STF

Rand meets Jessa ... When the past doesn't match the present...or the future

Posted Jan. 20, 2022, 3:56 p.m. by Lieutenant Devon Rand (Intelligence Officer) (David Shotton)

Posted by Civilian Jessa Novar (Child) in Rand meets Jessa … When the past doesn’t match the present…or the future

The crew that Rand walked past were just a blur as he headed to the Sickbay where the girl was kept. Many of them smiled and greeted him, then paused with a frown as the Bajoran officer simply walked past them like they didn’t exist. Right now, they didn’t, and Rand needed them to not exist. The meeting had made it very clear what he was to do and what his priorities were, but like all Intelligence meetings the illusion that the brass knew what the hell they were talking about was thick. This one had been no less vague under the impression that Intel knew exactly what was going on, and while they had given him instructions, the information and tools they provided were lacking. They were always lacking on the front line which was the exact reason Officers like Devon Rand were put there. Jobs had to be done and people that could do them, had to be used.

It didn’t mean he had to like it, but it was his job. In a way, that made the Bajoran ex-Security Officer, Ex-Resistance member, Ex-Police Commissioner who now worked for Starfleet Intelligence, the perfect agent. Loyalty was in the eyes of the beholder.

The doors to sickbay opened and Rand stepped through, letting them slide closed behind him as he looked for Evrilla. Rand knew that the girl was well enough to move, Sickbays own medical reports said so. Now, Rand needed to know more about why she was here, and he needed that information from one of those who had arrived. Judging by the incident in the transporter room the adults were dangerous and unpredictable so, the clear place to start was the kid. Hopefully the multitude of Starfleet personnel trying to figure out what was going on in their own ways hadn’t damaged the childs trust or ability to communicate beyond repair. Hopefully Rand was able to offer her something that she wanted in return for the information he wanted.

Noting the Security Officers outside the door of the girls room, Rand made his way first to Laurens desk. Lauren would be starting in around ten minutes he knew, her shift was about to begin and after the previous night, Rand suspected that she would be getting as much sleep as she could. That would mean a rushed coffee and no breakfast for her, so he placed the takeaway cup of strong, rich coffee and a donut on her desk ready to surprise her. After talking with Lauren the previous night as they lay in bed, the idea Lauren had had was perfect now for what Rand needed.

If it was going to be all he needed, he was about to find out. His eyes came to rest on the section the girl was being held, and he began to walk towards it. Everything in his body language spoke of the man being exactly where he was supposed to be with every understanding that he had the authority to be there. Rand was working.

“I’m sorry Sir, Authorized personnel only,” the Security Officers hand came up indicating that Rand needed to stop. Immediately, Rand held out his authorization chit so that O’Neill could scan it. “Luckily, that is exactly what I am,” Rand answered with an expression that fell somewhere between I’m working here and We’re both just doing our jobs, don’t be a dork about this, you know me. Starfleet Intelligence had bumped up Rand’s Security Clearance levels so much so that even Rand was slightly surprised when both of the Officers double checked their scanner, then promptly stood aside for him.

Walking into the room, Rand stood just inside the door and looked at the girl. She looked far younger than he expected, even the intelligence dossier that they had been compiling on her didn’t do her youth justice. “By the Prophets, how did you get mixed up in this?” Rand muttered under his breath. It wasn’t loud enough to be heard clearly, but his voice seemed louder than he intended in the quiet of the room.

Lt Devon Rand, Intelligence

Jessa’s eyes flew open first hearing and then seeing the man standing in her room. From her point of view, the man looked like the rest of the people on the crew with dark hair and average height. The only difference she readily noticed was with ridges on the bridge of his nose and an earring on his right ear shaped like a serpent with a curled tail. Even though she was still groggy from sleeping, Jessa’s mind was already turning. Mardusk had threatened someone was coming for her yesterday on the observation deck. Jessa wondered if this was that man. If it was, she was not going to leave the room quietly. Tensing her body Jessa didn’t say anything waiting for the man to announce his purpose in the room.

Rand said nothing, he just waited for her to wake up enough to really react to him. Let her talk first he thought, let her take some control in her mind. Instead he stood, relaxed, on this inside of the door. One hand on the strap of the bag over his shoulder. The Bajoran proverb Silence constitutes supreme Authority ran through his mind. Someone taking the initiative and talking first always felt they were in control and leading, but allowing someone to take that lead by remaining silent showed a confidence and authority that would sit in their subconscious mind if done right.

“Who are you,” she spoke in a steady tone. Jessa was a bit surprised the man was alone but a few of the people didn’t come in two-man teams.

“My name is Rand,” he answered and smiled lightly in introducing himself. “I’m a Lieutenant here on the Atlantis. I brought you something.” Opening the flap of the satchel he carried, he pulled out shoes and exercise sweats, fresh underwear, a hair tie suitable for sports. Each one he dropped lightly onto the end of her bed before stepping back and nodding to them. The clothes were all the same colour with printing on the side. On the top, was a hard plastic patch that looked the same as the metal comm badges that the people on this ship wore on their uniforms. “Put those on Jessa, we are going for a walk.”

Jessa flinched slightly as he tossed a pair of shoes and a new set of clothes on the end of her bed. Leaning forward, she lifted the shirt up looking at it. She could not read the writing but recognized three of the letters across the front from Tatly’s name: A, T, and L. The pants had the same print down one leg. “I am not leaving this ship without a fight,” she looked at Rand. “Not without the Elders.” Jessa looked outside the door seeing Reed and O’Neill talking to the medical staff. Since they were not barring Rand’s entrance to her room, Jessa assumed whoever this Rand was, he was permitted access to her.

“That’s good to know, thank you for warning me.” Rand’s thanks was genuine, that was exactly the sort of thing he needed to know. One piece of the puzzle was in place, now for the rest. That was easy, perhaps this wasn’t going to be so difficult after all. “I’m not taking you off the ship, I have no intention of doing that,” Yet, not yet.

“Then where are we going,” she made no move to comply with getting up or putting this new uniform the crew had provided. This encounter with the crew felt different. The only time she had left the sickbay was when Ian took her to Rinker and when she demanded and left with Mardusk.

“You and I are going to the ships gymnasium, one of them anyway. Lauren tells me you’ve been stuck in here too long and are getting a little bit bored, no way to burn off all that energy you young women have, am I right?” Now he did smile, “So go put those on, do your hair and I’ll be waiting.”

“I don’t need your clothes. I have my own. Lauren said they were washing them. You can take them back,” she nodded at the pile on the end of the bed. Wearing the prison blues, as she thought of the medical scrubs, hastily given to her last night after her shower, were comfortable but not something the Elders could see her in. “As for the shoes, you can keep them too. I have boots over there,” she gestured with her head. The boots were typical with flat soles and coming up to just below the knee.

“Your clothes aren’t here and there’s no way you want to go running in that,” Rand nodded to the medical gown she wore. “You’re going to be more comfortable in those sweats,” Rand lifted the bottom of his uniform shirt and revealed he was wearing the same coloured exercise tank underneath it. “Nobody runs in a medical gown or regular clothes, but I’m not going to force you. Put them on or refuse, it’s your choice. I’m just trying to help you to be comfortable.”

