Log Entry 150124.133

"I am Lieutenant Commander Peter Targo of the USS Persephone. Six months ago, the Persephone was all but destroyed when we responded to a distress call—but that's another story. The point is, I was caught in a massive explosion when our port nacelle was ripped away. It resulted in my suffering multiple fractures, severe internal injuries as well as extensive plasma and subnucleonic radiation burns.
"The broken bones and internal injuries were the easy bit for the doctors to deal with. It was the plasma burns complicated by radiation that made treatment problematic. It has been both extensive and unpleasant. As it is, I live in constant pain to one degree or another. Most of the time it's bearable with the help of painkillers and suchlike, but at others ..." His words trailed off as he paused.
"The worst thing is sleep. The pain keeps me awake, and when I do fall asleep, the minute I turn over, it all flares up again. I could take more drugs but they make me sick, so I usually get up and go for a walk in the middle of the night. It's calming, therapeutic, and the cool night air is soothing against my burning skin."
He lifted his head gazing off to some far away place, his eyes misting over.
"And then one night, I was thirsty so I went into this little bar, Bejazzled ... and that's when I heard her sing for the first time. Have you heard her sing?"
I nodded.
"She was bewitching. I ordered a beer and sat and listened to her for the rest of the evening. It was only afterwards, when I was on my way home that I realised how good I felt. I was happy, but why? Because I wasn't in pain. I wasn't miraculously cured or anything like that, but the distraction had taken my mind off it. It was the first relief I'd had in nearly a year so the next evening I went back, and the next, and the next, and the next.
"Then one night, Lizzy ... Bella ... at the end of the night, she came over to me. She had seen me there every night and was ... well, concerned. I think I was freaking her out a bit, but she's got such guts. She just came right up to me, sat herself down at my table and asked me straight out. 'I'm surely not so fascinating as to warrant your attention every night,' she said. So I told her my story just as I'm telling you, and we became friends, really good friends. We'd chat about anything."
Tears suddenly welled in his eyes and he sniffed hard to stifle the emotion.
"And that's why I know she wouldn't just up and leave. She would have said something. And she was so excited about her gig at the Byzantium. She would never have cancelled that. I'm telling you, she's been abducted and that Steven Firth has something to do with it."
"Her guardian."
Peter pulled a face.
"She was frightened of Firth."
He shook his head.
"I don't know. She wouldn't tell me. She was vague about things like that: family stuff."
"What do you know about her parents?"
He pulled another face.
"Nothing. I think she's an orphan."
"So you didn't talk about her family."
"No. Did she talk to you about them?"
I shook my head. "To be frank, I barely knew her. I only met her a handful of times."
"Then why were you snooping around cybernetics? Why are you asking after her too?"
So I told him of my experiences.
"I don't know what's going on," I explained, "but nothing fits ... and as for the hairbrush saga. Why is a hairbrush so important? Why would someone come in here for that? What value is it? It's a hairbrush for goodness sake?"
Peter's eyes narrowed in concentration and his eyes flitted from side to side as he thought.
"DNA," he finally said.
"Yes. That's the only thing I can think of. DNA. It'll have Lizzy's DNA on it."
I thought silently for a while.
"And they want to hide who she is. Do you think Lizzy might be someone important?"
"Or related to someone important."
"So if we analysed that DNA, we could find out who she is."
"Or find other family members. Do you still have it?"
I got up and opened the drawer where I kept it. Spotting something even better, I turned and smiled triumphantly.
"What?" he asked.
I held the hairbrush up in one hand and then magically produced the toothbrush in the other.
"Is that hers too?"
Peter stood up and came over to examine the two items.
"This is fantastic. Can I take them?"
Alarms bells suddenly went off. Wasn't this just what Steven Firth wanted?
"No," I said bluntly.
"Oh." He looked disappointed, so I told him why.
"Fair comment. Then how about I pick you up tomorrow morning and we'll take it to a lab and do an analysis together?"

