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To the Moon and Beyond!

Posted on 20 Apr 2017 @ 1:49am by Ensign Aidan Crehan & Senior Chief Petty Officer Mila Rasputin

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: New Berlin, Luna

It had been a wonderful time that she and Aidan had spent on Risa and Mila really didn't want to leave the pleasure planet but now it was time to go home. She was thrilled to be going back to Luna and couldn't wait to show the love of her life all the sights. While they were on approach from the civilian transport that she had booked for her and Aidan and she looked over at him. "Are you ready to be exploring moon, my love?" she asked him.

It had been a wonderful time, just the two of them on Risa. They had many holo images and many, many more memories. Aidan was looking forward to seeing all of Mila's favorite places on Luna. He was also looking forward to meeting her parents. "I am most certainly ready to do so, sweetheart. I want you to show me all of your favorite places. After we see your parents of course. I imagine that you want to visit them as soon as possible. After all, family is family."

"Da," Mila agreed. "My father's name is being Grigor and my mother is being Natasha. I am also having younger brother named Arkady and older sister named Svetlana who is married to Hans Dietrich and my niece, Sofia Rasputin-Dietrich."

The announcement came for all passengers to prepare for offloading and to check to make sure they forgot nothing.

She scooped up the carrier she had been forced to put Chow in for his own safety and the big pack of items she had picked up on Risa as souvenirs, which she put over her right shoulder and adjusted. "They are not knowing that we are coming, so will be pleasants surprise. I am hoping we are getting to see them all."

"I will do my best to keep their names straight," he said. He picked up the bag that he had originally brought with him. "So, they do not know you're coming... That will be a pleasant surprise. But me, do you think that will be just as much as a pleasant surprise?"

"I will help you," Mila said as she exited the hatch and headed for the public transporters. "And my brother will be more than happy to be telling you name any time you are forgetting." She deepened her voice. "I am being Arkady Rasputin of the illustrious Rasputin line. Many times great ancestor was advisor to last Russian Czar. Can you not see family resemblance?"

Aidan started laughing as he followed her to the public transporters. "Mila, my dear, thank you for that. You always seem to know when I need a relaxing laugh and how to do it. Here," he said, "let me carry Chow's carrier for you." He offered his hand to help. "Your brother sounds like he is lots of fun. I can only imagine what it was like for you two growing up. Is yours a close family?"

"I am fine carrying him," she said. "He is little monkey and not difficult to carry. As for family, space between molecules is larger than space between family members. People have often said that we are bonded together on more layers than galaxy."

Aidan smiled and nodded. "That answers my question very well, then. And thank you for your help in keeping the names straight." Truth be told, he was a little more than nervous. Meeting the parents was something that he hadn't done before simply because he'd never been a relationship that went that far. This was new territory for him. "Um, Mila, do you think... how do you think they will... accept me?"

"I am not seeing why they would not accept you," Mila said as she looked over him. "You are very handsome. You are treating me like princess. You are very smart, and you are making me happy. Is good enough reason for me, so what other reason would they be needing?"

"You not only make laugh, but you also comfort me. I think...I think I'll be just fine." As they came up to the public transporters, he put his hand on the small of her back. "You mean the world to me. And I hope it will be seen."

She gave the transporter operator the coordinates for New Berlin and got a strange look. "What is being wrong?"

"Most people just say they want New Berlin or other destination," the operator said.

Mila laughed. "I have been Yeoman in Starfleet for eleven years," she said. "When I am serving Captains, they are wanting to be getting precise information."

"Well, you have a good day and thank you for serving," the operator said. "Please step on the transporter."

She stepped up on the platform with Chow and waited for Aidan. "You are being welcome," she said. "Thank you for serving us."

Aidan smiled at the conversation as he stepped up on the platform. "Most people only know where they live. But my Mila knows the coordinates." He watched as the area and people around them disappeared. Seconds later, he regained his vision and saw his girlfriend's home city appear before them.

When New Berlin had originally been established, it was just a small series of domes with mainly workers, but by the time the first Enterprise was launched, the sprawling metropolis that could easily hold fifty thousand or more people could be seen from Earth. Mila smiled as she stepped off the transporter pad and removed Chow from his carrier before setting him on her shoulder. "Home," she said as she tried not to choke up. "It is being too long."

"For many of us," he said, stepping down. "I am just glad that you get to visit during this shore leave. And I with you, I might add." He looked over at Chow as he sat on Mila's shoulder and smiled. He took her hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. "It is a beautiful city, Printsessa."

"Is many habitats all turned into one," she said as she headed for the street where a hover taxi was parked. "You are to be loving in. I am just glad I am able to show it to you." She opened the door and told the driver where they wanted to go and got in with Chow before she moved over.

"As am I." He got in and scooted over next to Mila. He closed the door and grinned as he remembered the last time they were in a hover taxi. This, however, was a completely different place from Risa. "Is there a park here?" he asked. "Even a terraformed one. I was thinking it would be very nice to have a picnic in your home city."

"Da," Mila said. "Armstrong Park. Is second oldest park on Luna and named after ancient Earth astronaut. I have been there many, many times watching Earthrise. Is beautiful sight and I am wishing to be doing that with you at least once before we are having to leave." The taxi took off with the directions she had given him and it was a short ride before it came to a stop in front of a small residence which looked like many others on the same street. The only difference was the decorations that adorned the windows which had a distinct Russian flavor.

