Haumea Colony

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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All The Light We Cannot See: Epilogue

Posted on Sat Nov 6th, 2021 @ 11:04am by Lieutenant Jai
Edited on on Sat Nov 6th, 2021 @ 11:06am

Mission: What Lies Ahead, Between, and Behind
Location: Bajor
Tags: jai
2588 words - 5.2 OF Standard Post Measure

B A J O R
SPACE STATION DEEP SPACE NINE
==================================


The wheel-like door rolled away, revealing the station corridor on the other side of the airlock. A thin crowd of travelers spilled out from the transport, a sea of Starfleet uniforms, Bajoran people, and a myriad sampling of various alien races.

Not the least of which was a rather curious child.

His head shaved, the elaborate mandala tattoo that crowned his head was visible in the light as the young monk emerged, dressed an earthy red shirt and skirt that marked him as a Tibetan Buddhist, with a saffron shawl draped over the left shoulder. There was no decoration, save for a strand of prayer beads that were draped from around his neck.

“Jai!”

As the child stepped down into the docking ring, the boy turned at the sound of his name. A Bajoran monk was making his way against the tide of people until the two were face-to-face in the hall.

Bowing, the youth dipped his head respectfully as he offered, “Peldar joi.

Peldar joi,” the monk echoed, returning the greeting before he added, “Your Bajoran is coming along. Your pronunciation is better than my nephews, in fact...”

A simple smile lit up the boy’s face. “I’ve had a few years to practice,” he noted casually, before inclining his head slightly and adding, wryly, “And those texts you recommended were not exactly light reading.”

The monk nodded his head faintly, then said, “I was surprised when I received your message that you would be celebrating here. I figured you would have preferred to see the festival in the temple nearer your home.”

“After I presented my research to the Vedek Assembly, it seems the Federation Science Counsel now has an interest,” the smaller monk supplied, before adding, “Not expected, but not unappreciated either. It offered me an opportunity to visit your temple in time for the festival.”

The Bajoran took a step back, motioning off to the left as the pair fell into step through the docking ring. “You 'll want to change into a uniform then?” the man asked, looking over the boy’s religious habit.

The child’s head seemed to weave from side to side. “I hadn’t thought about it until you asked,” the young monk admitted candidly. “Part of me wants to say that the wisdom of what I have to offer has no bearing on what I choose to wear, but... they will probably be expecting a Starfleet lieutenant to at least look the part.”

“I have a room in the temple you can use,” the man offered as the two walked.

Jai gave a slight nod of thanks, though when he spoke he asked instead, “Would you mind if I meditated there?”

The Bajoran man cast a look down at the boy. “Do you have time before your presentation?”

“No...” Jai confessed candidly. “But a monk has certain priorities.”

As the unlikely pair crossed into the Habitat Ring, the Bajoran was silent. As they stepped into a turbolift, however, the man finally uttered, “I admit, you confuse me.”

“You think I confuse you, I confuse myself,” Jai quipped lightly, a gentle smile passing over his face as he inclined his head toward the monk in unspoken question.

“I think of the Federation as a secular body, obsessed with a... dogmatic adherence to science,” the Bajoran monk stated flatly, peering down at the boy as he added, “I don’t normally associate Starfleet with religious faith.”

“You should get to know more Vulcans,” the Only deadpanned dryly.

The man did a double-take. “You are... making a joke?

As the doors to the Habitat Ring popped open, the child followed the other monk out into the Promenade as he answered, “You’d be surprised how spiritual they are.” He paused there a moment to reflect, then amended to add, “To be honest, I think they’re surprised at how spiritual they are. Their rituals are very ingrained in their daily routines, as is an appreciation for mindfulness.”

As the pair passed by an expansive bar – or was it a casino? – the young monk opined aloud, “A good Vulcan is a good Buddhist, and vice versa.”

The Bajoran mused under his breath as the two walked. “I have also read some of your religion,” the man offered, before glancing down to ask, “You are a vedek among your people, yes?”

“Once upon a time, there were people who believed I was such,” Jai offered cryptically. “But I can’t exactly claim to be a shepherd if I have no sheep,” the boy added in the same deadpan.

“I see,” the Bajoran man offered, as the two arrived at the entry to the temple.

“...and a sheep would be?”

