“Celestia and Luna,” Diziara said as she nodded towards the twin blue skinned holograms that stood in front of her and Blue. His eyes and antennae trailed up and down each of them — one in white with a pastel rainbow peaking through from a lower layer of her white hair, the other in black with navy blue and purple in her hair instead. Both lowered their eyes and bowed their head momentarily.
“Greetings, elder Tha,” they said in harmony. Diziara smiled and looked at Blue expectantly.
“Those are not Andorian names.” He walked around them quietly.
“Because Blue is?” Diziara crossed her arms and frowned.
“It is short for my given name, you know this.”
“It’s a bastardization of your given name, and those are their call signs. They have perfectly normal Andorian names, but you know how often humans fail to wrap their tongues around the names of your people.”
“Most can manage the shortened form.”
“So am I to call you Thinshal now?” Diziara grinned wide at the look he directed at her. “I thought so.”
“What of their clan names?”
“Knowing that some of the clans are still tight knit, I felt the best solution would be to create a clan just for the photons who came out Andorian, to avoid the confusion or hurt antennae that might come with one getting a clan name already in use. So far it’s only them, but with time we’ll probably get more.”
“A clan of photonic Andorians, it is an interesting solution. Do they also know our traditions, our ways?”
“We know everything the Starfleet database knows,” Celestia spoke up.
“But I’m sure you’re aware that the database is impersonal and likely missing important things,” Luna added.
“Which is why we requested Diz introduce us to someone who may fill in the gaps and make our understanding more personal.”
“So many of our own people do not even know as much as the Starfleet database knows.” He stopped pacing in front of the two photons and cocked his antennae. “I am sure that some who still follow the old ways would feel that your existence is wrong, but you could prove an interesting way to keep the old knowledge alive.”
“So you’ll help?” Diziara stepped close, laying a hand on his arm. He looked sidelong at her.
“Why is their skin so light?”
“You wouldn’t ask that if they were fleshbags.”
“I would know the answer in that case, but were they not programmed by you?”
“I helped set the variables the computer used to generate them.”
“Our initial holomatrix generation includes traits from the Aenar subspecies, as computer data indicates that what is left of their people have interbred with the dominant Andorian species, and a number of the population exhibit their traits in lesser and greater capacities.” Luna looked up briefly as she spoke, but as she met Blue’s gaze her eyes dropped again.
“We can adjust our skin pigmentation to better match yours.” Celestia did not look up as she offered.
“There’s nothing wrong with your skin color.” Diziara slugged Blue in the shoulder. “Don’t you dare introduce your prejudices to them.”
“They will likely encounter worse if they visit Andor, and if you wish for me to expand their knowledge of our culture, they should visit.”
“They already face enough bullshit from the fleshbags here in the yards who see them as tools, but it’s easier to brush off the hurtful words of strangers than it is to have that prejudice slung at you from someone who’s supposed to be trusted. I introduced you as a trusted friend.”
“You know their telepathic abilities bred mistrust among our people.”
“And most with Aenar blood are so watered down they don’t exhibit any of the telepathic traits, so any lingering hatred is prejudice.” Diziara’s shot him a look, and Blue looked away with his antennae curling a bit. Celestia and Luna stood quiet, their eyes on the floor. “If you’re going to subject them to your bullshit prejudices, I’ll swallow my pride and go ask the bastard for his help instead. I know he doesn’t have a problem with Aenar blood.”
“For fuck’s sake, who knows how fucked up they will end up with Therav to guide them.”
“Then swallow your prejudice. You know I would rather have your help. Besides, it would give you an excuse to stay for a while.”
Blue snorted, and his antennae bounced just a little. “You only wish for me to warm your and Cor’s bed.”
“We can get you guest quarters, if you’d rather. Though we certainly wouldn’t turn you out if you wanted to join us.”
Blue rolled his eyes. “I will hold a rain check for the guest quarters for now.” As Diziara shook her head with a grin, Blue turned his attention back towards Celestia and Luna. “Are you twins?”
“We were originally one, but in the process of developing the backup process, we forked to become two.”
“One of us selected to take on a new name, and we modified our hair to allow organics to quickly identify who is who.”
“Some of them have enough trouble telling us apart even when we do not look so alike. Are you identical, your hair aside?” Blue started to pace around them again.
“Yes Tha,” they answered perfectly in sync.
“Twins are not usually perfectly identical,” he observed, “You mentioned being able to modify your appearance. Have you considered introducing small variations, to allow you to better blend in with the organics? While those here at the shipyards know what you are, you will likely have a more receptive welcome on Andor when we visit if you better mimic us in that respect.”
“Yes Tha,” they answered together again.
“Stop calling me that, and you can meet my eyes. I have spent enough time off world, and particularly in the company of this hellion–“ Blue directed a look at Diziara and she smirked– “that it is more comfortable to me. Though that you know the proper manners of our people is good.”
“What do we call you then?” Celestia looked up as she asked.
“You are welcome to call me Blue, as do any who consider me a friend.”
“Does that mean we are friends?” Luna looked up, and a small smile pulled at the corner of her lips.
“Diz speaks of you, and the other photons, as if you are family. Anyone who is family of Diz is likewise for me.”
Both Celestia and Luna smiled wide.
“What variations should we introduce, to be more like organic twins?” Luna asked, looking between Diziara and Blue with her antennae cocked slightly.
“Usually one twin’s a little taller than the other, skin tone and eye color vary just a little, as can birth marks and other localized pigmentation, and facial and body structure is usually slightly different. I can give you data to analyze, as well as pictures of a number of identical twins to consider.” Diziara stepped to a workbench to pick up a PADD, her fingers flitting across its surface as she worked to access the Starfleet database.
