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A Cry for Help

Posted on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 @ 2:47pm by Chief Warrant Officer Akina Jrez & Kasik Torr

Mission: Wolf In The Fold. Season 2, Episode 1
Location: Bajoran Temple, DS7

Jrez lay awake cogitating. He thought of making an appointment with a counsellor. There was a new one on the base he’d heard was good – maybe he should talk to her; someone with a fresh perspective, someone not carrying any baggage or preconceptions.

No, a counsellor wasn’t what he needed. Jrez wasn’t a spiritual person. He’d been raised without any religion. Both his mothers had been agnostic at best and more than likely atheists though neither of them spoke of any beliefs they might have held. Nonetheless he felt the need for some sort of guidance. He resolved to visit the temple the Vedek had established on the base.

If nothing else, he told himself, it would be good for the Vedek to get some non-Bajoran custom.

The temple was down on the promenade – a slightly tucked away corner, but it wasn't hard to find by the smell of the aromatic candles. The light spilling from the entrance was warm.

As Jrez entered, he found himself in the main temple sanctuary – where services were held. Several rows of seats faced towards the area at the front – an open space with a table, covered by a cloth of elaborate Bajoran design. The seats seemed to be a little haphazard at this point – scrounged from unoccupied sections of the station, and highly mismatched. The temple seemed to be in the same state of disorder as the rest of the station.

An elderly Bajoran in formal looking robes stood up the front, near the table. He turned as Jrez entered, regarding him silently, with a sombre expression.

Jrez was surprised that the Vedek was so old. For some reason he expected a younger person. He had not the least clue why that should be – maybe he thought all the older clerics had been killed during the Occupation.

The man said nothing, his expression remaining impassive.

“Seventy one years!” a voice suddenly proclaimed from the doorway at the back of the sanctuary. The elderly Bajoran turned.

A younger Bajoran – perhaps in is mid thirties – in plain, slightly shabby clothes appeared through the door with a book in his hand, pointing to something on one of the pages and looking pointedly at the older man.

“Seventy one years since anyone's used the rite of Maklesh. And since then we've had how many mass funerals?”

The older man said nothing in reply. The younger one shook his head in obvious frustration.

“Why would you even bring that up? It's going to be hard enough finding the relatives. How would that possibly make anything any better? Seriously!”

The older man continued to say nothing. After an uncomfortable pause, the younger man finally threw his hands in resignation.

“Fine! Fine. Just... prepare both! I don't care any more. If you think we need Maklesh, we'll do Maklesh. Just... go! Go!”

He waved his hands in a gesture of 'I don't want to think about it any more!' The elder man nodded silently, and strode reverently through the door at the back, disappearing into the rear chambers.

The younger man paused, and took a deep breath. He breathed it out slowly, apparently resisting the urge to let frustration get the better of him.

Then he noticed Jrez. He blinked in surprise.

“Oh... I'm sorry! I didn't realise you were there.”

He looked at Jrez, squinting slightly with the effort of recall.

“Don't tell me... Warrant Officer... no... Chief Warrant Officer...Jay-rez? Is that right? I've been trying to remember faces from the personnel information starfleet sent through.”

“No ‘ay’ ”, Jrez replied. Maybe that’s how it was pronounced on Bajor.

“Oh. Well... how can I help?”

“Two matters, Jrez replied, then hesitated. He wasn’t at all sure this was a good move but he needed guidance. He felt keenly Thalal’s absence; she always provided sound, level-headed advice. Maybe that was the place to begin. He outlined Thalal’s suffering and slow rehabilitation.

Kasik nodded.

"Tricky, but you wouldn't be the first person to be torn between two important duties - in this case duty to one you care about, and duty to starfleet. It would be a lot harder if both duties demanded priority. But in this case it sounds like only one of them does, and the other one understands that."

"Still... it makes it hard when an oath of loyalty takes you away from those you care about."

“Her shen contacted me last night. I don’t know how familiar you are with Andorian genders.”

Kasik frowned.

"I understand there's four, and that their marriages are rather complex, but that's about all I know."

“I’ve known Thalal some time now and I’m still not sure I understand them,” Jrez admitted. “The shen is one of the two genders roughly equivalent to what you and I would call female. The shen is the one who conceives the child. The zhen is the one who carries it to term. Thalal herself is a zhen. However, she has always been close to her shen. Anyway, her shen contacted me. Thalal’s condition is improving slowly but steadily. There’s good days and there’s bad days as is, I suppose, to be expected but on the whole.... On the whole things are looking up.

“It was a surprise that she contacted me. We didn’t exactly see eye to eye while I was on Andor. She regarded me an interloper. To be fair, she probably looked on me in a similar way to how I’d see some non-Trill watching a joining ceremony. The ceremony is intrinsically Trill and the essence of who we are. It’s not exactly a spectator sport and for Andorians with their unique sexuality and must be much the same.”

