After Endea’s birth, many of Arsha’s missions were centered in the Under-realm. There wasn’t much talk of Endea to Arsha’s knowledge, but Arsha was waiting for it. Right now, her ship was ordered to the Morgonthor Trench, Marshii’s home, to await a famous defense attorney. Arsha was wondering about the particulars of why as the mission was on a need-to-know basis and would be revealed once the attorney was picked up. She heard it would take a few days until the attorney arrived, so she granted shore leave and visitation rights to crewmember families. Marshii had opened a window and flooded her quarters for her family to visit. She got the water to her preferred temperature and sighed happily as the warmth flooded her body. She heard a knock on the exterior of her windows and turned to see her wives and husbands, children, and grandchildren. She opened all of the windows and they swam into the room. She was instantly buried in her grandchildren’s hugging. “Give Grandma Marshii some air!” laughed one of her daughters, Tayasi. The grandchildren obeyed and released Marshii.
“Tolno, look at you!” cheered Marshii as she held one of her grandsons above her. “You’ve gotten so big!”
“I’m a big boy now!” replied Tolno.
“Yes, you are!” agreed Marshii.
“Grandma Marshii,” asked one of her granddaughters, Yella, “is it true that you’re really a grumpy old woman? That’s what my best friend says her daddy told her.”
“Yella!” admonished the girl’s father, Brensha.
“…Do you happen to know if your best friend’s parents work in Realmfleet?” asked Marshii.
“She said her daddy’s a Lootenant here,” replied the girl, Yella. “Do you know Yoltem?”
“Lieutenant Yoltem,” growled Marshii. “Yeah, I know him. Why don’t you tell your best friend, when you next see her, that, if she and her family are tired of hearing about me, they can come to Sick Bay for a visit. I can make it so that they won’t see me again. Won’t you do that for Grandma Marshii?”
“Okay!” promised Yella.
“That’s a good girl, Yella,” praised Marshii. “Now, let’s see if Grandma has some candy for all these wonderful children.” The grandchildren wiggled in anticipation at the promise of candy.
“…That’s not the woman I grew up with!” yelped another of her sons, Tuyabti.
“Oh, here we go,” grumbled another of her daughters, Wollio.
“Look! Out the window!” called one of her husbands, Rootig. “That was Joyalee!”
“…Someone’s gone senile,” muttered her other husband, Gorkon.
“You can’t mistake hair like that!” argued Rootig.
“Rootig, Joyalee and her wife, Kalo, live in the Chromanian Sea,” reminded Marshii. “You know, a Merfolk kingdom in the Over-realm?”
“He’s right! Look!” directed Yella. Everyone gathered at the windows and saw a Mermaid with a green tail and top and long, curly, pink hair.
“…Maybe we’ve ALL gone senile!” gulped Gorkon.
“Take it from a doctor, we ain’t there yet!” replied Marshii.
“What’s she doing here?” asked one of her wives, Bemfin.
“Well, we’re expecting a defense attorney,” answered Marshii, “but she’s a writing and literature teacher. Is Kalo…no, Kalo’s a Sea Witch, the typical job for a Cecaelia.”
“I don’t know,” remarked another of her wives, Fulldio, “Kalo DID study some law.”
“Enough for her to be an attorney?” asked Marshii.
A special water chair, similar to Shalvey’s, was prepared as Arsha received word that the attorney had a Mermaid spouse. The Endeavor’s landing ramp opened and Joyalee swam up first, followed by a Cecaelia woman with blue octopus legs, curly, lavender hair, a flower adorning the right of her hair, and a red seashell top. “Kalodina Avonamei,” greeted Arsha, “I must admit I’m surprised YOU’RE the defense attorney I’m picking up.”
“It’s Kalo, please, Your Highness” replied the Cecaelia. “To explain why I’m the attorney, I decided to pursue another degree. Now, not only am I a Sea Witch, I’m a lawyer. You’re only dropping me off after all this is over.”
“All this?” asked Arsha as Joyalee took the water chair.
“Why don’t we retire to a conference room?” suggested Kalo. She then noticed Joyalee bouncing excitedly in her chair. “Joy, sweetheart, you keep moving like that,” chuckled Kalo, “you’re gonna go sideways through time.”
“I’m on a Realmfleet ship!” cheered Joyalee. “I’ve always wanted to be on one that wasn’t a wreck! I mean, no offense to our home, but actually being on a working Realmfleet ship…!”
“It’s exciting,” replied Arsha. “Believe me, I felt the same when I…”
“CALL ME THAT AGAIN, I DARE YOU!” shouted Endea’s voice.
