Log Entry 141221.129

I wasn't surprised that I heard nothing more from Student Services so after a week, I decided it was time to visit the next most logical port of call—Steven Firth. As her guardian, he should be able to put me in touch with her.
I finally caught up with him in the corridor at the end of the day. I was feeling apprehensive anyway just because of Lizzy's reaction to him, but my nerves hit yellow alert when I saw him.
Steven Firth is a tall, gangly man with sallow, drawn features. His grey skin and dark shadows under his eyes tell of someone who doesn't spend much time outdoors and far too much time in the laboratory. As it was, he had his head buried in a datapad as he walked.
A thin curtain of silvery hair flopped over his face and a wispy ponytail hung down the back of his neck that would have looked awful on the youngest of men. As it was, it added a decade to his forty-odd years and made him look shabby and neglected.
"Excuse me," I said, almost throwing myself into his path.
He tried to dodge me, ignoring to my presence, but I manoeuvred myself back into his path.
"Excuse me, Mr Firth—"
He stopped abruptly and looked up at me with eyes so lifeless, I quite gasped.
"Yes," his voice completely devoid of expression.
I faltered and had to force a cough to find my voice.
"I'm looking for Lizzy," I explained.
"Lizzy? Lizzy who?" he scowled.
"Your ward."
His scowl didn't shift.
"Elizabeth Buffalo," I explained further. How many wards did he have, for goodness sake?
"Oh, her. She's gone."
He was positively icy in his response.
"Yes, I know, but where to please?"
I was trying to be polite.
"But where is that please?"
He wasn't what you'd call helpful.
"Because she's my friend …"
His gaze completely lacked expression.
"And I miss her …"
Still nothing.
"And she left her hairbrush behind." I was clutching.
He head jerked, quite taken aback at the mention of her hairbrush.
"Her hairbrush?" he demanded.
"Yes. She left it behind. I know it's—"
"Well, leave it out and I'll have someone pick it up and send it on."
"No, that's okay. I expect she's got a new one by now anyway, but what about getting in touch with her?"
"I'll tell her you're asking after her."
"Oh, thank you," and began to step aside but suddenly realised that he probably had no idea who I was.
"Do you need to know my name?" I asked.
He looked up at me, but said nothing.
"Terran," I said. "My name is Jenny Terran."
"Yes, I'll tell her!" he snapped.
If he was half as charming as this with Lizzy, I could understand why she didn't like him.

Log Entry 141214.128

There is a very fine line between suspicion and paranoia. I'm not sure I can see it at the moment.
Having slept on the problem overnight, I realised that it could just as easily be true that Lizzy had gone home, leaving both the Academy life and her alter-ego behind; there might be nothing sinister about it at all. But I still needed to find out, for my own sanity's sake.
The easiest way to allay my fears would be to speak to Lizzy directly, but I had no idea where she lived—where home was for her. Student Services would know though, so that's where I headed.
The lady on the desk was very pleasant, overly pleasant some might say. She beamed me a thoroughly plastic smile and said, "Lizzy who?"
"Lizzy—Elizabeth Buffalo, my room mate—former room mate."
She began tapping away at the touch screen with her long, painted red talons, far too long for an efficient administrator.
"Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo," she mumbled as she flicked from page to page. "Ah, yes, here we are! Elizabeth Buffalo. Yes, she dropped out of the Academy, I'm afraid."
"Yes, I know that, but I'd like to get in touch with her please."
"I'm afraid I can't give you her details. You know that, don't you."
"But you could get a message to her for me."
"Yes, but if you were that close, surely you'd have her details anyway?"
"Yeah, I did have them, but I lost them."
"Oh, I see. Okay, so what message would you like to send her?"
I cobbled together something along those lines, wondering what Lizzie would think if she ever received such a garbled and completely fictitious message, and then left taking a short-cut across the courtyards so I wouldn't be late for my next lesson.
Midway, I noticed a man looking at me, a student whom I assumed must also be on the Development Program because he was about my age—older than your average cadet. I'd noticed him a couple of times around and about before, but never taken much notice of him … until now. It felt like his eyes were boring into me. I stared back at him.
Suddenly, he began waving furiously, as though saying hello to someone ahead of me. I turned, but of the people I could see, no one was returning his wave. I looked back. He had dropped his head, apparently burying his attention back into his datapad. I shrugged it off and continued on my way, brushing my paranoia aside, but I could see his reflection in the glass of the building ahead of me. I swear he was looking at me again.
Am I being paranoid?

Log Entry 141206.127

I had expected a new roommate almost immediately, but it's been nearly a week and I still have the room to myself. Not that I mind—I'm used to having my own space. There are less distractions and I can concentrate better. In fact, for the first time ever, I'm well ahead in my studies. Bairn would have a pink fit though! I can hear her chastising me for all work and no play again. So much so, that I started to feel guilty about it this morning to the point that I decided to take a day off. It is Saturday after all.
A little bit of good, old, traditional shopping was in order. I've spent hardly any of the Federation Credits I've earned since I joined Starfleet and having seen Lizzy's wardrobe full of beautiful clothes, I've decided I really ought to treat myself to some new attire. I'm not talking ball gowns or evening dresses though, just some really nice casual clothes and maybe something to wear to a posh restaurant, that sort of thing.
The Palisades in San Francisco is a wonderful area for shopping. It's filled with lovely boutiques as well as cafés, restaurants and bars, all set in an eclectic blend of buildings old and new. Ancient red bricks stand alongside glass and concrete, each sympathetic to its neighbour.
I have to be honest, after my life of thrift, I did get a bit carried away and was soon loaded up with bags and bags of goodies. By lunchtime, I was quite exhausted and found myself a nice little restaurant in a square for a spot of lunch. I felt quite indulgent as I sat alone eating an exceptionally good hot chicken salad accompanied by a glass of fine, white wine. Having finished my lunch, I further indulged with a second glass of wine and watched the world go by.
I can honestly say that I've not had such a lovely, relaxing day in ages. The sun shone and people went about their ordinary, everyday lives in a way that made me wonder about my own life that used to be so dull and mundane, but was now filled with adventures and excitement ... as well as dull and mundane paperwork and study!
A mum was sitting at a bench in the little square. It was a lovely square with red brick paths that wound through it and beds filled with bushes and blooms. There was also a pond in the middle with gorgeous white water lilies and enormous golden carp that kissed its glassy surface.
The woman had a double buggy with a baby in one side and a toddler in the other. They were eating sandwiches and throwing little bits of bread for the birds. Sparrows fought over the rich pickings and the toddler giggled, her hands outstretched in joy.
A couple sat on a nearby bench, holding hands, their heads bent as they whispered softly to each other. The man stroked her hand with his thumb as he held it and she wore a engagement ring on her finger. They were obviously very much in love.
My second glass of wine spent and my tummy full, slumber began to seduce me with its call. It had been a lovely day, but I was going to head back to the Academy and probably spoil myself with an afternoon nap. I've never done that before, but the idea was deliciously tempting.
I settled my bill, collected my bags together and made my way through the streets to catch one of the old restored trams that ran between the city centre and the Academy. I reached the stop and sat down to wait. It wouldn't be long before the next one came along, and it would be the perfect end to the perfect day.
The afternoon had worn on quickly, but the sun was still warm in the sky and bathed me in its bright glow. Across the street were more bars and restaurants, but these were more geared up for the evening trade. Bejazzled wasn't far from here, and the Byzantium was literally in front of me ... and that's when I saw it.
On one of their display boards was Lizzy's picture—or, rather, that of Bella Dinares. She had told me that she had a gig there later in the month so that made sense, but there was a banner splashed across the poster. It featured just one word: CANCELLED.
That was odd. If Lizzy had left the Academy to pursue a career as a singer, why would her gig be cancelled? I decided it was time to ask some questions.
The Byzantium wasn't busy inside. There were just a few people there enjoying late afternoon drinks. Soft, pre-recorded music played in the background and the barman was polishing glasses nonchalantly.
"Excuse me," I said.
"Yes, what can I get you?" he smiled.
"Well, nothing at the moment, thank you, but I was just wondering about Bella Dinares—"
"Sorry. She cancelled on us," and his brow furrowed a little.
"Yes, but that surprises me. Do you know why she cancelled?"
His face shrugged.
"No. Sorry. All I know is her agent called and said she couldn't make it."
I scowled in confusion. I didn't think she had an agent and said as much. He stopped polishing the glass and looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully. Puzzlement washed over his face.
"Funnily enough, neither did the boss, but he definitely called and cancelled on us."
"Did he say why?"
"No," he said, putting the glass down and shifting his weight. "And that was really weird 'cause the boss asked when she'd like to rebook for; but her agent said it wasn't a postponement, it was a cancellation. Bella was giving up singing altogether apparently."
Now I know someone is lying!

