Posted by Civilian Evrilla (Chief Medical Officer w/ specialty in Pathology) in Jessa meets with the Elders …When the past doesn’t match the present…or the future
Posted by Fleet Captain Kelly Bordeaux (Commanding Officer) in Jessa meets with the Elders …When the past doesn’t match the present…or the future
Posted by Civilian Evrilla (Chief Medical Officer w/ specialty in Pathology) in Jessa meets with the Elders …When the past doesn’t match the present…or the future
Posted by… suppressed (11) by the Post Ghost! 👻
By the time Jessa had reached her area in sickbay, she had come to a decision. She had been left with no other option. Moving to her bed she grabbed the pillowcase and yanked the soft material inside it out. Digging into her pocket she pulled out the chicken nuggets she had stored in there. “Gross,” she moaned looking at the chunks of meat, she frowned seeing spots where the breading came off and spots where lint and crap from her pockets now coated it. Since there would be time later to pick it off, Jessa emptied her pockets out into it and then stuffed the pillow back into the case.
Lauren cocked her head to the side watching Jessa through the forcefield. “What is she doing with her pillow,” she asked quizzically. From their vantage point the kid seemed to be having what most people would assume to be a temper tantrum but with the only moveable object in the room being a blanket and pillow it was not like she could damage anything.
Watching Jessa go about doing whatever was occupying her, Lauren had another thought. “Can you double a security team here around dinner time,” she asked,
Mardusk nodded silently, his eyes locked on the frantic packing and unpacking of the pillow.
“She can’t stay here Gravel. Physically there is nothing wrong with her. Sickbay is not the brig. We can’t keep routing patients to other clinics. I am discharging her at dinner so around five or so, Ian is going to break the news about being genetically related to her.” Lauren left the news opened ended. No one was still sure how that happened and in the end, did it matter. “I am going to recommend she go home with him.”
“Hell no. She’s going to the brig. But I wanted to make sure she’d be able to handle the change… physically, at least.” Mardusk said flatly.
“The brig…really,” she raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms.
“I’d suggest you rethink that,” Lauren said rubbing her neck. “This thing literally happened to all of us. Do you think when Kelly comes to she is going to be thrilled you stuck her step daughter in the brig with the drunks and the derelicts from the casino and bars? I am pretty sure Ian will be thrilled? JAG will be working over time. I have already gotten three calls for a heart attack from that department and it turned out to only be angina. Lucky Mc Devitt has requested a release of Jessa’s medical records. Evrilla requested a psyche eval which was a no brainer. I heard about the conference room this morning and no one has to tell me Primrose is probably dictating War and Peace for your court marshal. I have a feeling this is gonna get ugly”.
Standing back she set it on the bed and frowned. “You are a triffing idiot Jessa Novar. If you leave it they will just have access to it.” Letting out a breath she grabbed the pillow and pulled it again out of the sleeve. “Hey..Hey, I want to see Mardusk now,” Jessa yelled to the guards not really looking at them as she dumped the chick chunks, breading, lint and dust onto the blanket of her bed.
“I am ready to talk but only for the next five minutes,” Jessa threw in an arbitrary deadline as she picked up a nugget and and tried to pick off anything that was stuck to it.
“Looks like you are being paged big guy,” Lauren patted him on the back. “Hypo,” she pulled out a device from her pocket and held it up for him.
Mardusk took a breath, looked at the hypo, and shook his head. “No thanks. I’m trying to quit.” and he began moving to the biobed.
Jessa gagged slightly as the now cold meat slid over her tongue. These things were so much better when they were hot. “Did you hear me? I said where the triffing seven rings of hell is Mardusk,” Jessa stuffed two more nuggets in her mouth.
“Right here.” Mardusk’s rolling thunder voice filled the shrinking distance between Jessa and himself. Stopping just outside of the isolation field, Mardusk clasped his hands behind him and glowered at Jessa.
“Mother of Ickthan,” Jessa helped putting a hand to her chest as she spun around hearing his voice. “What the hell Mardusk. You need like a bell or something around your neck,” she swirled a finger at him. “I mean how does a guy like you with that much mass move about like a triffing Chrisven mouse.” Setting the pillow on the bed, Jessa walked up to him. Mardusk had not seen Jessa in any way shape or form at her best but right now she was the actual description of a hot mess. Her hair was all over her head, her shirt hung half in her pants and half out, and spots of grease dotted the front.
“Ready to talk? Otherwise I have nice hot meal to get to.”
“Tit for ass,” Jessa said looking at him deadpan. The only thing that broke the silence was an uncomfortable cough and chuckle from outside the door. “Let’s go for it?”
“Tit for tat..tat Jessa,” the guard said in a low looking into the room wearing a slightly oh shoot expression. “Sorry sir,” he nodded to Mardusk before looking back out of the room.
Scrunching up her nose Jessa was not ready to let it go. “Why would you say tat? That is just stupid. I heard you talking to Ms. Washington and you distinctly said you tih,”
“Oh honey we know what he said and he should not have. He’s just bad,” Washington sauntered by interjecting herself into the conversation. “You just bad…mmmmhmmm mmm,” she said in a far more seductive tone to the officer with a sly smile. Seeing Jessa open her mouth Lavonne Washington wagged a finger. “Girl you bes’ not be gettin’ ready to give me any of that sass you were dishin’ out like you were workin’ the chow hall a few minutes ago. And I am done hearin’ that t-stuff coming out your mouth. You hear me?”
“Uh mmm yes ma’am,” Jessa stopped any conversation she was about to have.
“We gotcha chief,” Lavonne said winking before she kept moving but not before she mouthed call me to the man at Jessa’s door.
“Okay, so you get one question. That is what I meant with that whole slang thing I apparently go so wrong but what’s your question,” Jessa said hurriedly.
Mardusk’s arms folded across his chest and he looked down at the chaotic mess that was Jessa. He was silent for almost a full minute before he said “Follow me. We’ll talk and walk.” and he turned and began walking towards the door.
“Like out the door,” she looked at him suspiciously. “We aren’t using the light slide? You want me to step out of this room and through those doors? Those doors out there?”
Once they were in the passageway, with Security detail in tow, Mardusk said “First off, I get however many questions I want. And the more clear, concise, and honest answers I get from you, the better off we will both be. Because at the end of the day kid? We really are just trying to understand just what in the Nine Hells is going on here.”
Jessa didn’t say a single word stepping into the hallway. The man could be asking for her future firstborn child and Jessa would have had agreed. Rinker said everything she believed was false. This would be a way to prove someone wrong and Jessa prayed it was Rinker. The walls were a warm creamy white that almost bordered on yellow. The floors were a dark gray-black polished so brightly they showed almost like water. She reached her hand out and let her fingertips trace the wall for a second feeling only hard metal. There were panels every so often and screens. Jessa kept her eyes out for someone trying to access them. Did they use a card? Was it a numerical sequence? Did they have a bio chip implanted in their skin? These would be priorities to find out.
Jessa knew they were as desperate for information as her so maybe she could let some slip out. Like her, they wanted anything to piece together a puzzle. “Our ship designed leans toward the grays and blacks. It feels so off the shipyards and into service. Your ship is really pretty. It feels like a home almost. A few plants here and there would help though. The Ickthan vessels have tons of plants. Makes you feel like you are on the forest moon.” The men had her in a tight escort formation but that didn’t mean she couldn’t see flashes of things. If they really hadn’t wanted her to see anything they would have used the light slide. Noting a junction coming up, Jessa needed to slow them down.
“Our ship is our home.” Mardusk said without looking at her.
“I like the floors They are so shy,” she dragged the tip of her shoe on a step forcing Jessa to pitch forward and fall down on the deck right in the junction of several corridors. She came down on her knee hard and let her palms slap the surface. Looking to the right she searched the walls for any unique markings or symbols. Midway up the wall, she saw something. A line, a second hook-shaped symbol followed by what looked like a triangle.
Sitting back on her butt, Jessa looked at her knee before brushing off imaginary dust. Pushing off the ground Jessa looked down the left seeing the same line and hook but with a different symbol that looked like two circles on a line. on the wall of the other corridor. “Sorry about that. I can be so clumsy,” she replied standing up and falling back in step with the men.
They arrived at the turbolift and everyone moved inside.
Jessa shifted in the elevator like structure and looked at the pad one of the officer’s tapped. The same line and hook symbol appeared before changing into two lines and finally stopping on a line and circle. Jessa had no idea if they went up or down in the elevator. The ride was way too smooth. What she could deduce was she moved by two units.
As the lift began to move, Mardusk said “So why are you and your Elders here? What is this ‘package’, and why is it so important you talk to someone you obviously have no clue who is?”
Jessa let out a small snicker hearing Mardusks questions that turned into a laugh. Looking up at the man she put a hand to her lips and began to apologize. “Sorry. Sorry I am not being rude but I was talking to someone today and I mentioned you.”
