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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 5 – Answering the Call (ATC)

ATC 013 – A Daughter of Bajor

Starbase 72
02.04.2401 @ 1230
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“You completed the Death Chant.  You honored your mother’s memory.  You prayed for her.  You have done everything that was asked of you, Ensign Athena.”

Athena Catari sat in the sanctuary of the Bajoran temple on Starbase 72, her heart not convinced.  “Then why do I still feel the sorrow over my mother’s passing, Prylar Tay?”  The young Bajoran sat crumpled within herself, dismay and fear crossing her face intermittently.  Her mother had passed after a long illness a month ago, and the posting to the Mackenzie had come in two weeks ago.

Tay Polata had lived many years and felt all ninety-five as he sat beside his charge.  He had known her family in the old days of Bajor during the occupation and had found his way into the Federation to help guide those far from home.  He shifted quietly in his seat, “I have learned many things in my life, Athena.  One such thing is that grief is a monstrous thing. It is not easily beaten, solved, or circumvented.  It holds onto us with an unholy grip.”  Polata turned to her and touched her shoulder, “We can only learn to battle with it and strengthen ourselves through open combat with it.”

Catari leaned into his shoulder and his embrace, “Do we even vanquish it, Prylar?”

“Do you mean, does it ever go away?”  She nodded, and he replied, “It is a monster we can learn to tame after a long war, but it will always be wild and unstable.  It is prone to reveal its true colors and attack without warning.”

“This does not give me the hope I needed, Tay.”  She felt her eyes well up and her heart tense at the emotions she was trying to control.

He held her close, “Hope is not a strategy, Athena.  You cannot activate it at your leisure.  It must be a part of you in every moment, hour, challenge, loss, and win – you must make it as much a part of you as your lungs or heart.  It is how your parents and family survived the occupation.  Hope as the air we breathed, the food we ate…it was if the entirety of our life was the hope itself.”

She scrunched up her nose, “That sounds…awfully hard, Prylar.”  She didn’t want to admit to him that his long rambling sermon had hit home and made more sense as he continued to speak.  She knew the stories of her mother and father’s fight to stay alive when the Cardassians held a knife to the planet’s throat.  It had been a constant topic as she’d grown and had increased after she’d decided to apply to Starfleet Academy just over four years ago.  They had been worried about her and the dangers she would face in the darkness of space.  Now only her father remained, and the loss of his wife had hit him hard.  She’d sent him a message earlier in the morning and still hadn’t received a response.  Her father was the most punctual and attentive man in the universe.  The space left by her mother had sent the balance of his life into a careening tailspin.

“It is hard, Athena.  It is part of this life we must live – to live is to bring glory and honor and to be a representation of the Prophets.  We are afforded the rest we need, but it is never permanent rest.”

She nodded, remembering his teachings, “You must keep in motion.  Life is determined by motion, by action – not by waiting or wasting time hoping for better.”  She sighed, “You are almost always right, Prylar Tay.”  She stood and checked her PADD.  A message was there urging her to report to the Mackenzie.

He feigned offense, “Almost always right?”

She stuck out her tongue and accepted his hug as he stood to wish her the best, “You can’t always be right.”

A chuckle as he rolled his eyes, “I can try pretty damn hard to be just that, Athena.  May the Pagh of your mother walk with you.”

She gave him a quiet bow and left the temple.  He turned back to the room and silently prayed for his young friend and the journey ahead.


  • This is such a heartfelt post, seems like a much-needed moment of stillness. I love "hope is not a strategy" and the overarching philosophy the Prylar offered and then you go and punch it up with the "almost always right" button. So funny. Warmth and humour all rolled up in one. Great characterisation, here!

    April 10, 2023