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The Expected

Posted on Wed Oct 28th, 2015 @ 5:59pm by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Heart of Stele
Location: Elas
Timeline: After "On the Cusp, Part 2"

When Vanora rematerialized, she was in the house in which she grew up. Standing in the entrance to the property, she could see that not much had changed. The furniture, decorations, and even the servants and guards (who seemed to have been expecting her) waiting in the entryway were all the same as before. This was not surprising given her mother's penchant for tradition. In the century of peace between the Elasian and Troyian people, and the Federation membership that soon followed, stability had become an ever more valued characteristic of all social and political institutions. While there was still strife, feuds, and plotting within the Council of Nobles and even within the great clans like the Augusta, Elas had turned a corner. The warm blanket of the Federation settled upon the residents of the Tellun System, and they began to look inward, reflecting on the importance of maintaining their unique culture and customs.

Or so the story went.

In reality, the Federation had brought stability to the Tellun System, but even membership in the utopian galactic government could not remove from Elasians the fire that lived in their very bodily fluids. Female Elasian tears did not stop acting as tools of seduction and power simply because the Dohlman had now signed the Charter of the United Federation of Planets. Children did not lose their urge to run and brawl simply because they had access to LCARS. And the drive to demonstrate Elasian might, the ethos of the warrior society, could not be swept away in only a few generations. Elas was still Elas, and its people simply found new ways to express their deep desires and instincts.

That was what had led to the creation and maintenance of the Timariot even after Starfleet replaced Elasian navies and armies in officially defending the Tellun System from external threats. Many proud Elasians, the best and the brightest, had joined Starfleet. It was an honor, and honor was one thing that almost all Elasians respected and pursued. But having the best and brightest leave Elas meant that those who were left to maintain tradition and ritual were, by definition, not the best and brightest. Some of those who remained were bright, strong, and talented, but perhaps not the best in the way that Starfleet required: ethically, emotionally, and in the heart.

There were some exceptions, of course. There were the first born, the female heirs to family titles among noble families. Some of them may well have excelled in Starfleet, but Vanora knew of no Elasian who had abandoned their responsibility to govern their clan when called upon. And then there were those children of Elas who became enraptured by the tales of chivalry and myths of olden days. Among these, the true believers, as Vanora thought of them, there were almost certainly individuals who would have made successful Starfleet officers. No doubt, Vanora's own middle brother, Ajax, could have been a chief of security or Marine Captain by now. Instead he served as a knight of Augusta, bound by no matriarchal responsibilities to the clan, but only to the romantic fantasies that his father had not been able to save him from. Sir Ajax of the Augusta Timariot, Vanora shuddered as she thought of the reality. Who knew what he was being asked to do on behalf of their mother's twisted machinations?

That was tradition. It wasn't just old furniture and drapery maintained for centuries. It could be a wonderful piece of heritage, enriching and guiding when one needed a source of hope, love, family, values, or inspiration. It could be defining of character and of the best a civilization had to offer. Or tradition could be the source of backwards thinking, of atavistic behavior, war, oppression, deceit, and excuses for one's worst behavior. From tradition, Vanora's sister Peridot had brought together the practical Elasian knowledge of healing and herbs with the modern medicine of Starfleet Medical, allowing her to think outside the box and save countless more lives during her career. From tradition, Vanora's mother had turned the Timariot into an extrajudicial brute squad used to enforce a very narrow vision of the destiny of Elas and Elasians.

It was also not surprising that Vanora's mother, Livia, walked into the foyer of the manor, she looked almost exactly the same as she had the morning before Vanora left home, fifteen years ago. Though Vanora was otherwise the spitting image of her mother, the two were attired quite differently, Livia was dressed in a white silk robe with leather strapped sandals, both the shoes and garment garnished with embroidery of gold thread, a golden crown upon her forehead set with rubies in the seal of the Augusta, and gem-encrusted gold bands and necklaces adorning her neck and arms. Her make-up was painted on carefully, despite being at home. "Clythemes," she called, as she entered, in her measured, flat tone to a servant woman, all the while inspecting Vanora carefully. "Bring sweet mint tea, and pastries. My daughter has returned home." She motioned for Vanora to follow her into a sitting room off to the side of the entryway.

Though she followed Livia into the room, Vanora ignored the offered seat, standing while her mother lounged in an opulently cushioned settee with ivory legs and polished oak framework. "I didn't come here for tea, Livia."

"I know, my daughter. I happen to know much more than you think I do."

"So I am learning." Vanora seethed. "If you know why I am here, then stand and face me. For once, cast aside this pretense and meet me as your daughter."

Livia smiled, attempting to look calm, but anger flickered in her eyes. She swung her legs down onto the ground and, still seated, brought her hands together before her. "You forget your place, Vanora. You dare come into my home and command me, Chief of the Augusta and your matron. You are in this world because I brought you into it, and yet you treat me with such disrespect. Am I animal hide, a rug to be trampled upon so carelessly? No; I am the living lioness, queen of her pride. Of your pride."

"I am you daughter, yes. I was born in this room, and in your chiefdom. But I am neither servant nor plaything. I knew what I was doing when I left home, and I ceased being your subject long ago."

Livia laughed, leaning back into the cushions. "You left home because I allowed you to. Do not mistake my tolerance of your misguided adventuring for acceptance. You are, always have been, and always will be, my daughter, and so you are my subject, until one of us has returned to the embrace of the rich soil of Elas." She did not pause or acknowledge the servant Clythemes as the young girl brought in tea and honeyed treats, pouring the thick amber liquid into artisan-crafted glass mugs. The teenager bowed low to both mother and daughter before scampering out of the room. "I have always planned for you to return. And here you are. Rough around the edges, but still my daughter."

Vanora could not believe the way her mother was speaking. Her vision began to blur at the edges as her heartbeat rose. "I cannot believe you. I knew you didn't approve of my work or of my husband; you made that crystal clear. But I can't believe that you are unapologetic about what you did. You killed so many people, abducted and disappeared Tang, tortured him... just to get me to come home? If you wanted to see me so badly, did you ever think of asking?"

"I did. I called you and humbled myself, begging you to return when Helen was sick..."

"You mean right after you destroyed my life."

Livia grimaced. "I did what was in the best interest of the Augusta. Your sister was sick, weak. And you are still alive, you are still standing."

"But you are not. Stand, Livia." Vanora drew both of her long-daggers from her belt. "You are out of control, Livia. You have wronged me and those I love, and sullied everything that might have ever been good about this place. Or the Augusta. You have committed murder, conspired treason against the Federation, and betrayed the Dohlman. You have forsworn your oaths. You will be brought to justice."

Livia smiled and stood, drawing her own long-daggers from beneath her gown. "And now you have shown that you are still Elasian. I only ever wanted you to return, my daughter. If this is what is required to bring you home, let us commence."


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