If they be two, they two are so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’other do.
John Donne – A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning
~ * ~ * ~
“What do you mean they object to my presence? What is there to object?”
“Kathryn, calm down. The Elders will not do anything to you. They called this official village meeting because they finally found something to use against me. You’re just a convenient tool, and I am truly sorry you got pulled into this.”
“But how does my presence here offend the Elders? They certainly didn’t object when I send in my request.”
“It’s a complicated story. And one which doesn’t automatically make sense. How much do you know of our society?”
“Not enough. Chakotay was even surprised I didn’t know about Spirit Guides.”
“He told you about his spirit guide?” Kolopak was momentarily put off track.
“Not really, we were talking about something, and it came up. He just said she sometimes likes …”
He cut her off, “Kathryn, normally you’re not allowed to speak about your spirit guide. Chakotay must have slipped.”
“I don’t think he slipped. He was just explaining something. Shouldn’t he have told me?”
“One rarely speak about the spirit guide, unless it’s under very special circumstances.” He could see her curiosity was peaked, “But I digress. I’m sure Kotay can tell you all about spirit guides another time.”
Kathryn nodded, “He will. He has already promised me to see if we can contact mine sometime.”
“He has? That’s good. My son is somewhat of an expert on the Spirits, even though he isn’t allowed to be one yet.”
“Why not? Hasn’t he finished his training?”
“No, he is all finished with his training, if you could call it that. The reason why he isn’t allowed to work somehow ties into the troubles the Elders want to cause you and me. Our society is based on ancient tribal rituals and rules. Most of them are not even based on the rituals our ancestors brought with them from Earth, but have evolved in the past two centuries. Like most societies ours is based on a unity between two opposing factions: water and fire, earth and air, man and woman, young and old. The unity between a man and a woman, or even broader the unity between partners, is what determines our place in society. When a man and a woman bond they become equals. For some as yet unknown reason, our ancestors decided that only equals were allowed to work, thus creating a unity between a group of people who couldn’t decide between forming a patriarchy or matriarchy.”
He sat back, looking intently at Kathryn, “According to our tribes rules, you are not an equal and are therefore not allowed to work here.”
“Then why is Lorakish allowed to work? He doesn’t seem bonded.”
“Lora isn’t bonded, and if it’s up to Teresini he won’t be until they day he bonds with her,” Kolopak grinned, “she is just as persistent as her mother.”
He got up and walked around the room looking for something. He returned to the table carrying a photo of a young family with three children. “When an Equal is broken by the death of one of its partners, the one who remains behind is no longer considered to be united. Their children however, as soon as they come of age, are considered to be equal enough to work. So after the death of Levinak, both Suttonay and Lorakish were allowed to work. Their mother would have had to stop working and our village would take over her duties. But in this case she remarried soon after Levinak’s death, and she continued her job.”
Amazed by what Kolopak had told her, Kathryn was quiet for a moment.
“I guess you are wondering why the Elders did not object to your initial application. Let me tell you, I am as puzzled as you are. They must not have tracked down your personnel file to read that you are single.”
A look of sadness crossed her face, “They read it alright, I’m just not sure that’s how they interpreted it.”
“What do you mean?”
“My file shows I am married.”
Kolopak was shocked by her statement, “You are married?”
She continued, “That is what my file says. I was married, but my husband died in the battle with the Borg 3 years ago. Starfleet files don’t show these records, unless a request for more detailed information is approved. My guess is the Elders didn’t look further into my personal life.”
“I am sorry to hear about your husband.”
“Thank you. I must confess had the Elders asked me upto a year ago, I would have automatically told them I was indeed married. I have just recently learned to let go. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt anymore, but life is getting easier. And not being on a starship will help me further.”
Kolopak took Kathryn’s hand and squeezed it gently, “I don’t believe the hurt will ever leave you completely, but you are right in trying to let go of the most painful of memories. They should not become your constant companion.”
“The Elders must have found out I am a widow.” Her wry smile and sad eyes pierced right through to his heart, making him send a silent prayer to the Spirits not to hurt her again.
“I guess you never expected this to become an issue.”
“No, even though I don’t advertise it, loosing Justin was the catalyst for my return to science.”
He looked at her, remembering what he read in her file. She had been well on her way to become one of Starfleet’s youngest Captains – if not the youngest female Captain. When he read it he had wondered what would make a career officer on the right track with certainly the right credentials switch back to an old specialization. He’d never have guessed something as tragic as the loss of one’s spouse could have been the reason behind it. Certainly not that the loss of her husband made her request a posting on a planet, far away from space travel amongst the stars.
~ * ~ * ~
“I think it’s best if we return home now. Mika no doubt will await us with dinner, and I’m sure she will have managed to find out why and how the Elders suddenly know more about your background. Besides Sini will have driven her mother and Chakotay crazy with all her worries. She was really looking forward to your arrival, and I think she’s afraid the Elders will want to kick you off our planet at their earliest convenience.”
She grinned at Kolopak, “I for one will not let them; I think I’m at a point in my life where I’ll do anything to keep someone from completely rearranging my life. And the Elders can most certainly forget about doing that!”
Kolopak had gotten up and was on his way out the door, followed by Kathryn, when he suddenly stopped. Kathryn was feeling more and more uncomfortable when she saw the gleam in his eyes, “You’d do anything? Are you serious about that?”
She hesitated, “Not when I see your expression. I think I’d do almost anything, except for the really absurd and illogical of course. But I find my assignment here too important to have a bunch of stuff old men …”
“to have a bunch of stuffy old men and women decide they don’t want me here.”
Grabbing her by the arm, Kolopak hurried her outside. “I’m glad you think that way, because I might have just found a solution. It will enable you to work here in the lab.”
Kathryn was having a hard time keeping up with the older man, who was almost running towards his house.
“Not to mention the fact it will help someone else too!”