SIM:Forests of a Distant Star

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JP – Lt. Ceciri Ariadust & Tri’lea Polgonz: The Forest of a Distant Star Posted: 202208.31

((Amity Outpost – Science & Research Center, Level 10 – Outside Holodeck 1))

It had been some months since Tri’lea and Ceciri’s ‘courtship’ had begun in earnest – a term which exuded formality that Lea found both histrionic and accurate, given the nature of their relationship. Their first proper date had, however, set a positive tone for the months ahead (much to her surprise). The two women had decided that, rather than fight the arrangement that had been made for them, they would instead try to make the best of it – and claim their own power over the situation as best as they could.

What truly shocked Tri’lea was how much she genuinely enjoyed spending time with the Starfleet Lieutenant. Despite their overt differences, the two had discovered they had more in common than either had initially guessed at – and the commonalities between Betazoid and Cygnian culture were welcome discoveries, at least in Tri’lea’s mind. Yet she still wondered if, beyond those surface similarities, their two worlds were ‘compatible’ at a deeper level… if one day they were to be wed, and their families merged, it was important to Lea that she knew just how ‘violent’ the collision between Ceciri’s Cygnian world and her own Betazoid culture would be.

To that end, the two had agreed to spend some time exploring each other’s cultures through the most available means – a series of dates on the holodeck. Lea found herself excited at the prospect of learning more about Cygnet in the company of her favourite Cygnian. She had dressed for the occasion – not knowing what level of activity would be demanded – in a unique garment introduced to her by Rei: skorts. Evidently, they combined the function of shorts with the aesthetic of a skirt – in Lea’s mind, they were still unnecessarily restrictive… but at least they looked cute, without being too informal. To complete her outfit, she wore a simple sleeveless blouse, hoping that they wouldn’t be doing any ice-climbing or mountaineering. As she approached the holodeck she saw Ariadust waiting.

Ceciri was waiting by the holodeck door, her blonde hair tied in a long french braid. She was wearing what looked to be a hiking outfit: a long sleeved blouse in the pale purple color she preferred when she was off-duty, and a pair of long black pants. The blouse was a bit loose, and all in all, she smiled at Lea as she entered her sight. She had a sword belt on, with a sheathed sword - what looked to be nearly three-quarters or a bit more of a meter, a slight curve built in, and the visible hilt had engravings in a pale blue surrounding a multi-faceted purple gem. It was an odd incongruity in her outfit, and she had worn it largely because of what she wanted to show Lea.

.oO After all, to understand now, you must understand then. Oo.

Ariadust: You look beautiful today. ::Ceciri smiles:: And.. it’ll work for where we’re going, so, that’s a bonus.

As they came within arms’ length of each other, Lea reached out and gently touched Ceciri’s left arm, a warm smile spreading across her face. With her hair tied back, Ceciri’s catlike ears – normally hidden within her blonde hair – were on full display, which tickled Lea immensely. She wasn’t sure what it was about them that she found so endearing, but whatever it was – it worked for her.

Polgonz: You as well – you look as though you’re ready to go conquering.  ::Chuckling:: I wasn’t supposed to bring a sword as well, was I?

Ariadust: Well. I thought I should start with my namesake. It’s why one of my titles is “Warden of the Gates of The Fortress Where The Innocents Sheltered”, although it’s an honorary one, these days.

Ceciri had several titles. Most were ceremonial, and it was nothing unique to her - two-thirds of all traditional Cygnian women claimed at least one title, often at their coming of age ceremony.

Polgonz: I see! I’m afraid the only ‘title’ I stand to inherit – if I’m lucky – is Mother Perennial… assuming Mother Seri has no other heirs. Our House, unlike some of the older ones, has no claim to one of the many sacred trinkets of Rixx.  ::Smirking:: Though, by this point, even they have become rather controversial and ceremonial.

Ceciri could easily understand that. Half of her titles were ceremonial, the other half were simply achievement based - “Bloodied Daughter”, for example, as she had taken lives in battle - and nothing unique to her.

.oO Which is both a frustration and a comfort. Oo.