Log Entry 150110.132

Boothby's slacking. There are thistles in his borders. I know this because I sat on one!
Having fought my way out of the bushes, I wandered back to my room, pulling leaves and twigs out of my hair and rubbing my very sore behind. I really did look as though I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards—which effectively I had—and I attracted some very odd looks on the way.
The door to my room whooshed open and I stepped inside, relieved to be in its sanctuary and away from staring eyes. Immediately, though, all the hairs on the back of my neck began to prickle. Something was amiss.
My eyes scanned the room.
Was I being paranoid?
No. It was a smell. I could smell aftershave, and it sure as hell wasn't mine!
Gently, I slid the datapad onto my bedside cabinet and tip-toed further into the room.
Had Steven Firth been in here again? Maybe he had sent one of his minions to root through my stuff again?
My eyes homed in on the crack between the doors on Lizzy's wardrobe. It was a smidge larger than it should be; it wasn't quite shut.
Anger filled me, not fear, and my eyes narrowed. Silently, I approached the wardrobe. Gently, I reached out and took the handle. With one swift movement, I hurled the door open. Instantly, a man launched an attack, hurling himself at me, but it was no contest. He didn't know what hit him.
As he leapt from the wardrobe, his hands outstretched, I had ducked and twisted, grabbing his wrist at the same time. With a beautifully executed be'joy' cha'par, he was flipped over like a pancake and landed flat on his back. A quick pa' Sor yoDSutmey tuQ, and I had him rolled onto his stomach, one arm yanked high up into the air and my foot wedged into the back of his neck. Urtok would have been quite proud of me. I know I was!
His screams of unbridled pain began to filter through. Perhaps I shouldn't lever his arm up quite so high. As I released the pressure, his screeches began to subside, withering into shattered gasps and sobs.
"Okay, pal! So who are you and what do you want?" I demanded. "You're certainly no cadet!"
That much was certain. Putting aside his age, if he had been Starfleet trained, I wouldn't have floored him quite so easily, I'm sure.
"Peter," he whimpered. "Peter Targo. Ouch! You're hurting me."
It was such a pitiful plea, but it could equally have been a ruse to persuade me to release him. It worked, though, because there were tears in his eyes—tears of pain judging by the expression on his face.
"Okay, but one wrong move, buddy, and you'll be back on the floor with your arms and legs tied up in an ornamental bow. Got it?"
"Got it," he agreed.
Cautiously, I let go and backed off. He lowered his arm sympathetically to the floor before rolling onto his buttocks and shuffling off to lean against Lizzy's bed.
"Thank you," he whispered, rubbing his shoulder and stretching his neck exposing a vicious, red scar. It run from under his jaw and disappeared under his uniform. It looked like a particularly savage plasma burn to me.
"Okay," I said, sitting on the edge of my bed. "So your name is Peter Targo, but who are you and what do you want? You're certainly not a student here."
"Not now, no."
"Ah! So you dropped out."
"NO! I passed with honours, I'll have you know!" He was quite indignant.
"Then why the cadet uniform?"
"Because ... because ... because I'm not supposed to be here."
"Where are you supposed to be?"
"On recuperative leave," and he sighed, pulling at the neck of his uniform to reveal more of the raw scar tissue.
"Plasma burn," I diagnosed.
"With a bit of subnucleonic radiation for good measure." My face screwed in sympathetic pain. "It's not healing well, so I've been given an extended leave of absence while I undergo treatment."
"Okay, but that doesn't explain why you're rooting through my room."
"I'm looking for Bella ... Lizzy."
"She's not here."
"No, I can see that—and that's just it. She's nowhere."
I tipped my head and studied the chap. His face was familiar. He was average height and typical Starfleet build; a man who exercised so was in good shape, but didn't go overboard. He was a little older than me—actually, I suspected he had a good ten years on me, but the years had been kind to him, other than the burn that is. He had a pleasant, angular face and was clean shaven with short, sandy coloured hair tousling about his face.
"Aren't you the guy I saw the other day? You waved?"
"Yeah, that was me. I could see you were getting suspicious. I thought if I pretended to wave at somebody, you'd ignore me."
"You've been following me!"
"No! Yes! I mean no!"
"Make your mind up."
"I need to find Bella."
"Because she's been abducted!"
There. Someone had said it. Someone had said out loud the thing that had been at the back of my mind all this time.
I drew a really long, deep breath and lowered myself onto the floor opposite him, my posture mimicking his.
"Abducted? You know this?"
"Because she would NEVER have cancelled her gig at the Byzantium. "
I was expecting more, but nothing came.
"Is that it?" I demanded.
He chewed on the inside of his mouth.
"No," he finally admitted. "I just know her."
"What? Are you her boyfriend or something?"
He shook his head.
"I wish, but no. It's more complicated than that."
He sighed deeply.
"I really do think you'd better start talking," I urged.
"Okay, but just listen until the end before you judge me."
I agreed, and so he began.