Log Entry 141129.126

Apparently I had a flight test this afternoon, but my preoccupation meant it had completely slipped my mind. Fortunately, I breezed through it thanks to an excellent mentor who helped me get about five times as much flight time under my belt compared to other cadets. I suppose that means I must thank Rutter next time I see him. He'll gloat but what the heck. He deserves it, I suppose. Anyway, it was a nice surprise to find almost everything coming to me as second nature. The test was so easy, and my examiner very impressed, so I've come away with my Intermediate Pilot's Certificate. Yippee! It has an added bonus as it means I can borrow the Academy's shuttles and runabouts when they aren't in use for my own means. In fact, they encourage us to take them out to increase our flight experience. All I have to do now is figure out where to go.
My elation was a little short-lived though. I hurried back to my room eager to tell Lizzy, being the only person I could think of. (I can hear Bairn having a go at me for all-work and no play again. I must do something about that.) But as the door opened I knew something was up. All of her stuff had gone.
Her shelves were completely bare—cleaned, dusted and polished to within an inch of their life and her bed stripped down to the mattress. In disbelief, I opened her wardrobe, still expecting to find her beautiful dresses there, but there was nothing. All her drawers were empty too, and as I gazed into the void, I knew I had to accept it.
Lizzy had gone.
A rush of inexplicable sadness—no ... disappointment, shot through me. I couldn't believe that she would have just packed up and gone without saying a word, especially after promising to talk this evening. I was speechless.
Heaving a huge sigh, I sat on the edge of my bed and stared at her bare mattress.
Thud, thud.
A noise roused me.
Thud, thud.
It was coming from under Lizzy's bed.
Thud, thud.
Cautiously, I got down onto my knees and peered under the bed, and then laughed. It was just a cleaning droid beavering away, cleaning and sanitising the carpet. The janitorial staff had obviously left it to its devices after Lizzy had gone, to get rid of all the stains that she had made. It was doing a splendid job too. Amongst the cleanliness and starkness of the room, I hadn't noticed it before, but the flooring was beautifully clean. Only the droid's track marks, still freshly laid into it, marred it.
Thud, thud.
But something was hindering it. I reached under the bed, pushed it to one side and reached out. My fingers folded around something prickly. It was a hairbrush—Lizzy's hairbrush.
Depression folded in on me as I held it in my hands, fiddling with the bristles. I wondered if she might come back for it. But no, that was a silly thought. It was only a hairbrush. Still, I decided to put it on one side for her and took it into the bathroom where I opened the drawer and placed it gently inside on top of the fresh towels. As I closed the drawer though, something else caught my eye.
Beside the sink sat two beakers. Usually they housed my toothbrush in one and Lizzy's in the other, but now just one toothbrush sat alone, but it wasn't my toothbrush. It was Lizzy's!
That was really odd. Why would Lizzy take my toothbrush and leave hers. Hers was cleaner than mine; I needed a new one, but she wouldn't leave me a second-hand toothbrush. Someone must have helped her pack and picked up the wrong one ... or maybe Lizzy didn't pack at all.
What if someone had packed up her stuff when she wasn't there? That would explain it. I sighed heavily. It looked like Lizzy had finally won and been expelled, but if she had, she would have said goodbye surely—left me a note at least. So I checked my mail, but there was nothing there.
I felt deeply unsettled. I knew it was silly, but I just couldn't accept that she had just left. It didn't seem right. I tried to settle down to my homework, but my mind wouldn't focus. In the end, I resolved that I'd make an enquiry with Student Services. They'd have an address for her. They would, at the very least, be able to forward a message to her for me. That seemed to work, and I was able to concentrate, but it was oddly quiet and lonely without Lizzy there, or her stuff at least. Our paths had rarely crossed, but she'd had such a huge presence in the room that her absence now reverberated through it like an echo in an empty tunnel.

Log Entry 141124.125

As I crossed the gardens back towards my dorm, I spotted Lizzy sitting on a stone bench, gazing across the grounds towards the main Academy building. I didn't recognise her at first because she was in uniform with her hair neatly tied back. She was distracted though, so much so, she didn't register my approach at all.
"Lizzy?" I asked.
She looked up, startled.
"Oh, hi!" she beamed merrily. "Sorry, world of my own," and she shuffled along the bench making room for me, but her eyes immediately returned to the building.
I, too, looked, but couldn't work out what the fascination was.
"I give up," I finally said. "What's got your attention?"
Her eyes narrowed as she peered harder towards the building.
"Who's he talking to?"
"Steven Firth."
"Who's he?"
"Over there ... talking to the Klingon."
"Who's he then?"
So I told her.
"And who's Steven Firth?" I asked.
"He lectures in cybernetics. Fancies himself a bit of a Noonian Soong. About as pleasant to spend time with as a Jem'Hadar with a hangover and no ketracel-white."
"You really like him then?" I asked sarcastically.
"No. Horrible man. Can't stand him."
My sarcasm obviously went over her head.
"Why's he of interest to you then?"
"He's my ... uhm ... guardian you could say."
Ah-ha! So she was connected to someone at the Academy after all! Now why couldn't Urtok have just said as much?
"But you don't get on?"
"And why are you dressed up."
"Because I've been summonsed."
"By Firth?"
It didn't add up. Lizzy didn't care what people thought. Why would she don a uniform for Steven Firth when he was probably the last person she'd be out to impress?
"Are you scared of him?" I teased.
"Too damned right, I am!" and her eyes abandoned him to glare at me.
She really was frightened of him. I could see it in her eyes. For the first time, I could sense her vulnerability. She shuffled uncomfortably and looked away.
"I've got to go," she said.
"What about this long chat we need?"
"Tonight. I promise. Tonight."
"Aren't you performing tonight?"
"No. I've finished at Bejazzled for now. My next gig isn't for three weeks at The Byzantium," but she was distracted again. Her eyes had returned to Steven Firth and Urtok, who had now finished their conversation and were parting company.
"Okay," I said. "I'll catch you later."
I sat and watched as she crossed the emerald green lawns, climbed the steps and disappeared in through the doors of the Academy. Something wasn't right.

Log Entry 141119.124

Urtok spied me out of the corner of his eye as I approached. Instantly, he rose to his full height, pushing his shoulders back and beamed a toothy Klingon smile at me.
"Ah, I see the delightful Ms Terran has a question," he said, brimming with Klingon joviality.
"Yes, but it's not a cultural one, I'm afraid. I just want to pick your brains."
"My brains?" he boomed.
"Yes. If you don't mind, that is."
"Well, ask away and we'll see if I mind."
"It's about Elizabeth Buffalo—"
"I can't discuss another student with you," he interrupted.
"I know that but this is a bit different."
His brow furrowed more deeply than I thought his Klingon ridges should allow. I grabbed a chair, pulled it over and sat on it, hoping that Urtok would do likewise, but he didn't. He sank onto his haunches to bring himself to my level, but had no intention of making himself any more comfortable than that.
"Look, we all know that Lizzy is …" I had to think about it, "… unusual."
"Messy," he said.
"Yes, but it's not just that is it?"
He raised an eyebrow quizzically. I sighed deeply.
"Is she scheduled to attend any of your lessons?"
He remained mute.
"Come on, Urtok. That's hardly betraying a confidence, surely?"
His eyes narrowed, but he still said nothing. It's rare to find a Klingon being so diplomatic, but I suppose they have to be when teaching for Starfleet.
"Okay. Let me rephrase the question … As one of the lecturers here, are you privy to the attendance records of students?"
"Of course."
"Then you'll be familiar with Lizzy's."
"You're wasted as a Cultural Advisor. You should join the Obsidian Order."
"I haven't asked my question yet."
"That's the worrying thing," he said with a moue of concern. "So what is the question?"
"Who's daughter is she?"
"What relevance is that?"
"Getting into the Academy isn't easy. The Academy only accepts the cream of the—"
"And you don't think she should be here."
"No. That's not it at all!"
"Then what's your point?"
"Lizzy's made it quite obvious that she doesn't want to be here. I know the Academy know that too. She goes out of her way to try and get herself kicked out—that's why she's so messy. So why hasn't she been expelled?"
"I couldn't tell you."
"Can't or won't?"
Ah! So something was going on.
"So who's daughter is she?" I pressed.
"No one's—I mean no one of any importance."
I got the impression that wasn't quite the truth. I opened my mouth to pose another query, but a hand in my face silenced me.
"No more," he said, and slowly dropped his hand. "I cannot answer your questions."
I heaved a great sigh and picked up my things.
"Okay. Well, thank you anyway," I said, but just before I reached the door, Urtok spoke.
"Terran," he cried. "Do you remember last semester how you and Bairn used the entire Academy as guinea-pigs?"
I frowned as I didn't recall any such incident.
"You dressed Bairn up as a Human and paraded her through the Academy, testing her skills on us all."
"Oh, yes," I agreed guiltily. "I suppose we did use you all a bit, but it wasn't maliciously done. It was all in a very good cause."
"Indeed, but what's it like to be on the receiving end this time around?"
"You what?" I exclaimed, but Urtok simply grinned, picked up his bag and left via the door behind the podium leaving me alone to consider the comment.
So I was a guinea-pig, but in what? It had to be something to do with Lizzy, otherwise Urtok wouldn't have raised it at that point. Was Lizzy conducting an experiment, using me as her test subject? Was she fooling us all in order to complete an exercise of some sort?

