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Ferri Emlott - Path of the Prophets - Distractions and Inconveniences

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I love a good cliffhanger.
((Plaza, Unity Temple, Bajor))
Despite the challenges Ops’ crew had faced, Ferri found that she had enjoyed the opportunity to serve a mission with Starfleet - and with Aine in particular. The young woman knew that sooner or later she would have to answer her friend’s questions about her skills and experiences, and Ferri hoped that, by then, she would have an answer. 
More than anything, the mission had made her nostalgic, and she thought back to the time when Garo had sent her on assignments - sometimes alone, and sometimes accompanied by others, but always in form of a finite task to complete. She had found comfort in the knowledge that, upon completion, she would return home, rewarded either with words or actions. 
Her assignment with Ambassador Zorkal was nothing like that. As a mixture of opportunity and punishment, she wouldn’t be able to return home before Zorkal released her. And the older Cardassian didn’t seem particularly eager to do that. 
If only he would treat me as an aide, Ferri thought and sighed to herself. She enjoyed working at the Embassy and learning what Zorkal had to offer and was willing to teach her. But more often than not she was instead tasked with watching Geleth instead. And while Ferri adored the little girl, there was a deep shame connected to the idea of being nothing more than a servant. 
In addition, there were other challenges connected to being Geleth’s caretaker. Last time Ferri found herself in a similar situation was easily a decade ago, when her mother had passed away and she had been taking care of her younger sister Kara. But Kara had disappeared, taken by unknown strangers, never to be found. Geleth reminded Ferri of her sister, and the memory was a bittersweet one. 
Geleth: Ferri? 
She glanced down at the girl, and with a ‘Hm?’ signalled that she acknowledged her question and wanted her to continue. 
Geleth: Can we visit the market? 
Ferri looked ahead at the little huts and tents that filled the plaza in front of Unity Temple, the place they had actually wanted to visit. 
Emlott: I thought you wanted to revisit the temple. We likely won’t have time for both. 
Geleth seemed to consider that, walking alongside her as they approached the plaza. The child had gotten a lot braver, but she was holding onto Ferri’s hand tightly. 
Geleth: Ferri? 
Ferri was fairly sure about what would come but decided to humour the child. 
Emlott: Geleeeeeth? 
Geleth: Can we maybe do both anyway? 
Emlott: We can try. But we don’t want to be later for lunch. I know Lukin cooked Bajoran meals, especially for you.
Geleth: We can be super fast. 
The girl nodded happily, and as they made their way to the market, Ferri could see what attracted her to it. Rows of tables and booths were filled with wares that seemed made for tourists and pilgrims alike. There were framed artistic paintings of the Unity Temple, and miniature statues of the same, and a few merchants offered typical Bajoran herbs and spices, jewellery and literature. 
Somewhere closer to the temple someone was playing an instrument Ferri had never heard before, and somehow managed to interweave its tones perfectly with the laugher of children, the wind fluttering through leafy plants,`and the conversations around them.
Geleth, who had grown up in the Cardassian Union, was in the process of discovering her Bajoran ancestry, and as a result, was obsessed with everything even remotely Bajoran. It was why she had wanted to visit the temple again - she wanted to ask the prophets if it was okay if she prayed to them.
Ferri was interested to hear what they response was.
The two girls passed a booths with local produce where a kindly woman offered both Geleth and Ferri sliced of spiced moba fruit, and another where Ferri purchased a deliciously chewy slice of bread with freshly churned butter for each of them. 
There was a particular stall of jewellery Geleth likely had spotted before, and which she approached eagerly. Aside from promise bracelets, rings and necklaces, there merchandise included several traditional Bajoran earrings. The Bajoran manning the store didn’t look surprised at all as Geleth gingerly extended her hand to touch one of them.
She looked at Ferri, raising both brows in a question. 
Geleth: Can I have one? 
Emlott: I… well, if we we can pay for one, you can. 
Ferri wouldn’t mind helping Geleth afford the trinked, but quickly realized that it wasn’t what the Bajoran-Cardassian hybrid had meant. She shook her head and turned those big blue eyes towards the merchant.
Geleth: I mean, can I have one? All Bajorans wear them. I am also Bajoran. A *Cardassian* Bajoran. 
The poor man didn’t quite know what to say, and if she was honest, neither did Ferri. Even though she tried her best to understand Geleth’s feelings about her non-Cardassian side, she hadn’t experienced similar. 
Emlott: They connect to their faith, so they are more than just something that looks nice. 
Geleth: I know that. But Lukin said I can also have faith. 
Emlott: If Lukin says so, you likely can.
Besides, who would forbid a child to reconnect with her roots? 
Geleth nodded excitedly, eager to pick out the earring she liked best, but before she could get a good look at them, someone interrupted.
Hilja: They are more than just jewellery. They shouldn’t be sold here in the first place. 
Ferri turned around, instinctively tightening her grip around Geleth’s hand, and moving her behind her protecitvely. The speaker, it turned out, was a blonde Bajoran female, a few years younger than Ferri was. The clothes she wore were best described as traditional and kept in earthy tones, the cut wide and airy as if to try and hide the fact that she was quite visibly pregnant. 
There was obvious disapproval in her voice, but what was more interesting was her body language. She remained turned sidewards to Ferri and Geleth, as if to not open herself up to any attack, arms cross in front of her chest. 
Emlott: Maybe you can explain it then? 
Ferri wasn’t particularly pleased at the way the woman acted, but she wouldn’t prove a good example for Geleth if she reacted with similar aggression, or let the stranger walk all over them. 
The woman seemed to be thrown off by the request, but eventually composed herself. 
