23 December 2401 (Earth calendar)
Sweat ran down Temerant’s back as he jogged one final lap around the Ty’avyt Nature Park. The rush of endorphins was just as sweet as Bast desired. For Lamorra it had been swimming, for Willem it was rock or ice climbing, and for Temerant it was jogging, but each of Bast’s hosts had their own way of getting their blood pumping.
One month had passed since Temerant Lochees had been joined with the Bast symbiont. His leave of absence for the Joining had been approved by Starfleet Command, during which time he had gotten to know himself, and started to integrate some of the life experiences from the previous hosts. But he was starting to itch for some action, and hoped that Starfleet would come through with transfer orders soon.
He’d met with Wilem Bast’s family in the Zhian’azoth, a Trill ritual that allowed the symbiont to say goodbye to its previous life, and allowed the previous host’s family and friends to have one final moment with a loved one.
It had been a bit awkward for Temerant – just as awkward, he recalled, as it had been for Wilem, when he had inherited the Bast symbiont from the first host, Lamorra. But he suspected that it had been even more awkward for the family, hearing familiar words coming from an unfamiliar face, one decades younger than the previous Host.
The ritual had lasted barely five minutes – Wilem’s family being the ones to cut it short. Bast would greatly have wanted a few more minutes with its – or rather, with Wilem’s – children, but it knew better than to force the issue. The symbiont’s need to grieve for its former life was just as great as the family’s need to grieve for a loved one.
For the integration period, Temerant Bast had settled back in the Lochees family home. The familiar surroundings had comforted him at first, but what was familiar to Temerant was also new to Bast, and this duality was unsettling. In some ways, he imagined that it might be like someone rediscovering their memories after a bout of amnesia.
He finished his lap around the park and walked the two blocks back to the household, cooling down and catching his breath. The Bast symbiont was pleased with this new body, which was proving to be entirely satisfactory on every level.
Temerant walked in the front door and fetched a towel from his room, wiping the sweat from his brow and the back of his neck. He then walked into the kitchen and ordered a cup of iced matcha from the replicator. As he smelled the semi-sweet green beverage, he heard a sigh from behind. He turned around, and saw his mother seated at the table, looking at him over her breakfast.
”You used to hate tea,” she said, a hint of disapproval in her voice.
”Good morning, Mother,” he said.
”And you never used to call me that,” she added. “You called me Mom. Remember?”
”I know.” Temerant sat across from her at the table. Laurian might have been Temerant’s mother, but she wasn’t Bast’s. Instinctively, the symbiont had adopted the more formal “Mother” instead of the Host’s habit of calling her “Mom”.
“Lamorra liked tea,” he said, “and I guess the Bast symbiont got hooked on it through her.”
Laurian merely nodded, and took a sip of her own tea. “And was Lamorra also the one who consistently forgot to put her dirty dishes back in the food dispenser?”
Temerant blushed, and grinned sheepishly. “No,” he admitted. “I guess that was me.”
How odd it felt to be sitting across from her. The dichotomy of knowing her so well, as only a son can know his own mother, coupled with the experience of just getting to know her as a complete stranger from the symbiont’s perspective, was almost giving him vertigo.
Laurian put down her cup, and looked at her son. Or rather, the person who looked and sounded like her son, but was somehow different.
“I didn’t know your father before he was Joined,” she said. “So I can’t compare. But I know you. I’m afraid you’ll lose yourself in the joining, and be overwhelmed by the symbiont and all of its… past selves,” she said, searching for the right words.
Temerant smiled. “Don’t worry, Mother,” he said. “I’ve always been more resilient than you gave me credit for. I’m in control.”
Laurian’s eyes filled with tears. She swallowed them back, and merely smiled, and nodded her head. She put a hand on top of his, and gave it a loving squeeze. Wordlessly, she got up, cycled her empty dishes in the replicator, and left the room.
Temerant raised his cup and took another sip of matcha. It was true, Temerant Lochees had never cared for it. He’d been a coffee drinker, and lots of it. But it was one of the many things that had changed since being joined – if only because the symbiont remembered how too much coffee had caused Willem heartburn.
He had a newfound confidence. Temerant had been a fairly introverted person, but now he was forthcoming, sure of himself, and more determined. He had more energy, more stamina, and he was hungry for new experiences. His engineering knowledge remained his own – none of Bast’s previous hosts had any knowledge in Engineering, though Wilem’s expertise as a scientist would also prove useful. Certainly his experience as a manager on several major projects for the Trill Science Ministry was considerable, and Starfleet was bound to be interested. Not to mention Wilem’s time as a particle physicist and his expertise in weapons research during the Dominion War.
The communications station beeped, indicating that a message had come in.
”Would you get that, Tem?” called out Laurian from the living room, where she had retreated, reading the morning news reports on a holotablet.
Temerant walked over to the console, and turned on the viewscreen.
“It’s for me,” he said.
He opened the message, and read the transfer orders. The note, from Vice Admiral Gabriel Allon, Director of Starfleet Operations for Sector 026, instructed him to report to Deep Space Nine within the week, and await the arrival of his assigned vessel, as Chief of Operations – though the cryptic message failed to identify either the vessel. There were also a slew of various health forms that needed to be filled out to declare him fit to return to active duty following his Joining.
Bast gave a silent chuckle – Hosts might change, but bureaucratic mentality never did.
Lt. Temerant Bast
Chief of Operations (in transit)