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Welcome to the Jungle - Chapter 1, Part 1 (Writing Challenge)

Posted on Wednesday, 12 October 2022 - 7:25am by Ensign T'Nile Xera

Brazil, where hearts were entertaining June.
We stood beneath an amber moon.
And softly murmured "Someday soon".
We kissed and clung together.

"And why are we not on Risa?"

Father was quietly lounging, wearing a shirt louder than a photon torpedo detonation, knobbly knees and oddly thin ankles wrapped in a pair of shorts. Even at ten years old, I was trying to be a paragon of dignity, even if I sounded a snobbish, mewling, impetuous child. Dressed in what could only be described as my classic Steampunk look. Tan jodhpurs, emerald green silk shirt, a sleeveless purple waistcoat, with thick soled boots. To top off the ensemble, I wore a silver rimmed monocle. The hat, though, that lovely black pork pie felt hat, that had stayed in the room.

The outfit was an outgrowth of my budding personality. No, not as a botanist, but an Engineer. A good Doctor (Medical Officer) is able to tell a lot about their patients by their posture, skin tone, how they held themselves, telltales of old unhealed wounds or fresh ones. When I look at a piece of technology, I see not the device, I see power cells, isolinear storage, power waveguides, diodes, transtators, regulators, coils, fluxes. Beyond the hardware, I seem to see inside the software, to have a grasp of what lines of encoding and specifics required to operate each function. It only seemed appropriate to have an outfit that was tangible, that bespoke of a hands-on attitude.

Though Father said nothing. In fact, he was snoring quietly. Shaking my head, I let him be. As a Federation Counsellor, he had been sent across the known galaxy, helping with civilian services and local Governments. Having done that and raising me without a break for the past ten years... His boss had forcibly locked his access: Take a vacation. Whether you like it or not, you're on paid furlough.

The resistance from him almost made me seem a grown up. The flimsy excuses, citing the need for his services, nothing could change his boss' mind. Of course, the signs were visible. His hands were shaking, palsied, the lack of sleep added a few years on his face and he grew thin and gaunt on an already small size. In the end, it had taken only a token resistance before surrendering to the inevitable.

Why not Risa, or Wrigley's pleasure planet, or that place that Captain Kirk encountered the Easter Bunny? No, Father said with a smile. Earth was magical and wondrous. Once you get outside the big cities, you saw what was right beneath your noses, a paradise in and of itself. Why could we not have gone to oh, Tahiti, or Paris, or Timbuktu? Why the rainforest? Growing up on Bajor and Vulcan (as much as growing up could be described as between assignments for Father), they had been low humidity, dry worlds.

Now, on a beach, the humidity from the Amazon rainforest was making me wilt. And my hair. I was beginning to see the logic of Vulcan hairstyles, short, utilitarian. As a Bajulcan (half Bajoran, half Vulcan), I preferred to let my hair out naturally. Now it was a mass of soaked tangles that seemed to obscure my vision. My clothes, that lovely Steampunk ensemble was also soaked through and it appeared that the local insect life was quite happy to chew on my supple skin and drink my copper based blood.

Turning, I raised an eyebrow, for Father had waved a hand in farewell, still seemingly asleep. He trusted me to look after myself. Although I had a soft, almost lilting voice, Father had joked that when I was screaming for help, I could sonically stun a Mugato in its tracks. Ensuring my personal comm unit and credit chit were in my pockets, I knelt down and kissed Father on the cheek. As long as I returned for the evening meal around sundown, I could do as I pleased.

As I look back and remember all those years ago, the story should have ended there, except it didn't. My instincts had perked up. A fairly tall man (wasn't everyone tall compared to a pre-teen?) was hurrying along. Although he appeared to be casual, he wasn't. There was something in the body language that made me follow him. Through the waterfront, through a crowded mall, I followed, not quite sure why. Even at ten years old, I had good judgment (then why are you following a random stranger?) and observation skills and my skills in looking at objects and figuring out how they work. Already, I had deduced the stranger was following a Ferengi in an awfully gaudy suit, with two Nausicaan heavies. Bodyguards.

And then I was on my backside. Wrinkling my nose (which is a feat in itself considering my Bajoran nose ridges), I had run into the stranger who had stopped suddenly. He had extended his hand to help me up. "If you're going to follow someone, you should be more discrete, little one. Go back to your parents." Up close the stranger was a tall human, Asian in appearance, with high cheekbones, tanned skin and almost Vulcan like straight black hair. I narrowed my eyes, but there was something... He wasn't being condescending, merely... Factual. Tilting my head in puzzlement, I followed, looking for all the world like a lost puppy bounding after a new owner. Most adults would have been dismissive.

Although he had never once looked back, I was aware he knew I was still following, but he didn't show it. Someone stepped in my way and I lost him. Where was he? On a hunch, I ducked into an alleyway and there was the stranger... And so was the Ferengi with his Nausicaan heavies. I forget which of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition it was, but based on the Ferengi's smile, he had the biggest knife in the universe. The Nausicaan heavies advanced. The stranger grabbed my hand. "Run!"

To be continued


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