“This is not a medical uniform. It is a prison blue uniform,” Jessa looked at him rolling her eyes. Actually, she wasn’t sure why her uniform was blue while the rest of the Elders wore orange. The shirt and pants looked similar enough. Both were plain without strings, buttons, or snaps and only elastic to hold up the pants. Her first guess was that it had to do with her age but these people did love their color coding: Red, yellow, and blue.

The blue could also signify she was a medical prisoner since everyone that worked in medicine seemed to wear blue. Her thoughts drifted for a second to Heathcliff Rinker. He wore blue but she hadn’t seen him once here. Too bad she never thought to ask what the man really did.

He took a few steps to the boots and picked them up, made a show of looking them over and then looked back at her. “If you want to run in these things, Doctor Evrilla is just going to get angry at me for giving her a job to fixing all the blisters on your feet. Put the shoes on at least.”

Jessa kept her bellyaching to a minimum. If this Rand was taking her to the gym, it was at least out of the room. She could behave herself for now.

Picking up the clothes, Jessa exited her room heading to the small bathroom, she had been using since she arrived. Dressing quickly, Jessa brushed her teeth and pulled her hair back into a ponytail before leaving the only area she had any privacy. Exiting the bathroom, she noticed Rand was no longer in her room but chatting with O’Neill and Reed in the center of sickbay. The tone and body language of the men suggested to Jessa they were acquaintances or maybe even friends.

“Here she is now,” Reed said to Rand and O’Neill, who both had their backs to the door. At that, Rand turned around to face her, bag still on his shoulder. “Ready to go?” Rand asked her.

“I’m ready if you are,” she glanced at O’Neill wondering if this would be the last time she saw the man. If it was, part of Jessa would be sad. Of all the people she had met, only Reed and O’Neill had been with her every day. She had no doubts they only saw her as a job, Jessa only saw them as her jailors but there was a comfort in the familiar.

“Alright then, come and walk beside me. Lets go and burn off some calories shall we?” His tone although light, made it a statement rather than a question and as Jessa moved towards him and they turned for the door, both of the Security Guards stayed in place.

“You’re not coming,” she glanced at her security detail. The longer she was with this Rand, the more suspicious she was becoming this wasn’t a ploy to transfer her off the ship.

“O’Neill and Reed are going to follow us in a minute. They’ll wait outside the gym till we’re done and I can walk you back here. Best I can do, even I can’t escape the rules most of the time.” Rand’s smile was almost childlike, as if avoiding the rules was a game that he enjoyed playing. He wouldn’t lie, he wouldn’t have been in Intelligence if he didn’t enjoy breaking the rules from time to time. The only rules he didn’t break were his own.

“Hey handsome,” Lauren called out just as Rand and Jessa prepared to leave the room. “I found the coffee you left me along with breakfast,” she alternated her hands showing the drink and food. ” You know what I say about do gooders. Do good things for me and I will do good things to you. Be home at seven and be prompt.” She gave Rand a smirk before hiding her smile behind the cup of coffee Rand had brought her. “Oh and be back by nine-thirty. No later.” Lauren didn’t announce that Jessa had to be back for her ten o’clock appointment with Rinker. Sometimes it was better for Jessa to not know the details about everything.

He shoots, and he scores! The crowd goes wild The mental imagery ran through Rand’s mind as he turned to Lauren’s words. Oh yeah, I got brownie points with the good woman and and and, I get to do my job. This is a good day. “Hey gorgeous,” Rand answered very clearly not caring that they were in ‘work hours’, “How could I not bring my favourite woman coffee and breakfast? After all you do to me? Seven, no later, we have a date.” Rand finger gunned at Lauren but grimaced, “Why you gotta go give us curfew? Nine thirty? Come on Jessa, we won’t get to grab a Taco after our run if we dawdle.” At the door Rand turned back to Lauren and smiled, “Nine Thirty, no later.”

Leading Jessa out into the corridor, they headed towards a nearby turbo-lift in silence. Let her make the conversation Rand thought, Let her talk to you, let her relax and lead the conversation.

Jessa walked in silence with Rand a few feet before testing the waters of a conversation. “So you and Lauren are an item,” Jessa asked as the turbo doors snapped shut. Normally Jessa was taking in every detail she could when she left sickbay. Today however she was on edge. At some point, they would try to remove her from the ship and Jessa needed to be ready for it. That was why she concentrated so heavily on the people around her instead of mentally mapping out the ship.

Jessa

“Oh so you’re on first name terms with Lauren?” Rand smiled and glanced at her, “That means she likes you. See she tells everyone to call her Lauren but if that person isn’t nice or hurts people, she becomes Dr Shan. What colour lollipop did you take?”

“Oh my god, it was one punch. One and the guys is like twelve feet tall. There is no way that hurt him. Why is everyone so upset I punched that man?” Jessa was so tired of everyone talking about hurting other people and how bad it was. Violence was usually not the answer but at times it was. “Don’t your women ever punch a man? Oh and as a side note I like the red ones but you never answered my question about Lauren.” Jessa didn’t really care about the reply. It was just a way to keep the conversation off her.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Rand lied, “Who did you punch, and did he deserve it?”

“That big green alien guy,” she replied tugging at her ponytail, “and yes he did. I was trying to leave sickbay and he tried to stop me. If I had used,” she stopped speaking before going any further. “If I had used more diplomacy maybe it would have turned out differently but after yesterday I realized it wouldn’t have mattered.” Jessa needed to be more on guard. No one needed to know what she could do. If she hadn’t used it on the observation deck, then she didn’t need to give them a heads up now. “Anyway everyone is acting like women here should only eat sparklemints, drink bluetean, and talk about arranging flowers.”

“Women definitely do punch men here,” Rand answered her other question, “I’ve seen Lauren break an Orions nose, Kelly arm lock a Ferengi who suggested Oomox. Sometimes you have to resort to violence, it’s the only language some people understand, and some people just deserve it. Of course in my opinion they have to deserve it, we can’t just do it because we want to, that makes us the kind of people we fight against.”

As the doors opened and Rand led Jessa out, he looked at her again but for longer this time. Then, he stuck his hand into the satchel and pulled out a bar of some kind. It was covered in a yogurt coating with chucks of what looked like chocolate and dried berries inside it. “Here, it’s before breakfast and you’re probably hungry. It’s one of my favourites, Berry Peanut Choc energy bar.” Rand shrugged and smiled, “Lauren keeps telling me it has too much sugar in it but I have a sweet tooth. Are you thirsty? I have, uh, vanilla protein shake or apple juice, or an ice coffee.”

