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Little House

Posted on Monday, 13 April 2020 - 3:03pm by Captain Barret Stillwater & Lieutenant Talarn Zilth

Mission: Operation: Overdrive
Location: Triangle Sector | M Class World: Prairie
Timeline: 2393 [Current Mission Time]


On the long forgotten world of Prairie, settlers put in long hours of labor and love for their land in order to ensure that everyone had enough food to feed their families. Neighbor watched out for neighbor and all settlers in the pocket communities of Prairie lived by a code of conduct that had been passed down through generation after generation of settlers ever since the planet's first settlers set forth on it centuries ago. The planet's population, although small, was as diverse of a place as could be. Humans, Klingons, and Romulans served as the three majority species. Humans and Romulans had the most in numbers, but it was not uncommon for a Klingon to be spotted, though they were not as sociable as the others, and they were not like any Klingons that Barret had ever met. Talarn on the other hand had some richer knowledge on them.

Prairie was a Class M world... barely, but it supported humanoid life and had been doing so for centuries. It was an agrarian world which focused its emphasis on agriculture. Many different crops grew there, though some better than others. The sun rose and every morning, so long as they felt healthy enough, Barret and Talarn were up as the ass crack of dawn soon as the cocks started to crow their cock-a-doodle-doo. Sometimes, Barret would slide out of bed and into the shower out back before Talrn woke. This would give Barret enough time to throw together a breakfast and brew what they had come to know at Prairie roast grog... coffee once you got used to it.

The Prairie roast was made and the eggs were on the plates with a side of toasted bread. Barret was in the kitchen when he heard the creaking of the steps on the staircase. It was no intruder, just a ex Borg who finished his 'regeneration cycle' and Barret poured the other man some coffee into a mug and turned around greeting him with it. "Mornin' Spoonhead," he said to Talarn using what had once been an extremely rude derogatory term for Cardassians during the Dominion War, but the word lost its bitter tones and picked up notes of an endearing nature between them. "Made you some toast, eggs, and Praire roast grog," he added offering the man the mug.

Talarn took the mug and snorted in way of greeting. He drank most of the dark contents in deep gulps. When he lowered the mug again, he offered a smirk to Barret. "Mornin'... I think we need to adjust the panels on the ridge or cut more firewood. It was cold. I didn't want to get out of bed." The Cardassian ex borg went to move past the human, but stopped and put a hand on his shoulder, giving it a warm squeeze. "Thanks for breakfast. Did you sleep well?" Mornings were something that Talarn had come to enjoy. Despite the ruggedness of their lifestyle, there was something that Talarn enjoyed about that honest, hard work, early in the morning. He let go of the human and sat down at the table in his usual spot to pick at his food. "Did you already have a "to do" list?"

"I slept alright, but you are right about the cold" replied Barret. "I reckon we're going to be in for a rough winter this season if we are already feeling it in our bones during autumn. If it gets any colder than this at night so early, we are going to have our handful with frost, and most of the crops cannot handle that" he said shaking his head. "Old age is catching up to me. I ache in the morning" he said half jokingly. Though with modern medical practices humans easily lived beyond one hundred, and Barret Stillwater had a long way to go until he hit that mile point marker, Prairie did not have 'modern medicine' and his body was not used to centuries old intense physical labor.

He took a seat at the table after getting himself a mug of the questionable coffee. Still, they had gotten used to it over the past few years. "Ah," he said grumbling. "There's a bit on the to do list, but we have things fairly well under control here, but we were asked to go westward to the Romulan settlement. They are having some issues with their quadrotriticale crop," he explained. "Then we got ourselves a request eastward of all things, the Klingons have an issue themselves. There watermill isn't turning... If they cannot get that fixed before the height of autumn harvest, they can't make proper flour which means we all will be short on bread."

Talarn made a clicking noise, in addition to all his other clicking noises he made naturally, but this noise indicated frustration and irritation. His mouth was full of food. "I told those Klingons that they needed to watch the rocks. That rocks actually do move downstream... I'll go down and make sure," he said around the mouthful before finishing up his mastication and swallowing. He reached for his mug and then remembered it was empty. Frowning, he got up and poured himself another and brought it back to the table to sit again. "Do you want to divide and conquer? Or should we not separate the party?" His question prompted another small smirk and a fond gaze over the rim of his grog mug.

