By Christina Moore
The train ride into the city was spent in silence. Verlyn Devos was too nervous to speak, her thoughts too full of the departure to come to make any sort of conversation or to appreciate the scenery that passed outside her window.
There was no telling what Alexana's thoughts were. The elder of the two sisters by more than a decade, she had become rather severe since she had been made police chief in the city of Akros, one of many on the eastern continent where acts of terrorism had been a daily occurrence until the Federation became involved. For a great many years they had been able to maintain their neutrality in the Rutian civil war, until the doctor and captain of their flagship had been taken prisoner by Ansata freedom fighter Kyril Finn. Alexana had been involved in their recovery, as well as the death of Finn.
In the end, the kidnappings had done what years of fighting had not: Federation diplomats were sent to Rutia IV, and peace had been achieved. Not right away, of course. True peace had taken another five years of fighting, violence, arguing, and eventually actual conversation. But the Ansata had, when all was said and done, received that which they had been fighting for over nearly 80 years—their independence. The western and eastern continents of Rutia were now separate nations, thanks in great part to the work of those Federation diplomats that had come in after the Enterprise incident.
The train was then arriving at the station, and with a brief smile Alexana rose. Verlyn followed, and each grabbed one of the full duffel bags she had packed. Still nothing was said as they made their way through the station to the transporter platform, where soon Verlyn would beam up to a starship for the first time in her life.
Not until her name was called and they were informed the San Francisco was ready to receive her did either of the sisters speak a word since leaving home. Overcome suddenly with nerves, Verlyn said, "I can't do it. I can't leave! I'll never make it through Starfleet Academy."
Alexana took her by the shoulders. "Yes you can, and yes you will." She smiled. "Oh, my beautiful, brilliant little sister. How can you doubt yourself? You were top of your class, you scored highest on the entrance exam of the few who were invited to take it, and you have always wondered about how the universe works. Don't waste this opportunity to prove how much our people deserve to be recognized for more than the civil war."
Verlyn drew a breath and nodded. Alexana surprised her then, when she suddenly pulled her into a tight hug. "Everthing I did," she whispered, "every sacrifice I made, was so you could have a better life. Away from the fighting and the dying here on Rutia."
Her sister stood back and held her gaze. "The fighting and the dying may be over now, but your life could still be better. You know I have met and worked with some of Starfleet's best. You, Verlyn, will fit right in among them. You've always been fascinated by the stars above our home and beyond, and now you have a chance to study them. To chase them. Don't let such an opportunity pass you by—and when you come home for a visit in a year or so, perhaps the state of things will be even better."
"But if I stay, I can help make things better right here at home!"
Alexana shook her head. "Your talents would be wasted here, Lynie. We may have peace now, but Rutia is still picking up the pieces from too many years of strife. I don't want you to waste away in some office when you can be flying through space. Go. Be brilliant. And think of me now and then."
Verlyn squeezed her hands as her eyes filled with tears. "I will think of you every day and night."
"Ma'am, are you ready now?" asked the transporter operator.
Verlyn looked to him and nodded. She took her second bag from Alexana and stepped up on the transporter dais. She turned around and watched her sister smile, and for the first time in many years, there were tears in her eyes as well.
"I will send you a message as soon as I get to Earth."
"You'd better," Alexana told her sternly.
Chances were, both of them knew, that they would speak over subspace long before the San Francisco got anywhere near Earth, but neither mentioned it. Seconds later, Verlyn felt the transporter envelop her, carrying her away to a whole new life.