Title: The Path to Stovoqor
Author: Vicki L. Reid
Email: dekrrini AT aim.com
Summary: After Jadzia's death, Worf wonders if he is doing the right thing by winning a glorious battle in order to gain admittance for her into Stovoqor. First in The Path series.
Disclaimers: Paramount owns all things Star Trek, including the crew of the Enterprise and the universe in which they live. I'm only borrowing a few of them for fun--not profit.


Slamming a tightly clenched fist into the transparent aluminum viewport, Lt. Commander Worf growled with frustration and barely contained rage. Jadzia was gone; her death pointless and without honor. Now he must win a great battle so she could gain entry into Stovoqor, the place where the honored dead reside. Almost everyone he had ever loved were now in Stovoqor--his parents, K'Ehleyr, even Kurn in a sense, since his brother was lost to him forever. But not Jadzia. Not without his help.

His fist slammed into the viewport again, a part of him wishing the transparent aluminum would shatter like glass and blow him out into the vacuum of space. Worf had no fear of the upcoming battle; his Klingon heart yearned for a fight to the death. But was it right to induct Jadzia into Stovoqor? What of her loved ones who had already died or would follow her in death? She would be alone in Stovoqor until his own arrival, which could take many years. Would she even want to be in there?

Sighing deeply, Worf stared out into the endless void, his heart feeling just as empty and dark. Since Jadzia's death, Worf found himself reliving every moment of their short time together. With his first step onto Deep Space Nine, she had made it clear that she wanted to mate with him or rather she wanted a Klingon mate. He had sometimes felt that she would have accepted any Klingon not just himself.

Her knowledge of Klingon tradition and lore was amazingly thorough, and she seemed to have a firm grasp on Klingon ideals--at least in an abstract sense. But when it came to living with a Klingon and following these same ideals, it was completely different. Time and again she would speak publically of private matters as she had when she blurted out in Quark's Bar that they were trying to conceive a child. Talking to her had made no difference as she continued to follow her own path sometimes even seeming to take joy in his embarrassment and anger. It was almost as if she were two different people. And he supposed that in a sense she was. Jadzia was a young, strikingly handsome woman; Dax was a centuries old symbiont.

Which of them had yearned to be Klingon, Worf wondered. Which had loved him? Jadzia or Dax? Even more importantly which had he loved? While she lived Worf had chosen not to dwell on this aspect of Jadzia Dax's uniqueness. And so he had no real understanding of Trill tradition or philosophy. Instead, he had chosen to simply love Jadzia Dax to the best of his ability. Not as much as she deserved. Not as much as . . . "No!" he exclaimed aloud. "Do not go there! Not now. Not ever again."

Pulling his mind away from that forbidden thought, Worf wondered again if Jadzia would even want to go to Stovoqor. That Curzon Dax would welcome entry into the Klingon version of heaven, Worf had no doubt at all. Curzon was long dead, and all that remained of him was conjoined with the symbiont, Dax, but his reach into the future had been long. In fact, most of Jadzia's knowledge of Klingons came through Curzon who had bonded with three warriors of some esteem--Kor, Kang, and Koroth. Because of Curzon's blood oath, Jadzia had fought beside the three with honor as they sought vengeance against the Albino. She had shown that day that she had the heart of a warrior, but did that mean she sought Stovoqor rather than the heaven of her people?

As a Klingon, Worf found it difficult to comprehend the subtle nuances of a Trill joining as Klingons tended to see the world in black and white. One lived and died with honor. When a warrior's body died, the soul traveled to Stovoqor to reside with the honored dead. There was no living receptacle of the dead's memory or soul. Jadzia's memories resided within such a receptacle now with Curzon, Lela, Tobin, and the others who were Dax, but did that mean her soul lived on in Dax as well or was her soul waiting at the gates of Stovoqor for him to prove her worthy of entry. "Had she eaten the Albino's heart, I would not now have this problem," Worf grumbled.

Martok had made it clear to Worf that most Klingons expected him to follow tradition and send his mate off to live with the honored dead. But he could not follow this path should it not be the one she wished to follow as well. He had never forced a woman to do anything against her will, and he was not about to start now. Worf had flouted Klingon tradition before, and he would do so again, if it were Jadzia's wish.

Jadzia's wish. That was the crux of the problem. What was Jadzia's wish? Stovoqor or the Trill afterlife? Neither or both? Was it even possible to be in both? Worf wished he could discuss this problem with another person. Someone trained in counseling the grief-stricken survivors of sudden death. But the only person on the station with such skills was Ezri Dax, who could barely tolerate being on the same station with him. Although in some ways it would be like speaking with Jadzia again, Worf feared he would learn nothing of use to his current dilemma for his mate would likely tell him only what she believed he wanted to hear not necessarily what she wanted for herself.

Ezri Dax posed yet another problem. Klingon tradition concerning marriage and death was simple. A man remained married until death separated him from his mate--or she divorced him. Jadzia's corporal body had been killed in a fit of pique by Gul Dukat, and the Cardassian would pay with his very life, but she lived on through Dax. According to Trill tradition, the new Dax could not reunite with him, but Klingon tradition seemed to demand it, since a part of Jadzia Dax could be found now in Ezri. But Worf knew this was the lesser of his problems since Erzi had no inclination to pursue any sort of relationship with him, and a way could be found around Klingon tradition if the need arose. Until then he would focus on the status of Jadzia's soul.