Log Entry 150104.131

Sometimes, it's the smallest of things that niggle at you, that worm away in the back of your mind, distracting you from your chores. For me, it was my hairbrush. It was my hairbrush, stolen from me, and I wanted it back! So after my calisthenics class, I popped over to the cybernetics building to search out Firth and retrieve it.
I'd half expected the building to be locked up, it being so late, but it wasn't, although it seemed to be deserted. I entered and went straight to the lecture hall. It was empty, but I called out nonetheless. There was no answer, so I went behind the lectern and through the doorway into the storage area. No one there either.
I left and tried the next door along the corridor, which bore a plate identifying it as 'Cybernetics Laboratory Alpha'. It didn't open as I approached. Further investigation proved that it was locked up for the night. Oh, well. I'd just have to wait until morning, so I made my way back towards the entrance. On the way, though, I heard voices so diverted towards them instead.
The corridor turned to the left. I stopped and peered around it just in time to see two people disappear through a door at the far end. I scuttled after them, still incensed at the theft of my hairbrush, but ground to a halt at a door marked 'Doctor Steven Firth, Director of Cybernetics and Robotics'.
I gazed at it blankly. When it whooshed open of its own accord, I nearly jumped out of my skin, but found I had stepped inside before I had even considered it.
The door closed quietly behind me, and I found myself alone in a huge office that housed a conference table and chairs, as well as Steven Firth's own desk and seat. A row of large, brown boxes were lined up on the conference table, but I didn't question them further. I had spied my hairbrush, taking pride of place in the centre of Steven Firth's desk.
I strode up to it and stared at it. It looked almost ceremonial, the way it had been placed in the dead centre of the blotter, its edge parallel with the edge of the desk. But it was MY hairbrush, so I snatched it up, turned swiftly and began to make my exit, but stopped. Something had caught my eye.
The boxes on the table were made of cardboard substitute but were styled like the old-fashioned ones, with flaps that folded down to seal them. They hadn't been secured though, so the flaps were only half shut, and from underneath one of the boxes flaps, I could see vivid blue—and I swear it had sequins on it!
Curiosity ... and dread ... filled me as I approached the box and pulled the flaps open. Inside, neatly folded was Lizzy's beautiful blue gown. I reached out and stroked it, memories of Lizzy singing at Bejazzled rushing back to me and filling me with sadness.
I lifted the corner of the dress and found another one beneath it. In fact the box was full of all of Lizzy's dresses. The box next to it contained her shoes, and the one beside that various bags and shawls. The last box contained her study materials.
My mind began to race. If Lizzy had gone back home, why wouldn't she take her stuff with her? If it was simply a case that they were going to be sent on to her later, why hadn't that been done already?
Suddenly, I heard voices and panicked. I shouldn't be there. I had to disappear, so I ran back to Steven Firth's desk at the end of the room and ducked beneath it. The voices grew louder as I sat huddled, my mind madly turning things over and over, clutching my hairbrush to my chest.
The hairbrush! If they missed it, they'd know I was there!
Quickly I leaned out from my hidey hole and place my hairbrush back on Steven's blotter, taking great care to line it up as he had done, and then I ducked back under the desk, and just in time.
"I plan to do the transfer on Friday," said Steven.
"What if it doesn't work?" replied a second voice, a woman's, as she slammed her stuff onto the table.
"Nothing lost. If we successfully transfer the data from Alpha-B9's positronic data storage unit into the backup unit, wipe it and then do a full restore and find its characteristics are retained then we have achieved our objective. If, on the other hand, Alpha-B9 ends up as nothing more than a standard IT unit, we're just back where we were before we animated it ... and we know we can recreate Alpha-B9."
"True," sighed the woman. "It just seems a little heartless. I quite liked Alpha-B9."
"Good grief! Is that the time? Come along, we'll be late for the Academy Board meeting at this rate."
There was a certain amount of scurrying and scuttling as one of the pair collected whatever they needed for the meeting and then they left the room. I, meanwhile, remained under the desk, thinking—until it dawned on me that they'd be locking up the building and then I'd be stuck in there for the night!
Quickly, I pulled myself out from under the desk and ran towards the door. As I passed the boxes, though, I stopped, reached into the one that held Lizzy's datapads and educational materials and pulled out her personal pad before I fled.
It took the minimum of stealth to get past Firth and his friend. They both went into the lecture hall, so I shot past and out of the front door as quickly as possible. They were hot on my heels though, so I had to dive into a bed of hydrangeas to avoid them. God help me if Boothby ever found me out!
My heart was pounding furiously in my chest as I heard the two pass me by. What was I doing? What was I thinking? I had no idea. All I knew was that Lizzy's datapad was more important than my hairbrush!

Log Entry 141228.130

Well, that just takes the biscuit! Having had the conversation with Steven Firth about the hairbrush, and having specifically said that no, I wasn't going to leave it out for someone to come rummaging in my quarters when I'm not there and pick it up, I get back and find that some bugger's done just that!
And to add insult to injury, they didn't take Lizzy's hairbrush either! They took mine! I'm so flipping mad, I can't begin to express it! Grrrr!