"I would like that very much," he said. "Especially with you." Aidan didn't realize that they were so close to her house. He looked at it as they came to a stop and smiled. The decorations were a telltale sign. He then opened the door and got out. He reached in a hand to Mila. "My dear?"

She slid out and adjusted Chow, then pulled her bags out. "Thank you," she said as she looked at the house she had grown up in. "Now remember, if Arkady is to be giving you any grief, simply be stepping up to him and letting him know that you are elder. He will be respecting you."

"You're quite welcome," he said. "And I shall keep that in mind." Well over one-hundred sixty years of meeting new people and new species and now he was nervous. Putting it in the back of his mind in a particular compartment, Aidan offered to help with the bags. "Please, allow me. You'll be wanting to hug them as soon as you see them. No need for you to have bags in your hands."

"Thank you," Mila said with a smile as she handed the bags over and adjusted Chow. She took a breath and pressed the chime; a minute later, the door opened and a bear of a man with a bushy beard answered the door. "Da, what do...." he started to ask, then his eyes went wide before he scooped her up in a huge, but surprisingly gentle hug. "Kotenok!" he bellowed loud enough for people a block away to hear. "My Kotenok has come home at last!"

She embraced her father, tears coming from her eyes. "Yes, Father, I am being home and I am bringing friend with me. Where is Mama?" she asked.

"Natasha!" Grigor bellowed as he looked over his shoulder. A petite dark haired woman who could have been an older version of Mila came to the door and burst into tears when she saw her daughter and moved to join in the hug. It was another full minute before he lowered Mila to the ground, questions coming from both of them rapid fire.

"Mama, Father, this is being my boyfriend, Aidan Crehan," she said. "He is serving with me on last assignment. Aidan, these are being my parents, Grigor and Natasha Rasputin."

Aidan dipped his head in respect to Mila's parents. "Mr. and Mrs. Rasputin, a pleasure." He set down the bag of souvenirs and extended his hand to her Father first. "Very glad to meet you, sir."

Grigor reached out and took Aidan's hand in a grip that would crush lesser men and leaned in until they were eye to eye. "You are nice looking young man," he said. "It would be a shame if...."

"Grigor Rasputin," Natasha said with a very clear warning tone. "It would indeed be a shame if your head met my frying pan again.

The bear of a man quickly released Aidan's hand. "I am sorry," he said. "But she is my Kotenok..."

"Who is bringing her boyfriend home to meet us and you have not yet stepped aside to let them in!" Her mother exclaimed before she grabbed his ear and pulled him aside.

Aidan didn't flinch when Grigor took his hand and pulled him in. As a matter of fact, he kept right in line with the bearded Russian man. But when her mother stepped in...that was a sight to see. And hear. He expected that his visit with the Rasputin family was going to be an exciting one. Aidan then picked up the bag of souvenirs he had set down.

Mila led Aidan inside to a comfortably decorated house filled with large, solid yet comfortable looking furnishings with the smell of lavender ingrained into well polished wood. "Welcome to my home, Aidan," she told him as she led him to a couch. Chow hopped down and went up to the back of it, then looked around.

Natasha released Grigor's ear and turned to smile as he closed the door. "I am sorry about that. He has not seen Mila since she has been in the Gamma Quadrant and hasn't brought a suitor home for longer than that. Please, tell me about yourself while Grigor puts on something to drink. Would you care for something hot or cold, Mister Crehan?"

Aidan took a seat next to Mila on the couch. It didn't just look comfortable, it was comfortable. "That is quite alright. A father's love for his daughter is strong. I've seen it with my own sister. As for a drink, something hot would be nice. Thank you." He paused a second and glanced to Mila. "Myself, Mrs. Rasputin...I spent the formative years of my life on my home planet...of El-Auria."

Grigor nodded and headed into the kitchen. "I hope tea will be fine!" he called as he vanished around the corner.

"El-Auria?"Natasha asked.

"Da, Mother," Mila said as she reached to take Aidan's hand to give it a reassuring squeeze.

Aidan called out, "Tea will perfectly fine, sir. Thank you!" He smiled and turned his attention back to Mila's mother. "Yes ma'am, I'm El-Aurian. El-Auria was a beautiful planet with some of the most wonderful vistas. My home was outside one of the secondary cites in more rural area. There was hill behind our house that we would climb when we were younger. We would sit under the broad expanse of branches and look out over green fields. It was magnificent."

"Are you going to take Mila home to meet your parents, Aidan?" Natasha asked. "She has written to me about so many planets she's been to in her service. El-Auria sounds like it would be very enjoyable."

Mila cut in before he could answer. "His parents live on Earth now, Mother," she said. "So it's a planet I've seen before."

"Oh yes," said Aidan. "They have a home on Earth. Ireland to be exact. My father works at Kenah Korner, A Rare and Antiquarian Bookstore owned by another El-Aurian couple that we knew from...from," he paused a moment and squeezed Mila's hand, "from the Enterprise-B."

Natasha frowned, then looked up. "Wasn't the Enterprise-B from almost a hundred years ago, dear?" she asked Mila.

"Mother, El-Aurian's have lifespans which can be lasting hundreds of years. Aidan is being two hundred and eight years old," Mila said and inwardly winced.

