Limis found a measure of solitude in a tavern she had frequently patronized when she had previously resided in the village of Karvishan. Of the very few people who were also customers, none of them recognized her. They led very sheltered lives as farmers and mountain surveyors and knew very little of off-planet affairs. This whole quaint village seemed like a representation of simpler times even if the Cardassians had left their mark on it.
From what Limis could tell, the local tavern had been renovated several times—once to conform to Cardassian preferences in alcohol and again to fit the Bajoran ideal of doing things in moderation. The hardwood floors and furniture were replaced with more durable metallic materials. The bar and the shelves behind it were still wooden, giving the establishment a more rustic quality that provided a welcome break from more modern life.
While she nursed her half-empty glass of native synthehol, the one person who did recognize Limis approached her. Lenaris Holem was a balding and portly man of average height. Her former Bajoran Resistance colleague flashed a slight grin as he sat across from her. Limis barely smiled at all, choosing only a polite nod at her old friend, who had recently held a Starfleet commission during the last year. “So what are your plans for the future?” she asked with seeming indifference.
“I’m considering my options,” Lenaris plainly replied. “I may stay with the Derna
or go back with the planetary police force. The regional commissioner offered me the position of municipal chief in Holnar.”
Limis sighed enviously and took big gulp of her beverage. “At least you have more concrete choices,” she said as she set her glass back down on the table.
“I haven’t done as much to warrant your level of scrutiny.”
Limis shook her head as if not wanting that terse reminder. “Good for you.”
Lenaris accepted his synthale order from a waiter. He took a brief sip and leaned in closer to the table while setting down the glass. “We did a lot of things during the Occupation we’re not proud of,” he reminded Limis.
Limis took another sip of ale. She gave her head a half turn while recalling one of her least of her least proud moments. Such a moment did provide a measure of pride while she had living on Bajor; not so much, though, after she left for the colonies on the Federation-Cardassian border where she had more time reflect and consider her choices during the Occupation. “Remember when we captured Gul Ixnar?” she asked, “who gave the order to burn the whole village of Kentor to the ground ‘by mistake’, as if faulty intelligence on Resistance activity made up for all the innocent children who died? I got a certain pleasure out of squeezing the life right out of him. He had it coming, no question. I didn’t get the same pleasure out of torturing Mirren Hadar to death.”
“The Cardassian who was passing on Dominion secrets to the Romulans?” Lenaris inquired.
“He certainly deserved to have the book thrown at him after he plundered my ship,” Limis continued. “It certainly didn’t warrant the death penalty. And his brother has declared kunooran
on me. And he’ll do whatever it takes to have his vengeance against me.”
“Do you think you deserve whatever he has in mind?”
Limis rolled her eyes, not exactly wanting to know what Gul Enic Hadar had in mind. “I don’t know,” she said contritely. “I’d take what the Federation dishes out for any of my less than reputable actions over what passes for justice in the Cardassian system.”
“You’ve done a lot of good during the war whether you realize it or not,” Lenaris offered. “The mayor has organized a banquet in your honor. Some of the members of our old resistance cell will be there. You’re a hero around these parts, Vircona.”
Limis scoffed. She didn’t want to be thought of as a hero no matter how much she had done to make victory over the Dominion possible. She had hoped to distance herself from the war as far as possible and move on with her life. “Does he want to give me the keys to the city as well?” she acerbically asked. With a less harsh tone, she added, “Because it’s from you, I won’t dismiss the invitation out of hand.”
“The banquet’s tomorrow evening around sundown,” Lenaris told her. He then stood up and finished off his ale. “That gives you some time to consider attending.”
Limis just sat and sulked while she watched Lenaris walk away. Once he was gone, she stared again at the drink glass. Maybe she wasn’t a hero in her own mind. But with the invitation to a state dinner extended, one inalienable truth occurred to her. At least, Bajor was not one such casualty of the war. That was at least worth celebrating, even if that meant the other celebrants would be kissing her boots.
The following morning, Limis joined her son and one of his university friends for breakfast at a quaint diner. Kenna was a petite blonde woman with her hair tied back to a bun hanging from the back of her neck. She had a beaming smile on her face when she spoke, which caused Limis consternation, as she was acting as if she was in the presence of royalty.
“Is it true you took over the entire Seventh Fleet when the fleet’s commander went down?” the young woman asked.
