Log Entry 121229.42

I'm shattered.

Nine of us piled back over to Al's quarters to clean the place up, and it took all nine of us plus a great deal of our replicator rations to get it respectable. Al owes us all—big time! The upshot is I've had no sleep.

At 0500 hours, I said my farewells to everybody and headed back to my quarters to pack for my own departure. I didn't have much so it wouldn't take long, and Luke, bless him, had volunteered to take care of Beastie for me. Not that it's a big favour. He dotes upon that blessed cat and Beastie can wrap Luke around her little paw.

Anyway, 07:45 and I was in the shuttle bay. The shuttle was already there and the pilot was undertaking the last of his pre-flight checks. Tez turned up shortly afterwards because, of course, his place had been secured at the Academy a good week earlier. He looked pretty shattered too (he'd been with us, helping with Al's quarters) and yawned widely as he walked in.

We greeted each other warmly with a gentle hug. He really is a cuddly old bear, and he always has this wonderful scent about him, like fresh oregano. I always find it very difficult not to draw in deep breaths around him; he smells so delightful.

Anyway, the two of us waited, quietly chatting. Tez was assuring me that Al had nothing to worry about. Her quarters would pass inspection no problem at all.

No one else was coming to see us off as we had said our farewells last night, and it was probably better that way bearing in mind that Rutter would be arriving soon. Sure enough, in he walked.

Rutter was, as usual, immaculately presented. He always had looked the part of an officer and he made me feel quite scruffy. I wasn't, but somehow he made me feel that way. Maybe it was my old rucksack that sat beside me, so tatty and crumpled compared to Rutter's smart rigid case.

Either way, he didn't greet either of us. In fact, he ignored us and stood at ease, staring straight ahead at the awaiting shuttle and its pilot.

"Ladies, gentlemen. Are we ready to board?" asked the pilot.

We all filed in and took our seats.

Shuttles are not large at the best of times, but this one seemed smaller than usual. I wasn't looking forward to the next eight hours cooped up with Rutter. It wasn't filling me with a huge amount of joy, and the atmosphere was really dour. The pilot wasn't oblivious to it either. Having taken the shuttle away from the Drakonia and set a course, an awkward silence settled. The pilot busied himself with various checks until he ran out of the things he had to do ... and then all the other things that he could think of to do that didn't actually need doing. Finally, he puffed out a breath of air and turned in his seat to look at the three of us. We must have looked really odd sat like fresh icicles, cold and stiff.

"So, you're The Misfits," he smiled.

"I'm not a misfit!" exclaimed Rutter indignantly.

"I think you'll find that you are," declared Tez. "There aren't many Ensigns that get sent back to the Academy for a refresher course in manners. In fact, I think you're unique ... and in so many ways; none of them good."

I was startled by Tez's remarks. He was usually such a mild-mannered individual. He'd lost none of his jolliness, but his tone indicated that he was looking for a conflict, and looking forward to getting one too. He was a true Tellarite after all.

"What's that supposed to mean, Tez?" shouted Rutter.

"Tezenia to you, Rutter. Only my friends call me Tez, which is virtually everyone I know. I expect that's why everyone calls you Rutter rather than Frederick."

"I have friends—"

"Only latinum-plated ones. All show, no genuine value—"

"I have friends, and proper friends, not the bunch of freaks you hang around with you horrible, stumpy little man!"

"My kind are all stumpy little men, except the females of course, but are all humans overbearing prigs like yourself?"

"I am not overbearing!"

Tez considered for a moment.

"True. I withdraw the statement. To be overbearing you would have to have a certain presence; fill the room with a sense of foreboding when you entered it, but you don't do that. Dread maybe, but not foreboding. And even then it's the sort of dread you feel when a real bore enters the room."

"I'm NOT a bore!"

"Maybe not by birth, but you've worked very hard at it, I can tell. You've done very well, though, excelled at it even."

"If anyone's a bore around here, it's you! B. O. A. R! Boar! You cloven hoofed, over-sized hairball!"

"Over-sized? A moment ago, I was a stumpy little man, but then verbal communication was never your strong point. Your mother should have taught you better."

"My mother taught me just fine."

"Let's hope she is a better Admiral than she is a tutor."

Rutter's face filled with rage and his lips pursed as he struggled to contain his anger. Eager not to get involved in another physical altercation, he got up and disappeared into the aft of the shuttle.

I grinned at Tez and he smiled smugly back at me.

"Sorry," I apologised to the pilot, smiling weakly.

"Not at all," he grinned, obviously amused by Tez's assault on Rutter. "I'm just trying to figure out which one of the pair is the Tellarite."

"Oh me, definitely," said Tez. "A Tellarite would never surrender in the middle of an exchange."

He smiled and saw my surprise.

"Problem?" he asked.

"No. I'm just not used to you behaving ... well, like a Tellarite."

He laughed.

"I'd never get to be a Starfleet captain if I behaved like a Tellarite with crewmembers. So, as you Humans say: when in Rome."

I laughed and so did the pilot.

Tez is a wonderful character and one day, he will make an excellent starship captain.

The rest of the flight passed by uneventfully, but that's probably because Tez and I fell asleep.

Log Entry 121222.41

Rutter, seething, disappeared within moments of leaving the Briefing Room, leaving Al and me alone in the corridor.

"Blimey Al!" I exclaimed. "That was your exit card!"

"I know," she said, sounding both annoyed and surprised at herself.

"I thought you wanted out! What on Earth was going through your mind?"

Al shook her head.

"To be honest, I'm not entirely sure," she said, grabbing my arm and pulling me down the corridor. We had so little time before she was due to depart.

"I knew it was my way out but ..." she paused and heaved a sigh. "When Bryant said you'd been enrolled into this Cadet Development Program thing, I was fuming with envy. Why the hell should you get yet another break? What was so special about you? Why did I never get any breaks? It was all sour grapes and I knew it, but it didn't stop me feeling that way."

As we rounded the corner to Al's quarters, we found Luke and Midas waiting for us. She growled with Klingon impatience. There was so little time before her shuttle would take her away and we needed to talk. With our futures so heavily intertwined, I needed to know her plans, and it seemed that she was equally eager to discuss them with me.

Al ignored the pair and went inside while I spoke to the guys. I gave them a quick overview as they needed to realise we had less than two hours to get Al packed, and then I sent them on their way.

"Girl talk!" exclaimed Al as the door shut behind me. It had been the only thing I could think of to get rid of them without causing offence, but I didn't answer her. Al's quarters were still in complete turmoil. I'd forgotten about that.

Al was racing around the room, sifting through the debris for ... well, uniform, I think. It was hard to tell with all the mess.

I struggled to find my voice.

"Yes, I know, but I needed to get rid of them. As it is, they're rounding everybody up to see you off in the shuttle bay, so come on ... you were telling me about your sour grapes."

"What? Oh. Yes. Well, then he offered me the same thing. I was going to tell him to shove it. That was my first instinct because that's what I'd normally do." She was talking at Warp Nine.

"—It's what I've always done, and then your little voice started chirruping inside my hand like an annoying, squeaky little mouse! Raktajino or Earl Gray! ... You can never be at peace with yourself, not as long as you deny who you are ... The Earhart could be your opportunity too."

Despite her whingeing impression of me, I couldn't help but smile. I'd had no idea I'd had such an impact upon her.

"—And I thought what the hell! My whole life, I've amounted to very little because I never had a chance. I was screwed from the moment I was born ... and then suddenly ..."

Al stopped moving and shut up. Her gaze fixed upon a point beyond normal vision.

"... I was being offered exactly that. For all the wrong reasons, of course. That ... P'Tok ... wanted me to refuse! But I thought, no, bugger you mate. I'm staying!" She was back up to full speed again and ranted for another ten minutes at least. I was waiting for her to draw breath. I never knew someone could talk for that long without breathing, but Al seemed to manage it as she ran back and forth selecting items at random and hurling them into a holdall.

"What are you smiling at?" she suddenly demanded.

I couldn't help it. I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

"I was just wondering why your packing what you are? You've just thrown the remains of a book in your bag!"

Al glared at me and then at her holdall. Sure enough, on top of the motley collection she had hurled in there was the front cover of an old book and its first few pages. She sighed heavily.

"See. There I go again. Can't even pack a bag right!"

I walked over to the holdall and upended it.

"And how am I going to get this lot sorted out before I go?" she asked, indicating the room. "Bryant'll kill me when he sees what I've done here."

"Don't worry about it—"

"How can I not worry about it? I've got less than an hour now!"

"AL! SHUT UP!" I screamed at her.

She froze, glaring at me, her lip twisting into a sneer.

"I'll get this sorted out," I promised her. "I'll get everyone to help me and it'll be cleaned up before I go. In the meantime, let's pack what you need. What is it with books anyway? Who has books anymore?"

Al slumped onto the bed as I folded some of her clothes.

"Oh, bloody hell, Jen. Why am I such a misfit?"

