((Starbase 118 Ops - Holosuite))
Alora had arrived at the holosuite a few minutes early, which meant that she had to wait for those who were using it before. Once they were finished and had vacated the premises, Alora stepped inside for her turn. She brought up the programs that she had of Japan - one she hadn’t used in at least a year. It felt good to see the display of the Kinkaku-ji temple. It was set during the Autumn, reds, golds, and oranges flanking the glimmering structure whose reflection rippled in the water that surrounded the base. Breathing deeply, the coolness of the air was accompanied by a gentle crispness, a freshness that was so close to reality, one could almost forget that it was simply an illusion. When the archway appeared, Alora turned, a smile brightening her face.
Yael: Hello again.
Yael smiled at her as he approached through the archway, and it disappeared behind him as he left its proximity. He was instantly taken by the beauty of the temple, the maples in a hundred shades of red and orange all around them. He glanced down into the water, noting the large fish… fancy koi, opening their mouths at the surface, but barely disturbing the calm of the water.
Yael: It’s stunning. I’d heard stories, but you don’t realize until you see it yourself.
DeVeau: Isn’t it though? This is Kyoto, one of the most beautiful and historic places in Japan. It was the original capital - and this is one of the most famous places to visit. The Kinkaku-ji temple.
Yael: I imagined it would be more “touristy,” but it’s pristine. ::he gazed off into the mountains in the distance::
DeVeau: It’s one of my favourite programs, though it’s been over a year since I used it. And I haven’t been here /with/ anyone since...since I showed this to Saveron. Wow...that was seven years ago.
Amethyst eyes set on her, and he went silent in some short shock… before blinking and finding his voice again.
Yael: Saveron? Of the Constitution…?
Alora arched an eyebrow. Was that where he was now? A sting of guilt stabbed at her. He was one of those she hadn’t contacted after her return - but considering how they had parted, she had thought he didn’t really want to talk to her any longer.
DeVeau: You know him?
Yael: Yes, I… we were friends. ::pausing, lost for a moment:: Small universe. How do you know him?
DeVeau: We served on several ships together. Mercury...Za. Invicta...
Yael: We served together on the Duroniss II Embassy.
It had been years, but he still saw the stone pathway leading to the fountains, the archway of the entry, with as pristine a clarity as he stood in Kyoto now.
And a chill went down his spine.
He saw that place in his sleep. In his mind's eye when awake. He’d learned, these past few years, to shove it to the back of his mind. To ignore the sight of it plastered permanently in his mind, no matter where he was.
And Saveron, one of the rare bright things from that time that he didn’t mind recalling. He and the Vulcan had become close. They were two non-Human crewmembers in a predominantly Human crew, and both intellectuals, so had naturally gravitated into one another's orbit. Saveron had a good 40 years on him age wise, but it hardly mattered.
Yael: We were both caretakers of our crew, at the time. He was in medical. We’ve… lost touch.
Alora nodded slowly. Time did that to some relationships. With her and Saveron’s, it had been his unwillingness to communicate followed by his sudden desire to break things off. She’d had no idea, no way of knowing he was unhappy, and he had been unwilling to try and talk through things. It had hurt, a lot, but he had moved on, and so had she. Looking back, she had seen that there had been a reason for that relationship to break apart. It had led to one that had been much better - even if it too had ended so suddenly, though for a different reason.
Except she couldn’t think about that now. Turning away, Alora set her sights on the temple, her eyes dropping to its reflection, then back up to the building proper.
DeVeau: We have too. I figure if he wants to get back in touch, he’ll make the effort.
Alora might have if things had turned out differently.
DeVeau: I should come here more often. It’s such a beautiful place, perfect for a picnic. Would you like to see inside the temple?
Yael: ::centering himself:: Certainly.
DeVeau: In the real Japan, you can’t go inside the temple unless you’re a monk. In /this/ simulation, however, there is nothing to stop us.
Yael: If it helps, I consider myself a student of all things Zen.
Small joke. Very small. But he smiled and followed her toward the temple, taking in its splendor. It all looked as if it were hand made, maintained by hand as well. There were details hidden in every crevice, and the architecture was clever and old. Practiced methods and natural materials that were age-less. Taking them in helped him feel less scattered. Every part of the temple was laid out, prepared, made with purpose.
