"Computer, execute program WangTemple318," Ming said as he walked up to the holodeck entrance.
<Program ready.> The doors slid open to reveal a Buddhist temple, complete with rock garden. Ming found a place to kneel down and tried to enter a meditation state.
It was difficult, however. It had been just over a month since he had been freed of the Kelvan's influence, and he still found his mind strangely unquiet. The birth of Karissa's babies hadn't helped.
His mind kept flashing back to Maya, how he was able to hold that precious little life in his hands. How the baby squirmed and cried as she drew breath for the first time. It could have been his child who had lived...
Ming had long ago reconciled any lingering feelings he may have had for Karissa. She was someone who, under ordinary circumstances, he would never have pursued. Not only did she vastly outrank him, he wanted a counselor who could be objective toward any problems he might have. The loss of Ah-Jian, however, still stung...
*Must focus on the nothingness. Must abandon myself to the universe...* The meditation state was very difficult for Ming to achieve. And right now it was what he most wanted.
Ming knew he couldn't *try* to meditate. To put effort into the process was to defeat the process. But to still his thoughts was something he had trouble doing even under the best of circumstances. A holographic monk sounded a gong, which only further distracted him.
"Computer, eliminate that monk." The monk vanished.
Now there was nothing -- no other living presence in the simulation but Ming. But still, his thoughts would not calm. The nagging doubts about his own fitness even to be in this place.
The door opened behind him, and Ciara entered. "I was told I'd find you here," she said quietly. "Are you okay?"
"I can't meditate... nothing I do, or nothing I don't do, seems to help. I can't seem to control my thoughts..."
"You've been inhabited by a Kelvan for the better part of a month. That alone would scramble anyone's thoughts!" she said. "We'll be arriving at Starbase 901 soon. Some good old-fashioned shore leave is what you need!"
"I suppose...," Ming said, looking downward.
"Now, come on out and join the world. We've missed you!"
"But my meditation--"
"The program will still be here later, silly!" Ciara said. "Besides, maybe that's part of the problem. You've been trapped within yourself so long you need to get out!"
"Lord Buddha said we'd never reach enlightenment all at once. Perhaps you're right. What do you have in mind?"
The Junior Officer's Ward Room was very busy. A very spirited game of darts was being played by Shara and Cody. Shara kept making bullseyes and though Cody came close, wasn't quite as accurate. She would laugh playfully. Since the time she had come onboard, Shara had done a 180. Varn, Parnell, Delveccio and Benson were playing a game of cards and enjoying it, razzling Cody when he didn't match Shara's throws.
"You think it's so funny, one of you try coming over here and going up against her!" he said, but they just laughed. He made some comment under his breath, but looked at Shara's smiling face and would just laugh himself.
"Now you know, I have an advantage...," she said as she got behind him and let her arms slide around his waist. "So you can't feel too badly..." This touch prompted some hoots from the men.
"Calm down, guys!" He scolded.
Shara laughed. Just then, sensing movement behind her, she turned. In the doorway she saw Ciara walk in with Ming. Her smile grew.
"Hey!!" she said. "It's good to see you back! Both of you!"
"Thank you," Ming said. "It's very good to be back!" It had been the first time he'd sought out his friends since the Kelvan had left him. Ming immediately wondered why he hadn't done so sooner. They more than anyone else had helped him feel at home aboard the *Ronin*.
"So, what will it be? Darts, or Antarean whist?" Cody asked.
"I think I'll try my hand at darts," Ming said. "Cards just sounds like too much brain work right now."
"This from the guy who just arm-wrestled a Kelvan!" Cody laughed as he handed Ming the darts.
Ming took his turn. The first dart hit the center. The second dart hit about three rings out and to the right. The third dart hit nowhere near the board. His usual game of darts.
"Haven't lost your touch, I see!" Shara said, smiling.
"Are you going to have a throw?" Shara asked Ciara.
Ciara's eyes twinkled. "Sure! I'll give it a shot." She took the three darts. Darts wasn't usually her game, though she wasn't bad at it either. The first hit the first ring out from the center to the right. The second hit the second ring out to the right and the third hit The first ring out and to the left. Ciara shrugged her shoulders.
"Probably the only one here that might be able to truly give this one here," Cody said, as he playfully spanked Shara on the rear, "a run for her money!"
Shara's eyes grew wide with the playful smack and she laughed. "I'll make you pay for that later...," she said with a devious glint in her eye.
A resounding "Oooooooo" sounded from the card table.
As the dart game continued, Ming felt his mind achieving the peace he had so desperately sought in the holo-monastery. Life was what was important!