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“For what it’s worth, I don’t think Lieutenant Sano is holding your…outburst the other day against you.”


Jessica sighed, not bothering to look up from her PADD. “She accepted the position, I guess?”

“She did. Apparently, whatever other job she was looking for didn’t work out.” Obruz looked at Jessica from his side of the monitor and frowned. “I still can’t believe you hit her.”

“You heard what she said.”

“Sure, and it was pretty low. I still can’t believe you hit her while you were offering her a job.”

“Dammit, Obruz. Not now.” Jessica set the PADD down on her lap in frustration, glancing up at the Bajoran’s image on the screen. “I feel terrible enough about it. I still can’t believe what she told me.”

“You really can’t fault her for it. She had no information. Do you know how many false readings…”

“Yes, I do. I’m a science officer, remember?” Jessica ran a hand through her hair, sighing. “What killed me most was what she said about the other ships. Starfleet Command knew what we were fighting out there, but even they did nothing about it.”

“A long dead enemy suddenly return from the grave? Sounds like bad science fiction. It doesn’t surprise me that they disregarded it all.”

“But isn’t that just it? Haven’t we seen enough of the Borg to know not to discount them so readily?” Jessica shook her head. “It was just…such a stupid thing to do, not warning anyone.”

“Would it have made a difference?” Obruz sat back in his chair, looking distant as he searched his own memories of that day. “We were in orbit of Vega when that rift opened and the ships spilled through. Even if we had known that the Borg were harrying ships in the region, there was no way to know they’d attack there, and in that number.”

“But we could have done something!” Jessica hit her hand on the PADD, causing the device to beep angrily back at her. “The reinforcements that came, us - we had no idea what we were up against until we warped in to a starship graveyard!” She shook her head in frustration. “If we had known, we would have been better prepared. Hell, Rafale probably wouldn’t have been caught alone in that debris field.” She sighed. “So much could have been done differently.”

”People wouldn’t have died?”

“Yes!” Jessica took in an unsteady breath, feeling her eyes begin to water. “I mean…some people might have still…but that’s beside the point. Hundreds of people is better than thousands!”

The two officers sat in silence for a while, both unable to speak as they considered what Jessica had said.

“I lost a lot of friends there. Fires, I had a close call myself.” Dossu idly touched the still-healing scars on his face. “I don’t know that anything else could have been done for them.”

“I could have saved her.”

Obruz looked up sadly at St. Peter. “There was nothing that could have been done, Commander.”

“Bullshit! Bridget was hurt because Rafale didn’t intervene in time. Seurer made the decision to run away, dammit!”

“Run away?”

“Yes!” Jessica wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, then her nose which had started to run. “We had no command crew, no shields, and barely any power at all. She wanted to turn tail and run back to the planet.”

Obruz furrowed his brow in confusion. “Then how…?”

“We detected the Merveille; she was about to be destroyed. We all told her what was at stake; there were thousands of people on your ship alone from all the survivors you had picked up. We had to do something. And she just…” She covered her mouth, swallowing the lump in her throat to keep from sobbing again. “She froze, Dossu. She didn’t know what to do.”

Obruz was silent again, looking off to the side of his screen. “And that’s when you stepped up?”

“What was I supposed to do? Justine and…and…” she nearly choked on the name, “Bridget were both there. I couldn’t just sit back and watch…”

“So you did what you had to do to save your friends.” Jessica nodded, wiping her face. Dossu shrugged. “So why the second guessing?”

“I should have reacted quicker.”

“Jess, there is such a thing as a ‘chain of command’ for a reason. You couldn’t just go over Commander Seurer’s head like that, not that quickly.”

“Why the hell not?” Jessica smacked the PADD on her lap again, causing the computer to beep at her again. “I went over her head in the end! I could have done it earlier, we could have been back in action quicker, we could have taken fire off of you sooner.” She tossed the PADD to her left, where it bounced off the bed and clattered to the ground. “I could have saved her, Dossu!”

Obruz was silent for a few seconds. “Could you have?”

“Yes!”

Obruz shook his head. “Jess…listen to me.”

“Shut up, Dossu.”

“Jessica, you go and take over. You’d be facing a court martial now instead of in command. And, that’s assuming you didn’t get yourself killed trying to protect us.”

The tears she had been fighting started to flow freely. “It’d be better than seeing Justine like this and living without Bridget!”

“But you don’t know that! Anything could have happened there, Jessica! For all you know, Bridget would still be dead, no matter how long you think it took you to take charge.”

“You don’t know that!”

“Maybe not. But you don’t know, either. There’s no way to know.” Obruz sighed, leaning forward again. “I can’t tell you what you want to hear. You saved Justine. You saved me. You saved thousands of people.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt more abandoned by the Prophets than I did that day. All the friends I -
we - lost, it shouldn’t have been. But I am so very thankful for you, and the Rafale, and what you did. We all knew the risks for this job, Bridget chief among them as a security officer.” He shook his head, his voice conveying concern. “She paid the ultimate price, manning her station on the bridge to the very end. The medics had to pull her away by force to get her to the triage to try and treat her.”

Jessica covered her face, crying freely now, and whispered “I know…”

“Jessica…”

“I miss her so much, Dossu.” St. Peter wiped her face, her cheeks slick from tears and her eyes bloodshot. “She was so beautiful, and such an incredible friend. It could be the worst day in the galaxy and she would just smile and…everything would be ok.” She sniffled loudly and, reaching down, brought up the sheet of the bed to wipe her nose with. “She had this way to know exactly what to say, for better or worse.” Jessica laughed at that, remembering her friend. “She convinced me to play volleyball at the Academy with her. I didn’t want to, I didn’t have the time.” She shook her head. “I can’t even remember what she said, but I wound up signing up for it as if it were my idea.”

“I always did think she could talk the robes off a Vedek.” Obruz laughed. “She was something else.”

“She was incredible…” Jessica shook her head, frowning again. “I should have saved her.”

Dossu frowned sadly. “Jess...”

“I wish I could have done more. If I was just a little faster!”

“You did everything you could, and more. We all did.” Obruz bit his lip for a second, pausing. “So did Bridget. Don’t take that away from her.”

“I just want her back, Dossu. For me, for Justine…” She took in a deep breath, trying to regain her composure. “For you.”

“Jessica…answer me this. If the earring was on the other ear…”

Jessica laughed. “Wait, what?”

Obruz looked confused for a moment. “’If the earring was on the other ear.’ If your roles were reversed.”

“’If the shoe were on the other foot?’”

“If that’s how you say it, then sure. Either way: if you were the one dead, and Bridget was grieving for you?”

Jessica shook her head and sighed. “I wouldn’t want her to blame herself.” She laughed then. “That doesn’t mean it has to make sense like that for me.”

“Jessica, you know Bridget wouldn’t want this, for either of you. You need to be strong for each other, and you need to grieve, but you can’t blame yourself. If you want someone to blame, blame the Borg. Blame Command. If it makes you feel better, blame the Prophets or whoever you want. There was nothing more you could have done, Jessica.”

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