"Finally!" Natasha exclaimed as Grigor came out with the tea, biscuits and jam. "A experienced man to show my little girl what a real man is like! Did you hear that, Grigor? Aidan is two hundred and eight!"

"What?" Grigor asked as he looked at Aidan. "How is this so and why are you interested in my Kotenok?"

Aidan ducked his head slightly at Natasha's exclamation. And he was certain that if he could see himself, his cheeks would be a bit flushed. "I am El-Aurian, Mister Rasputin," said Aidan. "My people have extensive lifespans. And I am interested in your Kotenok because she is unlike any other woman I have ever met. In all my years." He released Mila's hand and stood, respectfully. "She is understanding and thoughtful. When we first met on a shuttle ride and she found out that I was El-Aurian, she asked about it all. She didn't withdraw. She seemed genuinely interested in my people and my home world. And thank you for the tea, sir."

"You are welcome, Aidan," Grigor said as he thought about all the possible heartbreak that his little girl could go through as she continued to get older and the El-Aurian didn't. Finally, he nodded. "We have raised Kotenok to have good judgement without judging others," he said thoughtfully. "As such, I am trusting her judgement in this as I am trusting you not to break her heart."

Mila listened to the exchange between Aidan and her Father, unconsciously holding her breath until her father responded, then smiled. "He has not done so yet, and I am believing that he never will," she told her father.

Aidan nodded an affirmative to Mila's statement. "And you have done a superb job, sir." Then he switched his cup of tea to his left hand and extended his right to Mr. Rasputin. "And you have my word that I will never break her heart. It is a treasure. And only a fool would damage a treasure."

Grigor smiled and shook Aidan's hand, then set down. "So when is the wedding?" he asked.

"Grigor!" Natasha chided her husband. "They are still getting to know each other. Shame on you!"

"Shame? What is shame?" Grigor asked before Natasha gave him the stink eye. "Okay, okay, woman. You win this round."

Mila leaned over to Aidan as if she were going to kiss his cheek and whispered. "She is winning every round since I am being old enough to remember," she said before she did kiss his cheek.

Aidan chuckled and returned Mila's kiss before taking her hand and returning to the couch. He took a sip before asking, "How long have you and Mrs. Rasputin been married?"

"It has been thirty-five wonderful years," Grigor said with a loving look at his wife. "We were married for two years before our oldest, Svetlana was born, then little Mila and finally our son Arkady."

"Speaking of them, where are they being?" Mila asked. "I was hoping me sending message ahead would be enough time for them to be getting home."

"You have not heard?" Natasha asked as she looked at Mila. "Svetlana sent many letters, but we are hearing wormhole is closed. You are going to be an aunt again. She is in labor now and Arkady is watching your niece Sofia at his house."

"Svetlana is to be having another baby?!" Mila exclaimed. "I am being happy for her!" She asked a couple questions and then got up to go to the terminal to send her brother a message to get her behind to the house. "I am hoping to meet him or her when she is getting out of hospital!"

"That is indeed wonderful," said Aidan. He watched as Grigor looked at Natasha and a small smile turned up the corner of his mouth before quickly disappearing. "And good news as well. Congratulations on becoming grandparents once again. I would never have guessed," said. He turned towards Mila at the terminal and then back to her parents. "I will probably get it later, or maybe sooner, but what was she like growing up?"

Grigor gave a laugh. "Studious," he said. "From the time she was old enough to read, she studied, studied, studied. We had to chase her out of the house so people would know we were not holding her hostage. Very smart young lady, but she was more interested in learning more than meeting others. It was a huge shock when she entered Starfleet even if she did enlist instead of going to the Academy. Still, we are very proud of her."

Aidan nodded, "I can just picture you having to shoo her out of the house. She has done well in Starfleet and will continue to do. I think she could easily become a Command Master Chief one day...Master Chief Rasputin, Admiral's Yeoman. But long before she was Chief Rasputin, she was Mila. And that is who I am having a joy getting to know."

Mila returned at that moment and joined Aidan on the couch. "I am not knowing about Command Master Chief," she said. "Is said that Admirals are too busy flying desk and making demands that three Yeomans could not be handling. I am happy being Captain's Yeoman."

"What are you going to do now that you no longer have a ship?" Natasha asked.

"I have served on four ships, Mother," she responded. "There will always be another ship and when Captain Geisler is getting new one, then I am going there." She looked at Aidan. "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking that as you would go with Captain Geisler to a new ship, I would go with you to the ends of the galaxy and beyond," said Aidan. "However, I know what you're talking about. I hope he indeed gets a new ship. I cannot picture him on a station or a colony. And I would very much like to receive orders to be assigned to his new ship.'

"You are being sweetest man in galaxy, Aidan," Mila said with a blush.

Natasha watched them and smiled. "It is a beautiful thing to see a young couple in love," she said as she looked over at Grigor. "Is it not?"

"It is," Grigor agreed after a sip of his tea and looked back at Aidan. "Are you also enlisted, Aidan?"

"No," he replied, "I'm not. As a matter of fact, I just graduated from the Academy. Well, in a manner of speaking, that is. Captain Geisler arranged a ceremony on New Bajor where the Cadets were graduated in the field." He set his tea down and picked up a biscuit, spreading some jam on it.

"My little Kotenok has a Starfleet officer!" Grigor boomed before Natasha darted out her hand and caught him by the ear.

