Log Entry 150830.153

That evening, I returned to my quarters battered and bruised. I wasn't sure what I wanted more: a shower to ease my pain, or to lie down and rest my weary body. It was entirely my own fault though. Urtok was merely teaching me another important lesson in tolerance.
Entering my quarters, I paused to note that Lizzy's stuff had gone. It was peeving that its absence served to remind me yet again of the Buffalo saga, but I pushed it quickly from my mind before heading into the bathroom.
The shower proved as refreshing as I had hoped and I emerged feeling somewhat less pained. I donned a pair of loose slacks and a baggy t-shirt before settling myself cross-legged on the bed with a hairdryer. As my mousey-brown hair was tousled by the hot hair, I debated chopping it all off. It was such a pain primping and preening it every morning, and it was usually fighting its way out of the bun or ponytail I fought it into by lunchtime. I didn't fancy a bob, I knew that much, but what then? Bairn had sported a delightful pixie cut and wondered if that would suit me too.
I began messing around, winding my hair around the hairbrush to see what I might look like with a different style until, being the prat that I am, I got the brush tangled in my hair. I pulled frantically on it, but it was stuck fast.
"Oh bum!" I said aloud and got up to look for a comb to help me tease it out, but was interrupted by the door chime.
"And double bum!" I mumbled under my breath. "Who is it?" I shouted.
"Peter Targo!"
I sighed heavily and opened the door. Standing in the doorway, with the hairbrush still entangled and dangling down the side of my face, I scowled at him.
"Be warned, I'm not having a good day."
Peter sucked in his lips to hide the smirk that was spreading across his face.
"So I see. Need a hand?"
"Harrumph. Was hairdressing an ancillary course that you took at the Academy then?" I teased with good humour.
"No, but having seven sisters makes me eminently qualified."
He tipped his head in acknowledgement.
"Yes. Personally speaking, I feel my childhood would have been much simpler if my mother had been content with just one or two siblings for me, but I ended up with seven."
"Younger or older?"
"All younger, so I spent far too much time cleaning mucky faces and untangling matted hair."
Peter pushed past me and swept a chair out from under the workstation and signalled to me to sit on it, which I did, and he began to tease my hair out of the brush. I have to say, he was very gentle.
"So, I take it Lizzy sent you."
"Send? Not exactly, but just as untangling hair is a skill one learns with seven sisters so is mediation."
I groaned.
"You know you're both as bad as each other," he said.
"We are not!" I exclaimed in retaliation.
"Yes you are. You both have regrets over what happened—not the way it turned out, but the way events unfolded. Things were said that perhaps would have been better unsaid, but said they were and no one can change that."
"I told her that I was happy to talk if she wanted to, but at my convenience, not hers, so where is she?"
"Working. You know that."
"And now you're being as childish as she is."
I opened my mouth to argue, but Peter gripped my shoulder firmly, halting me.
"Oh, the pair of you! You're both so like my sisters. You bitch and you bicker. You dig your heels in so hard until neither of you can remember exactly what it is that you were arguing about, and still you won't budge. The reason you were arguing, as valid as it was at the time, is lost amidst the anger."
"You sound like a Vulcan."
"I'll take that as a compliment. But the thing is Lizzy is struggling with her new life. She now has a future and is free to make her own choices. These are things she never thought she'd have, and she's trying to get to grips with all of that. She questions herself every day; whether the decisions she has made are the right ones. Should she have married me? Am I her one true love?"
I could tell he was quoting Lizzy there.
"I know she's asking herself if she should stay married to me, and I can't blame her. She didn't really have an option if she wanted to attend the hearing. And then she has to decide if she should continue her singing career, or should she try her hand at something else? She's even talked about finishing her Academy training ..."
I wasn't sure if I believed that.
"... and amongst it all, there's you."
"Yes. She's finding it hard to forgive you—NOT—" he interrupted me, "—that you did anything to be forgiven for, but this is all new territory for Lizzy. She's on an emotional rollercoaster."
"So what do you want me to do?"
"That's right. I want you to just sweep the past behind you and move on."
"That's what I'm trying to do."
"But it's eating away at you. I can tell."
"You reckon?"
"Seven sisters, remember."
I harrumphed again.
"Anyway, what I'm saying is Lizzy can't sort out her own head at the moment. She needs time. She does feel bad about what she said, but she feels she can't forgive you, not yet anyway. She knows that there isn't really anything to forgive, but she feels what she feels. In time, though, I think she'll come round and then, I think she'll want to make amends, but don't ask me how long that will take. There you go," and he passed me my hairbrush.
I sighed deeply as Peter came and sat before me, perching on the edge of the bed. I felt bad, not about me and Lizzy, but that Lizzy seemed to have doubts about Peter. That wasn't fair. He was besotted with her, but was she besotted with him?
"You look miserable," he observed.
I threw him a pained smile.
"At the hearing, I thought she had found her happy ever after with you."
Peter pulled a face.
"But I should know better," I continued. "There are no happy ever afters. There is always something that follows."
"Maybe," he agreed glumly, but then smiled. "But maybe not. Only time will tell."
We both sat, pensive, for a few moments longer, but nothing more was said in those minutes, until Peter eventually got up and prepared to leave. I thanked him for coming because it had helped, even if it was only a little.
"Oh, I nearly forgot," he suddenly added. "Lizzy wanted me to give you a message. She said to tell you she doesn't like olives."
I turned at him somewhat confused.
"Olives?" I repeated, unsure as to the significance.
"Yes. She was in mid rant at the time. Something about pizza?"
"Pizza? Oh, yes. The mouldy pizza, but that still doesn't make sense. She's an android."
"One that eats. She needs fuel just like the rest of us, and she can ingest food to extract nutrients and minerals from it just like you or I."
I chuckled weakly. It was another little mystery solved.

Log Entry 150822.152

Every time I think I'm just getting over the frustrations of the Buffalo saga, something comes along to bring it all up again. Lizzy's appearance had thus not helped. To be honest, I was perfectly seething. I had saved the woman's life for goodness sake; I don't need her forgiveness.
Still chomping at the bit and breakfastless (not a good way to be), I went into my first exam: a practical test in self-defence. My opponent was a big lad—I don't know his name—with about an extra foot in height on me and about twice the muscle tone.
I wasn't faring well and Lizzy's little speech was still eating away at me, so I'm afraid that when he caught my hair (inadvertently, I might add) and pulled a chunk out, I lost my rag. He found his wedding tackle on the end of my foot and as he doubled up, I finished the attack with a most satisfactory throw that hurled him hard across the room. As he gasped and groaned, clutching his jewels, the instructor yelled, "Foul!"
I threw my hands onto my hips, marched up to the tutor and scowled at him.
"How can that be a foul, for crying out loud!"
"The move was illegal," he explained calmly.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realise this was a competitive sport. I thought this was practise for potential real-life situations so unless you've made every Klingon, Cardassian and Romulan et cetera aware of the rules of combat, there are no illegal moves as far as I can make out."
A roar of laughter from behind startled me. I turned. It was Urtok suitably attired in a white judogi.
"Someone's got out of bed the wrong side!" he mused, his bright Klingon eyes flashing.
I pulled a face.
"It's not excusable," protested the instructor.
"No," agreed Urtok, circling the poor man that was clambering to his feet. "It's not, but if Ms Terran wants to play that way, let's give her what she wants."
Needless to say, he made mincemeat out of me.

Log Entry 150815.151

My time at the Academy is drawing to an end and I can't say that I'm not pleased. I really have not enjoyed it at all. It's been a real slog between studies, exams and Lizzy Buffalo. I can't wait to get back to the Earhart.
With this thought foremost in my mind, I rose early, showered and dressed, deciding upon my schedule for the day as I went. I was going to grab a croissant and a cuppa in the Academy cafeteria before my first lecture, then I had two exams, a short lunch followed by a third test and then the rest of the day was my own. I resolved that it was then that I'd contact Peter. Farrah might not be around, but let's be honest, that didn't really matter. I was at a very low ebb yesterday, but I'm a grown woman after all and a Starfleet crewman with combat experience to boot, so I should be able to handle an ill-tempered entertainer.
Ready to begin the day, I stuffed my hair into a quick bun, grabbed my bag and opened the door, but skidded to a halt.
"Oh!" I cried in surprise.
Lizzy was standing at the door, frozen to the spot, her mouth slightly open and her arms splayed out as though someone had pressed the pause button on her mid-sentence.
"Oh," she echoed, equally surprised. "Um ..." she began, "I ... er ... I ... um ..."
She was very uncomfortable.
"Can I come in?" she finally asked.
"It's still your room," and I stepped off to one side.
"I don't think it ever was my room," she said. "I just kept my stuff here."
"Talking of which ..." and I swept my arm over the room to indicate the boxes. "Some of the other cadets saved your things. Firth was going to destroy them and—"
Lizzy's face lit up with joy.
"My shoes!" she cried, spying a stiletto poking out of one of the boxes. She ran forward and swept it up, but her mood soon dulled. She dropped onto the bed, picking at the heel of the shoe, thinking for a moment.
"You know," she began, "I can never forgive you for what you did—"
"Forgive me?" I interrupted. My voice was calm but I could feel the colour rising in my cheeks. Once upon a time, I would have squealed that out angrily, but my Starfleet training was starting to effect my comportment.
"I think you and I ought to get a couple of things straight before we assume I'm seeking your forgiveness. I did not set out to spend my time here sorting out your life. I came here to fulfil the next stage of my Academy education. As it is, I've not been able to study as much as I should have done because I've been sorting out your problems, and that doesn't just affect me. If I fail this course, two other people automatically fail with me, so let's just hope your shenanigans haven't foiled the careers of three would-be Starfleet officers. I know you don't want to be in Starfleet and that's just as well, because trust me, young lady—" Good grief! Did I really just say that? "—you'd never cut it. To make the grade, you have to be able to work both independently and as part of a team. You are more than capable of working independently—you've shown that by securing your singing career, but as a team?" I shook my head at her. "You have never made any effort to be part of a team or to make friends. You've not joined any study groups, you've refused to turn up to lectures and you have spurned everything that the Academy has offered you."
"I never wanted to be at the Academy!" she hissed.
"I know that. We all know that, but it was still an opportunity that many would have given their eye-teeth for. As it was, you threw it away and in a very silly and childish manner if I might say so. Not that you would know any better. Why? Because you are a child. You may know more than us with your extensive databanks, but you know nothing of social skills and have made no effort at all to develop them during your time here. That makes you a child, and while Peter may find your naivety charming, I do not."
"What opportunity have I ever had to develop my social skills?" Lizzy blurted out indignantly. "I've been trying to live what short life I had!"
"The life you have, you chose. You made a conscious decision to spurn the companionship of the other students. Did you ever try to talk to any of the other cadets?"
"I didn't know anyone. They made me feel awkward," she scowled.
"How did they make you feel awkward?"
"They all chatted and laughed together. Nobody wanted to talk to me!"
"They didn't know you, and you gave them no opportunity to let them. You have distanced yourself from people by every means you could think of. You even lived in squalor to ensure that others didn't want to get close to you. My goodness, girl, you may be an android but if ever anybody needed counselling, you do."
I sighed heavily and sat down on the bed opposite her.
"Children master adulthood through their childhood. Through life, people form relationships and these are so important. Friends, and family if you have them, become your support network—a collection of people that are there for each other; that help each other through the good times and the bad. But unless you share your time with other people, you cannot develop any of that. You have only formed one proper relationship and that is with Peter, and that was only because he was so persistent."
Lizzy flicked her head haughtily.
"That's all very easy for you to say. You've had your support network since the day you were born—"
"No, I haven't. I'm an orphan." Lizzy's mouth gaped open to say something, but I didn't pause. "I've never had any family to support me, and as an orphan, I've been shipped from one home to another, each time having to start afresh from zero. So if anybody knows how hard it is to make new friends, it's me. I hate those situations—when you enter a room and everybody else seems to know each other and I'm the odd man out, but I don't run away. There's nothing to be gained by that. I get in there and say hello to a few people. I hate doing it. I feel awkward but it always pays off." I sighed heavily and silence fell.
"I didn't know that," said Lizzy softly.
"Of course you didn't because despite sharing a room with me, you never made the effort." I laughed weakly. "I don't think we've spent as much as a couple of hours in each others company in total. You said we would chat but never got around to it. If we had, maybe you'd have a friend sitting here instead of me. At the trial, you said you thought I was your friend. No, Lizzy. I was never your friend. I don't know you well enough to be your friend."
"Then why did you do it? Fight for me, I mean?"
"Because what Firth was doing was wrong and in the words of Edmund Burke, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'. Well, I'm not doing nothing. I'm standing up for your rights, and I'm sorry if you got hurt along the way, but if I hadn't done it, you'd be particles in a replicator by now, waiting to be somebody's next duvet or whatever. And that's another reason why you'd never make it through the Academy. Sometimes you have to do things because it is the right thing to do, not because it's the nice thing to do."
Time was getting on and I was very conscious of it.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lecture to attend and three examinations today, and I intend to pass them all. If you wish to continue this conversation, come back tonight."
"I can't. I'm singing."
"Of course you are. That's why you've come now—at a time that is convenient to you and never mind if it puts me out. If you want to talk again, I don't mind, but I'm leaving next week and I've got a bucket of work to do. In the meantime, feel free to take your time taking your stuff out. I'd appreciate it, though, if you could dispose of anything you don't want yourself, rather than leaving it for me to take care of. I wish you well—I honestly do wish you well, and I am sure that one day, with a little time and practise, you will find friendship as well as love. Maybe then you'll think differently about these events. In the meantime, please don't expect me to feel guilty about what I did because I don't. I did what I had to do to get the job done. I didn't like doing it, but it was the only way I could see."
I picked up my bag and went to the door. It shushed open but I turned back to Lizzy for one last word. "And what was with the rotting pizza in the wardrobe. You don't even eat pizza for goodness sake!" And then I left.

