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Winter Apples

Posted on Wed Jan 20th, 2021 @ 5:46pm by Lieutenant JG Aurelia Garrett & Lieutenant J'remar Menun & Lieutenant Eklisa

Mission: http://ds12.16thfleet.com/index.php/sim/missions/id/4
Location: Garrett Manor- New York- Earth
Timeline: Following Merry Christmas

Earth was colder then Aurelia remembered. Space was frigid but it lacked the bite of a cold wind on your bare face. The land was beautiful, soft fluffy snow sparkled like diamonds in the sun. It was a picture prefect winter scene. Aurelia did regret not forewarning Menun of the cold, but she had refused to give him any reason to back out and stay aboard the space station during the entire shore leave. She was sure he would express his unhappiness in due time.

There was no beaming in or out of the Garrett Manor, the only way onto the estate was by vehicle. The ride was no more then 30 minutes but this to was something Aurelia had also purposely refrained from mentioning prior to their arrival on Earth. The car navigated itself so it left the three of them to conversate amongst themselves for the duration of the ride.

"And why, exactly, must we take this vehicular transport instead of just beaming ourselves to our destination?" J'remar inquired, frowning slightly. Or frowning less than average, if you decided to put it that way.

The corner of Aurelia's lips perked up into a grin, "My parents have force fields protecting all of there land. You could say they're 'old school' and disapprove of immediate transportation. My mother says adventure is lost when you don't take the time to travel. Are you not enjoying the scenery J'remar?"

Eklisa bundled under her scarves and stared out the window until the scenery was mentioned, "How large is your family's estate, Aurelia? It's been so..." She waved her hand over her shoulder as she searched for the words, "Empty."

Aurelia laughed, "The land my family owns spans to about 1000 acres. The manor house itself is only 10 acres and separated by quite a distance from the orchards. A sector of the land is weather regulated, we have apple trees that bloom all year long in that sector, I'll make sure to take you." She pointed out the window to a castle like structure that was slowly coming into view, covered in blankets of snow. "That is Garrett Manor."

"Hm," was all J'remar would say as the manor came into view, though even he was a bit impressed by it. And, though he wouldn't ever tell anyone this, he was actually secretly fascinated by Terran fruits, especially apples.

"And how many people live in such a structure? Surely at least a hundred?" Eklisa turned in her seat, suddenly feeling even more alone than she usually felt in space. At least her dorm had had people living mere feet away, and her quarters something similar. She scooted just a little closer to Menun on the seat.

"Sadly, no. The last time I visited the only residents were my parents, my brother, and a handful of staff. On occasion family and friends will stay at the manor for extended periods of time, using it as a reprise. My family will also host business partners or dignitaries from other countries but more often other planets. I'm unsure if there will be anyone outside of my family while we are here." Aurelia continued speaking as her eyes looked out towards the manor. "We only occupy one wing of the estate, the rest is somewhat of a museum filled with my family history. Your more then welcome to explore, should you get lost just activate the manors AI. Her name is Aria."

The vehicle came to a stop just outside the large manor doors, each adorned with giant wreaths sprinkled by snow. Aurelia turned back to her friends and gave them both a smile before exiting the vehicle and slinging her duffel bag over her shoulder. Her breath turned to fog and she took a deep inhale of the ice cold air. Fresh air never got old, it was like a luxury compared to the filtered air of a star ship.

Eklisa's eyes got huge at the prospect of getting lost inside a residence. She hopped up and grabbed her bag, following Aurelia quickly to avoid getting lost already. Stepping out of the vehicle proved to be a mistake for the tropical alien, but she put on a brave face and smiled, tightening her scarf. The area was cold, but it was beautiful.

When the Orion stepped out, the first thought he had was 'Well, this is unpleasant.' The cold temperature was bad enough, but the slight breeze bit into his face as he followed behind the two women. He had forgone his uniform in favor of a simple black jacket and thin grey gloves.

"Do you want one of my scarves, Menun?" Eklisa offered, eyeing his attire. She was wearing three.