"Now, Grigor, rank means nothing to those in love, does it?" she asked him sweetly.

"Nyet! Nothing!" Grigor said as he leaned towards his wife to loosen the pressure. "Love is grand and needs no rank!"

Natasha released him and smiled. "See? Even Grigor agrees."

Mila laughed. "I have been missing that so much," she said as she got up to hug both of her parents. "I love you, both."

They hugged and kissed her before they settled down again and Grigor looked at Aidan. "As for you, you are a very fine man," he said. "I am glad that my little Kotenok has someone like you."

Aidan dipped his head. "Thank you sir. I am glad that I have someone like her, too. She's wonderful." He put a hand on Mila's knee and leaned over to gently kiss her cheek. As he pulled away, he quickly whispered, "And beautiful."

"Flatterer," Mila said as she spread jam on her biscuit. "But thank you all the same."

Natasha had taken the opportunity to get a holo imager and snapped a few pictures of them, then looked at Chow who was sound asleep on the back of the couch. "That is Chow, da?" she asked.

"Yes," Mila said. "He is being tired from long trip, so I am letting him sleep. He spent much time in a carrier."

"He is a cute little monkey," Grigor said. "I should get something to eat for him when he wakes up. What does he eat?"

"His favorites are grapes, yogurt and pistachio nuts," she told him and he got up to go replicate some.

Natasha looked back at Aidan. "Would you take a picture of Mila with me and Grigor when he returns, please?"

"But of course," Aidan said, standing. He went over to accept the holo imager from Natasha. Then he looked from Natasha to Mila and back again. Turning his attention to Mila, he said, "This isn't one of those newer ones that focuses on the prettiest subject, is it? Because I'm not sure it will know what to do with both you and your Mother in the picture."

Mila and her mother both blushed while Grigor came back at that moment and heard what Aidan had said. He grinned from ear to ear and leaned down between his wife and daughter. "That is why I am here for it," he said and winced right before Mila grabbed one ear and Natasha grabbed the other. "So. They. Can. Hang. On. To. My. Ears," he groaned before they released him in a fit of giggles.

Aidan had to stop laughing before he could bring the holo imager back up. He shook his head and took the picture. "You have a great family, Mila. Oh, why not one of she and I for you?" Aidan didn't completely let on, but he was thoroughly enjoying his time with Mila's parents. So much so...

"Of course!" Mila said as she cheesed it up before she moved between her parents and put her arms around them. After he took the picture, she came around and reached for the holo imager. "Now it is being your turn!"

Aidan smiled and ran over to stand between Mila's parents. He chuckled and looked from Grigor to Natasha and covered his ears. "Just in case," he said, laughing.

Grigor laughed. "She doesn't always go for the ears," he rumbled.

"Father!" Mila exclaimed before she took the picture of them.

Natasha laughed. "He is right, though. Sometimes I go for the nose."

The smile fell from Aidan's face in a joking manner and his eyes widened. "Oh," he said simply, backing out from between the two after Mila had snapped the picture. "Now, one of Mila and I for you two and the rest of the family. If one of you wouldn't mind taking the picture, that is."

"Of course not," Natasha said as she reached for the holo imager. "Smile!"

"I am always having reason to smile," she said as she wrapped an arm around his waist and gave a warm smile filled with the love she had for him and for her parents.

Aidan grinned sideways at Natasha as Mila wrapped her arms around his waist. "As am I, my dear, as am I." He nodded immediately before he leaned down and kissed her cheek, holding it momentarily. Oh, he was probably going to pay for this later, but what a memory and what a picture!

Natasha took the image and smiled at the two of them. "Ah, to be young or old, love is grand. It is just good to see my little girl happy."

Mila looked at Aidan and there was a look in her eyes that spoke of mischief to come, but before she could say anything, her stomach growled. "You are getting off lucky this time, Aidan," she said. "For now, I am thinking that it is time for hearty dinner, da?"

"Da!" Grigor responded heartily. "Come, come! You are not guest here, Aidan. You come with me while the women handle their part of dinner." With that, he thumped Aidan on the back with a ham-sized hand and guided him into the kitchen.

"Of course, Mr. Rasputin," he replied. "I look forward to learning more about cooking Russian foods." He followed Grigor into the kitchen. It might, he hoped, also provide and opportunity for something else.

"Then you have came to the right home," Grigor said as he pulled out dough, ground hamburger, sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms and a couple seasonings. Has my Kotenok not cooked for you? She had better not have been using those replicators."

"Oh, she has indeed, Mr. Rasputin," said Aidan. "And she is a wonderful cook, too. She is wonderful in so many ways, sir." He looked around at the ingredients. "Is there something I can help with?"

"Da," Grigor said. "Can you roll out dough until it is very flat, then cut into six inch strips that are four inches wide?" he asked as he began to season the meat. "So my eyes and ears are telling me many things Aidan, but they are not hearing one thing."

Aidan picked up the rolling pin, positioned it over the dough, and paused. He then placed it on the counter for a moment and turned to face Grigor. "You are a very wise man, Mr. Rasputin. I love your daughter, I love Mila, very much. She is a special young woman and she means everything to me."

Grigor put the meat to cooking and looked back at Aidan. "Are you going to say the same thing when she gets older and you look the same?" he asked quietly after he glanced towards the living room.

