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Lead, Kindly Light.

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Opaka had died three times and negotiated a ceasefire before the existential questions of her situation really began to bother her. She had been in the caves for half a year by then, and only the chronometer reminded her when it was time to say the hours; she would never see Bajor’s sun, or any sun, again. She wasn't Kai Opaka any more, and she wasn’t even sure if her orders were still valid.

But she kept the hours, none the less.

The Time of Cleansing was past, and the lectionary had brought her to Horran’s First Prophecy. Horran had always been one of her favourite of the ancient Scriptures; he hadn't spoken much of the great political and cosmic events of Bajor's history, but - doomed as she had been to walking the uneasy path of a leader under the Occupation - he was all the dearer for that. Horran's prophecies reminded them that the Prophets could be sought and found in the ordinary and every day, in spring wine shared with a friend, in sowing seeds and bringing in the harvest, in birth and in death.

That, though, was rather the problem. "The body dies, and the bones are scattered; the pagh goes forth and the Prophets lead it home to the Celestial Temple."

She had died - three times - and the microbes would not let her stay dead. Would not let her body and mind stay dead, but her pagh? She shivered; perhaps she was left here, a pagh-less automaton which would keep working until the moon crumbled to dust. She had been so sure that the Prophets had wanted to bring her here, but she had not heard their voices since she had left the Celestial Temple, and there was no Orb here for her to seek them in. And - she had done her best as Kai, but her hands were dirty. Perhaps the Prophets were punishing her. Talnot, perhaps, would be a more appropriate messenger of the Prophets to consider - "you have seduced me, and I was stripped naked..."

Perhaps her pagh was in the Celestial Temple, and her body and mind walked in this unholy half-life, surrounded by brutalised criminals who scarcely remembered how to do anything but kill and die. They had argued, back in the monastery, over the nature of the pagh. It was not the same as the intellect - one could still sense the pagh of those with degenerative diseases - so, presumably, the reverse could be true, one could be walking around and rational, and the pagh be withered or gone. And how could she possibly know? There was no prylar or vedek here who could counsel her, and the Prophets were silent.

And yet, the people here were people, brutalised criminal zombies or not. They needed her. Or at least they needed something, and she was all they had. She had promised to walk in the path of the Prophets, giving them her body, her mind, her pagh. She could not see that her mind and body were released from that, even if her pagh was.

Her eye fell once more on Horran's book. "Dark is the night, and though once I rejoiced to see my way plain, I cannot see the route ahead. The Prophets veil my eyes, and yet I will trust them. I see the spot where I will plant my foot; if they will leave me that, it is enough."

Enough? There was enough work and to spare, for many lifetimes. Perhaps, after all, it was good that the Prophets had given her them.

She closed the book, and went out.