Ariadust: That wouldn’t surprise me. I understand Betazed’s religion has lost a lot of its power, and honestly, still baffles me. Many of the Path’s Gods and Goddesses have no sacred relics, deliberately, as it is idolatry to revere objects over beings. It was a bit of culture shock to adjust to the concept of relics.

As the doors to the Holodeck opened, Lea peered inside, taking in the scene before them.

The scene opened up to a bright day, with all three of Cygnet XIV’s suns visible - albeit, the more distant blue star just a white dot in the very pale blue sky. The arch opened to a wide clearing in the forest, nestled in the brilliant blue sage-grass of the Altheian Highlands, although there were suspiciously circular depressions about half the height of Ceciri at suspiciously equidistant distances halfway to the forest. Visible in front of them were the towering blue ‘tahzah’ trees, very similar to the Californian Redwoods.. Except for the fact they are nearly sea-water blue, and the leaves are very vine-like, curving around the truck, branches, themselves, creating a near impenetrable haze under the canopy except for a few visible shafts of dappled light.

Peculiarly, even through the light streaming through the canopy, there was a path in what looked to be something very similar to Earth marble marked in amethyst crystals, with the grass trimmed, and only the wild orange and green flowers nearby, with ornate stone lanterns emitting a purple flame in what looked like glazed glass. Looming behind the forest was a mountain, with the characteristic rim of a volcano dappled in a frozen pale blue, with a long rift down the side.

Polgonz: ::In awe of the scene:: Wow… where have you brought us today?

Ariadust: This is the Forest of Devoted Sacrifice.

Lea turned and gave Ceciri a surprised look, before turning back once again to take it all in.

Polgonz: You Cygnians have the most intriguing names for things. Is it as wondrous as it looks?

Ceciri was pretty sure that it was more their names were deliberately always recast in the most modern tongue. Granted, Cygnet placed a large emphasis on memorializing the past, and a lot of species let the names stay the same even as their language drifted. It’s how you can have a hill named Hill Hill Hill when you looked at the source of all the words.

.oO It also had its downsides, though. . Oo

Ariadust: I would say so.. But I am going to be a bit biased.

As they stepped in, Lea reached out and took Ceciri’s hand in hers. Despite the relative safety of the Holodeck, there was a certain mystique and danger that surrounded the very idea of Cygnet in her mind that both made her heart flutter with anticipation and the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. But, with Ceciri at her side – and armed – she felt somewhat comforted for the journey ahead.

Ariadust: So, this isn’t a precise experience - you would likely find the air here almost too thin, as we are about two kilometers above sea level, and Cygnet’s oxygen is thinner than most M-class worlds - and Cygnet has a lot of cobalt compared to most standard Class-M worlds. It isn’t a large problem, but I’m sure if Lt. Wong was here, he’d be recommending some preventative medicine were you to drink the water. But I double checked and made sure that was removed. The joys of the holodeck means you can experience it as I would, rather than having to take aids. ::a bit of a smile::

Polgonz: ::Smiling back:: That is very thoughtful. Thank you.  ::Giving Ceciri’s hand a little squeeze:: I’m glad to be here, experiencing it as you would, with you.

Lea looked about once more at the forest around them and the distant looming mountain. Everything seemed to be so filled with history.

Polgonz: Now, tell me all about it.  ::Smirking:: I want to learn.

Ceciri gestured as they walked in with her free hand, firmly keeping Lea’s hand in hers. The forest was actually a bit foggy as they entered, and the murmuring sound of rushing water grew larger. They were actually ascending as they walked, but gently. The shafts of light grew fewer, but as they moved up, Ceciri gestured at something looming in the darkness.

Ariadust: That is a fragment of the original reinforced wall. It was reinforced from the cooled magma of Mt. Staranger, which is the mountain you saw as we entered. The people sheltering here did not have access to the metal and concrete of the time, you understand, and as such used the knowledge of the ancients. You can see the marks as it resisted, but ultimately, fell to cannonry. It served its duty, and both delayed the attackers to allow the sheltered refugees to fall back, and took out several units of the attacking noble’s army.

.oO Yes, it was named Staranger. Oo. The legend said that the mountain was struck by a fallen star with a long tail, rousing the volcano to such anger that it erupted in fury. Modern archaeology suggested this was actually true, albeit not such a huge comet that it caused an extinction event. Personally, Ceciri thought the original name of Mt. Fujiazhoi was much prettier.

