Charkha Atokha, an Uugnan widower, had a five year old son, Bobakh, and a four year old daughter, Calkhi. He'd been widowed three years earlier about a month after his daughter's first birthday, and had raised the kids in space ever since.
Like all Uugnans, he was bald. What hair he did have looked as if it had been singed off and was slowly growing back. His sideburns and chest hair looked the same way.
Each ear was pointed and had 4 sections that lay flat against the side of his head, appearing as if he had four ears for each ear.
Charkha had 3 raised ridges that started at the top of his nose above each eye up to what would have been his hairline. The ridges looked like encapsulated brain matter.
He had ridges where his eyebrows would be.
His kids had the same ridges and ears, and was also bald. Bobakh was a typical five-year-old, and loved books and action figures. Calkhi was a typical four-year-old, and loved dolls and books. They were the light of his life!
The ship he and his children lived on had recently welcomed a new Commander. One day, the Commander called him into his Ready Room. The kids were allowed to sit on the bridge with the bridge crew since they were both extremely well-behaved. They sat there playing with a doll and action figure.
Charkha was off-duty but in uniform, wearing a black 2-piece uniform and knee-high boots.
“Colonel, we need to talk about you taking your children with you on patrol. I know your last Commander encouraged it, as alot of our Commanders do, but I don't. This is a military vessel, not a science and exploration vessel. Families don't belong here, especially those with young children.
”I understand you brought them here after your wife died. While I'm sincerely sorry to hear of her death, the current situation cannot continue under my watch.
”I'm not uncaring or unsympathetic to your difficult situation. Please believe me about that, Colonel. I truly do respect what you're trying to do after your wife's death. I'm sure being a single parent isn't easy.
”I know your previous Commander here had no problem with you taking them with you until they're either old enough for school or to stay in your cabin while you're on patrol.
”However, I'm not him. I have my own way of doing things. I'm sorry, but you can no longer take your kids with you on patrols. I'm giving you one week to find a nanny or be transferred to your home planet. They can go on patrol with you until then. You're dismissed, Colonel.“
He and the kids then returned to their cabin after a quick stop at the dining hall for dinner and snacks. He told them they'd be getting a nanny soon and explained why. He then contacted a well-known and highly respected Uugnan nanny agency.
“Ma'am, I'm a widower in need of a nanny for my five-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. I live on a starship and can't take them on patrol with me. I'm looking for someone long-term. Do you have anyone available and, if so, what's the fee?”
“How long-term are you needing a nanny for?”, the agency head asked him.
“Ten to twelve years minimum, preferably fourteen to fifteen years.”, he said.
“Oh. I'm sorry Sir, but the longest we have our nannies assigned to one family is two years. I'm sorry but we can't help you.”, she replied.
He contacted over a dozen more agencies all over the galaxy, and received the exact same response.
The last agency, the 15th he'd contacted, told him the same thing as well. However, the agency head felt bad after learning more details of his situation.
Her husband was a pilot on a ship as well, so she understood the difficulties he was facing.
“Colonel, normally I wouldn't do this, but this is such an unusual case. I think I might have someone I can send you for the many years you need a nanny for.”, she told him.
He thanked her profusely. There were, however, two conditions he had to agree to in order for her to send the nanny to him.
She insisted he pay them a large fee and also marry the nanny since they wouldn't have use of her for the next 14-15 years.
“Marry her? Ma'am, I'm looking for a nanny. I'm not looking for a wife.”, he said.
“I'm sorry, Sir, but those are our conditions. She's new, great with kids and available immediately. It'll take her about three weeks or so to get there, but she can be on a freighter first thing in the morning.”
“Why would it take her so long to get here if she's leaving in the morning?”, he asked.
“Well, it takes that long to get from her territory to yours. She's not Uugnan and has quite a long way to travel.”
“She's not Uugnan?”, he asked.
“No Sir, she's not. Will that be a problem?”
“It shouldn't be. What's her name?”
“Her name's Z'azhana. She's not fluent in Uugnan, although she knows a few words, but she's smart and I'm sure she'll be willing to learn. We'll send her with language instruction disc files she can study on her way there.”, she said, then told him what race the nanny was.
“Oh, I see. Well, hopefully it won't be a problem, since we're far from allies with her kind. Our races are actually enemies. How would we go about getting married, and how will you get permission for her to travel to our territory?”, he asked.
“You'll each sign a Connubial Arrangement And Agreement Form. I can send it to your small-screen along with our contract. Once it's signed, you're married.
”Your fee will include travel costs from her territory to your ship. When the freighter arrives in your territory, she'll be transferred to an Uugnan freighter.
“That freighter will then contact you for your ship's coordinates and drop her off once they've arrived at your ship. We do this type of thing regularly. We'll get the necessary clearance for her.
