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Log of the Month for January, 2019

Fatherly Advice
Posted on January 17th, 2019 by Emilaina Acacia

Emily walked into her quarters, paused briefly to check that the door had swished shut properly behind her, then let out a high-pitched happy squeal that startled her bitter, fluffy white cat so badly that he got about three feet of lift before spontaneously vanishing.

Right on cue, she spotted a flashing white indicator on the monitor attached to the desk in her quarters. Expecting her best friend, confidante, and older sister’s usual nightly call she scrambled over to her desk, grabbed her chair, and sat down with a spin. She took a deep breath, ready to scream something incoherent at her sister the moment the line connected. She pressed the button and–her smile faded, replace by confusion.

“Dad?” she blinked. She wasn’t disappointed, just… confused. She seldom spoke to her father over subspace, he ‘wasn’t fond of communication like that that lacks a real connection’, or so he put it.

“Good evening, Lieutenant,” the man smiled broadly, and she felt her own smile return.

“Wh–you know already?”

“Let’s just say I have a man on the inside,” he half-joked, then he continued, saying something in Betazese. A bit clumsy at first from being out of practice, Emily replied, eliciting a laugh from her father. She had pronounced a difficult word wrong, which he then gently explained in English.

“What sort of gift, though?” Emily asked in English, referring to what he had said.

“It’s a holoprogram. I’ve already sent it over so you wouldn’t have to wait on the download, it’s called Acacia 52,” he said softly, his demeanour growing a bit solemn, “I’ve made one for all three of you. Always said I’d give it to you after your first promotion.”

“I see,” Emily smiled softly, “So Averi already has hers, I take it?”

“And Tori will get hers when she graduates,” that statement hung in the air like a weight. Both of them felt their necks pulling downward, and they couldn’t help but share a moment of bitter sadness, though neither of them wanted to acknowledge it.

“I hope you like it, Laina,” it was then that she noticed that her father was not only in uniform, but in the sick bay on the ship he was posted on. His sick bay. And someone was trying to get his attention. He tried to shake them off, but Emily nudged.

“Go on, dad. I won’t hold you up. See you soon?” The man laughed at her question, and waved at the monitor.

“Well, good work, kiddo. I’ll see you soon,” the screen went dark, and Emily sat back in her chair for a moment.

“Computer, how big is holoprogram Acacia 52?,” she glanced up at the ceiling, an odd little habit when asking the computer for something.

“Holoprogram Acacia 52 contains one Betazoid character,” the computer beeped back.

“No settings? No props? Just a person?” Emily was slightly confused, but only just. Her dad had always been a bit quirky by her standards.

“Correct,” the computer replied.

“Huh,” she kicked to her feet, heading for the door once more. She made her way down the hallway, into the medical research lab, and into her office. She sat at her desk, and began, “Computer.. store my console, engage holo-mode, and play program Acacia 52.”

The computer screen on her desk receded downward, storing itself. The desk also sunk slightly, though only by a few inches. The windows of her office blacked themselves out, and the lighting dimmed. Then a hologram appeared, standing on the other side of her desk. She tilted her head. It was her dad.

“Good evening, Lieutenant,” the hologram repeated, and Emily was slightly unnerved, though only because the unfeeling thing had greeted her the same way as the genuine article.

“Good evening, Commander,” she replied slowly, amused, “What do you have for me?”

“Plenty of things,” the hologram turned, examining the wall. He pressed a button, and the chair in front of her desk folded out of the wall. He sat down, making himself comfortable, “Advice, stories.. I have something for most occasions.”

Emily felt her brow furrow slightly. She wasn’t sure how this made her feel, and that was an unusual feeling for an empath.

“First promotion?” Emily grinned. The hologram flickered, and the details changed slightly. While the hologram was a good approximation of her father in most ways–it did his voice, it looked like him–this part was obviously an actual recording of the man, spliced in between the holo programming. Most notably, in this recording, he looked about ten years younger.

“Emilaina,” the man began, and Emily felt her hand jerk up to cover her mouth. How old was this? “I am so proud of you. I always have been. I record this..” the hologram twisted in his chair, glancing behind himself, “as you have just left for the Academy.”

A quiet gasp answered his words, and Emily was very intent to listen, sparkling eyes fixed on the hologram as she tried not to cry.

“I know you will go far in life, Laina. But don’t let a promotion get to your head. Don’t forget about the patient that seems to be doing well. If you don’t like your captain yet, invite them to dinner.”

Emily laughed at that, a single tear listing down her cheek which she quickly sleeved away. She could tell where her father was sitting when her recorded the video, at the kitchen bar in her family home. It wasn’t supposed to be visible, but artifacting from the video as he would shift in his seat, and the hologram would not, gave Emily flashes of her childhood home just from seeing the color of the wooden countertop overlaid on his forearm.

“Treat everyone like they’re having the worst day of their life, and never forget,” her dad raised a wagging finger, speaking in Betazese that would roughly translate to, “to command as if those beneath you are your younger self.”

“Good luck,” the recording finished, and the hologram took back over. Emily took a deep breath, wiped under her eyes, and rubbed her hands together thoughtfully.

“Holo-dad,” she addressed it, musing thoughtfully, “How many recordings do you have?”

“Three thousand four hundred and twenty one,” it replied. Emily was stunned, it took her a moment to recover. She ran a hand over her desk, thinking it through. That would mean at least one a day for around ten years, or.. it could have been spread over longer.