Worf had been wrestling with this question since Jadzia's death, but was no closer to finding a solution. With each passing hour, his rage and frustration grew. He had not always loved Jadzia as he should while she lived, he would not dishonor her further after her death. *If only I knew what Jadzia would have wanted,* he asked himself yet again.

As if in answer to his question, the commlink on his computer terminal chimed loudly. Irritated at the interruption, he slapped his hand against the link and growled, "What?"

The image on the viewscreen smiled back at him, one finely arched eyebrow raised. "Hello, to you, too, Worf."

His heart stopped, and then began jumping wildly like a kraktor beast in heat. Sinking into the chair in front of the terminal, Worf whispered, "Deanna." After a momentary pause, he added, "I am sorry, Counselor. I have been . . . tense the last few days."

The compassion she felt for him was clear and washed over his soul, easing his heartache for just a few moments. He drew strength from her, thirsting for surcease from his guilt and grief much as a parched man thirsts for water. "What can I do to help?" she asked simply.

"Nothing," Worf answered. "Not unless you have Gul Dukat in the Enterprise's brig and are holding him for me. Or can somehow turn back time."

Ebony eyes, filled with caring sympathy, gazed into his. "I can't provide either of those things, Worf," she said gently, "but I can listen, if you need to talk."

Worf shrugged. "What is there to say? My mate is dead. Murdered by a Cardassian. When I find Dukat, he will die--slowly and painfully."

"What about you?" Deanna persisted. "I can sense a deep inner turmoil in you, Worf. Will killing Dukat ease your pain?"

Finding it impossible to look at her, he allowed his eyes to drop. "Probably not," he admitted. Raising his eyes again, he added, "But Jadzia must be avenged if she is to reside in Stovoqor."

Deanna stared at him for several seconds, seeming to look into his very soul. Worf only hoped she did not uncover his innermost secret for its revelation would serve no purpose now. When she continued to remain silent, he said, "You look well, Deanna. I take it life with Commander Riker suits you."

"Well enough," she replied, "but I'm here to talk about you, Worf, not me. You look terrible. Have you been sleeping?"

"Not much," he admitted. He wanted to tell her of his problem but did not wish to burden her.

"I'm your friend, Worf," she told him. "You know you can tell me anything." When he said nothing, she added, "You trusted me once with your son's upbringing. Nothing has really changed since then."

For only a few seconds or an eternity of time, Worf stared at Deanna Troi. He let a myriad of emotions wash over him as he lost himself in her dark eyes. Regret for lost opportunities was uppermost in his mind, along with jealousy for her obvious happiness with Will Riker. Shaking himself mentally, Worf forced himself to think again of Jadzia. This was her time not Deanna's. Guilt, grief, and remorse threatened to overwhelm him, and he began shaking.

"Worf!" Deanna exclaimed. "Please, tell me what is troubling you. I can help you, if you'll let me."

"I cannot," he managed to say.

"You must, Worf," she urged. "Or you'll drive yourself mad with grief. Talk to me."

"Jadzia," he began only to have his throat tighten and the words choke off unsaid.

"What about Jadzia?" Deanna asked. "Are you afraid she won't be admitted to Stovoqor unless she's avenged?"

Figuratively throwing back his shoulders, Worf stated, "She cannot enter Stovoqor without my help. I must win a great battle on her behalf."

"Why?" Deanna asked, mystified by this unfamiliar Klingon tradition.

"She has not eaten the heart of an enemy," he stated. "And so I must wage war on her behalf."

Deanna smiled. "I know you have no fear of battle, Worf. You're the bravest and most fool-hardy man I've ever known. So what is the problem?"

Staring steadily into Deanna's eyes for a moment, Worf drew comfort from her compassion yet again. And the strength to ask for help. "Does Jadzia want to enter Stovoqor?" he asked. "I would not force her into anything she does not wish. But how do I know what her wishes are? What if she does not want to be separated from her own loved ones, Deanna? She will be alone there until my passing. What if she is lonely? What if . . ."

His words trailed off as Deanna's fingers pressed the viewscreen as if to touch his lips. "You are the most honorable man I have ever know, Worf. Jadzia knows this as well. You have nothing to be ashamed of where Jadzia is concerned. I'm certain she knew what was in your heart."

Although the words were meant to comfort him, Worf felt a dagger in his heart. "If she had known the truth, Jadzia would not have agreed to marry me. If she had not wed me, I would not be forced to make this choice. How can I force her to go to Stovoqor when I do not know if this is her wish?"

"You can't force her to enter Stovoqor, Worf," Deanna assured him. "No matter how many battles you wage for her, if she doesn't wish to enter, Jadzia won't go. My guess is that she has already found her way to her own segment of the Afterlife."

Worf was silent for a moment. "The solution cannot be so simple," he stated firmly.

Deanna smiled at him. "Why not, Worf?" she asked. "You may fight your battle and assuage your Klingon vengeance, gaining entry for Jadzia into Stovoqor--should she want it."

"Thank you, Deanna," he said simply. With a rueful expression, he added, "I seem to always choose the difficult path."

"That's because you wanted only what was best for Jadzia. Because you loved her."

Stiffening almost imperceptibly, Worf said softly, "Not enough. Never enough." For a moment, before she terminated the link, Worf gazed once more into her eyes, etching her face into his memory. When she was gone and he was staring at the Federation symbol, he whispered, "Not nearly as much as I love you, tIqqoch."


Back home