He was clinging tightly to his hope that all things had purpose. Or all people. That’s what he used to believe, before he’d realized how naive he’d been.
Nope. Stop it. Negative self-cycles of destructive thoughts helped *noone*.
Yael: What are the bells for?
They approached several heavy ropes which looked as if they were meant to be pulled, connected to chimes high above. There were papers… little papers. He reached in and picked a piece from the display, turning it over… there were Kanji, but he couldn’t read them.
Alora paused. They had just entered the walkway that led up to the temple itself. In real life, people would have been there, tourists of all kinds, coming to visit the grounds, to see what they could of the temple even if they couldn’t walk inside. The archway above hosted the bells, and the papers rustled slightly in the wind. She tugged her gaze away from the plethora to focus on the small pieces that Ashley had unrolled.
DeVeau: Oh, these are omikuji! Fortunes.
Yael: Fortunes? What does mine say?
He handed her the slip, assuming she could read the language.
Alora took it and turned it the proper way around. She then pointed to a set of two kanji.
DeVeau: This part is the ‘general’, or overall blessing. This says you will be dai kichi. Greatly blessed.
Alora had turned off the translator, which had allowed her to translate for him instead. Probably best if he was going to have an omikuji read to him.
DeVeau: This is the more ‘specific’ blessing. It’s always given in poetry, and sometimes it can be hard to understand.
Alora rattled off the Japanese, then spoke again, that time in English.
DeVeau: The sun does not always shine, and clouds can keep it hidden. The rain only shelters it from sight, and can never strike it down. Have patience and it will smile again.
Yael: That’s… definitely poetic. ::not the most poetic of persons, but at least it sounded positive:: What does that mean, though?
DeVeau: Hm….that’s not for me to say. It’s your fortune, not mine.
Alora reached up to clasp another piece of paper. After unrolling it, she wrinkled her nose and folded it so that it was one, long strip.
DeVeau: Mine was not so fortunate.
Yael: ::glancing up at the strings with papers floating in the breeze:: Is that what this is for?
DeVeau: In Japan, if you get a bad fortune, you tie it to a tree for instance, or some places provide string, and you leave it behind.
There was no such place there, but that didn't bother Alora. She simply moved over to a small evergreen and, using the tie that had once held it to the chimes, she instead tied it to a branch of the tree.
DeVeau: There. ::She spoke softly.:: Now it can’t follow me.
For a moment, Alora stared at that bit of paper, then turned and rejoined her companion.
DeVeau: Shall we go to the temple proper?
Yael: Certainly. Lead the way.
He followed her further into the temple, into what seemed to be a more private space, though it was just as beautiful. There were delicate details and evidence of careful handiwork everywhere, details that he was sure were culturally significant.
Alora continued onward, passing through the touristy section, the temple waiting patiently before them, stone blocks sentinels as the path straightened the further they went. Eventually, they reached a wooden platform and she stepped up first, waited for Yael to join her, then slid open a panel to step inside. She’d been here a year or so ago, but she had been alone. Now she was with someone else, and she was smacked with a sense of déjà vu
The first floor was wooden, the opulent darkness shadowy compared with alabaster walls. The walls were actually shutters that could open and shut easily to let in as little or much light as one wished. The area was guarded with various figures and golden floral decorations that sat peacefully and silently greeted the visitors. Alora allowed a moment to study the area which was otherwise fairly sparse, then turned and motioned to a stairway which led to the second floor and into a wide, airy room. Four, statues stood silently and still upon short wooden bases of deep, rich, red wood. They took up various postures, but in the middle, on a taller square pedestal sat another figure cast in golden splendour. Those standing acted as guards, a weapon in each. The middle form remained more peaceful, legs crossed as the figure perched in solemn meditation.
DeVeau: This is called the Buddha hall, but this is dedicated to the goddess of mercy, Kannon.
Those very words had been spoken, and she echoed them once again seven years later. Alora shook her head, then glanced over at Yael.
Yael: What do they usually use these temples for? You said monks lived here? ::pausing:: I recall a story about a fire priestess who could see the future, but I’m fairly sure it was a fairytale.
DeVeau: It’s a place to sit and mediate. It’s also a tourist attraction so it brings in a lot of people.
Yael: What do the monks do?
Ensign Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops