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SEP/OCT "From the Stars, Knowledge"


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Starfleet Academy


The auditorium was filled almost to capacity with the best and the brightest. And while Velana had never considered herself to be either, somehow she was still there, sitting in the dark, surrounded by her fellow first-year Starfleet cadets as they watched a projection of Zefram Cochrane.

"Imagine it," the legendary warp engineer compelled them from 260 years earlier. "Thousands of inhabited planets at our fingertips. And we'll be able to explore those strange new worlds, and seek out new life and new civilizations. This engine will let us go boldly where no man has gone before."

The lights came on a second later, the projection disappeared and Admiral Gilmore stepped up to the podium.

"Your exploration of new worlds and new civilizations begins today." The silver-haired Human paused as he swept his gaze across the room. "But the most important exploration that you'll undertake in the next four years will answer the question...who are you? Not just as a future member of Starfleet, but as an individual.” He smiled. “We look forward to taking that journey with you.”

All around her, cadets began slapping their hands together; Velana joined them, although the gesture felt foreign and even a bit painful after a few moments.

“Now, you should all have your quad assignments as well as your schedule of classes. If you have any problems with either, please see your faculty adviser,” Admiral Gilmore continued. “Welcome to the Academy.”

PADD in hand, Velana filed out of the auditorium and into the bright sunshine that warmed the pristine gardens and lawns. She could see the Pacific Ocean, blue and shimmering, beyond the buildings that made up the campus. The sparkling waters were hypnotic; she had to tear her eyes away from the gorgeous glare.

One of the buildings blocking her view of the ocean was Scott Hall and as she had been assigned to live there, it seemed only logical that instead of exploring the campus, she should locate her quad and meet the students with whom she would be sharing living space for the next two semesters, specifically Sen Alaxa, her roommate.

She was Bajoran, according to Velana's housing notice. Velana had only ever met one or two Bajorans in passing during the handful of years she'd been on Earth prior to her Academy acceptance, but she'd always admired the complexity and mysticism of their religion. It would be more than agreeable to get to know one personally.

Velana located the right floor rather quickly, thanks to the directions on her PADD, but when she reached what she thought was the correct door, she found it slightly ajar, as if inviting passing students to enter. The sound of laughter drifted out into the hallway. She hesitated. Perhaps she was in the wrong place.

But then, she heard a female voice break through the giggling. “At least none of you got a Vulcan. I'm the one who's going to spend the next year getting lectured about the logic of making my bed in the morning!”

It shouldn't have bothered her. Having encountered the same preconceptions almost from the day she and her mother had arrived on Earth, she should have dismissed the statement as nothing more than understandable ignorance.

Yet...this was supposed to be an environment of acceptance, tolerance and education. She hadn't expected to find prejudice in her own living quarters.

The laughter died when Velana made her entrance. A handful of cadets were gathered in the communal room that connected the four bedrooms; all eyes immediately shot to her. Three Humans, an Andorian and a Bajoran, presumably Sen Alaxa.

“Excuse me. My name is Velana. Am I in the correct place?”

The girls exchanged looks as the Bajoran unfolded her legs and stood up from the couch. “Yeah. You are.” Her smile was tight-lipped and although Velana had never been as sensitive to emotions as her father had been, she could sense the girl's apprehension. Or was it irritation? “I'm Alaxa.” She crossed her arms. “I guess we're roommates.”

“It would appear so.”

A few seconds of awkward silence passed. “Do you want to see the room?” Alaxa finally asked. Velana inclined her chin. Despite making the suggestion, Alaxa seemed pained by her affirmative response. “It's this way.”

Like she was crossing an asteroid field, Velana wove her way though the other cadets and followed Alaxa into the far bedroom. One half of the room, arguably the better half as it possessed a window that looked out over the ocean, was already decorated with framed pictures, a potted plant and a hand-sewn blanket thrown over the regulation sheets. Arms crossed, Alaxa seemed prepared to defend her claim.

After glancing around, Velana afforded her new roommate a cool look. “This is fine,” she said. “I'd rather stay out of the sun.”

“I thought Vulcan was always sunny.”

“I've never been to Vulcan,” Velana murmured.