"You're not a misfit—"

"Yes, I am. Rutter's right ... misfit. Neither Klingon nor Human."

I sat beside her.

"Is that why you hate your Klingon side so much? Because without it you could be just one thing ... all Human?"

"No, it's because my plonker of a father—the Klingon—got himself a nice honourable death before I was two years old. My mother, on the other hand—the Human—well ... she's dead, so I got landed with Aunt Edith."

"At least you had someone."

"Oh stop being such a bloody optimist. She was an old age pensioner who lived in a remote farmstead in the mountains of Oveda Prime with nineteen cats and a cockatiel named Rodney. I was eight years old before I saw another two-legged being."

"Oveda Prime has the largest number and variety of birds of any known planet. Birds have only two legs," I chirped.

The look Al gave me was deadly, but soon melted into a smirk as she playfully hurled the remains of the book at me.

"And she didn't do technology. No on-line education for me," Al huffed. "My schooling was by books that were at least a hundred years out of date."

"So what you're saying is, if your Klingon father hadn't died, you might have had a better chance in life?"


"So, it's his fault."

Al scowled.

"You should forget about being a Cultural Advisor. Psychiatry's more up your street."

I laughed.

"Nah. How people think is interesting, but I've got too many hang-ups of my own."

Al scowled furiously at me, dubious that I had any baggage.

"Seriously, Al. We all have our problems. Look at Ensign Rutter."

She scoffed.

"He's had it all. Both parents were there for him and undoubtedly helped to pave the way, and being successful admirals, I'm sure those pavings were hefty ones. No expense would have been spared for his comfort or education, and look what a twit he is! Bryant summed it up. He's a xenophobe. How does a xenophobe get through the Academy? Pound to a penny, if it were you or I, no way would we have got through the first year. And does he have any real friends?"

Al sniffed deeply. "True, but it just seems that life has been so unfair for me ... until now."

We both beamed a huge smile at each other.

"So what are you planning?" I asked.

Al slapped her hands on her thighs, rose and swept a uniform up from the floor.

"You had your fairy-godmother in Jarrod," she said as she folded the uniform. "Maybe T'Roc is mine. I'm seizing this opportunity. I'm going to go with the Marines, and I'll try to hone this Klingon temper into something useful for a change."

"I think you've made the right decision under the circumstances."

"What circumstances?"

"Well, the Marines! I wouldn't fancy that at all."

"I'd rather have the Marines than Rutter."

"We're both saddled with Rutter."

"Yes, but for the first three months, you have him all to yourself!"

Oh bugger, I thought, but there was no time to dwell upon it.

We had Al's bag packed and left the chaos of her quarters behind shortly afterwards. When we reached the shuttle bay, we found quite a crowd of people waiting for us: the whole of the Games Club plus a few others beside. I saw Al swallow hard. She had not expected this many people and I could see that it moved her, but she wasn't going to show it. She thrust out her chin and cricked her neck before she stepped forward to greet them.

As I watched them saying their farewells, I saw them with different eyes. Ensign Rutter had called us misfits and perhaps we were an unusual bunch, but not in a bad way.

Midas was part Human and part Vulcan. He stood back and let everybody say their goodbyes with the dignity of a Vulcan, but when it came to his turn to say farewell, he embraced Al warmly and she let him. I wondered about his history and parents too.

Tez was there as well, and suddenly it struck me that he was far too jolly for a Tellarite. By nature, Tellarites are argumentative individuals seeking conflict and the upper hand via snide remarks. What was his story then?

Each and every one of us were such unique individuals, fascinatingly so.

Perhaps Al was right. Maybe psychology was more my forte, but then, to understand someone's psychology you had to understand their culture.

I shook myself back into the present as Al stood before me again.

"Cadet Johnson!" a voice boomed out across the bay. We turned. A Marine stood by a shuttle. He was tall with rugged features and wore his dark uniform well. He didn't smile but his face was not unfriendly. No doubt he had heard all about us. Perhaps we amused him.

"Yes sir," shouted Al proudly. She stood to attention and saluted him.

"At ease soldier," he grinned.

With a distinct spring in her step, Al disappeared with him into the shuttle and a few minutes later, she was gone. I stood and stared at the closed shuttle bay doors for a while.

"Come on," said Luke. "I believe we have a big mess to clean up."

Log Entry 121215.40

As expected, we have been summoned to the Briefing Room to stand before a Disciplinary Committee. We have already given our evidence individually, and now we must prepare for the verdict and face the consequences of our actions. Starfleet isn't playing favourites though. All three of us have been called.

As we marched through the ship, I felt ashamed, but also angry at the insinuation that I wasn't as fit to serve Starfleet as some others were. Al, who walked behind me, said afterwards that I marched and held my head like a Klingon. She found it inspirational and followed suit. Goodness knows what Rutter thought as he brought up the rear.

The doors to the Briefing Room slid open revealing Captain Burrows, First Officer: Commander Smithy, Second Officer: Commander Shaney, Lieutenant Bryant and Commander Jarrod sat along one side of the long table. We came and stood to attention before them. The five officers glared disapprovingly at us for what was only a few moments, but seemed like an age.

"The behaviour displayed by all three of you of late is appalling," began the Captain. "It has been recommended to me that I dismiss you entirely and, indeed, I have thought about it, but your behaviour reflects directly upon me. It suggests that my command may have been lacking and so, to dismiss you would be to admit defeat ... to surrender from the battle so to speak.

"Each and every crewmember must be educated, his or her skills honed in order to serve Starfleet and their captain to the best of their ability. Maybe I have been remiss in my duties of late, and that is why this recent string of events has been allowed to take place, but I do not intend to let this continue, despite any new postings you may have. By the time you reach your new Captains, you WILL be worthy of those posts and thus, I hereby order as follows:

"Ensign Rutter: If I could have stripped you of rank, I would have done so. Your xenophobic tendencies have not gone unnoticed. Even your parents, the Admirals Rutter, have expressed concern over your cavalier attitude towards non-commissioned staff, especially non-Humans. This is something we must address and thus, I rule that for a period of three months, you shall return to the Academy to refresh yourself as to the courtesies relating to culture and race. After that time, assuming you achieve a satisfactory grade, you will be posted to the USS Earhart where you will serve under Captain T'Roc.

"Crewman, Third Class, Jenny Terran: Taking into consideration that your posting to the USS Earhart has already been confirmed, Captain T'Roc has enlisted you into the new Cadet Development Programme that was announced yesterday while you were in the brig. As you will be unaware of this programme, Commander Jarrod will enlighten you," and he signalled the Commander to take over.

"At ease," she commanded. She stood up, approached and handed each of us a datapad to study.

"As Ensign Rutter so kindly pointed out, after the Battle of Wolf, Starfleet needs to replenish her ranks, both commissioned and non-commissioned, but NOT out of second-rate candidates. As part of this process, Starfleet has recognised that she already has many serving crewman with experience that will stand them in good stead for commissioned posts. Many of these crewman have the ability and potential to make good officers, but are unable or unwilling to spend four years or more at the Academy. To this end, Starfleet Academy is piloting a new scheme whereby serving crewmen can join the Cadet Development Programme. This will involve an intensive three months at the Academy to gain the basic training and etiquette necessary to be an officer, followed by a nine month posting aboard a Starfleet vessel under the guidance of the ship's Training Officer and a mentor who is no more than two years out of the Academy. This will be followed by a further three months at the Academy and another nine-month posting. This process will be performed at least four times with a final two month posting at the Academy. During this time, Cadets will be rigidly tested and challenged, and expected to pass all of the components of their courses."

Jarrod returned to her seat and the Captain took over again.

"Crewman Terran: You are hereby assigned the rank of Cadet, Fourth Class. You will be immediately transferred to Starfleet Academy, San Francisco to commence your first three months of training. Perhaps there you will learn the Starfleet disciplines that you are so distinctly lacking. After that period, you will be assigned to USS Earhart under the mentorship of Ensign Rutter."

The Captain paused, his eyes playing between Rutter and me to gauge our responses. I was just wondering what sort of mentorship I could expect from Rutter when the Captain added, "Be warned that, in this instance, your successes and failures will be equally shared between you."

It seemed that the Captain had already thought of that too. He had bound the two of us together, whether we liked it or not, for at least the next FOUR YEARS AND TWO MONTHS!

"Crewman, Second Class, Alice Johnson: You have already expressed your deep dissatisfaction with regard to your new posting to the USS Earhart. This is not a holiday camp and your comments, although noted, will be ignored. You will be posted to the Earhart as previously advised and you will serve Captain T'Roc.

"However, perhaps because of your shared heritage, the good Captain feels that with the correct training, you have a great deal to offer Starfleet and that Starfleet has a great deal to offer you. Thus, she has also reserved you a place on the Cadet Development Programme. However, your first period of training will be with the Marine Corp where you will undergo their basic training and learn their disciplines. Thereafter you will return to the USS Earhart and join the Security Department. You too will continue your programme with Ensign Rutter as your mentor, and similarly, your failures will be his failures and vice versa. What say you?"

