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Subject: "Correspondence I: 2380-2389"     Previous Topic | Next Topic
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"Correspondence I: 2380-2389"
 
   LAST EDITED ON Mar-21-10 AT 04:23 PM (EDT)
 
This is something of an experiment. I wanted to show, at least in broad strokes, what became of Tali'Shukra after Star-Crossed, and more or less how she fits into Future Imperfect, but many of the stories into which those lines could have been worked have already long since been finished, and doing a whole separate story or series of stories seemed too much like adding a porch to the house. So I had the idea of doing it this way. This is a literary form called epistolary; it dates back to about the 15th century. In a sense, everything over in Featured Documents is a sort of stab at epistolary storytelling, but this is the first time, as far as I can recall, that I've tried to tell an entire narrative this way. Be interesting to see if it works.

As the subject line suggests, this is Part I, covering the years 2380 to 2389. There will be two other parts, one covering 2390 to 2399 and the other 2400 to the "present", early 2410 (circa Clarion Call).

Excelsior,
--G.



2380

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!upns.com.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!bombsight.upns.com.zc>
Subject: the best-laid plans
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sat Mar 29 2380 02:01:03 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

I've had to write a lot of hard-to-begin letters over the last week or so, but I think this one's been the hardest. I've made five or six false starts a day on it for the last week, ever since I arrived back in Zeta Cygni. By now you've probably seen the news reports of my trial on Earth last week. If not, well... I've done it. With a lot of help, I've finally managed to clear my name. I'm a free man again. I don't have to run or hide any more.

I'm sorry for the way we got separated on Halo. I don't know if you saw what went down or not, but if not, I need you to know I did NOT willingly abandon you there. Vision and Zaeed, that merc she hired, had arranged beforehand that if Kei showed up, they were going to get me out of there whether I wanted to go or not. And I can tell you, Zaeed had quite a right hook at the time. Vision and I had... words... about that once I came to, but by then we were so far out that the Federation would have been there by the time I could get back. I hated like hell to stay away, but it was the only thing I could do, so I went back to Deneb and cleaned out my safehouse there in case Kei had managed to get a line on it somehow.

When we left Deneb, I planned to go looking for you - try to figure out some way of making contact that wouldn't cause trouble for you. Before I could do that... well, it's my own fault. I was so angry at Vision for what she and Zaeed did that I didn't preflight my Valkyrie properly. One of the Cochrane coils had some microfractures in it from my fight with the Blue Suns, and when I went to warp speed, the engines went into a cascading imbalance. We went over the high side. Ended up in a parallel dimension, which is where I've spent the last 24 years your time, nearly 40 for me.

Written out like that, it looks like the lamest excuse ever conceived, doesn't it? But it's true. That's really what happened. I only got back last month (and that by accident - at least there's symmetry). Fortunately, while I was gone, a lot of people had put in a lot of effort toward clearing me. They laid the groundwork for me and my crew to make it happen. I think I can see your hand in some of it. I hope so. It might mean you didn't hate me for leaving you.

So anyway, tonight I'm sitting here in what used to be my office in the old UPNS complex at Zeta Cygni, surrounded by the ghosts of a past so distant it seems like it happened to somebody else, and I'm listening to Grieg's Piano Concerto in A and thinking about how it used to be one of your favorite pieces of music. I'm remembering the day you played it on your omni-tool in the kitchen while I tried (and failed) to make right-handed satay ponorogo. That bit around four minutes into the first movement is making the windows shake and would really be annoying my neighbors if I had any, but I don't. There's nobody here but me. Even my crew is off chasing down survivors from the old WDF.

I've spent the last week trying to make contact with everyone I can find from the old days, pulling together the barest fragments of a plan for making the WDF live again. It'll take me years, if it's even possible at all. I've got an idea, too, for a new settlement here in the Sphere. (Did you know about the Sphere? Wolfgang and his people have kept it pretty well secret, but I know how smart and inquisitive you are... ) So much stuff is running through my head that it doesn't feel like I've finished one race so much as I'm beginning another one, but... nobody's shooting at me, nobody's going to come run me out of here. I saw Kei at my trial the other day. I don't know who her therapist is, but whoever it is does good work. I'm not going to say we're exactly friends again, but... we're civil. Which is an interesting change.

You've probably noticed by now that I'm just kind of rambling. I didn't really know whether I should send this. Part of me said, hell, Ben, that was 24 years ago to her, and from where she was standing it probably looked like you ditched her. She doesn't want to hear from your sorry ass now. She'll have her own life well in order. Don't bother her. If she wants, she'll get in touch with you.

But...

... I miss you, Tali'Shukra. If it had been up to me, I'd have let you come with me into exile when Goodyear had to end. You convinced me before you left for the Migrant Fleet. We'd have had wild and crazy adventures and, hell, who knows? I expect we'd have found a way to arrive at this day. And you'd be here with me tonight. We'd have spent the last week deciding where home should be.

Instead, I'm going to send you an email that you might not even want to get, and then I'm going to go to bed alone. And listen to the Shipping Forecast. And tomorrow I'm going to get up and get back to work. Like the poet said, sometimes life ain't fair.

I hope you're well. I hope you're happy. Even if you don't want anything more to do with me, I think if I know that, I'll be okay, 'cause whatever you think of me, I still love you.

Aloha,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: the best-laid plans
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!upns.com.zc>
Date: Sat Mar 29 2380 08:13:43 -0000 (GST)

Keelah, I thought you were dead. I know you had a drive malfunction. Mordin and I mapped the subspace anomaly it left behind. When word reached us last week that you'd been captured, I thought they meant the other Gryphon, until I read it more closely and saw that they'd caught you both. Or you caught him and turned yourself in. Then I knew it must really be you. Only you could do something as mad as that and get away with it.

Where can I even start? So much has changed since you disappeared. Since we settled for good in the Scandia system, the Flotilla has become a proper nation - we're called the Quarian Union now. Some of us chose to keep wandering, but most remain here, and the others return from time to time. For all their big talk about the nobility of the nomadic life, I think they like the security of having a home port to rely on. We've also set up a gas mine on Substance and an orbital fueling station. Ships bound for Lucas and Heskemyr sectors stop in a lot. It keeps life interesting.