“Well, he could talk like my Aunt Kyla. I mean he talked forever. At one point I asked why he could not be like you and Ian. Use man speak. One sentence, no filler, just tell me what I want to know,” Jessa joked smiling as the doors to the turbo opened. Stepping out she saw the same symbol on the wall. The line with the circle next to it. Making a mental note she kept walking and kept the conversation going. “So which answer do you want first,” Jessa asked.
As they stepped off the turbo lift, Mardusk stopped the group and took a deep breath. He looked down at Jessa and his face was flat… expressionless save for the look of regrettable finality.
Jessa’s expression lost the anxious but neutral expression. Her body stiffened slightly and her eyes met his and never left as he began to speak.
“Listen kid… you may think you are some sort of super clever and stealthy secret agent or something… I dunno. But I know people… and I know a lot about you already. I know you were tracking our movements, trying to see where we went and how. Won’t do you any good, by the way.”
You have no idea who am I or what I am capable of. Keep seeing what you want. Replying to him was no good. His arrogance would be his downfall. Since talking right now would stop Jessa from her goal she let him speak. She nodded as if taking in every word, yet replied in her mind all the things she wanted to say. It helped a lot. She had learned this coping mechanism long ago with the Elders and it saved her life more times than she could count.
The ship won’t let you open any doors or access any systems. That you are trying, though, tells me you are still hiding things, that you have a plan. I know you are fiercely loyal to your Elders… even after they’ve used for bait and almost killed you. And I know that you are smart… smart enough to realize that I am trying to help you. But I can’t do that if you don’t help me. You see that door?” He jerked his to a door quite unlike the others on the ship. The normal doors were stylized, part of the decor… almost welcoming. This door was not. Triple reinforced. Guarded by two guards with rifles. Functional… and that function was obvious: keep whatever was on the other side on the other side.
“On the other side of that door is a prison. I run it. Now I’m going to ask one more time… why are you here, and what is going on? All of it, Jessa. Or you go in. So choose. In there, or out here. Pick one.. right now.” Mardusk said with some finality.
Jessa’s face showed she was taking in all he said. What Mardusk said was serious. Her silence wouldn’t be taken as anything but Jessa weighing her options. Her mind however was preparing two responses. Without hope and heroes, life is spent in malaise. To defeat malaise identify the keys to life. Life is sacrifice so offer it. Life is trust so give it wisely. Life is a struggle so conquer it. Be the force of change in the galaxy no matter the cost. That door might be my sacrifice but I will gladly give it. No great act has ever been completed without sacrifice. If my last sacrifice to this galaxy is tearing through that door I will gladly make it. Trust is earned. You have earned it with all these people. They will live and die from a single word from you but I am not them. I will trust you but as my enemy and not my friend. That is the wisest decision. My struggle right now is being the person you see me as. If I change my loyalty and side with you, you will see me as someone who can be bought and sold. You will never trust me after that. I have only one option to be the force of change.
Having made her decision, Jessa let out a deep breath before replying. “You said answer my question or I go in. Since that is where I want to be in theory I can just sit here and say Triffing nothing to achieve my goal.” Holding up her finger, Jessa signaled to him that she had more. “I know what you meant to say but how and the way we say things influence the actions of others. You want me to trust you watch your words to me because just like you piece apart everything I say I am doing the same thing as you. Once trust is broken it usually is never repaired.” She paused a second and thought. Trife me I did get something useful out of eating with Rinker.
Jessa was still on the fence about her interaction with Rinker. Ian, Mardusk, and Lauren controlled who Jessa saw which meant they were some sort of authority figure. Letting Rinker into her small world meant they trusted him or needed him. Rinker though created more questions than answers which was why she was here. In a perfect galaxy, Jessa would have let Rinker bring her here instead of Mardusk. Of everyone she met, Jessa felt the least threatened by him. Her gut told her that meant RInker was probably the most dangerous of the quad but one could not survive making an enemy out of everyone.
“We are here to deliver a package. You know that I have not kept that a secret.” Jessa’s tone was firm and fluent. Her body language and speech showed she was at least believing in what she was telling him. “I do not know what is going on. No one was supposed to get hurt and everything is sideways. You command all these people, but does every single person under your command have the full details of the mission. I am going to say no and if you say yes you are a liar and you should take me back to my room. You want trust admit that one little thing to me. So either open that door so I can get some triffing answers or keep trying yourself. My guess is you see me as a kid and not an equal participant, however apparently you are not getting anywhere with the adults so let me help you. Stop fighting me because we will get no where and just keep spinning our wheels. ” It might not be the truth he wanted but it was the truth she had at the moment.
Mardusk looked at her for a long time before speaking. And when he did, his voice was as serious as anything she had heard from him before. He bent over at the waist, dropping so low that his face was mere centimeters from hers and his eyes bore into hers.
Jessa moved a step back not because she was scared of him but to prepare to defend herself. He was huge. Jessa had no doubt the man could crush her like a bug if she played fair but that didn’t mean she was helpless. She had shaken her licks, nursed the injuries, and always ended on her feet. If she didn’t this time then she wasn’t prepared to honor the oath she had taken. His eyes were right in striking distance. Eyes, knees, throat, and groin: Those were the only target areas that gave her a fighting chance against the man. She could reach out and try to blind him. She could damage his throat. His knees and groin were too far away and with the four other men in the turbo, she would not be able to strike twice. Jessa would only have one chance. Do you dare RInker’s voice echoed in her head stopping her brain from sending the message to her muscles. It was a completely different circumstance but the message was the same. Should she take the chance? The problem was she didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. So Jessa stood there and let the man wield his power over her because he could.
“One problem with everything you just said… you assume I’m asking them-” and he jerked his head towards the door, “- the same thing I’m asking you. You’d be wrong. I haven’t asked them s#!+. Nothing, at least, that I thought they’d answer. ‘Cause from where I stand they… not you… are the criminals. They attacked my Captain. They attacked my crew. They…” and he moved his face so close his breath made her eyelids flutter, “… cut you f@<#ing throat and left you to bleed out on my deck. But you want to protect them? You wanna protect the people who are so obviously using you for something? Fine. I’ve asked. I’ve asked and asked again. I’ve let you throw your little temper tantrums and deman and insult me and my officers and crew.. and I haven’t taken you task for it. So… you want to be grown up so bad? You want to be part of that group? You got it.” and he stood up straight nad barked suddenly “***One prisoner for intake! Max lock down. No visitors, no medical.”
“No,” Jessa said instantly taking another step back but going no where but into the chest of the man behind her. That did not stop her however from planting her feet.
The two guards snapped to attention and the door opened with a loud CLANG. Mardusk’s giant hand grabbed a handful of the back of Jessa’s shirt and he lifted her up so her toes barely brushed the floor and they moved through the opening.
“Don’t do this,” Jessa yelled out angrily as she struggled to get some purchase with her toes on the slick surface. “You are making a mistake.”
Inside were five cells, but four were closed by a white energy field. The fifth was open, and it was here that Mardusk half-pushed, half-carried Jessa.
As she crossed the threshold, Mardusk let her go with a slightly more than gentle shove, sending her to flat platform that was the bed on the far side. As she slid in, a forcefield snapped into place. Mardusk looked at her and shrugged. “You wanted to see your Elders? Here you go.” With a gesture, the fields on the other side became crystal clear… for two seconds. Then they flashed opaque again.
Jessa went pale seeing the others in their cells. “No wait,” she yelled seeing the fields go dark again. Her eyes snapped to Mardusk and her heart pounded.
“You wanted to see them, and you refused to cooperate. Sorry, Jessa. In accordance with Federation Law, you are hereby placed under arrest. You are charged with assault, assault with intent to kill, sabotage, assault of a law enforcement officer, impeding a lawful investigation, attempted murder, unlawful request of Star Fleet resources, impersonating a Federation citizen, forgery, and terrorist acts with intent to start inter-government hostilities. You are hereby arrested and will be turned over to Federation Security for trial and, should you be found guilty, imprisonment. You have the right to legal representation. Anything you say in your defense will be recorded and used at your trial.” He raised his hand and the cell went completely black and silent.
He looked at the Security team and said “This time, I don’t give a SINGLE FLYING F@<# WHO IT IS, NO ONE COMES IN EXCEPT ME. GOT IT?!?!” The guards all went white and stammered “Y-y-y-yes sir!”. Mardusk looked at them and then nodded once before walking over to a chair in the corner and sitting down. He stretched his legs out and crossed his arms on his chest. “Set a timer for four hours. And if she looks to be in distress, tell me.” and he fell silent, glaring at the cell that just closed.
“No no no no,” Jessa said starting to pace the cell. Panic was growing in her, threatening to overwhelm her. Looking around the room she took in every detail. Ledge, wall, and forcefield: it was a standard cell with no obvious ways to get out. Anger, fear, and frustration began to bubble over. This was the worst idea ever. Why did you come? Jessa closed her eyes letting the small part that was trying to be an adult squash the fear bubbling up inside her. The problem was she had no choice but to come. Now that she was here, the only way out was to find a solution to her current predicament. Her mind raced as a voice popped into her head. In so many ways we have the power to do whatever we want, and we don’t. Is that what evil does? Rinker had asked.