Al, I could see out of the corner of my eye, was speechless, but her mind was working overtime. She might not care about her future in Starfleet, but if she could exact her revenge upon Rutter and bring him down ... she would!

Jarrod stood up and handed her a second datapad upon which to sign her agreement to the deal. I had effectively already signed up during my conversations with T'Roc, but not Al.

She looked at it. I could see she was realising that this could be her 'get out of Starfleet free card'. All she had to do was refuse to sign and I suspected a dishonourable discharge awaited her, despite what Bryant had said. And then ... she signed! My mouth gaped and I looked at her. She seemed smug.

As I looked back at the Captain, he too had a look of surprise on his face. She had signed up for another four years plus! He'd expected her to refuse too. Damn him! And then he smiled wickedly.

"Crewman Johnson: You are hereby assigned the rank of Cadet, Fourth Class and ... oh, I might have forgotten to mention it, but that thing about your failures will be Rutter's too ... just in case you have no care for a career with Starfleet, but have designs to sabotage Mr Rutter's future ... it works three ways. If you fail, he fails; if he fails so does Terran. All three of you are bound together. You either all succeed ... or you all fail. You are now reliant upon each other for your futures.

"Ensign Rutter and Cadet Terran, your shuttle leaves tomorrow at 0800 hours. Cadet Johnson, you depart in two hours. Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you well. Dismissed."

Sincerity was lacking in his voice as he spoke. He was pleased to see the back of us, and I couldn't blame him.

But, by whatever it is that atheists swear by, I swore that I'd prove him wrong!

Log Entry 121209.39

I am writing this from the brig so, as you might have gathered, things have not gone well.
Al was quiet throughout her shift. She threw herself into her work with a vengeance, trying to shake off her anger and relieve her tension. It seemed to work too.
We were both working in the cargo bay, which is particularly full at the moment with a shipment of supplies that are bound for a mining colony on Marcus IV. Some of the crates contain potentially volatile substances and delicate equipment, and our job was to check everything off against the manifests and perform a 'Storage Conditions Check' before we leave the Starbase. This is were you do a full sweep of all the cargo to ensure that incompatible substances are not stored next to things they don't like and stuff like that. Most of that is done when the cargo is loaded, but because we often don't know what's coming aboard until we get it, we have to do a full survey afterwards.
For most crewman, this means logging what is where on a datapad and letting the computer tell you what, if anything, needs shifting. Not with Al though! She not only has a real knack for spatial awareness but an incredible knowledge regarding the materials. She seems to be able to plot things three-dimensionally in her head, instinctively knowing what needs to go where, and shifts them around before the computer has made any recommendations. She knew all about the substances and equipment and didn't need to look anything up, whereas I did! But every single time, Al was right and the computer only served to confirm her amazing ability.
It was all going very well... until Ensign Rutter turned up.
The Ensign is the sort of guy that turns a girl's head, literally. He's tall with dark hair and tanned skin. He has some beautifully chiselled features and whenever he enters a room, all the females turn and look. And yes, I admit it, even I found a flurry of butterflies in my tummy the first time I saw him. It was short-lived though.
He's a bit aloof and only ever hangs around with the prettiest of girls that are as visually perfect as he is. He's also very popular with his fellow Ensigns, but I suspect many of them are just hangers-on that want to be part of his 'in-crowd'. Needless to say, both his parents are Admirals, and don't we all just know it.
Anyway, in he comes, sweeping past us as though we weren't even there and dumps his datapad down on top of the pile of crates that Al has just picked up, seemingly oblivious to her presence.
Al's face filled with her irritation, but fair play, she bit her lip, put the boxes down and wordlessly removed his datapad before continuing with her organising.
Rutter reappeared a few moments later.
"Where's my datapad?" he demanded.
"Over there," said Al, pointing at the thing right in front of his nose.
"Over there, Sir!" he snapped back.
Now, granted. Crewman should address all Ensigns as 'sir' (even if they are complete knobs) so I bit my tongue as did Al, but he couldn't just leave it there, could he? No.
"Well, let's hear you say it then!" he demanded.
Al's eyes narrowed. She straightened her back, thrust her shoulders back and turned to face him square on.
I gulped.
"Over there... Sir!" she spat.
"And what made you feel you should interfere with my equipment, Crewman?" he asked haughtily.
I couldn't help it. A titter escaped at the thought of Al interfering with Rutter's 'equipment'. He could have chosen his words better.
Rutter turned, glared at me and stomped over.
"Anything amusing you, Ensign?" he asked.
"No, no," I hastily backed down, desperately trying not to exacerbate the situation, but also forgetting to say 'sir', which Rutter instantly reminded me of.
"Sir!" he shouted, and a little bit of spittle came to settle on my forehead, but he was oblivious to it.
I felt my lips pucker with curbed irritation.
"Say it, don't spray it... sir." The words tumbled out of my mouth before I knew it. I was also painfully aware that there was not one iota of respect in my voice.
"Do you have a problem, crewman?" he said, his mouth twisting into a snarl.
There were so many things I could have said to that, but I could see Al out of the corner of my eye, shaking her head, so I resisted.
Ensign Rutter then stepped right up to me so that our toes nearly touched. He leaned over me, all six foot two of him towering above me. It was deliberately intimidating and forced me to lean precariously backwards. It's hard to practise what you preach about restraint sometimes.
"Actually, yes sir, I do have a problem."
"What?" he exclaimed and sneered at me as though I were a complete gibbering idiot.
"Respect is earned not demanded. If you want people to address you properly and respectfully, you need to treat them with a little bit of consideration rather than looking down your nose at everybody ... Sir."
He harrumphed.
"Why would I expect anything more than this from one of the Misfits?"
My jaw gaped.
"I beg your pardon!" I exclaimed.
Al came up to my side, placing a calming hand on my shoulder. I heard her whisper, "Let it go," but the hell was I!
"You heard me! Misfit! Like the rest of your bunch!"
"Excuse me... PAL... but Starfleet is not an exclusive members only club for the Human race, you know!"
"Yes, I have notice standards drop since the Battle of Wolf!"
I gasped. Starfleet and her allies had lost over eleven thousand personnel and thirty-nine starships in the battle against the Borg. It was a known fact that Starfleet was still suffering from that loss, trying to replenish her ranks, but to insinuate that we were second-class!
A veil of red mist descended and before I knew it, I had lashed out. My punch missed as Rutter ducked, but my knee rose up and caught him square on his chin, repelling him backwards. He tumbled, rolled over, quickly regaining his feet and lunged at me. He hit me square in the gut and we plunged into a pile of containers.
"STOP! YOU IDIOTS!" shouted Al and dived in after us, pulling us apart.
Her strength was startling! I had always known she was powerfully built but to feel it first hand was amazing.
Before I knew it, I was on my knees with my right arm locked at right angles to my body, being pushed hard behind my back. Incredibly, she had Rutter in a similar pose! We must have looked like a pair of bookends!
And that was when Bryant entered.
And that is why we are in the brig.

Log Entry 121130.38

It's no good, I can't help worrying about Al. Outside of work, she's shut herself away, cut herself off completely from everybody, and then today, she missed a shift!

Lieutenant Bryant was fuming, but I managed to persuade him to let me go and find her. I don't know why, but I just had a really bad feeling about this. Al has a little bit of Klingon blood in her and from what I'd heard, it was a Klingon temper that was being exercised these days.

I arrived at her quarters and rang her door chime countless times, but there was no answer even though the computer confirmed she was in there. I started hammering on the door.

"Al!" I screamed. "Let me in. I'm not going away!" but still she didn't answer so, in true Jenny Terran form, I just kept pounding on the door.

A good fifteen minutes later, after continued ringing, shouting and hammering, the door suddenly slid open. It caught me by surprise as did the sight of Al. She looked awful, haggard almost, and glared at me with fury filled, Klingon eyes.

"WHAT!" she spat. She stood rigid, her fists clenching and unclenching fitfully. Her stance, her demeanour, everything spoke Klingon. I could see very little Human in her at that moment.

"Can I come in?" I asked nicely, trying to appeal to her human side, but unsure that was the best way to deal with an angry Klingon.

She debated and then stepped to one side, and my jaw dropped in awe. The place was trashed. Broken furniture lay upturned around the room, the cushions ripped open and the stuffing pulled out. Books, clothes, datapads, pictures, everything was strewn everywhere.

Gingerly, I stepped into her quarters and the door shushed shut behind me. My feet began to crunch down on smashed china and glass.

"My god, Al! Did you do this?" I asked. It was a stupid question.

"WHAT... DO... YOU... WANT?" she spat again.

I turned and looked at Al, all five feet, one inch of her with her curly, blonde hair and deep olive-coloured skin. I had always seen her as a bubbly Human, but now it all suddenly looked so artificial and staged.