Log Entry 141109.123

Last night, I went to see Bella Dinares perform. She was magnificent. As she stood on the stage and sang, she mesmerised everybody with her warm, deep, sultry voice. Bairn had compared it to chocolate. Strangely, she was right.
I didn't stay all night, only a couple of hours in fact, and I'm not sure why I went. It certainly wasn't to confirm my suspicions. She was Bella Dinares: end of story. And it wasn't because I only wanted to hear her sing again.
I sat nursing my dry martini and listened to her rendition of many classic songs from the great Jazz legends, feeling troubled. I kept telling myself that Bella, or Lizzy or whoever she was, wasn't my problem. I was only here for three months for goodness sake. The situation was ignorable. I could just study, get my grades and push off back to the Earhart and not get involved. So why was I sitting in Bejazzled listening to Bella singing, feeling so perturbed?
I left around midnight, partly because I wanted to be sure that Lizzy hadn't noticed me. I knew that while she was on stage, the bright lights would prevent her from seeing me in the audience, not that it stopped me picking a seat in the darker recesses of the room. I was in bed by one o'clock.
This morning, my first class was with Urtok. As you know, he's a Master in hand-to-hand combat and teaches those arts at a Klingon training academy. At the moment, though, he's running a class for the Academy here, lecturing on Klingon culture. As the Cultural Advisor aboard the Earhart, it's one of my compulsory classes.
The lesson was particularly good. Urtok dominates the room by his mere presence, and with his unusual teaching skills that involve a lot of audience participation, no one will be forgetting that lesson in a hurry.
He does love his role-play but, as he says, if you have played out every scenario, there will be no surprises. A lesson Farrah Bel-Williams won't forget in a hurry after accidentally insulting him and finding herself on the receiving end of Urtok's mock temper. He nearly reduced her to tears with his barrage of insults, but stopped just before breaking point and backed off.
"What is she doing wrong, Ms Terran?" he asked the audience without averting his eyes from her.
"She's being Human, typically polite. Farrah, you need to stand up to him. It doesn't matter that he's your tutor. He's laying into you. He's insulting you. You have things you want to say to him whirling around inside your head. Voice them. If you don't, you may end up in a T'Ker Chan challenge—which I won by the way!" and sneered triumphantly at him.
His eyes flashed in anger. The humiliation of that battle, no matter the circumstances under which I had won, still stung him.
"You cheated, Ms Terran," he almost spat, pointing a finger at me.
I laughed lightly, and pointed back.
"You cheated when you set me up for that match."
"You need to learn discipline."
"You need to learn humility."
He hurled a tirade of Klingon abuse at me. I have no idea what he said. My Klingon's non-existent.
I waggled my finger at him.
"Don't you use that tone of voice with me, Mr Urtok!" I said in my best schoolmistress voice.
He paused, his mouth opening slightly to say something and then spat some more abuse at me.
I turned to Farrah and smiled.
"Don't take any messing from a Klingon. You need to hurl as much back as they throw at you, but try to avoid a physical altercation because unless you've been trained in hand-to-hand combat, you won't win."
Farrah bit down on her lower lip, thought for a moment and then replied to Urtok.
"Thank you for that invaluable lesson, Mr Urtok. I shall not forget it."
"General!" he spat.
"My apologies, I thought you had retired from the Imperial Klingon Defence Force?"
Urtok's lip curled. He had. Technically, he was a 'former general' and had as much right to retain the rank as any retired Starfleet admiral.
He glared at Farrah, his hard, black eyes burning into her, but this time she stood her ground, although not particularly well. I could see that her hands were shaking and her legs were turning to jelly.
"Better," agreed Urtok. His tone didn't compliment his words. "Not good, but better. Sit."
Farrah returned to her seat and collapsed into it. As the stress of the moment passed, her face turned ashen white and her eyes began to swell. I could see that she was swallowing back tears. I quickly scribbled a note and sent it to her datapad. It vibrated under her fingers. She picked it up and read the note, 'Well done.' Her lips quivered, a smile of relief washed over her face and she leaned forward to catch my eye. I gave her the thumbs up.
Klingons are bullies by nature, but they are also as soft as targ. Yes, they bite and scratch and fight, but they also like to roll over and have their bellies scratched. Something I must share with Farrah, but I'm straying from the point. The fact is, after lesson, I had a word with Urtok about Lizzy, and that was very interesting!

Log Entry 141102.122

The rest of the day passed by relatively uneventfully, but I didn’t get to catch up with Lizzy despite my best efforts.
I popped back at lunchtime, but she was in the shower. I grabbed what I needed for the afternoon’s lessons and also for Urtok’s callisthenics class, but I had to be on the other side of campus for my next lesson so couldn’t hang about. I shouted to her through the closed door, but with the noise of the shower, it wasn’t much of a conversation.
At the end of the day, I made my way, exhausted and sore, back to my room. Urtok’s idea of going easy on me wasn’t the same as mine. I was sporting a whole wealth of intriguing new bruises and was eager for a long, hot shower to soothe them. I wasn’t entirely surprised to find that Lizzy had gone, but she did leave me a couple of nice surprises. The first was a note:
'Hi Jenny. Sorry we didn’t get to have that chat today, but we will. In the meantime, can I just ask that you look after yourself and don’t worry about me. I know what I’m doing and things are ridiculously complicated. That they have dragged you into the situation is totally unfair and I’m really angry about that. I hope you will do as I ask and maybe we can catch up tomorrow. Lizzy.'
It was a nice touch.
The second surprise was the bathroom that Lizzy had left spotlessly clean. It indicated that her mess was by design and not slovenliness as everybody seemed to suggest, but why be a messy slob if it’s not in your nature? It was all rather odd.
I showered leisurely and found the piping hot water very soothing on my aches and pains. I felt very much refreshed when I emerged from the bathroom clad in a soft, fluffy white towel. Perched on the edge of my bed, I began to towel off my hair, and that’s when I spotted that Lizzy’s wardrobe door wasn’t shut properly. My brow furrowed deeply as sinful thoughts began to invade.
The wardrobe door was open. It needed shutting, but to do that I’d need to make sure that none of those beautiful dresses got caught, so I’d have to open it a little bit more to check.
No! And I hurled the thought rudely aside.
But it wasn’t as if I was going to rummage through her stuff. I wasn’t going to invade her privacy. I was only going to see what I saw last night when Lizzy opened the door … only a little closer up.
I desperately tried to push the temptation away, but I knew I was going to fail long before I found myself standing in front of the door.
And as she hadn’t actually shut it, she couldn’t be that bothered, could she?
The excuses just kept coming. Even as my fingers reached out and pulled the door open, some part of me kept trying to justify it while another reprimanded me. At least until the door swung open and then I became totally engrossed in the wardrobe’s contents.
It was beautifully tidy. On the floor, elegant shoes in a rainbow of colours stood in two neat rows. On the shelf above, a selection of evening purses and shawls lay, the shawls neatly folded with great care. And in between hung the dresses; such beautiful, elegant gowns, all fit for the most special of occasions. They filled the rail with just a couple of cadet uniforms at the far end and a few casual clothes. But what would a cadet need with so many elegant gowns? And why was she out every night it seemed? An unworthy thought came to me. Was she an escort or 'companion'?
No, she couldn’t possibly be. The Academy must know she was out every night. If it was for reasons such as that, it wouldn’t matter if she was the daughter of the President of Starfleet himself, she’d be out!
I found myself looking at the drawers, and don’t ask me why because I shouldn’t have done it, but I opened the top two. I immediately felt a pang of guilt, which quickly faded as I stared into them. One held neatly folded underwear, which I shut quickly, but the other held make-up and toiletries. It had the potential to be a very messy drawer. I know mine was usually a hotchpotch of containers with mismatched lids and a thin film of some unidentifiable product on almost everything, but Lizzy's wasn’t. Every last item, from deodorant to lipsticks, was neatly contained in little boxes so that nothing could spill or tip. Lids were on everything and none of the containers were soiled. A place for everything and everything in its place. How curious that she should be so tidy and careful with some things and so contemptuous of others.
I shut the drawer and returned to my bed and set about blow-drying my hair, but my eyes kept returning to Lizzy's side of the room, my thoughts drawn back to the paradox again and again.
Suddenly, I realised. The things she held in contempt were all academic things, things for Academy lessons. All the things she cared about were personal items and things of beauty. Lizzy had a beef with the Academy, but why was she here then?
Unable to resist the urge to pry further, (I find it rather disturbing that the more you do it, the easier it becomes), I took one of her datapads off her shelf and flicked it on. Her attendance record flashed up and my mouth dropped in horror. Lizzy had an appalling attendance record! She only went to about a quarter of her classes! More surprising, though, were her grades. There was nothing below ninety-two percent. How could someone get such good grades without attending any lessons?
I returned to the wardrobe and opened the door again. A vivid blue number caught my eye. There was something familiar about it. I’d felt a similar sensation the first time I saw Lizzy, but that was daft. Our paths had never crossed before; but as I stared at the dress, I knew I was wrong on that score. I had seen Lizzy before and I knew this dress, but where would I go to see a woman in a dress such as this?
My fingers played over the soft, velvety fabric and toyed with the sequin detail—and then, suddenly, it came to me!
Bella Dinares! Lizzy was Bella Dinares!
Bella was a jazz singer that I’d seen perform at the BeJazzled jazz club with Bairn the last time I was at the Academy. She had a very powerful, sultry voice and her performance had been fantastic. But what was Bella Dinares doing at the Academy?