“No thank you,” she said politely. “I am sure there is some sink nearby I can shove my head under if I get thirsty.” Her stomach growled slightly seeing what looked like a candy bar and the iced coffee but she did not see Rand get the offered items out of the replicator. Until she actually got to a gym, she wasn’t sure this wasn’t still a ploy to remove her from the ship. “And Lauren has never mentioned you so are you just kissing her arse to try and get lucky or are you really dating her because part of me thinks she could be out of your league. She is really pretty,” Jessa looked Rand up and down.

“Lauren and I are an item, yeah. We have been for quite a few years now. I met her on another ship when I worked in Security, like those two back in the Sickbay that have been watching you.” Rand answered the girl and smirked on the inside. Lauren was the more talkative of the couple by a long mile, but she almost never divulged deeper or more personal details like who she was seeing or the small things that made her tick. That often confused people who spoke to her for a long time and eventually found out that despite the long conversations, knew very little about her other than what she was comfortable with them knowing, surface fluff and filler mostly. Lauren never mentioning him to a patient, even one she cared about neither surprised him nor concerned him.

“An item,” she looked at him processing what that could mean. “Is that like mates ‘cause Chris was with Ian and called him a mate. So I asked if he was his life partner and Chris busted out laughing. He said something about his missed us or messed up,” she shook it off not worrying too hard about the slang since Rand was here to define it. “I don’t know what he was talking about but said that some person called Lexi joked about it all the time and this must of woman said they might as well be. So is an item a life partner, mate, spouse, girlfriend, or a missed us?”

“An ‘item’ can be all of the above,” Rand said, “it really depends on the context and the local language culture. Ian and Chris are definitely life partners,” Rand smirked, “but as best friends, not husband or wife, although if that was the case Ian would definitely be the wife, I think. I mean his wife Kelly wears the pants.” Rand paused a moment, more gathering thoughts than anything else. “So that missed us term you said, it’s missus,” Rand pronounced it slowly. “He comes from a place on Earth called Australia, and they are pretty relaxed with their language. Missus, the way he says it means wife or girlfriend, and that is the Lexi woman. ‘Mate’, that he called Ian refers to a good friend rather than a romantic or reproductive partner. Confused enough yet? Lauren is my girlfriend, we live together.” Rand was slightly glad that Jessa seemed to have little idea of the species in the Federation. If she did, she might have been suspicious of how an alien like Rand knew small details about the crew and where they were from. That was his job, but Jessa didn’t need to know that.

“Oh and yeah she is very, very pretty. But I have a big asset that she can’t get enough of, so out of my league or not we love each other.”

A look of understanding swept over Jessa’s face. Almost like relief in finally understanding a difficult concept. “So you are wealthy.” Jessa nodded and kept walking. “So how big is this asset? Big enough to take care of her for the rest of her life?” While Jessa had no actual need for money because the Order gave her everything she required, she could not deny its power. The wealthy used currency to purchase everything from favors, to black-market goods, to their lives at times. The part Jessa didn’t understand was Lauren didn’t seem the type to focus on material things yet she really didn’t know the woman past her visits to Jessa’s room.

“That’s one way of describing it, sure,” Rand nodded. “I am pretty rich, rich enough to easily look after her for the rest of her life. Of course, it’s not just about money, you have to know how to use it to. You can’t just throw money at people and expect them to be satisfied forever, there has to be more to it than that or money just won’t be enough after a while. She loves me, and I love her. That’s more powerful than wealth in the long run.”

“Wealth is just as powerful as love,” she countered. From her perspective as a twelve-year-old, she saw money and power differently than Rand. “Wealth can buy love. If your life depended on you having the money to secure your position in society or pay bribes. If you are broke and you find a wealthy benefactor I have seen love blossom.” Although her words sounded fairytale, the tone of Jessa’s voice told Rand she had a pretty good idea of how money bought love even if it was love without feeling. “Most people I know are completely satisfied with the materialism wealth buys. That is why you really should make sure you do have a largest enough asset to always protect her. There are a lot of people that aren’t very nice out there. Best to have lots of liquid assets.”

Rand was more than aware of the type of people Jessa was talking about. No matter what Galaxy you were in, it seemed that kind of person existed anywhere material wealth was deemed to be a need more than a want. Wealth would never buy love, just lust and manipulation. For some, that was enough. That Jessa’s Galactic Union clearly had a backdrop of the wealthy and powerful, meant that any conflict against them would be far simpler in theory. Remove the wealthy and powerful and the reason the masses had to fight on their behalf, disappeared. “Oh don’t you worry about my liquid assets,” Rand said simply, “I have more than enough to tide Lauren over and make sure she is safe from, not very nice people.”

Jessa secretly put a pin in this information. While she didn’t give two hoots about this Rand, he did seem important to Lauren. If needed she wondered if Rand would surround his fortune to help Lauren run in the coming months and years. It would make it a lot easier for Jessa to have to deal with one less person when the Galactic Union arrived. So far the list was growing way past what she thought she could handle on her own. She would do it but if Lauren had a way to run and hide, it just meant Jessa could focus on the immediate people without resources.

It was time to start however learning more broadly about this Federation. The system was small but having a bit of knowledge was always better then no information. The fact that these Federationites seemed to move freely would be both an asset and hinderance. Jessa decided to probe on just how freely they were allowed to travel.

“So you have a lot of different races in your Federation and all of you live and work together,” she nodded and then pretended not to care. “Novel concept. Our people prefer to stay on their own planets to ensure they are around others that believe the same things and observe the same customs.” This was not a full lie by Jessa. She had often wondered why the only people that traveled among the various planets in Vela Astria were either part of the Galactic Union or the Order however, when she did ask, the above response seemed to make as much sense as any.

“Yes,” Rand nodded, “the Federation is as much of a melting pot of races, species and cultures than anywhere else. On any space station you can experience Klingon food, they serve it living by the way, or Ktarian chocolate, Vulcan tea, Bajoran Hasperat, the list goes on. Things you would never get if you were restricted to one place and one culture.”

“Not really. Your thin air foods can make anything you want so you really don’t have a need for intragalactic take em’s unless you are about to point out that it is not the same as someone actually making your food. If you do that however, then why does everyone strut about saying thin air food is the same? So since you can get any food you want anywhere you are here in the Milky way, why would you waste the resources traveling to Klick-On for food? Just walk on up to the wall and order it.” Jessa felt her step lighten a bit. It was not that she was proving Rand wrong. It was that she was showing Rand what he really could live without in the future. It was nuggets like this that always made transitions easier. “Might have just walked into a circular argument there Rand proving there is no need to leave your homeworld for something you like.”

Rand smiled and nodded as she spoke, “Except you forget that you just said that your people prefer to stay on their own planets and observe the same customs, by extension that means you won’t be eating another cultures food, right? It’s not the custom of the Andorians for example to eat Klingon food on their traditional holidays, so why in your examples would your people stay on their own worlds and eat other cultures food? It doesn’t make any sense. You stay on your planet and eat your food, that’s what your people prefer, right?”