Ariadust: ~Personally, I call it Mt. Fujiazhoi, the original name. It still means ‘star-anger’ , though.~

Ceciri very rarely talked telepathically, and her voice was much softer and gentler when she did. But.. around Tri’lea, she would occasionally.

Lea, for her part enjoyed it immensely. She understood that Ceciri was only at the beginning to feel comfortable using her telepathic gift – and that it had not always felt like a gift at all. She had been working hard to develop her control over the ability and learning to protect herself from the unfettered thoughts and feelings of others. But she had already come such a long way… And, for Lea, to whom telepathic communication was a normal and vital part of connecting, it felt essential to their growing intimacy.

Polgonz: ~~It’s a beautiful name. Though perhaps much of that beauty comes from how you think of it.~~

She took a moment to gaze into Ceciri’s intense blue eyes, mystified by how they seemed so ‘at home’ in this world of rich cobalt blue – and yet still seemed to stand out more than anything else. With a little smile, she looked back at the vista ahead as they trekked on.

Polgonz: And how did you come to be the Warden of this place?

Ariadust: Well..

As they ascended, the murmuring had become a loud roar, and ahead of them was a towering cliff-face, and even it was dwarfed by the trees. The shrill chirp of the woodlife was present here, and the curious faces of what looked to be Terran foxes, at first, before you noticed the eyes much more fractal peered from dens underneath the undergrowth. The lanterns, now a brilliant white, spread out into a semicircle above a recessed amphitheater caused by the deep blue-violet water, almost the deep purple midnight color lit up by the lanterns. Visible were a pair of reinforced gates, marred by gunfire, cannonry, and sword, carefully preserved and repaired by inlaid gold, in a remarkable echo of the Japanese concept of kintsugi, albeit on a completely different type of object.

Ariadust: These are the gates I draw my title from. At the time, the planet was ruled by the Ariadust Regency, but there was a rightful Queen. My ancestor, who championed her cause, was charged with defending her as she and villagers who followed her fled here when the local Archess - think Duchess - attempted to preserve her power. And she died here, refusing to surrender to preserve her life if the refugees she was sheltering were to face the Archess’s wrath. ::beat:: Her last stand bought enough time for the Archess to be caught up by the forces of the Regency, and the Queen ascended to the throne. Her name was Ceciri k’Ariadust, and I was named in her legacy by my birth-mother, Ksharion. ::pensively, a beat of silence:: I think I was.. 9 standard years when I first came here? I was told this story, much the same as I have to you, and I swore then I would not find myself wanting.

Lea listened intently. Betazed’s history had been considerably more placid, characterized by peaceful growth. To hear of Ceciri’s namesake, and her sacrifice, was both shocking and illuminating. She looked closely at the gold, inlaid into the cracks in the gate, watching how they reflected the light of the lanterns and wondered if her people might benefit from looking back a little more often.

Polgonz: ::Turning to face Ceciri:: Well, I certainly don’t find you wanting.

Ariadust: ::gentle smile:: Thank you.

Their relationship may have gotten off to a rocky start – but, particularly in recent months, Lea’s perspective had been shifting. Ceciri k’Ariadust was far more than she had initially anticipated. The two seemed to compliment one another against all expectations.

Polgonz: It’s hard to imagine that, at one time, you were just a name on a scroll to me… In fact, sometimes I forget that we’re ‘supposed’ to be married entirely. Things just feel different now. ::Smiling:: Do you think that’s silly?

Ariadust: I don’t think so. I mean, getting to know you .. ::Ceciri looked at the slightly shorter woman with a broader smile:: .. I’ve enjoyed it.

Lea turned back to the gate and stared up at its pocked surface.

Polgonz: Do you miss it? Cygnet, that is..

Ariadust: I do, as I have not been back in .. 24 standard years now.

Polgonz: ::Turning to face Ceciri:: That is a long time… I suppose you and I are both of a kind. Our home is among the stars. All the same, I find myself longing for Betazed now and again. There’s something special about the ‘mother world’ I suppose.

Ceciri nodded. She had been a spacer from the age of a bit past 9, in Cygnetian years , and she was not sure she could settle down on any planet, even the homeworld.