We've done a lot of research into Halo; we still don't know what it is or where it came from, but Mordin and our own scientists have done a great deal of basic research into the environment and how we can be adapted to live in it. There are several permanent test settlements on the surface now. Those who live there must still live as we do aboard ship, in their suits, but it's a start.

A few years ago they offered me the governorship of Halo - well, they call it a captaincy, since within our legal framework it's considered a ship - but I couldn't accept. I spend a lot of time there in the course of my work, but I could never live there. They put the main settlement where Goodyear used to be. Too many memories. I think our old house is still there. When we finished the evacuation, we never bothered to tear it down.

You probably didn't find out about it before you had your accident, but everyone from Goodyear resettled on a moon in the Kebera system. The last time I was there was four years ago, for New Goodyear's 20th anniversary festival. It's a busy little agri-city now, not cut off from the galaxy like old Goodyear, but still carefully and happily remote. People keep themselves to themselves, as Scott says. Miranda's still running the place, but last time we talked I got the feeling she was getting restless.

The argument in the Conclave continues about exactly what Halo should be to our people. Some of the Delegates want to start calling it New Rannoch and begin phased relocation of the entire crews of our oldest and poorest-condition ships to the surface. Some want to wait until such time as those who settle there can do so without environment suits, though that may take generations to achieve. Others want to abandon all settlement there and just lease research rights to outside academics. And so it goes. Did I mention that we like to debate?

I guess it's my turn now to ramble. It's a stupid nervous habit I seem to have developed in the last few years. If we were together in person I'd be talking on and on and on and not saying a single thing that had any meaning, because it keeps me from having to deal with the topic I really should be addressing.

I miss you too, Benjamin. If I could, I would leave for Zeta Cygni tomorrow, but I have responsibilities here. I'm the de facto leader of all the Halo research and exploration efforts. I'm the quarian government's liaison to the biomedical studies being conducted there as well.

And... I have a family.

After we found evidence that your warp drive had failed, I didn't want to believe you were gone. I spent a decade searching the galaxy for anything that could prove us wrong. Some sign that you were just... marooned somewhere, like you and I were on Halo. I had elaborate fantasies of how I'd come swooping out of the sky and rescue you from some isolated rock, and then we'd fly off to some other slightly less isolated rock and live happily ever after. In the process I went to most of the places you'd been to before we met, and encountered a lot of people whose lives you'd touched. It made me feel even closer to you, learning so much about your life before me... but I didn't find what I was looking for, because it didn't exist except in my own wishful thoughts. Finally, I had to accept defeat like a scientist - Mordin's phrase - and come home to the Archangel.

I had a childhood friend, Vedik'Zorah - I think I told you about him, he lived next door to my grandfather on the Kedrin, and his grandfather was the admiral Miranda and I went to see. (I found out later that Admiral Zorah knew you in his youth. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago.) Vedik had done his pilgrimage a year or so before me and joined the Archangel's crew, and when I finally returned to the ship, he was still here. Waiting for me to come home. He was there for me while I grieved for you and the life we never got to have together. A year or so later, he asked me to marry him.

I don't know exactly how I can explain the next part to you. My people are trembling on the edge of extinction. There are only 17 million of us left. There are fewer than half as many quarians in the entire universe as there are people in New York City on Earth. We've practiced very strict population control throughout our time as wanderers, but it works both ways. It's considered strange for us to remain unmarried when we return from our pilgrimages and establish ourselves as adults. No one is allowed to have more than one or two children, but everyone's expected to have at least one. Otherwise, our population can't remain stable and genetic diversity suffers.

Ugh, I'm making it sound like I married out of a sense of... biological duty. But I guess there's an element of truth to that, however unattractive it is to confront in so many words. Over the years Mordin has taught me that the facts, however unpalatable, have to be faced head-on. At any rate, that wasn't all there was to it. Vedik is a good man, a solid and reliable man, and he truly loves me. He has never grudged me what I felt - what I still feel - for you. And somewhere along the way, I've learned to love him too, as much as I ever can.

Our son Rael is 13, just entering secondary tutoring. He'll be ready for his pilgrimage in just a few years. He's preparing for a military career, like his father. He cares very little for how Halo came into our people's lives; like so many of our younger people today, he yearns to return to Rannoch, the homeworld none of us has ever seen. The other day he proudly informed me that the first thing he would do once the geth were driven out would be to build a house for his father and me.

It's good to have goals.

I hope this news doesn't cause you too much pain. If I'd had even the slightest hope that you would ever return, I would have waited for you. I should have listened to Miria. She wouldn't believe that you were gone for good, even when I showed her all the data. When I asked her what she based her conviction on, she gave me a look of pity I wouldn't understand for years and said, "Benjamin cannot die with so much left unfinished. The gods will not allow it."

I didn't think there were gods, but... I've been wrong before.

So you see how it is. I can't put into words how happy I am that you're alive. And I'd never tell you I want nothing to do with you. You were... you are my first love. That hasn't changed. I don't think it ever could. But it can't be like it was, or like it would have been if things had gone differently when Goodyear ended.

Please don't be angry.

Love,
- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!upns.com.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!bombsight.upns.com.zc>
Subject: Not angry
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Mar 30 2380 00:23:42 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

How could I possibly be angry? For all you knew I was dead. You had to move forward. I'd be a real bastard if I had it in me to hold that against you, don't you think? Sure, I'm sad you can't join me here, but it was a blue-sky thought anyway. You've got your own life. Just knowing you're out there living it would be enough. That you're still willing to be any part, however distant, of mine is the icing on what's already been a hell of a good month.

Your husband sounds like a stand-up guy. I think I'd like to meet him some day. And your son, too, that's an ambitious plan for a 13-year-old. I like a kid who's not afraid to think big. If he finds picket duty in Scandia too dull for his taste once he's past his pilgrimage, I might have a job for him over here. I'm not just putting the band back together, I'm adding a serious horn section. The "new" Wedge Defense Force is going to be hundreds of ships strong. Maybe thousands. We're going to need experienced spacers by the bucketful to finally bring GENOM to heel.

Also, wait, your husband's grandfather was Kevirin'Zorah? I did know him. He was the first quarian I ever really got to know (our brief visit to the Flotilla in 2184 certainly didn't count). Served with Gin Shepard on the Normandy. Hell of a nice guy. Smart, too. He could make a data system get up and sing Ada.