“Because people do not need exotic specialties. They need meats and grains. Your thin air machines would not be used to create delacies on the re-educational worlds. On the other worlds people would not use them. Hard work is rewarded. Sloth is not.” Rand had no idea how the Galactic Union worked. These machines would not be used to recreate the sweets and beverages the crew seemed to favor. It would be used to feed the masses something past the thin watery soups and hunks of bread. She would not tell him this though. In fact she was not going to tell even her people. Jessa would deliver the machines to people that would know what to do with them. The idea that the machines would deliver holiday biscuits or Astrian ice cakes to starving people was almost laughable. Hungry people wanted their bellies full and not something that satisfied them for five minutes. As much as Jessa admired the technology that created these devices, she was also angry that her people did not have such an amazing device.

Rand paused for a second as he walked, then continued, “Those Thin Air Food Machines you talk about are called Replicators, if you start calling them that people will know what you are talking about and you will sound more grown up, by the way. Anyway, if anyone tells you that Replicated food is the same as real food, they are both right and lying, see,” now Rand stopped and held up the energy bar he had taken out of his satchel earlier.

“This bar, is delicious, but if you replicate this, you get this, every time,” he handed it to Jessa, “this bar, this taste, this flavour, every time. Unless you ask for something different and then you know exactly what you are getting. Nothing new, nothing to experience. This taste, every time you order it. Now, if I went to a shop where someone made this by hand, it would taste different, the cook will put in their own touch, their own flavour and that will be different to the one next door. If I ordered Klingon Gagh from a Klingon chef, it would taste different to Replicated Gagh, plus it would be alive. Replicators can’t create life, so the only way to experience real Klingon Gagh is to eat it from an authentic Klingon chef. Even if your people used replicators to create another cultures food, it wouldn’t be the same as going there and having it there. Imagine eating the same sandwich for the rest of your life, or listening to the same music, watching the same show? A culture does not advance and grow by doing the same thing. A people don’t move forward or advance, or become better by doing the same thing.”

“Just because our artists and painters choose to live together to practice their craft does not mean they don’t create or producing anything new. Groups of like minded individuals all working towards one goal is powerful. You will learn,” she said confidently.

“So your people work hard, and then get rewarded with meat and grains, got it.” Rand nodded. “Being part of your Galactic Union must suck,” Rand smiled slightly. “I mean, you work all day, work hard, and at the end of the day you don’t even get something nice. It used to be like that on many planets now in the Federation, you know, back when we lacked technology and had planets ruled by a small number of individuals who wanted to control others. Back then, people starved. Worked hard but it wasn’t for their own betterment, it was for the betterment of people in higher positions than them who took what they wanted at the expense of the people. The people rose up, cut the heads off the small number of rulers and bettered themselves. The people were free and technology blossomed, free thinking blossomed into new ideas that paved the way for the technology we have now. Do you know that ship of yours? Nash, our Engineer, told me that it’s made of metals that we stopped using centuries ago because they were weak and we developed better metals and construction methods. He called it an antique, a quaint little ship. What I am saying here is that the machines we have don’t encourage sloth Jessa, they make it far simpler for a large number of people to pursue careers in science and the arts, to improve our Federation. If you have people stuck growing potatoes to survive, they won’t be pushing your civilization forward.

“To expand your soul and grow you need to experience other customs and beliefs, we do not believe that it harms or taints our beliefs, but it makes our belief in our customs and culture, our religions, stronger. “It is the Unknown that Defines our Existence as my Prophets say. It’s why the Federation has survived where so many other Empires that seek to dominate through fear have fallen. People fight harder for what they believe in, what they love. Who they love.”

“Be the candle that shines in the darkness letting its tip touch every world so that we unite all under one vision of hope, faith, and servitude. Our one true allegiance is to enlightenment. Do not allow your place of birth define you. Give forth your soul, mind, and body to order for order will achieve peace and unity for all,” Jessa quoted the passage used during the Invocation ceremony. Of all the ceremonies the Galatic Order had, the ones with candles were her favorite. Letting out a sigh however, she looked at Rand realizing how lost he was about the Galactic Union. “One can experience anything. I can eat Plumeberry Cake and feel happy but see how the chaos of the Ydhiri and not appreciate that. I don’t have to like both to like one.” Jessa’s speech and cadence lost the sing song quality and took on a more inquisitive tone. Her pace slowed to more of a stroll instead of trying to match Rand’s stride.

“Do not allow your place of birth to define you?” Rand repeated her words, “yet your people prefer to stay on their own worlds and not mix with other cultures and customs, that sounds like that goes directly against what you just said.” Rand could see exactly what was happening already, whoever these people were they took a scripture and were twisting it for their own ends, not allowing true faith and belief to shine through, instead, it was a managed system of servitude and indoctrination. That was valuable, and helpful. Indoctrinated people were already susceptible to further manipulation, they had already lost their free will and were little more than parrots for the system. One just had to understand the system to exploit it and Jessa was more than willing to explain it and argue with him about it’s merits. Their enlightenment seemed little more than doing what they were told was good by the leaders of the faith. Rand could see that the Do not allow your place of birth to define you comment was aimed more at making sure different peoples of all cultures and species gave themselves to the faith despite their own culture, but by deliberately misunderstanding her words, she would willingly tell him more and correct him. The leaders had a good thing going for them, even promising peace and unity simply in exchange for their willing obedience, their soul and of course, their minds. Rand was impressed at the same time he was sickened. Jessa was too young to see behind the words, too young to understand their true intent. Federation Intelligence would break her in minutes but she was too young and probably too low in the food chain to be of real use to them. He needed more than what she had to offer.

“That is meant for those touched by the Divine,” she countered and then continued.

“Besides everyone wants to talk about culture and heritage like it is something sacred and holy to be preserved yet should we preserve the slave trade of Ielsi? How about the ritualistic sacrifice of Zumasias children when a family extended past their licensing requirements? Is that the culture you are suggesting the Galactic Order preserve or share with other civilized worlds? Some things should not be preserved. They should be wiped from the face of the galaxy so there is no trace of that blight.” Speeding up to get in front of Rand, Jessa stood in front of him blocking his way. Her action was fast and unexpected but not aggressive or provoking. Looking up at Rand, Jessa wanted his full attention on her.

“We can walk and talk,” Rand said, stepping around her and continuing on his way, “we don’t have all day so catch up.” Rand spoke over his shoulder and then didn’t look back.

“Ugh” Jessa groaned and followed him. The one thing she was not going to miss about this experience was all the adults not staying one step behind her. It was really annoying and hard to control their directions when walking. Running two steps to catch up to him Jessa shot Rand a dirty look before continuing to talk.

“Well do you think we should remember those things about a culture or take the best things from it and create a new one with only the best qualities of every civilization we encounter?” Jessa felt a headache coming on.

“The Federation has a rule, we don’t meddle with the internal affairs of other Federation members. If they have methods or religions or practices we don’t like, they don’t become members in the first place. That means they miss out on technology, advancement, trade. Medical and scientific knowledge. Their business is their business and not ours but we don’t have to let them play with us,” Rand looked down at Jessa now, trotting along beside him again.