"Oh, hey now," countered Barret, holding up a finger or protest. "Last time I went alone to help the Romulans, that vixen Sivela tried to seduce me with her feminine wiles" he said shaking his head. "She did not take my rebuking of her sexual advances very well as you may recall. Took me several weeks to get that dagger wound to heal properly and damn well nearly bled out in the field" said Barret. "They may need our help, but I do not think she has forgiven me for calling her an Imperial trollop" added Barret Stillwater "Besides, I've seen the way that Klingon Ko'lek looks at you with his yellowed smirk. I may just have to defend my honor if he continues to do that."

Talarn growled around another mouthful of food. "She does that again and I'm going to use those rocks I dig out of the watermill on her skull..." He looked across the table at Barret. At this point in his life he had a hard time imagining what life would be like without Barret in it. He wasn't sure that was something he wanted to spend a lot of time thinking about. "Ko'lek is an old man. He only likes me because my body is strong. You have nothing to worry about. My tastes don't include Klingons, besides he looks at me like a horse trader looks at a piece of livestock. I've worked too hard to be livestock again." He often referred to his time as a Borg as being livestock. Mindless and penned.

Some disturbing thoughts went through Barret's head. He had read the reports years ago, initial slayings of former Borgs, implants removed. Someone or a bunch of individuals had been working their way through the galaxy capturing former Borg drones and stripping them down like an old shuttle for valuable parts. Those parts were hitting the black market. "You are nobody's livestock and they need to understand that" added Barret. Starfleet had begun a while back severing officers that were ex Borg. Some were lucky and were still in service the last Barret knew, but others like Talarn had been tossed aside and left to be hunted down. That was the last straw for Barret Stillwater.

"The Romulans can wait," he said making a judgment call. "Certainly will not be telling them that we are prioritizing the Klingons, but their grains are nothing without the Klingon mill turning. We will go together... and I know... you do not have to tell me twice 'do not go unarmed'," he said, echoing the caution Talarn had tried to get Barret to understand countless times. "I am not sure if the problems are rocks this time," he added.

Talarn nodded. "I will bring my tool kit and the oil as well. Maybe it's the grinder. If there's an uneven surface that might cause a problem with it turning. We won't be without the mill. I promise. It's possible that some pegs might need replacing. I have to find something better to protect the mechanism from the water. The lacquer we're using right now isn't thick enough, I don't think..." Once his mind got set on something it was hard to steer him off the topic again until the problem was found and solved. At least he was unafraid of work, but it also made him persistent and stubborn. "I also don't think their crops are going to fail overnight... the mill needs to be fixed as soon as possible. It's not about the Klingons over the Romulans... it's about what the people need first."

"Hatfield and McCoys," replied Barret Stillwater, though he knew better than assume Talarn had any idea what he was going on about. "19th century Earth. There were these two families that had a deadly bloody feud with one another that lasted years. The Romulan and Klingon settlements remind me of the Hatfield and McCoys. We, unfortunately, live in a settlement between the two of them," said Stillwater. He postulated for a moment before putting his thoughts into words. "What if the mill problem wasn't accidental?"

"Then..." Talarn took a deep drink of his grog, once again emptying his mug. "We will have to do some investigating. I'm not really sure that we should speculate before we see what's going wrong though. It's not very efficient to put energy into solving something that we're not even sure needs solving yet." He held out one hand to Barret, open, palm up, laying his arm across the table, his eyes seeking contact. "Whatever it is we'll figure it out together. Should we dress now?"

Barret had to agree with that. His own background told him to be cautious, but not to jump to conclusions nor accusations. "You are right, but it would not surprise me the least bit if the Romulans had something to do with that," he said doing what he had just told himself he would not do. "Nevertheless, getting dressed would be a good idea. We don't have the luxury of site to site transporters here," he said with a bit of a chuckle.

"Did you feed the chickens?" Talarn asked as he rose again, his hand still out. "And you already live with the most advanced piece of tech that exists here," he said with a smirk.

Barret Stillwater looked at his companion. "I have not yet. That's probably why the cocks are especially angry this morning," he said. "Crack of dawn and they've been going off ever since," added Barret.

"Don't talk to me about angry cocks and take my hand," Talarn insisted.

"Is this the part where you tell me resistance is futile?" teased Stillwater. Barret took the man's hand. "Sounds like we have a busy day ahead of us," he added.

