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Part of USS Dvorak (Archive): Exes and XOs

Interlude (Pay them all in dust)

Bajor, Calash Orphanage
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“—they remain sequestered to this day,” Ranjen Ganjhel said briskly.  Her mien surreptitious, Ganjhel glanced back over her shoulder, peering into the darkened hallway.  After another moment, she appeared satisfied by their privacy in the laundry room.  “The Vedek Assembly remains divided on when the time will come to elect a new kai.”

Her words elicited a grimace that brought pain to Ranjen Elbon Jakkelb’s face.  Earnestly, Elbon asked, “Our Eminence left no writings, not one clue to her whereabouts?”  Ganjhel returned Elbon’s gaze with a flash of truculence behind her eyes.  

Elbon clutched, more tightly, a pile of purple robes to his abdomen.  These robes were the same as the oversized vestments Ganjhel and Elbon both wore, as ranjen in the Bajoran faith.  While the layered robes hugged Ganhel’s form in a regal fashion, Elbon felt swallowed up by the frock.  Looking down at himself, tall and gangly, he felt like a child playing dress-up.

By the time Elbon looked up again, Ganjhel replied with a negative shake of her head.  Elbon mouthed a silent “thank you” to Ganjhel, but no sound came out.  Only when Ganjhel turned to walk away did Elbon find his voice again.  Breathlessly, he asked, “And what of the Emissary?”

With her back to Elbon, Ganjhel remarked, “The rumours have spread… Vedek Tusyem gave a sermon this morning… metaphorically implying the Emissary has taken rest in the Celestial Temple.”

Ganjhel had gone by the time the pile of robes fell from Elbon’s grasp.  For the first time in his nearly quarter-century of life, Elbon felt utterly hollowed out, like Ganjhel had taken his guts with her.  It wasn’t a simple absence.  He had grown up knowing want.  Elbon knew hunger more than he knew satiation.  He was intimate with feeling like he was lacking something, but this was a deeper horror.  This was loss.  Once, he had hold of something, and in a blink it was gone.

Elbon began to paw at his own chest, scrabbling for the hooks and the loops that held his robe together.  He felt no recognition of the wailing noise that escaped him; it may have been a cry, but it may have been a laugh.  He tore the robe from his body and he discarded it thoughtlessly.

Moving like a sleepwalker, Elbon lurched to swing open a closet door.  He dove into the donation bin, tossing aside articles of clothing that had been donated for the orphans.  He felt moved by the hand of the Prophets; his body was not his own and he submitted to their will.  Grasping a garb between both of his fists, Elbon pulled out an archaic Starfleet uniform jacket.  He recognized it by its maroon colour and the white epaulet, even though the arrowhead insignia were long gone.  This, Elbon recognised, was the vestment the Emissary.  Without thinking, Elbon slung the jacket over his bare shoulders, warming himself in the Emissary’s embrace.