“What’s the oldest one?” she said softly, though she expected she knew the answer. The hologram replied with her birthdate, making the oldest recording about… 28.

“But isn’t it a little twisted that he didn’t give us holo-dad when we got in to the academy? Or like.. when we were kids?” Averi mused, the side of her body appearing on the screen in Emily’s office, where she was using the holo-projectors in her desk to work on one of the projected clusters of dots of light that somehow represent a humanoid immune system. She used a special pen, picking up dots, pulling them out, and manually manipulating their internal data. The screens on the flat part of her desk were also in use for once, displaying more streaming lines of data.

“You call it holo-dad too?” Emily snorted.

“Yeah,” Averi laughed. She, too, was at work, hence the side view. She was repairing a panel deep in the plasma conduits on her stationed ship. She had carried a small laptop with her for the video, because the two sometimes kept each other company during tedious work that would otherwise be agonizingly silent.

“I don’t know, maybe he wanted us to… strike it on our own first? That was the impression I got anyway,” she then grimaced at the thought, though it also amused her just a bit, “And I think it might have been more twisted to have been raised by a hologram of our father.”

“Touché, kai’i,” Averi nodded thoughtfully. The two both let themselves get a bit distracted, their conversation naturally ebbing and flowing as they would take time to focus more intently on their work.

“It’s really sweet, I think,” Emily shrugged.

“Oh, no, definitely sweet. I mean it’s thousands of audio letters, it’s like, the sweetest gift you can give. It’s just…” Averi paused, turning to the screen. She waved a hand, indicating that she couldn’t find the words.

“It’s just that you’d think a man who doesn’t like to communicate verbally over subspace because it’s impersonal would realize that a walking, talking, non-empathically-readable, life-sized photon approximation of himself would be a bit unsettling for his half-empath daughters?” Emily grinned, slowly turning to look at the screen. The two burst out into laughter, which lasted for a few precious, cathartically satisfying moments.

“I think it’s just extra weird because he’s still alive,” Averi shrugged. The thought made Emily shudder.

“So what was your first promotion message like?” Emily went back to picking up dots and editing them, and Averi went back to trying to pry out the right piece of metal with increasingly menacing-looking tools.

“Kind of funny,” Averi smiled softly, “Recorded the day I left for the Academy. He gave me some good advice, then told me the secret to making Captain by the time you’re thirty-five is ‘good looks and good luck’.”

“Inspiring,” Emily smirked. The longer she worked, the more edits each dot needed. She was getting closer to the center of the cluster.

They went on a for a while, but eventually decided to end their chat and gave each other the usual goodbyes. Emily worked for another thirty minutes or so before deciding to take a break for her eyes’ sake and, when she did, she decided to summon holo-dad.

“So what sorts of messages do you have?” she tapped her fingers together.

“I told you, all sorts,” the hologram offered unhelpfully, once again taking a seat across from her.

“Birthdays? Holidays? Graduation? I guess–how many things do you have recordings for where I’ve already passed the milestone?” Emily smiled thoughtfully.

“Eight hundred and forty four,” the hologram said simply. Emily whistled a low note, nodding lightly.

“Well…” she turned to the replicator in her office, “A glass of chardonnay, a box of tissues, and… a big bowl of drakberry ice cream.”

With a whirr, the computer produced the items, which she moved to her desk. She smiled at the hologram, leaning back in her chair and gesturing to him before taking a big spoonful of ice cream, “Time and a place for everything, as you always say.”

“Indeed,” the holo-dad smiled.

“Start at the beginning,” Emily said softly. And so they did.

The hologram stood up, and lifted his arms. He held Emily as a baby, and he was a much younger man. He smiled thoughtfully, pacing around what little bit of floorspace there was in her office.

“Emilaina, you are a beautiful baby. Eight pounds, seven ounces. You already have a full head of hair, and of course.. you have my eyes. We knew that would happen,” Emily sighed softly, content. The hologram suddenly stopped, glancing behind him. No second figure appeared, but she heard her mother’s voice.

“Is this the recordings again?”

“Yes, dear,” the man laughed, “Do you want to say something to Emilaina?”

“Oh, wow.. I don’t know,” her mother wavered, “I’m not sure what to say.”

“Anything you want,” he urged her, and she began.

“Well, just know if you leave your socks on the floor like your father, I’m going to–”

“Janessa!” he exclaimed with mock indifference, and she laughed.

“I’m kidding. I’ll teach you better than that. I love you, little bean. I’ll think of more to say on a day I feel better.”

“Fair enough,” Emily’s father made a motion with his arm that indicates that he grabbed the holo-camera, and walked to where her mother couldn’t hear, “Oh, you hear that Emilaina? Give your mother some sweets on your birthday. She deserves it.”

Emily laughed, taking a sip of her wine. She was in her office for quite a while listening to the hologram. When it got too late for her to ignore her body she finally made her way to bed, and slept better than she had ever slept. There was something different about her the next day, and it wasn’t just the promotion. She came back to work with a renewed sense of presence, and of peace.

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  • Kathryn Harper Kathryn Harper says:

    This is heartwarming, and you offset the serious emotional tone with the two sisters talking about the gift so that it doesn’t turn too saccharine. Wonderful log!

  •  Alexis Wright says:

    I love this. This is incredibly well-done and really breathes life into your character for me. I wish I had done it myself! Truly excellent work.

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