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Hellene sighed as she grabbed a broom and began to sweep the day’s grime away from the temple floor. Soon the sun would fall beneath the line of the mountains in the distance, and worshippers would be entering once more. She had perhaps two stairs of time left before that, and the temple needed to be clean once more so the night’s worship would be a bit more splendid for the Goddess she served.

It had been a long day, and it would be a longer night; for the first time in a long time her town had visitors, a great many of them, coming from a far-off land. Many of them would find themselves drawn to one of the temples of the Gods. Most, who seemed to be trained in weaponry of some sort, would find their way into the earthly home of Ares. Several more would be drawn to Zeus’ dwelling place, or Hephaestus’. She expected that few would find their way to Hera or Demeter, having seen few personalities that would feel a strong Calling from those Goddesses. Artemis would see a fair few worshippers as well, and most likely Athena would have as many.

Idly, Hellene wondered how many would feel the Call of her Mother. The Goddess she had been Called to serve was unpredictable at the best of times, and she had quickly learned that to attempt to predict Her Callings or actions was foolish. She no longer bothered with it, not even as a method of whiling away the time between worships.

Sweeping the dust out of the doorway and back into the road from which it had come, Hellene turned around and set the broom aside. “Aikaterine,” she snapped, “do not attempt to short the polishing as I saw you did last night. The new worshippers may not know, but our Mother surely will.”

Aikaterine threw a dirty glance her way before returning to the candlesticks she was polishing with a renewed vigor. Hellene sighed. Aikaterine was new, and her Call not quite as strong as some she had seen. Still, though, the girl had promise, and she was eager enough to serve even though the previous night had not been the first time she had been caught cutting corners.

Hellene walked deeper into the temple, leaving the main sanctuary to check on the preparations of the rooms for private worship. “How does the cleaning progress?” she asked the priestess she had placed at the head of that group.

Dianthe smiled. “We will be ready before the next half-stair. Is the sanctuary prepared?”

“Mostly,” Hellene replied.

“Aikaterine is as helpful as ever?”

“She is a good girl,” Hellene defended. “Simply... unprepared for the work that comes with the Call.”

“More unprepared than most,” Dianthe observed. “Look at you, for example. You have been with us barely six season-cycles and already you are the Head Priestess of Aphrodite. That is no small feat.”

“My Call was strong,” Hellene demurred. “You have only been here half a cycle longer, and you are the oldest among us.”

“It is true; Calls do shift, and many of our girls go on to serve Demeter, and several more to Hera. I, for one, was honestly surprised you were Called here to begin with.”

“Truly?” If so, it was the first Hellene had heard of it.

“Indeed. Most with your rare eye color belong to Demeter from the beginning. When we found you unconscious on our doorstep my first thought was that there had been some mistake. However,” Dianthe continued, “you are one of the most devout followers of our Mother I have seen in quite some time. It did not take me long at all to see that I was the one who was mistaken.”

“Our Mother is unpredictable at best,” Hellene replied. “It is very rare to know beforehand who will be Called to do what, particularly when She is involved.”

“That is true. Also true is that time is short, and we should waste no more in idle speculation.” Dianthe smiled, returning to straightening the sheets in one of the rooms.

Without so much as a word of parting, Hellene turned and walked back into the main sanctuary, checking that the polishing work Aikaterine had done was indeed better than that of the night before. While it was still not perfect, and Hellene had to do parts of it again herself, the girl had made an honest effort.

Her next stop was at the fountain of holy water at the center of the main sanctuary. Kneeling beside it, she lifted a small chalice and filled it. “Lady Aphrodite, my dear Mother, may my night’s work for you be as you will it to be. Let me feel your Call leading me true, and let the worship be splendid in your sight.” Sweeping a hand over the rim of the chalice to denote the end of her prayer, Hellene drank.

She then stood, returning the chalice to its resting place, and changed out of the chiton she wore while cleaning and into one more suited to the night’s worship. Gazing into the mirror as she let her hair down, she frowned thoughtfully. It was true that few of the girls who worked in this temple had her eyes, flecked with green and gold as they were. Far more common in this town were plain brown eyes, with a few blues that were by and large destined for Zeus from the beginning.

Hellene sighed and tore her gaze from the mirror, attaching the two upper corners of her himation with a brooch. There was work to be done, and at any moment the first worshippers would find their way into the temple. Turning on her heel, she arrived in the sanctuary at the same time as the first, a man clearly from the visiting group of people. His garments were strange; the bright colors were rare around this area, and they fit closer to his frame than either a chiton or the peplos preferred by men of the upper classes. Also rare were the light color of both his hair and his eyes, the former light brown kissed with gold and the latter an electric blue.

He smiled and instantly she felt the Call, strong and true, leading her straight to him. “Welcome, visitor,” she said as she stepped forward.

“I truly feel welcomed,” he responded, and the Call intensified further. Hellene smiled. It would truly be a pleasure to do worship tonight.

~*~

Jim wandered the street, glad that for once the Enterprise was visiting a peaceful planet. Ellada was truly a beautiful place, and they knew it, counting on tourism for much of their income. It had been his job to escort their ambassador back to his home in the small town of Korinthos, and now the crew had a week of leave before they received their next set of orders.

As he passed by a small garden, he couldn’t help thinking, Bones would’ve loved this.

