Obsidian Command

Previous Next

Family Strife

Posted on 06 Mar 2024 @ 6:50am by Chief Petty Officer Ibis Xeri & Lieutenant Commander Maurice Rubens & Major Porter Wallace & Lieutenant JG Agaia Adima & Staff Warrant Officer Chadrin L'Orss

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Obsidian Command, Wallace Residence
Timeline: After "Wallace, Wallace, & Shearing"
1764 words - 3.5 OF Standard Post Measure

Throughout Wallace’s long career, he’d never considered it a good thing when counselors showed up at your door unannounced. Usually, they had bad news. He’d had his fair share of bad news in his career and was certain Agaia Adame was here for that reason, as if her cheerful civilian clothing and sun-yellow hair scarf could soften the blow. He gave Ibis’ hand a squeeze: he could tell she was thinking the same thing.

What it could be, however, had something to do with the other two people on the couch. Maurice Rubens’ - he said to call him ‘Rice’ - facial expressions dipped from human, to Trill, to Vulcan and back again. Wallace was sure that man practiced them in the mirror, because the whirl was mesmerizing. Each one was full of concern, too. The R’Ongovian, on the other hand, seemed to have adopted Wallace’s stoic posture and look. Despite a career spent flitting from one planet to the other, he’d never met a R’Ongovian, although he’d heard stories. In Chadrin L’Orss, Wallace saw himself reflected in the blue-skinned Warrant Officer; it was a strange mirror.

The kids had been asleep, thank god, when the trio had arrived at his and Ibis’ quarters. He’d invited them in, sat them on one of the couches in the living area, and pulled Ibis in from their bedroom where she’d been halfway through her evening routine. He’d been hoping to spend some quality time with her that evening, but whatever this was was sure to scupper that.

It had taken a few minutes to get everyone settled. Drinks had been offered, and politely refused, and now Rice was finishing up the niceties people always seemed to start with right before they dropped the hammer.

Rice cleared his throat. “About an hour ago, I was visited by…” his eyes flicked to Wallace. The Marine didn’t like that at all. “...a lawyer. He informed us that a case has been brought before the Federation Judicial bench on Earth from the Childress and Omoleye families. Do you know who I’m talking about?”

“Rachel and Jimoh’s families,” Ibis breathed the names. Her eyes were wide and unblinking.

Wallace stiffly nodded in agreement and his stomach dropped.

“Why? Why would they need a lawyer?” Ibis was confused. She’d written to them, hoping that Ikemba would eventually know his aunts and uncles and grandparents. “Wouldn’t they just call?”

“I don’t know and there’s no easy way to say this, but they’ve both petitioned to be the full-time guardians of Ikemba.” Rice paused here, allowing a moment for the couple to absorb the news.

The thought that Jimoh’s or Rachel’s families would even want Ikemba hadn’t even crossed Wallace's mind. Jimoh and Rachel’s romantic relationship hadn’t even started until after the Sunrise crew had been stranded. Ikemba had been born there. Ibis was there for the birth and Rachel’s death minutes later. “He’s more our son than he is theirs,” he blurted. “Do we need a lawyer?”

“We’re working on finding you one, but you should look for one that you trust, too. Chief Xeri, does your family have any connections on Earth? Since the Childresses live on Alpha Centauri and the Omoleyes are on a colony in the Agrama Sector. So, in these instances the Federation courts on Earth have jurisdiction.”

“I’m… not sure. I can ask my dad.” She’d had a lawyer represent her once, but he had been appointed from the Judge Advocate General’s office, and it had been fifteen or so years ago, when she had instigated the start up of the Mercy Directive, a non-profit activist thing while she was still in the service, and the Fleet had objections with that. But they hadn’t done anything wrong, now. Her lips sat half parted, like she hadn’t quite grasped the reality of this. Or didn’t want to.

“My brother’s a lawyer,” Wallace said. “We’re estranged, but maybe he’d be willing to help out. Maybe enough time has passed for us to bury the hatchet.”

Rice and Chadrin exchanged a quick look. “What?” Wallace asked.

“Well…er…” Rice stuttered to a halt, his diplomatic skills failing him for the moment.

Wallace scooted to the edge of his seat, still holding on to Ibis’s hand and pulling her along. “What?” he asked again.

The diplomat licked his lips and looked at Agaia. She sighed. Tag in. “Rice has already talked to your brother. He’s here on the station. The court has appointed him and his firm Ikemba’s legal representation.”

“You’re saying Ikemba has a lawyer?” Ibis tried to clarify. “And it’s Marcus Wallace?”

