Gods And Goddesses
Chapter One

By Deborah Cook

See prologue for all this crap, my fingers hurt from typing, and i'm only halfway done! i'm afraid to read any feedback unti it's finished for fear of not finishing it!

"Gods and Goddesses" Chapter one

Harry sat at Aphrael's feel, Tom curled up next to him with his head in Harry's lap and Hikaru and Pavel nearby, snuggled up together in the soft white light that permeated everything here. Harry vaguely realized that this was just a dream, and not really one of his visits to Aphrael and her realm. That didn't matter; Her presence was just as comforting in his dreams as it was when She was really present.

A tiny window opened up in the light, and he saw himself; a child sitting at Pavel's feet, learning about his Goddess' history. Pavel told him of the Styric race and how they'd worshipped her for so many centuries, and the trials they'd been through, and Sulu told him stories of Sparhawk and Ehlana and Talin and all the other heroes who had been part of so many adventures with her. Sephrinia still lived, and he'd been privileged to have a glimpse of her once, living out her extended lifetime on her own homeworld with her beloved husband.

The window closed, and another opened. Harry turned to it, seeing himself undergo the First Rites, which allowed him a closer rapport with the child goddess Aphrael, and in turn gave her the link she needed to communicate with him no matter where he was. That was just before he joined starfleet.

Yet another window opened, this one showing a succession of images, him kneeling before various ancient altars, on a surprising number of planets while Priests of her order chanted in the background. Aphrael didn't require such ceremony of her followers, but some races required it of themselves. Love was accepted in whatever form it was offered, regardless of the delivery method.

The last window closed, and light slowly closed in on him until he was floating, surrounded by nothing but light, and then it began to hurt his eyes...

"Wha--?"he asked blearily, waking up and shielding his eyes. "Tom?"

"Morning, Harry." Tom's voice sounded odd, and Harry could see fog from his breath when he spoke.

"What's with the environmental controls?" Harry asked wearily. It seemed as though there was always something vital breaking down. He couldn't keep up with the big stuff, let alone fix things like personal replicators.

"I don't know. Comm's down, there's no heat, and the damn doors won't cycle open. Not even on manual. Our shift started about an hour ago, but since we can't get there, i thought i'd let you sleep. You've been awfully tired lately."

Harry took a deep breath and let it out in a "whoosh". "Aphrael siphons off energy if she's doing something really important sometimes," he said vaguely. Harry froze, and looked up at Tom through his bangs. He knew Tom didn't really believe in Aphrael, even though Harry prayed to her every day, and even replicated offerings of fruit and flowers for her, which he laid on the tiny stone altar he had tucked into the corner of his quarters. Their quarters. Aphrael didn't require any such thing, but he found the process relaxing.

Tom just looked back at him. He seemed more amused than anything else when Harry mentioned his Goddess. He teased Harry about his obsession once in a while, but he never made cracks about her. Not after Harry had gotten so upset the first time.

"Did you try the communicators," Harry asked, pulling the covers more closely around him.

Nothing," Tom replied. "Just dead air. I even tried setting off the fire alarms, still nothing."

"Well, if we can't contact anyone and we cant leave.. we don't seem to be having an oxygen problem... Harry wiggled invitingly and scooched over to make room.

Tom grinned, and started stripping off his clothes.

Harry sat near a familiar stream, waiting. He was clean and warm even in the simple shift he wore, as he always was, even though he hadn't showered after that morning with Tom. A young doe approached without fear and spoke to him. "She is waiting. Follow."

Harry followed her, as he always did, even though he had been here so many times he knew the way by heart. He was led to a small clearing, dotted with stones and flowers and occupied by Aphrael and her High Priest.

Harry sat next to her, and she climbed into his lap to be cuddled, as she always did.

"Harry," she said, soberly. "Voyager is in trouble. There is a God of a people you have not yet met, and he's taken a hand in Voyager's capture." She looked at Pavel to continue, and he picked up where she left off.

"We need to be on Voyager to help you, but we can't contact anyone there except for you. You'll have to prepare them for our arrival."

"I need them to listen to me, or i won't be able to distract his people long enough to get Malin's attention. If i can get the fool to notice me, i might be able to convince him that he's being conned by his own priests," Aphrael added.

"So.... I have to talk to Captain janeway about you," Harry said, forehead wrinkling. "Can you help me get out of my quarters?" he added dryly.

"No. I can't do anything until i'm Called, and I need a bigger voice than yours to follow. I can bring you here, Harry, with a little tug, but i can't follow such a small thread so far. I need more people to believe in me. The more threads i have to follow, the faster i can get there. Do you see?"

"Yes," Harry replied, troubled. "I'll find a way to the captain."

"Good," she smiled happily at him. "I'll return you now, so Tom can make fun of you some more. He really doesn't appreciate you enough, you know," she added reprovingly.

"He appreciates me, Aphrael, he just won't see your stunning brilliance," Harry grinned. Aphrael kissed him soundly and then he felt himself falling to land with a thump which jerked him awake. He'd fallen off the bed.

Harry scrambled to his feet. "Tom," he said sharply, shaking his lover awake.

"What?" Tom demanded irritable.

"We need to see the captain," Harry replied, stumbling over furniture in the dark in an effort to find some clothing.

"And how do you propose we do that?" Tom asked, turning on the portable light he had been using before.

"We'll figure it out," Harry replied, tossing Tom's clothes at him. "Hurry up and get dressed, it's important."

"What's important?" Tom demanded.

Harry hesitated. "You won't believe me," he said finally. "Can you just trust me, Tom? It's important, and i'll explain it when we find the captain."

Tom sighed. "Are we gonna have to sacrifice fruit for this?" he asked wearily.

"No. Hurry, please, Tom?"

"Okay, okay I'm hurrying," Tom replied, climbing out of bed into the frigid air.