Maybe you shouldn’t was the expression she wore looking at Jen. Jessa didn’t mean it as a threat but more a warning from her subconscious. The Union would come for her. When they did, Jessa had no idea how she could control that situation. She prayed it would go differently than it did with the Elders but her gut told her it would not. Her only hope was to convert the ship before the fleet arrived and minimize those that would be required to ascend the Altar of Cleansing with her in retribution for the death of the Elders.
“What are you thinking?” he asked her as she grew pensive.
Jessa needed to make friends or at least find a few more she could trust. Both Pellan and Vyce told her that at times you have to give up something to get something. Since all she had was information, and they seemed very keen on obtaining it, Jessa could dole out a few bits. Holding up a finger, she indicated for Jen to wait on an answer to his question.
Looking around the room, Jessa took a deep breath as she chose her target. Her training told her to direct her divination at Jen. It would make him respect her and her power. She could reach out and take his knife from the cabinet or the weapon on the table. It would also show her strength and Vyce always said that showing your strength was like exposing your jugular. Reaching out, Jessa lifted a glass sitting on the edge of his desk. The action was not perfectly smooth nor was Jessa able to concentrate on anything but the glass. Her gaze was directed solely on the object and her hand shook slightly. Jessa was not in distress but it was taking a lot of work to control the action.
He watched her, then heard the glass rattle just slightly and turned to look at it as it rose slowly with a small wobble. He glanced back to her and saw her focus. Intense. So her people were not just touch telepaths but had telekinetic ability too. That was something. And it was taking all her focus to do this. “Truly impressive, Jessa,” he said, and meant it. Surely it wasn’t something at her skill level that would be directly dangerous, but she could still open a door panel or manipulate a console or even activate a phaser when someone was wearing it. Small things but still significant.
His voice broke her concentration and made the glass shatter hitting the table. The expression on her face morphed into panic, not unlike an expression a kid wore when they broke something that wasn’t theirs. She had been thinking about too many other things than the task at hand. If the rest of the Quad had been with her, they would have helped her stabilize her divination but they were not. Seeing the mess angered her. Jessa should have not picked something so benign. If she had pushed or shoved the man sitting across from her, Jen would not have seen her failure. He would have seen her power and his mind would be wandering as to its potential. Now he would think she was weak , barely able to move a glass before she failed. Her feelings of helplessness boiled over. The crew had so many questions for her but Jessa also had a lot of questions.
“Ian will replace that,” she stated rapidly. Jessa had no idea if this statement was true or not so she added “If he won’t Rinker will.” Neither man owed her anything so it was a gamble just assuming but Jessa had no way to fix the situation at the moment.
“It’s okay,” he said calmly. “Perfection is a myth. Progression is strength.” He shifted to use his hand and a nearby cloth to contain the shards and to give her her moment to compose herself.
Jessa debated her next move as he cleaned up her mess. The man was nothing but patient and polite carrying his command like a well-worn comfortable shirt. It was a part of him but not something overpowering or attention-grabbing such as his uniform. This fact had Jessa far more on edge than if he tried to thrust his power and position on her like others had in this Federation. As polite and respectful as the XO was, Jessa could be beguiled into how dangerous he could possibly be. If she lashed out, Jen would just send her away which would prevent Jessa from saying something stupid and yet it could create an enemy which was the last thing Jessa needed. Quieting her flight response, Jessa decided to give Jen a bit more of her time. She could always employ the tantrum plan and get out of his space if needed.
“To be honest, I know of no one personally in the Federation who can do what you did.” There could be. He had heard of beings who had immense powers like the Q, the Metrons and the like, and a curious group from a century ago that Kirk had encountered that had powers of the mind but himself? None.
His comment shocked her slightly. This galaxy could not be absent of Divine individuals. If there was no Divine individuals she would be utterly alone. That thought scared her more than anyone on the crew.
“If you want me to trust you why are you all lying to me,” she made a wide gesture with her arms indicating her comment was to more than just Jen. Da Mu was right. She should have taken a hard line stance when they arrived. She should not be talking to the Mind Seer Rinker letting him twist up all she knew to be right and true. She should not have trusted Aimee or the man that may or may not be sitting across from her. Looking at Jen with a confused expression, Jessa flopped back on the couch. “Let’s pretend you weren’t the man in the room with Aimee.”
“I need not pretend,” he said, “and do not be too quick to paint everyone with the same brush. Tell me where I have lied to you since you came here to my home.” His tone was even as he shifted broken shards but they had a slight edge to it. “To speak in absolutes is to make yourself absolutely wrong. It does not further diplomacy from an envoy such as yours and,” he looked up at her and smiled, “It is rude.” He didn’t say that on Andor that kind of outburst would have in some situations incurred an honor fight at least without proof.
His comment about her manners seemed to reign Jessa in. While her ideology might disgust the crew, she wasn’t raised like an animal. She was educated and had been taught right and wrong from a certain point of view. His comment only stung because something inside Jessa told her that she probably should not have said it or said it differently. “I did no mean to offend you in your home. You have been very hospitable aside from offering me refreshments.” It was a back handed comment but Jessa was still struggling to figure out the food system here. The crew freely offered it but never seemed to have anything just lying around due to those machines of theirs. “Its just your crew sees the Union as vile and repulsive.”
