Friday, December 3, 2021

"On November 26th"

By Christina Moore
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This story is written in memory of David W. Dial, who portrayed Admiral Ian Knapp in the fan film series Star Trek: Hidden Frontier.

***


The door chime rang just as she was touching the flame of the matchstick to the lamp’s wick.

“Come in,” Christina Tucker called out.

Her door swished open to reveal the Resolution’s XO, Takeshi Sulu. “Evening, Captain… Is that a Vulcan meditation lamp?”

Tucker nodded. “I don’t much use it for its intended purpose, but yes. This here lamp has been in the Tucker family for more generations than I can count over the last two hundred-plus years.”

Sulu raised an eyebrow in a very Vulcan-like fashion. “Indeed, Captain? That’s a long time for such an artifact to be passed down through a single family.”

“Ah, but you assume the lamp is merely a token of some random ancestor’s trip to Vulcan,” Tucker rejoined. “It’s not—the lamp is a family heirloom from much farther back than when the Tucker line acquired it. I’ve a Vulcan grandmother those many generations back, remember?”

Sulu frowned, then his eyes widened. “Oh, right! I remember now when…”

“It’s okay, you can say it. I’m not going to break down into hysterics after seventeen years.”

Her first officer cleared his throat. “Ahem, yeah… When Jaarid died and your telepathic bond was severed… That’s when I learned about your Vulcan ancestry—”

“And how I was required to take organically formulated folicaas injections—not replicated, as required by R’naari custom, though an exception was made due to the circumstances—because even though about a dozen or so generations stand between me and my Vulcan grandmother, that shred of Vulcan DNA could have caused me to miscarry my child because Vulcan and R’naari blood types are not compatible,” Tucker finished for him. “But I doubt you came here for a recital of your captain’s family or medical history. What can I do for you, Commander?”

Sulu held out the PADD he’d carried in. “You asked me to bring you an update on the systems upgrades.”

Tucker took the device but laid it aside. “Thank you, Mr. Sulu. Is there anything else?”

The XO shook his head. “No, ma’am. My apologies if I bothered you.”

“Not at all, Commander. I was just… remembering an old friend. That’s what I use the lamp for—as a memory candle. Sometimes when I think of someone I’ve lost, often on the anniversary of the day they died, I’ll light this lamp. I suppose it might be a form of meditation, to relive old memories.”

“May I ask who you lit it for today?”

Tucker sighed softly. “You know how in every dispatch from Command on the first day of a month, there’s an ‘In Memoriam’ section listing officers known to have died in the month prior? In today’s list was a man who gave a lecture at the academy shortly before the Dominion War broke out. Something about his words of advice to those of us just about to start our careers really struck a chord with me, and when the Res put into dock at Deep Space 12 one day during my first tour of duty on this ship, I ran into him and found out he was the station CO. We struck up a conversation that turned into a friendship—we exchanged subspace messages every so often over the next few years, though we lost touch after he retired.”

She sighed again and felt a wave of sadness swell within her; not a deep, soul-crushing agony like the pain that had crippled her when she understood Jaarid was gone or the bone-deep regret that her marriage to Shaz was ending in divorce, but that almost regretful melancholy one felt when considering time lost and memories never made because sometimes, people just drifted apart. By the way he breathed she knew her half-Betazoid first officer felt what she was feeling.

“Today,” Tucker went on, “I learned that Admiral Ian Knapp died on November 26th. He was seventy-one years old and is survived by his brother John, also a retired Starfleet admiral; his daughter Traya, four grandsons, two granddaughters, nine great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and his loving wife of thirty-seven years.”

“I am very sorry for your loss, Captain,” Sulu said quietly. “May I… May I ask what he said in his lecture that stuck with you?”

Tucker looked up from the flickering flame on the lamp. “He was talking about how there was a chance that, sometime in our careers, we would each of us be called upon to raise arms against an enemy. He said that it was perfectly okay—even natural—to be afraid in that moment. Knapp then quoted one of Earth’s historical figures, a man by the name of Roosevelt, and told us to remember that courage was not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else was more important.” She paused and chuckled. “I later looked Roosevelt up and learned that Knapp’s recitation of the quote was not exactly verbatim, but still… Those words have always stuck with me.”

She looked again into the flame of the meditation lamp. “And now, every November the 26th, I will light this lamp in memory of Ian Quincy Knapp.”


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