Ariadust: ::nodding:: For better or worse, it has molded us, and it is what our soul calls to, I feel. I’ve been in space since I was 12 standard years, on merchant ships, or as a Starfleet officer, and .. it’s my home now. But I still want to walk the planet of my birth, sometimes.

Lea stepped closer and took Ceciri’s hand again. The lantern light bounced off the nearby waterfall, scattering in a brilliant shifting pattern that lit up the two women and the walls surrounding them. She spoke softly, but with conviction, getting closer so that she could be heard over the sound of the falls.

Polgonz: If that’s what you want, then we’ll make that happen. We don’t need to let anything stand in our way. If there are hurdles, we’ll overcome them.

Ariadust: I would like to visit.. Yes. I miss it, you know? ::soft smile::

Polgonz: Betazed may not be full of warrior women like your ancestors – but I’ll be damned if anything is going to stand in the way of your happiness.  ::Smiling:: Even if it means I have to take up a sword as well.

Ariadust: I’d make sure you practice a bit. ::wryly:: I’d have far more scars if it wasn’t for dermal regenerators.

Polgonz: Alright, well… I shall then. Will you teach me?

Ceciri considered a moment, then smiled.

Ariadust: It might be a bit much to teach a lot of it. But I can start teaching you the footwork. Maybe regular lessons?

Polgonz: ::Smiling:: I would love that.

Ceciri made an odd wave motion, and the scene blurred to a new one. The sky was alight with the particular deep blue sky before dawn, with fog descending off the mountain range that bordered where they stood. Straight ahead were terraced mountainsides, full of a violet swaying tall flower.

Visible here and there were faint red lanterns marking patterns, and elaborate banners in the flowing Cygnian script over the streets down into the white-blue city around them. Even the mag-lev stations had banners with what looked to be Cygnians in something quite like the traditional dresses of China on Earth. The mountains were capped in pale purple ice, barely visible at the edges of the fog that was spreading, and it was a chilly-but-not-cold morning, dew visible on the grass and flowers visible in some gardens, with the majority of the houses surrounded by what looked to be green grains of sand, with lines of blue here and there.

The house they were in front of was a simple single-story dwelling with visible window wells displaying an underground level; with blue shale circular tiles roofing the house, and in the distance away from the seashore towards the mountains were the typical hyper-skyscrapers of modern twenty-fourth century life, lost in the clouds above. Unlike what you might see on other worlds, though, holoart and letters seemed to be built into the skyscrapers, many with flower designs or figures of Cygnians in peculiar - most likely historical - dress. There were no advertisements, no billboards, no signage.

Ariadust: This is where I grew up, the capital of the Sea-leaf-shine Republic. ::Ceciri says wryly:: Most of us just called it the Dalenirah Republic. This house was where my birth-mother was born, in fact. She worked in some of the rare metal mines in those mountains until the accident that took her life. My other mother was a politician here, and worked downtown. A peculiarity of the Dalenirah Republic is that only those of knowing should arrive at their destination. Hence, no signs. The billboard ban is unusual, but Cygnian industry tries its hardest to pretend it’s invisible to its customers. You’ll never see billboards or advertisements outside in Cygnet or any of its few colonies.

Ceciri had forced an even tone to her voice as she explained. She had things to cover, and this wasn’t the time to get sentimental or upset, as much as she wanted to. All the same, Lea sensed faintly that Ceciri was holding back – but she knew better than to push her when there was no need. If Lea needed to know, Ceciri would tell her in time.

Polgonz: In a way that’s rather refreshing. Many Federation worlds were once ravaged by the proliferation of overt market forces – and there’s still plenty to bombard the senses with. Still, I take it this hardly means that commerce isn’t occurring on Cygnet.  ::Smiling:: I’m afraid I’d probably be terribly lost there. Fortunately, I have you as my guide.

Ariadust: Well. I can’t ever go back here - my mother made herself very unpopular by being desperate. She chose to walk the twisting path, and in many ways, I think the death of my birth-mother was what led her to falling off the path of virtue. ::deep breath:: But, in truth, I wouldn’t want to return here.