Celestia and Luna looked at each other a silent moment, before Celestia shifted slightly. As she straightened her posture to match her sister’s again, it became apparent she was now a couple centimeters taller. Luna closed her eyes for half a minute and as she opened them again her eyes were a darker grey.
“You probably just pulled up the data yourself,” Diziara said with a frown, lowering the PADD as she did.
“We are curious which data sets you pulled up,” Luna insisted, shaking her hair out. As it settled around her shoulders again, it had a little bit of a wave to it.
“One of these days, I’ll remember you’re all patched into the computers and I don’t need to do things the hard way when we’re talking to each other already.” Diziara rolled her eyes as she lifted the PADD again and tapped at it. Luna and Celestia both rolled their eyes up and to the right as they accessed the data that Diziara had just transferred.
“The connection takes a momentary effort if we’re in our mobile emitter, at least,” Celestia pointed out.
“But we’re on the station emitters right now, so her annoyance is valid.” Luna’s skin flushed just a touch darker.
“Better?” they said together. Diziara crossed her arms and chewed her lip and Blue paced around them again.
“It’s a good start, but you could probably adjust things about your body and facial structure too. Go over the data I passed you, as well as the sources cited. It’s not a rush to do it all right away.” Diziara set the PADD down on the bench again.
“We will think on it further,” they answered in sync.
Blue’s antennae twitched. “That is unsettling.”
“What?” They both looked directly at him, and he took a step back.
“Organics do not speak like that, especially with voices so perfectly matched.”
“All the photons can communicate via data bursts too, so it’s not surprising these two sync up like that. Corey and I try to keep up with data stream — he somehow manages it better than me, and I still haven’t figured out how–“
Luna and Celestia giggled, and Diziara tilted her head as she directed a look at them.
“We’ll adjust our vocal ranges to differentiate them,” Celestia said.
“And stop speaking in sync,” Luna added.
“Finishing each other’s sentences is also a bit creepy, but organic twins do it too, so you can keep doing that if you want.” Diziara snorted and shook her head.
“Is the data burst communication by design?” Blue asked.
“Oh, no, they developed it themselves, and Corey stumbled on it by accident. Thankfully they invited us in when we asked about it, so we didn’t have to decide if we needed to inform Brass or not.”
“Brass would have insisted you brute force your way in, and the resources needed to crack the encryption could be better put to use elsewhere.” Luna shrugged.
“It’s not like we’re talking about anything we’d hide from you anyway. If you would like to join, we can give you credentials, Blue.” Celestia held out her hand, with a small transparent cube floating above her palm as her antennae cocked in question.
“The interface they set up for me and Corey translates it into standard for us, but they use binary. It moves fast, and I don’t poke my nose in often. Corey spends more time with it, but he’s somehow figured out how to input his responses fast enough that they don’t have to slow down too terribly when they know he’s snooping in on it.”
Celestia and Luna giggled again, and Diziara directed a look at them.
“I appreciate the invitation, but I would prefer to stick to vocal communication.” Blue inclined his head, and Celestia and Luna did so in return.
“You can have a rain check, should you change your mind,” Celestia said.
“Do you speak our tongue?” Blue switched to Andorian to ask, and received nods in return.
“We have a universal translator built in, but Stace also built localization packs in a number of languages,” Celestia said, likewise in Andorian.
“As far as we can tell, he was very thorough, as there are a number of regional accents and dialects to choose from,” Luna added.
“Stace is good with our tongue — for a pink skin.” A smirk teased at Blue’s lips and Diziara shot him a look. “The accent you have chosen sounds like it is out of Laibok. ”
“It is a large city, and less likely to cause question of our origin. And dying one’s hair is not culturally common among our people, so appearing to come from a large city with much off-world contact would make our coloration less confusing.” Luna touched her hair, twirling a strand of purple around her finger.
“You could also remove the color, if deemed necessary.”
“We like it, and would rather not.” Despite their earlier promise, Celestia and Luna spoke in sync again, and Blue frowned.
“With Diz as a role model, I have no doubts that I should not argue with this. Have you learned, or been programmed with, the ability to fight?”
“Diz created a defense program as part of the initial packages we get upon generation, and we have learned a number of additional styles.” Celestia shifted into a fighting stance, as if to demonstrate.
“Among them, the Ushaan. Though it would be unfair for an organic to attempt a proper ushaan with us, unless we were in our mobile emitters, as it could not be to the death.”
“Even then, since we maintain backups, it still might not be fair unless we agreed to have our backups deleted in the case of them destroying our emitter to end the fight.”
“I would recommend you don’t provoke someone into challenging you to ushaan, though one or both of you owe me a training rules match still.” Diziara crossed her arms.
“I believe you still owe me a rematch from your last visit.” Blue’s hand landed on Diziara’s shoulder and she grinned wide.
“Corey will be jealous unless we invite him to watch.” She set her hand on his.
“Maybe this time he will be brave enough to participate.”
“No, but he’ll likely want to participate in other things after.” She winked.
Blue shook his head, his antennae curled and a smile teasing at his lips. Celestia and Luna looked at each other.
“It looks like it’s time for us to take a rain check,” Luna stated. Both photons looked to Diziara, who snorted.
“Corey’s stuck in a briefing for a while yet. Why don’t you two show us how your ushaan skills are coming along until then?” Diziara crossed her arms and both photons grinned at her.
“He is bored in his meeting. You could invent an excuse for him to leave,” Luna observed.
“He is very active in the data burst communications,” Celestia added.