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There are certain times in my life that I am glad I never made it to Captain. Like when Kathryn's comm badge chirps at 04:30 with an amazingly inane, yet urgent request.

As she climbs out of bed muttering, it's all I can do not to ask her not to let the heat out from under the blankets. She bounces the bed as she tugs her boots on, and I smile.

"Let me guess," I ask from somewhere underneath my pillow. "Harry's on bridge duty?"

"You got it." She replies groggily, groping around for her comm badge. I find it on my nightstand, and hand it to her in silence. "Next time, I don't care what the consequences are, we're putting the ship on auto-command!"

I raise my head a little. "We can do that?"

She doesn't answer, just snorts on her way out. Poor, poor Harry.

"You know what the emergency was?" I can tell things didn't go well when she came back almost a half hour later. I had just managed to fall asleep, too. "That we received another distress call from the planet! Like I don't know that they are asking for help! Like I have forgotten what is going on!" She is angry, and I wait for the boots to hit the wall. Bang.....bang... there we are. "And if that's not enough, the damn turbolift is broken again." She rips up the blanket and I almost cry in protest.

"Poor Harry."

"Poor Harry??"

"Having to deal with the Janeway wrath so close to the end of his shift!"

"Chakotay, you're completely missing the point."

"Probably. Harry can look after himself. He's had the confidence to since he was a child."




Harry's Garden
by Micca/Sheena


Harry Kim was lost. This wasn't the quaint tourist section of San Francisco's Chinatown he had been to on Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival. This was different. The signs on the old brick buildings were in Kanji. The streets smelled odd; like fish, sea water and pungent herbs. The place was clean, like the rest of San Francisco, but different. Dark, foreign. He didn't feel very comfortable.

He had wandered away from his mother when she was hunting for an address. The address was written by hand on a sheet of paper. That in itself should have made him wonder where they were going. But at nine years old, all arms and legs and large brown eyes, Harry Kim knew better than to question his mother. Even when she led him into dark and unfamiliar streets.

As he walked he saw red and gold strings hanging down from shop fronts. Tatters of cabbage leaves and red paper, lucky money envelopes. Each envelope and each cabbage leaf was a present for the Dragon during the new year. Appease the gods with gifts and get good luck.

New Year's Day had just passed.

Harry loved it. He loved cleaning the house, sweeping away the bad luck. He loved the special food, the candles, the smell of incense burning in his mother's shrine. None of his friends understood. Most of them, even the ones from Asian backgrounds, had never known. Harry's mother, sometimes to his embarrassment, insisted he learn.

He could understand and respond, sporadically, to his mother's Mandarin. He was more at home in Korean and Japanese. Cantonese was a mystery to him. And that is what seemed to be spoken here in this hidden place.

People walked past him, many dressed in dull clothing, moving at a shuffle, knocking and bumping into one another. The rest of the world's regard for personal space was somehow forgotten here, in the narrow lanes. He could not have stayed in one place if he chosen to. The crowd around him propelled him gently forward.

Food. To his right and left on the edges of the lane were food stalls. Live fish in salty water. Dried cuttlefish pressed flat, looking for all the world like brittle paper. Fruit, some vaguely familiar, but he could not associate a taste with it. Duck and pork hung from hooks basted deep red, slowly turning as they cooked. Voices called out announcing what sounded like prices for food. Other voices called back. Exchanges were made, deals negotiated. He watched a elderly man crush a cigarette into the street. He had never seen a cigarette.

Harry had read about markets like this, and seen them in holovids, but this was real, gritty, smelly and vivid. How could it have survived? Hidden away from the 24th century. The crowd had thinned and his forward motion slowed and then stopped. He found himself before a white plaster wall and followed the wall down a small path until he came to a round moon gate. The gate opened into a small courtyard garden. The courtyard was surrounded by the two-meter tall white wall. The line of the wall was broken with windows covered with complex rosewood screens and a second moon gate.

In the garden, slightly to the left of the moon gate, was a small, irregular shaped pond reflecting in the sun light. Miniature trees, just being their early spring return to life, surrounded the pond. Harry could see and hear tiny birds moving around him. It was peaceful.

Beside the pond, sitting so still that Harry almost thought he was a statue, there was a man.

The man's head was shaven smooth. He was cloaked in black robes, eyes open and fixed on a piece of jagged rock in the center of the pond. Without moving he altered his gaze to look at Harry.

"Please sit down," he said with a vivid voice.

"I am sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you." Harry moved slightly closer to the moon gate, frightened.

"I have been expecting you. I have something to tell you." Afraid, Harry's first instinct was to run. But he found himself sitting cross-legged, facing the man.

Clearing his throat slightly looking at the boy before him, the man began to speak.

*****

Once along time ago there was an old man with a wonderful gift. He could look upon an event and see its true meaning. As he grew old the gods gave him another gift, a much loved and longed for son. But his son did not always respect his father's gift.

One day the boy's prized mare left their home. She disappeared into the valley of the wild horses. The boy was heartbroken, angry and bitter. His father took his hand and said,

"My son, this may well be a gift from the gods. Look carefully for the good in it."

A month later the boy's mare returned and a strong wild stallion followed her. The boy was ecstatic, for wild stallions where highly prized and a sign of great prestige. His father took his hand and said,

"My son, look carefully. This may not be what it seems."

A month later the boy fell from the stallion breaking his hip. He would limp for the rests of his days. He went to his Father and cried,

"Father, what have I done that the gods would treat me so poorly?"

His father took his hand and said,

"My son, this may well be a gift from the gods. Look carefully for the good in it."

A year passed and invaders overran the town. All the men where pressed into military service, all but the old men and the young man with the crippled hip. Of all the men who were sent to war only one in ten returned. The old man and his son lived on and on.

*****

Harry listened carefully, confused. When the story was finished, he waited for the man to speak.

"YuoYuo, what do you think of that story?"

How could this man know his family name, his baby name? Harry stared at him, distressed. Their eyes met.

"There are many things in life we will never understand. This story, do you understand it?" The man's tone was familiar, like a voice from some long forgotten reminiscence.

"Yes," Harry answered firmly, trying to demonstrate a confidence he didn't possess.

The man smiled and rose to his feet.

"YuoYuo when you are a man and far from home, please remember this story. It will keep you safe." With that he walked very slowly towards the far moon gate. Confused, Harry watched him go. But before the man reached the gate Harry heard his mother's voice calling him.

"Harry, Harry...what are you doing here?" There was more concern in her voice than annoyance.

"I am sorry Mother, but this man, he knew me and told me a strange story."

His mother looked at him oddly.

"Harry, there is no one here."

Harry turned around quickly. The man should have been just reaching the far moon gate, clearly visible.

He was nowhere to be seen.

* * *


"You know Chakotay, this is getting to be a very frustrating exercise."

"What?"

"This. Telling stories. The minute I have legitimate anger against someone, you diffuse it with a story. You're driving me crazy."

"You had coffee while you were up, didn't you?" I focus my attention on her suddenly.

"What?"

"Oh Captain, don't 'what?' me. I can smell it on your breath!"

She bursts out laughing. "Are you going to check my hands for Ferengi powder, too?"

"Maybe..." I say slyly. "If I wasn't so damn tired..."


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