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Log of the Month for January, 2002

Posted on January 21st, 2002 by Merienn Kiela

Part One

As Kiela closed their connection with one of the myriad admiralty who had been lavishing their attentions on the Atlantis over the past few days, she had chanced to hear Commander Dolan’s breathless gasp, “Alexi, no!” As Alexi’s mellifluous baritone washed over her exclamation, the connection sizzled shut, but as Kiela returned to the repetitive labor awaiting her on the console, she found herself troubled by the image of them sitting together: him holding her frail, aristocratic form against the barrel of his chest, drying her tears with his solicitous fingers, brushing away wispy strands of her hair, loosed as if to mirror her concern, as they began to adhere to flesh made sticky by weeping. She could see the wide-eyed fear radiating from her eyes in the same way the spokes of her iris radiated from her dilated pupil; she could feel his solid, comforting weight answering her plaintive call. It stirred other memories to the surface. Tarine. Their brief shore leave together on Titan beneath Starbase Earheart. Kiela’s hand rose unbidden to her earlobe. Her earring lying abandoned on a bedsheet in a pool of blood.


The scene was later to haunt Kiela’s dreams. A maelstrom of images and sounds fragmented into nightmare and similar only in that they each evoked a certain sickened, impotent despair in Kiela’s gut would swirl through her consciousness when it was made defenseless by sleep.

The last rays of the setting sun glimmered through the glass of French Windows in a rented room. Tarine’s lips brushed against Kiela’s neck and she smiled, twining her slender fingers through his. “Happy anniversary,” he whispered in her ear, the rush of air tickling like a tiny feather.

“Six months,” she returned, breathlessly. The anniversary was silly and they both knew it; six months since the day they’d met: since the day Kiela had walked into engineering and tried ineptly to find the panels that indicated the power flow from the bridge, and a dashing young Bajoran Lieutenant had gently guided her to the correct console, their eyes meeting briefly, but shiningly, over the schematics. Six months since the evening they’d shyly trysted in the ship’s lounge to whisper awed courtesies over a bottle of hot Saurian Brandy while T’shara sat at a nearby table exchanging amused glances with her friend Juli.

Six months, and it could have been six hours or six years.

They drew close to the bed, sitting on the synthetic sheets, hands enmeshed, eyes locked, drinking in the richness of each other’s company as though it were vintage champagne.

“I want to share something with you,” Tarine said. He stood and lingeringly withdrew his hands and gaze from Kiela’s, then turned and knelt by the carryall he’d left by the door. “Do you know what day it is?” he asked. He smiled. “Other than six months-”

Kiela licked her parched bottom lip, and thought. “No,” she concluded after a moment’s rumination.

“Bei’ani’abo,” Tarine said. “Day of the Honored Dead.” He reached into the carryall, and removed two candles from its recesses. “When we honor the souls of those lost to us in the Occupation.”

Kiela smiled, but felt a tendril of ice creep into her stomach. Despite her earring and the occasional prayer to the Prophets that passed her lips, she was ignorant of Bajoran customs. She had told Tarine she’d been raised offworld, but she didn’t know how far that excuse would stretch.

“The maquis adopted our ritual to honor their casualties,” Tarine went on, carrying the candles, a box of matches, and two ornately carved candleholders over to the white-painted dressing table sitting in the middle of the room. “But they don’t follow the ways of the Prophets. This ritual dates back to the days of Prophecy when the sacred books were still being written-” He turned to Kiela. “They didn’t practice it where you were raised?”

Kiela wordlessly shook her head.

“How strange,” Tarine commented, returning to the dressing table. When the candles were laid out to his satisfaction, he gestured for Kiela to kneel beside him. Still smiling, and still icy in her heart of hearts, she did so.

“Ordinarily, this ritual is performed by a single individual to honor those of his family who were lost to the Cardassian’s brutality-” It was difficult to detect, but Kiela could see the signs of impotent rage building up behind Tarine’s placid expression. “-but I want you to share in my grief, Kiela, that you too may exult in its amelioration by the grace of the Prophets – as we may share everything over the coming years.”

His smile was gentle, and he reached out to take Kiela’s hand. A lingering moment later, he returned to the table.

Tarine lifted his soft, mellifluous voice into the rhythms of a chant. He lit the first candle, then handed Kiela the second match, gesturing silently for her to light the second one and never missing a beat in his incantation.

Kiela reached for the second candle. It caught flame, and Kiela shook out the match. Tarine stared silently at the two flickering lights, and Kiela followed his example. The flames wavered, dancing.