Lea wrapped a comforting arm around Ceciri’s waist, standing close to her and taking in the scene. The two women took in the view together – from the nearby swinging lanterns, to the towering skyscrapers, to the distant glistening mountain peaks.

Polgonz: Will you walk with me? Show me around? Even if we can’t visit the real place, I’d like to see your home – before you took to the stars, that is.

Ariadust: I’d love to.

Ceciri gently grasped Tri’lea’s hand as they walked, headed down the path of what looked to be worn down blue stone, with patterns of white and green inlaid in it. This path led to the beach, with the thin light barely illuminating the deep violet sea. As they walked, more wildflower blooms became visible, with some faint reddish-green trees with swaying blue leaves appearing as they crested the hill. Tri’lea turned to face Ceciri.

Polgonz: Did you know her well? Your birth mother?

Ariadust: I spent a lot of time with her. In many ways, she gave me the virtues I hold deeply, and I have many fond memories of her teaching me the ways of the Goddess of the Threefold Path. ::reflectively:: I’m curious why she never mentioned I had an older sister, though. But from what I understand, it was also to protect us.

Polgonz: ::Nodding slowly:: I imagine her loss impacted you greatly, then. It must have been very hard…  ::Furrowing her brow slightly:: I can understand.

Ariadust: It was. ::Ceciri sighed:: My mother was.. Never the same, and I think having to join my aunt’s merchant company just.. Made things worse. I had a rather tense relationship with her, after that, and after a while, she more and more let my aunts mother me. I was a bit of a rebel there.

Polgonz: A rebel, hmm?  ::Chuckling, then commenting sarcastically:: You don’t strike me as the type…

Ariadust: Well, compared to who my mother wanted, yes.

Polgonz: ::Smiling to herself:: Well, I like you far more the way you are than the way you might ought to have been…

They reached the beach and began walking out onto the sand. A pale dim light, reflecting off the water, provided a rich blue contrast – turning the entire world into a cobalt dreamscape.

Polgonz: Have you been in contact with your sister? Do you know her?

Ariadust: Resachi? Yeah, she works in the Cygnian Self Defense Force. I met her on my last duty post.

Polgonz: Really? I should very much like to meet her – if she is anything like you, that is.

Ariadust: If she can get the leave out here, I think you should. I’m pretty sure you two would get together famously.

Tri’lea turned, once again, to face Ceciri, taking both her hands and speaking with her intimately. Her wide eyes portrayed the

Polgonz: The more I learn about you, the more I get to know you, the more thrilled I am that fate has brought the two of us together. I don’t think we ever would have met under normal circumstances, but I can’t imagine a more interesting.. worldly..  ::struggling to find words with enough value to communicate her meaning:: ..talented and.. wondrous person.

Ceciri would have liked to respond, but she was too fiercely blushing to respond as she fought to find words that fit the moment. Lea could sense Ceciri again now, their feelings mixing in the space between them, pulling them together. Their faces already close, Lea could see the blue light of the sea reflected in Ceciri’s eyes – enticing pools drawing her ever closer. Before there was time to think, emotion took over, and they shared a brief but unwavering kiss that was hard to part from.

Polgonz: ::Blushing and breathing heavily, her heart pounding:: Yes… most wondrous.

Ceciri just nodded, leaning against the slightly shorter woman as she tangled their hands for a moment. She.. could not remember her first kiss, but she knew it and her last kiss before that had been .. decades ago. And at the moment, she was still swept up in the emotions swirling between them. If she could have moments like this more often.. She could learn to love having more of her telepathic and empathic abilities. Even with the frustration they brought.

Polgonz: ::Sensing Ceciri’s thoughts:: Me too…  ::Caressing her ear and cheek:: Your mind, your spirit, is just as beautiful to me.

Ariadust: ::softly:: Same.

Polgonz: Wherever we find ourselves, I’d like it to be together.

Ariadust: ::nodding, looking at the sea for a bit:: Agreed.. And now, I think the holoprogram has more space in it. I added a bit, anyway. I think we should go for a walk and watch the sunrise. Together.


Lt. Ceciri Ariadust Terraforming Engineer Amity Outpost C239112CA0


Tri'lea Doyoxo Polgonz Daughter Ascendant Twentieth House of Betazed V239806K11