You mentioned Mordin a couple of times. Is he still kicking? I'm not actually convinced he had a life-extension treatment. I think he just refuses to die while there's still interesting stuff to do.

[...]

Je t'aime,
--G.


2381

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!upns.com.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!bombsight.upns.com.zc>
Subject: Thank you!
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Tue Jun 23 2381 14:39:11 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

It's been a long time since I got a birthday present in the mail. Thank you! This is a terrific piece of kit. It'll take me years to figure out how to make it do everything it does, but I'm having a great time just fooling around with it.

Very much looking forward to having you and your family as my guests at our little shindig next weekend. I think you're going to like the show I've got planned.

[...]

Te amo,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: That was amazing.
To: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!upns.com.zc>
Date: Wed Jul 8 2381 09:54:39 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

If anyone else had made the announcement you made last Saturday, I'd have said he was crazy. But you... you might just able to pull it off. I'm looking forward to seeing it. The hologram was beautiful. I can imagine what the real city will be like.

It was wonderful to see you again. I'm glad you got to meet Vedik and Rael, too. I think you made quite an impression. Rael hasn't stopped talking about the tour of the shipyard you gave him. When the newest starship you've ever seen is a hundred-year-old Star Destroyer, seeing them being built from scratch is an unforgettable experience. As was meeting the Sterling sisters, I think. Clearly they all take after their parents.

Speaking of which, thank you for introducing me to Dr. Sterling and your father. I think their company can be a great help to us as we develop Scandia - not only Halo, but the space installations as well. Your father seems like a meticulous engineer (very safety-conscious), and I like his ideas. I think he'll impress the Conclave when the time comes to present proposals. Mind you, it looks like you'll be keeping him busy for quite a while with your own projects.

[...]

Oh, I almost forgot. I had a message waiting from Scott Chen when I got back to the Archangel. He called to tell me they're breaking ground on a new spaceport town on Euphrates, a hundred miles or so from New Goodyear, so that the port expansion they expect won't compromise the standard of living in town. They're going to call it Harrisburg. You'll never guess who the chairman of the port authority is - Herrick Mitchell. If you had asked me who I thought would be least likely to have stayed on Euphrates 25 years later...

- Tali

From: "Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!upns.com.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!bombsight.upns.com.zc>
Subject: Re: That was amazing.
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Thu Jul 9 2381 11:02:31 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Thank you so much for coming. It meant a lot to me to have you there for the big moment by the lake, and I had a great time meeting your family. I had a feeling I'd like Vedik, anyway. Rael's a sharp kid, though if you want a little unsolicited parenting advice from someone completely unqualified to give it, I think maybe he needs a hobby. He's awfully intense for his age. Don't get me wrong, I liked him, and I'm glad he had a good time on the tour, but I had to keep reminding myself he's only 14. I know life on the Flotilla is srs bsns, but damn. Were you like that at 14? I mean, he must have gotten it somewhere, and Vedik seems like he can undo his top button once in a while, so to speak.

Go figure about Herrick; I guess maybe all he really wanted was cable, and once New Goodyear had that, he was good to go. Suppose I should cross him off my list of people I need to track down and punch. (It's a long, long list. Zaeed Massani is right at the top. I think Vision knows where he is, too, but she won't tell me because she knows I'll hunt him down. Which is unfair. I won't hurt him permanently. I just want to punch him in the face one time. Is that so wrong?)

Speaking of people one feels a moral obligation to punch, I'm not sure if you knew, but there was a bunch of historical archive data on the omni-tool you sent me for my birthday. Yesterday I stumbled across the speech you made to the Conclave during Operation Desperate Gamble. I loved the part where that one admiral got in your face and you just got right back in his. "Then to hell with you!" I'm still grinning just thinking about it. You're a firecracker, kid. A dangerous and inscrutable interplanetary woman of mystery.

Maite zaitut,
--G.


2384

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: "rear admiral"?
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Wed Aug 22 2384 13:31:13 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

I'm not sure whether I should congratulate you on your promotion or not, given that you gave it to yourself and that you seem to have undercut yourself a little. If you're supreme commander of the whole WDF, why rear admiral? It seems a bit lacking in ambition. Or are you basing it on the number of ships in active service, so that as the fleet increases you'll promote yourself again?

The new pictures you sent me of New Avalon are impressive, but I particularly like the plans you included for some of the outlying settlements. Is it just my imagination, or do I recognize parts of the street plan of Goodyear in the one labeled "Prisoner's Base"? (I had to look up what that was. It's similar to a game our children play on the Flotilla called - this won't surprise you - "fuel raid". I used to be a champion fuel raider back on the Kythera.)

Rael is preparing for his pilgrimage, as I mentioned last time. I would be expecting hear from him, if I were you. He still has his heart set on a military career, not one in engineering, but he's not afraid of hard work, and he thinks helping with the rebuilding of the WDF would be a valuable experience, even if you can't find him - his phrase - "some soldiering to do."

For what it's worth, I think he's right. If he does petition you and you accept him, though, please be sure you're doing it because you really have something useful for him to do, not as a favor to me. You'd be doing neither of us a favor if you went easy on him just because he's my son - but you know that.

Love,
- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Re: "rear admiral"?
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Wed Aug 22 2384 19:39:12 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

It's because I'm only interim supreme commander. I still hope I'll be able to get Zoner back in the top spot before game day with GENOM, in which case I'll just be in command of Blue squadron; if not, well, I can always swap my rank bars before the shooting starts. It'll mess up a lot of my plans, though. I haven't really got a backup plan for White squadron if that happens. But there's time yet. My agents in the Corporate Sector tell me they're still at least two years from being able to move against ZC, probably more like four.

Oh, uh, that last paragraph was very burn-before-reading, but you know that.

Funny you should mention Rael, the very next message in my inbox was a very polite note from him asking if he might trade some of his time and energy for valuable military experience he could then take back to the Union and put to use in the defense of the quarian people. I won't tell him his mother already wrote and told me I should be sure to work him hard if I hire him. Let the young man have his pride. Besides, you're right, I was going to anyway.

[...]