"Yes," he replied, following Grigor's gaze. "I will always love her. And she will always be a special and beautiful young woman no matter how old she gets. She will always be Mila Anastasiya."

"That is what I wanted to hear," Grigor said before he reached for a huge cutting knife and set it on the counter, then pulled a chopping block out. "Do you know what I do with these?" he asked.

Aidan looked at the knife and block then back to Grigor. "You cut the onions, peppers, and mushrooms for the...piroshki?" There was a slight pause and increase in his inflection as he had to quickly guess at what they might be having for dinner.

Grigor gave a great booming laugh that filled the kitchen and he held his sides before he had to brace himself against the counter until he got his breath back. Tears of mirth rolled from his eyes and he looked at Aidan. "I like you!" He declared. "Most men would think I planned on chopping off their manhood, but you did not. You are real man and my Kotenok is very lucky to have you. You are also correct on the dish and I am doubly pleased. Would you please help me chop these up?"

Aidan started laughing as well, though not quite like Grigor. "Of course I can, Mr. Rasputin. But then afterwards, I must get the dough rolled and cut." Aidan picked up the knife and began chopping up the vegetables. "And thank you. Mila has taught me much, whether she realizes it or not. We cooked something similar once and I came across this when I was researching Russian foods to make for her."

"Russian food, Russian food," Grigor said as he shook his head. "We have always encouraged her to try cuisine from other cultures and she is always making Russian. Has she eaten anything else other than that since you have known her?"

"Oh yes," said Aidan. "As a matter of fact, it was just recently that she and I had a breakfast of biscuits, sausage gravy, and eggs to order. She had sunny side up. And she thoroughly enjoyed it." He finished up with the vegetables and moved over to rolling out the dough. "How did you and your wife meet? If you don't mind me asking."

"I am proud of her for trying something new," Grigor said before a faraway look entered his eyes as he mentally travelled back in time through his memories. "It was thirty-six years ago, but I remember it quite clearly," he started and then raised a finger. "Never forget the day you met Mila. If she becomes like her mother, you will be asked if you remember. We were on a ferry on Earth crossing the San Francisco Bay and it was very cold and windy that day. I saw Natasha shivering and without a coat, so I offered her mine. One thing led to another and we were married a year later."

Aidan smiled at Grigor's statement about not forgetting. "I won't forget it," he said. "And that is a sweet account of your meeting. I met Mila at a shuttle on our ship...former ship. We were both waiting on a pilot to take us to a planet for shore leave. We talked during the entire ride. Once we got to the planet and stepped off, the wind caught her hair and blew it to the side. And here we are, visiting you."

"What did you do before you joined Starfleet?" Grigor asked as he checked the meat. "Surely you have done more in your two hundred and eight years than wander around?"

Aidan finished rolling out the dough and began cutting it per Grigor's instructions. "Indeed I have. After we arrived on Earth, I spent two years working at a book store owned by a fellow El-Aurian. After that, I moved to Risa where I lived for sixty-seven years. After that, I visited Delta IV where I became attached to cultural anthropology team that was studying the evolution of the Deltans. From then on, I traveled with various teams to several planets."

"It sounds like it's been a very interesting life," Grigor said as he took the hamburger off the stove and put the sausage on with the chopped up vegetables. "Why Starfleet now of all times?"

"The now did not have that much to do with it," said Aidan. "I wanted another perspective to add to what I had already learned. Starfleet could provide the training and perspective. I applied, was accepted, and majored in Archaeology and Anthropology with a minor in Xenobiology." Aidan had finished with the dough and turned around, leaning back on the counter's edge.

"Have you planned out how long you plan to do that before you go on to something else?" Grigor asked as he looked over at the pieces of dough that Aidan cut. "Or do you just do what strikes your mood after a certain amount of time?"

"My plan is to retire from Starfleet," he said. He noticed that Grigor had glance to his side at the dough. "Are they up to standard or must I have more practice?"

Grigor gave a nod of approval. "You did well," he said before he turned his attention back to Aidan. "Until you retire? That could be a very long time depending on how high in rank you plan to go."

Aidan cocked his head to the side. "Ah, I understand. I plan to retire at about the same time as most, twenty to twenty-five years."

"That would put Mila around fifty to fifty-five years old," Grigor said as he stirred the sausage and vegetables. "If I know her as well as I think I do, she will have a fleet of Admirals fighting for her service. I have heard stories circulated among friends in Starfleet who have heard of her prowess in the back corridors of wheeling and dealing to get what needs to be gotten on some of her assignments. Is she still doing such?"

Aidan chuckled. "I have only heard rumors about that on the Black Hawk, sir. But...I haven't asked her about it, either." He smiled at Grigor. "Are we almost ready to put it together?" he asked. Time was closing, but it still had to bake.

Grigor checked the sausage and declared it done, then began to mix the sausage, veggies and hamburger together. "You are very good helper, Aidan," he said. "Very organized. I see why Mila likes you. Now let us distribute meat and vegetables together, fold dough and put in the oven."

"Thank you, sir." Aidan moved the chopped vegetables over to the dough. "Though, I believe that I could learn more organization from her. She has kept the Captain well organized." He paused a second. Now was just as good a time as any. "Mr. Rasputin," he said, turning towards the bear of a man, "I have a question, sir."