“So not everyone is allowed into your Federation. You are selective. You only take the ones that share your vision and leave the rest to fend for themselves,” she summed up his reply. Of all the things Jessa had learned this was of infinite importance. When galaxies were not one united entity it made the conquests easier. “So if they do meet your criteria,” she led Rand into continuing his conversation.

“Now, if they do expand their business into our business, a different matter. If they develop a new business while with us and we don’t like it, different matter. The Federation has thousands of races and planets all working together and playing by the same rules, rules that all members accepted before joining us. We didn’t conquer them, we simply gave them something better to be part of, and they chose us. How many of your Galactic Unions worlds joined from free will, not by being conquered, slaughtered or threatened into submission? How many do you have to watch for rebellion? The Federation has no rebellion in our borders, we all want to be here. Including the ones that stopped their slave trade and ritualistic sacrifices of children to be part of what we are. We have taken the best things of every civilization in our Federation through partnership and created something amazing, and it was built with freedom, not the slavery of conquering worlds and taking what we wanted because we could. The Borg tried that, they tried to forcibly assimilate every culture they came across, make something they thought was better. One vision. They failed.”

Jessa had no idea who these Borg were but they obviously did not know how to take over a planetary system. Luckily for the Galactic Union, these Federationites seemed to have hubris in spades. It would be their downfall.

Jessa needed to get Rand off this topic. He was quite chatty about Lauren so Jessa moved the conversation back in that direction.

Jessa didn’t care much about marriage rituals here but she did care about the relationships. She also understood why the Elders and the Order did not live amongst the general population. It was hard to be devout when you saw how the masses lived. So many of the things this crew did were not harming anyone but most of their daily living seemed edging on the rebellious or straight out traitorous but were they really hurting anyone. Already their thoughts and ideas were snaking into her own perceptions of what living meant. Damn that Rinker for even asking her about her opinions and thoughts. Thinking was for the Elders and Deacons in the Order. It was for the Orators in politics. It was not for a simple Guardian, who at this rate was never going to be a Patron of the Order.

“So you and Lauren have traveled together a lot,” Jessa probed. Maybe Rand would give her an idea about how large and powerful this Federation was. The stellar map showed it was rather large. Nothing the Order could handle but still big none the less.

“We’ve been a lot of places together, Lauren is a very, very strong woman and she cares a lot about people, especially young people.” Rand put his hand on Jessa’s shoulder for a moment as they walked, “and can I tell you a secret? She’s told me that she cares a lot about you, she got real sad when you got hurt.”

“That was generous of her but the Ritual of Cleansing keeps us on the path,” Jessa shrugged it off. As if suddenly self-conscious though, she wrapped her fingertips over her sleeve cuff and pulled it lower concealing any chance this Rand would notice the large bruises still healing. Evrilla had completely cured her arm. Jessa had full use of her hand but the bruises would take a few more days to fade away. Jessa had to distance herself from these people. The more attached she became, the more they added to her worry. Already she was prepared to do whatever was needed to protect Tatyl from the Order. Her list of those to exclude from the Revival and re-education had to stay small.

Rand pursed his lips for a second and said nothing. Silence constitutes supreme Authority. He needed to find out what her Ritual of Cleansing was, Rand knew enough about religion even with his own Prophets to know that names like that were often not associated with a relaxing shower at the end of the day. There were enough Klingon Rituals and Rights that dealt with cleansing the spiritual or shedding weakness that Rand had some idea of what this Cleansing might entail.

“Besides Lauren appears to like anyone until they make her angry.” Jessa let out a small laugh and shook her head with a smile as they stood in front of a door to what was probably their location. “You all have it wrong. Mardusk is not the one to be scared of. Lauren and Evrilla are. In fact, I heard Evrilla cut off something called coffee from a person in sickbay. The woman was livid but whatever she did, Evrilla said no and told her eleven more days. My guess is they were giving her that Nutraloaf and this person was begging for anything else but that.”

“Coffee,” Rand echoed. “Evrilla cut off a drink called coffee from that person, the drink is somewhat addictive and is a highly sought after trade commodity. Every species has their own version, and oddly, some of the most warlike like the Klingon’s make the best coffee beans. See coffee is basically bean juice, we roast the beans and then pass water through the ground up remains. That water is tainted with a drug called caffeine that people crave, and that person in Sickbay craves it more than most. Religions have been founded on coffee, wars fought. The closest thing to it is Spice from Arakis III. Want to try some?”

“Wait wait wait,” Jessa looked at Rand like he had lost his mind. “Are you saying this coffee is like a highly prized commodity? The stuff everyone on sickbay seems to run on? The same bitter black drink they seem to love is that,” she pointed to the cup of iced coffee in his hand. The iced coffee did not look at all like the hot drink in the mugs people seemed to carry about like an accessory.

“Not just this coffee, any coffee. It’s the one plant that Klingons lower themselves to consume, and they are a warrior race that keep man eating pig things as pets and food. Coffee is the real currency of the universe, every species has their own version.’ Rand looked at the drink in his hand like it was some kind of miracle juice.

“Give it,” she motioned to Rand waggling her fingers.

“If you’re sure, I mean you could just go and stick your head under a fountain. Pro tip, young one, have you seen a fountain on the ship yet? We replicate everything we need, but the most highly prized things brought onto the ship are real coffee beans. You should see the Captains treasure horde of coffee.” Looking at her for a moment as if he was judging whether or not to give her the drink, Rand eventually shrugged and gave it to her. “Try it, see if you like it.”

If this was a commodity, Jessa was duty bound to access the viability of the product, especially if it was addictive. Maybe it would be a way to make the people of this Federation capitulate easier than the projectors and swords. Making a mental note to find out where these Klingons lived, Jessa drew her first sip and let it sit in her mouth before swallowing it. “Tastes like a milkshake but with a....kick,” she tried to place the flavors. This was leaps and bounds better than anything she had tasted back home. If Jessa was honest, so far this vile, backwater galaxy had some mighty tasty food and drinks. Maybe she would have to add a replicator to the list of items she procured before leaving the ship with the Prism. “And this comes from the thin air food machine you all have,” she asked again skeptical.

“It’s good, right?” Rand grinned.

“So you can get more,” she asked?

“Of course, replicated or real, as much as we want.”

“Excellent. We need to pick up a couple on our way back to medical,” Jessa began sucking down the drink in long sips.

“What? Are you storing that like a squirrel for a rainy day or are you taking it back for the docs? You better slow down on that, you’ll get brain freeze.” Rand slowed down as he walked, watching the level in the cup get lower far quicker than it normally should.

“Please I have drank cold things before,” Jessa glared up at him defiantly and took a deep, prolonged sip. “You do naughhhhhhh,” she bent over pinching her nose hard and stamping her foot. “Not at word,” she held up her finger to the side. “I swear not a word.” Shaking her head, Jessa rubbed her nose hard as she stood up. “And I have no idea what a squirrel is but the coffee is for me. It’s free and the docs can get thier own from the TAF machines.”