“YOU! ARE! A! TIN! CAN!” answered another. Then there were cheers, jeers, and sounds of hitting!
“And it begins!” growled Arsha as she transferred her hairpiece to her waist and dashed down the hall. She found a crowd of people surrounding Endea as she and a Stone Elf crewman, Transhell were beating the snot out of each other! Arsha then got between them.
“Captain, out of my way!” snarled Transhell.
“I’m sorry, I thought I give the orders around here!” growled Arsha. “What in the Depths is all this about?!”
“Captain, that tin can has no right to call itself our equal!” boomed Transhell. “We built it; it’s made to serve us!”
“I cannot BEGIN to describe my disgust at you, Lieutenant Transhell!” snarled Arsha.
“What?!” protested Transhell.
“Our purpose,” continued Arsha, “is to protect ALL manner of life! That includes living machines!”
“Why should we protect something so unnatural?!” argued Transhell. “It’s made for one purpose, transporting us to our destination!”
“SHE has all manner of right to go above what SHE was built for!” countered Arsha.
“Why are you giving IT a gender?!” shouted Transhell.
“Because SHE chose to be addressed as such!” answered Arsha. “I’ve heard enough from you! You’re going to be working in waste extraction until you see sense!”
“Arsha!” argued Transhell.
“That’s ‘Captain’ to you!” snarled Arsha. “Waste extraction! NOW!” Transhell glared at Arsha, then shoved his way through the crowd to waste extraction.
“Appropriate for a piece of garbage like him,” muttered Endea.’
“You’re not off my list, Endea!” snapped Arsha.
“Pardon?!” yelped Endea.
“What possessed you to participate in a fight?!” demanded Arsha.
“Captain, I’m not going to let his insults go without consequences!” argued Endea.
“There are better ways to address this!” snapped Arsha. “You acting like a child on the playground is NOT the right way! I thought you were more mature than that! You’re reporting to Sick Bay to help Marshii with her duties!”
“Captain!” protested Endea.
“Another word,” warned Arsha, “and you’ll be joining Transhell in waste extraction!”
“…Aye, Ma’am,” grumbled Endea as she moved off to Sick Bay.
“Now, as for the rest of you,” growled Arsha as she addressed the crowd, “did it not occur to you that fights are NOT tolerated in Realmfleet?! You lot signed up to keep the peace, not watch two people shatter it to pieces and do nothing! I am ashamed of you all! Since you were the ones who stood by and did nothing to stop the fight, your shore leave is cancelled! Is that clear?!”
“Aye, Captain,” replied the crowd, collectively deciding not to argue.
“Then get to work, all of you,” ordered Arsha. “Dismissed!” The crowd dispersed, leaving Arsha, Joyalee, and Kalo alone in the corridor. Arsha took deep, slow breaths to calm down. “Kalo, Joyalee, I STRONGLY apologize for what happened,” bid Arsha. “I assure you; this kind of behavior is NOT typical aboard the Endeavor.”
“No, but I’m seeing it in the Over-realm,” replied Kalo.
“What do you mean?” asked Arsha as she returned her hairpiece to its usual place in her hair.
“Anti-Mechanica bigotry has begun to crop up everywhere,” explained Joyalee. “Riots are starting to begin over sentient machines having the same rights as us, anti-Mechanica graffiti is popping up on walls everywhere, the Crimson Diamonds are using this to fuel their illegal business, those are only a few examples of having no clearly defined laws protecting Mechanicas.”
“That’s why I’m here,” continued Kalo. “The trial to determine the fate of Mechanica Rights is in two days and I’m the defense attorney for it.”
“Then, once she has free time,” replied Arsha, “we need to talk to Endea.”
“Very well,” agreed Kalo.
“Of all the dumb things you could have done against a racist jackass,” admonished Marshii once Endea got to work, “that was the dumbest!”
“How else can you get someone like him to see sense?!” argued Endea.
“By ignoring his words!” answered Marshii. “If his words made you fight, you gave him ammunition to use against you!”
“What are you talking about?” quizzed Endea.
“He was LOOKING for a fight!” explained Marshii. “He wanted ‘proof’ that you Mechanicas can only work if you’re controlled. He’s going to use the fight as fodder for his beliefs.”
“…I played into his hands,” realized Endea.
“Bingo!” confirmed Marshii.
“But what other ways ARE there to get them to see sense?” asked Endea.
“I know it’s a little late, but let him alone,” suggested Marshii. “It’s going to take longer now, but he’ll give up using you as a target.”
“…I hope so,” sighed Endea as she sorted the potions.