Jessa pulled the rubber band from her hair and began to play with it. Keeping her hands busy helped her think. In his office, Jessa and Rinker talked a lot about power dynamics. She had thought this comment of his was to prove all the things that made these people better than the Elders. Now she realized how stupid she had been. Rinker was not having a philosophical debate. He was just threatening her and she was too blind to see it. The food…the drink…it was all just distractions like that stupid ball game to get her talking so he could use everything she had told him or what little she had told him. The whole reason Jessa called for Mardusk was that she was scared Rinker would not support her contacting the Elders. Jessa let out a nervous laugh as she realized she never needed to do that. Rinker probably sent Mardusk there to take her into custody. Now she wished she hadn’t thrown the ball at his wall but at his balls, as he mentioned was done before.
Rinker almost had her half believing the Elders were the evil he spoke of but this cell was the proof he was wrong. Jessa hated herself for not being devout enough, loyal enough to trust in the order. If she had not doubted Zala Tsu and her wisdom about these people being deceivers, Jessa would not be in this situation. She fought back the tears knowing what she had to do. “Life is sacrifice so offer it,” she said in a low whisper. So many had sacrificed everything for the Order. They were no more special than she was. Bhelen Dromelad sacrificed an entire planet of innocents to save billions of people in the Umi System for the Order. Jessa was only being asked to sacrifice one: herself to trillions of souls. She was sent on a mission and the completion of that mission was all that mattered. The mission had gone terribly wrong but there was a way to save it.
Jessa took a seat on the bench slowly. Taking a deep breath she shook her hands out trying to rid her body of all the fears she harbored. Closing her eyes she reached out to the others. Instantly her body went cold as she felt them. The bond between the Elders was not a true telepathic connection. It was more of a psychic link but with specific requirements. Individually none of the members could read anyone’s mind like other telepathic races. The connection needed four people hence why Elder’s always traveled in quads. This quad also needed a child. The reason for this was simple biology. Children’s brains were more active, having more connections per brain cell than adults. These connections were the tightest between areas of the brain that were physically close to each other. The adult brain was more efficient having less connections but stronger ones. It was this pairing that allowed Elders to talk amongst themselves when needed but only for a short time.
Pet, why are you here? Do you have it, Zala Tsu’s voice filled Jessa’s head. Are we ready to leave
No they had me confined but why did you hurt them? Jessa immediately began with questions of her own. She had to get Rinker and all his subversive ideologies out of her head before she could focus on anything else. They might have helped us.
Are you questioning us, Da Mu instantly filled her mind.
Did you forget they shot us? Rogan’s anger was almost palpable.
Da Mu’s voice raged out over Rogan’s drowning him in Jessa’s mind. Are you so weak that two days with these people have turned you from the path of righteousness? You are a traitor to the Order and you know what happens to those that turn from the light? Prepare yourself because I will be the one to make an example of you to others. I will crush every bone but your skull so that
Enough Da Mu, Rogan’s voice cut him off. She is not a traitor. She is just confused. Besides, there are worse things than the Ritual of Cleansing. You know that don’t you Jessa?
Jessa let out a deep breath, putting a hand over her heart as she began to shake. Large tears began to stream down her face. Yes, but I don’t understand. Why did we not stay with the plan? Why did you hurt her? She was innocent.
“Sir, you’ll want to see this.” the brig supervisor said to Mardusk. The CoS stood up and came over. On the vids, all the prisoners had suddenly sat up and were either focused on something or in some kind of trance. “What the…” Mardusk said softly.
Innocent, Zala Tsu’s laugh gave chills down Jessa’s spine. What have they told you? That we provoked them? Why would you believe them? We kept you safe. We protected you. You did not see the weapon she pulled on Da Mu. They want you to believe we provoked them but who pulled us from our ship with their light weapon? Who reacted with suspicion and fear to our plea for negotiations? Who shot at us as we,
They did but Da Mu’s actions, Jessa licked her lips trying to find any way to believe what she needed to be the truth.
You traitorous little Triffing varphole, Rogan’s voice took on a sharp edge. Have you forgotten why you are here? Have you forgotten your mother and her sacrifice? Are you picking her over them? Do you want to condemn her to eternal death? I will make it my sole purpose to find her before that and make sure she knows how you faltered and fell. Take their side and believe in it. Embrace it knowing you killed her and not the evil that marches across our home towards theirs.
Jessa choked back a sob and put a hand over her mouth and nose not wanting to make a sound. She could not see the security officers but that did not mean they could not see or hear her. No I am sorry. I can fix this. They want the package.
“The kid is crying, Chief. And thats not scared crying.” “No… no its not. Start a medical scan of all the prisoners. Focus on the brain and nervous system.” Mardusk said.
Focus on your mission. Forget the noise of the unbelievers. There is a way to redeem this all. You are just young and they know that. That is why they separated you from us. I did not want to hurt you, pet but I knew they would lock us away. Do not let them fill your mind with falsehoods. You know the truth. That was the only way we could have one of us free because you were free weren’t you. You weren’t in a place languishing like this, Zala Tsu’s voice was now soft and gentle. We are sacrificing the torture in these cells for you to do your part. Do not let us suffer much longer. We are strong but everyone breaks. Zala Tsu’s voice had a pleading quality to it.
You need to get back to that place and this time use that advantage. Earn their trust, find the prism, and come back to us. Do not let their ignorance cloud your mind. They do not know the evil that comes for them if we are not able to return with the prism. They hate you now but one day they will understand. Don’t hate them for their insular views of the universe. Complete the mission so we can save them from the evil that is knocking at their door. Rogan promised in a softer tone.
Jessa felt wetness start to spill onto the top of her lip. She didn’t need to touch it to know it was blood. She had been in the link too long and her body was paying the price.
“Is that… is that blood?” Marduak asked and the guard nodded. “Yes, sir. Her hypothalamus and vortex are on fire, Chief. Computer is comparing it to forced telepathy.” Mardusk cursed and then shook his head. “Get Medical down here asap.” he grumbled.
Get the triffing prism or we will slaughter all of them on the ship. You know we have the power to. Nothing will stop us including you. Find the Prism or we will add you to the pyre that will be this ship if we have to find it ourselves, Da Mu’s voice was laced with hate and malice.
Okay but they want the package. I…I don’t know what that is, Jessa felt her body shaking even more. The blood was now a steady stream as if she had gotten into a fight and broke her nose. “Zala…Zala,” Jessa called out, opening her eyes.
The psychic link only lasted a couple of minutes at best. The longer link was forced, the more taxing it became on one’s body. By Jessa’s best guess, it lasted less than two minutes. Reaching up, Jessa brushed it off her lip, smearing the blood from her nose all over her face and the cuff of her sleeve. It did not stop it but with the link severed it eventually would be no different than a nose bleed in a few minutes. Jessa did not stop the blood dripping from her nose. Instead, she laid down on the bed away from the field and stared at the wall lost in her thoughts.
Mardusk watched her for a moment and then went to the replicator and got a cold, wet towel. “Open the cell.” he said and the force field dropped. Marduak was standing at the cell entrance and didn’t say a word. He walked in and handed her the towel and then sat down next to her. “Hope it was worth it, kid. Now… clean yourself up. We’re gonna make sure you are okay and then I want to show you something.”
Jessa didn’t move from her spot. “I don’t need that. It was just a bloody nose. I get them when I cry,” she said in a flat tone. Taking a breath she sat up and looked at him.
“It gave me time to think and reflect and that is good right,” she looked at Mardusk.
“It made me realize I need to take up the weapon of faith and fear not to use it. No struggle is worth taking unless you feel the pain of your sacrifice because is anything earned without sacrifice really earned?” The statement had a strong poetry to it almost gliding off her tongue like a song. Of all the people on this ship, it was clear to her now. She needed to show Mardusk the cleansing power of sacrifice. Before this was over she would be the force that helped him see enlightenment.
“Clean up.” Mardusk said flatly. At that time, the doors to the brig opened and Medical officer came in. He spoke briefly with the Supervisor who showed them the scans, and the doctor nodded. They moved into the cell and began to scan Jessa.
“Get away from me,” she snapped reaching out slapping the device from the man’s hand. “I am a Guardian. You do not have the right to touch me.”
Giving Mardusk a sideglance, the doctor reached down and picked up the scanner but moved two more steps back. “I don’t have to touch you to do this. Lighten up kiddo,” he said in a slightly forced friendly tone.
As he began the scan a second time, Jessa moved to the side taking the narrow beam off her body. It was more of an experiment than anything else. The doctors on this ship used that flashlight thingy all the time. She knew it didn’t hurt. What she needed to know was how to avoid it in case a time came when she really needed to avoid it.
