“Just tell us what you need,” Ian backed up Styxx’s comment, “but right now maybe we should take a second and get you checked out in sickbay.” Laying a hand on her shoulder, Jessa instantly reacted by backing up two steps.
Her pupils were dilated showing the effects of the concussion from her assault on the forcefield and the battle drug. “No, I need to stay here. When you are lost you are supposed to stay in one place. If I move Zala Tsu will not be able to find me and she will come back.”
“Kid that witch is not,” Ian stabbed a finger at the ground, “setting foot on this ship ever again.” His wording lacked any diplomacy and was just emotion-filled. Ian felt invincible and confident due to the pharmacological concoction racing through his veins. In hindsight, he would regret his comments but right now all he wanted was for Jessa to listen and obey his directions. “She is never coming back so get that thought out of your mind right now.” The aliens had done nothing but destroy his ship, try to kill his wife, and cause fear and terror in the crew.
Jessa stumbled back as if Ian had backhanded her. “Shut up. Shut the triffing varp up. She thinks she has the Prism but she doesn’t. I am not that stupid to give it to her.” Turning her attention to Rinker, Jessa continued her monologue that seemed to be pieces of coherent thought mixed with nonsense. “I said I was going to protect you so why would I give her the Prih,” she yelled out reaching for the sachel that Jessa just realized was no longer on her body. Until this moment, she had forgotten the sachel had beamed away with Zala Tsu during the transport. Jessa’s face went pale as her hand patted her body.
“Rinker....Rinker, she took my bag. She thinks she has it. What if she doesn’t come back? What if she goes home and doesn’t tell anyone I am here.”
“She might,” Rinker had lost track of what was in the bag itself. “But that would make her a liar out of omission.” He stated non-committally. It was best not to take sides when one didn’t have to.
“Good,” Ian snapped. “Be the best thing that ever happened to you. Let’s go,” he snapped and pointed to the door.
“She might. What the hell,” she looked at Rinker. “Why..why would you say that. You are supposed to be the nice one not like Mr. Congeniality over there who is refusing to see why we need her.”
Rinker shrugged. “I don’t control her, and frankly I don’t trust her. So my making promises for her would be dishonest and disingenuous. I believe her to be a bad person and I believe she would do bad things. I am not about to put my reputation, my honesty, on the line for someone I don’t trust.” The shrug repeated.
Jessa felt like she had been gut punched. There was no one here that was going to give the Elders the benefit of the doubt about why they acted as they did. In truth, Jessa had no idea why they had reacted this way since the moment they arrived. Looking around the space, there was no real damage aside from some shattered glass and the mess she caused in the food area. This did not mean there could not have been. The events on Halston proved to Jessa the Elders were capable of immense destruction and death. She did not need to say or be told that if the MECH’s had not been set to civil defense mode, it might be bodies strewn about the deck instead of shards of glass. Jessa stared at Rinker pleading for the man to alter his view.
“If the truth upsets you, I’m sorry. But I believe honesty is the best policy and you are old enough and tough enough to take it.”
“It was just some glass,” Jessa snapped back. “They felt trapped. You should have tried negotiating with them.” The words felt like bile in her mouth causing her to flinch slightly after she said them.
Ian slapped his forehead as if remembering something suddenly. “Oh my God you are right. We have the bridge, main engineering, and the hospital wing you and your people haven’t tried to demolish. If we are lucky she will destroy the ship enough that we all have to use the life pods. We can make some popcorn. Watch the destruction from the windows like it is a movie.” The sarcasm was thick and the message was still the same.
“Commander,” He started.
“Oh, we are using rank now. Yes, Commander Rinker. Should I salute or just stand at attention of are you going to allow me to assume parade rest when you drop your pearl of wisdom?”
“Ian, it is easy to dismiss someone you only knew for a few days and caused a great deal of mayhem while they were here. It is quite another thing to dismission someone that was a key part of every memory for your entire life.” He looked at him.
Jessa looked at Rinker pleading for him to step in and control Ian.
“Thinking one can make that separation, no matter how necessary or correct instantaneously would demonstrate a level of sociopathy that would be very troubling.”