“I won’t say a thing,” Rand smirked. “Push your tongue against the top of your mouth,” he said, ignoring what he just said, “it helps.”

The doors to the gym appeared around the curve of the corridor and Rand pointed at them. “That’s the spot. This is where we come to exercise, burn off some energy. Lauren said you’ve been in bed too much for a young person lately so we thought that bringing you out for some exercise was a good idea. It’ll just be you and me in here, nobody watching you and we can put some laps in. You look like a runner, do you play sport where you come from?”

Lt Devon Rand

Jessa watched at Rand’s palm opened the doors to the room. It was interesting to Jessa that he didn’t need a code or key to open the room like most of the ones she had seen. Pulling her attention off of the mechanism, she gazed into the room.

Jessa instinctively took a step back only to feel Rand’s hand on her back. It was not enough to stop her but a gesture showing her that she shouldn’t walk away. The room was huge with a large brown running path curving along the outside. Along the walls hung balls, ropes, weights, and other physical equipment to work out the body in some manner. The large space in the center of the running track held several rooms that held exercise machines. Around these rooms were nooks and spaces for things like sparing, fighting, weight lifting, and a large gymnastic-like structure Jessa had only seen in zoos for the primates to play on. The room had few people in it for its size. One could almost spend their entire workout without running into someone with little effort but all those people in the gym were dressed like her and Rand. At least if they tried to remove her from her, there were things Jessa could use to defend herself.

Dropping the satchel on a nearby bench Rand took off his uniform tunic, only worn to show the Security team that he was actually on duty. With the exercise tank underneath bearing the same writing that Jessa had on her kit, Rand left his earring in and turned back to Jessa.

“What civilized society does not have organized games and leisure? Atrophy of the body shows the putrefaction of the soul. The body is the vessel for the faithful. Build it as you would a road for it will lead you to enlightenment.,” Jessa quoted again in her poetic rhetoric. “Weak people are not productive people,” she translated her interpretation of the Gospels of Enlightenment as she entered the room with Rand.

Jessa sucked the straw again this time producing a slurping, scraping sound producing a frown on her face. It had to be a sign from somewhere that it was time to stop playing and start working.

Taking the word of Enlightenment to heart, Jessa immediately began to run on the large brown, slightly rubbery path. It was time for her to stop being weak and to be productive. She was also not going to wait for Rand to decide where they would go or what to do.

Well, she’s keen Rand thought as he watched her begin to run immediately. If she was trying to prove a point or make him tired by making him catch up, it wouldn’t work. Rand had stretched before arriving at the sickbay, Jessa had not. If she pushed too hard she was going to cramp up. Breathing in deeply, he began to run, finding a pace that would quickly bring him up beside her and be easy enough to adjust to run with her.

It only took a few seconds for Jessa to find Rand was at her side on the track. He easily met her stride but this was a good way to evaluate the man’s abilities. Men always thought height was an advantage but at times it could be a disadvantage. Higher vertical meant longer strides. This allowed men to outrun an opponent on large open areas easily. Tall men however were never agile when they were forced to shorten their strides in small or cluttered areas. She just needed to find what would put Rand off balance physically so she could make him off balance mentally.

“So what was all that just then you spoke about? It sounded kind of similar to a few things from The Prophets. They are the gods of my people, the Bajoran people.” Lets test the waters Rand thought, she’s willing to spout some religious rhetoric, but is that for my benefit or hers.

“There be only one God, one savior. Listen not to false prophets and their slippery tongue which will always lead you astray,” she countered. This was the first person to ever mention religion so far. “It’s about believing in the one true God,” she spat back completely snarky. If this Rand thought coming at her over the Elders and the Order would spark conversation he was wrong.

“Is that from your religion or are those commands from some kind of organization? My people worship The Prophets, they live in the Celestial Temple, a wormhole in space and guide my people with their wisdom.”

Rand would have lost her but the mention of a wormhole reeled her back in. “Tell me about this wormhole,” she asked. “Is it some kind of tunnel or just a metaphor or do you mean the celestial Labyrinth?” Jessa’s mind was racing a mile a minute. Who was this Rand and how did he seem to know so much?

“It’s a proper wormhole,” Rand smiled, “It’s the link between the Alpha Quadrant where my planet, Bajor is, to the Gamma Quadrant where the Founders and the Dominion reside. The Federation and Dominion fought a war not long ago, they lost and have been exiled back to their Quadrant. It would take a ship 70 years to get there at Warp speed from here, but the Wormhole means you blink and you are in a different part of the Galaxy. Quite something. The Prophets live in the wormhole, which we Bajorans call the Celestial Temple. They live outside of space time, they know the past and the future, and guide my people by sending us Orbs that are a direct link to the Prophets and send us visions. We hold these Orbs in our temples, and people may consult them in times of need. Do your Elders talk to you directly or do you rely on a few elite to tell you what to believe?”

Jessa took a few steps to judge the sweet spot: The spot where Rand would not be able to manage the balanced gait he had next to her. It took one lap around the track for Jessa to find the exact stride for her to cause Rand to be trapped in the middle of a fast walk or slow bopping run. With her stride being so much shorter than Rand’s, Jessa was still able to balance her body perfectly that way if she needed to bolt, Rand would need a few steps to find his balanced rhythm again.

“So by proper, you mean your wormhole behaves and doesn’t slurp up ship’s like an old man with no teeth eating soup?” Jessa’s comment was something only a child would say to dig at someone. It irritated her that this man believed people lived in wormholes. No one lived in wormholes. They lived on the other side of them or just on the edge but not in them. Again it just showed how little these people knew about science and how heavily they relied on hoodoo and magic.

Rand adjusted his gait and frowned, she was clever, but she was clever for a child. It was an uncomfortable pace for him but he could match it, for now.

“Yep, it does exactly as the Prophets tell it to,” Rand replied, two could play at her game, except he was telling the truth. “Although it did actually slurp up ships. When the Dominion tried to send an invasion fleet of two thousand ships to attack the Federation, they had to come through the wormhole. The Prophets protected us, defended their people directly, stopped the suffering and war that the invading Dominion would have caused. They simply made the entire Invasion Fleet disappear, wiped it from existence. It went in one end of the wormhole and never came out the other end. Gone, destroyed. Praise the Prophets, Only Fools Ignore Wisdom, and the Prophets are wise beyond the petty desires of conquest of the Dominion.”

“And your wormholes are more like ankle deep holes if they only go within the Milky Way. In Vela Astria they go between galaxies, not just quadrants. Maybe you should go grab an orb and ask your false prophets why this is.” Jessa was having a hard time staying calm on this topic. She was used to people not understanding the way of enlightenment but these prophets were going to have to be dealt with immediately when the time came. Jessa knew she should not let this get her so angry. She was used to people not being on the path to true enlightenment. It was her job to help them get on the path so she continued to explain.