Alaxa stared at her. She might have said something eventually, but after a moment, the other second-year cadets appeared in the doorway.

“Allie,” the Andorian said to Alaxa. “We're going out for a drink. Are you coming?”

“Wouldn't miss it.” With that, her roommate took off without so much as a farewell...and certainly without issuing an invitation to join them.



It was well after midnight when Velana emerged from her room on quest to find something to eat. She had a xenobiology test in the morning and she'd skipped dinner in order to study.

The common room was vacant; her quadmates were either in bed, or in the case of her roommate, out at a bar or a party. With a sigh, Velana crossed to the replicator.

“Vulcan tea,” she ordered. But before the cup could materialize, she added. “And a slice of cake. Chocolate with vanilla icing.”

She took her mug and plate over to the table, moved a stack of PADD's off one of the chairs and sat down with her snack. Before she could take her first bite, the front door opened and Alaxa entered, clad in black pants that were hardly regulation and a top that only covered the front half of her body.

“You're up late.” Alaxa didn't give her chance to answer; she stumbled to the replicator. “Coffee, strong.”

Velana expected the Bajoran to head straight to their room, but Alaxa surprised her by approaching the table with her drink. “Are you eating cake?”

“Yes.” She forked up a bite. “Is it not a Human tradition to consume baked goods on the anniversary of one's birth?”

Alaxa blinked. “It's your birthday?” Velana nodded. “How old are you?”

“How old are you?” she countered.

“Twenty-one,” Alaxa shot back.

“Older than that,” was all Velana would admit.

Most of Alaxa's face was hidden behind her mug as she sipped her coffee, but Velana was almost certain she was concealing a smile. “I didn't think Vulcans celebrated birthdays.”

“I doubt most of them do.” She stood up with her plate. “It's not exactly logical.”

“Then...why are you?”

Velana kept walking away even as she replied, “Because I'm not a very good Vulcan.”

Fifteen minutes later, Alaxa slipped into the room. Lying in the dark, Velana could hear her covers rustling as she climbed into her own bed. Another minute later, she heard a quiet, “Happy birthday.”

Unsure of exactly how to respond, she closed her eyes and waited for sleep to find her.



“Cadet Velana?”

Glancing up from her PADD, Velana put her hand to her eyes as a shield against the sun. It was an unnecessary gesture as she'd long ago learned that her eyelids were biologically engineered to see clearly even in extreme sunlight...and if anyone was aware of that fact, it would be the two people standing over her.

“Cadet Sylek. Cadet T'Val.” She should have stood up from the bench as a sign of respect for the older cadets, but Velana chose to remain seated. “Can I help you?”

The two Vulcans looked down at her, their faces perfectly, identically blank. “We've been instructed to issue you an invitation to dine with Commanders Voltok, Kular and Shtan this evening.”

Velana's jaw twitched. The Pointy Trinity, as they were not-so-affectionately referred to around campus. The three highest ranking Vulcan instructors at the Academy...and they wanted to have dinner with a first-year cadet of absolutely no standing.

It wasn't the first time she'd received this invitation and it likely wouldn't be the last.

“Please tell the Commanders that I am very, very sorry,” she said with as much emphasis as she could get away with, “but I'm afraid I have a prior engagement tonight.”

It was a lie, and a bad one at that, but the only time she saw any flicker of anything in the eyes of the two cadets when when she used the phrase “I'm afraid.”

T'Val's tilted her head to the side. “Even an individual with your background must be aware of the significance of this invitation.”

“Must I? With my background?” Velana smiled with artificial sweetness. “Perhaps you could take my place then.”

“So.” There was the fainest hint of a sneer in Sylek's tone. “You continue to maintain this...illogical course.”

“This course, as you call it, is my life,” Velana informed him with more vehemence than she'd intended. “And neither you, nor Cadet T'Val are the final authority in what is logical and what isn't.”

T'Val's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, a surprising display of emotion for her . “Your admission into this institution was a mistake. Commander Voltok is offering you a chance to...”

“To what? Purge my emotions?”

“Before it's too late,” Sylek finished for her.

Velana stood up, putting herself at the same height as him. “As I said, please express my regret to the Commanders. And if it wouldn't pain you too much...which I know it won't...please inform them that they needn't bother in the future. I have a very busy schedule and it doesn't allow for fraternization.”