Jessa opened her mouth but no words came out. She had to weigh what Rinker said with the truth and the truth she had told them. Jessa also had to come up with a plan for her own immediate future. With the destruction and violence that had just ensued and Jessa’s part in it, there was no way anyone on the ship was going to just forgive and forget. The battle drug was still clouding her mind and rational thoughts. “Uh-huh,” she conceded with more of a guttural sound than actual words. There would be time later for a more in-depth conversation with Rinker about her attachment to the Elders. Right now her biggest concern was not being removed from the ship as a consequence of the past two hours.
Reaching up to her neck, Jessa activated her armor completely encapsulating her. Instead of raising her hands defensively, however, she blurted out the words “aakrsht karana,” before dropping to the ground.
Ian looked at Jessa and crossed his arms. “Karana,” he repeated her last word. “What is that? Do? Act? To be?” He threw out several words waiting for a response from Jessa. When none came he continued his monologue. “You keep saying that word over and over as you gave your metal monstrosities commands.”
Rinker hadn’t put that level of thought into it. He wasn’t innately good with languages even though he learned three the old-fashioned way. He didn’t connect that word to a verb. He thought it was a curse. Jessa was quite prolific with the curses for a pre-teen.
Jessa felt a knot forming in her stomach. The language of the Elders was exclusive and proprietary. No one but the Divine or members of upper echelons of the Galactic Union government was permitted to use or learn it. The fact Ian was attempting to try would mean a death sentence.
In the naivety of her youth, rules and structure were black-and-white concepts to Jessa. She was too young to embrace the rebelliousness that came with the teenage years. She was pragmatic to think outside the box of what society set down as guidelines. She was too foolish to believe anyone could know what she knew without being directly taught. The only thing Jessa did recognize was the advantage it gave her being able to communicate directly with the other Elders or the MECHs and have Ian and the others not know what she was doing. Her mind raced at how to change the topic cleverly so that Ian was not given more information than he already possessed.
After several long seconds passed without a response, Ian let out a deep sigh and rubbed his jaw. “So we are going with the silent treatment?” Pacing slightly he looked over at Rinker.
“I am not going to let you remove me from the ship,” Jessa announced finally settling on a response from Ian’s questions.
“You would think the universal translator would have figured this language out by now.” Rinker muttered to himself. It was very limiting for them to understand every word the Federation officers said, but between them and their weapons he had a secret code that the computer couldn’t break.
“Why do you care what my native language is? We can communicate just fine using Galactic Basic. You don’t need to know Galactic Prime. In fact, you are not permitted to learn Galactic Prime so just stop because you can’t learn it even if you want to. Our language is too complex for you to learn anyway,” Jessa said in a haughty tone.
“Aside from the fact that you frequently don’t. Your concealment is intentional to evade our comprehension of something.” He shrugged. “I’m not that concerned about that. As far as I’m concerned, I more interested… as always.. as to why its so important to hide.”
Jessa did not reply but pursed her lips tightly. Rinker was right. She had been trying to evade giving anyone a straight answer. What he was wrong about was how many people she was trying to stop from comprehending what she was doing. The weight of it felt crushing. Instead of coming back with a snarky reply, she just shrugged. For all of the Elder’s faults, they were right about Mind Seers. They had a way to get deep into your psyche which was why they were banned from the Union.
“Commander Bordeaux,” an officer stated coming up to Ian and whispering something in his ear. Ian’s face took on a stony quality. “We found the section team. I gotta go deal with them. Rinker can you deal with this,” Ian made a swirling motion with his hand, “and get her out of here.”
Ian Bordeaux CO
“Okay… why?” Rinker asked. There wasn’t any special advantage he could see with her staying on the ship. Certainly not one large enough to warrant attacking the people she just sacrificed her previous life for, metaphorically speaking.
Jessa watched Ian turn on his heel and leave with a group of officers. Her body began to break out in a sweat and she suddenly felt like there was no air in the space to catch a deep breath. Looking at Rinker, Jessa’s responded. “Why,” she parroted back his response presumably due to him asking why she had just magnetized herself to the deck and activated her armor. “Because you just killed one of the Elders, kidnapped Zala, and blew Rogan out of your airlock into deep space. Why would you not do the same to me? I am not going to let you get rid of me that easily. I am not moving until Pellan comes for me because he is coming. He is,” Jessa yelled as if talking louder was going to make her statement have greater validity. She could call the MECHs to defend her but hopefully, it would not come to that.
“I didn’t do anything except try to save some innocents and get stabbed a couple of times by that silvered-haired friend of yours.” He said truthfully enough.
