Note: And now, the conclusion of "Context Clues." This makes the third chapter I've posted today, so if you got here without reading parts 5 and 6, make sure you go back. I was just ready to be finished with this. Hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
A month or so later, I return to my apartment building after a long day of classes at Pennington. As I pass by the Porter's lodge, he stops and motions me over. "Package for you, Mister Sisko," he says, and hands over a large, heavy box.
"Do you know who it's from?"
"No, sir," the Porter says. "Someone had it beamed in from somewhere in Indiana this afternoon. I didn't recognize the source code."
"That's funny. I don't think I know anybody from Indiana."
"Nevertheless," the porter shrugs.
I hike my bag up on my shoulder and carry the box in both hands. It rattles and clinks as I mount the steps up to my room. I have to balance it against the wall with one hand and my knee in order to press my thumb to the keypad.
Once inside the apartment, I drop the box on the table beside the door and place my bag on top of it. "Computer," I call. "Summarize the day's newsfeeds. Default protocol, headlines only."
"Working." The system pauses, then begins to speak again. "Inquiry into the Shinzon Affair continues with testimony from Captain Jean-Luc-"
The system complies and moves on to the next headline. "Martian Parrises Squares tournament ends in statistical tie; tiebreaker match scheduled for March 23."
I kick off my shoes and head to the kitchen to start dinner, while the computer continues.
"Sales of Jake Sisko's second novel continue to disap-"
"The Grand Nagus of Ferenginar attends the opening of the planet's first women's clothing store."
I smile. I really need to call Nog.
As the system moves on through the next few headlines, I begin to slice the Andouille sausages Grandpa sent from New Orleans.
"Federation President Min Zife will not seek nomination for a second term, citing age and illness; Councilman Marcel Toussaint announces the formation of an exploratory committee."
I toss the sausages in a hot pan with a little olive oil and begin chopping peppers, onions, celery and garlic. "Extend thread."
"Working… Dateline: Paris, France, Earth. Federation President Min Zife has announced that he will neither seek nor accept nomination for a second term in office, citing age and illness. The elderly Bolian and decorated military hero will step down upon completion of his term in January of 2380, opening the nomination process for the office. Four hours after Zife's announcement, Councilman Marcel Toussaint issued a statement declaring his intention to seek the nomination. He has formed an exploratory committee headed by longtime assistant Chantal Conmercy. Councillor Toussaint's companion Admiral Kathryn Janeway, on indefinite leave from Starfleet, was not available for comment. Political watchers presume-"
"Suspend thread. Resume headline playback."
"Former Borg drone Seven of Nine announces that her liaison with fellow Voyager returnee Captain Chakotay has ended; wedding plans are cancelled."
"Extend thread." I add the vegetables to the pan with a little white wine to deglaze it.
"Working… Dateline: San Francisco, California, Earth. Former Borg drone and Voyager returnee Seven of Nine announced today that her engagement to fellow Voyager returnee Captain Chakotay has ended. The couple, engaged since late September of 2378, offered a joint statement. 'Captain Chakotay is a kind, generous and gentle man,' Seven said. 'He has a lifetime of love to give. I am certain that he will soon find a more compatible mate with whom to share his life and his love. I wish for him the peace and happiness that he deserves.' She has returned to her ancestral home in Sweden for an indefinite period, accompanied by Voyager's holographic Emergency Medical Hologram. Captain Chakotay issued his own statement from Bloomington, Indiana. 'Seven is a wonderful young woman,' the Captain said. 'She has her whole life ahead of her. She's going to make someone very happy someday, and I wish her all the joy that life can bring her.' Captain Chakotay has been granted an indefinite leave of absence from Starfleet Academy."
"Stop playback." I stand and watch the sausages and vegetables sizzle and pop in the pan. "Computer, resume playback of the previous thread."
"Working… Political watchers presume that Admiral Janeway's absence from Councillor Toussaint's press conference indicates the end of their relationship. The Admiral had stated on numerous occasions since she began dating Toussaint that she would be, quote, 'a lousy First Lady.' Conventional wisdom held that the well-known and outspoken Admiral, famous for Voyager's return and infamous for the Shinzon Affair, would be an obstacle to Toussaint's potential election to office, should Zife resign or decline to seek reelection. Admiral Janeway requested leave shortly after the Shinzon Affair and has not yet returned to Starfleet Headquarters. Councillor Toussaint will now be required to petition-"
"End thread, end playback." The comm shuts itself off. I add a few spices to the pan and several cups of water. When it comes to a boil I add rice and tomatoes, cover the pot and reduce the heat.
On a hunch, I return to the table beside the door where I left the box. I pull it open to reveal half a dozen leatherbound notebooks, and underneath them, twelve bottles of the same beer Chakotay and I shared in the bar. When I pick up the notebooks, and a note written in an elegant, flowing hand falls out of the one on top: "Thank you for your silence, Jake. Wherever he is, your father is proud. We look forward to reading your next book." The note is signed "Love, Kathryn," in the same flowing hand, and below it, in neat, precise letters, "Make it matter. Peace, Chakotay."
I laugh and open the first bottle.
Thanks for hanging in there to the end, folks! - LW