Log Entry 150809.150

I think I need to tell you a little bit about Farrah before I go on, as I have to admit that before tonight, I hadn't really taken to her. She's the sort of person I'd never hang around with because ... well ... how can I put this?
Farrah is tall, slim and blonde, with a full but perfectly proportioned bust and shapely thighs. When she walks, she sashays, her hips swinging seductively; and when not in uniform, she wears her hair down so that her long, golden locks gently bounce, highlighting her vivacious beauty. Even when it drapes over her eyes, a simple yet graceful flick of her head and every strand falls back into its appointed place to envelop her face in a halo of golden light.
In other words, she's a catwalk model. Worse still, she's a catwalk model with a brain in her head. She is perfect in every way.
Beside her, people like me feel fat, short and clumsy even if we're not. With her added intelligence, she has the ability to make us feel thick too. For that reason, girls like me usually avoid people like Farrah. So, as you can imagine, I wasn't that keen on the idea of spending the evening with her, but seeing as I couldn't be any more miserable and I couldn't be bothered to argue ... and it was pool after all.
Farrah regularly plays at a bar in town called The Bridge. Whether the name refers to the bridge of a ship or the bridge used in pool, I don't know. We arrived a little after eight and Farrah was warmly greeted by most of the blokes in the bar. That's another reason why girls like me don't hang out with girls like Farrah. We tend to become invisible in their presence and often end up sitting alone in a corner of the room while the lads buzz around the honey pot. That is until some creep decides you are the saddo that will be "grateful" for his attention. Urgh! And why is it these guys are so difficult to shake off? You tell them nicely that you aren't interested, but they just don't seem to have the mental capacity to comprehend your meaning. Then, when you finally lose your rag with them and tell them to just push off, they get angry and abusive. Fortunately, those guys are far and few between ... but sadly, not extinct yet.
Back to the story, though ... Farrah introduced me to everyone, and all welcomed me warmly. This one guy, Billy, asked me if I played pool.
"Once or twice," I explained as I tried not to stare into his striking ice-blue eyes that an Andorian White Wolf couldn't rival. "But it's been a while."
As Farrah's guest, I played first, against Billy but I lost the toss so he broke. He pocketed three balls, but then stood back while I cleared the table. Yep! My years of a misspent youth in various orphanages, most of which were equipped with a pool table, has finally paid off. I wiped the floor with him.
As I pocketed the last ball, the crowd burst into whoops and hollers of joy, while Billy shook his head in a good humoured fashion and grinned.
"You've played this before," he smiled.
"I told you I had."
"Yeah, but you didn't say how good you were."
"Ah, now," and I waggled my finger at him. "Am I that good, or are you just that bad?"
I didn't play a second game but retired with Billy to the bar for a drink. He seemed like quite a nice guy, although I learned surprisingly little about him. I don't think he's fully Terran but didn't find out one way or the other. Nor did I find out where he worked, where he lived or anything like that. In return, he learned nothing about me either. We spoke instead about pool, current affairs, the latest developments in shuttlecraft design (but nothing too technical) and literature. We share a similar humour too, which helped.
As the night drew on, the stress of the last few days began to catch up on me. I had been running on pure adrenaline, but now, with the trial over, I was starting to crash. I was shattered and yawning, so decided to retire for the evening. Farrah and I left together.
On the way home, I asked her about Billy but all she could tell me was that he played pool. She knew as little about him as I did.