“She shouldn’t have done that but you should not have engaged her.”
“Well, that wasn’t my preference. But the alternative was letting her murder a few dozen people so… I decided to talk to her. She then tried to turn me into a Voodoo doll.” He shrugged, “I wouldn’t quite call that an engagement.”
“If you had just submitted to her and not challenged her.” Jessa had the good sense not to debate the idea that Zala was capable of murder. “But that is what you do. It is all any of you do. Challenge everything except nothing.” The aggression component of the battle drug was starting to take over Jessa’s senses. Instead of physical aggression, it manifested more into a dissociative state. Looking around Jessa saw only strangers. No one was going to help her now. She had to make a stand. Everything was riding on her and her alone.
As Jessa drew her line in the sand, she already was regretting it. She had no idea how long it was going to take Pellan to arrive but it was not going to be in the next few hours. If Jessa suddenly gave up, it would make Rinker and Ian think she was not in control of the situation. Glancing about the promenade, she saw no one seemed to be paying attention to her as they righted upturned furniture and set robots to clean up the glass and other debris. On the surface, life was returning to normal as it would be expected. The reality of life never returning to normal for her descended like an avalanche of granite rock. It was suffocating and terrifying. The phencyclidine of the battle drug still in her system only amplified her feelings of isolation, anxiety, and fear. At least the armor and helmet hid the fear on Jessa’s face and the shaking of her body. “He is coming,” she repeated only this time it almost sounded like a question to be answered than a statement of fact.
“Who is this ‘he’?” What people failed to understand was the majority of therapy was not to do all the talking.
Looking around the space Jessa knew she could not stay here. She also could not have this discussion where others could eavesdrop. Rinker’s question allowed her to save face and not beg to leave the promenade after making such a public display to remain there thirty seconds ago. “Not here,” she released the magnetic locks holding her in place on the deck. “We need to go to your office and I will tell you only I am not taking my armor off. Don’t ask me to.” Right now Jessa felt safe clad in the protective suit. She could not stay in it forever. She would have to eat, drink, and use the facilities at some point but for right now no one could make her do anything she didn’t want to do.
Rinker shrugged. =^=Rinker to Atlantis Transporter room. Site-to-site transport for two to my office, please.=^=
As the beam connected with their bodies, Jessa put up her hands as if to defend herself “Wait no.” Faster than she could blink the surroundings had changed from the promenade to the safe, familiarity of Heathcliff’s office. She looked around as if she did not believe their destination was where Rinker actually stated it would be. Lowering her hands she tried to take a calming breath.
“Ugh, I triffing hate when you all do that. It is jarring and invasive. I would have rather,” but Jessa did not finish the statement. She was about to say that she would have rather walked here of her own volition; however, as always, the crew of the Atlantis was still taking care of her even after she unleashed fire and brimstone upon them. Rinker’s act was not meant to unsettle her but protect her. Walking through the halls in her armor could have resulted in the crew screaming for her blood. Her mind raced with all the implications of her actions. How safe was she? Would she ever be allowed to leave whatever space they placed her in? Did she make the crew targets among their own? Now more than ever she was glad she had given Ian and Rinker armor.
“If you want to reactivate your suit just touch your neck,” she replied to Rinker as she pointed to the small metal disc embedded in the skin on his neck.
“What do you mean reactivate my suit?” He wasn’t too interested in the suit in the first place.
“To protect yourself against those wishing you harm or protect those weaker than you. It is a gift.” If her helmet was off Rinker would see her confusion with Rinker not understanding what she had done for him. “One day people will understand what just happened here but for now I just need to keep you and Ian safe.”
Jessa sat down on the couch in Rinker’s office. Only in the safety of his office did she retract her armor. The blood from Da Mu’s violent end was drying in her hair from when Jessa ran her fingers through it in panic. Against the blonde strands, it was clearly visible. While she could not see it, Jessa could see the drying red smears on her hands which was much darker and far more sticky. She looked at them for a long second swallowing the ball of emotion rising from her belly into her throat threatening to choke her.
Sinking into the couch cushions felt like a hug. Of all the places on the Atlantis, his office felt safe even with its formal furniture and lack of fun kid stuff to amuse oneself. Having spent a part of every day with Rinker since her arrival, she knew Heathcliff was not going to suddenly turn into a chatterbox peppering her with questions. Taking a deep breath she started. There was little she could control right now except for the flow of information. She would use this small thing to her best advantage.