"Yes?" Grigor asked as he began to ladle the mixed meat and vegetables out on the dough and practiced scoops.

"I love Mila very much," he said. "So much so that...Mr. Rasputin, may I have your permission to ask Mila to become my wife?"

"Marry?" Grigor asked as he dumped a spoon of the mix on the floor in surprise. "My little Kotenok?" He stepped over the mess and looked at Aidan eye to eye and was silent for a moment as he studied the man in front of him. Finally, he nodded. "You will have my blessing," he said. "I know you will be good for and good to her and that is all me and Natasha have ever hoped for."

Aidan kept the man's eyes and didn't flinch. He wasn't sure what was about to happen. Then Grigor spoke and Aidan relaxed. "Thank you, Mr. Rasputin. You honor me in giving me your blessing." He dipped his head in respect to Mila's father. "You also have my word that as long as I live, I will do what is within my abilities to make her happy."

"If you do not," Grigo said as he picked up the knife and looked at it. "I will chop something else with this. Da?"

"Da," replied Aidan. "However, you should know that you would have a bit of a fight on your hands before getting to that point." He picked up the cutting board and held it with both hands. "I might lose, but I will go down fighting like a Klingon."

Grigor boomed out a laugh and set the blade down. "I like you," he declared. "Now let us get these in the oven and go be family!"

Aidan laughed and put the cutting board back on the counter. "Agreed. Let's do it. But first, I'll get this." He reached for a nearby paper towel and knelt to the floor, cleaning the spoonful of mix that had dropped earlier.

Aidan leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hand to his cheek. "So I said, 'why are you asking me, I'm just a cadet, Admiral?' The look on the Admiral's was priceless." Aidan paused a minute to finish laughing. "It is times like those that I wish I would have had a recording device. But then, he probably would have confiscated it."

The three Rasputin's laughed before Natasha looked at the time. "Mila, why don't you take Aidan out and show him around?" she suggested. "Me and Grigor can get your room ready while you are gone."

"Are you being certain that we can be staying here?" Mila asked.

"Da!" Grigor said. "You are both adults. We are both adults. I trust you both, too," he said.

Mila smiled and looked at Aidan. "Did you wish to see the places I grew up?" she asked him.

"I would love to see them," he said. "And thank you both for your hospitality," Aidan added, speaking to Grigor and Natasha.

"It is our pleasure," Natasha said with a smile.

Mila took Aidan's hand and let him out the back door to a connected garage and turned the light on. Inside was a small hover car, but beside of it was a large purple hovertruck with an M on the doors and she beamed. "Ah, she looks as good as the day I parked her here," she said with obvious pride. "Are you ready for a ride, Aidan?"

To say that he was taken aback would be an understatement. "I shall admit, I never pictured you driving anything like this, Mila. It's amazing. But in answer to your question, yes, I'm ready for a ride." He couldn't believe he was about to climb into a hovertruck and be driven around by his petite girlfriend.

She laughed as she deactivated the door locks and opened his, then went around to her side and climbed in. "I won it in a poker game where loser could not pay up," she said as she started it up. She looked tiny in the seat, but it had clearly been adjusted to suit her size. "So I am getting this when he is offering one more bet with ownership form. Guess who is winning final game?"

Aidan climbed in and closed the door. "Ohh sweetheart, I don't need to guess. I'm looking at the best poker player I've known. And now, I'm going to kiss the best poker player I've ever known." He leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss to her cheek. He then settled back down on his side of the seat. "Now, show me where you grew up. Show me your favorite places."

Mila pulled the big hovertruck out of the garage once the doors were opened and looked over at him. "Were you knowing that the moon is being one of the first places humans were colonizing when we were first leaving Earth?" she asked him. "It started out being very small, but now there are over fifty million people living here."

Aidan looked around as Mila pulled out. He was up higher than what he was accustomed to and that provided him with a better view. "No, I was not aware of that. The only human history I know of came from the Academy. And I don't remember them getting into specifics all that much. But that amount of people of is a large step from colonization."

"I am being very surprised," she said as she rounded a turn and began to accelerate a bit faster and laid on a horn that sounded like a warning blast to anyone in front of her. She gave a maniacal grin as traffic pulled over and she went past them. "I am loving this. I would love to be having this on ship, but corridors are not being big enough." She entered a long straight that was free of traffic and looked at him. "Would you like to be seeing Sea of Clouds?" she asked him.

"No, they aren't," he said, grasping a part of the door. "You aren't the only one who is surprised, my dear. I don't think I've ever seen this side of you." He looked at the straight, empty area in front of them and then to Mila. "Sea of Clouds is it?" He trusted her. And there would never be a time that he didn't. So he settled into the seat and nodded, "Yes, show me the Sea of Clouds."

Mila keep the speed down until they came to what was effectively an airlock leading to a lunar road leading out to another colony. She stopped at the checkpoint and had a rapid fire conversation with the guard and then ran through a system check which sealed the environment of the rig before pulling into the airlock. "How is your zero gee training being?" she asked him.

This was about to get interesting. "That last I checked, it was just fine," he said. "What are you about to get me into?"

"Reduced gravity," she said as she left the airlock and the sensation of weightlessness kicked in, but with the seatbelts holding them in place, there was nowhere for them to go. She made a few adjustments on the controls and a loud whine turned into a dull roar from the back of the rig before she touched another control and the truck took off forward at a rate of speed that was much, much faster than they had been going in the dome.