“Why would I ask them? I have faith and trust that their wormhole does exactly what it is they want. Why do I need to question that belief?” Now Rand smirked slightly and wondered how she would come back from him essentially saying the same thing she had been earlier. “Besides, maybe they didn’t make the invasion fleet disappear altogether, maybe they are watching you and your friends and maybe they think your Galactic Union is a threat? Maybe they sent the Dominion battle fleet to your Galaxy. They are Gods, they can do whatever they want and they definitely meddle and act in our affairs. Your Elders seem to be the only link you have to yours.”

“They should,” Jessa immediately answered this question about the Dominion. “We are an unstoppable force. No one comes into out backyard unwanted and leaves still alive.” The conviction in her voice was easily read as someone who had never lost a fight. What she was saying was not rhetoric but utter faith in the system that produced and raised her.

“In your quaint little Duralloy ships? Honey the Dominion has Tritanium armor with extra shielding and polaron weapons that can cut through your ships like butter. If they need to, they have no problem simply ramming you to get you out of the way, sacrificing their own ships and soldiers. Death for them is no obstacle, for they believe in the absolute power of the Founders, the leaders of the Dominion and to die in their service is what they are bred for. If they turned up in your Galaxy, your Union is in trouble.” Rand really didn’t believe at all that the Dominion Fleet had gone anywhere near her galaxy, but the extra information she was giving in return was more than valuable.

“To address your question about do we speak directly to the Divine…no Elders do not speak directly to the Divine. The Divine gave us the holy scriptures which we implement and share throughout the galaxies under our control. We don’t need to ask questions because we know what they speak of is the true path. It’s called having faith and believing in something bigger than yourself. Faith requires no explanation because faith lies in belief, without any reservation. One can not see air and yet we breathe. One can not touch love yet we feel it. Only in blind belief will we find truth.” Jessa had always loved that scripture and used it often to help people see the path. It was simple and easy to comprehend. Looking over at Rand, she hoped he understood.

“That makes sense,” Rand nodded, “I agree with you. Belief and Faith are bigger than ourselves, absolutely. Be careful about blind faith though, it will blind you to lies told by those who do not hold true Faith in their hearts, and they will use your failure to question their words against your Faith. You must understand your Faith to truly be able to question and challenge those who would betray the Faith to lies, ambition and greed. If you blindly follow them without question, are you really being true to your Faith?”

“If you have doubts then how can you have faith,” she countered. “Blind faith… is just slur used by those that don’t believe. Devout is devout. Those on the path to elightment have no need for greed or ambition. The most common man to the highest elder only seek enlightenment. You can’t buy your way into the afterlife… at least for us. All on the path will reach their destination. Tell me can you buy your way into the prophets good graces through favors or wealthy? Is that why you have your assets? Just in case you find your prophets need some incentive?”

“I have faith because my questions were answered and the Prophets have guided me to where I need to be,” Rand answered. “I am stronger for having doubts, and having those doubts answered by my Kai and the Prophets themselves. The Prophets do not concern themselves with wealth or favors, that is for the weak, the blind who never question their faith and if their conscience holds against what that faith tells them to do. Can you honestly tell me that your Faith has never faltered? You have never had a doubt? Never had a question? If you have never had a question about your Faith then you must have as much knowledge as your Elders, you must know as much as they do, right? Because if they know more than you how can you not have questions when you still have more to learn? How can you not have doubts when you don’t know as much as your Elders? If you have no questions and no doubts, then you have no use for your Elders.”

Not wanting to overburden him too quickly with the truth, Jessa asked a more secular question.

“So,” Jessa ran a pace that made it challenging for Rand to match, “what sports do you play?” Turning the question back on him kept the focus off her. It also would give her insights into society. People were always more compliant when turning to the faith when you kept some things initially the same. Local holidays and sporting events were the fastest and most efficient route to do this. The addition of a rule or two more to the game or finding a date within the Gospels of Enlightenment to show their holiday was already part of the Orders, caused less rebellion and bloodshed.

Jessa

OCC: You don’t have to use this but since I did design the Atlantis gym a few years back I thought I would reshare it. ~ Kate

https://imgur.com/LcKGKgr overhead view of the gym
https://imgur.com/LAIwuyH Side perspective 1
https://imgur.com/mI9qu02 Side perspective 2
https://imgur.com/3lImsCt Free weights view 1
https://imgur.com/chCXyAE Free weights view 2
https://imgur.com/vzBKtl5 free weights view 3
https://imgur.com/BiL1ViJ Toning room
https://imgur.com/AjmSTza Cardio room
https://imgur.com/5r3Shnf hallway toning and cardio in the middle of the track
https://imgur.com/daf6UXP sparing area
https://imgur.com/8ltnLEU warrior elite section

OOC: I remember this! I love it.

IC: “I play whatever I feel like,” Rand smiled, “currently I have a thing for basketball, but I also play rugby, practice archery and shooting, martial arts. I love trying new sports. It is the Unknown that Defines our Existence as my people say, bless the Prophets. “What did you like to play the most? Maybe we have something similar.”

Jessa had no point of reference for the games he mentioned except for shooting and balls. What was it with these people and balls? Rinker had one and used it for talking. O’Neill had let her play with a maze puzzle where she had to get small balls into slots by tilting them left and right but not letting any ball come out of a slot once it was in it. Walking around with Mardusk, Jessa saw several screens with men running up and down a wooden floor chasing an orange ball in the large open market area of the ship. “I have seen your ball sports and played several of them. They don’t seem too much of a challenge. Maybe your shooting sports require more skill. Where do you do those,” Jessa asked casually. If they had shooting sports they had shooting weapons. This Rand was turning out to be the most beneficial person she had met in the past three days.

“On the holodeck,” Rand answered casually, “that’s where most of our sports that can’t be done here in the gym or requiring a special playing area are played. Like Anbo-Jitsu, a combat martial art with two armored opponents and large staffs fighting blind, fencing with swords, shooting practice with phasers against moving targets, Rugby. “The holodeck provides us with any area that we want to be in that we don’t already have on the ship. A swim at a beach, rock climbing, skiing. It’s limited only by your imagination.”

“So this place is smoke and mirrors.” The sentence was more a statement than question. She felt a flash of anger directed not at the man beside her but to the one she spoke to yesterday. He had promised this was not an illusion and that this was a ship. He had even let O’Neill take her to a window where she looked out into space. At least now she understood why the sky was so foreign. It was not real but artificial. “So you mean hologram but call it a holodeck,” Jessa probed needing to understand more.

“Oh this is real, this ship,” Rand explained. “The Holodeck makes holograms, that’s right. It makes them in a room set up with holo-emitters that we can make any place we want appear, although we are not actually there. My planet, Earth where Lauren comes from, even your home world if you program it right, or just describe it well enough. It’s on one part of the ship though, not out here. If it were out here, we could just tell it to end the program and it would. I can show you one day if you like.”

“I’m going to run a bit more, you said before ‘The body is the vessel for the faithful. Build it as you would a road for it will lead you to enlightenment,’ running like this is not going to enlighten anybody and I feel like being enlightened. Keep up if you can, may the Prophets guide you.” Rand grinned, and then picked up his pace leaving Jessa behind him. He wasn’t running fast, just at a normal steady pace that she could easily match.

