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?