"Letter From Home"

Author: Lieutenant Commander Karissa Bentara
Date: June 29, 2384
Location: Karissa's Quarters

Karissa had just walked into her quarters after her shift. Ryan was coming by so they could spend the evening together. She was about to head to the shower, when she noticed her communications console raising out of her desktop. Someone had sent her a message. Curiously, she went to it and sat down immediately entering her security code. As she looked over where the message had come from, she suddenly recognized it was from her parents. Quickly she played it.

On the screen appeared her mother, her father and her little brother. They smiled and waved.

"Hi, Karissa," Joshen said, in his sweet child voice.

She smiled.

"We were so happy to get your message," her mother, Amalie continued, her dark eyes shining brightly. "We were worried about you, since you almost always send messages regularly. But we understand . . ."

"Hey, guess what Dad did for me? He signed me up for T-ball! It's an old Earth game for kids like me! I start next week!" Joshen said, the excitement shinning in his eyes. "And I got a bat to hit a ball with, and a special glove for my left hand . . . I'm going to be the best T-Ball player ever!"

With that Karissa laughed. Joshen was always enthusiastic about whatever he was doing. She made a mental note to look into what exactly T-Ball was so she could talk to him about it later.

"And then my best friend Tomas is coming over this weekend, and Dad's setting up the tent in the backyard so we can have a camp-out!"

"Okay, Josh," her dad, Ryan, said as he playfully grabbed his son and rubbed his head. "How about you go and play and let your mother and I finish this message."

He sighed. "Okay, dad . . . Bye, Karissa," he said, staring right at her through the screen. "I miss you."

She gently touched the screen as if to caress his face. She missed him too . . . Within a moment, he was gone from the screen. Then her father and mother were drawing closer.

"So we're going to be grandparents," Her father said. Karissa couldn't read his face. She couldn't tell if he were disappointed in her or angry or even happy . . . "It came as quite a shock to your mom and I," he
continued. "But . . . " Suddenly a smile broke out on his face, followed by her mother's smile. "We're happy for you. Especially with the fact that you're happy . . . I hope we'll have the chance to meet Ryan in
person, and Will and Ming for that matter . . ."

"You know, when we got your message," her mother began, "And we listened to you recount all of the things that had happened to you, we were so worried about you and still are . . . We can only imagine what all this has done to you psychologically."

"Just know that we're always here for you, honey," her dad added. They grew quiet and looked away to make sure Joshen was still out of the room and then turned back toward the recording device. "Karissa . . ." he began with a sigh, "Your mother and I did know that you were special and we knew why, though we didn't know at first." He was trying to be as general as possible in case the transmission had been intercepted by someone, either by accident or by intention. "When we realized that you were special we were afraid to let people know. We didn't want you to go through the stigma it would have placed you under."

"We wanted you to have as normal a life as possible," her mother said. "We love you so much . . . We didn't want anyone hurting you . . ."

"We only wanted to protect you from people who wouldn't understand and possibly from the people who had originally done this to you . . . We had no way of knowing if they were out there or not," her father
continued. "Maybe we should have told you when you were old enough to understand . . . But, we didn't want to turn your world upside down."

Karissa was suddenly hit with a mixture of emotions. She was angry . . . Hurt . . . She felt betrayed . . . But on the other hand, she understood why they had kept it a secret. The fear of losing their baby . . . of hurting her . . . She would feel the same way about her children . . . She would want to protect them . . .

"And to us, your being special didn't matter," her mother added. "We loved you as our daughter, and nothing could change that . . . You will always be our daughter . . ."

She stopped the message as tears stung her eyes. Everyone else around her accepted her for who she was and didn't care what she was . . . But she still cared . . . As all her feelings kept turning over and over inside her, her breathing became shallow and her pulse raced. Feeling a bit light-headed suddenly, she began taking deep breaths. It helped ease her pulse, but the light-headed feeling was still with her. She closed her eyes trying to steady her emotions.

Suddenly, she felt hands on her shoulders. It was Ryan. She knew before she opened her eyes. He looked at the screen with the stilled image of Karissa's parents and then to Karissa, taking in her appearance. He immediately knew something had happened.

"Is everything all right?" he asked.

She turned to him. "I'm not feeling so good . . . I'm light-headed."

"Here, lets go to the couch," he said, as he grabbed her hand.

She got up and followed. As they reached the couch, he pulled her onto his lap and just held her in his arms. She was so quiet, he thought. As she settled into his embrace she was still trying to process what she had learned.

"What happened?" he asked gently, tenderly caressing her cheek and looking into her dark eyes.

"They knew . . . They knew and they didn't tell me . . . Because they wanted to protect me . . . Because I'm their daughter . . ." she said, tears appearing, but never falling.

"They love you, Kari," he said.

She nodded and sighed, as she curled into his embrace further. Gently he kissed her forehead and continued to hold her close.

"And I love you too," he added, wanting to reassure her and comfort her.