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Thirty-Nine
Posted on September 15th, 2017 by Kathryn Harper

by Kuari and Kathryn Harper

“You did the best you could, and you’re not at fault for those deaths. Smith is to blame, and no one else. Don’t forget that, Kate.”

Admiral Blackthorne’s parting words still echoed with Captain Harper as she finished her report on the loss of the Neptune with all but thirty-nine hands. What had he meant? You did the best you could? Did he think that he could have done better? Would Admiral Blackthorne and Commodore T’Kirr have saved more of that crew, or even all of them, had they been in command? She’d never known him to mince words, but given the situation, Harper found it difficult to doubt that the outcome would not have been better with a more experienced commanding officer in Atlantis’s center seat.

The door chimed. “Come,” Harper answered automatically, but not as energetically as usual. Still, the ready room door slid open, and Kuari entered. She was on all fours, and her head was held low on her long neck in front of her. Her large eyes met Harper’s briefly before darting aimlessly about the room, and she trotted all the way to the desk with more energy than she should have felt before the tip of her tail cleared the doorway.

Dropping her hindquarters, Kuari sat on the floor and intermittently glanced up at Harper. “Hi. How are you doing?”

Kate took a moment to regard her executive officer and friend before deciding that the command demeanor would serve no purpose now, and answered truthfully, “I have been better, Kuari. The Admiral assured me that we did the best we could, but it is hard to stop wondering whether or not he and Commodore T’Kirr could have saved more lives.”

Kuari nodded and looked down at the floor. She had wondered how Kate’s call with Admiral Blackthorne had gone. He and T’Kirr were role models to her now, especially T’Kirr as she attempted to emulate the Vulcan’s ways as Executive Officer, and she imagined Blackthorne was the same for Kate. “They might have been able to,” Kuari admitted. After a moment of thought, she continued, “Unless they would have made the same decisions we did. It’s hard to know.” She looked up at Kate. “All we can do is our best.”

“Of course,” Kate began as she stood and made her way around to the front of the desk to lean against it. “But after what we did… the sheer improbability of what we accomplished, I mean, with foiling Section 31. After that, it just felt like we could do anything.” She slid up a bit to sit on the desk’s edge and finished, “That feeling was improper and dangerous, but this… this may have been our Kobayashi Maru.”

Kuari thought on that for a moment and decided she agreed. A modest grin stretched back on her face. “What do you think? Would thirty-nine be a good score? For a test meant to fail, that is.”

Captain Harper had never taken the infamous test of character while at the Academy, since it was not administered to cadets in the science track, but that it was a no-win scenario was common knowledge. In her countless mental replays of the situation, Harper had certainly not been able to figure out a way to win. “It is going to have to be,” she answered, envying her XO’s seemingly eternal optimism. Kate scooted back a bit more, bringing her right knee up to hold it in her clasped hands before speaking, to herself as much as to Kuari. “Could our predecessors have done better? Maybe. I do not know. But we… Kuari, we saved thirty-nine people. Smith killed the rest.”

“Green as fur!” Kuari replied somewhat loudly, straightening herself. At Kate’s blank look, she smiled a bit more and elaborated. “It’s a Rucara saying. I think it would make more sense to translate as, “Is fur green?” but we don’t say it that way. It means it’s obviously so and I’m agreeing with you.” The Rucara cocked her head to the side. “Funny thing is, our fur isn’t green, it’s clear. Our skin beneath it is green. The deeper meaning is that it’s about perspective, not necessarily fact. If fact can’t explain it, it’s up to you how you perceive it, and it’s encouraged to do so in whatever way makes you go on in a healthier way.”

Harper thought about this for a moment, idly bouncing the leg that her laced fingers held captive. “That makes a lot of sense, but I would not have understood it had you not explained it to me. I should study your language.”

“It gets more complicated when you realize our skin isn’t always green. We can turn it brown. But don’t think about it too much, which is another good lesson.”

“And I thought English idioms were hard.” With a smile at the wisdom of her Rucara friend, Kate offered, “Thank you, Kuari. I needed that perspective.”

Kuari smiled back, this time showing her pointed teeth, but it was tempered by the seriousness of recent events. She could tell this had hit Kate harder than it had her, and she was happy to make her friend and captain feel better.

“Hey, alpha shift is over, you know.” Kate hopped down from her perch on the desk and offered, “What do you say we go for a swim?”

Kuari stood immediately in response, excited. “That sounds great! We could use a good swim.”

“Yes,” the Captain answered with a deep breath, “we certainly could.”


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2 Comments

  • Alexis Wright says:

    Somehow, the Rucara language found a way to make “it is what it is” adorably cute… or maybe it’s just Kuari. :)

    Nice vignette, guys! <3


  • Kathryn Harper says:

    Thanks!




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