“Yes, I did,” Limis plainly answered, hoping to purge the mixed feelings elicited by the thought of Admiral Edward Jellico in a possibly irreversible comatose state. She deeply disliked the man, yet she could find no pleasure in his current condition.
“That’s awfully difficult,” Kenna went on as if oblivious to Limis’s stubborn humility. “I mean, you led a small resistance in the Maquis. That’s just twenty or thirty people. That’s hard enough keeping all those people in line; not to mention commanding a starship or a whole fleet of starships. But you did it with crews who have been in Starfleet a lot longer.”
Limis was nearly on the verge of a headache from this young woman’s perkiness. “There wasn’t really magical about it,” she said with restrained frustration.
“She’s a history major,” Yanith cut in to explain his companion’s fascination with a living war hero.
“I see,” Limis said with an understanding nod. Looking back at Kenna, she added, “Then you should know that historians will often make the mistake of assuming those who were on the winning side in a war are the heroes and those on the losing side are the villains. It’s not always that simple.”
“I don’t think history is going to remember you as a bad person. You’re one of the reasons for Bajor’s safety.”
“I certainly am,” Limis acknowledged. “But I’ve had to make really tough choices over the last twenty-five years. People died who didn’t need to, including some of my dearest friends. And I’ve done plenty of foolish things that could’ve wasted a lot more lives.”
Kenna looked at Yanith with a nervous grin. “I’m still grateful for the chance to meet your mother, Yanith,” she said. She slowly nudged her chair away and stood up. “I’ll go freshen up.”
Limis watched as Kenna walked towards the restroom and flashed a scheming grin at her son. “Out with it, son,” she said, clasping his wrist. “She’s not just some girl in one of your classes.”
“Was that I obvious?” Yanith asked with a triumphant smirk.
“You were giving off this vibe that you were afraid I wouldn’t approve of her,” Limis playfully chided.
“We have been spending a lot of time together, but it’s not that serious.”
“Now who’s being modest? I’m still glad to be having some normal mother-and-son time.”
Yanith smiled and clasped his mother’s hand. “I am, too. So, are there any special events planned in your honor?”
Limis shook her head in annoyed disbelief. “You’re doing it now. Captain Lenaris did inform me of a banquet being held in my honor.”
“You should go, Mom,” Yanith persisted, “even if you don’t think you’re worthy of being considered a hero. People look to heroes, larger than life figures who take on the burdens that ordinary people find overwhelming.”
“That sounds like the late Vedek Talwan,” Kenna chimed in, having returned from freshening up. “He also mentioned a regular habit to tear those heroes down once they are built up.”
“Just like you’re already tearing yourself down,” Yanith teased.
Limis sighed, having been reminded that her son inherited her willingness to guilt people into making certain choices. “You two can come along.” With a focused stare at Kenna, she added, “You can have a chance to interact with more living witnesses to history.”
As the guest of honor, Limis was seated at a table on a stage overlooking the rest of the gathering. Her son and his friend Kenna were seated together at one end of the table. Lenaris, the mayor, and three other former members of the Ornathia Resistance were seated at the other end of the main table. One of them was the son of the late Ornathia, Merrek.
To start off the banquet, the mayor presented Limis with a commemorative plaque. She remained very gracious in accepting the recognition, smiling whenever a photographer snapped a picture. The forced smiles were even difficult whenever Merrek and Emmil were shaking they’re heads with disapproval.
Once the presentation ceremony was completed, as indicated by the photographers’ withdraw from the dining hall, the rest of the invited guests sat down to their meals. A few late arrivals slipped by the head table in order to offer their congratulations.
“What’s next for you, Vircona?” asked Emmil. “The Christopher Pike Medal of Valor?”
“I’m sure there will plenty of Starfleet
honors,” Ornathia Merrek added. “Even they don’t give out awards for desertion.”
Limis let out an annoyed sigh. Why would they bring a thing like that up nearly twenty years later? And why would they get seats at the head table if they hadn’t forgiven her for leaving Bajor all those years ago?
“What are you talking about?” she demanded with a firm stare.
“When you abandoned us seventeen years ago and took left the planet with your kid,” Emmil explained.
Yanith’s eyebrow perked up and allowed his fork to fall back on the table, as he was not too pleased to be referred to in the third person.
“My priorities changed once I married and started a family,” Limis curtly offered. “I still tried to do my bit for king and country, but I found juggling the two very massive responsibilities increasingly difficult.”