"I am quite alright, Eklisa, but thank you for the offer," J'remar said, looking around at the wintry landscape.

The crunch of their boots on the snow was obnoxiously loud but inescapable no matter how light footed they tried to be. Aurelia pulled the glove off her right hand and pressed her entire palm into a small hidden panel that lit up blue the moment her skin made contact. The panel scanned her hand for a few seconds before a toneless but deep voice came from no where in particular, "Welcome home Miss Aurelia." The front door unlocked and came ajar. Aurelia pushed it wide open gesturing for her friends to follow.

The AI materialized quicker then Aurelia could blink causing her to wonder if she had no been standing in the foyer prior to them entering the manor. The AI stood a few inches taller then Aurelia, she was remarkably attractive with chestnut brown hair pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck. Growing up Aurelia had taken to dressing the AI like it was her own doll, changing its hair almost daily. Given what it now wore she could tell her mother was responsible for the professional attire.

"Aria are my parents home?" Aurelia asked, embarrassed by how hopeful she sounded.

"Not currently. Would you like to be informed of their arrival?" The AI responded.

Aurelia shook her head no and turned back to her friends, "Lets get you two warmed up." In the room adjacent a crackling fire could be heard.

Eklisa was all for getting warmed up, politely smiling to the AI as they came in. Once the door shut behind them, she opened her coat and unwound her scarves. The fastest way to get warm was to allow warm air close to the skin. She only stopped to observe her surroundings a little closer once she was warmed up enough she could feel the sting in her eyelids. Wonderful. Pain meant her body was reacting to the cold, numb meant it had given up. Soon the pain would fade and she’d be able to just feel her eyelids again like normal. Weird how she never thought she could feel them until they went numb.

Her eyes were wide at the tall ceilings- didn’t they want upstairs neighbors if they built so tall- and the width of the corridor. Eventually she figured the best way to cope with the growing sensation of emptiness was to hold onto Aurelia’s sleeve. The promenade was about as big as this entryway, wasn’t it? But that was fine since it was a gathering place, and there were usually more than ten people there, and it wasn’t only the entryway of the station it was a large gathering place.

Eklisa remembered the first time she’d come to earth, everything had seemed so distant and cut off, especially since she’d left her family for the scientific community. This was a level above the dorm room hat should’ve housed 12 but only held 2, the parks where people didn’t want you to sit within 10 feet of their picnicking. This was like the pictures she’d seen of the Great Plains of North America, and she was a single lemur with no trees in sight, just a hawk in the wide empty sky. Touching someone else was helping though. She just had to figure out what she’d do when she had to let go, that’s all. She could handle this. No sense being rude to her hosts- who apparently didn’t see the nonsense of being so isolated. Maybe Menun would understand her panic. She glanced at the grinch. No, maybe not. Oh well.

J'remar had seen houses such as this on his homeworld, but never had he felt so...peculiarly alone inside one. Even for him, a man who preferred the quiet and the company of himself to others, this was unusually quiet and empty. He looked over to Eklisa, who seemed to be having a mild panic attack. She must be very uncomfortable, coming from Denobula, he thought. He took a step closer to her, just so she would feel so lonely.

When he stepped closer, Eklisa reached over and grabbed the sleeve of his shirt as well. This was perfect. She had both people she knew right here in arm's reach and she knew they weren't about to leave her alone in the hall. Both hands were occupied. It was fine, she was fine and safe and could do this. She carefully let go of Aurelia so she could lead on.

"It's a pleasure to meet you." She smiled at Aria.

"As it is to meet your acquaintance as well." The AI responded with a smile and a semi bow. "Should you require my assistance I will always be available. I do hope your stay is enjoyable."

Aurelia smiled, she had a soft spot for the AI, it being more of a friend to her in this big house then a machine. She could tell her friends were feeling slightly over whelmed by the manor and hoped they hadn't regretted there decisions to travel all this way with her. Without thinking about it she took Eklisa's hand and gave it a squeeze before leading the trio into the next room, not releasing her hand.