Log Entry 150803.149

You can only feel sorry for yourself for so long and then you have to accept the fact that you either pick yourself up and move on ... or wet the bed. It's amazing how the demands of your bladder can be so persuasive.
While attending to my lavatorial needs, the door chime sounded. I grumbled under my breath. The last thing I wanted to do was socialise but then my hopes soared. Maybe it was Peter ... or better still, Lizzy.
I raced to make myself decent and answered the door, but it was neither Peter nor Lizzy. It was Farrah Bel-Williams with a small queue of people behind her.
"Oh!" I exclaimed with a mixture of disappointment and surprise, immediately realising how awful it sounded.
"Nice to see you too," chirped Farrah, who pushed her way past me with a huge box in her arms. Her entourage followed, each laden with a crate, which they dumped on Lizzy's old bed before doing an about-turn and disappearing, leaving Farrah standing alone with me.
"Sorry," I said uncomfortably. "That's not what I meant. I thought you might be someone else," I continued, my eyes straining to examine the delivery. Perhaps the Academy had allocated Farrah to share my room with me, but it was unlikely. Farrah was in her final year and had just finished her last exams so she'd only be with the Academy a few more weeks. Still, it was the only thing I could think of, so I asked.
"You moving in or something?"
"Grief, no! I finish the Academy in a couple of weeks," she confirmed for me, "and then I get my first posting."
"I thought so, but what's all this stuff then?"
"It's Lizzy's," and she peeled back the lid on one of the boxes to reveal a pair of sequined, blue stilettos. "Dr Firth asked a group of us to take it for recycling, but it's not his stuff, is it. It's Lizzy's and, regardless of how we felt about Lizzy, it's not his to chuck out."
"But I don't see what I'm supposed to do with it?"
"But you're Lizzy's friend."
"Not exactly. Not after today anyway."
"But you won her case for her."
"Yeah, but I wasn't exactly nice about it, was I."
"Couldn't be helped."
"Well, it doesn't matter either way, because Lizzy's not talking to me."
"What about Mr Buffalo?"
"Peter Targo."
"That's the guy."
"Then why not talk to him—"
"Because ..." I interrupted, "because ..." but I didn't know why really. "Because I don't feel like it."
Farrah looked at me as though I had grown a second head.
"Look," I explained further. "Lizzy doesn't want to see me and I don't want to see her ... not because I don't like her or anything, but because ... well ... because if I do, I don't doubt I'll get a bit of a beating—verbal beating that is, and that's the last thing I need at the moment."
Farrah physically baulked, looking at me judgementally.
"Wow! I didn't realise this was all about you," she jibed.
I gawped.
"That's a bit below the belt!" I retorted. "It's been all about Lizzy for weeks now so if you don't mind, I think I will take a couple of hours to feel sorry for myself. Is that okay with you!"
I was very sharp.
Farrah dropped her gaze to her feet, shamefaced and sighed heavily.
"Yes," she agreed. "Sorry. I suppose you aren't the only one that's feeling bad about things. We weren't exactly nice to her, were we. I mean, we were quite happy to call her names and things, but none of us felt compelled to find out what the matter was."
I pulled a face and pouted.
"Don't beat yourself up about it. She didn't make it easy for herself."
We both stood silently, not sure what to say next, if anything.
"Anyway," Farrah finally broke the silence. "I was hoping you'd help me get her stuff back to her."
I remained silent.
"Will you?" she pressed, asking sweetly.
I balled my hands into little fists and pressed them against my eyes.
"Not today. Please, not today."
Farrah smiled.
"Okay. Not today."
"And only if you'll be there when I message Peter. I'm not sure I can face either of them alone."
She grinned widely.
"Chicken," she accused, drawing out the word.
There was no other response I could think of, so I clucked like a chicken to which she hooted with laughter.
"Come on," she said. "You need a change of scenery. Do you play pool?"