”I assure you the fees are quite reasonable, especially considering she'll be traveling on three different freighters through four different territories to get there to you.“, she said.
He wasn't very thrilled about the situation, especially since he didn't want to remarry, but Charkha was desperate so he agreed.
Less than hour later he'd received both the contract and Connubial Arrangement And Agreement Form. He signed them, then sent them to the agency along with the fee. It was done, with six hours to spare.
After receiving confirmation of everything, he asked a female crewmember to watch Bobakh and Calkhi for a few minutes, then went to the bridge and asked to speak to the Commander in his Ready Room. The Commander said yes, and Charkha followed him in there.
”Sir, I found a nanny and signed everything about ten minutes ago. It'll take her about three weeks or so to get here, but she'll be leaving her home planet first thing in the morning.
“I have confirmation here, Commander.”, he said, handing him his small-screen for him to see.
The Commander looked at the forms. He raised an eyebrow at seeing the nanny's race, and that Charkha had agreed to marry her in order for her to arrive there so he'd be able to stay on the ship.
“May I take Calkhi and Bobakh on patrol with me until my wife arrives, please? Once she's here, I give you my word my kids won't be going on patrol with me anymore.
”My wife will even be teaching them since we no longer have a school here.”, he said.
Charkha was having trouble getting used to saying the words “my wife” after being widowed for so long and having to remarry so unexpectedly.
“Alright, Colonel. While it's true I'm strict, I'm not an unreasonable man. I told you that you had to find someone in one week or be transferred, and you did what I told you to do.
”I assume this woman is the only one you could find. Am I correct in that assumption?”, the Commander asked, clearly not thrilled with the woman's race.
“Yes, Sir. I contacted 15 agencies throughout the galaxy, and she's the only one I could find whom an agency would send due to the length of time I need someone to help with my daughter. I'm sorry, Sir.
”I'd have preferred someone of a race we were allies with, but she was all I could find.”, he said.
“Alright, Colonel, this woman can come here. You can take Bobakh and Calkhi with you on patrol until she arrives.”, the Commander replied.
“Thank you, Sir. Commander, will my wife have the freedom of the ship, mainly the observation deck, chapel, library, fitness center, pool, dining hall, etc., so she and my kids don't have to stay in our cabin all the time?”, Charkha asked.
“Yes, I'll allow it. Calkhi's a sweet girl, and Bobakh is a darling boy, and I don't want them to feel they're being punished, nor do I want you to feel that you're being punished because your first wife died.
“Colonel, under the circumstances, I'll guarantee this woman's safety here. I'll also explain your situation to my superiors and do my absolute best to ensure her safety will be guaranteed. I'll wait until she's been here a few weeks before I contact them. We'll see what they say at that point about her being here.
”If they won't allow it because we're not allies, then I'll have no choice but to transfer you. However, I'll do my best to give you your choice of where you'd like to be transferred to if we end up having to go that route.”, the Commander said.
“Thank you, Sir. I appreciate this. I'll understand if, after all this, you need to transfer me.”, he replied.
“You're very welcome, Colonel. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. You're an excellent pilot, and I'd truly hate to have to lose you unless absolutely necessary.”, said the Commander.
Z'azhana awoke very early the next morning. She had a shuttle and freighter to catch, and a very long trip more than halfway across the galaxy ahead of her.
She'd been surprised about her new job as a nanny for two Uugnan children and their widowed father, and shocked to find out she was to marry him. An Uugnan husband had NOT been in her life plans! However, she had signed the Connubial Arrangement And Agreement Form, so she was now the wife of an Uugnan. There was no getting out of it, no matter what.
She'd also been given six months' salary and a bonus as compensation. It was just a fraction of what he'd paid the agency, but would provide her with some spending money for awhile.
After packing her belongings, she was ready to go. She'd showered the night before in the motel room she'd rented for the night. Until the day before, she'd been living in a homeless shelter for several weeks. Having received her money from the agency, she'd decided to treat herself to a comfortable night in a motel.
When the pilots arrived at her motel room, she followed them out and boarded the shuttle. Twenty minutes later they were aboard the waiting freighter.
After two and a half weeks, traveling on 2 freighters, she boarded an Uugnan freighter for the last leg of her trip.
She was nervous on that freighter since her race and Uugnans were anything but friendly, but she was treated cordially the whole time she was there.
Z'azhana was now five days away from meeting her new Uugnan husband, stepson, and stepdaughter.
She stayed in her cabin the entire trip, with the exception of one trip to the ship's observation deck. She didn't want to make the crew any more uncomfortable than they already were by her presence there.
She ate snacks and four sandwiches she'd brought with her from the previous freighter she'd been on, drinking tea, carbonated drinks, and water.
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