“It is past time. My House is strong and my bloodline will continue. I will no longer be contained within this feeble shell!” the warrior snarled, summoning a last surge of strength for this proclamation.
The other occupants of the room, those few members of the House of M`roz that could get her on such short notice, exchanged glances with each other. One younger female even had the temerity to suggest, “But Eldest, this close to the Federation border we can sure of Starfleet medical assistance“
“Silence!” the Elder managed to growl out. “You would prolong my dishonour and suffering in this state?”
His six-year old great-granddaughter’s eyes widened at the rebuke and she wavered, protesting, “Grandfather, I don’t want you to die!”
Aloy`Sius, Head of the House of M`roz, bared his teeth in an expression of familial warmth. “And I do not wish to go, Sush`arra,” he said in a gruff, friendlybut weakvoice. Beckoning to her, he said, “Come here, child. Do you know how old I am?”
“Yes, Great-grandfather! You are 143 standard years old,” Sush`arra replied proudly as she bounced onto the bed beside him, causing the old man a little pain.
He tousled the little girl’s short hair and told her, “That is right. It is older than any Klingon has a right to be, and it also means I am denied the chance of an honourable death in battle now that I am too weak to hold a blade or command one of my ships. And I am tired, Little One, very tired. With unending health and vitality I would remain here to watch you all grow up to become great warriors in your chosen field, be it in defending the Empire, building it’s colonies, or whatever else you set yourself to.”
Here he paused and took hold of Sush`arra’s chin to gaze directly into her eyes. “But such is not to be, and an end must come to all things. We live for the change, as it is the change that gives life its sweet taste. Prolonging the final note in an opera changes it from a thing of beauty into pointless noise. Do you understand?”
As the House of M`roz looked on, the little girl’s face screwed up in concentration. “I do not, Grandfather,” she finally replied in a serious, earnest voice, “but I believe you.”
Aloy`Sius chuckled throatily, the noise a mere shadow of what it once was. “It is good that you admit this, Sush`arra. Now is the time for you to learn, to never be afraid to admit what you do not know or ask questions to gain knowledge.”
The little girl beamed at her grandfather’s praise, and exclaimed, “I won’t! I’ll remember what you say, Grandfather!”
“As you should,” he smiled back at her. Addressing the rest of the room, he commanded, “Now bring yourselves closer. It is your turn to tell me stories, that I might regale my lost comrades with tales of my mighty family’s prowess in their chosen arenas.”
One of his sons-by-marriage, a massive, powerfully-built warrior with a barrel chest and fierce blue eyes that complemented his iron-grey hair, grabbed a solidly-built, intricately-carved chair, positioned it close to the old man’s bed and settled himself into it.
“Eldest, my own heir has been informed and sends you greetings from the colony on SoQ`taH,” D`rew stated, his usually booming voice under restraint. “He regrets he cannot be here with you at your end ”
“Say no more of it,” Aloy`Sius said in a gruff, understanding tone. “I know that if the son of D`rew could be here then he would be here now. What news does my bridge-building grandson send?”
D`rew nodded, the humour in his eyes transforming his craggy features. “He says the colony infrastructure is finally complete, and the foundations have been laid. The support pylons have been put in place, but it was a mighty struggle to carve out the required pillars from the granite of the mountain with his twenty-year-old disruptors. He offers the usual curses and insults.”
Even just a month ago Aloy`Sius would have roared with laughter and approval at this, but now barely managed a single bark of amusement. “Ah yes, the usual curses and insults. Something to the effect of, ‘As usual, the Engineering Corps has out-of-date equipment while the strutting goons of the Imperial Fleet get first claim to any equipment of value’?”
“Yes, Eldest,” D`rew confirmed, a real smile splitting his face, "something to that effect." Since half the family was in the Imperial Fleet, it was a good-natured insult that had been bandied about for over a decade, ever since his son had become a civil engineer helping to build the colonies that were the Empire’s future.
“It is enough that he was successful. The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory, after all,” Aloy`Sius commented. “Come, all of you. Tell me more ”
The House of M`roz gathered around their ailing Eldest and shared with him the stories of their lives.
It was many hours later, with lots of stories told and some songs sang that the increasingly weaker responses finally ceased altogether. The chuckles, growls of approval, and comments of praise or wisdom became quieter, more sporadic.
Everyone present knew when it finally happened, and a stillness descended upon the room. From being thrust into the role of a soldier to protect his familywhich ended after being seriously wounded in battle on Khar`kovthrough his own years as a civil engineerwhich took him all over the Empireto the latter stage of his life as the founder of a new House and as father to fivewhich was a whole new type of adventurefor Aloy`Sius of the House of M`roz, his long years of service to the Empire were finally over.
The assembled family threw back their heads and roared at the top of their lungs, emotion clogging their throats, warning the spirit world that a worthy warrior was about to join them.
My maternal grandfather just died this morning back in Scotland. At this point it is unlikely that I’ll be able to get back in time for his funeral. I am reminded of zimzum’s similar situation while he was in Okinawa and they wouldn’t let him leave. This time, I cannot leave. Flights are too damn expensive and grandparents aren’t “immediate” family, even though most will readily admit to feeling closer to and liking more their grandparents than immediate siblings/parents.
Probably because they didn’t have to live with them all the time, but still
My grandfather was a soldier, a family man, a writer, and a handyman. He was a hard worker who liked to work with his hands and do things for himself. His appearance never changed in all the time I knew him, a silver-haired old gentleman with an odd accent, a ready laugh and a hundred stories and silly jokes. He got frailer and couldn’t do things for himself anymore, but still kept entertaining his visitors.
He died in bed not long after having his breakfast, aged 80 years and almost 9 months, at 10:30 Zulu on the morning of 31st October, with my Gran and my Mum and Dad with him. He is survived by his wife, two sons, three daughters, 13 grandchildren and at least 8 great-grandchildren (I don’t keep in touch with all my cousins.)
Farewell, Grandpa John, kocham was i bedzie tesknic was bardzo wiele.
Aloysius John “Johnny” Mroz
“There’s one more star in the Heavens tonight.”