Lt Devon Rand

While she wanted a more thorough explanation of this holodeck, now was not the time.

Jessa stopped dead in her tracks hearing him quote the holy word but then slap on his false religion. There was no way Jessa was going to allow his prophets to beat her Elders. Taking off in a burst of speed, she closed the gap a few seconds later trotting at Rand’s side. “Your prophets couldn’t keep up if they tried,” she countered putting on a bit more speed pulling ahead of Rand slightly. If he was going to follow a religion he was going to follow hers from behind.

“Who says they would try?” Rand asked, his tone simple and open. “They don’t consider other religions a threat, neither do we, we have faith in our Prophets and our people. Do your Elders consider other religions a threat to them? That sounds a little, insecure in their god to me.” Rand kept running behind her, but put on a little speed to encourage her to run faster to keep ahead of him. He could show her how secure he was in his Prophets by letting her lead.

“You have a planet that follows them the Order has galaxies,” she said almost proudly.

“Whole Galaxies, really?” Rand asked, but made his voice sound like he was full of wonder at her statement, that it impressed him.

“And we don’t fear other religions. We just re-educate people so that they see the errors of their thoughts,” she added in a calm tone. “Enough education and the non believers always come around.”

Jessa

“They follow them, but do their hearts believe in them?” Rand asked her. “For the Prophets it’s not a numbers game, they have no desire to lead an Empire, their concern is their people.” Rand was interested in her statement of Galaxies, that made him open his eyes slightly but it wasn’t why he was here. That was a question for other people.

“Even when the Cardassians conquered Bajor and stripped our planet for resources and put the people to work in slave camps, we never lost the Faith in our Prophets. The Prophets will Always Guide Us we believe, and they did. That was how our freedom fighters beat the Cardassians and took our planet back, our Faith and love for our people and Prophets. Now, we are a member of the Federation and guard the Celestial Temple, Gateway to the Gamma Quadrant and the Dominion.” Rands voice turned to venom for just an instant when he mentioned the Cardassians, then calmed again after returning to the Prophets.

Devon Rand

Jessa ran faster pulling ahead of Rand slightly to make him keep pace with her. She was tiring quickly but Jessa could not let him outpace her however the mention of freedom fighters pulled Jessa’s attention off running. “You were able to quell reb…elll,” she started before tripping on one of her laces that had come loose and falling to the track. Her speed caused Jessa to not just stumble but land on her knee and then palms. A burning filled her hands and her pants now had a small tear in them.

Rand came to a stop beside him, and reached his hand down to her but didn’t touch her. “Are you hurt? Let me help you up.” His voice was soft and he held out his hand, palm up, for her to take.

“Triffing hell,” she cursed before immediately standing up and starting to run again. The first step sent a burning sensation shot across her knee indicating she had scraped it but that did not stop Jessa. Her gait was not as fast as she worked out the sting but Jessa continued, albeit at a slower pace, shoelace still untied and flopping about. “So the prophets were not loved and adored by all,” she immediately began the conversation again. “Tell me about the uprising and how you defeated it,” she demanded in her slightly off-kilter gate. This was the first time anyone had admitted life in the Federation was not all peace and tranquility. Learning more would not only help her understand how to deal with such issues at home but also give her insight into how this Federation handled insurrection.

Jessa

“We didn’t defeat it,” Rand was next to her now and put his hand on her shoulder, forcing her to stop. “We were the rebellion. The Cardassians invaded and conquered our planet, we were not a warlike people and we had not joined the Federation, neither had the Cardassians. They were warlike, followed orders and were devoted to their leadership. The attacked and took control of our planet, and started stripping it for their war machines and industry on Cardassia. Sit down over here,” Rand pointed Jessa to the seat where he had placed his bag, it was nearby, they had come back to the point where they had begun.

“We fought the Cardassians at every step. Sabotaged their supplies and machines, captured and killed their soldiers. Destroyed ships with bombs we made ourselves and assassinated their leaders as they slept or ate our food.” Rand’s voice was gentle but the undercurrent of hatred for the Cardassians was strong, and he let it show in his voice clearly for her to hear. “We took our planet back, and when the Cardassians joined the Dominion in the War against the Federation, we supported the Federation. We didn’t shed a tear when the Dominion reduced Cardassia to ruins when Cardassia wanted to stop fighting the Federation after the Prophets made the Dominion battle fleet disappear.”

“I can heal your scrapes,” Rand said and held up a small dermal regenerator from his bag, the same one he took with him when he helped Lauren on her private missions. “Tell me more about your Elders and your Faith while I work on your hurt,” Rand sat down on the bench, “We on Bajor would have loved to have wiped out the Cardassians, it took the Federation too long to help, it was an internal affair between two Non-Federation worlds, they said. It sounds like your Galactic Union would have done more, faster, but would they have helped the Cardassians or us?”

Lt Devon Rand

“Neither,” Jessa said off-handedly as she watched Rand fix her knee. “We would have used your distraction of fighting each other and taken you both over at the same time. Two front wars are hard for governments to win. The populace gets war-weary. They get tired of burying their soldiers. The monetary cost of wars cripples most financial systems.” She flexed her knee several times before standing up on it and shaking it out.

“Clever, I like it,” Rand nodded. “Tactically sound.”

“Your home therapies still impress me,” she backward complimented Rand looking around the gym. While it was not filled with things completely familiar, it was filled with things she understood. Bars and balls, ropes and things to hit: all gyms in that aspect were universal. Moving to a mat, Jessa inspected several bars mounted to the wall. Looking over her shoulder at Rand, Jessa picked up one that was blunt on both ends and resembled a broomstick more than a weapon. There were other more ferocious looking training weapons with blunted edges yet Jessa was more interested in learning if Rand could defend himself rather than winning a match.

“You are welcome,” Rand put away the medical device and looked at her, grinning. “One day your people may invent something like it, when they can stop growing potatoes to survive and learn more science.”

“Tell me Rand…do you have the ability to defend yourself or are you afraid of a little girl,” Jessa twirled the stick like a baton. Rand had said so much and so much he needed to pay for . Rand might not understand Ritual Cleansing but Jessa would show him even if he didn’t understand it now.

Jessa Novar

“I can defend myself just fine, thank you,” Rand said and pushed himself to his feet, brushing off his hands. “I’ve had a lot of practice over the years, and my training focused on combat for a long time.”

“If you are saying you want to have a sparring match, you want to fight me or am I afraid of you, the answer is no. No I am not afraid of you and no, I won’t fight you. I have no reason to fight you, no need to. There is no point to it, is there. Besides, Lauren would kill me if you went back to the Medical bay after exercising with me with a black eye and a broken rib. That pole is used in Anbo-Jitsu, a martial art where you fight blind and the aim is to knock down your opponent or force them out of the ring. It is a hard martial art based on reflexes, hearing and intuition. You haven’t practiced it so the match would be completely unfair, so put it down before you hurt yourself.”

Rand


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