“Seriously,” he threw up his hands slightly. For effect, Jessa wobbled slightly on her bench as if daring him to keep her in the beam. Without saying a word, the doctor expanded the beam to full width. The only way for the kid to avoid it was to get up and physically move from the bench which the doc was pretty sure Mardusk would not let happen.
“Yeah I wouldn’t want to use your precious Star Ship’s resources but because I am not actually requesting it you can’t claim I am unlawfully using your resources now can you?” Her comment caused only a wrinkle of confusion to cross the man’s brow before he completed the scan. That the doctor had no response did not matter to Jessa. Her comment was directed at Mardusk anyway.
After a few moments, they said “She’s okay, Commander. And I can confirm the computer’s comparison.” Mardusk nodded and said “Thanks, Doc.” and the doctor left.
Standing up, Jessa felt her stomach knot up. Part of her didn’t want to leave her. No one would mess with her head here; however, she was not here to contemplate the teachings of the Gospels of Enlightenment. She was here for a specific purpose. Standing up she looked at Mardusk. “Rogan gets mean on an empty stomach. I know you are not going to say that is not your problem but it will be,” she looked at him with the steady gaze of someone five times her age. Stepping out of the room she looked at the darkened cells. “Can they hear or see me,” she asked.
“They’ve been fed. And no, they can’t. Except for your telepatic conversation just now, they can’t see or hear anything outside the cell. Oh, and now that we know you can do that, we’ll bring in a dampening field generator. Sorry, just standard for situations like this.” Mardusk said as if he was discussing the weather. He stood up and walked out of the cell. “C’mon.” and he walked towards the doors.
“You are an idiot,” she snapped looking at him. “Why do you… and and Ian… and and that smug triffing Rinker think you know anything? You assume to know the answers and when you don’t have them you make them up. Like your thin air food or your light slide. You want answers without learning the lesson.” Jessa might not have found the answers she sought coming down here but this journey helped set her back on the path she strayed from. Looking at Mardusk there was a fire in her eyes but not of anger or malice. It was the look of passion and conviction. “Learning begins the second you draw your first breath and continue until the flames consume your body. So don’t learn as if this is your last hour. Learn so that your last hour is filled with understanding because the flames of death will come for you. That is why I will not impart the truth to you. You will just forget without having struggled and sacrificed for that knowledge.”
Jessa needed the Elders to know she had not forgotten the path as much as she needed Mardusk to set his first foot upon it. While he said they could not hear or see her, Jessa not everything adults told her was always the truth.
“Yeah yeah… got it. C’mon.” and he led her out of the brig and down the passageway.
“Where are we going,” Jessa paused slightly seeing him not stop on the floor with the line and hook but on the floor in between with two double lines. Jessa saw Mardusk and two of the four security officers exit the elevator but the two behind her didn’t move since she did not.
“It’s okay, kid. He is throwing you a bone. Take it,” Lt. O’Neill motioned forward with his hand towards Mardusk. “You only need one Orion on point. Reed and I got your back. Always have and you don’t have to become a human torch to light the way to the library to learn with us. You just have to walk.” This tone was sarcastic but nothing in his manner indicated he was being hostile.
“Seriously he is trying to get her out of the turbo,” Reed looks at his partner rolling his eyes. O’Neill’s humor had to grow on you. Once it did you got him but it took an acquired taste.
“Scoot. I am not ready to go back to sickbay unless you are,” O’Neill made a broad sweeping gesture towards the door. O’Neill knew his boss was in a tight spot. The very person he was supposed to protect the crew from, he had to help assimilate within the crew.
As they walked, Mardusk nodded and smiled to people, stopped to make idle conversation, ask questions about family… he simply walked her around the ship introducing her to members of the crew. Which Mardusk knew really well. It was often odd to people that a figure so obviously built for strength had a keen mind and exceptional memory. And it seemed that he knew everybody.
Thirty steps down the hall they ran into their first crew member. Jessa didn’t know the species but it was definitely humanoid. The woman smiled at the security chief before letting her eyes drift to the rest of the men with him and the girl in the middle.
“Hey Ensign Carrs, how’s your mom doing? Feeling better I hope?”
“Yeah you know mom’s. You love them even though they give you backdoor compliments about trying your best with the turkey,” she let out a laugh.”
Jessa had no idea what the woman meant but it was obviously a joke with the way the group chuckled. They didn’t linger long in one spot moving almost too fast for Jessa to memorize the lines, hooks, and squiggles that had to indicate where they were on within the vessel. An hour in Jessa stopped trying to figure out where she was. The ship was immense. Turning down a hall, they entered what Jesa could only imagine was an educational wing. Doors with numbers lined both sides. Jessa was starting to recognize familiar patterns but still could not figure out the sequential nature of their numerical system but it would come. Stopping at a doors she recognized the two single lines.
“Petty Officer Hale! You still have me down for the baby pool, right? I’m betting on you being a daddy to a bouncing baby girl! Ha ha ha ha…”
As Mardusk bantered Jessa smiled politely and looked at the next door. It had a line with the circle. On the other side, it was the line and the hook. Did they have a base-ten system like back home?
“Ms. Tuloj, how are things in the daycare? Is Resilig still giving you problems? You tell him I said to behave!”
“Lieutenant Holder’vn, a word. Can you get the Drimet’s on the schedule sooner? That replicator is really causing them issues, and she has enough to deal with right now. Thanks.”
For over two hours, they just walked around the ship. Mardusk showed her all over the Atlantis, and made sure that she met dozens and dozens (at least) of individuals of all different species, cultures, and backgrounds. He took great pains to introduce her to people as a ‘guest’. Finally, he took her to the Observation Deck.
For the first time in her journey, Jessa left everyone’s side and moved to the large window. Her eyes scanned the vastness of space. It was just as beautiful as the one she knew but devoid of anything familiar. It was alien and foreign just like everything else on this ship.
It was empty except for them. Mardusk set his hands on the sill of the largest window and looked out at the empty space around them. He was quiet for a long time, and then he looked down at her.
“You’re right. I don’t know anything about you. I mean, I know a little. But I don’t know much. And thats the problem, kiddo. Because I know everyone on this ship. You know why?”
“Because it’s your job to keep track of the masses,” she replied in a confident but soft tone. Maybe this man was not as lost as she thought. His path was different than hers but they were both on the same road. Roads always had forks and turnabouts. It would not be too hard to get him back on the chosen path. The question was how long would the detour take.
“Because I have to in order to protect them and keep them safe. If I don’t know them as individuals, then they are just cogs in a machine. And that’s not how we operate here. Everyone you met is valuable to us, did you know that? So valuable, in fact, that if just one of them was in trouble all of us would do everything in our power to help them.” Mardusk turned to the window and looked out, smiling. “Its a really incredible feeling, being part of something like this. And knowing that everyone here would do anything they could for one another.” He looked back at her and said “You said that no struggle is worth taking unless you feel the pain of your sacrifice because anything earned without sacrifice isn’t really earned. And that’s just not true. We… all if us on this ship… care about one another. Does everyone like each other? Oh, hell no. But we give a damn about what happens to each other because the greater good is always more important. And we didn’t ‘sacrifice’ for that connection. It is a gift, Jessa… given freely from each individual to the entirety of the ship and crew. And it given without reservation or expectation. We are a family… all of us. And no one is more important than anyone else. Sure, we have people in command. People with more experience and more knowledge than those they are in charge of. But see… the way we work isn’t that the lower ranked people owe anything to those above them. It’s the opposite. Those of us in Command are responsible for the well being of those under us. We are custodians, not dictators. We are caretakers of those in our charge. And it is our duty to them to give them the knowledge, support, training, and tools to be successful. My most proud accomplishment in my years in Star Fleet? One of my first junior officers now outrank me. And that is the best testament to how well I do my job. More than the medals, the promotions, the commendations. The fact that they now outrank me makes me so very very proud of them. And it makes me proud of myself. I wouldn’t trade their success for my own ever.”
Jessa had completely misjudged the man next to her. She had focused only on his desire to protect his own she missed his devout flock. Conversion of these people would be far easier with him than against him. In every community, there was a leader. Mardusk might not command these people but he had the power to control them. Jessa felt a profound sense of relief thinking back now on her experience in the prison system. It was just his way of showing how traitors and the immoral ones. Suddenly all the pieces snapped into place. It was not common that the Order sent out prophets to lay the groundwork for their arrival. When successful it made the conversion of people far easier than brute force. Both worked but one had considerably less violence and bloodshed. All the anger and violence was not real but for show. This man was only trying to show her that he was there in a way for this populace to still believe in him.
Rinker had said everything was free but Mardusk proved it all had a price. That was why he told her she was in trouble for unlawful use of resources. All she had done was take and not given to the good of the whole. “Thank you,” Jessa said reaching over and laying her hand on hers. “I appreciate all you have done.”
