== Mandukar ==
== MD 13, late day ==
The long ride was over. The Flambeau wouldn't be released by Parthes until the new year, but the USS Avalon had reached port. Bruno and Chase stood to the side on the bridge while the ship maneuvered, always an impressive sight, to pass the doors to their dock inside the walls of a crater. The moonbase proper filled the neighbouring one.
Hands were shaken, over a last round of thanks and parting wishes. Bruno headed one last time for his quarters, then out of the ship through a gangway. His luggage was light. Except for what few things he had at Camp Paradisio, all his personal belongings had remained on the Flambeau, along with everyone else's. He had a new duffel filled with some basics. In a couple days, a starship would take him to Earth.
Dominic was waiting for him, since they would be accommodated with quarters at Mandukar until they travelled back together. Among the pack of Avalon and Flambeau crewmembers walking in the same direction - shoreleave - Bruno didn't notice at once that his friend wasn't alone, standing by the entrance into the lunar subway.
"Dad! Papa! It's Dad!" a young female voice thrilled through the air.
Bruno's head turned automatically to the right. His eyes popped out as he caught sight of three entirely unexpected figures. There stood Victoria, his third ex-wife. Hopping up and down and waving was Fabiola, who looked way taller, at 12, than he had seen her the last time. Then came Gabriel, 19.
"My job is done, I'll catch you when I catch you," Dominic interjected with a sound pat on his shoulder. "Ciao everyone!"
The moment was a whirlwind. Bruno ended up in a group hug. Victoria was first to step back. Since the Flambeau never disappeared officially in the first place, Starfleet hadn't done its usual round of reaching out to next of kin. Bruno had sent messages to two ex-wives and one adult son, to his parents and grand parents, "la smala" in general to advertise his arrival over Christmas.
He hadn't expected this. April, Victoria and Augustine had always been good as part of the club of his exes, for the sake of the siblings. It wasn't unusual for the children to spend holidays together. Why Gabriel would come at Mandukar or any of them was a mystery, that Dominic had left without explaining.
"Gabe has been staying with us for a while," Victoria said. "You thought you wouldn't make it this year, Bruno. I decided to take everyone on an adventure before..."
She got interrupted and Bruno pulled them aside from a noisy group, who swerved to give them a wide berth when they noticed his pips. "Captain. Sir. Happy holidays Sir."
"Everyone's at that place, Carthage," Gabriel said with the slow drowl he affected these days. "Nonna and Nonno are sort of playing there..."
"A huge tribute jazz festival," Victoria corrected with a roll of eyes. "Not, 'sort of', Gabe. Anyway, they invited everyone over but we couldn't all leave on the same day and ship. Your bright daughter figured out we could catch a connection at Mandukar."
It was a detour for certain. Bruno got the idea at once. Fabiola had kept asking to see his ship and the places he went to. Suddenly Mandukar had popped on her radar. He traded a glance with Victoria and embraced his daughter again. She was beaming with pride.
"How much layover do you have?" he tried to ask, drowned by Fabiola's chatter. The finer details of the story could wait for later. Gabriel pulled the duffel from his father's shoulder and flung it over his back. Somehow he was one inch taller already. His mother was a tall woman.
"There's that Romulan restaurant," he nodded vaguely where he must imagine the moonbase was, respectively to them. To Gave, it was always chow time somewhere in in the universe.
Bruno chortled freely. Life had caught up with him. Tamad was right. Families were good that way.
OFF: I did my job and delivered us all at Farlong Reefs ;) Where everybody goes from there, let's find out in shoreleave posts! All Flambeau crew is under compulsory recup time for a couple weeks at least. Enjoy, and happy holidays to us all, here on Earth ^^
Capt. Bruno Marini