New short story- “Momento Mori”

Two men were sparring in a holodeck.

It sounds like nothing out of the ordinary, but these two sparring partners were Sergeant Byrnes, a MACO aboard the USS Starfinder, and the Jem’Hadar first Kara’kar, the head Jem’Hadar on Starfinder.

They had started out as rivals, not trusting one another. This had not changed. But they over time enjoyed beating on one another in a way that was the holodeck, sparring.

Both were tired..they had been at it for an hour, move and counter move, Byrnes using martial arts techniques taught to him by General Alexander Munroe, and Kara’kar using Jem’Hadar standard warrior techniques. Each was bruised and sore, but no serious injuries had occurred.

Finally, Byrnes saw an opening in his opponent’s defense, and struck hard with a series of scissor kicks. Kara’kar was stunned and Byrnes then finished him with a very old fashioned right cross to the jaw, knocking the Jem’hadar to the ground dazed.

“Impressive, Byrnes. You actually managed to beat me. Had this been a real fight however, I would have won, for my motivation would have been win or die.”

Byrnes shook his head and laughed. “Yeah, whatever you say Cracker.”. he said, using the insulting nickname he had given the Jem’Hadar long ago.

As Kara’kar got up, he looked at a tattoo Byrnes had on his arm of a skull.

“I do not understand the significance of that artwork on your skin, Byrnes”. He remarked, nodding to the skull design.

“What this?” Byrne asked pointing to his tat. “That is my “Memento Mori” he explained, as he grabbed a towel and wiped sweat from his head.

“What is this phrase you speak?” Kara’kar inquired as he adjusted his katrecel white tube to increase the dosage temporarily to compensate for exerting himself.

“It means “reminders of death” Byrnes explained. “In ancient times on Earth, people sometimes carried or displayed items that reminded them of mortality, that they lived for now, but death was inevitable. It reminds me that as a soldier, every day I am at risk of my life ending.”

Kara’kar raised his brow. “Jem’Hadar live to serve. We expect to die. We need no reminder.”

Byrnes shook his head as he prepared to exit the holodeck and hit a sonic shower.

“You guys have the opposite problem.” he said. “You need a reminder to LIVE.

Byrnes was dreaming.

He was fourteen years old, until last year he was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, where he grew up.  He felt like an outsider in Texas , where they now lived in the states, because kids made fun of his accent, but he also felt like an outsider most of his life because he didn’t seem to fit in with his family quite right. 

Nothing abusive, but there was always some point where there was a disconnect emotionally with his dad, and by extension, his brother.

Byrnes came home from school, one day with his little brother Joe, and there waiting with his mother was a Starfleet officer, a ginger haired man with the rank of Commander on his neck.

“Charles, come here I have someone I want you to meet” his mother said with a smile.

The Starfleet officer looked both nervous and happy to see him. he extended a hand. Byrnes was in awe of having a Starfleet officer in his living room, and returned his handshake.

“Am I being drafted?” he asked sarcastically. Both his mom and the officer laughed.

“No, son, My name is Commander Ronan Pond. I’m an old..friend..of your mothers.”

Byrnes raised a brow. He knew mom had been involved with a Starfleet officer long ago, but only because his dad had mentioned it in a conversation while drunk once.

“Charles, what I am about to tell you will be quite a shock, dear. But..Your father is actually your..step father. Ronan your biological father.”

Byrne’s jaw dropped and at first he was resentful, but then he nervously smiled. “That explains why I don’t look anything like him, I guess.” Again nervous tension was broken with laughter.

“I didn’t know, Charles, that I even had a son. If i wouldn’t have taken thirteen years to meet him.” Ronan said with a smile.

Byrnes looked at his mom with a mix of anger and confusion. “Why did you keep me from him?”

His mother looked down in shame then said “I didn’t want you getting used to him, only for him to leave for months or even years between visits”. She said in a low voice choking back tears.

Ronan piped up. “I can understand why. But she finally did tell me, and here I am. I would like to get to know you, Charles..and be in your life. If that would be okay?”

Ronan had just returned from a very intense experience involving a pregnant Romulan ambassador, a Romulan dreadnought, and a battle that ended in a victory near New Australia.

“I..I guess that would be okay.” Charles said, half smiling still shaken up by this life changing news.

“Byrnes wake up!” “Byrnes, wake up!”

The fog cleared and he woke..the face of Corporal Naveera, his best friend and a beautiful Trill was hovering over him.

“You were knocked out cold by Kara’kar during your spar.” she informed him, as he sat up seeing that he was in sick bay.

“Son of a bitch!” Byrnes yelled. “So I dreamed the fact I beat his ass?” he asked very disappointed and also very bruised.

“Actually you knocked each other out. You both delivered knock out punches at the exact same time.” She said pointing to Kara’kar, who was in the bed next to him recovering himself.

Byrnes gave a dirty look to Kara’kar, and Kara’kar returned it. Then..they both suddenly broke out in laughter.

“Well I’ll leave you two warriors to it then” Naveera said, her scottish accent was beautiful, Byrnes noted, when she was either angry or sarcastic. Naveera had been raised on Earth in Scotland.

This part of sick bay was now empty save for Byrnes and Kara’kar as they each sat at the edge of their respective bio beds.

“I had asked you about your tattoo to distract you, and you explained it, then I tried taking advantage of your distraction, but our blows were simultaneously met”. Kara’kar explained.

“I had a dream about meeting my real father while I was out.” Byrnes said. He was the one who inspired me to have a reminder of death. He had one like it.”

Kara’kar raised a brow. “What is the fate of your father? “ he inquired.

“His ship went missing in action a few weeks ago”. Byrnes replied.

“USS Righteous, Excelsior class. Fighting the Voth near the Briar patch, a huge battle involving the 26th fleet, the Voth, and a few other taskforces led by my dad. He is presumed lost..”

Kara’kar nodded. “Then he died well. Would you not agree?”

Byrnes sighed and nodded, as he stood up. “It still sucks”.

Kara’kar was puzzled by this human idiom. “What does the term “suck” have to do with this?”

Byrnes put on his shirt and laughed.

“Maybe some day you’ll understand. But you’re still a Jem’Hadar, and still an asshole in my eyes”. Byrnes said sharpley.

Kara’kar chuckled a bit. “And you are still a weak, pathetic human. But perhaps today we both were a bit weak, eh?”

Byrnes thought about it for a moment. “Or maybe we were both strong?”

Kara’kar pondered his words carefully.“I like your interpretation better.” Byrnes laughed. “Come on, Cracker, let me buy you a drink at the watering hole”.“

“But I do not drink. It would interact with my Katrecel white.” He replied.

Byrnes shook his head as they walked out of sick bay.

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