So he might even get to do some proper soldiering before it's all said and done. I won't lie to you, it could get a bit dangerous, but then I remember what you told me about quarians and danger way back when. Anyway, he's a smart kid, like you were. He'll know when to keep his sprocking head down. :)

Ani ohev otakh,
--G.


2385

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: You don't see THAT every day
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Tue Jan 22 2385 23:39:01 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Have a look at what turned up on our doorstep today:

Yup, it's a Ragtag Fugitive Fleet with a whacking great warship in the lead. (There's not much for scale in that picture - I didn't have a lot of time to set up my shot, and I would have killed for a wide-angle lens - but she's about the same size as the old SDF-17, a little smaller than the Archangel.) They turned up out of nowhere this morning, out at the edge of the system. Jim Kirk and I went out to meet them. Turns out they're human, though not from any previously known line. They're from a group of colonies nobody's ever heard of, which were colonized by another planet nobody's ever heard of, and they misfolded a bit back, so they have no clue whatsoever where they are. We think they might be from another galaxy. How exciting is that?

Their situation will probably strike you as familiar, too. They were driven from their homeworlds unexpectedly, so their evacuation fleet was not what you would call purpose-built, and they've been surviving on spit and baling wire repairs ever since. They haven't been at it as long as the Flotilla, but on the other hand, there are only about 200 ships in their fleet - maybe 50,000 people, all told. And only the one warship (they call it a "battlestar", which you have to admit is catchy). The rest are mostly freighters, liners, couple of ag ships. Some of them don't even have FTL of their own, they can only ride around on the big ship's fold drive.

Here's one way in which they're definitely more screwed than you guys were, though: Their enemies are still chasing them. (Robots, no less, why is it always robots? At least we think the Cylons are robots.) Maybe that's what made them more willing to ally with us than the Admiralty was back in 2184. Whatever the reason, they're inside the Sphere now. We're getting their civilians bunkered down and trying to figure out if we can even make their big ship (she's called Galactica) combat-worthy again. She's taken a hell of a beating.

We don't know how long before the Cylons get here, but the Colonial leadership is pretty convinced they'll trace Galactica's trail eventually. Good thing we were building a battle fleet anyway!

It never rains but it pours in this job.

By the way, what did Rael do to annoy the brass back home? He let slip the other day that he had to start his pilgrimage a little early, but clammed up when I asked him why. I'm assuming it's not related to his enormous collection of Minmay & the Marauders bootlegs...

T dua,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: You don't see THAT every day
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Wed Jan 23 2385 08:39:12 -0000 (GST)

Amazing. Did they build their robot aggressors themselves?

As for Rael, I'm surprised he didn't tell you the whole story. He and Han'Gerrel were pleased enough with themselves at the time. They were sent out on one of our ten-man corvettes as part of a convoy escort - everyone who's angling for a military career post-pilgrimage does it a few times, to make sure they have a head for that kind of service before they're committed. Some pirate band or another decided to help themselves to a straggler; the ship Rael and his friend were on took a pretty serious beating, and they - come to think of it, what they did was a classic Wedge Defense Force stunt, disobeying orders to save lives. So they were heroes, but also insubordinate. The admirals deadlocked on what to do with them, so they compromised - slapped on a couple of medals and then shipped them out to do their pilgrimages while the storm blew over.

- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Re: You don't see THAT every day
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Wed Jan 23 2385 10:42:12 -0000 (GST)

Ha! I like this kid a little more every day. He still needs a hobby, though. Besides collecting punk rock music. Maybe he should join a band. We've got enough of them around here. It's probably hard to play the guitar with only two fingers, though. In fact, I can't think offhand of an instrument that is playable with two fingers. No, wait - trombone. I guess he'll have to join a ska band.

Or swanee whistle, I suppose, but all you can really do with that is be on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

Surprisingly enough, the Colonials didn't build the Cylons. Someone else did. I'm fuzzy on the details, we only made First Contact with these guys yesterday, but the basic outline I'm getting from the historical docs I've skimmed is that the Cylons were built by some other civilization as robot soldiers, they got into a war with the Colonies umpteen hundred years ago, and then, I dunno exactly. They pulled a Vorlon, retired into a nebula or something, but nobody thought to shut the robots off before they left, so they've been mindlessly carrying on their makers' war. Or, well, not that mindlessly. They seem to have developed a much keener sense of strategy in the last decade or so; maybe they've gone heuristic.

--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: You don't see THAT every day
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Wed Jan 23 2385 12:11:01 -0000 (GST)

Are you serious? That's even more of a karmic mess than what happened with us and the geth. At least we brought the geth on ourselves.

There's been a lot of debate - when is there not, I know, but - in recent years as to what the Quarian Union's position should be on synthetic lifeforms. The galaxy has a lot of them, after all, and most aren't a problem. Now that we're angling for full Federation membership, one of the things we have to face is whether to sign the Turing Accord. Some in the Conclave are absolutely opposed to this. They insist, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that there's no such thing as machine life, only particularly convincing simulations, and that recognizing synthetics as life forms is a priori stupid. Worse, that it's dangerous - that the rest of the galaxy is on the same slippery slope we fell down when the geth rebelled.

And then there are those who accept that the situation with the geth got out of control because we - or rather our forefathers - screwed up. To them, the infamous "does this unit have a soul?" incident and its aftermath is a prime example of a botched First Contact, and if the 20th-century quarians had handled it better, we and the geth might today have a thriving composite society on Rannoch, or at least have gone our separate ways in peace.

The people closest to me, who know what happened to us on Halo - Vedik, his grandfather when he was still alive, Mordin - are a little surprised that I'd take the second view. (Well, maybe not Mordin so much.) After all, look at the record: My life was disrupted, the plans I had for my future ruined, by the interference of an AI. The irony did not escape me in the years after it happened. But I realized after a while, as I roamed the galaxy, met other synthetics, and broadened my horizons, that what Vision did wasn't the coldly calculated act of a rogue machine intelligence; it was the misguided act of a well-meaning person. She would have done the same thing if she had been made of flesh and blood.

Anyway, my point is, the relationship between quarian society and synthetic intelligence is still a tricky one. AI research is still strictly banned in the Union, and imports of foreign AI-based products are very tightly controlled, but if we're going to join the Federation, Turing is a bridge we're going to have to cross as a people. The news of your new contact, when it propagates to the general galactic public, is going to add a whole new wrinkle to that debate, so I'm glad I know about it now. It gives me time to plan what I'm going to say when it comes up on the floor of the Conclave.