It wasn't as bad as he thought it was it would be. The seatbelts did their job and he watched his arms float up. Those and his feet and legs, to a degree. He was starting to get used to the speed, too. Though he expected it to slow down somewhat once they got back inside. Physics was like that. "Where did you learn to drive one of these?"

"Practice," Mila laughed. "It was taking lots and lots of practice. I was thinking that Father was to be having massive heart attack many times when I am first sitting behind wheel," she told him as she made another adjustment and corrected the course. "He is to leaving finger indentations in old dash before I am doing renovations on it."

Aidan laughed a little. He could picture her father holding on to the dash for dear life. "Well, you are one-up on me. I would have no idea what to do with one of these." He looked out at the lunar landscape as they passed between the domes. He'd seen this place from Earth many, many times. But there was just something about being here. And being here with Mila. At her home.

"Then I will be letting you drive back," she told him. "Is no problem since there are very few who are coming out here unless it is being in shuttle or such. People are not having adventurous spirit and not appreciating vastness of moon or her features."

Did she just say... "Drive back? I would be happy to try, but I wouldn't want to damage your truck, Mila." He would give it a shot, but he wasn't sure what would happen. But she was right about one thing, there weren't very people out here. So it would be just as good a time as any.

"What is there being to hit that you could not see miles away?" Mila asked him. "We are being six feet off ground and truck compensates for terrain. Is steering and acceleration. Plus," she pointed at a small navigation sensor panel. "We are having sensors if anything big is to be coming our way. Is like shuttle but scaled down."

"Ahh, okay. Your comparison helps," he said. "I just need to think of it as a much smaller shuttle, then. I would be happy to drive it on the way back. Though, if you put finger indentations into the dash," he said with a smile, "I'll have it replace for you."

"I am trusting you," she said as she checked the sensor data and adjusted the course. A short time later she came up to a crater that was miles across and just about as deep. While there were no clouds, it seemed as if they had came to the very 'edge' of the moon as the far crater wall was below the horizon and she waited. "Watch," she said simply after she glanced at the chronometer.

A few minutes later, Earth began to crest the horizon in all it's blue, green and clouded glory with Sol illuminating half of it and the other half in darkness. It seemed that time stood still in the cab and even Mila seemed to be holding her breath as the jewel-like planet finally topped the edge of the crater wall and seemed to be framed by it.

"The Sea of Clouds...," he said quietly. "It is beautiful." He reached over and took Mila's hand in his. "I'm glad that you've shared this with me." he said. "Is this someplace you've been to often?"

"I am always trying to make it back here at least once per visit," Mila said with a smile as she held his hand. "Father took me here first when I am being little girl. Is beautiful thing to behold." She looked over at him. "Can I be asking you what you and he talked about in kitchen?"

"It is indeed," Aidan replied. "You may. Your father and I talked about many things. Cooking was one of them. Others were when your parents met, what I have done over my years, Starfleet, you eating foods other than Russian, things such as that. Oh, he was glad to hear that you had tried biscuits and sausage gravy with over easy eggs."

She laughed and leaned in to give him a kiss. "I am surprised that he was not threatening to use big knife on certain parts of your body," she said. "He has been making same threat since I am old enough to be dating men, but he has not yet done so."

He returned her kiss and smiled. "That, my dear Mila, is good to know. Just so you are aware, I told him that the knife was to chop the vegetables for the piroshki. He laughed."

Mila laughed again. "If men are to be saying anything different, he is seeing them as having bad intentions and will be chasing them out with knife in hand," she told him. "You are being very brave by standing your ground and giving answer that does not involve body parts being chopped off. I am happening to like certain body part you are having and everything that is being attached to it."

Aidan started laughing, too. Only, he was thinking of when he held up the cutting block. "He is a good man. I respect him." In the zero-g environment, he turned to face her. "I'm glad you like that certain part and everything else attached." He winked at her checked her out. No matter how long they were together, he would always be checking her out. "Zero-g...interesting. Should keep that one in mind."

Her hair floated around her hair a bit and she smiled. "You've never taken zero-gee courses at Academy?" she asked him, a bit surprised. "I am thinking that was being a requirement."

"Oh, yes, I had the courses at the Academy," he said. "It's just that experiencing it outside of a simulation is more dramatic. How did you and your mother fair in the living room while I was being brave?"

"It was very good," Mila said with a smile. "But I am being certain that you are aware of how women chatter when they have not seen each other in some time," she said. "We sent letters to each other all the time, but is not same as saying five hundred words when fifty will make do."

"Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that women chatter once reunited after a separation period," he said. "I have seen El-Aurian women get back together who haven't seen each other in ages. It is best to simply leave them alone for a few days and let them catch up."

She laughed again. "Only a few days?" she asked. "Here I was thinking few weeks, but your race is best being known for listening instead of talking."

Aidan nodded his head and laughed. "Most people think that. And sometimes, it's true. And even though we are a race of listeners, we still need someone to do the talking. So, the whole ear grabbing thing. Does that run in the family?"

"Nyet," Mila said with a shake of her head that sent her long hair flying around her head before she reached up to get control of it. "Mother is only doing it when Father is getting out of line or is needing reminding of something. I am having far more devious methods."

