,” he took a step back before moving to embrace his daughter. “My lovely little lily,” he held her tight and kissed her head. “You have no idea how much we have missed you honey,” he said softly moving back to look at his not-so-little girl.
“That was quite a resounding rendition of that tune, I’ve never heard it before.” Duncan smiled at the group, “Lily told me that her hometown was friendly and welcoming, but I never expected that. My name is Duncan, Duncan Rhodes.”
“Oh, we know who you are and are so excited to finally meet you. Ever since Lily wrote home saying she met one night at a charity event and said you were the one, we could not wait to meet you,” Lily’s father commented with a knowing smirk.
“Lily has been showing me around a little bit, this is a wonderful little place, I can see why Lily is as adorable as she is.”
“Good genetics,” he laughed as several more men approached the door from the inside. The jovial mood dampened ever so slightly as the men opened the door to leave the home.
“Evening,” Duncan nodded at the men. Aside from the men who had already greeted them with a song, Duncan now realized there must have been some kind of meeting or gathering going on inside Lily’s parent’s house.
“We will talk later,” he said clapping Lily’s dad on the shoulder before extending his hand to Duncan. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Rhodes. See you at the fire festival tonight. Don’t be late. You are the guest of honor,” the man winked at Rhodes before nodding at Lily, back to her Dad and motioning for the other four men to follow them.
“A fire festival? Fantastic! I can’t wait.” Duncan waited for the men to step off the deck and then turned to Lily. “Ok love, custom made religion, a weird Mintaran matriarchy system based on a simple lifestyle and forgoing technology, and now a fire festival. You know I’ve seen The Wicker Man holonovels right, I know how this goes. Warning you now, they won’t take me alive.” He said it quietly and the teasing look in his eyes said all at once that he was joking around but she had some explaining to do, later.
“No that only happens when people try to divorce,” she said with a straight face. At least Duncan was going through the motions like a trooper. Maybe it was the starfleet training that had taught him to stare death, the weird, and the unusual in the face screaming bring it on. Give me the prime directive or give me death. The other option was that he loved her and the latter is where she banked her money on.
A second pause filled the air as Lily’s dad let a thought fill his mind. His expression abruptly changed as the typical smile filled his face and he opened the door for Lily and Duncan. “Come in. Come in. Your mother will kill me if I keep you both on the porch instead of inside the house.
“Baby, you first,” he let Lily walk in ahead of him. Mothers always fussed over their kids more than Fathers did, that seemed to be a universal constant. Lily’s mother was likely wringing her hands waiting for her baby to walk in the door. Putting his hands on her waist, Duncan walked in right behind her.
“We congoing,” she let her wiggled her hips as if they were dancing leading him into the house. The dance went on for only a few steps before Lily’s mom swept into the hall from the side like a pro wrestler taking down an opponent down for the count. Lily pulled away from Duncan embracing the hug starting to get as emotional as her mom juggling between sweet words and laughing.
“Did we interrupt a meeting of sorts?” He asked her father, “That welcoming party wasn’t preplanned just for us, was it?”
“Yes,” her father said almost faster than he probably wanted before slipping back into a more neutral tone, “no no no just village business but maybe when you are rested I could pick your brain on some things?” The tone was almost hopefully but hesitant as she scratched the side of his head.
“Of course, I’m at your disposal,” Duncan told Lily’s father and wondered what exactly that was going to be about. He didn’t get much chance to ponder for long though.
The conversation stalled however when a woman that would be Lily’s mirror image in thirty years grasped Duncan as if he were her son and not her daughter’s fiance.
“Duncan Rhodes,” she replied putting her hands on the sides of his cheeks pulling his face towards her for an embrace. “It is so incredibly good to welcome you to the family.” Moving back she embraced Duncan in a side hug and tapped his belly. “On the skinny side but that is easily fixed. Come come,” she began walking and pulling him along with Lily towards the dining room. “I set out small snack for us to get to know each other.”