Log Entry 141025.121

Just a few hours later and it was time to get up. Not a problem for me, having had such an early night, but Lizzy was dead to the world!
I gave her a nudge when I first rose and was greeted with a sleepy grunt. I noticed, to my disgust, that she looked as perfect as she did before she went to bed. Her long, dark hair was draped elegantly over the pillow, every strand laid perfectly next to its neighbour in a smooth sheet of velvet, and her central parting still as straight as a die. Why can I never wake up like that? Why do I always look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards?
Anyway, I showered and cleaned my teeth before the second nudge, which got no better response, so I dried my hair and donned a uniform before the third and final nudge. By this time, I'd left it as long as I could. If I delayed any longer, I was going to be late too and I wasn't prepared to risk that; not on my first day back at the Academy.
Lizzy groaned loudly.
"Leave me alone," she grumbled.
"You're going to be late."
"I'm always late because I don't do morning lessons."
"Don't be daft. We all do morning lessons, and you'll never graduate if you skip them."
"I don't care. Leave me alone," and she turned over, burying her head deep under the bedclothes.
"No, Lizzy! Come on!" and I pulled the covers back.
She sat up rudely and growled at me, "And this is just what they want! Just go away and leave me alone," she said, snatching the covers back from me and throwing herself back under the covers.
"They? Who are they?" I asked, but Lizzy’s response was to bury her head further under the pillow, finally ruffling her silky hair.
"I said, who are they?" more loudly.
"Argh!" she bellowed angrily and sat up again to glare at me. "Later! I'll tell you later! But you need to sort yourself out and get out of here. Forget about me!" and with that she tunnelled back, ever deeper, under the bedclothes. I stared at the bump buried deep in the warmth and comfort of the blankets for a moment and then resolved that I had done all that I could. Lizzy was not my responsibility so I collected my things for the morning's lessons and left.
I was doing well for time though, so could afford to grab a coffee in the cafeteria before my first lesson. I headed for the lift, organising my stuff on the way. The lift doors opened and I stepped in, but immediately, a feeling of déjà vue swept over me. I was staring at the chest of a huge Klingon warrior. I grinned.
"Let's be perfectly clear about this, Urtok. I am NOT challenging you to anything."
The Klingon let out a raucous laugh that filled the elevator.
"It is good to see you again, Jenny Terran!" he boomed.
I looked up into his warm, dark eyes, smiling back at him.
"It's good to see you too," and I genuinely was pleased to see him.
"Excellent! Then you'll be delighted to hear that I've saved you a place on my callisthenics class this evening!"
I screwed my face up. An extra class was the last thing I needed. One where I’d get beaten up, even less so.
"Aw! Thank you but—"
"No buts. It's not an option," he boomed, grinning from ear to ear.
I grinned back, pulled out my datapad and began to cheerily explain.
"On the contrary, it's clearly marked as an optional class on my timetable.”
His big hands reached over and pulled the pad from my hands. He bent down to me so that our noses nearly touched and whispered.
"My dear, it is NOT an option. If ever you were to combat a Klingon without the aid of Bairn's potions, you'd lose at the first blow. Now, what would that say about me, the great Urtok, who fell at your hand. You must learn to defend yourself if only to save my honour."
Urtok was smiling, but behind that smile I could see that he was deadly serious. Klingon honour had taken many a Klingon to an early grave. Maybe I should have been intimidated, but I knew Urtok so despite his tone, I merely smiled.
"Okay," I conceded, "but go easy on me. I'm just a flimsy Human after all."
A broad, satisfied smile spread across his face again that reached into his eyes.
"Excellent. I will make a warrior of you yet!"

Log Entry 141019.120

I hadn't realised I had dozed off until I awoke with a start. Disorientated and confused, it took me a moment to remember where I was, and it was late. I checked the time. It was 4:30am, so what had disturbed me?
"Sorry," someone whispered loudly. "I tried not to wake you."
I sat up and peered in the direction of the voice. The lights were off but moonlight flooded through the window above my bed and illuminated the shadowy figure that stood in the doorway to the bathroom. I turned the lights on, immediately recoiling under their brilliance. As my eyes adjusted, I was startled by what I saw.
I hadn't considered what Cadet Elizabeth Buffalo might look like, but I wasn't expecting this. Before me stood an incredibly beautiful, slender woman immaculately presented in a stunning, black, sequined cocktail dress. With its rag-line hem, soft chiffon and her bare feet, (she had kicked her shoes off) it gave her a gypsy air. She had perfect, ebony hair that cascaded over her shoulders like a curtain of soft, dark velvet, and caramel coloured skin so flawless it could have been formed from porcelain. Her eyebrows, no doubt plucked daily, were even and clearly defined—not too thin and not too thick, and her makeup, so light and perfectly applied that she could have been on her way out for the evening, not just returning. There was also something vaguely familiar about her. I knew her from somewhere, but I was damned if I could remember from where. Her speckled, hazelnut eyes sparkled with life and beamed at me warmly.
"Sorry," she repeated. "I did try not to make a noise."
"S'okay," I muttered. "I'm Jenny Terran by the way," as if she didn't already know that, and held out my hand.
She hurried over to me and shook it, seemingly relieved.
"Lizzy Buffalo," she beamed. "But you have lessons in the morning. You should go back to sleep," she advised, her eyes scanning my uniform.
Ah, yes. I had fallen asleep in my clothes. I laughed weakly.
"I think I need to get ready for bed first."
We both laughed politely at that and then got ready for bed. I couldn't help but notice that when Lizzy took off her dress, she didn't throw it onto the floor as I had supposed she would. No. She opened her wardrobe, took out a coat hanger and hung it up, fussing over the folds as she did so. I caught a glimpse of the rest of her attire. A long, neat row of gorgeous evening and cocktail dresses far outnumbered the three uniforms at the end. I didn't see much more as she closed the doors and disappeared into the bathroom, so I got into my own pyjamas and hung my uniform up, not that I'd be wearing that one tomorrow. It was far too creased.
I needed to clean my teeth next, but Lizzy was still in the bathroom. The door was open though and all was quiet. I approached the door.
Lizzy was standing over the sink, staring at it pensively. She looked sad, deeply sad.
"Is there something wrong?" I asked.
She looked up. Her brow was deeply furrowed with concern.
"I'm sorry that you've been dragged into this. It's not fair on you," and her gaze returned to the sink. I approached to see what she was looking at.
The sink—the one I had cleaned—was now freshly spattered with toothpaste, and Lizzy seemed mesmerised by it. Was I missing something? Or did she have a screw loose?
"Um," I finally ventured. "Is there something significant about the sink?"
"It's symbolic," she declared and pursed her lips.
"Yes. I'm debating if I should clean it. I don't want to—and I didn't have to when it was just me, but you're here now ... so it seems they have won this round."
She flicked the tap on high and water whooshed out violently. With a flick of her hand, she rinsed all the toothpaste away and then took a cloth and dried the sink and surrounding areas, leaving them pristinely clean. My mind boggled with confusion. I looked at Lizzy seeking answers, but all I could glean was that she was deeply troubled.
"As I say, I'm sorry. You shouldn't have been dragged into this. It's not your problem," and she turned and went to her bed. She climbed in and drew the covers tightly up to her chin.
"What's not my problem?" I asked, standing over her.
"It's late. You need your sleep and I need mine."
"What's not my problem?" I insisted.
"Tomorrow. We'll talk tomorrow," and with that, she turned over leaving me to stare at her back. But she was right. It was late and I did need my sleep, so I climbed into bed and turned the light out.

Log Entry 141012.119

We ended up having a really great afternoon. Elisha, Bobby, Farrah and Ingrid soon lost their awe of me, but only after I told them a few of my gaffs and they shared a few of theirs. Then they told me a bit more about Elizabeth Buffalo. I must admit, I was filled with dread as I approached my quarters. Were they exaggerating? They must be, surely. The door whooshed open and all was revealed.
The quarters were more than ample for two people and almost symmetrical in their design with a large open space in the middle where, if the carpet had been a little cleaner, one could happily have practised yoga or Klingon moQbara. It seemed relatively tidy, but my eye picked up on certain telltale signs that Elizabeth's reputation was earned.
For instance, both beds were made up, but badly. I pulled the covers gently back on each bed to confirm my suspicions and found the sheets were rumpled and creased. Both had definitely been slept in—and one was supposed to be mine, but which one? Whichever it was, I would be changing it before I slept in it.
To help me work out which side of the room I should take, I began to study the furniture. With two wardrobes, two chests of drawers and two study areas, one should have been free for me. One was certainly clear of personal items, but not quite what I'd call free.
The set on the right-hand side of the room, furthest from the window had every surface rammed with stuff onto it. It looked as though Bessy had hurriedly stacked everything onto the shelves in responses for my arrival, but there was no order to it. Data pads, old fashioned paper books, boxes and clothing were all intermingled.
The other set on the left-hand side of the room, which benefited from being nearest the window, was free from clutter, but as I ran my finger over the surface, it was sticky and dirty.
The conclusion was obvious. Bessy had taken full advantage of having the quarters to herself and filled every inch of it. My arrival had meant a hasty retreat to one side of the room and a tidy up.
Needing to clean the counter tops before I could do anything, I went into the bathroom to look for a cloth to discover that her tidying hadn't extended that far. Toothpaste smeared the sink and taps (had she actually spat on them?), shampoo and soap daubed the shower cubicle glass, towels lay in a heap in the corner, and the mirrors were splattered with water, soap stains and toothpaste too.
I grabbed a towel from the floor, rinsed it through and wrung it out before returning to the bedroom and wiping down my furniture. To my disgust, I even had to do the inside of the drawers and the wardrobe. The discarded pizza box with a slice of fossilised, mouldy pizza still in it on the top shelf of the wardrobe was vile but, thankfully, so aged, it was beyond smelling.
It took me over two hours to tidy the bathroom and my area. I remembered Tez and how messy he'd been when he'd shared a room with Rutter. Poor Rutter had spent so much time tidying up after Tez, but Tez had done it on purpose, to wind Rutter up. This, on the other hand, wasn't done maliciously. Bessy was just messy.
I changed the bed, which definitely needed it and cleaned a very strange, sticky mess off the carpet near my bed. Finally, I took the laundry down for recycling. Then and only then, could I unpack and settle in.
As I put my things away, I began to wonder why I had cleaned everything on my side of the room. I didn't need all that space. I only had three uniforms to fill my wardrobe, an equal amount of civive clothing and barely enough underwear to fill one drawer. I still travelled light.
My chores completed, I lay on the bed staring up into the dusky sky and pondered the next three months. I had a feeling this was going to be a long semester and not half as much fun as the last one.