And suddenly, I got it!

"Al... Just how much Klingon blood does run through your veins?"

The broken vase that hurtled towards my head told me. I managed to duck the missile and found myself sheltering behind the remains of a table. What the hell was I supposed to do now?

After a few moments, I decided to brave it. I stood up and went over to the food replicator, righting a sofa on the way.

"Two Earl Gray teas," I ordered, knowing it to be Al's preferred beverage. "No sugar, no milk."

Two delicate china cups appeared and I took them over to the sofa.

"Come on, Al. Sit with me. Let's just sit for a while and take stock."

I knew how stupid it looked. A cup of tea was hardly going to sort out Al's problems, but it would serve to soften the atmosphere; it installed a pause in the moment of chaos, and allowed time to reason. It was something for which the British were famous and mocked for, but also something that often worked.

"What. Not raktajino!" she hissed like a true Klingon.

"I can get you raktajino if you want, but I know you prefer Earl Gray."

"I HATE EARL GRAY!" she boomed.

"Then why do you drink it?"

"Because it's hu-man!" she spat, stretching out the word.

I got up and ordered a raktajino.

"There," I said, settling back down on the sofa, trying to avoid the great gash in the middle. "Now you have the choice."

To my surprise, Al's face softened a little. The corners of her mouth and the muscles around her eyes relaxed. For a moment, I thought she was going to weep, but she didn't. She just stood there, looking lost and alone, torn between two cultures.

"I thought it took several generations for brow ridges to disappear from a child of Klingon heritage." I chose my words carefully. I didn't want to say hybrid, cross, half or part. I didn't want to imply she was an incomplete person. She most certainly was not that.

"It does," she replied coldly.

I stared at her for minutes, it seemed.

"Surgery?" I ventured.

She nodded.

"And your blonde hair?" but now I was looking, I could see dark roots coming through.

"Come on Al. Accept the fact that I've figured it out and come and talk to me. I am your friend after all."

She hesitated but then she came and sat, staring at the two beverages: the tea in a delicate china cup and saucer and the raktajino in the metal mug.

"They are so different," she said. "Earl Gray tea and raktajino. One has a fragrant bouquet and a delicate flavour. The other is strong and pungent. One you serve in a fragile cup, the other in rigid metal. But if you blended the two drinks and their receptacles, what would you get? Something better or something vile and too repugnant to drink?"

"With work and some expert blending, I think you could make something quite different and very palatable."

"You can't. The Klingon always wins!" spat Al.

"No, it doesn't. T'Roc seems to have managed it."

"Damn T'Roc!" she bellowed.

"Why? Because she has achieved what you haven't?"

"You've never seen her lose her temper! She'll be as bad as any Klingon then, you mark my words!"

"Oh, I don't doubt it. The difference is with T'Roc the battle would be on the outside, not the inside."

Al glared at me and swallowed hard, and then she looked away.

"Is everything in your world so idyllic?" Malice infected her voice.

"No. In an idyllic world, I would have had parents and just one home, not dozens. I might have actually achieved something rather than being a glorified cleaner on a starship."

"But you have achieved something. You have your fairy godmother!"

I burst into laughter. I couldn't quite see Jarrod in a frilly dress with little glittery wings and a wand.

"I have been given an opportunity that I intend to take... and you? What about you?"

"I have been given no such chance!" she spat. The vehemence of a Klingon rose in her again.

"You don't know that. The Earhart could be your opportunity too."

"I shunt cargo about. I am strong. I am nothing more than a workhorse, a forklift truck with legs!"

"And I clean Jeffries tubes and food dispensers. I sweep up after everybody else... today at least," and I sipped my tea.

Al glared at the beverages again. Her hand moved to take the tea, wavered and then took the coffee instead. I smiled to myself.

"T'Roc has learned to accept what she is, who she is. It has taken her a long time, but she does seem at peace with herself."

"I can never be at peace with myself."

"No, not as long as you deny who you are."

"Since when did you become a psychologist?"

"Oh, I'm not a psychologist, but I've lived all my life with people who are broken, people without parents. We've never had someone for whom we were their first concern. Don't get me wrong! Not all orphans are broken... just most." I sighed. I wasn't going to lie about that. "In fact, most people carry a burden of something about with them. Most of us have been, or are, damaged by something. Few of us have escaped life unscathed, and if we had, it would probably be because we haven't actually lived it, been anywhere, done anything. In the words of Kahlil Gibran, 'Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.'"

Al looked at me coldly, no longer glaring, but I couldn't read anything in her eyes.

"Come on, Al," I finally said. "You're late for your shift. We'll clear this lot up later."

To my relief, she followed

Log Entry 121124.37

Al is quite simply not talking to us. To be honest, it shocks me. I would never have expected any Starfleet crewman to behave so childishly, and although nothing has been said, I suspect the others feel the same.
In the meantime, we all gathered in my quarters for Games Night. Needless to say, Al didn't come.
John and Sue arrived first and were eager to know what was going on. Why was Al so narked? I made them wait until everybody else arrived though. Whatever was going to be voiced, I only wanted it to be with everyone there, partly to save repetition but also to make sure nothing was misquoted later. Al is, after all, still a friend.
It wasn't long before everybody had arrived and Beastie managed to drag her fat, lazy buttocks off the bed to pester everyone for a cuddle. I really am going to have to think of an exercise routine for this cat. She eats, sleeps, cuddles and then goes back to sleep again. I wonder what other ship's cats do for exercise.
"So what's up with Al?" asked Sue impatiently. Midas filled her in with his usual Vulcan composure.
"It's no excuse," she said. "The way she's behaving is dreadful. I think she went to the Captain with her protest as well."
We all cringed at that. The Captain would not entertain her complaint.
"I'm not sure I'd fancy the Earhart though," said John. "And thankfully, I don't have to worry about that."
"Yes, but you've got yourself a nice little number on the bridge," interjected Icarus. "You get to take the helm from time to time. Me? My area of expertise is science, which begs the question why I'm stuck in General Maintenance... but not for long!" he added gleefully.
We all looked at him expectantly.
"I've taken Jenny's advice and applied for a transfer to the Earhart." His eyes were filled with hope and excitement. Everyone sort of looked at him as though he was mad but I threw my arms around him, congratulating Icarus for his courage.
"He's not the only one," confessed Luke. "I've applied too."
"But you're an Engineer with a post in Engineering? Or do you fancy a change?"
"No, no change. Still Engineering. I just want to progress. I'm hoping to make Lieutenant Junior Grade and I think there are more opportunities for me on the Earhart than here."
With that news, everybody seemed to accept that maybe, just maybe, the Earhart was not such a bad posting after all.
"So, has anyone else taken the plunge?" I asked.
Gideon put his hand up.
"Well, if you're all going, I won't have anyone to play dominoes with," he complained jocularly.
We were all laughing at that... except Tezenia. He was smiling but quiet.
"Tez," I asked. "What's up?"
He smiled.
"Well nothing really. It's just I have some news too—"
"Not the Earhart!" interrupted Sue.
"No. It's better than that actually."
"Yes..." he dragged it out, drew a deep, sharp breath and declared, "I've been accepted into the Academy!"
The room burst into whoops and applause. It was fantastic news! Tez had joined Starfleet as a crewman and had already applied to the Academy once before. He couldn't get in that year, but this year... success!
We were all so happy for him and excited too. We didn't get to play a single game that night. We were too hyper, and too nervous about having to wait for news regarding our postings. Applying for a transfer and getting one are two different things, although if what T'Roc said was true, they'd have a better than even chance of having their requests accepted.