“Wonderful!” Duncan grinned, food was always a welcome thing but it was already slightly late and he really didn’t want to have Lily’s mother making something already, even if it was just a light snack. “I can’t wait, Lily has told me so much about you all…”
Entering the room Duncan would not see a snack but what could only be described as a buffet. There was meats, rolls, bread, side salads, steaming vegetables, cold green salads, a large pot of soup, potatoes, and pastas. “I was not sure what you liked so I made a bit of everything,” she tossed a hand towel over her shoulder gesturing for Lily and Duncan to sit.
Pausing first, Duncan eyed the table in a small state of surprise. What was laid out would rival anything that his family would put on the table for a family banquet, minus the weird english puddings that seemed to always be present but nobody actually liked. “Wow, you um, really did make a bit of everything.”
“Well I wasn’t sure what you liked and since we only replicate when we are literally forced to I just threw together a few things I had lying around. SIt..sit,” Lily’s mom motioned for Duncan to take a seat.
Lily did not bat an eye at the spread and immediately sat down picking up a large hunk of bread and slathering it with a teal blue jelly like spread. “Oh my god you have Aspenberry spread,” she moaned taking a bite.
“And three cases of it for you to take back to your ship,” her dad commented sitting down. “She has been boiling and canning for weeks. Hope you brought a truck because we have about five crates of stuff for you to take back and that isn’t the stuff you want to take back yet,” he let out a hearty laugh.
“Is that basil pesto pasta?” Duncan asked as he spotted a pot of curly green spiral pasta coated in a greenish chunky herb sauce, and immediately sat down beside Lily. “What is that?” He asked, leaning over and inspecting the jam like substance on the bread roll in Lily’s hand and getting a whiff of the sweet smell of some kind of berry.
“This is an aspenberry,” she slathered on another large glob of the jelly on a piece of bread holding it out for Duncan to take a bite.
Leaning forwards slightly, he carefully bit into it as if he wasn’t quite sure what he was eating. It was organic, apparently, which meant it could have any number of nasty surprises in it. Screwing up his face at the initial sweetness, he relaxed and was pleasantly surprised.
“It is my absolute most favorite fruit in the world and grows only on the sides of the volcano. It starts out a bright red color but as it ripens it changes from yellow to green, then blue, and finally purple. You can eat it at all stages but the blue is the sweetest.” Taking a bite, Duncan would swear the flavor was that of a vanilla sponge cake covered in sweet vanilla buttercream. If his eyes were closed he would swear it was a pastry by its flavor and not actual fruit. “Makes eating fun doesn’t it, ” she winked at Duncan before giving him a soft kiss.
“When is eating not fun when it involves you?” Duncan whispered back and grinned, enjoying the kiss she gave him.
“Now that we have met,” Lily’s mom pulled out a PaDD, “we need to talk dates. If you are wanting to we can schedule things for this weekend but that is only three days and you know how Mrs. Miller gets about her cakes. It would be better to do it next weekend but are you both going to be able to wait ten days or are you looking to get it done now,” she asked sincerely.
Lily slowly chewed trying to clear her mouth as all eyes looked at Duncan.
Duncan nearly dropped the ladle of pasta that he was spooning into a shallow bowl. “Cakes, Mrs Miller, right.” He nodded slowly but his eyes never left Lily. He hadn’t realized that Lily had already told her parents about their engagement but truly he wasn’t surprised that she had ‘let slip’, or had she? Suddenly Duncan felt like a deer in headlights wondering if the sudden change in topic was a test or a probe of some sort by Lily’s mother to get more information out of him than Lily had already told her.
“I don’t know love,” he toyed with his spoon in his bowl of pasta and deliberately brought Lily into the conversation, taking his time so she could finish her mouthful and ready to literally grab the bun if she tried to sneak another bite. “Can we wait ten days? It seems an awfully long time, doesn’t it? We have to think of Mrs Miller though and her cakes, right?” Now Duncan deliberately took a mouthful of Pasta and chewed it slowly, then stopped chewing and looked at his bowl.
Lily’s mouth opened and for the first time ever in their relationship, Lily squirmed a little in her seat. “Well I would hate to rush things,” she let her voice trail off.
“Oh my god, that is amazing,” he said, stabbing the pasta with his spoon and moving it around looking for a piece with extra basil sauce on it. “We need this recipe luv, how come you haven’t made this yet?” Spooning another mouthful in, Duncan made a noise of happiness and turned to Lily’s mother. “This is amazing, thank you. How do you make this?” That was smooth, topic change one oh one Duncan thought to himself, smooth just like Lily taught you with her topic changes.