Instantly he stopped, shaking his head as if to get rid of the thought. Bones wasn’t here to see this. She had disappeared three years ago, and had never been heard from since. By now there was no way he could convince himself that she was still alive. He couldn’t stop the occasional thought, though, and by now he knew better than to try. He simply kept moving, soon finding himself in a row of buildings.

It didn’t take him long to figure out that the buildings were temples, some incredibly opulent and some plainer, all well-kept. He continued walking along, noting that the street was full of people going to particular temples. Turning, he saw one that no one had entered yet.

It was one of the plainer temples, at least on the outside, with walls made of the same stones that paved the road he stood on. To Jim, it was unremarkable in every way, having nothing that the other temples didn’t have, so he wasn’t entirely certain why his feet were leading him to it. However, he had quickly learned that his first thought was generally his best one, and there was no indication that stepping inside for just a moment was a bad idea, so he didn’t stop himself.

The walls and floor were made out of the same stone as that which had formed the outer walls, carefully kept clean but largely unadorned. Torches flickered in the corners of the room, and candles graced the surface of what was clearly an altar. There, polished brass bowls, cups, and plates stood, presumably for the placement of offerings.

As he stepped closer, a woman entered from a side door wearing a cloak and the robes of a priestess. “Welcome, visitor,” came the translation of her words.

Jim smiled, as he knew custom decreed, and replied, “I truly feel welcomed. May I ask the name of the deity you serve?”

The priestess blinked, hazel eyes flashing with a glint of gold in the flickering light. “You do not know?”

“No, I am unaware of the names of the gods and goddesses of this area,” Jim answered.

She stepped closer, cloak slipping to reveal brown curls. “You do not feel it?”

“Feel what?” Jim asked, slightly distracted by the shimmering effect the candlelight had on her hair.

The priestess took another step toward him. “The Call.”

“I’m not quite sure what you mean,” Jim remarked, trying subtly to take a step back in order to keep his mind on the conversation instead of letting his attention wander to her lovely face and slender form.

Before he could do so, though, the priestess stepped forward again, backing him into a wall. “The Call,” she repeated. “The Call that brings worshippers and priestesses alike to this temple. The Call that brings a priestess to a worshipper, or a worshipper to a priestess. The Call that brought me here and then brought you to me.”

Jim certainly felt something, and attempted to press further back against the wall to hide his reaction to her closeness. “I’m still not sure I understand...” He allowed himself to trail off, uncertain of her name.

When she offered no name in response to his unfinished remark, he spoke up again. “I don’t think I caught your name,” he admitted.

She looked up at him, puzzled. “How do you catch something as insubstantial as a name?” she questioned, confusion written all over her features.

Jim chuckled. “What I meant was I don’t know your name, and I’d like to learn it.”

“Ah,” she murmured in understanding. “Surely names do not matter in a time such as this?” she asked, pressing up against him.

Getting his hands to her hips just in time to keep their lower halves apart, he replied, “It matters to me.”

“You are a strange individual,” she said softly. “Come to a temple to do worship, you are more concerned with the name of the priestess than providing a satisfactory worship to the Mother. In fact, you hesitate to do worship,” she remarked, looking down at where his hands still held her at bay.

“All the same, I’d like to learn your name. And you never did tell me the name of the goddess you serve, either,” he reminded her.

She looked up at him. “Will you stop this hesitation if I give you the names?”

He nodded, then replied verbally when she seemed a bit confused at the gesture. “Yes.”

The priestess smiled up at him. “My name is Hellene, and I serve as Head Priestess to the goddess Aphrodite.”

Jim couldn’t help a shiver at her smile. With the revelation of the goddess she served most of their exchange suddenly made a lot more sense. “So, about this worship...” he murmured, pulling her closer.

She grinned up at him. “Follow me.”

Hellene took his hand, leading him through a door at the side of the room they’d been standing in. They passed through a hallway, Hellene ignoring several doors before leading him down another hallway to the right. There she opened the first door she found, gently pulling him in, and Jim thought maybe he understood what she was talking about when she had mentioned a call of some sort.

~*~

Three Years Ago

Jim sighed as he stared at his PADD, looking over his current list of approved crew members.

He smiled as he saw the approval for Chief Engineer: Montgomery Scott. The man came off as more than a little insane, and especially had at their first meeting, but after the way he had handled the last parts of the Narada situation, getting them out of range of a black hole when no one else could, there was no one he would trust more to be his right hand man down in Engineering.

Looking down, he noted that also approved was Communications Officer: Nyota Uhura. His smile broadened into a grin at that; while the two hadn’t gotten off to the greatest start, Uhura had more than proven herself for the position even before they had ever boarded the Enterprise. There was no one else he could think of for that position, and he was glad her posting had been approved.

Likewise, his requests for Navigator: Pavel Chekov and Pilot: Hikaru Sulu had been approved. Finally, he had all but two spots filled: those of Chief Medical Officer and First Officer.

However, at this point he’d thought he’d had all but one filled. Frowning, he commed Bones. Surely she hadn’t rejected the posting?

His frown deepened when no response came. A second attempt ended in much the same way, as did a third.

Finally, he decided to contact Admiral Pike instead, figuring he’d know why his request had been rejected.

“Pike here,” came the admiral’s voice.

“Kirk here. I was just wondering if you happened to know why I have two blank spots on my roster instead of one.”

There was a brief pause before Pike’s reply. “Didn’t you know?”

“Know what?” Jim asked, not sure he knew or liked where this was going.

“Lena McCoy has been missing for two days now. As such, we cannot affirm your request to have her as your CMO.”


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