The boy gave a weak laugh at the question. Turning his head up, he explained, “A quadruped raised as livestock, mostly for their fur – which is called wool. Because they are a prey animal, they are watched, and safeguarded, and cared for by people known as shepherds.”

“I can see how the metaphor can come to attach itself to religious allegory,” the man said, as he started inside of the Bajoran temple. When he realized that Jai hesitated, he turned back.

“Is it all right if I remove my shoes?” the boy asked.

When the man inclined his head in question, the young Only explained, “It’s an old custom. Monks don’t wear shoes inside of the temple.”

The man bowed slightly, before making a gesture to indicate for the boy to step inside. Bending down, the youth pulled off the sandals that he wore, holding them in one hand as he stepped through the ornate doorway into the holy house.

“You’re in luck as I can show you something,” the Bajoran monk remarked, as the two diverted from the vestibule into the sanctuary.

At the front of which was a pedestal, on top of which rested a ceremonial box. As the man stepped up to the box, he opened the front of it.

When he had stepped aside, Jai observed what appeared to be an hourglass of pure light.

“The Orb of Contemplation,” the Bajoran monk offered.

“Beautiful,” Jai uttered, bowing low.

“May its light offer wisdom and respite as you prepare for your presentation,” the Bajoran monk offered cordially. Then, taking another step back, offered, “I’ll prepare the room for you while you meditate.”

As he straightened back up, the boy turned and bowed a second time toward the monk. “Thuk je che,” the youth offered, slipping into his native Tibetan.

As the temple lapsed into silence, the boy drew in a deep breath. Clasping his hands together, he closed his eyes as he turned the interlaced palms up as he uttered a mantra, “Ga te... ga te... paragate... parasamgate... bodhisvaha...

He fell quiet, letting his mind go blank. There was no space station. There was no temple. There was no meeting. There was no Jai. “Om ga te ga te paragate parasamgate bodhisvaha...

“You exist here.”

The child’s eyes snapped open.

A cold, biting wind ran through his body. A shred of newspaper struck his leg before blowing down the dingy alley of the street.

He was no longer in the Bajoran temple. Or even Deep Space Nine.

This was Lahsa, Tibet.

Craning his head around, Jai looked for who had spoken...

...and found himself looking at one of the Onlies who had survived with them in the rag-tag gang of street kids. The same dirty clothing. The same gaunt appearance, eeking out each day in search of food.

When he finally found his voice, Jai spoke and said, “I don’t want to be here.”

In an instant, Jai was teleported to another part of Lahsa. It was one of the Buddhist temples. Empty. Crumbling into ruins. He couldn’t even recall its name.

It was said if one traveled far enough, they would meet themselves. Jai found himself looking at... himself. “You exist here,” the image spoke.

There were a number of questions on Jai’s mind. Taking a breath, the boy fell quiet as he worked them out in his mind. When he arrived at the pertinent one, he looked up to ask, “Why are you showing me this?”

“You exist here,” the mirror image repeated.

Not the answer he had hoped for... but, in retrospect, probably the one he should have expected. Inclining his head to one side, the boy opted to try a more engaging tactic. “I lived through this for several centuries,” the youth uttered, choosing to leave it at that as he punctuated the statement with, “They’re not happy memories.”

Reality seemed a blur – if this was, indeed, reality – as the child found himself back on Earth. San Francisco, he realized a second later. This was Starfleet Medical Academy. Across from him, in the lecture hall he once knew well, Captain Tiran Amaen peered down at the former student and said, “You want to go back to before.”

Jai paused to reflect on that statement. It was surprisingly accurate for a... hallucination he’d only just met. “I’m not sure that I can,” the boy finally remarked, glancing back up at Doctor Amaen.

Another change.

This was the sickbay on USS Vesta. The likeness of Martin Sorenson leaned across the Chief Medical Officer’s deck and said, “Explain.”

Another change. Jai was seated above a crowd of people. Adults. Mostly adults. Was this his home before the outbreak of the disease?

“It’s... hard to think that far back,” the boy offered honestly. Even now, as he looked around, he wondered if this was what it had looked like. Certainly, it felt familiar. And yet, almost alien all the same. When he spoke again, Jai offered, “It’s the nature of memory. We often remember things as we want to rather than how they really were. It’s hard to know what is real and what is whimsy.”

