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Lt. Trovek - Path of the Prophets - An Open Door

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((Bajor, Raijalla Valley, Unity Temple))
Ferri and Geleth had been taken, and instead of waiting at home as Lukin had told her to, Arys had cleaned her face from tears and left the hotel they were currently staying in. Shutting the door behind her had been freeing and given her the sense of actively doing something, even if it defied Lukin’s wishes. With Jeni by her side, she had left the building and followed the same way Ferri and Geleth had taken. They had wanted to go to the temple, and Arys had the same destination.
As the sun slowly began to set, the market on the plaza was in the process of being closed for the day. Wares were removed from their displays and booths were shut down, but the smell of yeasty baked bread, local spices and musty fabric lingered. Arys would have liked to visit the bazaar with Geleth, had she known that there was a market so close by. Had Arys agreed to take Geleth to the temple, even if only once, she would have seen it. Had Arys agreed to take Geleth to the temple, just today, the girls wouldn’t have disappeared. But Arys hadn’t wanted to, and when the little girl had begged, she had asked Ferri to take her there. And now they were both gone.
‌Arys blinked away a few tears as she felt Jeni’s hand on her shoulder.
Jeni: Let’s keep going.
Trovek: Yeah...
‌Arys sighed defeatedly and followed the path leading through the centre of the market and towards the temple. Unity Temple’s central dome was distinctly Bajoran and glistened in the last rays of sunlight, but most other architectural elements belonged to other cultures. Eight spires flanked right and left, and Arys knew Lukin would appreciate the nod towards Cardassian architecture. In contrast to that, the wide, squared archways reminded of Klingon or perhaps Terran influences. Behind the dome-shaped structure was a lower building, perhaps a place for the Vedeks and other religious devotees to remain during their pilgrimage, and a squared building with large windows likely served as a visitor centre or museum. 
‌Arys knew that one of the buildings held the Orb of Wisdom in a protected chamber, and while she hadn’t asked Jeni where exactly they were going, she could only assume that the artefact would hold the answers she was looking for, and once they had entered the temple she remained blind to the beauty around her.
Despite the fact that the festivities had come to a close a few days ago, the temple was visited by worshippers and tourists alike. The latter kept to the main part of the temple, where paintings and sculptures and similar that had been taken and sold during the Occupation, were displayed. Arys knew that they had made their way home to Bajor over the past decade, but didn’t care much about art and architecture.
She cared about very little else than Ferri and Geleth’s return.
At least that’s what she liked to tell herself, but the truth was that Arys noticed her thoughts again and again returning to her mother instead. The woman Arys blamed for everything that went wrong in her life, and of whom she was convinced to have something to do with what had happened.
And yet, Jeni’s words had given her pause, and now resulted in almost intrusive thoughts.
‌What if it wasn’t her?
What if I got it all wrong?
‌She moved away from the tourists and followed the pilgrims towards the direction of the prayer rooms, and from there, steered into the direction of the orb. She knew that people experienced visions and guidance, and if she was looking for either, surely the orb was the right place to start. The only problem was that Arys evidently wasn’t the only one in need of an encounter with the Orb of Wisdom - people queued patiently, and the entrance was guarded by two temple workers in beige uniforms. Arys looked over her shoulder where Jeni gave her an encouraging nod, and approached the two guards.
Trovek: We… would like to… ::beat:: I don’t know.
‌She only vaguely motioned into the direction of the door, which seemed to be enough.
Guard#1: You and that… creature?
Trovek: No, me and ….
Arys looked over her shoulder again, expecting Jeni to be standing right behind her. But the woman had disappeared, and Arys turned her gaze once more to the temple worker, and then slowly looked down at Geleth’s Hornicorn. A sudden thickness in her throat signalled the onset of tears.
Trovek: It’s just me.
Just her. Without Lukin, without Geleth, without her mother, father, grandfather and brother.‌
Just her. Without Ferri, Foster and Tito and Aine.‌
Just her. Without uniform, pips, fancy position and office.
‌Just some half-Bajoran woman holding a children’s toy in her hands.
‌The guard sighed in annoyance - probably not at Arys in specific, but it was likely that this wasn’t the first time today that someone asked for an exception and an opportunity to skip the queue of waiting individuals.
Guard#1: I understand that, and I can can only tell you the same I am telling everyone else. You will have to wait. ::pause:: Like everyone else.
Trovek: Wait? But I need to-… I…
‌The other guard shook her head.
Guard#2: I am sorry, but there is just no way.
Trovek: My daughter is missing!
Her voice was shrill and her plea desperate, but neither the temple workers nor the people around her seemed impressed by it.
Guard#1: Quiet it down. Please.
Reflecting on this encounter a few weeks later, Arys would understand that she wasn’t the only one with a tragic story and a need for guidance. But at there and then, Arys was about to simply push past the guards when of of the Vedeks approached. The elderly woman seemed to have been attracted by the noise, and her bright eyes settled on Arys.