Mardusk slid his hand from hers and laughed. “Like hell you do.” and he looked down at her. “See… another reason I’m good… really good… at my job is I know how to read people. And while I don’t know you, I can read you like a book. For instance… you can’t read. At least, you can’t read Federstion Standard, which is what all the signs you have been trying to puzzle out are in. And that right there should give you pause as well, and lend credibility to what I said about not knowing this Galactic Union of yours. Hell, even our enemies can at least read it. Second, you are a religious zealot. Whatever this ‘Order’ is has you well and truly brainwashed. And don’t get all dramatic on me. Its only cults and those running them that try and convince people to ignore what there own senses tell them. So just put that away. Let’s see, what else… oh yeah. You are so programmed that you refuse to believe that woman cut your throat. Even though I saw the look in your eyes when she grabbed you and you felt that cut and heard that little pop as your skin was punctured by that blade. Naw… you still are trying to convince yourself that it was one of us. Oh, and you should ask yourself… if we can knock all of you 7nconcuous in less than a moment… why would we have tried anything like that? I mean really, that’s just stupid.” He paused and looked out the window. “I know you are scared and isolated and so very, very far from home. And I know that you think you are some quest for who knows what… but you’re not. Whatever you are after isn’t what those others have in mind. You are being played, kid. But not by anyone on this ship. Not by anyone one of the over thousand individuals on this ship. The only people using you are the bastards you came on board with. And you are just too willfully and intentionally stupid to see it.” He shook his head and looked at her for a long moment. “And that really is a damn shame… because you deserve better from the peolle you put your faith in.” He looked back out the window and sighed. After a moment, he looked at her and said “Tell you what… let’s trade. You ask me a question, I’ll answer honestly and immediately. Then you do the same for me. I won’t ask about your mission or quest or whatever you have in your head this is. But you start. Ask away, anything you want to know.”
Jessa pulled her hand back from his and her eyes lost the softness. Why each time she tries to trust someone they turned on her. She bit her lip and felt sick. Closing her eyes Jessa held her breath and recited her verse. Take up the weapon of faith and fear not to use it. No struggle is worth taking unless you feel the pain of your sacrifice. Is anything earned without sacrifice really earned? Show those weak the cleansing power of sacrifice. Be the force that helps them see enlightenment.
“Will you take me back to my room,” she said with her voice trembling. “I want to go lie down.”
“Nope. Honest and direct, see? My turn. Tell me about your parents.” Mardusk said.
“I choose to put a pin in that. Take me back to my room please,” her voice was getting more tension-filled. Jessa no longer wanted to explore the ship. She needed to get back to her room. She needed Mardusk to comply with her request.
Mardusk chuckled. “It amazes me that you think you still have a say in what happens here. Didn’t you listen? Pay attention? Jessa… think. Everything I’ve showed you, everyone you’ve met… we all work together. We are a team. You? You precious ‘Elders’? You are not part of that team. Not even a little. So we are gonna stand right here, not moving, till you start talking. And if you don’t like it, I really am very sorry. But that’s how this is gonna work. And kid… I have all the time in the world. You are the one on a schedule. Think about that.” and he rested his arms on the sill again and looked out into space. “And you can pace and spit and yell all you want. You can’t even open the door to get outta here.” he added softly.
Jessa felt her heart begin to pound hearing his words. The problem with this man was he thought he scared Jessa. The truth was somethings scared her even more than a seven foot man. “Without hope and heroes, life is spent in malaise. To defeat malaise identify the keys to life,” Jessa said feeling her body tense. “Life is sacrifice so offer it. You have no idea what I have sacrificed to stand here right now. Life is trust so give it wisely. I don’t trust you nor anyone on this ship. Life is a struggle so conquer it. Be the force of change in the galaxy no matter the cost.” Jessa turned and looked out the window searching for anything to focus her attention on. Finding a star she focused her gaze on it in a laser like stare. Raising her arm she brought it down hard on the ledge. A loud crack echoed through the room. It was the sound of her arm breaking. The sound was followed by a whimper as Jessa slowly brought up her arm. She cradled it at the elbow. It was clear it was broken by the bend in her forearm that should not be there.
“Please take me to sick bay,” she struggled to maintain her composure. Her body shook but Jessa tried to silence it. Every extra movement made it throb more. She bit her lip to stop it from shaking and concentrated on her breathing. “Please,” she begged.
=/\=We need medical services on the observation deck=/\= one of the security officers said into his comm. He put it out on several channels knowing someone would show up.
Mardusk looked at the girl and simply shook his head.
Evrilla grabbed her go-bag without even pausing, heading to the observation deck. =/\=CMO, I’m on my way. =/\=
=/\= Confirmed. =/\=
She could feel Jessa’s pain and fear before she even reached the room. “Out, all of you. You stay.” She pointed at Gravel, but shoed the rest of the officers out. She crossed over to Jessa, sinking to her knees in front of her. “What’s wrong honey? Come sit down with me.” She opened the bag up on the ground next to her and started rifling through it. She pulled out a hypo and showed it to Jessa. “This is anetrizine. One shot of this and you won’t feel it at all, ok?”
“I fell. I’m alright. Please take me back,” Jessa looked at Evrilla and the hypo. “I don’t need that though. I can walk. It’s....it’s not that bad.” Jessa looked at the door and then Mardusk. “I am sorry we bothered you. He was just bringing me back.” Jessa just wanted out of this room. She didn’t want to answer any questions as to the how or the why she did this. These people didn’t understand her anyway so any explanation would be lost on them.
“Nope. She stays right here. She’s not leaving. Oh, and she didn’t fall. She broke her own damn arm to try and make sure she goes back. But, as she is in fact now a prisoner, she goes where she is told. Not where she wants.” Mardusk said and looked at the CMO. “Oh, and pull the records of her little trick in the brig. Might make for some interesting reading.” He looked back at Jessa.
Evrilla stood up and crossed her arms. “That’s not my priority right now.”
Jessa took a step back from Evrilla and sized up the room. She should have hurt something else. Only having one arm was problematic but she would make it work. “I told her I don’t want your resources. I won’t take your medicines. I will pay back the cost of food just let me go,” she snapped at them. “You brought me on this ship. You ripped us off the Beacon of Hope. You are the aggressors!” Jessa resisted the urge to take them all out. She could but there were so many of them. She wasn’t going to do what Da Mu. She would find another way but she would get out. “Don’t make me hurt you,” she leveled a gaze at Mardusk.
“Kid… you only proved my point. Go ahead and break every bone in your body. One, we can fix it. Two, it’ll hurt you more than us. Three, it gets you no closer to what you want. In fact, it gets you further away. Because now I have grounds to have Mr. Rinker commit you. Somewhere very far away from your friends. In fact, you know what? Let’s just go ahead and do that.” and he tapped his commbadge. =/\= Commander Rinker to the Observation Deck immediately. =/\= His eyes never left Jessa and when he finished he simply shrugged his shoulders and said “Sorry, kid. We tried. But you made the choice. Now… now you get to deal with the consequences of that choice.”
=^=On my way.=^= Came an exasperated voice. If he had screwed by letting Jessa go to a window he’d never hear the end of it.
She had been so stupid thinking these people didn’t talk. Jessa wasn’t sure what committed meant here but at home, it meant to devote everything to a cause. Maybe this was the plan all along. Force her to do something. Rinker kept saying he could help her unless she tried to hurt someone. Now she was in a position where the only way to win was hurt someone.
Jessa moved as far back as she could in the room putting her back to a corner. Two security men were at the door. The other two milling about. Mardusk was to her right The doctor was between them. She had to find a way to move Evrilla out of the way. Rinker was so wrong. Why did she believe him. They had the power and would use it simply because they could. She would do her best not to hurt anyone but she was not leaving this ship without the Elders.
“Both of you calm down.” Evrilla sighed and tapped her combadge. =/\=Rinker belay that, this is my patient for now.=/\= Physical safety took priority, and She studied both of them. “Mardusk. If you can’t be helpful then you can wait outside. You are not being conducive to a safe environment, and quite frankly if she decided to break her own arm that makes me even less impressed with your presence. Either be calm or pick someone else who can. And stop looming, she’s not going to stab me.” She could feel the girl’s resolve, and she was completely unconcerned. That settled, she turned to Jessa. “You aren’t leaving yet. But that’s only because I don’t cause unnecessary harm and every step would hurt with that. Let me at least numb it before we head to sickbay.”
“Doc, at this point you don’t really have a say. Ship’s safety is the priority, and young miss and her buddies already committed an unprovoked attack on the Captain, me, her, and four of my officers. But I’ll give you a shot to talk her down. Then it’s Rinker. And if you two can’t get her deprogrammed, then she’s locked up and we send her to… elsewhere.
“Thats where you’re wrong Mr. Mardusk. Until she’s been dismissed from my care this is technically, medical. Do not make me fight you on jurisdiction.”