Log Entry 141005.118

As a child raised in care, you get moved around a lot. You don't establish ties or links to places or people because you're never anywhere long enough. You begin to avoid creating such bonds as they hurt too much every time you have to let go. That's why it surprised me so much when I saw the Academy and was filled with the warm glow of familiarity and fond memories.
It didn't take long to sign in and get my lesson plan and quarters assigned. I remembered some of the hoo-ha from last time so knew what to look out for, and then I made my way to my new quarters for the next three months. This time I would be sharing with a second year student called Elizabeth Buffalo. On the way, I passed the Academy cafeteria and heard my tummy growl. I had skipped breakfast so the last time I had eaten was the previous day; my stomach had every right to complain, it being well into mid-afternoon. I had just decided to indulge in a late lunch when a voice squealed in delight at me.
It was lovable Beryl, the 'dinner lady'. We greeted and hugged. I hadn't realised how much I'd missed Beryl either until that moment. She made the most wonderful cookies and cakes and always made sure one was set on one side for me and Bairn last time I was here.
"Why I swear you've grown up since I last saw you! Are you taller?"
"Don't be daft, Beryl. I'm twenty-four years old. I'm not getting any taller now."
"Just wiser, aye?" and she winked at me.
"Doubt it."
"Don't give me that. I've heard all about your little adventures. Quite the heroine, aren't we?"
I shuddered at the thought of notoriety.
"Awe! Don't look so down, Jen. A little bit of fame never did anyone any harm. I'm sure you'll turn it to your advantage at some time or another."
I scowled harder. I had no intention of using my reputation as leverage for anything.
I deposited my bags under a nearby table and we sat and chatted some more before I ordered the special: tagliatelle with chicken, asparagus and mushrooms served in a white wine sauce and sauté potatoes, followed by syrup sponge pudding loaded with custard. It was delish!
I sat alone as I ate, but I didn't mind. It gave me a chance to gather my thoughts. I smacked my lips with satisfied pleasure having downed the last of my pudding and dabbed my mouth on my napkin. My! What manners I have learned, and I smiled to myself.
My thoughts were interrupted by a couple of Academy students walking past. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them point at me and laugh, hiding their mouths behind cupped hands. Instinctively, I looked down, thinking I must have spilt some sauce on my top, but no, I was quite clean.
Brushing the incident aside, I got up, collected my things together and made my way out of the cafeteria, passing the two students on the way, although now there were four of them. As I passed, my ears picked up on two words, Messy Bessy.
I disappeared behind a partition, but doubled back, my curiosity piqued. What bad habits I'd picked up too: listening in on conversations!
"You don't know, she might like sharing a room with her!" I heard one of them say.
"What! Messy Bessy! Get real! She lives like a pig!"
"Maybe Terran does too."
"No way! She's a serving Ensign on board a starship. She'll have things as neat and tidy as a new pin ..." but her words trailed off. I had crept out from behind the partition and they were now fully aware of my presence as I leaned over the first girl's shoulder.
"For the record, I'm not an Ensign. I'm just a Cadet, 3rd Class like yourselves," I said, indicating the pips on my collar. "Now," and I threw my arms around the shoulders of two of the girls, snaring them. "Let me get you a coffee and you can tell me all about it."
As I swept them back into the cafeteria, their two companions made a dash for it.
"Grab my bags for me will you?" I chirped merrily at them, but they knew it wasn't a request. I sounded just like T'Roc. Something else, it seems I have learned.
We all sat at a table, the four of them looking a little uncomfortable. The coffee came and Beryl winked at me.
"Would you like some cookies with that?" she asked.
"Thank you, Beryl. That would be lovely."
A few moments later, she returned with a plate of the biscuits and set them down. I picked up one of them and bit into it. It was delicious! With that perfect texture of crumbliness and chewiness, it melted in the mouth and the white chocolate only added to the pleasure.
"Help yourselves," I said.
With almost military precision each member grabbed a cookie and took a bite. They looked so guilt-ridden, I couldn't help but giggle.
"Honestly, if you could see your faces," I quipped.
The first girl looked up at me, bewilderment in her eyes.
"For goodness sake," I assured them. "I'm a 3rd Class cadet, just like you. The only difference is I'm physically a bit older than you. Inside though, I'm just the same. I'll make ... I do make the same sort of daft, stupid, adolescent mistakes that you do. The only difference is that I am making them a little later in life. Call me a late starter if you want. So chill, enjoy your coffee and cookie and tell me who you are. I'm Jenny Terran by the way, but you know that," and I cocked my head on one side expectedly.
"Elisha McFadden."
"Bobby Helmond."
"Farrah Bel-Williams."
"Ingrid Sellia."
That was it. Nothing more was volunteered.
"I take it you've not taken the Academy course on social situations yet then?"
"There's a course on socialising!" exclaimed Elisha.
I laughed.
"Not as such, but if this is the best you can muster, there should be. Come on ... where are you from? What courses are you doing? What's your life ambition?"
"Is it true you saved a planet?" butted in Elisha.
"Only by blundering my way through a very bad situation—and I didn't do it single-handedly. I had fellow cadets and ensigns to blunder through it with me."
"What? No officers?"
"At the time, no—"
"I'd like to go to Helvetia," said Farrah.
"Hell," I corrected.
"It's called Hell, not Helvetia."
"Then why are they called Helvetians?"
I shrugged.
"Because Hellians sounds daft," I offered.
"Is it as beautiful as they say?"
And so the ice was broken, but so much for not using my reputation to my advantage.

Log Entry 141001.117

With the mystery of Beastie's repeated escapes now solved, I can depart for the Academy with peace of mind. Beastie will be staying with Luke for most of the time, but he has a course of his own to attend, so she will also be staying with Rutter.
I've made a full report to the captain about her exploits and I've asked all crew members to report any further sightings of her ... just in case. I think Beastie's a bit miffed about that because she obviously enjoyed her little adventures, but they have to be stopped. Rosie insisted on giving her a medical in case she had been exposed to anything while out and about, and reported back that she was 'in fine health for a cat as heavily obese as she is'. Apparently, 7.5 kilos is not an ideal weight for a cat. She has to shed some of it so she's on a diet too. She's not going to like that at all.
Back to the Academy though, my placement is at San Francisco again, while Al is going to Marseille so I shall be alone this time. Rutter, having completed his penance, isn't going anywhere. I can't say I envy him. I had a fantastic time at the Academy last semester, met lots of new people and made some very good, new friends. I hope to do the same again this time. In the meantime, I'm packed up and ready to go!