“The first time the candles are lit, it is customary to tell the story of the one they are lit for,” Tarine told Kiela. “I light the candles for my mother and my two brothers. Others in my family died during the Occupation, but it is traditional for the candles to be lit by those who knew the deceased best. I was close to my mother. I was close to my brothers. For me, their death was like unto mine. The prophets have granted me care for their memories.”

Kiela nodded.

“The stories are told only the first time the candles are lit. Stories are precious. They must not be cast like leaves to the wind. They are honored by the flame, but silently, that they may be hoarded as treasures and secrets, their value undiminished by the ravages of platitude or commonality. Their stories must remain fresh and new, and horrifying. To tell them carelessly makes us callous to them; they must remain shocking. We can not forget.”

With that, Tarine pulled himself to his feet and crossed the room. Kiela turned on her knees and watched him with quiet adoration and curiosity. He paused before the French windows, then flung them wide, opening the room to the cool breath of the night air and the pale light of the stars.

There had been many a long night on the Halcyon as they plied their way through the void, that Tarine and Kiela had passed on the observation deck, gently secure in being together and making patterns out of the stars that hung the empty sky like carelessly strewn diamonds. “When I was a child,” Kiela said quietly, pulling herself to her feet and joining Tarine by the window. “I was told that the stars were lit by the virtues of men and women. Looking at them now, they could be candle flames.”

Tarine smiled, and wrapped his arm around Kiela’s waist. “Para’e lasitt,” he said quietly. Grief and joy in one. It was a Bajoran expression used to describe unity and balance.

“Para’e lasitt,” Kiela echoed. Her Bajoran was colored.

Tarine turned away from the window to regard her with puzzled eyes. “Your accent-” he said falteringly. “I thought I heard-” he trailed off.

Kiela wet her bottom lip again, nervously, but the time had come to be honest, and she knew she must face the results. “I want to share something with you too.” She returned to the bed, and turned her back to him, while she manipulated the folds of her leisure gown to expose her midriff and the darkly embossed lines twisting across her stomach. Her mouth opened to form some words of warning that would ease Tarine’s shock, but none came to her lips, and she wordlessly turned back.

Slowly, his gaze traveled to the exposed area of Kiela’s flesh. She saw the change in him immediately. His lip quivered with rage, and his eyes flashed darkly in a way she’d never seen mar his expression before. “What does this mean?” he growled, fists clenched.

Kiela lowered her gaze, and traced the outline of the tattoo with her fingers. She answered him with silence.

“Bitch! Traitor! Slut!”

Kiela tried to lift her eyes to meet his accusations, but she couldn’t.

“You let me- you lied to me- I shared everything with you! You have spit on the graves of my mother and my brothers! Defiled them!”

Kiela was silent. Her eyes traced the outline of the Cardassian word engraved in her flesh. She doubted Tarine understood what the Cardassian script said, but the meaning was clear enough to anyone who had lived through the occupation. “COLLABORATOR.”

Never mind that it had been her mother’s hand which signed their souls away. Kiela’s childhood had been a lie that denied everything the ridges on her nose, the earring she wore and the tongue she used to speak, symbolized. And she was as aware as any of the underlying implication that beneath those features could lurk blood that would have given her a different appearance altogether: the dark-skinned, thick-necked, hollow-eyed countenance of a Cardassian.

“Vampire,” Tarine growled.

It was the term most often used to describe those like Kiela. Like the creatures of legend, they had drained the blood of their people in order to sustain their own lives.

Even now, that word stung. From Tarine’s lips, it was like the blow of a whip..

Kiela was branded outcast. No Bajoran who knew of her past would suffer her friendship. Except T’shara- but Kiela’s truest friend would have been powerless to help her in the face of Tarine’s anger.

“Six months,” Tarine choked out, unbelievingly. “Six-” He reached out and grasped Kiela’s earring in his hand. “How dare you wear this?” He screamed, wrenching Kiela’s head as he pulled. “You’re not worthy of it! You foul it – and them -by touching it!” He pulled again, and Kiela felt the flesh of her ear tear, but before it broke, Tarine pulled his hand away, choking his rage in tears.

Kiela clapped her hand over her earlobe and dared to try to search Tarine’s face for some kind of compassion, but Tarine’s eyes were filled with hate, rapt on Kiela’s bare stomach. The disbelieving pain in his eyes had faded, leaving them to resemble nothing so much as well-polished stone. “Get away, Kiela,” he hissed, finally, the beads of his earring jingling as he turned away from her.

Kiela pulled the sheet over herself, and reached out to touch his shoulder, wordless.

He didn’t turn around. “It’s almost dawn. Get away from here. Get back to space: to your endless night. Vampires can’t stand the light of day.”