Talarn squeezed Barret's hand tightly. "Resistance is futile. At least your resistance of me." He grinned. "I don't mind a busy day. Especially if we're not splitting the party." He pulled on Barret's arm gently to try and get the human on his feet.

The man did not resist and was pulled upward to his feet. "Feels like old times, Tal," he said to the man. "Like the many times aboard the Winona in the middle of a dog fight. I'd end up on the deck and you'd be pulling me back up onto my feet," he explained what he meant by old times. "Best seven years," he added. It was a true statement for the most part, though it was also in those seven years that Stillwater went from having the highest respect for the Federation and was honored to wear the uniform of Starfleet to becoming disenfranchised with it all.

Talarn laughed and nodded. He also remembered the Winona fondly. It was honestly the first ship he served on that the crew had made him feel like he was a normal person and not the mix of mechanics and flesh that he was. "I don't know, Barett. I'm starting to think that these years on this planet with you have been the best." The Cardassian stared at the human intently, his tone carrying more meaning then his statement.

Barret looked into the Cardassian's eyes. He trusted Talarn, trusted him before the synth attack and after. When the Federation and Starfleet made their mistake, it was not something Barret supported. "You're right. These have been the best years."

Talarn tried to pull Barret closer to kiss his cheek. "I'm not sorry that we came here," he said softly. "We should, however, get dressed and fix the watermill."

Barret pulled Talarn closer, not allowing the Cardassian to leave his presence. Their conversation was not nearly done. Barret was not a man easy to enrage, but he almost always was certain to get the last word. "You did not make us come here, Tal. We came here because I picked it. We came here to have a life... together. The Federation would not have allowed that easily," said Barret bringing himself inches from the Cardassian and running his finger's through the man's thick obsidian black hair. "The watermill can wait," he added, pressing his lips gently against Talarn's.

Talarn made a little "oomph" sound as Barret pulled him closer. As the man talked the small smirk on the Cardassian's face turned slowly into a genuine smile. He returned the kiss eagerly. It had not always been so easy for the ex-borg to be touched, to be intimate, but he savored every moment now. "Keep petting me and it won't get fixed today at all..." he responded with a chuckle and wrapped his arms around the human. "Do you ever miss Starfleet?" Talarn was sure that he knew what Barret's answer would be, but he still asked.

That was one of the touchier subjects in a shortlist of touchy subjects for Barret Stillwater. "Which Starfleet are we talking about Talarn? The one that seeks out new life and new civilizations, protecting galactic peace, and nourishing newly developed worlds? Or are you asking if I miss the Starfleet who placed the lives Federation citizens above the lives of refugees of dying worlds just because of fear and prejudice?" countered Stillwater. It was not a rhetorical question. "Need I even bring up the Federation... the Starfleet, that after extensively researching ways to reintegrate former Borg drones into the Federation, back into Strfleet service, they turned their back on them in a moment's notice. Stripped them of the identity that they had fought so long to retain and labeled them 'XBs,'" Stillwater added.

He cleared his throat and shook his head, a silent indication of no. "The Starfleet I served betrayed me the day they betrayed the Romulans, the day they betrayed you. Hell, the Starfleet I served was a lie. Pure propaganda, not to seek out new life and new civilizations, but to pacify the galaxy with its purist ways. We were no better than the Romulan Star Empire, no better than the Cardassian Union, the Klingon Empire, or even the God damn Dominion. Fuck the Federation and fuck Starfleet for all the atrocities they have committed. Blood is on their hands."

Talarn was not surprised, although he was surprised at the length of Barret's argument. He ran his hands over the human in a soothing fashion before touching Barret's face gently. "I know... I know. I figured you wouldn't like that, but we should ask these questions from time to time. Helps us remember why this place is so valuable. It will be alright, my love." Talarn didn't use the word "love" often or lightly and only used it in reference to Barret. "I do, however, completely agree with you. Their betrayal was not lost on me." He leaned forward a little and kissed the human's forehead. "At least they haven't come looking for us. I appreciate being left to my own devices."

Barret, having calmed down from the emotions stirred up by the question had relaxed a bit. "I appreciate being ex-Starfleet and left alone here in Prairie," he stated. "Let's go take care of this mill business."

Talarn put a hand on Barret's arm and leaned in to steal another kiss. "Yes... let's."


Barret Stillwater
Talarn Zilth


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