(No, I haven't been elected to office or something and forgotten to tell you - but as the discoverer, so-called, of Halo and the leading figure in the ongoing research effort, for better or worse, my views carry some weight. I'm forever being asked what I think about things that are entirely outside my areas of expertise or interest. I might as well make use of that when a topic comes up that I actually give a damn about.)

- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Re: You don't see THAT every day
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Thu Jan 24 2385 02:18:33 -0000 (GST)

The most important men in town will come to fawn on me
Like a Solomon the Wise
If you please, Reb Tevye
Pardon me, Reb Tevye
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes
And it won't make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong;
When you're rich they think you really know!

Ya tebya l'ubl'u,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: You don't see THAT every day
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Thu Jan 24 2385 08:55:39 -0000 (GST)

Yes, exactly, except without the part about being rich. :)

Love,
- Tali


2386

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Well, there you are!
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Feb 17 2386 11:11:01 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Please find enclosed one (1) son, in proper working order with all relevant parts attached. In addition, he now comes equipped with 18 months' experience in starship construction and shipyard security operations and the Star of Avalon Second Class for his excellent service during last fall's throwdown with the Cylons. If he wasn't so hellbent on making his name in the Quarian Navy, I'd keep him. He's done a hell of a good job here. If he needs a letter of reference or anything for the captain of the ship he wants to join (and such a thing would do any good coming from me), let me know.

Seni seviyorum,
--G.

P.S. He still needs a hobby.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: A very strange weekend
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Mon Apr 28 2386 01:27:13 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

Before I start with the more unusual things, let me pass on this straightforward bit of good news: Rael has been confirmed as a member of the crew of the Rayya. She's a good ship, one of our heavy cruisers, and as one of her officers he stands to see a good bit of action on convoy duty - more if the Union's application for Federation membership is accepted this year and the Navy starts operating with Starfleet. Some of the younger captains are eager to try their hand at deep space exploration, and I suspect Captain Renjli is among them.

I've just come back from a two-week expedition to one of the unexplored sectors of Halo. Over the past two days I've had two very strange experiences, making this the oddest weekend I've had in quite some time.

On Saturday, Mordin and I were leading a team into one of the surface structures that turned up on our space surveys. (You may recall the pictures I sent you of the one we mapped in '79.) These things are scattered all over Halo, and at first we thought they were buildings, facilities of some kind left behind by the construct's original builders. Closer examination, though, reveals that they're actually part of Halo's internal structure that happen to stand higher than the simulated terrain. Inside, they extend deep into the inner workings of the ring, most of which remain unexplored and unexplained.

In this particular one, we made a few interesting discoveries that you probably wouldn't find that arresting - we think we know how the plants manage to propagate themselves without insects or animals, for instance - but the really interesting discovery was on sub-level four. There's what seems to be an automated factory down there, designed to build... well, we're not sure what they are. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were telejournalists' camera drones. Little spherical robots about the size of your head. There are no working ones and whatever system controls the factory seems to have failed or been shut off, but there are parts and semi-completed units. We're trying to get permission to assemble one by hand and see what they do, but you can imagine what an uphill climb that is. If I don't watch him carefully, Mordin will go ahead and do it anyway.

On Sunday, while I was back at base camp organizing my notes on that little discovery, who should turn up at my tent but Kei Morgan.

This was actually not the first time we'd met. I ran across her once during my wilderness years, after you disappeared. It... didn't go all that well, but I should probably admit for the record that it was my fault. I'm not sure what had happened to her, but she was about as aggressive as shyam noodles before I started shooting at her.

This time I was a little calmer, and she just wanted to talk. She said she was going around apologizing to everyone she'd hurt during her hunt for you. I said that must be taking her quite a while, and she smiled and said it was, but she'd made it as far as the middle of the Ses, so she had hopes of being finished with it this decade. That seemed to break the ice somehow. We ended up talking all night.

She's... an interesting woman. I won't say I liked her, exactly, but once we were done I couldn't bring myself to hate her any more. She's as haunted as the Queen of Ranroon, which is at odds with the image I had in my head of a remorseless sociopath. (Is that redundant? I think it is.) And for all that's passed between you, I can tell she's obviously still very much in love with you. It takes one to know one, as they say.

Before she left, she said she was thinking of asking you to take her back when she's done, and would I have any objection to that? There were a dozen or so things I could have said, most of them cruel, but after what she'd shared with me, all I could think of to say was that I'm married myself and don't have any say in what you do. Which is true and true. But it makes me wonder... would you? After all she did and tried to do to you?

I'm not asking out of some kind of strange jealousy; or maybe I am, but it's not anything I'm at liberty to act upon, if so. Mostly I'm just genuinely curious. I know you can forgive a lot - Miranda called it your "quality of mercy" once when she told me about your past together, such as it was - but...

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if the time comes when you have to make this decision, don't turn her away on my account. We've made our peace. It was an ugly time, but there's nothing to be gained by prolonging the ugliness for the sake of a grudge.

Love,
- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Re: A very strange weekend
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Apr 28 2386 12:17:54 -0000 (GST)

You are a fine and noble woman, Tali'Shukra vas Archangel. I've found it in me to forgive Kei for what she did to me - she thought she was trying to kill somebody else, in a sense - but I've had a hard time coming to grips with what she did to everyone else she trampled along the way. Knowing that you've come to your own terms with her is a big part of that weight removed.

Mind you, I'm busier than a one-armed paperhanger and she's apparently only up to S, so this is probably not an airlock I'm going to have to cycle anytime really soon, but it's still good to know. If nothing else, it's healthier for you anyway.

Tayyr qitn,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: New Goodyear Days
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Thu Jul 17 2386 10:13:49 -0000 (GST)

Dear Benjamin,

I've been invited to New Goodyear's 30th anniversary festival, which is being held the weekend of August 8. I know you're horribly busy - and so does the organizing committee, which is why they omitted to invite you - but perhaps you could take a day off and fly out for the barn dance Saturday evening. Mordin's deejaying. I'll wear my dress. I don't think Vedik's ever actually seen me in it before.