Log Entry 121116.36

With so much news to tell everybody, I was really desperate to catch up with everyone, but when I finally did... what a lot of glum faces!
Arcaran, Midas and Al were sat with Luke, Icarus and Gideon Flavell. Arcaran, Midas and Al looked distinctly upset while Luke, Icarus and Gideon seemed to be doing their best to cheer them up.
"What's up?" I asked, trying to push all thoughts of my news aside.
"New postings," grumbled Al. She really did look close to tears and not in the least bit Klingon.
"Oh!" I wasn't quite sure what to say. They had all had new postings before, so why was this one different. I asked.
"It's where we're going that's the problem," explained Midas. "The Earhart."
I bit my lip trying to work out what to say to them, at the same time, marvelling at how the same news can impact so differently on people seemingly in the same situation. I decided I should help them see the silver lining to this storm cloud above them.
"Okay, I know what you're thinking—"
"It's a cursed ship!" exclaimed Al.
"We don't know that."
"She lost an entire crew!"
"We don't know what happened to the former crew. It might be that they abandoned ship. It might be that they are happily sat on some planet enjoying themselves."
"Not likely though, is it?" snapped Al.
"No, I'll grant you that—"
"And anyway, the only reason you're not worried is because you've not been posted there!"
"Uhm, actually, I have."
As I pulled up a chair and sat myself down, they all looked at me bewildered. Luke suddenly seemed more upset than before.
"And it doesn't bother you?" asked Al.
"Why not?"
"Because this is an opportunity."
"How so?"
"Okay, so we are all Crewmen and Ensigns. Captain T'Roc—"
"That'd be the half Klingon, half Vulcan captain!"
"Bet she's a joy to work with!"
"Oh shut up, Al and listen will you! Captain T'Roc... half Vulcan, half Klingon and very well adjusted from what I can tell... is being given a crew she knows very little about. Just as you'll have to get to know her, she'll have to get to know you and she'll have no preconceived ideas about you—"
"Have you met her?" asked Al, suddenly more curious than upset.
"Yes, I have."
"When? Where?"
"Jarrod's office."
"Oh. What, you just happened to pop in while she was there?"
"No, I had a prearranged appointment with Jarrod."
"And Jarrod had T'Roc there?"
"Well, if you'll stop interrupting me, I'll tell you. T'Roc is assembling a new crew for the Earhart and she needs a Cultural Advisor, but at the moment, there is no one suitable to fill those shoes, so she's asked me to consider taking on the post."
"Of Cultural Advisor!" Al screwed her face up quite derisively.
"Yes. I'm not trained in that capacity but I know more about alien cultures than most. I've lived with a good deal of different races and I was always keen to learn about their cultures."
"But you're only a Crewman."
"I know, but that might change."
"What? You're going to go to the Academy?"
"Not just yet, but it's a possibility."
"Well, I'm not calling you 'sir'," spat Al angrily.
"You don't call me 'sir' anyway," piped up Luke, trying to lighten the atmosphere.
"Or me," put in Gideon.
"That's not the point!" shouted Al.
"Oh, Al. Stop being such a drama queen!"
It wasn't the right thing to say. Al flew off the handle. She leapt up from her seat flailing her arms about furiously. If the table hadn't been bolted down, she'd have turned it over.
"I'M NOT A BLOODY DRAMA QUEEN!" she spat, her Klingon temperament starting to show through.
"Then why are you standing over us, screaming at us?" I asked more softly.
"Because I'm upset! I don't want to go!" she said sounding just like a spoilt child.
"Well I think that's a mistake. You've got an opportunity here to make something of yourself—"
"I don't want to make something of myself! I just want to do a day's work and then go home and have fun!"
Well, that took me aback!
"Then I suggest you're in the wrong place. This is Starfleet—" but I didn't get to finish the sentence. She angrily clambered her way over everybody else and stomped off. The rest of us sat in silence, pondering the situation.
"I stick by what I said," I was eager to fill the void with some noise.
"Tell me more about T'Roc," said Icarus. He looked genuinely interested so I told them all about my meeting with Jarrod and T'Roc.
"Well, that's a turn-up for the books!" said Arcaran. "Fancy Jarrod being the one that found you."
"I was a bit flummoxed myself."
"Bit of good fortune though."
"Maybe. Either way, I've got a golden opportunity and I plan to take it. All I am suggesting is that maybe this new posting is an opportunity for everybody else too. I mean, with so many people not wanting the Earhart, surely that will give us the opportunity to stretch ourselves, show our potential and move up a peg or two."
The four of them sat thoughtfully for a while.
"D'yer know," Icarus suddenly said, "You could have a point there. I might just request a transfer. I'm a damned sight more qualified than half the Ensigns in my department but do I ever get a look in on any of the interesting stuff? No I don't." He sat for a while longer and then suddenly he stood up. "In fact, I'll catch you all later. I need to think this through."
It seemed that I had given them all food for thought, as soon we all disbanded back to our duties with things on our mind.

Log Entry 121110.35

Sleep. I could have sworn I'd promised myself some sleep, but I just couldn't do it. I felt that I'd let Jarrod down really badly and ended up reading that bloody datapad all night.
Still, I think it was worth it. There was one thing I picked up on in particular: the document relating to a certain Ensign Wesley Crusher.
Mr Crusher was commissioned by his Captain (Jean-Luc Picard) as an acting Ensign after his 'key role in returning the Enterprise D to Federation space after it was stranded'* where his work on the Enterprise gained academic credit in readiness for his admission to the Academy.
In other words, there are alternative ways to prove yourself to the Academy.
The downside was that by the time I returned to Jarrod's office, I looked pretty bloody awful. Even Jarrod noticed.
"Not slept well?" she asked, a note of sarcasm in her voice.
"No Commander. I was studying."
I noticed that once again, the lights were dim in her quarters.
"And?" she asked.
"There was a lot of it."
She laughed.
"But I got the message regarding Wesley Crusher."
"Good. So let's continue our conversation. You were telling me what you couldn't offer Starfleet. Now tell me what you can offer."
"I have no defined area of expertise and true, I'd never gain entry to the Academy via the Science Examination but that's not the only way in. I downloaded the complete list of fields and some test papers from the Cultural Department. It seems my time in care was not completely wasted. I have spent time with people from many different cultures: Humans, Vulcans, Klingons, Andorians and Dirrians to name but a few. From them, I have learnt much and some of it, you can't learn from books."
Jarrod was positively beaming.
"Like the Dirrians."
"Indeed, and it also goes to show that every experience, no matter how unwelcome, has something useful in it."
"Optimism. I like optimism. So where do you go from here?"
I smiled at Jarrod.
"And this is where I need to turn to my mentor—"
"Ah. Yes. About that."
Jarrod's face had stiffened and I felt uncomfortable.
"I'm not your mentor. As I have said before, I have never wanted the responsibility of children and I don't want the responsibility of you. Nothing personal. It's just the way I am."
"Oh!" My face registered my disappointment.
"But don't look so glum. I will give you one leg-up, but just one. From that point forward, you'll be on your own. Is that clear?"
My hopes lifted again.
"Yes Commander. Perfectly."
"Good. Then let me introduce you to my good friend T'Roc," and she waved her arm towards the back of the room behind me.
In the dim light, I had been oblivious to the company but there, sat quietly musing was a figure dressed in Starfleet uniform. She stood up, as did I, and she walked over to me. The shock I felt was almost overwhelming.
Captain T'Roc had the ears, mouth and facial features of a Vulcan, but the skin tone, brow ridges, height and stature of a Klingon!
My mouth gaped open a little in awe as she came and sat beside me. She said nothing but indicated that I should sit too. I did.
"So tell me Crewman, and speak freely, what can you deduce about me?"
I gaped at her for a moment and bit down softly upon my lip.
"Uhm. I'd suggest you were half Vulcan and half Klingon."
"Not Romulan?"
I debated.
"No. Vulcans and Romulans share a common ancestry but there are certain subtle physiological differences, even in the facial features, and I see nothing Romulan in your face."
"Very good," and she smiled. It caught me off guard.
"It's an unusual cross to say the least. The cultural boundaries are..."
She laughed.
"Extreme! Yes, the circumstances of my conception are unusual. So which parent do you think was the Vulcan?"
"Your father," I said immediately.
"And what brings you to that conclusion?"
I hesitated because I knew what I needed to say would offend a Vulcan. T'Roc tipped her head urging me to speak. Her Klingon brow ridges were quite pronounced.
"A Vulcan would never choose a Klingon mate, so the only situation that would drive a Vulcan to mate with a Klingon would have to be a combination of the pon farr and that the Klingon was the only option available.
"A Klingon male would also be unlikely to mate with a Vulcan female, but a Klingon female. Well, as I understand it, they are a little more adventurous."
She positively beamed at me. It was strange because, despite the brow ridges, she looked so Vulcan, and Vulcans do not smile.
"Very good indeed, and you are absolutely right. And which do you think raised me?"
That was harder to deduce. She was too jovial to be a Vulcan and too sedate to be a Klingon.
"Well?" she hurried me.
"I'm not sure. Either neither or both."
She laughed again.
"Spot on again! Yes. My mother raised me as a Klingon up until her death and then I went to live with my father. It was the "logical" thing to do."
"But you seem so..."
"Composed. Half Klingons are often caught up in some internal conflict between their two halves. You seem so... serene with what and who you are," and indeed, she did. As she sat with her legs crossed and her arms resting on the arms of the chair, there was no tension or conflict within that I could detect. "You seem to be at peace with yourself."
"Thank you. I think I am. True I have the temper a Klingon would be proud of when I lose it, but I think I've managed to draw a truce between both sides of my temperament. I have come to terms with who and what I am. I give both sides of me enough room to manoeuvre without compromising the other."
"That's incredibly admirable. May I ask how?"
"You may. I joined Starfleet."
"Yes. When I went to live with my father, it soon became obvious that I had no idea how to control my emotions. I was sent to a Vulcan master to learn how to be a Vulcan. It taught me many things, but a conflict arose within me, just as it does many half-Vulcans. One half of me yearned to embrace the logic of the Vulcans while the other wanted the savagery of the Klingons. It became an impossible situation, but then I learnt about Starfleet.
"My logical side realised that I would never find inner-peace on Vulcan so I decided to join. My logic wasn't flawless by any means, but it served me well. Starfleet taught me discipline and acceptance, how to harness my two sides and how to wield them. Yes, I still have my conflicts but overall, I have found my inner peace. I will never be as serene as a Vulcan or as detached from my emotions, but I have mastered them. In the same breath, I still have the heart, strength and determination of a Klingon."
"It sounds like an idyllic mix."
"I'm not sure I'd say idyllic, but I am satisfied with it."
"And how do Vulcans and Klingons find you?"
"To a Vulcan, I'm a Klingon. To a Klingon, I'm a Vulcan."
"That must be hard."
"No. Because I know that I am neither. I am a Starfleet officer blessed with the traits of two races."
I smile and she smiled back at me.
"Which brings us to our point," she said.
"Which is?" I'd completely lost track of what we were talking about.
"Your path into Starfleet. You've recognised your strength, and Cultural Advisors are an important asset for any Captain. I have need of one. Will you consider the post?"
"Post?" All I had thought about was studying alien culture at the Academy. What post?
"As my Cultural Advisor."
"But I'm not qualified."
"Not yet, but your perception of other species is something that can not be learned. You have an instinct for these things."
"Oh. Thank you, but what about other candidates?"
She sighed sadly.
"Unfortunately I don't have other candidates. The posting I have taken is not a desirable one. Few wish to join me on my new ship."
That surprised me. She seemed like such a reasonable Captain and I said as much.
"Thank you for the compliment, but I am not the issue here. The ship, however, is."
"The ship? Oh!" I exclaimed as it suddenly dawned on me. "Not the Earhart!"
"Yes, the Earhart. Will you consider the post? You will have to work hard to gain your pips, but this is an excellent opportunity to become an Ensign. One that is unlikely ever to be repeated."
"You mean I get in because no one else wants the post?"
"Yes, but..."
"Carpe diem," I said.
T'Roc looked to Jarrod for an explanation.
"It's Latin. It means 'seize the day'."
"Carpe diem," repeated T'Roc and smiled broadly. "I shall make the necessary arrangements for your transfer."
"And the cat," interrupted Jarrod.
T'Roc laughed.
"As you might have guessed, Crewman. Katherine's not that keen on pets either. Yes, and the cat."

