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It had only been a few hours since Jorey came aboard the Tiger-A. He was in his quarters trying his best to make it his own. Rich natural fabrics covered his bed with a dozen or more pillows of different colours, sizes, and fabrics piled on top. His eyes moved up toward the empty glass case on the wall above his bed. He knew exactly what needed to be displayed in the case and was filled with the warmth of his own memories. He pulled out a plain, dulled metal bat'leth and let his mind wander to six months ago. * * * * * * Jorey held the rugged Klingon in his arms, enjoying the moment, as they laid there on floor. Jorey knew that Koroth would be embarrassed when his grandmother walked in, but decided to let it happen. Jorey hoped it would help the Klingon become more comfortable with the openness and honesty Betazoids are accustomed. “Well don't you two look absolutely pornographic.” His grandmother's tone was dripping with mischievous intentions. It was obvious she was doing her best to embarrass the two young warriors. Koroth stood up slowly, completely naked, and stood there for a moment. Jorey sat up to watch the spectacle. Koroth smiled and walked toward her slowly until he was standing right beside her. He leaned into her, kissed her cheek and spoke gently, with a hint of defiance. “Always a pleasure to see you, Ambassador Jorey.” Koroth circled the chambers and collected his clothing while the Ambassador called in her entourage. Jorey could feel the energy in the room transform from a playful affair to something more sacred. His Tassa’Akai master and the family high priestess came into the room followed by his grandmother's servants. Koroth made his way to Jorey and spoke while he wiggled his way back into his pants. “I will be back.” He said in a Klingon bluntness that Jorey had come to appreciate. “I have something in my quarters for you.” Koroth placed his forehead against Jorey's for a brief moment to show his affection before leaving. “Come, little one.” Jorey's grandmother said sweetly gesturing to the next room. Her false demeanour faded to reveal the truth within her. “We only have a few moments before this travesty against civility must take place.” “This is not....” Jorey tried to explain, one more time, but his thoughts were interrupted by his grandmother's voice in his head. ~I just don't understand this. Fight when you must. When there is no other way. That's what you were taught.~ She placed her hand gently on his shoulder and led him to the next room. She knew that Jorey's mind was set on fighting. ~Grandmother, I must fight! This is my way of proving my love to Koroth and it is the only way to make his family, his brothers, and his world believe that I am worthy to be loved by him.~ Jorey explained. She knew he was right. She also couldn't help but feel pride knowing that her grandson truly understood the precious and sacred place of love. So much so, that he was willing to give up his own life to exalt in its truth. She was about to say how proud his grandfather would be of him, but Jorey said it first. ~He's here with me. I know he's proud.~ Jorey smiled as they entered the next room. The next room was dim, lit only by a trinity candle. Jorey's grandfather had explained its significance to him when he was a child. The centre flame represents Betazed and the goddess Karawati. The two outside flames are the twin moons of Betazed and Karawati's sisters, Yimone and Retana. They represent the ebb and flow of oceans, the inhale and exhale of breath, the push and pull of thought and feeling. Jorey could see the figures of two servants filling a small, shallow stone pool with water and the freshly plucked petals of bright coloured, delicate flowers. The aroma of Sea'Nu filled the air as the smoke from a small pile of soldering incense weaved around the room. Jorey's grandmother moved toward the pool, stopped at its base and let her robes fall to the floor. She turned and extended her hand out to Jorey. Jorey moved forward, took his grandmother's hand and stepped into the pool. His grandmother joined her servants and knelt in front of the pool. Jorey's Tassa'Akai master and the family's high priestess let their robes fall to the floor before stepping into the pool on either side of Jorey. The high priestess reached out her cupped hands holding a pair of white crystal earrings. “Kylaron, tenth child of Karawati, son of the spirits of perseverance, Mirini stone in the great ancestral circlet of Krysaros.” The priestess spoke the words in Betazoid as she knelt down and gently dipped her hands in the pool to let the waters cleanse the Mirini earrings before offering them to Jorey's grandmother for safe keeping. The priestess unclasped the necklace she wore around her neck and took the ornate medallion it held into her hands. She raised it in the air and spoke the traditional prayer of peace and harmony before twisting open the medallion to reveal the thick, bright red mixture of oils and crushed berries, reserved for this ancient ritual - The Incada. The priestess dipped her left index and pinky finger in the mixture as Jorey closed his eyes. She pressed her finger against his eyelids and spoke in Betazoid. “Quiet your thoughts and focus on the blood of Kylaron flowing through your body.” She paused a moment and then let her fingers trace down his cheeks, over the corners of his mouth and down his chin. This left pronounced bright red around his eyes that lined and slowly faded down his face. Jorey focused on his pulse until he could feel the ebb and flow of the blood travelling through his body. The priestess gently entered Jorey's mind and began the Incada. She began sifting through his mind, clearing it of fears, self-doubts, hesitations, apprehensions, and distractions. It is a deeply personal and delicate process. However, the family priestess was extremely experienced and moved quickly through his thoughts like a sculptor madly chipping away at a piece of stone to reveal a image – perfect and beautiful. Meanwhile, the servants began to wash Jorey. They scented his body with a variety of different oils and infusions as they sang the creation song of the tenth house of Betazed. As Karawati danced in the Opal Sea, Her sisters faded in the third moon's light. The night of one moon, set the spirits free, And the soul of the sea rose into the night. From the passions of the earth and of the sea, Came forth the tenth son, blessed without sight. No jungle, no valley, no mountain he could see, But he learned to feel, to sense, and to fight. Kylaron, master of perseverance and father of Tassa'Akai, We honour, love, and revere you this night. “Karawati has cleared your mind and body. The blood of Kylaron reveals the truth within you. Give thanks and be reborn, Brayden Jorey, Son of the tenth house of Betazed.” Jorey's grandmother stood up and offered her hand. Jorey took her hand and stepped out in a semi-trance state. His Tassa'Akai master stepped out of the pool and retrieved a long piece of purple fabric from a servant. His master began to wrap the fabric around each thigh, then his waist, finally tying it in the form of a short skirt around him. At the same time, his grandmother put a Mirini earring in each of his ears and gently entered his mind so not to break the trance prematurely. ~These are the Eyes of Kylaron, made from the Blessed Crystals of Rixx. You are now their guardian.~ She left his mind as gently as she entered. Jorey kept his attention forward and moved to the main room. Koroth was there and started for Jorey as soon as he noticed him. Jorey's grandmother signalled for him to stop and even though no one spoke, Koroth seemed to instinctively know the sacredness of the moment. The Klingon held out a plain, dulled bat'leth and offered it to Jorey. “Qabatlh.” Koroth announced as Jorey took the bat'leth from his hands. In that moment, having just completed the Incada, Jorey was able to recognize the great importance of Koroth's offering. Finally, after all this time, Jorey experienced unconditional, open, and honest love from his Klingon friend and for the first time truly believed that Koroth was his Imzadi. * * * * * * Jorey set the bat'leth into the glass case over his bed and recalled the events of that momentous day. Jorey went on to defeat a celebrated Klingon warrior to win the tournament and earned the distinction of being one of the very few non-Klingons to achieve Champion Standing. Jorey was proud of that achievement. His Tassa'Akai master even more so. Koroth, even more proud than that. However, for Jorey, the bat'leth that now hung over his bed did not represent his achievement in battle that day. For him, it represented the honour and unconditional love Koroth gave him that day. Ensign Brayden Jorey USS Tiger-A Helm Officer