Love,
- Tali


2388

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: By the pricking of my thumbs...
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun 19 Jun 2388 15:21:03 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Intel Division and the Salusian SIS are both lit up like a Christmas tree this weekend. GENOM's on the move. Their fleets have come out of the Corporate Sector, and it looks like there are a lot more of them than we initially thought. They're already moving on a number of high-profile targets, including - we think - Earth.

I'm sending a recommendation to the Admiralty that they put your navy on high alert. Given GENOM's history with the Migrant Fleet, it wouldn't surprise me at all if they've got a task group heading your way right now, looking to get their own back for the Archangel Incident. I'm also sending over the Shanxi to offer support. It's just one ship, but then, the Minuteman Nine was, too, and they didn't do half-bad. Captain Williams has a personal interest in seeing the quarian nation stay free. You can trust her - she was your grandfather-in-law's shipmate.

I wish I could do more, but the fact of the matter is, GENOM's timing couldn't be worse. We're simply not ready. Most of the fleet is still in dock; we've got three to five months' work to do before we're ready for a full-dress throwdown with Largo's full force. I'm sending what ships we have operational to reinforce key points as much as we can, but it's going to be damn dicey.

And now, just when I have six million and eleventy-fourteen things that have to get done in the next 12-20 weeks, I've received a priority message calling me out to Musashi, which is approximately the last place I ever want to go back to. But it's ReRob's priority code. Which means it's important. Really important. So as soon as I finish this message I'm going. Vision calculates a 27.53% chance it's some kind of trap. I guess I'll find out when I get there.

T'estimo,
--G.

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!hq.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: "We're on a mission from God."
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sat 25 Jun 2388 20:39:12 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Well, once again I've returned alive from Musashi. That was... unexpected. (What happened there, not that I made it back alive.)

ReRob's priority call turned out to be nothing less than the catalyst for the whole damn band getting back together. Rob's back. Kei and Yuri are back. Eve's back. Zoner's back. If we didn't have a galactic war to prosecute, we could go on a Card No. 1 reunion tour.

Well, I say Rob's back; he and his crew are actually still on Musashi, working to finish their own project. But he's back in the WDF, and so are his people. And with his help, and Eve's, and Yuri's, and a little persuading of my own, we've got Zoner back in harness. I'll be honest with you, that was my plan all along, but I've always figured it only had about a 30% chance of actually happening.

We might just win this thing after all.

Kei and I... have a lot of work to do, and "while GENOM is on the warpath and the whole damn galaxy is vibrating at 60 Hz in fear" is probably not the time to do it - but when have we ever done anything the right way around?

I'm leaving the Shanxi on station over there, partly because I think you guys are still very likely to be in GENOM's sights and partly because Ash would just refuse if I tried to recall her now anyway. Salusian women are stubborn. Did I type that part out loud?

Now is the time on Sprockets when we double our already frantic pace! This is beyond crunch time. We've got 500-odd ships that still aren't battleworthy, allied forces all across known space to coordinate with, and a grand admiral who hasn't commanded anything bigger than a flying car for a hundred years. I'm probably not going to be able to steal a lot of time to write until this thing comes to a head, one way or the other. After that... well, either I'll have a ton of spare time, or nobody will.

Be very careful, Tali'Shukra. I think the galaxy is about to turn a corner, and until we know what's around it, things are going to get good and hairy. Stay alive.

Tha gaol agam oirbh,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: That's one defeat for GENOM
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Thu Sep 15 2388 19:38:32 -0000 (GST)

They may have routed Starfleet at Wolf 359 and fought the Salusians to a stalemate in the Trolorian Approaches, but GENOM's navy was no match for the Quarian Union today. The fleet has suffered some casualties - Admiral Torvan's ship was lost with most of her hands, including the admiral - but victory is ours.

By now you've already read the official report from the Admiralty, but I wanted to let you know I'm all right. Vedik, Rael and I were right in the thick of it - the Rayya destroyed one of their smaller Star Destroyers, and the Archangel was in the van for most of the fight - but we're all unharmed. GENOM sent a dozen of their largest ships and perhaps three times that number of smaller ones. With Captain Williams's help, we bloodied their noses and sent them packing.

The commander of the GENOM task group that came here wore a damaged copy of your face. I assume he was the replicant they used to frame you for the Musashi murders. As they were disengaging, he said he would be back for me once he'd dealt with you.

I don't fear for my own safety, but for yours. Never have I seen such naked hatred. Not even Kei at her worst was as crazed as this creature. Be very careful, Benjamin. The endgame cannot be far off now.

Love,
-Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!concordia.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Wed Oct 12 2388 17:23:42 -0000 (GST)

GENOM's at the door. The fleet's moving out now. We'll be in combat in about five minutes. We're not quite ready - the SDF-23 still doesn't work, and ReRob's not here yet to fix it - but we're a hell of a lot closer than I thought we'd be when they started this war back in June.

I know Kevirin'Zorah wasn't your ancestor, strictly speaking, but if you'd ask Vedik to drop a prayer or two his way for us, I'd appreciate it.

One way or another, this'll be over in 24 hours. If I don't see you again in this world, a chuisle, I wouldn't trade what little time we had for anything.

T gr agam duit,
--G.

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!concordia.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: (no subject)
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Fri Oct 14 2388 23:17:42 -0000 (GST)

Holy shit, we did it.

HN1 and Largo are dead. HN1 got it in the naval battle, and I dealt with Largo personally. And he beat the mother-loving crap out of me, but that's okay. At the end of the day, I'm the one with my head still attached and he's the one with his skull on my desk. The rest of GENOM surrendered, after a little timely intervention from Vaughn Gross. We're going to have to figure out what to do with the company, but that can wait. I'm going to want to get at least 12 hours of sleep first.

Oh, and in addition to the whole company and all the MILARM ships we didn't blow up, check out the door prize we won!

It's... big. 550 miles or so in diameter. See that laser emitter? That actually managed to knock a hole in the Sphere. And we managed to capture it without blasting it all to crap, go us! You guys want it? You could park it out at the back edge of the Formation and really give those batarian assholes something to think about next time they come sniffing around.