* The Star Trek Encyclopaedia: Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda

Log Entry 121104.34

You know how something seems like a good idea at the time, and then, in the cold light of day, you realise it isn't? Well, that's what I'm feeling.
Who am I to go storming up to an Officer and demand, "Why am I different to everybody else?" I mean... am I different or am I just imagining it. Was Dr Franks comment, just a comment?
Yeap! I'm feeling really stupid, but I've made the appointment now so I have to go and see the Commander. The only question is what am I going to say to her? I'm desperately trying to think of some excuse to see her, but I'm struggling to come up with anything. And it's time to go and face the mess I've landed myself in. Grrrr.
* * * * *
Sometimes an answer raises more questions.
I reported to Commander Jarrod as arranged. I knocked on her door and entered when bade.
The room was a little dim and Jarrod was sat at her desk, leaning back in the chair. For a moment, I wondered if she had a headache or something, but as I entered, she sat up, smiled and indicated for me to take a seat. It unnerved me. You see, Jarrod is, as I've said before, a steely-faced woman. She often smiles but it's a cold smile that barely reaches the corners of her mouth. This one though, was warm and welcoming.
"So Crewman Terran. What's bothering you?"
Not having thought of an alternative question, I stuck to the original one. It still burnt inside me to know the answer so I thought, what the hell!
"Well, it's a bit embarrassing really?"
Her eyebrows rose in curiosity.
"It's just something that Dr Franks said, and... well it's stupid really..." My voice trailed off as I lost my bottle.
"Well go on then. You're here so you might as well let it out," the Commander chivvied.
"He said... he said that if I were 'anybody else'."
The Commander thought I had paused; she didn't realise that was the question.
"If you were anybody else, what?" she asked after a few moments.
I shuffled nervously.
"It's not the whatthat came afterwards that's relevant. It's the 'if I were anybody else'. Why should I be different to anybody else?"
"Do you think you are different to other people?"
"No, but I get the impression that some people do."
"Like who for instance?"
I hesitated.
"Like you."
"Yes. I mean, do you give many of your crewmen datapads and grill them about a possible future as a Starfleet Officer?"
She laughed at that and scratched her head. She seemed a little uncomfortable and her eyes flicked past me too, further into the room. Was there someone else there? But I didn't dare break eye contact with her. I wanted to see her reactions.
"And then there was your husband."
"Yes," she smiled. "It's hard to believe that a former Starfleet Officer can't keep his mouth shut."
"So there is something!"
She sighed deeply and leaned on the desk, casually resting her chin in the palms of her hands.
"Yes," she admitted.
The word bounced around on the inside of my head, reverberating off the inside of my skull until I could fully absorb it. I watched Commander Jarrod studying me. I was dying to know what that 'something' was, but Jarrod volunteered nothing.
"Oh!" I said. It was all I could muster up.
She smiled mischievously at me and leant back in her chair.
"Who are you, Terran?" she suddenly demanded.
The question caught me by surprise.
"Tell me about yourself. Who are you?"
"Uhm. Well I don’t know exactly. I was found on board an abandoned alien spacecraft by a Starfleet Officer. It's how I got my name. She was called Jenny too."
"And what do you know about her?"
"Only that her name was Jenny."
"Have you never been any more curious than that?"
"No. Not really. She may have found me but it didn't make me her responsibility or anything."
"Hmm, I see," and she frowned as she debated.
"Does that have something to do with this?" I asked.
Obviously it did otherwise Jarrod wouldn't have brought it up.
"Do you know who this Jenny was then"? I ventured.
She nodded.
"You could say that."
Again her eyes looked passed me. She was dragging it out, for what reason I didn't know.
"Will you tell me?" I asked.
"Why? Are you interested?"
"I am now."
"But not before."
"Like I said. She owes me nothing. She found me, probably saved my life so if anything, I owe her."
"You don't think she should have taken you in or had an interest in your growing up?"
"Whatever for? I wasn't her child. She was a Starfleet Officer and probably had other plans."
"An Ensign actually and yes, she did."
I edged forward nervously in the seat.
"Well?" I prompted again.
"Ensign Jenny," she said. "Her name was Ensign Katherine Jenny."
The name Katherine speared into my brain like a javelin. I had always assumed that Jenny was the Officer's first name. It had never occurred to me that it was her family name. More importantly, Jarrod's name was Katherine too. Were Katherine Jenny and Katherine Jarrod one and the same? I looked sceptically at her.
"Was that... you? Was your maiden name Jenny?" I ventured.
Wordlessly, she nodded and then we sat in silence just looking at each other for what seemed like an eternity.
"Oh... well, it's very nice to meet you. Thank you for saving me." I had no idea what else to say. Jarrod chuckled.
"You really are a very philosophical creature aren't you?"
I frowned, unsure what to say.
"And that's what makes me different?" I asked, unsure that it was reason enough.
"Actually, yes it does... in a way. You see, and this is where you are quite right in your assumptions, I was an Ensign with ambition, a career ahead of me. My father was an Admiral and my mother a Commander. They guided and inspired me. Theirs was the standard set to me and the standard I sought to attain. I didn't need a child then. I don't need one now. I've never wanted children. It's why I didn't marry until very late in life. Most men want a family and I wasn't prepared to take a break in my career to have a child and raise it. I'm not the maternal sort. Anyway... I digress. You went into care and I went my way. My career took off and I achieved my objectives, but you... you did nothing."
Jarrod suddenly looked away from me as though the confession hurt her.
"And I never, ever thought about you," she added.
"You had no need to. I wasn't your responsibility."
"Who's responsibility were you?"
"The State, I suppose."
"And what did they do for you? Yes, they put clothes on your back and food in your belly, but did they encourage you to be the best that you could be? Did they guide and advise you? Did you have a role model? Did you have any ambitions? How high were you encouraged to set your sights?"
I didn't say anything. We both knew the answer.
"So you did what? You left school at the first opportunity and worked in a café, waiting tables."
"There's nothing wrong with that."
"There is when you're not stupid. You've got a brain in your head. It's about time you started using it!"
"I am using it!" I blurted.
"But it's the first time ever as far as I can tell."
For someone who wasn't supposed to be beholden to me, she was doing a bloody good impression of an overbearing parent!
"So you became nothing... and then... I saw your name on the last intake." Her voice softened. She swallowed hard as though forcing down unwanted emotions.
"I have never, ever felt anything for you. Certainly nothing in the way of responsibility, but then, when I saw you, I realised that you had been denied the opportunities and encouragement that every child should have, and all because of one thing. You never had a parent. Those opportunities were never even suggested to you, let alone made available to you. Yet here you were... on my ship. Even then, for a while, I thought you were just another crewman, but then you popped out from under a table and advised a roomful of Commanders they were wrong. That takes some guts for a crewman. That's when I realised that it wasn't fair. You should have had those opportunities. If you had, I think you would be a lot more than you are now. I just wanted to even things up a little. Give you a chance."
She fell silent and her grey eyes studied me intensely.
"I see," I said and found that now, I was the one that had to swallow down emotion. Nobody had ever expected anything of me in my entire life. I'd never had to impress anybody or live up to anybody's expectations, but now there was someone, and I felt I had failed her. She had given me an opportunity and I had been happy to wait for something to happen, but not to grab it. I hadn't stepped up to the mark. I couldn't even be bothered to check the datapad she had given me for new updates.
"Still!" bellowed Jarrod suddenly in a very jovial manner. She was trying to lift the sobriety of the occasion. "That's all done now."
"But it's not, is it," I said.
She cocked her head on one side quizzically.
"I mean, the Senior Officers have obviously been talking about me."
She nodded.
"And I've let you down."
"No," she said. "You may not have risen to the occasion, but you've not let me down—and you did catch the Beast of the Drakonia!" she said jocularly.
I smiled.
"I'm not sure I like it though."
"Like what?"
"Being treated differently to everybody else just because..." I didn't want to say 'out of pity', because that's what it boiled down to. She read my mind.
I nodded. She shook her head.
"It's not pity. You have been the subject of great debate, but not out of pity. You're unusual in that you have shown great initiative and there is a spark of promise there. If you had been born into a Starfleet family, you would undoubtedly have joined the Academy and you'd be sat before me as an Ensign, not a Crewman."
"And you opened the door for me, but I didn't exactly walk through it, did I?"
She shook her head.
"No. You didn't."
I felt ashamed.
"It's not that I haven't thought about what you said."
"Then what is it?" she demanded, unimpressed.
"What can I offer the Academy? I couldn't pass the Entrance Exam; I don't have the skills. I'm not technical and I don't think I ever will be. I'm not an Engineer or Technician and I know nothing about computers. I don't know the first thing about physics, warp drive technology, temporal science or anything else that Starfleet needs. So what could I possibly offer Starfleet?"
Jarrod shook her head.
"You obviously haven't the first clue as to what's in the Entrance Exam, have you?"
It was true. I didn't.
"Terran, go away," she commanded suddenly. "Think about it and come back tomorrow. Same time," and I was summarily dismissed.
So now I am sulking in my quarters trying to figure out what she meant, but I'm tired. I need sleep. Perhaps in the morning I will be able to work it out.