“Why is your precious and honorable Federation trying to paint the Union as the aggressors? If I am the enemy. If I am so bad and dangerous why would someone from your perfect Federation break me out, give me a weapon,” she gestured to the table as if Jen had forgotten it, “and then killed everyone I came with after you told us you would help us escape.” Jessa might want to portray she was tough as nails and an equal to any officer on the ship but none of this made any sense to her. She understood lying but not the reality of the adult world where things appeared one way but were vastly different. Until a month ago, Jessa believed without question. Since Halston and now this mission, she was questioning everything.
“I do not understand your Union and, if am reading things correctly, your Union is not understanding us. There is a Vulcan saying to which the Federation holds to as a key ingredient in our make up. In short it is IDIC. It means Infinite diversity in Infinite Combinations.”
The furrowing of her brow indicated Jessa did not understand the term but more importantly was listening to Jen. “I don’t now what that means? Explain it.”
“What that means is that every people and world retains their own identity and purpose while being a part of a whole.”
“Exactly,” Jessa let out an agitated sigh. “When we Indoctrinate worlds they are allowed to keep their language and industries but now they are devoting those resources to the whole of humanity. We let those that choose to join us keep the same life and they are happy to accept our rules for the protection we give them. We are the same,” she protested hoping that Jen would be the first person to finally understand. If she could just make him understand maybe he could help the crew when indoctrination came for the Federation.
“It does not make everyone the same and to believe the same beyond the purpose of mutual benefit. Perhaps that is how we see your Union but perhaps we are wrong.”
“You are wrong. You don’t see the beauty and grace of the Galactic Union,” Jessa felt her volume rising as she became more frustrated trying to explain such a simple concept again. “Those that stay are blessed and happy. You can go to any planet we have indoctrinated and ask any person and they will tell you how happy they are. Those that weren’t happy are long gone. They were relocated to another world but with re-eduation they can come back if they wish.” The last part of her sentence was getting harder to say out loud thanks to her experience on Halston and her visits with Rinker.
“Take me to your bridge right now,” she demanded. Her life was so regimented on this ship. Everything was planned, nothing spontaneous. If she felt like her life was a bad dream maybe it was just that
“I have seen your hologram room. It can make you believe you are somewhere you are not. How do I know I am even in a ship? How do I know any of this is real and not some ploy by the undevout to break me?”
Jen pondered this and how not thought out those statements were. “If you think that we are in a holodeck then any trip anywhere in the ship will not convince you otherwise.”
“Huh,” she looked at him before fully processing the logic in his statement. The moment the thought clicked was easily visible to Jen. A loud moan escaped her lips as she threw her head back on the couch in a very teen-like fashion versus the forced formality of her trying to be an adult. “Are you trying to make me crazier than I feel right now because trust me it is a very very short trip to that brink of a cliff?” Looking at Jen, Jessa came up with a plan that was far more logical. “Hit me,” she stated looking at him.
“You can’t feel pain in a hologram,” she announced what she knew from the Union’s holograms as a fact. “Ian and Jack freaked out when they caught me pinching myself. That earned me a one trip ticket to the couch time with the counselor so hit me. If I feel it I will know I am not in the hologram and just being interrogated. If I don’t,” she did not expand her logic.
“You’re not being interrogated and I have no desire or intent to do you harm.” He finished brushing the last of the shards away and set the cloth down. “Jessa, I wish to apologize to you on behalf of many of those you have met. It has caused you pain and confusion and mistrust to the extent that you are unsure if anything is real. You must be very frustrated by this.” He moved and sat down beside her. “I’ll take you to the bridge if that will help you. But first, tell me, so I can understand, apart from bringing your Union here, what do you want?”
- Jen, XO
“What do I want,” she repeated his question feeling a knot form in her chest. A few asked her what she wanted but most of the crew only asked her what she needed. There was a huge difference in the question. “In a list of the most important things,” she licked her lips feeling it hard to avoid feeling sad about this topic. “I want to find my mom and go home. Without my ship anymore that is impossible. We are too far and I am sure if you had the technical ability to take me home you would have done it by now. I want to find the Prism and take it home.” She didn’t believe that Rinker hadn’t shared his knowledge on the Prism but to save time she summarized it. “The Prism is a device we use to travel in the blink of an eye. It allows us to transport almost as fast at your transporters but across space. Our current method is fast but it took us a month to get from Vela Astria to your galaxy.”
Turning her gaze off Jen, Jessa looked down at her hands as she fidgeted pulling them in and out of her sleeves as she continued to talk. It was easier not to look him in the face for the next part. “I wanted to just come on your ship, get the Prism and leave but we both know that didn’t happen. This leads me to the last thing I want. I want people to not be scared of me. People are unpredictable when they are scared.” Jessa understood the last statement far more than people were giving her credit. Without her Elders, Jessa was scared of everything and had nothing to hold on to except her faith that Pellan would come for her.
OOC: Self bump to let me think on how to answer this <G> .. gene
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