Rising from his place of honor, the child stepped down into the crowd—which parted to reveal an elaborate sand mandala on the floor of the temple. “I want to remember,” Jai uttered, as he knelt down and looked over the icon. When he glanced up again, he admitted, “But it was a long time ago.”

Another change. Now he was standing in the Vedek Assembly on Bajor, just a week prior to his arrival at Deep Space Nine. The Kai stepped forward and announced, “You want to remember.”

Back on the Vesta. Captain Minawara peered over from across the Ready Room to say, “But you want to forget.”

Mount Seleya on Vulcan. A Kholinar monk in meditation announced, “This is illogical.”

The boy took a breath, his mind reeling as he seemed to find himself bouncing across both time and space. Forward. Backward. A week. A hundred years. Earth. Vulcan. Bajor. And all points in between.

Kneeling down in front of the Vulcan monk, the boy recited, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”

The Vesta’s Sickbay. He was assisting Doctor Sorenson with a surgery. From across the biobed, the man said, “You want to remember.”

Lahsa, Tibet. The dirty, gaunt form of a half-starved Only looked at him and declared, “You exist here.”

“I don’t want to exist here,” Jai said, in his own ears more forcefully than he’d intended. Pausing to take a breath, the boy tried to gather his thoughts before he spoke again. “I want to move on,” the boy explained. “Who I was or the fate that someone else decided for me... this doesn’t have to define who I am.”

A temple.

No, a pagoda. An elderly monk presented a white shawl to the boy. Was this the day that he’d been identified as the Lampada guru? He’d been so young...

“You are corporeal,” the elderly man announced, draping the shawl around the child’s shoulders.

The streets of Lahsa, after the plague. “You exist here,” another child stated.

“Is that a cause or effect?” Jai challenged, aware of the tone in his voice but finding his patience at its end. Gesturing to the ruins around them, the boy looked at the disheveled Only and demanded, “What purpose do I have existing here?”

Mount Seleya on Vulcan. “Your purpose is to remember,” the Kholinar monk declared.

The world seemed to go sideways.

The boy felt as though he was falling. Before he’d even realized what he’d done, he threw his left arm out to catch himself. He’d nearly toppled over, now realizing that he was prostrating himself in a Bajoran temple.

The Bajoran temple on Deep Space Nine.

As realization set in, Jai looked down and realized his body was clothed in black fabric. The bright teal-blue around the sleeve distinguished the uniform. As he looked around, blinking as though waking from a dream, the boy turned his head and found the Bajoran monk standing over him, with quite a look on the man’s face.

“How did I change clothes?” Jai asked, his mind awash with more confusion than questions.

Kneeling down, the Bajoran man asked, “What do you mean?”

Had he lost his mind? “I came in wearing my monk robes,” Jai noted. Was it a statement? Had it been a question? Jai found himself suddenly unsure of anything that had just happened.

“You were wearing your uniform when you returned,” the Bajoran man answered.

“Returned?”

The Bajoran man cocked his head to one side, then offered, “From your meeting with the Federation Science Counsel.”

“The meeting hasn’t happened yet,” Jai stated flatly.

“Jai,” the Bajoran man uttered, pausing a moment before he said, “The meeting was yesterday.”

If Jai had been confused before, now he was completely lost for words. Or even what to think.

“You returned and have been in prayer ever since,” the Bajoran man explained, adding, “You were even speaking a mantra in...”

With that, the Bajoran monk stopped. A look on his face seemed to imply he may have had an answer to a question Jai had not yet thought to ask. But, before the boy’s mouth could open, the man threw up a hand to silence him. “Do not speak of it,” the monk cautioned. “Whatever happened, whatever you saw, it is between you and the Prophets.”

The boy let out a breath, as he seemed to deflate with exhaustion.

“When you returned, you had that in your hand,” the Bajoran man remarked, drawing the boy’s attention to a Starfleet padd that was on the floor by his right side.

“Perhaps you will find something on it.”

With that, the man rose back to his feet and bowed as he took his leave.

For some reason, Jai found he was reluctant to take the man’s advice. His hand hovered over the padd, as though fearful to touch it.

When he finally picked it up, he found himself reading about a place called Haumea Colony...

 

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