The room was lit by little more then the fireplace at the center of the back wall, the flames emitted enough light into the room not much else was needed. The room was filled with lavish furniture and paintings on the every wall. One even being digital that displayed a single apple tree changing through the four seasons. Aurelia led them to the couches set in front of the fire depositing her bag on the floor.

"After we warm up I can show you to your rooms, unless your feeling ready for a meal? I'm thinking tomorrow morning we can set out to the apple orchards after breakfast."

J'remar looked around the room, at all the decorations and artwork, and at the roaring fire. "I require neither rest nor food, but I'll oblige if it is required of me," he said almost mechanically. He wasn't used to social engagements of this kind, especially with the veritable strangers Garrett's parents were, so he was feeling a bit put out by all of it.

"I wouldn't mind seeing the apples tomorrow morning. Maybe we should set our bags down in our rooms and then you can tell us some of your memories about this place? I'm not hungry yet, but I'll eat if you're hungry from our travels." Eklisa let herself be distracted by the odd phrasing of 'travels' in english. Why were there more than one? Surely they'd made only one travel? "Do you know where your parents might've gone?"

"J'remar, you are on leave, it is not about what is required of you but what you would enjoy doing." Aurelia laughed then turned to Eklisa,"They were informed of our expected time of arrival but they perhaps had some business to attend to. "She shrugged before shifting her eyes to the fireplace, "It's not unlike them." A moment of silence passed before Aurelia shifted her thoughts into a happier tone. Picking her bag up from the floor she smiled to her companions, "Tour then?"

A chartreux cat came from the shadows and began rubbing its entire body on the side of Menun's legs, weaving between them purring loudly.

J'remar was startled by the sudden pressure on his legs, and looking down he found a cat weaving it's way between his legs. He frowned. "Aurelia, I assume this cat belongs to your family? Would you kindly extricate it from my legs? I...don't do well with felines."

Eklisa grabbed that cat and lifted it delicately into her arms, laughing. "What's wrong with our little furry friend here, Menun? Meet a tiger in your time?" Soft, warm, curious little creatures were perfectly fine for her.

The cat rubbed its face against Eklisas, purring louder now that it was receiving attention. "Everyone meet Banks!" Aurelia gave him a few rubs on the head before looking around in search of another. "Hm. Normally you see him and his brother together, I wonder where Binx could be." Her attention turned toward J'remar, "Your not going to tell me your allergic or anything are you?" She raised her eyebrows in suspicion.

"It's not that...it's just..." he hesitated, watching the cat intensely. "Most cats don't seem to like me, scratching or hissing at me at the first opportunity. I've learned to be wary of them."

“Well Banks here seems a very friendly cat. He’s also very warm and cute. I think your past experiences may be overwritten by some pleasant ones, if you’re willing to trust a little kitty.” She leaned her head into Bank’s, enjoying the purring.

J'remar made a low 'hmmrrph' sound, but didn't say anything in rebuttal. "I can't imagine why anyone would require this much space in a house, so please, a tour would alleviate some of my curiosity."

Aurelia smiled, "Centuries ago the manor housed hundreds of people, the orchards farmers, their families, then our family of course. The staff alone to keep such a household running smoothly was large. At one point in time four generations of Garretts lived here together. This was a time before technology and the ease of transportation but being an ancestral home no alterations were made other then expansions, so its big for no other reason then a live in museum really. Much of the manor now is used to store old furniture but there's also a three story library that's barely been used since the 1900's. I spent a lot of time there when I was younger." She gave Banks another rub before leading the trio back into the foyer that led to two giant staircases leading up to the next level.

Eklisa, now with a small animal she could cling to instead of her friends, was more focused and curious about the history of the house. "Growing up here must've been lonely, even by human standards. You're an only child, if I remember correctly?"

"I have an older brother actually, Alijah. He gets the pleasure of taking over the family business, my parents have been grooming him for it since birth. He's older then I and far outgrew playing before I came along. Besides he was almost always away at some school. It was...isolating growing up here but I always had Aria." Aurelia let out small laugh as she started to ascend the stairs. "Nothing like you childhood huh?"