“Many others had families, and they found ways to balance that with the Resistance,” Merrek fired back, “including and especially my father.”
Limis rolled her eyes in frustration, but continued to maintain her composure. “More power to them and to him. I simply felt that my son, who is here with us now, deserved better.”
“Would you have skipped out on the Maquis or Starfleet during the war?” Emmil crassly wondered.
“Now, that’s not fair,” Lenaris chimed.
Limis took a quick glance at her friend, thankful for his intervention, but then confidently continued. “I am neither going to sit here and rationalize every decision I’ve made in my life, nor am I going discussing hypothetical scenarios. At the time I left Bajor, I had hoped there was room in my life for so much more than just fighting and killing. Do I regret that decision? Sometimes.” Another glance at Lenaris, and she saw him nodding lightly. The bluster of Merrek and Emmil was a ploy to maneuver Limis into proudly acknowledging her own heroism.
“But I made up for that by making sure that many of the surviving Maquis got out of the killing zone safely,” Limis went on. “And when I agreed to serve in the war, it was only to avenge the thousands who died. I realize now how much good I’ve done for an entire region of the galaxy. Vanquishing the Dominion did Bajor and many other worlds in this half of the galaxy a lot of good. And no one
can take that away from me.”
Everyone else in the room applauded--even the two dissenters who were expressing phony resentment. Limis then smiled and felt an air of strong self-assuredness while accepting pats on the shoulder from others at her table. First Lenaris, then the mayor, and finally her son praised her on her speech.
Some hours later, after Limis shook a few hands and reacquainted with old friends and colleagues, she stood on the balcony and stared at the arrangement of colors in the sky given off by the setting sun. While she encountered a number of stellar phenomena of great beauty over the last two years, none compared to the haphazard distribution reds, yellows, and oranges, and blues during sunset on Bajor. Though not having been on Bajor over an extended period of time in decades, Limis found nothing more aesthetically pleasing than the view before her. She never gave it much thought before, but she enjoyed seeing such great beauty in lieu of the ugliness of war.
She turned around as she heard slow and soft footfalls approaching her. She smirked at Lenaris slowly approaching her with a half-empty flute of champagne in one hand. “I saw what that was about back there,” she said, flashing a devious grin. “I didn’t think anyone who genuinely resented me over something relatively trivial would get a seat at the head table.”
Lenaris nodded in agreement. “I know how hard on yourself you can be,” he said, while standing next to Vircona. “And there has been many a time where you’ve employed the same brand of reverse psychology on me and our other Resistance colleagues.”
“Nicely played, though.”
Lenaris simply gave a light nod in acknowledgment of her compliment. “So how much longer are you staying on Bajor?”
“I was planning on staying a week. But I may make it two--more time to walk among the common folk.”
Lenaris chuckled and gradually took leave of her as he saw Yanith slowly approaching Limis.
“Quite a turnout,” her son commented. “Glad you got me and Kenna a seat at the head table.”
“I’m glad you could come, son,” Limis replied with a blissful stare at him. “And I appreciate that you admire your heroic mother.”
“Still a hint of modesty,” Yanith teased.
Mother and son both exchanged weak smirks. Yanith then sighed as he had a more serious look on his face. “Things haven’t always been perfect between us,” he began. “What mother-son relationship is? You’ve done a lot of things that were out of caring for me, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. But you should know, Mother, that I’m very proud to be your son.”
Limis’s eyes were brimming with tears from hearing her son say those words. It was true the relationship between them wasn’t always a loving one. Being separated from him for long periods of time often came with the territory being a single mother. On many occasions, she’d become frustrated that he didn’t always understand that. At least, as a young adult, he understood it now. It was just as emotionally satisfying as learning he survived his recent ordeal with Doctor Moset.
“Thank you, Yanith,” Vircona with a wide smile. She put her arms around his shoulders and hugged him tightly. He returned the hug by putting his arms around his mother’s shoulders.
After about a minute of holding each other, they slowly let go. Vircona cleared her throat to keep her emotions in check. “Now let’s go back in there.”
Yanith nodded in agreement while his mother clasped both his hands.
Limis then headed back in the dining hall, still greatly reluctant to be taking congratulatory handshakes or being canonized as a hero. But after some clever maneuvering from one of her best of friends, she was willing to take the good with the bad of the last two years.