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.