I'm not sure we've tamped down all the regional brushfires, and the company's holdings in the Corporate Sector remain unreduced, so for now, you'd best stay wary, but I think the worst is past. Without Largo, it'll take a while for a leader to emerge in the parts of the company we haven't got a leash on yet.

From the Core to the Rim,
We are there, we will win!
Nothing can stop the Wedge Defense Force!

Woo! Still alive! And very punchy. I'm-a go to bed now. We can have the obligatory huge party dinner thing tomorrow sometime.

Rojhayh,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: (no subject)
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Sat Oct 15 2388 00:33:12 -0000 (GST)

You utter madman. The reports that we've seen here have called the battle you just fought the greatest naval engagement in modern history. When I heard that you had led a mission to infiltrate that giant battle station and confront Largo directly, I knew it had been your idea. It was a brilliant move. The last thing they would expect. And I knew you would succeed.

What I wasn't quite so sure of was whether you would survive... and I can't say how relieved I am that you did. Enjoy your rest, space hero. You've earned it. Keelah se'lai.

- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!concordia.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: The unexpected: it's what's for dinner
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Sun Oct 16 2388 01:54:16 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

Fool that I am, I thought the train wreck of life-altering surprises would be finished once we'd beaten Largo. Ha! Little did I realize that was just the beginning.

We were sitting around the SDF-23's forward observation deck earlier, after the giant celebratory dinner, sort of riding out the adrenaline crash, still tired despite all the sleep we got yesterday, and talking about what happens next. There's a new Kilrathi invasion in progress in the Vega sector, as you may have heard, and Starfleet's still picking up the pieces from Wolf 359, so we've been asked to help out with that. And there's the continuing problem of what to do with GENOM, and so forth.

And then Kei sort of casually mentions, oh yeah, forgot to tell you guys in all the excitement, I'm pregnant.

What do you say at a moment like that? I couldn't think of anything. Rob said "BWWWaaaaAAAAAA!!!!!!", which summed it up pretty well anyway.

In one of the terrifying ironies with which my life is filled, it must have happened on Musashi back in June. Uh, on my birthday. I'm glad you can't actually see me right now, though I can imagine the ghost of the look you're giving me anyway.

Anyway, um. Hm. This part is awkward. See, my first inclination is to invite you and Vedik to the wedding - it'll be on the 31st, somewhere here in Zeta - but... well, you could certainly be forgiven for lacking interest, under the circumstances. I know you said you and Kei made peace a couple of years ago, but... Well, let's leave it that I'd love it if you came, but if you'd rather not, I completely understand.

That, and the notice is a little short. (True story: My father remarried in... when was that, 2196 or thereabouts, I think. We're somewhere rimward of the Terminus dealing with pirates and I get a call from him. "Hey. Me and Sue are getting married Saturday. Can you come?" This was, I think, Thursday night. He lived on Earth at the time.)

... It keeps coming back and hitting me again that I'm going to be a father. Me. What I know about raising children you could write down on the back of a... a really small thing. I would be completely panicking right now if I didn't know Max and Miria Sterling. And Marty Rose. Did I ever tell you about Marty? Marty knows these things.

Oh, who am I kidding, I'm completely panicking anyway. But I'm also ridiculously pleased. I never thought I was particularly interested in founding a dynasty, and I certainly hadn't intended to just now, but with the Force rebuilt, Largo destroyed, and New Avalon well along... I don't know, the time seems right.

I did not see this coming.

Qurote,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: The unexpected: it's what's for dinner
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Sun Oct 16 2388 13:49:12 -0000 (GST)

Of course we'll be there. As it happens, we have an excuse to visit Zeta Cygni anyway; the Conclave has voted to award Captain Williams a medal for her performance in aid of the Navy in the action against GENOM last month, and someone has to deliver it on their behalf. It might as well be Vedik, particularly since there are rumors that he's being considered to fill the vacancy on the Admiralty Board.

I'm pleased for you, Benjamin. And for her. The last time Kei and I spoke, I got the sense that this sort of stability was what she needed more than anything else to finish healing, as much as anyone can ever heal, the wounds Largo's plot inflicted all those decades ago... and she has loved you for so much longer than I've even been alive. As you once told me, I'd be a real bosh'tet if I had it in me to hold that against her, wouldn't I?

At the risk of seeming like a xenologist, I'm also intrigued by the idea of what children raised in your... unique culture will be like. Growing up in that environment, surrounded by you and your friends, your eldest is liable to found a chivalric order or become a famous film star. Or both.

Send me more concrete details as you get them and Vedik and I will make our travel plans. As they say aboard the ships where one of Earth's ancient religions has found a foothold in the last few decades, mazel tov.

Love,
- Tali


2389

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!daggerdisc.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: spaaaaace baby
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Mar 20 2389 10:13:47 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

I had been expecting my and Kei's firstborn to come along in New Avalon, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans, right? We were actually about 20 hours out of Zeta when the Time Came, as they say. Which was... interesting. I have to get a doc droid for this ship. Barn door, horse gone, etc. Anyway.

It's a girl, we decided to call her Kaitlyn after a friend of mine from before WPI and Yuri after Kei's partner. I know that for some weird reason people always want to know babies' birth weights and how long they are, but to be honest I don't know either of those things and I'd feel ridiculous digging the tape measure out of the tool kit to measure my newborn daughter. She's a decent size. Sort of... newborn-sized. She's got my hair, poor kid, but Kei's eyes, so that works. As for what the rest of her will look like, who knows? Human babies all look alike to me. Mother and daughter, since we're hitting all the stock phrases, are doing well.

We're on Earth now; we were on our way here to check out a couple of things and generally get out of town for a while. (Yes, Kei was already in a hospital before we left. No, the irony there did not escape us. But she was ready to leave; at that point staying was just reminding her of how she got there, and we were both all too willing to put that behind us.) Kate came along on the morning of the 17th. Born in hyperspace, no less! Does that make her an honorary quarian?

Anyway, I've got to run - have to go see a man about a job (Yuri and Eve think they've found me the right guy to head up GENOM's side of the big corporate realignment), and then I'm off to buy some real estate.

Duset dram,
--G.