Log Entry 140927.116

I wasn't quite sure what Rutter meant by 'stake-out' until he returned from his quarters with a sleeping bag. It soon became obvious that the intention was, between us, one of us would be awake to see how Beastie got out—assuming she made an escape attempt that night of course.
Either way, Rutter made himself comfortable in the front room and I went to bed. I couldn't sleep though, not with Rutter in the next room, the door open and waiting for Beastie to do something.
The hours ticked by ... eleven o'clock ... twelve o'clock ... one o'clock ... two o'clock ... three o'clock ... and then I gave up and got up. I crept into the front room and saw Rutter was awake too. I ambled over and sat beside him, feeling despondent and tired. There was a chill in the air, which is how I like it at night when I'm asleep, but not so pleasant when you're awake. Rutter must have seen me shiver because he sat up and wrapped the sleeping bag around my shoulders.
"She's not going to do anything, is she," I whispered to him.
"There's still time," he whispered back.
Strangely, now out of bed and snuggled up on the sofa with Rutter, I fell asleep, but not for long. A gentle nudge roused me. I looked up and could see Rutter's eyes fixed rigidly upon something. Beastie was up!
She ambled nonchalantly into the front room and turned her head to look at us. We both snapped our eyes shut, pretending to be asleep and waited. After a few moments, Rutter nudged me again. I opened one eye cautiously to find Beastie was now sitting in the bedroom doorway studying her surroundings. A few more moments passed and she got up and began to wander into the front room, stopping and sniffing various things on the way. She looked as though she was bored and preparing for mischief. I was right.
She came and sat in the middle of the room and looked at us again. Once more, we snapped our eyes shut and waited. Opening my eyes just a tiny bit, I waited until Beastie looked away and then gave Rutter a little nudge.
Beastie wandered over to the comfy chair on the other side of the room and jumped up onto it. She circled in the seat as though preparing to nap. Suddenly she dropped down to attend to an urgent cleaning matter at the end of her tail. Then she looked up again, towards us. I was convinced she was checking that we were really asleep because she settled down with her paws tucked under her chest and stared at us for ages, but we didn't give up. Even when my foot, curled underneath me, began to go numb, I didn't move.
Finally, she got up again. She stretched, jumped off the chair, crossed the room and jumped up onto the table. From there, she leapt onto the top of the shelving unit which stands about four feet away from the door. She walked to the end of it and then crouched down, preparing to jump. Her bottom wiggled as she took aim—and then she leapt!
With typical feline grace, she landed on the chair on the other side of the door. Immediately, her head whipped round to look behind her, but I couldn't figure out why.
Her tail lashed the air in annoyance and then she jumped down, crossed the room, jumped up onto the table, then the shelving unit and crossed to the far side. Again, she prepared herself to jump, her bottom wiggling and her tail quivering. She leapt, but it was the same result. She landed on the chair and looked back to where she had come from. I don't know if cats can scowl, but it sure as heck looked like she did!
Again, she got down, crossed the room, mounted the shelving unit and leapt. Each time, she took a little longer in her preparations before making her leap, and each time her jump seemed a little more awkward, as though the leap had to be made precisely, in just one way, but whatever it was she was trying to achieve, she failed time and again. Four, five, six times she tried.
Come the seventh, she stood on the edge of the shelving unit and took even longer in her preparations. She crouched, bottom wiggled, then stood up straight and paced the top of the unit a couple of times before assuming the position again. She did that three times and then on the fourth, I could see she was determined to make the leap. She did. Paws outstretched she flew through the air. As she hit the chair though, the door slid open. In the same instant, she turned and fled.
Somehow, as she had leapt in front of the door, she had managed to hit the sweet spot that activated it.
"Good grief!" exclaimed Rutter. "If I hadn't seen that with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it!"

Log Entry 140920.115

All morning, I've been itching to check out what Beastie's been up to, but I've not had the chance. With half duties assigned, it means that every moment is precious to keep things up to date, and I don't want to leave any loose ends when I leave for the Academy. What I did do though, was stop off at Starboard-7 at the end of my shift. I was walking right by anyway, was thirsty and hadn't forgotten that dish on Karl's shelf.
It was quiet when I walked in with only Karl at the bar, a table of four crew members in a semi-circular booth to one side of the room and another table with Rutter sitting alone, studying a data pad. He was enjoying a raktajino but glanced up as I walked in and smiled.
"Two breaks away in as many days?" he chirped.
I laughed lightly at that.
"Yes, but I'm here for a reason."
"Oh, really," he smiled, getting up and joining me at the bar. "What's that then?"
I turned and pointed towards the dish on the shelf but, to my surprise, there was just an empty space.
Rutter grinned and indicated the party of four.
"Oh!" I repeated but in a lower tone.
The four crew members were eating lunch, laughing and chatting merrily. Perched by the side of them, on the end of the padded seat was Beastie. She was squatting in the way that cats do, munching away at a plate filled with food.
Gobsmacked, I approached, my jaw slightly open. Karl's laughter made me turn to find him standing behind the bar polishing a glass.
"That's Beastie!" I exclaimed, pointing out the obvious.
Rutter slapped me on the back.
"You really have no idea, do you?"
It was a statement rather than a question.
"Idea? About what?"
"About what your cat gets up to."
I gawped at Beastie for a while before I asked the question.
"Is she in here often then?"
"Often enough that she has her own plate," piped up Karl.
"But I feed her. She doesn't need any more food! She'll get fat!"
Karl laughed.
"Get fat? I think she's past that stage."
My face said more than I intended I guess because Rutter suddenly put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze.
"Come on. Let's get you two home."
Having excused Beastie from her dinner guests (much to her protestations), I carried her back to my quarters, Rutter walking with us. Once inside, I put her down. Normally, I would have fed her, but seeing as she'd already eaten, I ignored her demands.
"Tea?" I offered.
Rutter sat on the sofa. Beastie, realising she was going to get nothing from me, went to him and began pirruping, rubbing up against his legs and begging for food. He put down his data pad so he could sweep her up into his arms and cradle her like a baby. As he cooed at her, I pondered how easily Beastie could worm her way into almost everybody's affections, even Rutter's.
"So what's with the collar?" he asked.
"Oh that! It's to track her."
"Excellent idea! So where else has she been?"
"Um, well I know she's been to engineering once or twice," I said, recalling the incident the other day, "and the Captain's quarters, but I only put it on her this morning so I don't know what she's been up to today ... other than Starboard-7."
Rutter, meanwhile, picked up his own data pad and tapped something into it.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Just making a ship wide request to report any sightings of Beastie over the last few weeks—see where else she's been. Can we check the tracker now?"
I put the tea down on the coffee table and picked up my own data pad to call up the tracking program.
"Starboard-7 ... Engineering ... and Sick Bay," I scowled.
"That's not bad for one morning," smiled Rutter, and then he giggled.
"I've got some responses to my query."
"She's a sociable little kitty, isn't she?"
I snatched the data pad from him, but Rutter immediately snatched it back, slapping my hand at the same time. I screwed my face up at him.
"Manners!" he teased.
"Then don't keep me in suspense. Tell me!"
"Well ..." He dragged the word out and then, leisurely, picked up his tea and took a sip. He leaned back into the sofa and crossed his legs. He was stretching this out and thoroughly enjoying it.
"So how many friends do you think Beastie has?"
"Yes. People she visits."
"I wasn't aware she had any until recently—"
"Take a guess."
"I dunno. Ten?"
He motioned with his hand that the number should be higher.
"No!" I exclaimed like a schoolgirl hearing some totally unbelievable gossip.
"Oh yes."
"More? How many more?"
"Well," and he snuggled into the side of me to share his piece of delicious information. "I have sixteen responses—"
"—from crew members."
"What do you mean, from crew members?"
"I mean I have other reports from Sick Bay, Engineering, Starboard-7, Maintenance and Transporter Room Two."
I sighed.
"But how is she getting out? I don't understand it. This room is totally secure!"
"Obviously it's not."
"I know that, but how? I have to find out before I go back to the Academy!"
"Only one way to find out."
I looked at him quizzically.
"We have to do a stake-out!" he said excitedly.

Log Entry 140829.114

I couldn't sleep after that. I knew that I would have to sort out this blessed cat before I left for the Academy in just two days time. So barely an hour later, I was up and performing an in-depth survey of my quarters.
I've done it a dozen times before, but this time I rigged up a tricorder with a sophisticated sonic radar to detect any breaches in the walls. I covered every inch of the place. That included crawling around inside every cupboard and under every piece of furniture. I wasn't entirely surprised to find that the room was quite secure.
I then spent another hour checking every vent, grill and access panel to see if they were loose. They weren't, so unless Beastie has a screwdriver stashed away somewhere, there is no way she can get out through any of those.
It was about that time that my imagination started to get the better of me. I was convinced that with no possible exits to be found, it could only mean that someone must be playing tricks on me.
Was someone coming to my room and letting her out? Where they transporting her out of there? Unless, of course, she wasn't a cat at all!
Maybe she was some weird alien species that was being transported in and out of my room, spying on us all: the Earhart and her crew. Or, maybe, she had been replaced by a morphing species and wasn't Beastie at all. Or maybe I just need a bit more sleep.
Yes. The imagination definitely runs away with you when you're tired but then, even though I knew it was silly, having got the idea fixed in my head, you guessed it, I had to check it out.
Of course, Rosie thought I was crazy and almost rolled on the floor with laughter as I explained my quandary, but he was a love and ran lots of tests on Beastie including an in-depth analysis of her synaptic pathways and brain rhythm to determine that, yep, you got it, she is just a cat! A normal, bog-standard feline ... although she does have quite a high IQ for a cat! Rosie therefore suggested that because she was such a smart cat, she was probably just outfoxing me!
Hmm. Not happy at that suggestion, so I returned to my quarters and cobbled together a cat collar with various bits from a communicator badge to track the little minx.
Ha! Let's see Beastie outsmart me now!

Log Entry 140827.113

I left Starboard-7 quite late last night, fed Beastie and then snuggled up in bed with her enveloped in my arms like a teddy bear. We both fell asleep quite quickly, and the last thing I expected was to be awoken a few hours later, but I was.
As my brain stumbled out of slumber, it took me a minute to work out what had awoken me, but the insistent chiming of my door soon brought me to my senses. I looked at the clock. It was 03:17.
Groggily, I got to my feet wondering who the heck it could be, and as the bell chimed urgently, three more times in quick succession, I asked myself sarcastically what emergency came without ship wide claxons and sirens. As the door slid open, I found out and gasped.
Stood before me was T'Roc, an expression of controlled but deep irritation carved into her Klingon features and probably the worst case of bed-head I've ever witnessed. The impression was only softened by her sateen pyjamas. Kimono style, they were fuchsia pink with a lime green ivy design twisting and curling its way down the right-hand side. It had a matching green border and belt too—odd attire for a Klingon, I thought.
"Yes?" I asked timidly.
"Your bloody cat!" and she thrust a bundle of fur at me. I have no idea how I hadn't noticed the great, fluffy bundle in her arms, but I had.
"Beastie!" I screeched and then turned to stare at my bedroom door, which was where I thought she was.
"YOUR BLOODY CAT!" she hollered angrily and pushed Beastie into my arms.
Beastie looked very pleased with herself. She pirruped and purred and pushed her head hard against my chest while T'Roc stomped off, barefoot.
"Thank you!" I shouted after her meekly.
A dismissive wave of her hand told me she had heard, but how had Beastie got out? And how did she get into the captain's quarters?

