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[2006: MAR-APR] Apple Seeds


Julia Harden
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APPLE SEEDS

The day Jonni Jett turned 15, she approached Vice Admiral Bullock [a rank ironically appropriate to his methods] in his small office at the Dilithium Mining Quarry. He appeared to seriously study the young woman’s beseeching eyes.

Before she could speak, he waved his hand, gesturing to one of the guards that stood at her side. “Take her and clean her up. Then she can talk to me.”

Once out of the admiral’s sight [and mind], the guards tossed her into the dirt road that encircled the compound. Jonni picked herself up without looking back and slowly walked the three miles to her home. She would leave Tirion some day, she thought bitterly. “And then I’ll never come back.” She said this out loud where only the rocks and scrub brush could hear her.

Two days later, after scrubbing away the dirt until the vat of cold water was black, Jonni Jett again stood before the Vice Admiral. Her clothes were too small for her thin frame and her callused feet were bare. Someone, or she, herself, had chopped her black hair until it lay raggedly at chin length.

“Could you see your way to signing my Starfleet acceptance papers, sir?” Jonni’s voice cracked. There were no guards this time, only the Vice Admiral looking secure and confident of his power over one lone child.

She tried hard not to shiver. But in her nervousness, she couldn’t stop the cold from seeping into her bones. Her knees buckled and she fell to the floor. A teen-aged boy watched from the side hall and put his fist in his mouth to keep from crying out for her.

During the following days, the guards left Jonni alone in a cold, damp cell. On occasion, they would return to punish her for her insubordinate behavior in front of the admiral. They abused her simply because they could.

During her month long incarceration, she put to good use the ability of hurling herself into a dream state. A practice she’d come to perfect in the first 10 years of her life.

Her displaced jaw returned to its proper place gradually, stopping the earache that had so tortured her. She managed to set her broken arm herself, screaming as the bones snapped into place and before the darkness snatched the pain away. Why she wasn’t dead was a mystery.

Once, she awoke to find an unkempt boy pushing an extra portion of food across the floor toward her. She snatched the food off the dirty cement and ate hungrily.

(days later)

The image of lights shining in her eyes never left her memory. She’d brought her hands up to shield herself from the blow she knew was next. A blow that didn’t come.

Instead, a hiss, a kind gravely voice and then darkness claimed her.

(18 months later)

((Starfleet Academy, San Francisco, Earth))

”Sir?” Jonni asked. She brought her hand down at the instructor’s nod. “Are apples poisonous?”

The academy instructor didn’t hesitate or ask for explanations. He replied smoothly, “Yes, they are. Each seed contains a small amount of cyanide.”

Jonni’s finger moved as if raised. She asked her second and last question, “How many seeds would it take to actually poison someone?”

This time the instructor raised a quizzical Vulcan eyebrow. Cadet Jett knew that the science teacher would pick up on her unexpressed emotions and kept her expression passive. As passive as she could after being told that the position she was training for was that of yeoman.

Master Jolek answered, watching for tiny signs of disappointment. “It would take two bushels of seeds. Not the apples, mind you, just seeds.”

(3 years later)

Ensign Jonni Jett stood on the shuttle pad in her clean Starfleet uniform with the single golden pip shining in the afternoon sun of San Francisco. Freedom! Her feelings, so tightly controlled over the past five years, were finally free.

She didn’t think of herself as brave, but she was. She never considered persistence to be one of her traits, but it was. She had never been alone but she never knew that.

Two days later the shuttle was landing on Tirion. Ensign Jett’s mind went blank at the sight of the black holes that disappeared into the ground. That was a separate life. That had been a different little girl that had lived here; who had grown up here.

Her eyes strayed over the harsh black dirt. The memory in her nostrils of decay and mold made her eyes water. Her mind’s eye saw her father standing drunkenly in front of her. His fist was raised to strike and she almost flinched. Reminding herself that that phase of her life had ended, she forced her shoulders to relax. Her chin came up as the door of the compound opened.

At a side door, twenty year old Troy Abscomb’s eyes glinted with pleasure. Twice he’d successfully snuck extra food into her cell. Once, she’d opened her eyes and seen him. Now she was back as the admiral’s yeoman.

Jonni picked up the canister of emulsified apple seeds, smiled beguilingly and walked forward to meet her new commander, Vice Admiral Bullock.

“Admiral,” she said cheerfully, “I’ve brought a special recipe just for you!”

END

edited for spelling

Edited by Julia Harden
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