After a moment when she didn’t move, Tarine shook his head and stormed out of the room. Kiela reached after him impotently, staring at his retreating form in silence while reality sunk in. He would offer her no understanding. She was condemned.

“Prophets!” She snarled, her tongue tangling with the falseness of the word. She seized the jewel, red as blood, dangling from her earring and tore. Her lobe split with unnatural ease, gushing blood, and Kiela hurled the earring down. It lay on the bedsheet in a well of pooling blood. “Prophets be damned! You’re liars and fools!” Her voice was choked with tears, and she clenched her fist, sliding to her knees. “I swear, Never Again,” she whispered, eyes locked on the specter of her earring.

A breath of wind floated in through the window, and extinguished Tarine’s candle. The last glimmer of light caught the silver in Kiela’s earring and made it shine like a star; like the blossoming flare of the Celestial Temple.

This, Kiela didn’t see. Her eyes were clenched tightly against the world, as though blindness could protect her, and thus she slept until the morning and a pleading call to the starbase brought the solace of a transporter beam and the endless night of space.


Part Two

The first rays of morning, hope gleaming in the splendor of their beams, cast themselves fitfully through the polished glass window and onto the mass of tangled black hair that shrouded Keila’s face from their light. Their playful journey led them to bejewel a fallen tear, then cast the black and purple rose of a bruise into the light of day that never should have seen it.

What deeds were done in darkest night could not be chased away by the light of day. What right, indeed, did that righteous light have to illuminate the dark doings? Better to leave them unknown and unexpressed… shrouded…

Keila lifted her head, neck arched like a bird, and closed the shades so that the tenacious rays were directed toward the floor. Banging her fist on the glass pane, she slid pack into a prone position, and closed her eyes against the intrusion of the sun.

The frenzied note in Kiela’s voice was barely disguised and she jammed her palm against her communicator. “Starbase Earheart. One to beam up.”

“Hold still, will you?” T’shara groaned, exasperated. “How am I supposed to help you if you won’t hold still?”

Lowering her eyes, Kiela obediently held her head firmly in place while T’shara activated her bootleg dermal regenerator.

“I braved sickbay for you,” T’shara complained. “Sickbay! What if Juli had found me? I could have been subjected to a physical. You’d better appreciate this.” A moment later, the hiss of the dermal regenerator subsided, and T’shara cocked her head to get a good look at Kiela’s earlobe. “That’s done it,” she concluded, putting the dermal regenerator aside in a secluded drawer. “I don’t understand why you didn’t want Juli to know about this. How did you hurt your ear anyway?” A mischievous thought crossed her mind, and T’shara grinned. “Tarine give you a ‘love bite?'”

Kiela coaxed her lips into a half-smile which quickly fell away again. “Nothing of the sort,” she protested softly. “It was an accident.”

“Some accident. Looks like someone grabbed hold of your earring and yanked.”

Kiela managed another wan smile, and T’shara narrowed her eyes.

“You’re not telling me something.”

“It’s nothing T’shara,” Kiela said. There was a note of finality in her tone that warned T’shara not to pursue the subject farther. Kiela glanced around the room. “I hate to ask, but I need another favor. Can I stay here tonight?”

T’shara glanced around the spartan guest quarters she was occupying on the Starbase and shrugged slightly. “I guess so, but there’s not much room. What happened to the room you rented with Tarine on Titan?”

Kiela intently examined a crystal turtle T’shara had left on her table as a decoration.

“Let me guess,” T’shara said. “Nothing.”

Kiela stood. “Thank you for letting me stay here, T’shara,” she said. She spared her friend another wan, half-spirited smile, before letting the doors to her quarters serve as a barrier between them.

Later that morning saw Keila, garbed in an orange silkish affair that shrouded the abuses of the previous night, on the Starbase promenade. Carefully, she made her selection of the day’s fruit, piling the acceptable golden orbs in her wicker basket with delicate precision bordering on obsession.

It was silly, she suppposed, to drill her way through this empty routine. Six months of acting for Tarine’s interests as much as her own had driven out her earlier preconceptions of the way to spend a free morning, and so she found herself moving through a masquerade of normalcy, like an amnesiac dancer imitating the movements of a dance.

Finally satisfied she’d gotten the best of the crop, Keila presented her basket to the woman behind the counter. To her surprise, Kiela saw it was the other Bajoran on the ship — Ensign Alois, swathed in a traditional merchant’s cloak.

“Alois…” Kiela stammered, surprised.