"Yes," Kasik nodded, "I can see that being hard. In some ways you don't have any official position in an Andorian family unit, which makes the interspecies thing... far more difficult."

"'Love' is such a confusing word. You know... the old human dialect 'Greek' apparently has four unique words for love. 'Eros' means sexual love. 'Philia' is platonic love, like you might show to a friend. 'Storge' is family love, as between mother and son. And 'Agape', is... well, you might call it sacrificial love."

"It sounds like it'd be hard to put your finger on exactly which of those you're supposed to be feeling towards Thalal. That's the tricky thing. You don't really have much to go on what your relationship is SUPPOSED to be. And gut feelings are notoriously unreliable in love. You must be feeling a bit off the map at the moment, without much guidance to go by!"

Then he moved on to his concerns about Kriss Max without mentioning names. “There is a Trill of my acquaintance who I think might have Devares’ Syndrome. It’s when the symbiont tries to take over the host rather than living symbiotically with it. It tries to subsume the host’s personality and desires in the interest of driving it’s own. The host merely becomes a vessel for the symbiont. It is rare but not unknown and...well, as I said, I think that this particular Trill has it. I’ve not raised the matter with the Symbiont Commission because it is...well, it’s very much a taboo subject. Accusing a Trill of Devares’ Syndrome is like accusing a Klingon of being honourless. No, it’s far worse than that. If it’s true, the symbiont is destroyed and the host does not get rejoined. In fact, many hosts don’t survive the experience. If the accusation is incorrect, the accuser is ostracised. Often the symbiont is taken away which can kill the host but if he or she survives, they are forever excluded from Trill society.

“My problem is not so much what to do. I need to gather proof one way or the other. My question is a moral one of prying into the affairs of a fellow joined Trill – one who might well be doing nothing wrong. That’s why I’ve come to you. I’m not a particularly religious person but I just think this might be more your field than a counsellor.”

Kasik smiled.

"So... I'm being called in as an independent ethics consultant. Fair enough."

"So you have suspicion of something so serious that it could destroy reputations if you're wrong, and lives if you're not."

"Only have limited familiarity with the Trill system of law and morals, but... let me ask this. What are the worst case scenarios here? What's the worst that could possibly happen if you do intervene here, and what's the worst that could happen if you don't?"

“Worst case? If I’m right the Max symbiont will be removed from Kriss. Once symbiont and host have been joined for more than 93 hours, a new symbiont must be implanted within hours or the host will die. Even so, the disgrace and shame usually kills the host. The symbiont is returned to its pools but as it will not be rejoined, it is tantamount to a death sentence for it too.

Kasik didn't react to the introduction of the actual names. He knew not to abuse the trust Jrez was placing in him.

“If I’m wrong? I’ll find myself in front of the Symbiont Evaluation Board. I will have to explain why I brought such prejudicial charges against a fellow joined Trill. Given the abhorrence in which Devares’ Syndrome is held, if I can not justify myself then the Jrez symbiont will be removed from me and I will, in all likelihood, die.”

Kasik looked thoughtful.

"Hmm... so the moment you make the accusation, someone's life gets destroyed. The temptation to just pretend it isn't happening must be pretty enormous. But if you're right and you say nothing, you're dooming the next host to... death, effectively. To be joined to a symbiote that will subjugate it's personality permanently."

"And what are your options? What can and can't you do about this?"

“I can not just turn my back on this. As I see it, I have to do something. But if I just watch and collect information it feels like I’m prevaricating; that I’m just shuffling around while hoping that somehow it will all go away. Maybe Max will be posted elsewhere and it’ll become someone else’s problem; maybe the Kriss host will successfully assert himself and I won’t have to worry any longer. The former is just dodging my responsibility and the second is – let us be honest here – forlorn.”

Kasik nodded.

"I guess it would be hard at this point to tell the difference between reasonable caution and fear about confronting this, but as far as I can see you've got every reason to go slowly and carefully. From the sounds of it, this Devares’ Syndrome is an accusation to take very, very seriously. I think you'd be acting wisely to go carefully and make sure. Build up a body of evidence! Be as sure as you can."

"As for the ethics of prying... Well, when two moral issues conflict, you need to decide which is most important. That's a dangerous door to open, to look through someone's life without giving them a chance to explain anything. You'll have to decide if the need is great enough that you can justify it. And if you can trust yourself with what you might learn in the process."

Jrez considered that for a long moment. “I don’t know if I can trust myself, Vedek, but I suppose I’ll never know if I don’t find out. Thank you. You’ve given me much to consider but I think I can see a way forward. If you’ll excuse me, I have some serious thinking to do.”

Kasik nodded and smiled.

"Not at all. You're welcome! Good luck with it - I'll be praying for you!"


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