“He is Pellan Vell. The man you asked about,” Jessa stated as if Rinker had lost track of the conversation during their walk. “In…on the promenade,” she stuttered. Rubbing her palms on her pant legs, Jessa was clearly nervous and anxious about the topic. “The man that is coming for me is Pellan Vell. He is the chancellor of the Galactic Union. He is also my Dad or at least I think he is.” Her tone trailed off slightly and her volume lowered to almost a whisper at her last sentence.
“A Chancellor?” He started. “I’m not familiar with that position.” There would be much to gain by finding out whatever she was able to explain. Even her jaundiced opinion.
“A Chancellor is the highest position in the Galactic Union aside from the Rectoress. Pellan sets the rules for the people to follow and makes sure all the other governmental officials get along. He is charismatic and smart and funny.” A smile filled her face as she spoke about the man. It was clear she had some sort of hero worship about the man she was speaking of. “He is really nice and gets along with everyone except Adar Vyce but that is not hard. Vyce is kinda scary most of the time. Pellan told me it is because Vyce spends all his time having to run our armadas to protect us and never gets to have any fun. I guess if I had to fight wars all the time I would be in a perpetually bad mood.” Thinking about all the people that were important to her felt like a crushing weight. Jessa looked down and began to fidget with her shirt as the consequences of all her actions fought for her attention.
“And your father, you think?”
Jessa looked up at Rinker as he posed the question about her paternity. “Pellan,” she repeated the name. “Yes.” Her tone was confident before she suddenly recanted. “I mean he has never said it directly but,” Jessa shrugged.
“I would think your technology is sufficient to remove any doubt in that arena. If not, ours certainly is.” They certainly could remove any genetic doubt and since they already knew that there was some a direct genetic connection to Ian, this person couldn’t be her father unless we were talking about a multi-universe sort of situation would he suspected and would have explained so many things.
“No,” she yelled out holding her hands up in a visceral reaction that was far more emotional than his comment should have elicited. “That is not necessary. We don’t have family relationships like that. I mean we do but okay I don’t.” Biting the inside of her cheeks, Jessa took a moment to regroup her emotions.
“Okay, that is not the truth. I have my mom. My mom said one day she would tell me about my dad. She said he lived far away and eventually I could meet him. Pellan knew my mom and has always treated me differently than the other Guardians. He tells me I am his special girl and that one day he and I are going to be able to be together without having to hide how much I mean to him. Why would he tell me I am special if I am not? Why would he sneak me out of my bed in the middle of the night to spend time with me in the garden? Why would he bring me golden cakes and kukiharu that are just for me and no one else?”
“Anyway, he is coming for me because that is what Dad’s do right? They pick you up when you fall and dust you off and say everything is going to be okay.” Her tone sounded more like a question rather than a statement.
“Mostly,” Rinker agreed, “But not always. It depends often on the situation. I think there is a lot one can learn by picking your own self up and dealing with the consequences of ones own behavior.” He said honestly enough. “That is dependent on the nature of the problem and parenting style.”
“You don’t know anything,” Jessa pulled the edges of her shirt up wiping her eyes. The stress of the day and the consequences of all her actions were breaking her. She was struggling not to cry as the edge of her shirt was becoming too wet to soak up the tears she was trying to stop.
“And I am not crying. My head hurts. I just need a second.” While it wasn’t completely a lie, it wasn’t completely the truth. Her head hurt so bad from blowing herself through the forcefields Jessa could barely hold a thought. The thought she was trying to shake from her head was Rinker’s comment about Pellan not coming for her. She had never even contemplated this as a possibility until right now.
“Maybe if you explain his interpretation of the mistake to me I can better project the response.”
“The mistake is that I came here looking for the Prism when he expressly forbade me from doing that.” Looking down at her hands, Jessa hyper-focused on that. She began to alternately rub her palms on her pant legs or use her fingers to wipe off the blood that stained them red. She didn’t think anyone had been killed by the other Elder’s but she did not know this for a fact. The blood on her hands was more than symbolic. It was a visual representation of all the blood that had been spilled today and the blood on her hands if this mission didn’t go as she had planned it. She had to get it off but so far only small flakes from the dried-on thicker clumps were coming off.
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