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Posted on 19 Jul 2016 @ 8:02am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij

Mission: History
Location: Saraja Jelic's Quarters, USS Impala
Timeline: Eighteen Years Ago

“Hello, Jayla.”

Jayla Kij, age 15, winced at the kind voice that intruded on her thoughts. Slowly, her head lifted to meet the eyes of the caramel skinned Trill woman standing before her. She blinked and swallowed hard. “H-hi,” she stammered nervously.

The woman smiled gently. “I'm Saraja Jelic,” she said.

“I know who you are,” snapped Jayla, sounding harsher than she had meant it. She turned away angrily. She wasn't angry at Jelic, as some might think. She was angry with herself. Why wasn't she strong enough to control this? She'd already been approved for symbiosis! She should be able to do this! Never mind training. She knew who she was and she should be able to overcome the others.

But, there was Belar Kij, intruding. He was always intruding. So was Gavara. She'd actually known Gavara Kij in life. Maybe that's why she seemed to come out so often.

“Are you hungry?”

Jayla whirled around to glare at Saraja. No, no. That was Gavara. Or Belar. Or maybe Davron. It was someone. But, it wasn't Jayla. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I'm sorry,” she said in a small voice. “I'm trying. I really am.” She blinked at the tears furiously, but they only rolled down her cheeks.

“I know, Jayla,” said Saraja, laying a single hand on Jayla's shoulder. “It's okay. You'll get the hang of it.”

But, Jayla didn't want to deal with it right now. “Yes,” she said.

“Pardon?”

“Yes,” Jayla repeated. “I'm hungry.”

“You need more food to support the symbiont,” Saraja told her, crossing the room to the replicator. “It'll take some getting used to, but Kij will help. Listen to him.”

“I know that,” said Jayla, frustrated. “I've only done this eleven times before.”

“Jayla has never done it,” said Saraja, punching in some commands on the replicator. “Give her back her mouth.”

“Go boil your head.”

Saraja turned from the replicator as it worked. “That sounded like Belar,” she said. “Push him aside, Jayla. You can do it.”

The teenager closed her eyes again and clenched her jaw. With an effort, she nudged Belar's personality aside. “I apologize,” she said quietly. “He's... strong.”

“You'll get the hang of it,” Saraja told her. “Just be patient. At least you seem able to get past the deaths.” She turned and retrieved two bowls from the replicator. “Caldan,” she said, setting the traditional Trill dish made of fish, noodles and root vegetables on the table. “Come, eat.”

Jayla, who'd had to close her eyes at the memories of death that sprung to her mind at the very word, swallowed again and crossed to the table. “Thanks,” she said, the voice still not entirely hers.

“Try again,” said Saraja. “Push them away.”

Frustrated, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Thank you,” she said, and the tone was all her this time.

“Better,” commented Saraja with a warm smile. “Now eat.”

Obediently, Jayla picked up her fork and took a bite. It wasn't as good as homemade, of course, but it was passable. “Is there ever real food on this ship?” she asked.

“That depends,” said Saraja. “Was that really Jayla asking?”

Jayla considered the question. “I- I think so,” she said. “I don't know.”

“It's okay,” Saraja told her. “It will take some time. You'll get the hang of it.”

“I don't want to get the hang of it!” exclaimed Jayla. “I just want it to be how it's supposed to be!”

“And that will take a lot of work on your part,” Saraja told her. “It can't just be the way it's supposed to unless you work at it.”

Jayla pouted. And then more tears decided to spring to her eyes. “And... the way they all....” she trailed off.

She didn't have to continue, though. Saraja understood. She wasn't completely over the deaths, yet. “I know,” she said, laying one hand over Jayla's. “Try to think of that moment just before. The peaceful one. Just as they let out their last breaths. Go there.”

But she couldn't do it. The rest was too overwhelming. She dropped her fork and covered her face with her hands.

“Jayla,” said Saraja sternly. “Listen to Kij. He'll help you through it. Listen for him.”

She tried. She really did. But, no matter what she did, the others were taking over. She let out a little cry of pain and suddenly, arms were around her as she wept. She didn't care who's they were at the moment. She felt safe in them and they seemed to help. She was able to get a grip on who she was and where she was and felt Kij's calming presence in her mind.

After several moments, she was finally able to control her mind. “Thank you,” she said again.

“You're sure you're okay?” asked Saraja, finally releasing her.

Jayla shook her head. “But, I will be,” she said miserably. “I'll have to be or I'll die.”

Saraja's face went dark for a moment. “That's not far from the truth,” she admitted. “But for now, try to eat. You'll need the strength.”

Jayla nodded and picked up her fork automatically. She stabbed a bit of fish and stared at it.

“Eat it,” Saraja said gently, but firmly. “Go on.”

Jayla sighed and put the fish in her mouth, chewing slowly.

“You'll get it,” Saraja told her. “It will take a lot of work, but you'll get it.”

Jayla certainly hoped so.

 

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