Eklisa thought about her siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors. She'd grown up in a rural area, considered relatively isolated and lonley, in a structure that housed a good 40 individuals. The size of the structure had been, oh, a quarter acre at most? Her mouth set into a flat line. "No, nothing like my childhood. What about you, Menun?"

He shook his head. "I had a relatively full childhood. It was only ever my parents, and me and my two siblings, but my sister and brother were always there for me whenever I needed them." He thought back to his childhood, when he was a more easy going, happier boy. He had some good memories, along with many bad ones, but he was very glad he had siblings for most of it. He couldn't even begin to imagine what Eklisa's childhood had been like, but he assumed it was....crowded. But then again, Denobulans liked the company.

Aurelia stopped at the first set of doors they came upon, showing Eklisa and Menun each to their separate rooms. She had ensured prior to their arrival that the rooms would be made up for her guests in this section of the house to keep them all close. She had shown them the lavatory closest to the rooms before heading towards the library.

During the trek to the manors library Aurelia pointed out different statues, paintings, and her favorite hiding places.

The doors to the library stood at almost 16 feet tall and let out a heavy groin when she opened them. This part of the house was up-kept, but not updated. Like most of the manor it was as if they were walking through a time machine. The library had rows upon rows of books. In the center was a podium with a large book encased in glass. This book was the family history of the manor, a tradition the Garrett’s failed to continue. The last entree was that of Aurelias grandfather Austin who pasted shortly after her birth.

“We keep it cooler in here to help preserve the books, not that anyone really utilities the library much anymore.” Aurelia states as she walked deeper into the room turning on lamps with a wave of her hand.

"Isn't it reminiscent of a temple to knowledge?" Eklisa immediately went to the book in the center and investigated. She had never seen this much space dedicated solely to keeping physical records. The archaic nature of the room was charming, if a little off-putting. Somehow she had managed to keep the cat in her arms this whole time.

J'remar looked around, impressed by the amount of knowledge represented in this physical manner, but still just had to find fault with it. "Wouldn't it be a much more efficient plan to store all the knowledge contained on these books in a central computer? I can see the appeal to have so many antique books gathered in one place, but data storage is much more space efficient."

"It is yes, but everything is too easily accessed digitally, no one is patient enough anymore to use the library." Aurelia told Eklisa. She scoffed before replying to Menun,"The data is complied into the computer system inside the manor main memory bank of course. Easily accessed from anywhere with in the manor. There aren't many physical records of one's ancestry, it makes this room very precious." She shrugged, "Call me sentimental, but this is my favorite room." She took a long look around, her mind filled with flashbacks of the time she spent alone in this room. She pulled out a hand stitched old leather chair with metal studs and took a seat. In the same moment Aria materialized in front of her.

"Pardon my interruption Miss Garrett, your parents have just returned. Should I notify them of your current location?" Aria questioned.

Aurelia looked to both of her friends before acknowledging the AI. "Dinner with my parents sound appetizing to either of you?"

"Dinner sounds appetizing. I don't know about with your parents?" Eklisa looked to Menun.

He shrugged. "As I said before, I'm not particularly hungry at the moment, but I would be interested in meeting your parents Ensi-...Aurelia."

Aurelia appreciated Menun addressing her by name rather then rank, the formality made her smile. She turned back to the AI, "Tell my parents we will see them at dinner."

The AI bowed her head slightly, "Yes ma'am." In the next second she was gone.

"I feel I need to warn you both, my parents can be quite odd...and over bearing. I apologize in advance if either of them cause you any discomfort. They can be a bit much." Aurelia cautioned her friends.

"Thanks for the warning, Aurellia." Eklisa pondered what to do with Banks.

"I'm sure everything will be fine," J'remar said, clasping his hands behind his back.

Aurelia's was hesitant as first but slowly rose from her seat and gestured for them to follow her.

Eklisa let Banks down and grabbed the back of Menun's jacket, keeping her eyes focused on Aurelia rather than the hallways.


 

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