((Deck 13 - A Strange Experience))
When she could see again, the first thing she saw was herself. She was lying on the floor of Deflector Control, her eyes were shut. Raga was leaning over her, he was mouthing words but made no sound. She looked down at her hands, they were her hands, and she wasn't frightened but she couldn't help but wonder if she was alive or dead. A voice answered her.
Prao: Still poking around in places you shouldn't be, eh Jojo?
She spun around. Only one person called her that. It was unmistakably the voice of her deceased brother.
Kiliak: Prao? How is this possible?
He smiled, but then turned away. Kiliak chased after him, but he moved with an impossibly fast step. She couldn't catch up. He disappeared into the Turbolift, but when she entered it, the lift was empty. It came to life with a quake and took her up to the next floor.
((Deck 12 - The Kiliak Breakfast Table))
She stepped out of the lift and was engulfed in blackness. As she walked, buzzing lights began to pierce the black veil, vibrating in the black. She looked back for the lift, but it was gone. Her body drifted, helplessly, like seaweed swept up in an unknowable cosmic tide. Just beyond the edge of her sense's peripheries, she knew there were creatures of insatiable appetites lurking, stalking her. A red sun approached her, then with a thunderous crack, split open, pouring forth its golden honey into a cup of Deka tea, its steam rising, twisting, forming the golden blue hues of the Jenatris Cloud.
Beside her mother's cup of Deka tea, the morning's Hasperat Stew cools on the breakfast table. A man has come to the door to whisper and to scare them. Jo sees herself slinking low beneath the table. Why is mother crying? But she knows why. Today is the day they learn the rest of the story, they learn what happened to Prao. But she just saw him! He's fine, he's okay! She wants to tell them all, but she cannot find her voice. It was all a lie, it never happened. The man lies, he says Prao was shot down, killed by Gul Multak, and she couldn't believe it then and she was right, she was right, she knew it all along.
Then there is another person at the table. She shouldn't be here. The beautiful, dark-eyed alien sits at the breakfast table, her name is all X's and L's but Jo cannot remember her but is sure she knows her from somewhere. They make eye contact there and the woman's eyes widen with surprise, and then Kiliak is falling, falling upwards into the infinite blackness of those eyes. Kiliak screams.
((Deck 11 - In Line at Ashalla Spaceport))
Jo screamed and her vision was blurred with tears. She feebly kicked at her mother's shins with tiny feet, her mother muttered curses Jo had never heard before. The Bajorans around her each stare at the dirt, and everyone knows this feels wrong, other children are crying, other mothers are scolding. The ship is ugly, it looks like it will fall apart before it gets to orbit, it will be too hot inside, she hates it, she hates it, she wants to stay here on Bajor with her friends, with the woods behind her Uncle's house, with the Bickett that sometimes would come to her window for a surreptitious snack. Bajor is all she knows.
Her mother places her on the ship's ladder. She doesn't cry anymore. She looks up, and dutifully climbs the rungs.
((Deck 10 - Bajoran freighter Tol'Riki))
Inside the ship it is another ship, one she recognizes, the freighter Tol'Riki, the first interstellar ship she came to truly know backwards and forwards, and there in the [...]pit, she sees herself, a grown woman now. She inhabits this other self, this mirror image, and she leans deeply over a man with a high-ridged nose in the pilot's seat. She places one hand on his chest. He smiles shyly, looking at something else. She looks down at herself, at her body filled with youth and vigor, the memory now like a haunted mirror, a sick wave of envy passing over her for powers now bygone like Moba rotting in the late autumn, here was a woman who was basked in irresistible light and didn't know, who only scratched the surface of learning that she could take whatever she wanted from men. Otti. She has him in this moment, in this simple smile, and she will have him for months, weeks, nights until one hour, an hour when after it passes, never again.
Otti: What do you say? You take the copilot chair and see what it's like to drive from up here for once?
Kiliak: Just like that, hm? Close the airlocks and make a break for Risa?
Kiliak looked out the viewscreen. The station beside them blinked with lights, and traffic of small droids buzzing about. Then the black, pulsing with stars, calling. She looked back at Otti, and he opened his mouth to speak, but the voice wasn't his and the words were all wrong.
Otti: Request emergency medical transport directly to sickbay. She has the foreign device in her hand.
It didn't make any sense. She looked at her hand and saw she was holding a tacklebox.
She looked ahead. There, through the viewscreen. Out there. She could swim to the surface of the River of Stars. She dived.
((Deck 9 - The Frontmost Edge of the USS Atlantis))
It was so ordinary to swim through space, she wondered why she never realized she could do it before. She spun round into a backstroke, looking back at the shore of the ship, her Atlantis, so large and beautiful, and there sitting on the frontmost edge was Captain Brell, wearing a floppy hat and bearing a long, stringed pole.
Brell: Oh good, you have it! Just what I need!
As Jo sat beside him, Brell selected a lure from the tacklebox and cast his rod into the Cloud.
Kiliak: I'm really confused. Are you here? Am I dead? I can't believe what I am seeing.
A comet streaks past them, the fiery cobalt light warming Kiliak's face, engulfing her in blue.
Brell: The eyes tell capricious lies. Appearances are deceiving.
Something is tugging on the line. He reels it in carefully, expertly, coaxing the strength of this unknown nebula swimmer to him with gentle, controlled turns on the reel.
But all of a sudden, the line snaps with a flash of lightning. Kiliak looks back at Brell, but it will not be Brell she sees.
Gul Multak: You will follow me now, Kiliak Jo.
She will run. She will try for the shuttlebay doors. She will not make it there. Leather-faced guards will tackle her to the ground before she makes it to the courthouse door.
((Deck 8 - Cardassian Holding Cell))
These four walls.
Tomorrow will be the Gratitude Festival. She will not eat. Gul Multak comes to her door.
Gul Multak: Eat, child. You cannot truly expect your pathetic protest will come to anything. Nobody will notice your death. Eat.
She will not touch the food. She will look up, through the small viewscreen. She will see herself, in another year, another night, another Gratitude Festival, with friends gathered all around. She will imagine she can fly there with a simple thought.
Ensign Kiliak Jo