Aidan quickly paused in his laughter. "More...devious...methods?" he repeated. "Should I be worried, Printsessa?"

"Oh, there is no reason to be worried," she told him before she paused and looked at him with a very serious expression. "Unless you are having to reason to be worried, then it will be too late."

"Never, my love." Besides, what she would do would probably be nowhere near what Grigor and his large knife would do to him. "Never intentionally. But if I were to ever do something out of ignorance, I trust that we would talk about it first."

"Then you are having no reason to worry," Mila said before she leaned over to kiss him. "Are you ready to be getting back? I am anxious to be seeing if Svetlana has had baby yet and if Arkady has brought my niece over."

"Yes I am, especially if you are still planning on letting me drive," he said. "As far as family, I'm sure they've had enough time. I can't wait to meet them, too."

"Just remember what I am saying about Arkady," she reminded him as she undid the seatbelt and pushed off the seat gently while holding out one hand above her head so she didn't smack it against the roof of the cab. She reached behind her seat and pulled something and the driver's seat moved back into a small compartment. "Now to be letting yourself out of seat to move to mine while I am moving to yours. Then I will bring seat back for you."

"Ohh, fun," he said, as he unbuckled. Aidan gently pushed himself off but tried to pull as close to the seat as possible. He didn't want to hit Mila and push her into the roof. He tucked his knees under and rolled so as to be out of her way for getting into his seat. "About his talking of the family ancestor?" Aidan asked.

Once he was in place, Mila pulled the release for the seat and it slid back up before she maneuvered herself into the passenger seat and strapped herself down. "Da," she said. "Just remind him that you are an elder and he will fall into line."

Once the seat came forward, Aidan pushed himself into it and grabbed the seatbelt. Now that he was strapped in, "I will do that, Mila. Now, is there a reverse on this rig or do I just aim and accelerate?"

She spent a few minutes going over the controls and sensors with him, answering questions and giving answers before she was satisfied that he had it down. "Now bring it around as you would a shuttle and engage thrusters, and follow course laid out in navigation." she told him.

"Okay." Aidan followed Mila's instructions and brought the rig around. He engaged the thrusters, slowly at first to get the hang of it. He followed the plotted course and grinned. Yeah, it took some getting used to, but the more he thought of it like a shuttle, the easier it became. As a matter of fact, it was beginning to remind him of one of the larger trucks that was used at the Iconia dig.

"See?" Mila said as they got on course. "You are being natural at this. If you are wishing, you can deviate from course for a bit to test it out. We are being in no hurry at the moment and I am enjoying my time with you out here."

"Thank you," he said. "I appreciate your confidence." If it weren't for them enjoying their time together, he might have just stayed on course. Instead he shifted the rig off to the right and started for an area slightly away from the domes. "It is quieter out here. Peaceful. It's no wonder that you and your father have been coming out here for years."

"It is being very beautiful and peaceful, as you are saying. I am thinking that before we are leaving, we should come out with holo recorder to record scenery and Earthrise so we are able to be making a program for holodeck," she said.

Aidan smiled. It was almost as if she could read his old thoughts at times. "I think that is a splendid idea, Mila. We could even record one of the parks in New Berlin and put it into a dome in the holodeck program. Our own little park on the moonscape where we can picnic and watch the Earthrise."

"Now that is being excellent idea," Mila said with a bright smile. "We will have our own little world where we can go to see the beauty of it and experience the peace anytime we are wishing. Tomorrow, we can be going to parks."

"That sounds like a good plan, then." He shifted and brought them back on course, knowing that Mila wanted to get back home. "Thank you for letting me drive, Mila. This has been an experience I will never forget. Driving on the moon."

"You are being very welcome, my handsome Knight," she said. "Before we are getting back to city, though, I am needing to be getting back in driver seat as you are not having license to drive on moon. I would not wish you to be getting in trouble."

"Oh, uh, yes. Very good point," he said. "That part of it isn't like a shuttlecraft." Aidan slowed down to a stop and shut down the thrusters. He unbuckled his seatbelt and pushed off to the ceiling of the cab.

"Can you be pulling switch behind seat, please? Mila asked him as she unbuckled and pushed off the seat. "It will move seat back and you and I can be changing places."

"Yes. I had a feeling I would forget something. I am just glad that it wasn't the thrusters." He chuckled a bit as he gently kicked off the ceiling towards the back of the seat. Aidan found the switch and activated it, moving the seat back. "There you go, Printsessa."

Once she was in place, she brought the driver's seat back into place and settled down into it and buckled in. "Now to be going back home," she said with a smile. "Tomorrow, we should be able to see Svetlana and her new baby and you can be meeting Arkady."

Aidan had gotten back down to the seat and was busy buckling in. "To home, then," he said. "I look forward to meeting them. Especially Arkady, as you have gotten my interest piqued about the young man and his personality."

As they approached the airlock to New Berlin, she brought the hovertruck to a stop and once more went through the process of getting in and verifying everything. Once they were through, she headed back to the house where she had grown up but spared a look at Aidan. "If he is offering to arm wrestle you, do not do it unless you are wishing to have crushed hand and sore arm. Arkady is being very strong."

"I shall keep that in mind, my dear. Arm wrestling Arkady is off the list," he said. "Besides, he wouldn't want to hurt an old man anyway." The El-Aurian laughed as they continued back to the house.


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