Log Entry 140823.112

We arrived in Starboard-7 hotly speculating what had prompted Jarrod to dismiss us from our studies without explanation. We half expected to find something going on, but no, it was all quite normal and casual in there.
Karl was at the bar, serving drinks as always. A good number of the crew were engaged in chitchat, and Rutter was embroiled in a very serious looking game of dominoes with—of all people—T'Roc.
Rutter was scowling dreadfully as he peered at his tiles. He toyed with one, turning it over and over in his hand. Finally he knocked, unable to lay anything, to which T'Roc let out a triumphant roar and put down her last piece. Rutter grinned. I could tell he was quietly pleased that T'Roc had won—not that he would have let her win! Rutter wasn't the sort to throw a game. No, T'Roc would have won that game fair and square.
Grinning widely, T'Roc got up, slapped Rutter on the shoulder and approached the bar. She was looking so triumphant anyone would have thought she'd just won the Forcas III bat'leth tournament, not a simple game of dominoes.
"Ah!" she suddenly shouted, spotting Al and I. "Glad you could join us! Karl!" she shouted. "Drinks for the bookworms!" and then she promptly disappeared, joining some officers at another table.
Al and I, still flummoxed, went to the bar where Rutter joined us. Still curious as to why Jarrod would have been so insistent that we take a night off from our studies, I had to ask, but Rutter just shrugged, took his drink and returned to his dominoes.
"Actually, that's down to me," said a voice from behind.
I turned.
"Rosie!" I exclaimed.
He scowled furiously at me and then proceeded to order his round.
"I really do wish you wouldn't call me that," he grumbled. "Makes me feel like an acne-ridden, spotty teenager again."
A secretive smile passed over his lips as some distant memory came back to him, and Karl grinned as he delivered Rosie's drinks.
"It doesn't feel like a bad feeling from here," Karl teased. Rosie actually blushed at the Betazoid.
"How's it down to you then?" I demanded.
"Huh? Oh, yes. Well, I hadn't seen you around for a while so I asked a few questions and found out you'd been hard at it since the captain gave you the extra time off. I figured you needed some proper downtime so made a recommendation to the captain."
I couldn't interrogate further as the last of his drinks arrived and Rosie scurried off.
"What can I get you?" asked Karl.
Food was easy and I ordered, but to drink, I couldn't decide. My eyes scanned the array of bottles on the back bar as I debated.
"Surprise me," I suddenly said. Karl grinned and turned away to make me something. Meanwhile, my gaze settled upon something odd. Among the glasses on the top shelf, a little, shiny, silver dish was on display. Leaning against the wall, I could clearly see the caricature of a cat's face etched into its surface. How curious!
"What's the cat's dish for?" I asked when Karl returned.
He looked at me, puzzled.
"Feeding the cat, silly!"
"I didn't know you had a cat."
"I don't."
"Oh," I said, confused. "So who else has a cat then? I thought Beastie was the only one on board."
"So did I!" he laughed, delivered our drinks and immediately turned to his next customer. I was determined to ask more questions, but it would have to wait. My food had arrived and I was hungry. After that, I just forgot. Not to worry, I can always ask him tomorrow.

Log Entry 140816.111

Our studies have been progressing really well. With the extra time T'Roc has given us, we've been able to crack on. Yesterday evening though, Al and I had both just settled down for our next stint. I was just immersing myself into Warp Core Safety when my door chimed. We both looked up and stared at each other.
"Expecting anyone?" asked Al, but she knew from my face that I wasn't.
I answered the door and to my surprise found Jarrod on the doorstep. She smiled at me (never a good sign).
"Can I come in?" she asked.
In Jarrod terms, 'can I come in' means 'I'm coming in', so I stepped off to one side, her smile expanding unnervingly. Even Al stood up as she entered.
"No, no. Take a seat, cadet," she smiled. "You too, Jenny."
We sat like mannequins as she circled the desk looking at our work, with Al and I flashing nervous glances at each other.
What should we do? Carry on working? Invite her to join us? Did she want to discuss our progress? Had we done something wrong?
She coughed lightly, revelling in our discomfort.
"Catching up?" she asked quietly.
"Yes, thank you," we chorused.
"Jolly good, but when was the last time you did something fun or relaxing?"
Ay? What? Pardon?
Her eyes repeated the question, but Al and I just sat there, dumb.
"I thought so. Well, as they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so put your books away and get yourself off to Starboard-7 for the evening. Have a couple of drinks, grab something to eat. Chill."
"Chill?" I enquired.
"Yes. Chill."
But we just sat there like idiots.
"That's an order," she said sternly, her eyes narrowing to enforce that wicked smile of hers.
Still shocked by the order, we remained glued to our seats. As she tipped her head to one side though, we suddenly fled like frightened children causing a kerfuffle in our wake. Al knocked the table and various pads hit the floor. As we scrabbled to pick them up, we banged heads. We screamed and a loud tut from Jarrod made me snort with laughter, which earned me a whack on the shoulder from Al. I squealed in mock pain.
"Are you actually going to go, or are you just going to hide under the table and hope I don't notice you?" Jarrod demanded.
"Going," I assured her.
Finally, we managed to throw the pads back onto the desk and headed to the door. It opened and Al fled out first, but I waited. Jarrod followed slowly, looking at me sceptically.
"Forgotten something?" she asked.
"I've got to make sure Beastie doesn't get out," I explained pointing to the cat.
Jarrod smiled.
"Probably a good idea," her head nodding and her whole face smiled with sarcasm.
What did she mean by that? But we didn't have time to think about it. With Beastie on the right side of the door and the door sealed, we were chivvied off to Starboard-7 giggling like school kids.

Log Entry 140803.110

Well, that was odd!
In order to complete an Academy assignment about warp technology, I decided to pick Midas's brains. With his specialist field being in propulsion, he was bound to be able to assist, so I gave Beastie a tickle under the chin and then set off down to engineering where he was stationed.
Sure enough, there he was. With the consent of his commander, he helped me unravel the finer points of warp technology that were confusing me. Indeed, at one point, I had four engineers around me merrily discussing the various aspects of warp frequencies, pulses and eddies. I found it quite difficult to follow at times as the techno-babble flew through the air like a super-charged racquetball! But I got there in the end. I thanked everybody for their help and was about to leave when Ensign Ketterick piped up, "Don't forget your cat."
What an odd thing to say?
I turned and looked at her quizzically. She pointed towards the Chief Engineer's office. Frowning with curiosity, I approached the open doorway and looked inside.
There, sitting in the middle of his desk with one leg in the air while she cleaned her tummy, was Beastie.
"What?" I exclaimed aloud and scratched my head, obviously confused.
"What's wrong?" asked Midas.
"But ... but ... but I left her in my quarters! How'd she get here?"
Midas cast me a funny look.
"She's often here," he explained.
"Yeah," added Ketterick. "I think she likes Lt Commander Logan's aftershave," and she laughed.
I screwed my face up, perplexed by the conundrum.
"But I know I left her in my quarters!"
Engineering ground to a halt as everybody stopped what they were doing to look at me.
"Well, she's here now," replied Ketterick.
"No. That's impossible! I mean..."
Midas looked deeply concerned and then smiled warmly at me.
"She must be faster on her feet than you give her credit for. She's obviously slipping past you without you knowing."
"But ..."
"Unless the vents in your quarters—"
"No, the vents are secure," I interrupted. "Trust me, bearing in mind that's how she remained undetected on the Drakonia for as long as she did, I make double sure that they're properly fixed."
"Then she must be slipping past you. The doors will not open at her command."
I sighed. He was right. That must be what was happening, but I don't see how. I always make sure she's settled and secure before I go.