“Will that be all for you today, Madam Merienn?” asked Alois with mock-deference, calculating the weight of Kiela’s purchase. Smiling at Kiela’s surprise, she explained, “The business is a family concern. Since the Halcyon stopped here for leave, my aunt put me to work right away.” She glanced around the booth. “I think I get the best of the deal, though. Auntie distills Saurian brandy, and I get a case of her finest for my labors.”

“I see,” Kiela said briefly. As Alois turned to ring up Kiela’s purchase, Kiela gestured back toward the cartons of produce. “You’re out of Kili fruit?” she asked.

“We are indeed,” Alois answered. She proffered the bill for Keila’s thumb print. “We sold our last shipment almost as soon as it arrived.” Eager for her share of the ship’s gossip, she added, “How’s Tarine?”

“He’s well,” Keila half-lied. She glanced askance at the figure on the bill before offering her print.

Seeing her skepticism, Alois continued, “I know, the prices of fruit certainly have gone up, haven’t they? After a few years of bad crops, the farmers think they can charge anything they want. There’s nothing we can do about it, of course,” she continued, hands spread wide, “We’re powerless on prices.”

Keila nodded again, and picked up the basket. Alois was a cheerful woman by nature, and Kiela could not bring herself to exchange her lively reparte. “Thank you,” she said. “May the prophets be with you.”

“May the prophets be with you,” Alois agreed, then her gaze caught on something as Keila turned to go. “I say, Keila. You’ve forgotten your earring.”

Keila paused and clapped her hand to her ear. “So I have,” she said. Her fingers unconciously traced the line where the dermal regenerator had sealed her split lobe after the earring had been torn from it. It was barely perceptible, even to her probing touch. “Forgotten it,” she continued in haste, “Thank you for telling me.”

One of the Rengi fruits fell out of her basket as Keila made haste to leave, but in her hurry she disregarded it altogether.

That was the first time she’d lied about her missing earring. It would not be the last.

One last night. The appointment with Admiral Gem and Commander Ryan had been made for the morning. The day’s aching sorrow, much of it spent on the observation deck of Starbase Aerheart, staring down at the dusty red whorls of Titan’s surface illuminated by the fiery tongues of the sun seen from space, had convinced Kiela after doubts and discomforts had fled that she had to leave.

Her Starfleet uniform concealed the tattoo on her stomach. Above all else, she must keep it concealed.

One last night. And on the morrow, Kiela’s fate would change.

“I hope it’s comfortable enough,” T’shara said, fretting over the positions of the pillows on the couch. “It really isn’t meant for someone to sleep on. I do wish you’d given me enough time to make proper arrangements before visiting…”

“No, really T’shara,” Keila said, “it’s fine. More then fine.” She half-heartedly fluffed the stiff pillow, and laid her head on it. “Just thanks for putting me up, that’s all.”

“Oh, really, Keila, you’re never an imposition,” T’shara countered, smiling the nervous hostesses smile, “Only I wish I’d had a little more warning — for your sake, you know — that’s all.”

“Good night, T’shara,” Keila said, smiling. The last rays of sunset had flickered out behind the mountains, and the two women were illuminated only by the rosy artificial lampglow.

“All right, Keila,” T’shara finally conceded. “Good night. I’ll see you in the morning.” Turning off the lamp on her way out, T’shara left the room and left Kiela in her native darkness.


Part Three

The first rays of morning cast themselves fitfully through the polished glass window and onto the mass of tangled black hair that shrouded Keila’s face >from their light. Their playful journey led them to bejewel a fallen tear, then cast the black and purple rose of a bruise into the light of day that never should have seen it.

What deeds were done in darkest night could not be chased away by the light of day. What right, indeed, did that righteous light have to illuminate the dark doings? Better to leave them unknown and unexpressed… shrouded…

Keila lifted her head, neck arched like a bird, and closed the shades so that the tenacious rays were directed toward the floor. Banging her fist on the glass pane, she slid pack into a prone position, and closed her eyes against the intrusion of the sun.

The frenzied note in Kiela’s voice was barely disguised and she jammed her palm against her communicator. “Starbase Earheart. One to beam up.”

In the morning, T’shara was there like the sun in the door, cheerful and bright. “So,” she asked warmly, sitting next to Kiela on the bed as she twined her long hair into braided coils. “If you’re not spending your shore leave ensconced in Tarine’s resort hotel room,” she paused and grinned, “…or in his arms, can I convince you to come to the stables with Juli and I? We’re going to practice our ‘riding skills’… last time we were on-planet she beat me in a race, and I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“Thanks, T’shara, but I don’t think so,” Kiela replied, the wan, half-smile still pasted falsely across her lips.

“Then what are you going to do?” T’shara asked with exaggerated concern. “Spend the day meditating and praying?”

