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Lt. JG. Alora DeVeau - "The First Trial"

Sedrin Belasi

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((Deciduous Forest - Unknown Realm))

::She could smell the forest before the darkness faded to reveal it. The sharp, crystalline scent of deciduous chill playfully tickled her nose and was followed by the appearance of colour. Yellows, golds, and oranges were tinged with undertones of red. Beneath her feet, a carpet of the bright hues softened any of her movements but there were still leaves that clung to the limbs and branches, not quite ready to hand over the glory of Autumn to Winter's kiss.

It was a scene that held a hint of familiarity among the unfamiliar, a forest of her dreams, perhaps, or a conglomeration of places she had visited in her various travels on Terra with her family. She twisted about, behind her a path stretched on to infinity, but somehow she sensed she had already come down that path and it would do no good to backtrack for to do so would get her no wear. She returned forward and was faced with a decision. Before her, two paths stretched onward, one angled to her right, the other to her left. The one to her right was more pronounced, the leaves well trampled, the path clear. The other, to her left, was less obvious. There was a sense of direction, but if it weren't for a certain arch of the trees, a specific way the bushes bent back, it would be impossible to tell that there was a path there at all.::

Varistha: So which will you choose?

::The voice startled her and Alora literally danced to the side and whirled about only to meet the gaze of the ancient Kubarey who had entered naked when first she saw him. Fortunately, he was currently clothed, but his sudden presence startled her and her eyes went wide in her surprise.::

Alora: Whoa...where did you come from?

::The question was first answered with a soft chuckle.::

Varistha: Where do any of us come from?

Alora: I think that's a matter that is in universal contention.

::Her answer spurred another chuckle and he nodded as he leaned against the gnarled cane clasped in his right hand.::

Varistha: Well then, perhaps it's one we shouldn't worry about an answer to. Rather, perhaps you should focus on a more immediate question.

::Alora followed the old Kubarey's gaze back to the paths in question. They remained unchanged save for a gentle dancing of leaves across as the wind teased them into a dance. With the wind's kiss, the forest commenced a whispered song, the breeze sighing its melody and mingling it with the branches' gentle clatter and the leaves' soft, enthusiastic jangling.::

Alora: Where do they go?

Varistha: Another good question, but one I can not answer with too much clarity. They are the paths of your life. You must choose which road to take.

::With his cane, he pointed to the clear path.::

Varistha: That one is easy, comparatively. You can see it. The obstacles will be mild, the burdens light. It's a guarantee to a happy ending with little trouble on the way.

::The cane arched up and over to direct the girl's attention to the other path, barely visible as several leaves danced upon the wind to come and rest upon their fallen brethren.::

Varistha: That one. That one is less certain. There's a happy ending, but even so it depends on whether you master the obstacles upon the way or the burdens that will weigh upon your shoulders. Yet, the reward that it leads to is greater. Via that path, you will reach your heart's desire. I must warn you, it is more difficult than even I can say, but perhaps it will be worth it. If you can traverse it.

::The cane lowered and he allowed it to bear more of his weight.::

Alora: What a choice.

::Alora's lips twisted into a smile as she pondered first one path, then the other. They stretched out before her, both twisting then rising so that what was ahead could not be discerned. One offered certainty, it's ending unknown but pleasant. The other offered hardships, perhaps even danger from what she could glean from the old man's tone, but its reward was greater.::

Alora: Only two paths?

Varistha: Which will you choose?

Alora: I would ask you that question.

Varistha: My choice has already been made, my path already traveled. Neither of these are mine, but yours to take.

::It was a difficult to choice to make. Would the road less traveled offer a reward great enough for its trials? Would she feel a sense of accomplishment if she took the easy route? For a while she remained there, eyes shifting between the two.::

Varistha: I fear you must make a choice. Your time is almost at hand.

Alora: I'm on the clock, huh?

::Eyebrows arched up at the comment, but it also produced another smile.::

Alora: All right. I'll choose.

::Right, or left? Alora stepped forward, one foot in front of the other, but she angled neither way. Rather, she approached the line of trees that rose between them. The underbrush was thick and crackled as she plunged through it. One hand pressed against a trunk to allow for better balance as she clambered over. She had forged only a foot or so when she heard the Kubarey call to her, bewilderment rippling through every word.::

Varistha: What are you doing?

::With that hand still braced against the trunk, Alora craned her neck to peer back at him.::

Alora: There was a famous poet on my planet by the name of Robert Frost. He wrote a poem once that said this.

'Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

::The Kubarey allowed himself a moment to ponder the words, then spoke again.::

Varistha: But you took neither path, either the one well worn or the one less traveled.

::Alora's face brightened, her smile twinkling within those emerald eyes.::

Alora: You're right. I didn't take either of those paths. :: she paused to face forward and continue onward.:: I'm going to forge my own.


Lt. JG. Alora DeVeau
Science Officer
USS Mercury

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