“Rush things,” Lily’s father leaned back eyeing the couple as if they were teen kids and not grown adults. “You got engaged like six months ago. How much more time are you looking for? The arrival of the baby?”
“The what now?” Duncan asked and looked at Lilly, then at her father and then back at Lilly. Lily clearly didn’t get her skill at topic changes from her father, her topic changes were subtle and distracting, her father’s hit you in the guts then stepped on your toes.
“Dad,” Lily looked stunned.
“What it is not like you aren’t going to have kids....I mean you are planning on having kids....right?” The laid-back hymn singing man was suddenly morphing into something slightly different. Maybe this was the side Lily had alluded to wanting to avoid.
“Yes but not like…tomorrow. Duncan and I just got transferred to the Wo,” Lily started.
“See Liv,” LIly’s father looked at her mother. “I told you letting her have that gap decade was going to cause us problems. Now she is the cog in the wheel. Wanting to work for the Federation instead of focusing on the things that matter like life, family, her spiritual growth. I mean who worries about a job over the pleasure of life and family?”
Opening his mouth to reply, Duncan found that Lily cut him off quickly. Duncans upbringing and world had placed pleasures of life a distinct background subject compared to job, although family had been a big part of Lord Rhodes education, but Duncan instantly knew that his idea of family and where Lily had grown up were vastly different ideologies.
“Someone who wants to eat,” Lily laughed it off not seeming to be upset by her father’s rant.
“You can eat all you want here and not have to report to the man,” he debated back. “I mean the tyrannical overlord that calls himself the President of the Federation. Not you son,” he nodded in an approving way at Duncan.
“Oh, um, thanks,” Duncan replied, now confused.
“I mean did you hear what he wanted to do last week,” LIly’s father rolled his eyes in disgust. “The man wants to impose restrictions on Federation citizens from free travel.”
“Dad asking citizens to use their identification as a formal way to identify themselves is not restricting travel. It literally is just putting a name on a ticket so no one is out yelling tall man with dark hair you are next,” she countered back.
“It’s also to make sure that people who go into places of political instability near the borders can be accounted for and helped if anything happens. They are citizens of the Federation and helping is the whole point of what we do,” Duncan tried to explain, adding to Lily’s.
“It is a way of keeping track of us,” he stabbed a large chunk of fruit and popped it in his mouth. “And the taxes they have on goods. You know if they just bartered for things people could get what they wanted and needed.” Lily reached under the table and grabbing Duncan’s knees with her hand. She had warned him her parents were more of the free thinking live off the land type but actually spending time with free thinking live off the land types did require the rest of the galaxy to have extreme patience.
Duncan returned the action, but this time kept his mouth firmly shut. The Rhodes Foundation was a manufacturer and supplier of many goods found throughout the Federation, bartering wasn’t exactly something that was going to suit his family’s business model well. He almost smiled as he imagined someone bartering one of his families Phaser Rifles for a sack of potatoes. No, that wouldn’t do at all to let that little detail be known to his Fiancee’s live off the land type family.
“Enough talk of politics,’ Liv Locksley waved a hand as if brushing off her husband. “We need to talk wedding specifics. Who do you want to marry you,” she asked Lily.
“We’ve talked about a few people from my Families estates in England,” Duncan started, almost happy to changed the subject back to the wedding, “we haven’t decided on anyone but we have some options, my family is particular, they want someone respected and well known.” He toyed with the Pasta in his bowl and looked at Lily.
“But of course I wanted to come here and meet you, Lily’s family, and get your blessing to marry your daughter. Of course I didn’t realize that you already knew so much,” he smiled, giving Lily’s hand a squeeze and taking it out from under the table where they had been holding hands.
“I wasn’t quite expecting to walk into a wedding planning session set for, quite so soon either. We met some lovely ladies talking about spiritual togetherness and being bound for eternity as we came here. I have to admit it’s pretty sudden, we have been engaged for six months sure, but I think Lily and I were just enjoying each other and being together. Meeting you is something I have been looking forward to.”
Duncan Rhodes, CSO
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