“Why not? I’ve offended the prophets by losing my earring, haven’t I?” Kiela had meant her tone to be light and playful, but she could hear the undercurrent of her bitterness through the easy banter.

“Prophets, schmophets,” T’shara mocked with a pout. “I need *someone* >from Halcyon to be there to witness my victory over Juli.”

“And I thought you might want me there for the pleasure of my company.”

“The pleasure of your company? Why would I want that?”

Kiela forced her features into a compliant expression of amusment, but T’shara’s jest was ill-timed.

“Flattering as that is,” she said far too quietly for the jesting words, “I think I’d better attend to some other things.” Kiela’s fingers unconciously traced the line where the dermal regenerator had sealed her split lobe. It was barely perceptible, even to her expectant touch. “Thanks for the help, T’shara. You know you’ve got a true friend when someone’s willing to brave sickbay to steal a dermal regenerator for you.” She leaned in to hug her friend.

Leaning into the embrace, T’shara replied, “You’d do the same for me, right?” Glancing at the time, she sighed. “I suppose I’d better get down to that resort of Juli’s if I’m going to get my horse saddled up in time for the afternoon hike. I I don’t care what the people at the resort say, I swear last time she bribed them to make sure I got the horse with the most tangles in its tail.” She laughed. “I’ll see you when we get back to the Halcyon, Kiela.”

Kiela nodded. But she doubted she would.

It was night, of course, when the Vampire’s fate changed. The dying golden rays of sunlight could be seen boiling away into space behind Titan’s dusty horizon through the observation port in the back of the office Gem and Tim — no, Kiela chastened herself, too much familiarlity for an ex-crewmember — Admiral Rhee and Commander Ryan, had set up shop in while the Halcyon was in for repairs at Starbase Earheart.

“We’ll be sad to see you go, of course,” Admiral Rhee said with a swish of purple velvet skirts.

Commander Ryan nodded. “There’s nothing we can do to convince you to stay?”

Kiela shook her head. She’d spent the day as T’shara had mockingly suggested, in meditation, using the bright, diamond points of the stars as her center rather then the nebulous guidance of the prophets. Each star she looked at brought back a bitersweet chain of reminiscences, but each sang the same message clearly through the void. Kiela’s time on Halcyon was over.

“We’ll give you the best recommendation we can,” Gem said, putting down a padd with Kiela’s record on it and regarding Kiela directly with her honest, sapphire eyes. “You’ve done good work on the Halcyon. I’m sure Starfleet Command will weigh that against your previous record, and some Commanding Officer will doubtless be willing to take you on.”

Kiela nodded in acknowledgement. She glanced out the observation port at the descending blanket of darkness that wrapped the visible portion of the planet below, then back at Admiral Rhee and Commander Ryan. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t let on this transfer was voluntary,” she ventured.

Commander Ryan nodded. “We can do that.”

“Thank you.” Kiela managed a Starfleet smile: a delicate blend of gratitude and propriety.

Commander Ryan looked to Admiral Rhee, and she nodded. Seeming to have decided this impromptu meeting was at an end, the two stood up. Commander Ryan straightened to attention, and Kiela followed suit. “It’s been an honor serving with you, Ensign.” He snapped an uncharacteristic salute.

“And with you, sir,” Kiela answered, saluting in return.

Commander Ryan spared her a smile, then slackened, and grabbed a mug from the conference table before launching into an animated conversation with Admiral Rhee.

Kiela turned and let the doors to the office hiss closed on her time on the Halcyon… and her time with Tarine.


Kiela sat surveyed the bridge like a bird-of-prey, swiveling eyes never blinking. It seemed to Kiela her entire life had been spent running from something. As an infant, her mother had run from the horrors of the Occupation, and Kiela had been brought unwittingly along. Since that time Kiela had been running desperately from that choice, from her shame and from her own conscience. So much running was tiring.

But what was the alternative? To hide.

Disguises and masks, it seemed to Kiela, were always penetrated eventually. Her records were sealed, her Cardassian brand put down on her record as a Risan tattoo, but nevertheless some small hint unfailingly betrayed her for what she was. More often then not, this was her own drive to seek expurgation and compassion. The masquerader that tears away his own disguise has only himself to blame when his fellow dancers recoil from the hideousness of his true face.

But while the disguises lasted, they were Kiela’s solace. The Halcyon Days had indeed been halcyon, but now they were over.

Now she was on Atlantis: the sunken enigma haunted by the ghosts of a crew lost to Dominion hands. A Ghost ship.

A Vampire on a Ghost ship. Even Kiela had to admit the situation had a certain irony.

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