Administration Centre, Ocama City Station
In orbit of Ocampa V, Delta Quadrant
74th Day of Zei (July 25th, 2377)
The walls of the Administrations Centre had been set transparent, allowing all those who worked from the dual-level facility to look out into space without obstruction. It had been over a week since their view had changed from nothing but stars, to being half dominated by the planet they now orbited. It hadn’t taken the sensor operators long to determine they were back at the Ocampa homeworld, but they were baffled as to how it had happened—all they knew was that it was because of some kind of energy wave.
Tanis knew who was responsible; he just didn’t know how she had managed it. Kes was more powerful than any Ocampa he’d ever known or read about. It was because of that fact that when she asked to rest, undisturbed, in the Sanctuary, he had consented. Even since the day she had returned and locked herself away he had been calling out to Susperia, asking for Her guidance and help to understand what had happened to Kes; but She had never answered him. Others had tried as well, even concentrated in groups of various sizes, but no one could contact Susperia. He could only suspect that Kes was keeping them from making contact, though he didn’t know how she could deflect or suppress their calls.
Her power truly awed and terrified him.
Since they had arrived in orbit of their former homeworld—a place no one on the station had ever seen let alone set foot on—they had stayed onboard the City Station. No attempts had been made to contact the inhabitants underground, whether telepathically or otherwise, not until they knew more of how they had gotten there and why they had been brought to the dead world. It fell to Tanis to try and figure out how, which meant he had to confront her. To say he was scared didn’t even scratch the surface of how he felt.
He stood on the upper level, looking down at the planet below, taking in every dry ocean and riverbed, the barren land devoid of even the faintest hint of greenery. Looking at the world his forebears had called home, he had to wonder why more Ocampa hadn’t left when they had the chance.
Kes’ voice filled his mind.
He knew she was close by. From behind him he heard a door open and turned towards it, in time to see her standing there. She looked older than before, her wrinkles deeper, her hair a little whiter, her frame slighter, but despite how she appeared on the outside there was no disputing the power that radiated from her.
The others in the room stopped what they were doing and watched as she entered. Though he couldn’t sense them, he knew they would be speaking telepathically between themselves. Some would recall Kes from the brief time she visited, others would know her from what he remembered, then there were those who would know her from what she had done to them a week ago. Like him they were intimidated by the woman.
“Kes,” he said giving her a polite smile, trying to sound pleased to see her.
She came to a stop just a few meters from him. Her large eyes sought out his, where he once again saw the conflux of emotions—once there had been peace in those eyes, all he could see now was chaos. He could only hope that she had it under control or else they would all pay the price.
“Why have you brought us here?” he asked, taking the direct approach.
“It is time to heal the rift between our people, Tanis. You are few in numbers, but advanced in the way of technology and abilities. Those beneath the surface are great in number but lack what you have gained. They have been with the Caretaker for over six years, rationing what they have in the way of power to make it last as long as possible, but it is now coming to an end.
“But they are not ready. They have made no effort to develop on their own, identify their own sense of self. Many still cling to the hope that the Caretaker will return and they can go back to their previous lives.”
“So you abduct us to help them?” he challenged, knowing that he was playing a dangerous game.
She surprised him by smiling slightly. “Would you have come if I’d asked?”
“No,” he told her. The Ocampa on the station had left their homeworld far behind generations ago, to the point where they had no sense of connection with them—many actually looked upon them with a feeling of pity, they’d been made little more than simpletons, blindly following their ‘caretaker’—who had left them weak and hollow. The Ocampa he was responsible for would never let themselves be taken in so completely, made into pawns of another being.
*Are you sure about that?*
Kes asked, her expression calm and neutral.
He scowled at her. *I am. We are free of your Caretaker, your blind obedience. Our lives and our abilities are our own.*
*Except for Susperia.*
*She freed us!* he protested.
*Then why does she still rule over you? Why hasn’t she left you alone to continue your self-exploration?*
*What makes you think she hasn’t?*
*Because I can hear all of your people crying out for her—the same way many of my people below still call out for the Caretaker. You are enslaved to her and you don’t even realise it.*
*That...that’s not true!*
*That is for you to learn on your own.*
“You’re keeping us from contacting Her,” he exclaimed aloud, drawing looks from the others in the Administration Centre.
“Yes,” she replied simply.
“She is using you Tanis, she is using all of you,” she told him, her voice was quiet but beneath it was a note of strength he hadn’t heard before. “You need to learn to stand on your own just as much as the others do.”
“What gives you the right!?” he demanded, his tone hard and cold.
“I just want to give all of our people their freedom. From the Nacene, the Kazon, from anyone who denies us who we are, where we are from and what we can become.”
“Susperia has showed us what we can be—”
“She has showed you what she wants you to be, Tanis. For her own purpose—whatever that may be. Think of what more you could become if you were left alone to learn more.”
He sneered at her. “You want us all to become a mirror image of you!”
Kes finally broke eye contact and looked away for a moment. For the briefest of instances she looked so frail and weak, he thought she would fall to the floor under her own weight. But it lasted barely a second before she looked him in the eye once more, her strength and conviction restored once more.
“No one should become what I have, Tanis. They will lose everything that made them who they were until there is nothing left but the power. It is no life.”
In that moment he could see the loneliness and pain in her eyes. He could see in her all that she had lost as her powers had grown, until they were all that remained—the sweet young woman he had met wasn’t even a memory. In achieving the power that terrified him, she had lost everything that had made her who she was. It was such a great loss; he didn’t know how she could endure it.
Kes took a step closer to him, lowering her voice to barely above a whisper. “Please Tanis.”
Slowly she extended her hand to him. He looked down at it and then back at her aged face. There was something so earnest in her voice that weighed on his heart. She wasn’t the person he had known, she wasn’t someone he could say he did trust, but he could see that she was someone in pain. She was in need of help and asking him for it.
Was she right about Susperia using him and his people? Was Kes herself not just seeking to use them herself? Was there something to be gain be unifying the Ocampa? If there was, what would it be? Where would it lead them?
There were too many questions that he couldn’t begin to answer. But a part of him wanted to try. Before he could change his mind he reached out and took her hand, which was cool to the touch. A faint smile tugged at her lips.
The Administration Centre rippled and then he found himself somewhere new.