==Evening Before Launch==
The holodeck was silent and dark save for the sound of Jenny's slow breathing as she sat on the hard obsidian floor, legs folded and eyes closed. Bryan had suggested meditation some time ago to help alleviate her tensions in ways that gym exercise and her other physical activities with him did not. She'd struggled at first; none of the more well-known religions had provided any answer, especially those that required active prayer or had strict codes of conduct that Jenny knew she wouldn't be able to conform to; 'thou shalt not kill' and its variations being one of the more difficult ones. If she wanted to spend eternity in hell, Jenny would transfer to the Sheridan as a Junior Tactical officer under Jaxx Crandell. More obscure religious followings had also proven less than fruitful, until Jenny came across a piece of historical trivia in which a group of twentieth-century people had declared a fictional religion on a census form; legend had it that the government of the time had been forced to recognise it, though Jenny believed that story to have grown in the telling. Her research had led her to believe that this religion or philosophy (indeed the texts stated it could be one or both) held many of the traditional notions of good or evil, and had links to both Earth Buddhism and Daoism, and that it was actually very well developed for a fictional religion.
Footsteps threatened to pull Jenny from her concentration, focusing on expanding her sphere of perception and using her passive senses to detect others; sight could be compromised easier than touch, sound and smell, and the last time she had been distracted she had ended up with several painful raps across the back by one of the three beings that accompanied her every time she used this program. A blindfold was pulled across her eyes and tightened behind her head, and Jenny felt the passage of the smallest being and heard the taps of its walking stick on the surface of the floor as it retreated to a safe distance. Her father and one of his associates had helped write the program, turning it into a font of knowledge as well as an exercise in mental and physical discipline; she was always accompanied by three individuals - the first was a wrinkled old man in black robes with a hunched back, yellow eyes and bad teeth only two of the physical deformities that betrayed the inner corruption; the second was a wizened little green creature who spoke in backwards riddles and laughed at everything. The third was a mystery; cloaked in black and red with face hidden behind a mask, the third figure never said a word and beyond being male, Jenny knew little to nothing about him. Of the three, he was easily the most unsettling.
"Begin, you will."
Two taps of the little creature's stick, and Jenny rose to her feet, unhooking a fifteen centimetre long cylinder from her belt. This was the part of the program that she'd thought she'd find less useful than training with an actual sword, especially given the weapon could not be replicated outside of the realms of the holodeck, but after a few practice sessions she'd begun to realise she found the exercise to be quite enjoyable once she'd gotten around fighting opponents who didn't obey Newtonian laws of physics. Taking the cylinder in a firm two-handed grip, Jenny pressed the activation stud with her thumb and felt the device hiss and vibrate as, unseen, the three foot long blade of violet energy. Calmly and deliberately, Jenny began walking through the training kata; deadly energy blade sometimes passing mere inches from her head. The drone of the blade was constant in her ears, but not enough to fully block out the competing voices of two of her three holographic companions.
"There is no emotion, there is peace."
"Peace is a lie, there is only passion."
Finishing one warmup kata, Jenny moved into something more advanced; there were apparently seven major forms of fighting with this weapon, each of which could probably be transferred to more traditional bladed weapons. In addition to the first form, which had been developed using traditional bladed weapons as a basis; Jenny had studied the second, duel-centric form, along with the fourth and seventh forms; the fourth being fast-paced and effective against singular opponents, the seventh being more unpredictable and stemming from the form's design to overpower an opponent with 'fury and malignant grace'. Moving into the second form, then the fourth, Jenny was accompanied by the drone of the blade and the muttered voices reciting the same lines over and over again. More than once her concentration threatened to slip and she risked badly burning herself as the blade passed too close to exposed skin.
"There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity."
"Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power."
Finishing the fourth form katas, Jenny moved into the aggressive and difficult to master seventh form. This was usually where she failed, the simplest of distractions usually resulting in, had the safeties been turned off entirely rather than just set to a reduced setting, a severed arm or leg.
"There is no chaos, there is harmony."
"Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken."
Jenny felt her confidence slipping and forced herself to concentrate. Through power she would gain victory and free herself from the bonds of her fear; her fear of the future, her fear of her secret being discovered. Sweat stung her eyes as it streamed from her scalp under the blindfold and despite not being physically tired, the concentration required to maintain the katas was exhausting her mentally, allowing the thoughts she'd been trying to suppress to flood back into her mind. Forcing herself through the pain, Jenny finished the kata and realised that the voices had stopped; they never stopped. There was someone else present, a second heartbeat and a second mouth breathing. Jenny hadn't even heard the holodeck doors open, and wondered if she'd gone over her allotted time or whether the locking mechanism simply hadn't engaged like it was supposed to. Deactivating the blade and removing the blindfold, Jenny followed the gazes of her three companions to the interloper in her sanctum; a small red-headed girl with more freckles than skin on her face.