=^=Okay, not on my way… but someone needs to explain to me when it’s not an emergency what you mean by patient… there is only one patient I should be getting calls for and they shouldn’t need a doctor… well not your kind of doctor.=^=
=/\= Yeah, I’ll call you back.=/\=
Jessa tensed some debating on what to do or say hearing Rinker’s voice. The man seemed to have some pull but then again this place seemed to be like a starship without a navigator. Everyone was just roaming around doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. This ship needed order and the Order far more than they realized.
“No Thank you. I can treat myself. I just need my bag from the shuttle. We have our own supplies,” she said to Evrilla in a firm tone.
“Nope. Not happening.” Mardusk said qith a tone so final it was apparent to all that Jessa wouldn’t be given anything from thier vessel.
“You can also tell Rinker my price is more than a few panes of glass. If I knew this would be the cost, I would never have accepted his bribe. You all set me up and I was too stupid to see it. Tell Rinker détente is over. Tell him” Jessa nodded at the badge on Evrilla’s chest.
Looking at Mardusk she set a steady gaze on him. “I formally request as an Emissary of the Divine Order of the Galactic Union to speak with the highest-ranking officer in this ship. Failure to do so will cease all diplomatic relations and be construed as an act of war against the authority and rights of the Elders.” Jessa had heard this speech numerous times but usually from someone they were trying to arrest. She just added a few words and switched a few things to suit her purpose.
“You said you had a lot of them lying around when you placed us in your kill box so find one,” she stared at him with a deadly gaze.
Rinker was right. She might not have seen a lot but she heard plenty.
Mardusk laughed. “Ok.. so which is it? Because in the past six hours you’ve been ‘just a child’, ‘a messenger’, an attempted murderer, a terrorist, and a spy. So now you are an Emissary of some group we don’t know, who you won’t tell us about, and who has no entry at all in our database. You want to talk to the person in charge? That’s me.. and thats who you put in charge when you tried to kill my Captain! So deal with me or don’t. Because that’s who you get.” He looked at the CMO and said “And not a word about her health. She has threatened, on record, to kill me… you… and this crew. Ship and crew safety trumps her physical well being, Doc. Sorry. But that’s how it is.”
“By all of your gods, both of you!” Evrilla was completely exasperated.
“Evrilla there is only one god,” Jessa pipped in with pure conviction hissing as she ignored the pain. “See you said gods but For there is one God and one God only. Doubt this and burn in the fiery oblivion of hellfire and damnation,” she began her gospel.
“Hey, Ernest Angley pip down so you can be healed,” O’Neill called out at the door in his slow sarcastic drawl as he rubbed his eyes feeling a five-foot eighty-pound migraine forming there.
“Jessa. You are not going to your ship. Where you are going is Sickbay, in a private room, where I can fix whatever the hell is wrong with your arm. For all you know you’ve severed something and internal bleeding is slowly killing you!”
Jessa looked down at her arm not sure if Evrilla was lying or not. It did hurt far more than she expect and was starting to turn from red to purple in some spots.
“Commander. This is a 12 year old girl who chose to break her own arm, and you are getting nowhere with her. She categorically will not tell you what you want to know because you simply are not asking correctly. Threats and intimidation do not make friends, and I am sure you know people will tell you whatever they think you want to hear to get away. On top of that, Captain Bordeaux is awake, and I am sure she would not approve of this sudden totalitarian shift. Now if you would please beam the three of us directly to Sickbay, we can all be happy.”
Jessa opened her mouth to add her two cents. She only was able to drawn in a breath before Evrilla cut her off just like the guard at the door.
She turned to Jessa immediately. “Before you say that won’t make you happy, the other option is apparently a holding cell and a broken arm.”
“Is there a difference,” she glared at Mardusk.
“Yeah Nutraloaf,” O’Neill pretended to be choking down something he swallowed. Right now he saw two ticking time bombs ready to go down and he did not want to get nailed but the fallout if they went off.
“Sickbay is acceptable,” Jessa capitulated feeling her tension batting slightly.
Mardusk shook his head and said flatly “No. She can be treated here. She wants to go to Sickbay, and until I know why she came on this ship, she goes nowhere near any critical sections. Nowhere. And that’s not your call, Doc. That is wholly mine. Fix her arm here, because you can. Get Rinker in here, because neither you nor I are psychologists. But until Kelly walks in here and tells me to let her go, she stays. Thats an order, because she is a threat. I tried to get her to talk, but she’s so far gone, there is no getting to her. So fix the arm here, and get Rinker… like I said before.“
=/\=Lt. Commander Mardusk report to sick bay=/\= Kelly’s voice came out over the comm badge. It sounded like she was either suffering the mother of all hang overs or was half asleep.
=/\= Gimme five, Skipper. Good to hear you’re awake. =/\=
Evrilla nearly smirked. “O’Neill, could you come in here? Commander Mardusk seems to think I need a babysitter with my patient.” She winked at Jessa. Quite frankly, location didn’t make a difference to her, although biofilters were just as strong as any other containment field. “And if someone could get me that brig report, I still haven’t been briefed on that.”
Mardusk looked at the CMO and smiled broadly. =/\= Computer, lock down any transfer request of Prisoner 09678 designation ‘Jessa’. Prisoner to be isolated to this area only. Prioritize medical services point to point transport to this location per CMO request. Notify security of any attempt to remove prisoner 09678 by anyone other than myself or the Commanding Officer. In such case, lock out all access and permissions of anyone attempting to move the prisoner until restored by Captain Bordeaux… authorization Mardusk Gamma Seven Nine Kilo. =/\= The computer chirped in acknowledgement and Mardusk began walking to the door. “Hey Doc !” he yelled over his shoulder. “I know you’re a good doctor and your heart’s in the right spot. If she needs medical, you can beam in anything you need. Really nice thing about me being me, though.. I actually do know what I’m doing. Call Rinker! She’s in a cult! And you can’t deprogram that!” and walked through the door as two Security officers came in and took up position on either side just inside the now closed door.
O’Neill motioned for Reed to also follow him. It was not that he thought he needed back up but Jessa was still a wild card. Jessa was used to the security detail. She hadn’t fought having the detail so he and Reed at least were a familiar state and anything familiar was calming: even if that was two men, fully armed, and ready to take you down. It also allowed Jessa to see authority in the CMO. She asked from O’Neill and he complied.
Jessa stared at Mardusk. Her emotions were a mix of fear, apprehension, defensiveness, anger, but mostly disappointment. She was disappointed in herself. She had bought into Rinker’s stupid ball and pizza. She had bought into the promise of trusting them because they had all the power but chose not to use it. Mardusk wielded considerable power and he clamped it down on her like a yoke. Jessa hated she had let him lead her around by that yoke. She almost believed Mardusk for half a heartbeat but that was shattered like the bones in her arm. These people were liars and decievers. The place might not be an illusion like she thought but life here was an illusion. He said these were all his people, that he knew each and everyone of them. Now she understood fully what that meant and why his men carried weapons. If you stepped out of line with him, he would see you paid.
Jessa saw this enough back in the Union. Those people were not his friends that talked to him during the tour. They were just garnishing favors and showing him with false platitudes. He had shown Jessa he knew where they all worked and played. He knew where their children went to school. They were only nice to him because they were scared of him. Jessa lifted her chin a bit higher as he walked to the door. “Prisoner 09678 thanks you for your hospitality. It was as warm and inviting as being torn limb from limb but a Racknor Lion.”
Rubbing his eyes, O’Neill was just glad the chief was gone right now. He was just gasoline stroking a fire. Looking at Jessa, O’Neil made a shooing gesture. “Can’t have it all your way. We met you halfway. What are you going to do?” In his mind, however, all the man could think was please God make her meet us halfway.
Jessa looked at Evrilla and then Mardusk. She moved away from the wall still cradling her arm which was now a lot more swollen and turning a darker shade of purple. Her arm ached so bad she wanted to cry but crying was a weakness. Jessa was on her own. Her head ached as a thousand thoughts swirled about trying to coalesce into a new plan. Jessa walked slowly not to be dramatic but Evrilla was right. Each step felt like her arm was being broken again. Jessa had been unconscious when they treated her the last time. She had no idea what to expect. Everything here was so foreign.
Evrilla clapped. “This is nice and cosy, hm? How about we all sit down and play nice.”
“Please don’t make me go to sleep,” she said to Evrilla softly. “Can you just fix it with me awake?” As bad as Jessa’s arm hurt she could not allow them to give her any medicine. If she fell asleep there was a chance she would wake up someplace else, just like Mardusk promised.
“Now let’s get one thing straight. I don’t do things people don’t want me to do unless I have to.” Evrilla placed the hypospray between them. “So you have a choice. You can either put that in your own shoulder, or I can do it, but without it this’ll hurt like hell. Worse than breaking it actually, now that the adrenaline is starting to wear off.” That settled, she turned back to the medical bag and pulled out a tricorder. “After that, I can start scanning.”