Log Entry 140727.109

The next morning when I checked my messages, I found a summons from the Captain. I cussed under my breath. I could do without that. I had enough on my plate already without taking on whatever new little tasks T'Roc had in store for me. When I bumped into Al on the way there though, we both knew what the summons was about. That damned Rutter! He'd grassed us up!
Sure enough, as we entered the captain's ready room, Rutter was there, sitting informally on the sofa to one side of the room. The Captain was there too, relaxed in the swivel chair behind her desk, her arm splayed over the back of it, but her eyes were hard and unyielding.
We stood to attention before her. She did not tell us to stand at ease, which spoke reams.
"Right then, ladies. It has come to my attention that you are somewhat behind on your studies."
I couldn't argue the point, even though my brain was screaming for me to blurt out, 'yes, time has got away from us but we've been a bit preoccupied saving an entire civilisation and bringing peace to a race that have been at war for generations,' but T'Roc already knew that, so saying it would be futile. I did, however, afford Rutter a glare that could kill.
"And there's no point you glowering at Rutter. If anything, he's done you a favour because you can't afford to neglect your studies. Yes, you have been a little busy. Yes, you have saved a world—" could she read my mind? "—but as an officer of Starfleet, you need to know how to organize your time, how to prioritise, and sometimes that means squeezing a thirty-hour day into a standard Terran twenty-four hours." She chuckled lightly and added under her breath, "No pun intended."
She paused, saying nothing for a good while, and then she stood up and began to pace the room. She turned and stared out of the window for a while too, watching as the stars streaked past us.
"But in this instance," she finally said, "I'm going to cut you some slack."
She turned to face us again. I won't say she had anger in her eyes; it was more cross than angry—the sort of cross a parent saves for a naughty toddler.
"But trust me, I'm only going to do this once because, like Rutter, I too have something to lose if you fail at the Academy, but don't think I'm going to favour you; I'm not. I am many things but not soft ... and like yourselves, I was also once young and stupid, but that's probably where the similarity ends because, despite my mixed blood and the lack of acceptance by some of my kinsmen, I was raised by a very passionate Klingon mother who loved me dearly, and a very logical Vulcan father who adored me, despite whatever fancy terminology he decided to label it with to de-emotionalise it. They were ... as you would say, Jenny ... in my corner."
She laughed again and her face warmed.
"When I was six years old—"
It was odd how T'Roc would melt into the warm embrace of a memory and share it in seemingly, the most inappropriate of circumstances. Not at all Klingon, Vulcan or Starfleet, but regardless, you always knew it was something worth listening to.
"—at breakfast one morning I announced that I wanted to be a hairdresser. My Mother gave me such a scowl, but my father? He didn't turn a hair. He didn't even deign to look up from his breakfast as he spoke.
"'There are people in life who seek out adventure but it is not for everyone. Some become mere pilots who guide us to new worlds, or scientists who make great discoveries in their field, or medics who heal and save lives. There are even great Warriors,' his eyes did not move to my Mother, but the sentiment was made on her behalf, 'who will fight for their nation, inspiring their soldiers and protecting their people, freedom and way of life ... and then there are those that will cut hair.'
"He said no more than that, and he didn't need to. Suddenly, I didn't want to be a hairdresser anymore. Suddenly, I wanted to be," she roared with Klingon laughter. "And that's another tale. The thing is, he never actually said no to me, because he understood his child."
She turned and smiled mischievously at me.
"As I understand mine."
A strange mixture of emotions swirled through me. I was both offended and touched at the same time.
"So, I'm putting you both on half-shifts until the Academy. In return though, I expect you both to excel," and she threw us one of her hardened, smug smiles.
"Dismissed!" she suddenly barked, indicating that the meeting was over and that debate was not an option.
"Thank you," I whimpered pathetically as we left the room with Rutter bringing up the rear.
Once the door had shushed behind us, he coughed. We turned and looked at him. We both knew we should thank him, but neither of us wanted to.
"You bugger this up now," he lectured, waggling a finger at us, "and I'll flog you to the first Orion slave traders I can find, and trust me! No one will miss you!"
Al pulled a face of mock affection.
"Awww!" she cooed and then threw her arms around him. "We love you, Rutter!" she tormented in a silly voice.
Rutter hastily fought her off and pushed her away.
"Don't take the Mickey!" he chastised, pulling at the hem of his jacket to recompose himself before stomping off.
"Thank you, sir!" we both chorused after him. He returned our thanks with a two-fingered salute.

Log Entry 140720.108

My first shift back involved shifting the mountain of administration that had accumulated while I was on Risa. Not that I could clear it all in one shift, but I could organise it into projects and then tackle each one in turn. Overall, it was a very productive day but while normally, I would have been happy to stay on and do a bit more, I had more pressing matters to attend to: studying.
Al and I were both finishing our shifts at the same time, so we arranged to meet and study together at my place. Indeed, I had only been home fifteen minutes when the door chimed. I bid her to enter and she bundled in through the door with an armful of study material. We had a number of courses in common or that crossed over, but more than anything we were hoping that if we worked in the same room, it would focus our attention onto studying, and it worked.
While Al organised our work area on the desk in the middle of the room, I prepared a quick, easy meal via the replicator. Nothing too complicated and something we could munch on as we worked. We were soon sitting down on opposite sides of the table, knuckling under. We worked in silence most of the time, only lifting our heads to pick each other's brains or swap ideas.
At one point, the door chimed. We looked up and our eyes met for a moment. The unspoken communication made, we ignored it and returned to our books.
An hour later and the door chimed again. This time we didn't even look up, but a few moments later, it sounded again ... and again ... and again.
We tutted in unison knowing we'd have to answer it. I sighed heavily as I got up and opened the door to Rutter.
"Everything okay?" he asked, swanning into the room, his eyes scanning for anomalies.
"Yes. Just studying."
"I assume you don't have a problem with that?" added Al, an air of sarcasm in her voice.
"No problem at all. Just wondered where you were," and he picked up one of my datapads. His eyes narrowed as he looked at it. He frowned.
"Um, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the introduction to Klingon physiology at the beginning of the xenobiology course?"
I snatched the datapad from him.
His eyes wandered over to Al who refused to look up at him.
"Okay ... so just how far behind are you two?"
"What concern is it of yours?" asked Al, deigning to look up from her work.
Rutter grabbed the back of her chair and swung it round to make her face him. He bent down to look her square in the eye for added effect.
"Your failures are my failures, remember!" he said sternly into her face. "So it's very much my concern!"
I was amazed. A year ago, this type of situation could easily have turned into another brawl between the two of them. As it was, this was a Starfleet officer talking to a junior member. He really had grown up in the last year.
So had Al. She took a deep breath, a habit she had taken to when controlling her Klingon temper. She cleared her throat before she spoke.
"In all honesty?" she asked. He didn't respond. She continued. "Not a lot. We were a bit busy saving a planet."
Rutter straightened up and addressed me.
"And you?"
"Pretty much the same boat," I confessed, looking somewhat shamefaced.
"And how long have you got before you return to the Academy?"
"Three weeks," we chorused.
Rutter rolled his eyes before dropping his head into his hands.
"Brilliant!" he exclaimed softly and left us.
We looked at each other for a moment, but there was nothing to say, so we buried our heads back into our work.

Log Entry 140713.107

It was good to be back aboard the Earhart. It was doubly good to be greeted as warmly as I was by Beastie. She warbled and pirruped as she madly wrapped herself around my caressing hands, and rubbed up against my face as I lay on the bed fussing her.
Having spent a good half hour devoting my affections to Beastie, I turned my attention to more pressing matters. I checked my rota and was delighted to find that I didn't have a duty shift for another twelve hours. It meant that catching up on the sleep I had missed last night would take me neatly into my new 'time zone', so as fatigue began to claw at me and slumber begged to be indulged, I fell happily under its spell without any sense of guilt. I welcomed Morpheus's warm embrace.
* * * * *
The gentle warbling of the internal communications system stirred me. Bleary eyed, it took me a moment to get my bearings though. The enormous, fat, brown tribble camped on my pillow, smothering my face didn't help. Usually, Beastie slept in her own little bed that was perched on a unit in the corner of the room, a spot she had chosen to favour herself.
I reached over to the comms system and tapped the channel open.
"Have you checked your mail yet?" It was Al.
"Nah," I muttered.
"You should."
"Why?" I yawned.
I didn't want to move. I wanted to go back to sleep. I'd been having such a lovely dream although, as the seconds passed, the memory of it was slipping away from me. Desperately, I tried to recall it, to recapture it so that I could slip back into it.
"Our orders are in."
"You should read them."
"Yeah. Later."
"Now." There was an urgency in her voice.
I sighed despondently and explained, "I've looked at my rota and I don't need to be anywhere for another ..." I checked the time, "eight hours."
"If you're in the same boat as me, your next shift is the least of your worries."
"Boat?" My mind was still fuddled by slumber.
"Yes, boat. Are you listening to me?" There was a long pause while Al waited for an answer that wasn't coming. "Have you done any of the Academy work you were set?"
"A bit. Why?"
"For crying out loud, Jen!" Al screamed, finally losing her temper with me. "Slap yourself awake, get your idle butt out of bed and read your flipping mail!"
"Oh, all right!" I moaned and heaved myself upright.
I yawned widely and rubbed my sleepy eyes trying to get them to focus. Beastie gave a small yowl of discontent as I nudged her out of the way.
My eyes soon picked up on the message Al was concerned about. It was from the Starfleet Cadet Development Coordinator instructing me to report to Starfleet Academy, San Francisco in ...
"Three weeks!" I screamed.
"I know!"
"But there's s'posed to be nine months between our stints at the Academy!"
"And it's been over eight months already!"
"Oh, knickers! I've done bugger all!"
"Ditto! That's why I'm panicking! We've got just three weeks to cram nine months of study into!"
"Oh, nuts!"
"What we gonna do, Jen?"
I thought for a moment.
"Well I'm going back to sleep."
"SLEEP! How can you sleep?"
"Easily. I'm tired."
"But we have to study!"
"Yeah, but not now. I need to sleep first, then I have a shift to do and then I'll worry about studying."
"What! Are you mad?"
"No, but a few more hours isn't going to make a scrap of difference in the big scheme of things."
"No buts. Fretting isn't going to achieve anything so I'm going to prioritise: sleep, work, study. Night, Al!" and I flicked the comms channel shut somewhere in the middle of Al's next sentence. I sighed, threw myself back onto the pillow and allowed myself to drift back into a soothing, deep slumber.