“We spoke with him. He is the one who brought us the news,” Rice said, indicating he and Chadrin.

“It’s okay, right?” At her very core still the optimist, Ibis tried to reassure both herself and Wallace as they gripped one another's fingers white. Her throat felt tighter than ever as she eked out the words. “Because Marcus will meet us and he’ll know. He’ll know that Ikemba’s already in a family. In Marcus’ own family, even. A Wallace. A Xeri. Ikemba’s already in this family and they’ll become our families too. The Childresses and the Omoleyes. The Winetrouts too.”

“I think…” Rice began, grasping for the words to explain the complexity of the situation. Anytime the courts got involved, in the few experiences he’d had, nothing was simple anymore. “I think that’s a very good notion. And one to work toward.”

Ibis didn’t like his padded wording. “All we have to do is make it official.” She rasped, growing insistent even as her voice diminished to a bare whisper. It was like the wedding. They were already together, they just had to have a ceremony to declare it. “We make it official. We adopt our kids.”

“Ibis,” Agaia said gently, “I think that would be a fine idea for Olivia. The Major, you, and Ikemba are the only family she has.”

Not understanding how they could be right for Olivia and wrong for Ikemba, Ibis wanted to argue this nonsensical logic. “And what about Olivia? He’s the only brother she knows. The Childresses and Omoleyes have family… We have Ikemba. Marcus will see, he’ll see we’re a family, we’re together.”

“I agree, but Ikemba’s family is very big,” Agaia continued gently. “Rachel had four brothers and a sister and Jimoh had eight brothers and sisters. Ikemba has twenty-nine first cousins! Big families are a great thing, but the feelings and emotions in a big family can sometimes take time to navigate. This is part of that process.”

When her reasoning didn’t seem to be able to change the demeanor of the Bad News Brigade, Ibis turned her distressed face toward Porter, looking for him to make it clear to them.

Wallace sat there sullenly. Ibis knew that he was estranged from his brother, but not why. Perhaps that’s why she had false hope about how much he’d help them. He scrubbed his empty hand across his face. “Is that it?” he asked gruffly.

“Chadrin’s going to be liaising with Marcus Wallace about what he needs to get done on the station. So, she’ll be your point of contact on my team, too,” Rice said, “I’m always going to be available for you, so reach out any time.”

“I’ll be here for you, too,” Agaia added. This promised to be a setback, she knew, and just as they were starting to get somewhere.

“Okay,” Wallace jerked up to his feet. “Just so we’re clear, I don’t give a shit if Ikemba has a relationship with any of these people. They’re not getting him. We didn’t go through hell for him so that some other people can raise him. We raised him on Korix, we brought him off of it, and…he’s our kid! Ours! I would rather head for deep space than let Marcus and some court judge on Earth tell us what’s best for our kid!” By the end spittle was flying from Wallace’s mouth, his face contorted into a mask of molton rage. Forgetting himself, he stormed out of the room into their bedroom.

Her hand suspended in the air from where Porter had released her, Ibis sat feeling the hum of her own nerves in the wake of Porter’s outburst. She was shaking involuntarily. “No one is taking Ikemba.” It wasn’t a rational statement, but she couldn’t accept another. “Jimoh told Porter to look after Ikemba. Rachel… she…” Ibis couldn’t squeak out another word. She closed the fingers of her outstretched hand, remembering Rachel’s hand going limp in her own.

They were still talking, but she couldn’t hear them through the ringing in her ears. Becoming unmoored from her senses, Ibis only nodded blankly as the counselor and the diplomats continued to soothe her and tell her what to expect next..

She wasn’t sure when the two diplomats had let themselves out or when Agaia, who was silently sitting on the couch with her, had covered her with a blanket. And she wasn’t sure when she had curled up into a ball on the sofa, replaying over and over in her mind the first time she had met Ikemba and the last time she had been with Rachel.

A baby. Floppy in Laura’s hands as she stimulated him into taking his first breath. It was a boy, purpled from the stress of the long, failed labor. So small, his legs curled like a frog. Freshly ripped from the dissected womb of his mother and still tethered by the uncut cord, the last of a shared pulse with Rachel, herself in throes of suffering so horrible there was no relief but death. Jimoh’s dark hand over Rachel’s pale forehead, her face mottled with the blood vessels broken under her skin from her desperate hours of pushing, her bright blue eyes glazed with the veil of pain. The baby taking his first breaths, while Rachel drew her last, Jimoh pleading incoherently…

As Ibis remembered the past that had happened, Ibis forgot that the past wasn’t happening now.


Previous Next

RSS Feed