“Oh for cryin’ out loud,” O’Neill said taking the hypo out of Evrilla’s hand and depressing it into his thigh. He didn’t do much, just half. It was enough to show Jessa it was not going to hurt her but enough that his leg instantly felt like he was walking on it half asleep. “Great see what you made me do,” he half hobbled moving back out of the way after dropping the hypo in Jessa’s lap. “My left arse cheek is gonna be asleep for hours but I, unfortunately, like you, will be wide awake. She isn’t going to hurt you kid. Has she ever before?”
“Damn it, O’Neill. If you were allergic you’d be in so much trouble right now.”
“Yes but I have the Atlantis’ top doc to pull me through. I mean for crying out loud Evrilla what can’t you fix.” In a joking manner, he held a hand up to his ear pretending he could not hear her. “Yeah I thought so,” he teased her. “There is nothing you can’t handle.” Throwing a wink at Jessa, O’Neill got a bit more serious in his expression as he walked around trying to shake off the really bad decision he made.
The hobbling gate made Jessa laugh slightly which caused her to hiss some as her arm moved. Looking at Evrilla, Jessa felt tears starting to form in her eyes. Asking for help as a member of the Order was not permitted. If one needed help, then one was weak. With everything that happened, Jessa could not afford to look weak but she could not do this on her own. “I…,” she looked at the doctor and then down to her lap. “I can’t use it because I can’t let go of my arm. Help me…please,” she bit her lip hard not looking up. Admitting her need would require another Ritual of Cleansing but Jessa would be back home when that happened. She would be among friends that would guide her through the process. It would also cleanse her soul for being weak enough to ever have gotten herself into this position in the first place.
Evrilla didn’t show it outwardly, but her mind was racing at Jessa’s strong thoughts of betraying her Order. She nodded and pressed the hypospray gently to Jessa’s arm. “This might take some time, but it will go faster if we tell stories. Would you like to talk or should I?” That wasn’t even a lie. Moving the bone back into place outside of Sickbay would take time, and as O’Neil had mentioned, the anesthetic would last for hours.
“When I spoke to Rinker earlier he said that what I say to him was confidential. Is thaaaaaaaa,” Jessa struggled not to cry out as Evrilla began to inspect Jessa’s arm. The anesthetic was slowly working so it was more of a dull roar as Evrilla looked at her arm than excruciating pain. Taking a breath, Jessa continued.
“That the same with you?” By now the pain was gone. It was just pressure as Evrilla looked at the arm. Jessa could not take her eyes off her arm or Evrilla. This made her far more jumpy than of her attention was elsewhere. “What is say is just between us….well and O’Neill and Reed,” Jessa let out a small grin looking at the two men in the room with them.
“It sure is. Starfleet incorporated an Earth law called HIPAA. It stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The only exception is if you tell me you plan to hurt yourself or someone else. As for them… Starfleet officers know better than to go around gossiping.” Evrilla scanned over her arm, then held her hands out, palm up. “May I?”
“Doc,” O’Neill moved his hands out slightly in a come on mannerism, “you know men have only three topics of conversation. Sports, off color jokes and whim,” he caught himself before saying woman and altered it to, “for dinner. Mum is the word,” he made a gesture of sealing his lips with a key and tossing it away.
The banter was with the Doc but meant for Jessa. While O’Neill wasn’t fond of docs for all the normal reasons, rules, bed rest, pointing out you were not twenty one still when you came in with an injury, he did like Evrilla far more than most. Anything he could do to make her job easier, O’Neill would.
Jessa let out a small laugh and half smile enjoying the friendly jokes between the two adults. Turning her attention back to Evrilla
Jessa nodded for Evrilla to do what she needed. Her arm felt like a piece of wood but Jessa couldn’t just pass it over. She worried if she did it would just fall limp to her side. Pain was normal where Jessa was from. You cleansed yourself through pain so Jessa debated if this would count or not. Pushing the thought from her mind, Jessa focused on what was important.
“I don’t permit you to share,” Jessa started but stopped as she thought about how to end the sentence. Part of her wanted to see Mardusk pay for what he did to a Guardian of the faith however these people were not devout. It would only anger them more and right now they had stripped her of her name and readying the prison transport. “I don’t permit you to share any details of the events that have occurred with anyone.” Having cleared that point, Jessa continued. “So are you able to fix my arm,” she asked
The corners of Evrilla’s mouth twitched up. “It is well within my abilities.” She took hold of Jessa’s arm and began to feel the break, carefully maneuvering the bone back into alignment. “Can I propose a trade? You may ask me any question, that will not violate HIPAA or put people in danger, and I swear to answer honestly. I’d like an equivalent promise from you.”
Jessa nodded but added, “Yes but Rinker and I have a pin system. I pin what I am not allowed to talk about. That way I don’t have to answer if I can’t and lets me not lie to you.” While she spoke, her eyes were glued to the huge malformed budge of bone that Evrilla was trying to set. Although it did not hurt, it looked like it was going to hurt so Jessa was fixated on her arm instead of talking.
Jessa wiggled a bit seeing Evrilla trying to get the bump of bone back into place. It was not that it hurt but was more disconcerting to watch. “Hey wanna see a magic trick,” O’Neill pretended to pull a credit from Jessa’s ear. It was enough to pull her attention off of the bone Evrilla was trying to set. Since she could not feel it, it was allowing Evrilla to do her work with less fidgeting from her juvenile patient.
“Sure lying doesn’t do anyone any good. Too hard to remember the facts when they are fictional.”
“Pellan says that all the time,” Jessa relaxed. “The problem is you can’t always tell the truth or you can get into a lot of trouble or people just don’t believe you. Then there are the other times when you think you are telling the truth but later find out it was all lies. Those I really don’t think are lies though,” Jessa looked at Evrilla hoping the woman would agree. “I don’t think it is fair to be called a liar when in your heart and soul you really thought you were telling the truth. Do you?” Jessa needed someone to talk to and for the first time she was utterly and completely alone. She did not have anyone around to talk to physically or even transcall to for advice. Rinker seemed to be nice enough and so did Evrilla. It was a toss up in her mind who Jessa would talk to. The confidentiality agreement helped with these two people. Breaking your word to an Elder would result in death so Jessa was pretty confident both Evrilla and Rinker would keep their word and promise of silence.
Jessa nodded and took a deep breath. Letting someone ask her questions was turning out to be problematic but a deal was a deal. “So your turn for a question.”
” Tatyl has told me how much you enjoy school.”
Jessa relaxed considerably hearing Evrilla’s open-ended statement.
“Oh, yeah,” Jessa turned her attention back to Evrilla. “I loved my school on Nuat. I was really little when I was there but I remember it.” The smile of the memory lit up Jessa’s face. “Proctor Elgina was used to take us to the park after school. It was so beautiful. There were benches and trees we could climb on. It had swings. I loved to swing back then.” Jessa let out a happy sigh. “The best part was it had blue flowers. It had blue everything because the sky was orange,” Jessa tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
“When you let me back on my ship I have some holoimages of it. I also have my homework which after this trip is going to take forever to make up.” Her tone was frustrated and laced with annoyance but not directed at anyone in the room. It was the typical feelings associated with any kid her age that was told to wait or to do something they would rather not do. It was in the flashes Jessa seemed completely average.
“Maybe someone can get it for you.” Evrilla offered.
Jessa looked up at Evrilla with an excited but anxious expression. “Could you get it for me?” Her tone was nervous but hopefully. “I can tell you exactly where it is. I have a brown sachel with two straps so you can wear it on your back. It is hanging on a hook in my bunk. My bunk is the last one on the right side under Rogan’s. You are so gonna know mine because Rogan is a slob. Anyway if you get it I can,” she held her breath for a second debating how much to share. The uncontrollable urge to get her bag however took over. It wasn’t like there were secret documents in the bag or anything these people could use against the Galactic Union in it; however, there were things these people could use against her in it. Jessa had to have it back. Adjusthing her head so she could look Evrilla in the eyes and pull the doctor’s attention off her arm and onto her face, she continued. “If you can get it for me I would be really grateful. Please get it for me,” she almost begged the doctor.
“Few planets with orange skies are habitable for anyone other than Methbreaths but we had one and it was beautiful until the” Jessa stopped talking as if slapped. The hesitation was minuscule but Evrilla might have noticed. Jessa pulled her arm back as a way to cover her stutter and then relaxed back so Evrilla could continue to treat her.
“Until I got to move to Cildar.” The timbre of her voice echoed the pitch of earlier but the emotions rolling off Jessa did not. There was true happiness with the first topic but there was an artificial sweetness with the latter part of her conversation. “There I learned the true path. Where I learned where I fit in civilization. Where I mattered but my mom says it’s rude to just talk about yourself. What is the prettiest planet you have ever been to?”