From: "Tali'Shukra vas Archangel" <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Return-Path: <tali.shukra!ts23238.archangel.navy.qu>
Subject: Re: spaaaaace baby
To: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Date: Mon Mar 20 2389 11:20:39 -0000 (GST)

Benjamin, you colossal fool. You honestly don't know the first thing about parenting, do you? You're supposed to include holos with a birth announcement. We even do that, and our newborns really do all look alike (or rather their isolation capsules do). :)

Seriously, congratulations, to you and Kei. You're probably feeling a bit overwhelmed right now - I know Vedik and I did - but you'll do fine.

It seems today is a day for passing along family news. I found out yesterday that Rael plans to marry this summer. His fiance is one of the Rayya's engineers, which prompted his father to make a few remarks about the family tradition. To hear him tell it - and I remember his grandfather making the same comment once - the Zorah men have a long-established custom of marrying women who are smarter than they are. Mind you, though Vedik's mother is a very clever woman, his father is a well-regarded biochemist who has done a lot of the pioneering work on the Halo Acclimation Project - even Mordin holds Arnim'Zorah vas Kedrin in high regard - but when I point that out, I'm told airily that it skips a generation now and then.

So, just as you are finding it hard to accustom yourself to the idea that you're a father, I'm having to confront the notion that I'll be a grandmother before too much longer. It hardly seems possible. I feel the same age as I was in Goodyear.

Of course, that's because I am, but we needn't get into that. It's the one secret I've kept from everyone in my life. Now that Kevirin'Zorah is gone, only you and Mordin - and possibly Miranda, I can never be sure if anything is secret from Miranda - know what Mordin and I did that day on Halo. I've never even told Vedik. When we were married I had to pretend I was sick for three days. Kevirin and I agreed that it was a secret best kept, and for obvious reasons, it's been fairly easy to do.

I don't seem to be able to pass it on - Mordin tested Rael when he was born and found no indications - so it's just as well. Sometimes I think I should tell Vedik, but... well, what would it profit him to know that I'll most likely outlive him and our son? Sometimes I have to just stop and think about that. I don't think we're old enough yet for it to really sink in - I'm 52 and Vedik is 54 - but how does one cope with this knowledge as time goes on and civilization itself ages? You must have relatives on Earth who are as far removed from you now as I am from the last quarians to live on Rannoch.

I'm sorry. It's hardly fair of me to maunder about these things in response to your joyful announcement. Like you said back in Goodyear, I've bought the ticket and now I have to take the ride - and I wouldn't change my decision, even if I had known that my ultimate purpose in making it would never be realized. Just that one kiss we shared was worth it.

And, for the record, I still expect holos.

Love,
- Tali

From: "RADM Benjamin D. Hutchins" <gryphon!wdf.mil.zc>
Return-Path: <gryphon!daggerdisc.wdf.mil.zc>
Subject: "How does one cope?"
To: <tali.shukra!archangel.navy.qu>
Date: Mon Mar 20 2389 22:32:47 -0000 (GST)

Dear Tali,

You're just about on schedule; I had my first serious "holy crap, what have I done?" moment when I was in my early fifties too. Mind you, I had it easier, because I was just one Detian in a whole community of 'em, and most everybody around who wasn't one was Salusian and thus was going to live for three or four hundred years anyway, but still - we were back in regular contact with Earth by then, and I realized as I watched my father's generation pass, and I was still 18, that I really was in it for the long haul... though it didn't really hit me until Tamaran. I'm sure I told you that story...

I wish I had a magic bullet for you, some kind of mantra or tidbit of wisdom that would make it all snap into a new perspective, but it's really just a matter of time. As things change and evolve, so you learn to accept that they're going to, regardless of whether you approve. I've seen it speculated by some sociologists that the galaxy's so-called retro bent is the result of immortals like me hanging onto the past we remember and refusing to advance, but I don't know that I buy that. I mean, yes, I like things that remind me of the era I grew up in, but I don't think I'm trapped in the past. I'm just enjoying the future more because I remember when it wasn't here.

You'll get there. It doesn't not hurt, but then life doesn't for people with regular lifespans either. There'll always be those moments - the ones that make you wonder why you did it, and the ones that make you glad you did. The only trick, if there is one, is to try and make sure they balance in the long run.

Kei doesn't like the pictures I took. She says she's buying a new camera when we get back to New Avalon and then you will have, and I quote, "more baby holos than (you) can stand."

Oh - and you didn't ask, so feel free to ignore this, but for what it's worth, I think you ought to level with Vedik. You'll probably find he knows, or at least suspects, anyway, and hasn't felt it was his place to confront you about it. Even with the advantages your culture gives you in hiding it, he's too smart not to know something's up. It's not going to turn him against you. The guy's absolutely crazy about you. Like you said about Kei, takes one to know one.

Volim te,
--G.

To be continued in Correspondence II: 2390-2399


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
Correspondence I: 2380-2389 [View All] Gryphonadmin Mar-21-10 TOP
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Zuki Mar-21-10 1
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 eriktown Mar-21-10 2
          RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Mar-21-10 3
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Arashi Mar-21-10 4
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Polychrome Mar-21-10 5
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Mar-21-10 10
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Matrix Dragon Mar-21-10 6
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Apostate_Soul Mar-21-10 7
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Meagen Mar-21-10 8
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 BZArcher Mar-21-10 9
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Chris Redfield Mar-21-10 11
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 BeardedFerret Mar-22-10 15
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Offsides Mar-21-10 12
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Mar-21-10 13
          RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Offsides Mar-22-10 17
              RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Mar-26-10 23
                  RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Offsides Mar-26-10 24
                      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Mar-26-10 25
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Prince Charon Mar-21-10 14
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 jhosmer1 Mar-22-10 16
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Tabasco Mar-22-10 18
          RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 drakensis Mar-23-10 19
              RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Arashi Mar-23-10 20
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Fred MacManus Mar-25-10 21
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Apostate_Soul Mar-25-10 22
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 JeanneHedge Mar-26-10 26
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Mar-26-10 27
          RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 JeanneHedge Mar-27-10 29
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Peter Eng Mar-26-10 28
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Zuki Mar-30-10 30
   RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Pasha Jun-03-11 31
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 pjmoyermoderator Jun-03-11 32
      RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Gryphonadmin Jun-03-11 33
          RE: Correspondence I: 2380-2389 Bitstream Jun-04-11 34


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