Log Entry 121029.33

I thought I'd finally managed to catch up with Commander Jarrod this afternoon, but I was only half-right. Having missed her at least four times during the day, I suddenly saw her come out of the turbolift outside Engineering. It wasn't quite the same Jarrod that I know though.
My Commander Jarrod is a steely faced woman in her mid-fifties, and by that, I'm not just referring to her appearance. Her nature is as firm and resolute as steel to match her silver hair and grey eyes. She is a professional woman who takes her work so seriously it wouldn't surprise me if she was born inside a Starfleet uniform. So you can imagine my surprise when she came out of the turbolift laughing and smiling, really smiling!
Beside her was a tall man of about the same age, maybe a tad older. He had his arm around Jarrod's waist and was... well, there's no other word for it. He was cuddling her, and she was loving it.
As soon as she saw me though, the old Commander Jarrod returned and the façade of a senior officer with it, affixing itself firmly in place. The man seemed to understand. He immediately withdrew his arm from her and crossed his hands behind his back. It had a military bearing about it, and I wondered if he was or had been Starfleet too.
Jarrod could see I was heading for her. She snapped her back rigid as I approached.
"Yes Crewman?" she enquired.
"Sorry to bother you sir, but would you be able to spare me a moment later please?" I asked. My eyes couldn't help wandering over to the man who was secreting a smile.
"Er..." she faltered. "Tomorrow. Yes... tomorrow. In my office... tomorrow morning."
"Thank you Commander," I said and was about to leave when the most odd thing happened.
"Aren't you going to introduce me, Catherine?" asked the man.
Catherine? Who the bloody hell was Catherine? was the first thought that went through my head and then I realised he meant Jarrod! Up until that moment, it had never occurred to me that Jarrod would have a first name. She was just Jarrod, Commander Jarrod, but now she was Catherine!
Jarrod had the look about her that said she didn't want to introduce me, but the man had a slightly mischievous look about him.
"No Richard," she said quite firmly. "Not really."
"Well that's just plain rude," he grinned and held out his hand to me.
"Richard Jarrod. Professor of Cybernetic Engineering at the Daystrom Institute."
"Oh!" I exclaimed. Another Jarrod.
"Yes, also husband and junior officer to—" but a sharp jab in the ribs from Jarrod silenced him. He laughed. I, on the other hand, was reeling in shock. Not only did Jarrod have a first name, she had a husband! Did she have children too, I wondered.
"Thank you Richard!" she glared at him.
He grinned lovingly at her.
"Crewman Jenny Terran, third class," I said, taking his hand and shaking it.
"Aaaah!" he exclaimed as if the meaning of life had been revealed to him.
It seemed to be more than enough for Jarrod who hastily bundled him back into the turbolift. He was laughing and she was trying to look angry at him but it was obvious that she adored him.
Well I never. Steely Commander Jarrod, Head of Maintenance is a fully-fledged woman complete with a proper name and a husband to boot.
Naturally, it piqued my curiosity, so the first chance I got, I checked out Richard Jarrod. Lo and behold, he is actually the Head of the Cybernetic Engineering department at the Daystrom Institute. Before that, he was a Starfleet marine and having nosed a little further, I found out he was a very good marine who retired from service after suffering serious injuries in a battle with the Borg.
I must go and tell Luke!

Log Entry 121025.32

Games Night was in my quarters tonight, but that was because everybody wanted to meet Beastie. She's a bit of a novelty and she adored all the fuss. Luke also joined us making our number nine. An odd number but that doesn't matter, he fitted into the group well and was soon chatting away with everybody. He's a very perceptive person though and he could tell that something was bothering me. He took me onto one side and quietly asked.
"I just can't get it out of my head!" I said. "Anybody else... what does that mean? It makes it sound as though I'm different or something."
"Are you?"
"No! Don't be daft. I'm just plain old Jenny Terran. Abandoned baby that never amounted to much," and as I said it, I remembered my conversation with Commander Jarrod and the datapad that she had given me. Immediately, I fetched it and switched it on.
"What's that?" asked Luke.
"Commander Jarrod gave it to me. It's just the logs of Captain Kirk's first five year mission."
"But why would Jarrod do that?"
"I don't know," I said as the pad fired up. "Oh!"
"What is it?"
"There are more files here. She's sent me more stuff."
Luke took the pad from me and studied the directory.
"Jenny. These are academy files."
"What do you mean?"
"Well... this one is compulsory reading material at Starfleet Academy, as is this one... and this one. This isn't compulsory, but it is an Academy file. Jenny, what's going on?"
So I told Luke about my meeting with Commander Jarrod.
"Why's Jarrod so interested in you?" he asked.
I shrugged. I had no idea.
"I'll ask her."
"You can't do that!" exclaimed Luke.
"Yes, I can. What's the worst that can happen?"
Luke grinned broadly at me.
"What?" I asked.
"You really are wonderful, Jenny. I can see why Jarrod would have plans for you... if she does of course."
"Hey, what are you two up to?" shouted Al and we laughed and joined in with the games again. Jarrod and the datapad were soon forgotten and the conversation turned to other things like the USS Earhart. Apparently, she is being put back into service under her existing name. What a legacy that ship has to carry!