Pekrile: What is going on?
‌Finally someone willing to listen to her. Arys took a calming breath, trying desperately to regain her composure before she spoke.
Trovek: My child is missing, that’s what! Everyone always says the Prophets have answers, and I am here now, but those people won’t let me GO to the orb to GET the answers.
Pekrile: How about… how about we go over here and just… talk.
The woman motioned towards a corridor, and gently took Arys’ hand at the same time. Arys didn’t want to ‘go there’, but followed regardless. She realised that she had been making a scene - Lukin would have hated that - and people were looking at her with a mixture of pity and annoyance. Or maybe it was compassion, and Arys imagined the rest.
Arys vaguely noticed that the prayer she led to was in the back of the temple, and perhaps even private to the Vedeks, Prylar and Ranjen monks who travelled here. It was quiet, comfortable, and the elderly woman lead Arys to one of the cushioned areas.
Pekrile: My name is Vedek Pekrile, what’s your name, child?
‌Arys knew that it was the usual way for a Vedek to refer to basically anyone, but part of Arys wanted to protest at this description. Then again, she was close to tears and hugging a Hornicorn. So maybe the ‘child’ was more accurate than she cared to admit.
Trovek: Arys.
Pekrile: Arys. ::she smiled:: You said that your daughter is missing?
Trovek: Yes… she… she and a friend of mine disappeared. My partner is looking for them, and I was supposed to stay at home but… I guess I was convinced to come here.
Pekrile: Convinced?
Trovek: A friend came by. She is more into… this… than I am. She said I would get answers here. She was… evidently she was wrong.
‌The woman remained silent, giving Arys a chance to sort through her feelings.
Trovek: You must get sick and tired of people turning to the Prophets when they want something.
Vedek Pekrile gave a gentle smile.
Pekrile: It is something very normal, Arys. ::pause:: Children often run ahead, believing themselves all grown-up. And then they fall and return to their parents for comfort.
That was true. Geleth often did the same. She was all brave and Cardassian until something spooked her and she held onto Lukin’s hand for the rest of the day. And sometimes, in the middle of the night, there was the pitter-patter of tiny feet moving into their bedroom, followed by Geleth climbing into bed with them.
But Arys didn’t have any memories of her being the child and seeking comfort. Sileah had been an absent mother, and emotional warmth wasn’t something Arys was likely to get from her.
Trovek: I am… not good with that metaphor. My family situation was… difficult. I think my mother has something to do with my daughter.. maybe…
She had been sure about this not long ago, but now? Arys wasn’t sure what she was supposed to believe any more.
Pekrile: I do not know your mother, but harming ones own child or grandchild doesn’t come easily to someone. You don’t seem sure that it was her.
Trovek: I was sure. Now I am not any more. I just…
Pekrile: What is it?
She swallowed hard, and buried her face in the soft fur of the plushy.
Trovek: I want my family back… 
She wanted Geleth and Ferri and Lukin safe and happy at home. She wanted her grandfather to not be dead, she wanted her father to not be gone, she wanted Aaron to be a normal older brother, and she wanted her mother to help her figure out how to be a decent parent.‌
Pekrile: Sometimes all you have to do is open a door.‌
Open a door. A very common metaphor, used across countless of cultures and species. Arys usually associated the phrase with familiar hiss of the doors to her office or her quarters. But today, something else came to mind, and she remembered a conversation she had with Jeni, a few days ago, when she had visited Aaron’s home.
Jeni: Sometimes answers are hidden in plain sight. ::she shrugged:: Maybe in that secret room.
Trovek: The.. what?
Arys asked, but she knew exactly what Jeni meant. The room with the locked door, which Hilja had called the 'prayer room'. Arys had thought about it as 'secret room', largely for her own entertainment, but she hadn't said it out loud.
Jeni: The room with the locked door.
Trovek: The prayer room.
Jeni nodded and Arys sighed. Find answers in prayer. Really?
Jeni: ::sensing Arys' apprehension:: Maybe not now. Maybe opening that door won’t make things better. ::She paused, letting the silence settle, before eventually, she added:: But it’s odd that a prayer room should be locked, isn’t it? Why do you think that is?
Trovek: I… suppose it’s to keep people from going inside?
Jeni: That is one out of two options.
Arys was sure that Vedek Pekrile hadn’t meant a literal door. She knew perfectly well that Ferri and Geleth were somewhere else, and she was surprised as she sensed herself getting up.
Pekrile: What is it, Arys?
Trovek: I have to open that door.
She was well aware that none of this made any sense and that the rational thing was to sit down or to return home. But she also knew that she was going to do neither of these things.
‌[End Scene]
Lt. Trovek Arys 
Chief Medical Officer 
Starbase 118 Ops


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