Hilja: They are not jewellery. They are… something very personal. Before the Occupation, they used to signify someones social caste and whether they were married or not. During the Occupation they were forged from what held relevance. ::she shot the merchant a disapproving glare:: It’s not right to sell them here like a souvenir. 
The man, seemed to care little for the womans complaint and busied himself with other customers. Geleth however seemed to consider the womans words, weighing them before eventually asking:
Geleth: What’s an Occupation? 
Immediately the womans expression of displeasure turned into that of utter disbelief. She opened her mouth, but Ferri shut her up with a quick ‘stop’ motion. This wasn’t the time or the place for the child to learn about that. 
Emlott: It is an event in Bajoran history, but we will learn about that later. But maybe we can inform ourselves more about how the earring works, so that we respect it better. 
Geleth seemed disappointed but nodded, and the blonde semed pleased. She regarded Ferri and the little girl for a moment, and Ferri would have thought the conversation was over, until she spoke up again. 
Hilja: Perhaps you like this? But be careful and don’t let it drop. Use both hands. 
She reached over to the jewellery display and picked up a brooch, its oval shape reminiscent of the Bajoran symbol, and its metal reminding of gold. She handed it to Geleth, who let go of Ferri’s hand to hold it extra carefully like she had been told. 
Hilja: That is much better. ::she turned her attention to Ferri:: Are you her mother? 
Ferri glanced at the woman, but kept her attention on Geleth, who gingerly fingered the brooch to inspect it. 
Emlott: No. 
She didn’t want to elaborate further than that. It took too long, it was bound to make Geleth sad, and it was none of anyone’s business. The woman didn’t seem particularly eager to hear the rest of the story and remained silent. She lowered her gaze, perhaps unsure how to continue the conversation, and Ferri was about to return her attention to Geleth when the woman suddenly moved her hand to her stomach and yelped in pain. She gripped Ferri’s arm for support, and the Cardassian reacted quickly to help her stand. 
Emlott: Do you need anything? Shall I call for a doctor?
There was true worry in her voice. She knew nothing about Bajoran pregnancies, and she couldn’t tell if sudden pain was normal or a reason for concern. 
Hilja: No… no… it’s … it happens sometimes. 
Despite appearing reluctant to be so close to Ferri, the woman held on tightly, using the young Cardassian as a crutch, as she motioned towards an upside-down crate only one or two steps away. Ferri led her there, and once she was satisfied that the woman was seated comfortably, she took a step back. 
Emlott: Come on Geleth, let’s look at the jewellery later. 
Ferri wanted to get out of here. Thus far, most people had treated the Bajoran-Cardassian hybrid with kindness, and Ferri didn’t need this woman to ruin the experience. She turned to where Geleth had been standing. The brooch lay abandoned on the counter, but there was no trace of the little girl who had been inspecting it.
Emlott: Geleth?! 
She called out, swallowing hard. It had been mere moments since Ferri had let her out of her sight, and surely the girl couldn’t have gotten far. Perhaps she had seen something that caught her fancy… sweets, or perhaps toys. There were many perfectly reasonable explanations.
The young Cardassian bit her lip as her eyes scanned her surroundings, desperate to spot the child. She took a few calming breaths - children sometimes wandered off. Geleth was a curious child. 
Emlott: Geleth!

Faces turned to look at her, and Ferri barely acknowledged that her voice had reached a shrill, panicked pitch.
Something happened.
She turned to the merchant who watched his wares like a vulture, barely looking up as Ferri approached. 
Emlott: The little girl that was with me. ::she demanded, hands clutching the edge of the counter until her knuckles turned white:: Where is she? 
Something happened. Perhaps something scared her and she ran away.
The Bajoran shrugged, explaining that he hadn’t seen her, and following up with explaining that it wasn’t his job to watch someone elses child. Ferri barely heard the second part as she forced herself to remain calm, and to ignore the invisible force that slid around her neck and wrapped itself around her mind. 
Something happened. Geleth is a good child, she wouldn’t just run off.
Emlott: GELETH!
The market was loud. Too loud, and too bright. As much as the visitors and tourists tried to avoid the pallid-looking Cardassian, Ferri felt overwhelmingly suffocated by the bodies that pressed against her. 
She gulped down her breaths, counted the seconds, and forced herself to focus her mind, even as the booths and stalls around her started spinning. Squeezing her eyes shut she tried in vain to quiet down the intrusive thought that had started to spread in her mind. 
Something happened. Someone took her, just like they took Kara. She would be lost, just like Kara was lost.
Ferri opened her eyes, once more calling out for Geleth, once more searching for any trace of the little girl.
Minutes passed and she didn’t spot her, but she did just about spot the blonde Bajoran, the woman she had been speaking to, who hurriedly made her way through the crowd. Ferri wasn’t sure if the young Bajoran had anything to do with what had happened, but something told her that she couldn’t let her get away. She didn’t care that people protested as she unceremoniously pushed them to the side as she followed. 
The woman had distracted her, by accident or on purpose. Perhaps she had seen something, perhaps she was involved in something.
The crowd of market visitors thinned, and eventually Ferri found herself at the edge of the market. She just about spied the Blonde rounding a corner, entering a smaller alleyway between the buildings, and Ferri followed. 
Emlott: Wait!
The woman turned around in fear, and Ferri registered a split second too late that she wasn’t alone. Behind the female stood a skimmer, and around the skimmer were three Bajoran men, one of them in the process of loading Geleth’s unconscious body into the vehicle, and one immediately tending to the frightened woman. 
The third man cursed as he spotted Ferri. It wasn’t an exclamation of panic or worry, rather one of inconvenience - an inconvenience that was easily dealt with. He reached for the phaser holstered to his belt and fired without a second thought. 
[End Scene]
Ferri Emlott
Ambassador Zorkal’s Aide
Starbase 118 Ops
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