Log Entry 121019.31

As I carried Beastie down to the cargo bay, it was awful. By the time I arrived, my eyes were wet and red-rimmed with fresh tears.
Besides the rodents there were four other cages containing a variety of insects, a lizard and a snake. Dr Franks was there too, overseeing the operation and checking the health of the animals before they leave. As I walked in, he could see I'd been crying. I held out the cage to him and he took it. He looked in at Beastie and then studied his datapad. I turned and started to leave.
"Crewman!" he called.
"Yes sir?"
"It really would be worthwhile studying the rules and regulations with regard to animals on board a Starfleet vessel."
"I realise that Doctor, but with all due respect and as you well know, I didn't bring her aboard. I found her."
"I know exactly the circumstances surrounding your acquisition of Beastie. That's why I am suggesting that you make yourself familiar with the regulations in regard to the matter."
That made me angry. I knew the rules all too well.
"The regulations are quite clear. This is a military vessel so pets are not permitted unless authorised by the Captain. Authorisation should be sought prior to the animal's arrival and absolutely no later than 24 hours after its acquisition and introduction on board the ship. It must also be subjected to and pass medical examination by the Chief Medical Officer."
"Very good Crewman, but the magic word here is acquired."
"Yes, and when did you acquire Beastie?"
I was dumbfounded. Bugger! I thought and began kicking myself. It was a subtle loophole that meant that if I'd sought the Captain's permission when I presented Beastie to the Commander, she could have stayed aboard. I buried my head in my hands.
"Why look so crestfallen?" but he knew full well why. "Well, fortunately for you I'm not in the habit of vaccinating animals unnecessarily. If you were anybody else—" and he stopped dead. His face tensed, realising his slip.
"Anybody else?" I repeated and stepped up to him. Even though he stood the best part of a foot above me, I looked him square in the eye. He avoided eye contact looking at the ceiling instead.
"Anybody else," I repeated.
"I thought we were talking about the cat."
"Yes. Let's talk about the cat. You were saying that you were not in the habit of vaccinating animals unnecessarily, but you did so with Beastie."
He remained silent for a while. Finally, he picked up the cage and thrust it at me. Beastie meowed in annoyance at the rough handling, but I took the cage from him.
"When you brought your cat to me, she was automatically registered and reported to the Captain. He approved her presence. Be happy with that."
Delight filled me.
"You mean she's kosher!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, now I suggest you wend your way. I'm sure you have duties to perform."
His voice was stern making it clear that there was nothing more to be said on the matter and to be frank, I had what I wanted... my cat.
"Thank you sir," I said and scuttled off quickly with Beastie.
Needless to say, the elation and happiness I am feeling is quite overwhelming; feelings to which Beastie is completely oblivious. She is totally unfazed by her little expedition through the ship and has returned to our cabin ready for her mid-morning nap. She really is a very lazy cat.
There is something else though. "If you were anybody else... If you were anybody else... If you were anybody else." The words keep reverberating around my head.

Log Entry 121019.30

From the moment I awoke this morning, I have felt sick. We docked at Space Station 326 during the night and now I have to take Beastie to the cargo bay where she will join the cages of rodents and all the other animals that have not been authorised.
My heart is so heavy as I give her one last cuddle and pop her into a cage. I've given her a nice soft blanket to keep her warm. I know it smells of me and I hope that will comfort her too.
I can't help crying.

Log Entry 121018.29

We dock at Space Station 326 tomorrow. It'll be nice to get rid of the rodents but I'd rather have to clean out rats for the next ten years than lose Beastie. Being confined to quarters when I'm not on duty hasn't helped. It's just meant that I've had even more time to spend with her, which has made me love her even more.
Sometimes I wish she was a horrible mean, mangy old cat and not the loveable little sweetie that she is. Then my heart wouldn't be breaking; but then I would never have known the love that a cat can give. Shakespeare once said that "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all". At the moment, I think I'd rather have never known.

Log Entry 121016.28

Commander Jarrod was right. The Captain is furious and has ordered a high-level scan of all decks to search for unauthorised life forms. He has a point though. In retrospect, even the Belinian spider moth is unlikely to be a coincidence and now, with Beastie and the rodents, questions are being asked as to how many people have smuggled animals aboard.
It's stupid really (smuggling pets aboard). It's not that difficult to put an animal through its medical, fill in a few forms and apply for the Captain's approval although I suppose you are a little at the Captain's whim. If he doesn't like cats for instance, he might not say yes to a cat. I wonder if that's why Beastie was smuggled aboard, not that anybody couldn't love her.
At the moment, she's entertaining herself... correction—Al is entertaining her, with a robotic mouse. Al is hooting with laughter and Beastie is chasing the thing around my quarters like a whirling dervish. I can see why she's fattened up on Wainwright's mice! She's weaving in and out of the furniture with amazing agility and stealth, attacking this poor mechanical creature. Whenever Al stops, she stops too, looks up very disappointingly and miaows, and if that doesn't work, she runs up to Al and reaches up with her paw to pat the controls! This cat is not stupid. She knows what's making all the fun for her. I think, if she could operate the joystick control herself, she would.
But I'm finding it very difficult to laugh. Once the scan has been completed and the 'illegals' identified, they are going to be shipped off with the rodents onto the space station. Of course, that's going to mean Beastie as well. It's made me feel quite miserable. I've grown really attached to her. I can only hope that someone else will become as attached to her as I have and take good care of her.

Log Entry 121013.27

In my time I have lived with humans, Klingons, even Dirrians and a Romulan, but never a cat; never any sort of animal in fact. Being raised in care, you simply don't have pets, but you know something? I like having a cat. With a cat, you are never alone and I can tell Beastie (yes, it's a stupid name for a cat but it's all I've got) anything, and she won't tell a soul!
She's a very loving creature too and attentive. She slept at my side all night and watched me contentedly as I dressed this morning. Even when I picked her up and carried her to see Commander Jarrod, she did not complain but purred loudly.
"Good grief!" exclaimed Jarrod. "It's a cat!"
"And not just any cat. This is the Beast that's been haunting me."
"And it explains so much."
"It does?" I asked, puzzled by the remark.
"Yes. We were trying to figure out why more of Wainwright's rodents hadn't made their escape into the Jeffries Tubes and I think we know why now. I think someone's been feasting on the little pests," she said getting up and tickling Beastie under the chin.
"I don't know who she belongs to though."
"Mmm," said Jarrod and returned to her desk. "Computer, do we have any cats registered on board the Drakonia?" she asked.
"There are no cats registered on board the ship," replied the computer in its mundane tones.
"Well that answers your question. She's a stowaway."
I obviously looked startled.
"Yes. It's hard to believe isn't it? The Captain's going to be furious. Wainwright and his rodents are one thing, he was just plain crazy, but a smuggled cat?" She shook her head.
"What will happen to her?"
Jarrod shrugged.
"Well, I'd take her down to Sick Bay and get her checked out medically speaking and then..." Jarrod scratched her head and puffed out a breath of air. "I don't know. Let's see how her medical pans out," and so I took Beastie to Sick Bay.
Dr Franks was also surprised to see a cat on board but greeted her warmly, making a right fuss of her and, happily, the doctor declared her pest and disease free too. He did say, however, that she's a bit overweight "probably from too much mouse!"
As to her future, I'll have to wait and see but in the meantime, I have a cat.

Log Entry 121010.26

I thought I'd sleep like a log after the day I'd had, but I was wrong. I got to sleep soon enough but woke up after a couple of hours and then couldn't get back to sleep. There was nothing wrong in particular. I just couldn't seem to settle and drifted in and out of sleep restlessly and then, at about 03.30 standard time, I heard something moving!
To begin with, I thought it was my imagination but as I peered into the darkness I realised I was wrong. It was real!
On the far wall of my room is a mirror. Reflected in it, looking out from the vent, two bright green eyes shone!
I felt myself heave in a breath and cursed myself for not having re-secured the grill. I saw the eyes blink, stare a moment longer into my room and then go out.
For a moment, I thought it had gone, but then I heard the dull thud as it dropped from the vent onto the table beneath. I was frozen with fear. The Beast was here... in MY room!
I felt a movement on the end of my bed. It had leapt from the table, and then there was another thud as it hit the floor.
Where was it going? Had it seen me?
And then I saw something sticking up into the air, moving towards me. It was snakelike and swept through the air gracefully as it approached. My heart was pounding in my chest. My eyes were wide with fear. It was level with my knees now, and I couldn't breathe.
Nearer it came and then it stopped.
I stared at it, a long thin creature, flicking the air as though tasting it.
Suddenly, it dropped from sight. Where was it now?
Then I heard it. It... pirruped.
The noise was so soft and it sounded so sad and lost, I felt myself relax a little and slowly, I let my breath go.
It chirruped again.
Curiosity driving me on, I decided to investigate. I eased myself very slowly forward to the edge of the bed and peered over the side.
There in the darkness, a shadow sat. It was about the size of a small dog and its huge, brilliant green eyes gazed up at me. Then it said... miaow.
Miaow? I thought and sat up in bed, staring at the Beast before me.
"Computer... lights," I said softly and the room illuminated.
There, sat on the floor before me, blinking against the light, was the biggest tabby cat I'd ever seen: a common or garden cat.
I stared at it and it stared at me.
"Hello," I said and the cat miaowed again but encouraged by my response, it stood up. Its bottom quivered and then it leapt up onto the bed. There it stopped in front of my face and stared into my eyes. Then it stretched its head out towards me and sniffed my nose.
The Beast... this was the Beast that had haunted me for so long. I reached out my hand to touch it and the Beast... the cat... pushed its head hard into my palm and dropped onto its side in a fit of purrs. I happily gave it the attention it yearned for; I was just so pleased to have finally found the truth. I knew I should report the cat straight away, but I was too tired, so I got up, reaffixed the grill to the vent so the cat couldn't get away again and went back to sleep.
With the relief of knowing the Beast was just a cat, sleep came easily to me now and it wasn't long before I, and the Beast, were slumbering peacefully.