“I’ve actually never been to a planet other than my own. Andoria is covered in ice, and it’s so bright that people can go blind just by looking at the ground when it’s sunny. My people live in ice caves, and the walls are in so many different layers of ice that it’s like a rainbow, but shades of blue.” Evrilla smiled at the girl and grabbed the osteoregenerator. “Did you spend a lot of time with your mom?”
“We put a pin in that,” Jessa said firmly. Silently she felt a hot rush of anger again with Rinker. He had asked about her mom and Jessa told him it was not a topic she wanted to discuss. She shouldn’t be surprised though because Mardusk said they were a team, a family and made it abundantly clear Jessa was not a part of it nor never would be. It was okay however because Jessa did not want to be a part of this world. It was a lost world, one without a path or a course. That would change one day. Today, however, Jessa knew her path.
Evrilla simply nodded, continuing her work.
My mom is lost and I have to help find her. No one can know that, she spoke the answer in her mind that Evrilla and Rinker seemed so keen on finding out. Not the people I am with or my Aunt Kyla but I wish I could tell you because I am lost right now on how to help her. Maybe it was her time with Rinker but Jessa found answering her pinned questions, even if silently in her mind, helped her feel less on edge or anxious. Maybe Rinker was right. Talking and questioning things wasn’t bad. It was finding someone to give her an answer she trusted that was hard.
“New topic,” she stated flatly. “Tatyl is really sweet. She is fun and cute and so lucky to have you as a mom. Do you think she will want to be a doctor like you? That is common for kids to do what their parents do.” The sentence sounded like a statement but it might be more of a question. “Follow them into the family career and learn through them.”
Evrilla rolled her eyes playfully. “Tatyl has decided to follow her papa’s legacy and become a security officer. He was a bodyguard. I’m glad you had fun with her, she likes you a lot.”
“She was so much fun to talk to. I liked coloring with her. She said you take her pictures out three times a year?” Jessa didn’t quite understand why this was but she let it go. “Back home with I was with the cherubs, I would let them color pictures of their homes. We couldn’t keep them out,” Jessa looked slightly uncomfortable, “because it makes the transition harder sometimes, but it least it helped them remember things…in their mind.”
“Once a year for each of her parents. Pictures hold memories. They should get to take part in her life.” Evrilla wouldn’t push Jessa for anything, but she wasn’t against being told more.
“You are not her mom? Tatyl was embraced by another family? Is that why she calls you amma?” Part of Jessa felt sad. Tatyl seemed happy enough with Evrilla but if she had to be taken from her parents and embraced by Evrilla that meant she didn’t have her mom either. At least Evrilla let Tatyl’s family see her and know about her. It was more than most embraced children got.
=/\=Evrilla the security containment field has been lifted. Any security team within the vicinity is to remain in effect per the COS command=/\= Kelly’s voice clicked off over the comm. Kelly was too tired to banter right now. Later she would talk to the CMO.
“Does that mean we can go,” Jessa looked at Evrilla. Her face took on a quizzical expression no longer seeing the bump of bone and her arm set the way it used to look. The bruises were still there but it at least looked normal.
“Yes, we can leave here.” Evrilla turned to O’Neill. “Does sickbay work for you?”
O’Neill motioned towards the door with a nod.
“Can we stay here for a little bit longer…please,” Jessa looked back and forth between Evrilla and O’Neill. “Just a few more minutes?”
Evrilla shrugged and reclined on the floor. “I don’t have anywhere to be. Do you want to talk?”
“Can I ask you about Heathcliff?” Jessa seemed hesitant to directly state her question but of all the adults around her she trusted Evrilla and Heathcliff the most. “He asked me a lot of questions and I wasn’t always nice. I just don’t know if I can trust him.”
Evrilla laughed. “No one is always nice dear, not even Heathcliff. We talk professionally sometimes, referring back and forth.” Evrilla hummed a few bars while she thought. “I suppose we’re both asking a lot of questions, but I imagine he was pushing about answers. It’s his job after all.”
“Yeah but I was really mean to him a lot of the time. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by it but I think I would still be mad at me,” she admitted turning slightly to face Evrilla. “The problem isn’t answering his questions. It’s trying to figure out what I can tell him.” Jessa bit her lip looking at the pretty doctor.
Evrilla suppressed a giggle at Jessa’s thought that she was pretty. “It’s unreasonable to expect children to be nice all the time. I don’t expect Commander Mardusk to be nice all the time, so I can I expect Tatyl to be nice all the time?”
“Yes but I am not a child,” Jessa gave Evrilla a sour look. “I am a Guardian with more responsibilities than you could ever understand. I really don’t like it when Ian and Rinker act like I am some kid that needs to be taken care of. It takes away from my authority,” she looked at Evrilla hoping the woman understood what she had been trying to explain to everyone. “However,” Jessa took on a slightly guilty expression,” throwing a tantrum isn’t very productive.” Taking a breath she looked around the room buying time to gather her thoughts.
“Things are just complicated right now.” Jessa wore an expression that was thousands of years older than her chronological age.
Evrilla acquiesced with a polite nod.
“Everyone does have a lot of questions and I honestly can’t answer them all of the time. I have - lot of questions but I don’t know what to do or who to ask. The only people that Can answer them are in prison.” There was nothing the doctor could answer if Jessa asked her so she changed the topic.
“What if you wrote down what you can answer, instead of worrying about what you can’t?”
Jessa could not admit she was unable to read their language…or could she. Suddenly a new thought filled her mind. These people had no idea what their writing language was but understanding theirs would give Jessa and the other Elders a huge tactical advantage. “I can’t write or read,” Jessa lied avoiding looking at Evrilla in the eyes. Only Rinker had the no lying rule and it was not like Jessa could read anything they put in front of her anyway. These people thought the Union was so backward and barbaric so Jessa would just allow that to continue.
“Maybe I could learn yours. It would be something productive to do when I am sitting in sick bay. I would be nice to learn how to write my name.” This was an easy lie because it was the truth. Jessa really did want to learn how to read and write the indigenous language. “And Mr. Rinker has a lot of books. I am sure he would let me read them if I could.”
“I’ll talk to Captain Bordeaux about it, yeah?”
“Or you could just give me a book,” Jessa looked up at her hopefully. “I am really smart and I learn things really quick. We can keep it HIPPA,” she held her breath waiting for Evrilla’s reply. Her heart was pounding almost out of her chest. Jessa had no idea what these people would do with the information she just gave Evrilla, especially Ian and Rinker. They both seemed highly interested in knowing real facts about her instead of the soft stuff like what she wanted to eat or if anything hurt. “I won’t tell anyone you did it.”
“Did you know Mr. Rinker is from a place called Austria,” she smoothing changed the topic. “Where are you from?”
“Mr. Rinker is from a place called Austria. Where are you from?”
Evrilla inclined her head. “I am from the ice caves of Andoria. They stretch for miles under ground, and they shine even though very few people there can see.”
“So Andorians are blind? Then how do you see?” Jessa felt very uncomfortable with this topic. If you were not productive you were not necessary back home. How these people had a planet of blind people astounded her. Only war veterans were taken care of by the state.
Her face took on a concerned expression. Hopefully Evrilla just meant they had a condition that could be fixed. Jessa could take care of a few people but not a whole planet
“There are two species on Andoria, the Andorians like Tatyl who are sighted, and the Aenar, like my fathers who are blind. The Aenar number less than 300, while there are several million Andorians.” Evrilla glanced over, then laughed. “We were thought to be myths for centuries.”
“So you are able to stay hidden…if you have to or can you fix them like you fixed me. Is it a condition or like a malformation,” Jessa asked with a concern to her voice and a concerned expression. Hopefully Evrilla just meant they had a condition that could be fixed. Jessa could take care of a few people but not a whole planet when the Galactic Union arrived.
“There’s nothing to fix Jessa. It’s simply how the biology works.” Evrilla sighed. “With so few of us, there’s no need for most of the things others have. No government, no schooling, no language. Our way of life works for us, and in several decades, it will be irrelevant.”
Jessa sat up on her knees and looked at Evrilla with a serious expression. “I won’t let that happen to you. Everyone is important in different ways. It is not fair the Federation deems you unworthy and refuses to let your people survive. The point of life is to spend it on something greater. Fear not death when your strike out on the path of selflessness to help others see enlightment for it will only ever lead to salvation,” Jessa quoted the Order in a deeply solemn tone. “I can protect you,” she said almost in a whisper laying her hand over Evrilla’s. It would be frowned upon and the perfect spectacle for the Union to show others what it did to those not following the path. Still, Jessa was not deterred knowing the consequences. For everything the woman had done for her, the least Jessa could do was save her family.
There would be no doubt Jessa believed everything she was saying to Evrilla. Her grip on Evrilla’s hand was firm and strong. Her confidence was unshakable as was her tone when she spoke. This was not the first time Jessa had done this. She could spirit away a few hundred people especially if they were the type of people who understood what it meant to be invisible. “We just need to never speak or think about this until the time comes though, okay?”
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