She quickly walked away, willing her hands not to shake before she was far enough out of their sight.



“How are your classes?” On the screen of her computer console, Velana's mother, T'Lan, seemed concerned, if the slight pull on her slanted eyebrows was any indication. “You're doing well?”

“Very well. My studies are going...well.”

“Having taught you myself, I'm fully aware that you have a greater vocabulary than you're displaying right now.” T'Lan paused. “Something is troubling you.”

“Nothing is troubling me, Mother.”

But she clearly wasn't convincing enough. “Are you having nightmares? Have you been meditating?”

“Every day.” Velana sighed. “And my dreams have been normal. I'm fine. Can we please change the subject?”

T'Lan shook her head. “You just seem different. Your hair is longer. You look thinner. I'm worried, Velana.”

“Please don't be.” She glanced to her side, as if she spotted someone. In truth, she was alone in the quad. “I have to go, Mother. We'll talk soon.” With that, she ended the transmission.

It didn't feel good, cutting off the only family she had left, but what was she supposed to say? That she was excelling her in classes and failing in her personal life? That she didn't have a single friend on campus because the Vulcan cadets regarded her as some sort of heretic and the rest of her peers assumed she was an emotionless robot out to ruin their fun?

Standing up, Velana walked to the full-length mirror Alaxa had attached to the wall. Was she losing weight? She couldn't tell. It was true, however, that her hair was getting longer. Parted down the middle, it now reached just past her shoulders and had a tendency to wave that she'd never noticed when she'd kept it shorter.

She grabbed a strand in the front and pulled it down over her nose. She had no idea what possessed her to reach for the hair trimmer on Alaxa's dresser unit, but only seconds later, she chopped the strand in half and kept going until she had a thick, but uneven fringe of bangs.

It was just her luck that Alaxa returned right then. She froze in the doorway and for a long moment, the two women simply stared at each other.

“You cut your bangs.”

One of the things that had grown to bother Velana the most about Alaxa in the past two and a half months was her tendency to state the obvious. Under normal circumstances, she would let the comment roll off her back, but she'd barely had any meditation time in the past few days and her emotions were so close to the surface that there was no hope she'd be able to hold them in check.

“Yes,” Velana snapped, balling her hands into fists so tight that her nails dug into her palms. “I cut my bangs. And I know...I should keep going. Vulcans always have short hair, don't they? And I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone by being different!”

The girls just kept staring at her, probably not shocked so much by her outburst, but by the fact that she capped it off by hurtling the hair trimmer across the room.

“I think it's a good look,” Alaxa said after an awkward silence. “It frames your face. It just...it needs to be shaped a little.” She carefully picked up the trimmer from the floor where it had landed, like if she moved too quickly, Velana might explode again. “Is it all right if I...?” She gestured to her hair and Velana nodded.

A few minutes later, the Bajoran girl had successfully evened out the edges of Velana's new bangs.

“Thank you,” Velana murmured. “I apologize for using your appliance without your permission.” She paused. “And for throwing it.”

Alaxa's lips twitched into a smile. “It's all right.” With the trimmer in hand, she walked back to her side of the room, only to turn around a second later. “Can I ask you something?”

Velana braced herself for whatever might follow. Would it be about her childhood, her lost family, her emotions...or something else equally painful to discuss?

But when she finally nodded, all Alaxa asked was, “Do you know Cade Whitman?” After a moment of thought, Velana shook her head. “That's good. For you.” She explained, “He's been dating my friend Jah'lia. You know Jah'lia? Well, apparently he was just trying to check 'Andorian' off his list.” Alaxa scowled. “He dumped her yesterday like the past two weeks meant nothing to him.”

“Anyway,” her roommate continued, “We're all taking her out for a drink and some commiseration. I just stopped by to change.”

Velana had absolutely no idea what had prompted this disclosure, but she tried to smile anyway. “That's fine.” She moved to the door. “You can have the room.”

“Velana, wait!” Puzzled, she looked back. Alaxa took a step towards her. “You...wouldn't want to come with us. Would you?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

“Asking,” Alaxa said after a second. “Do you want to have a drink with us?”

Velana frowned. “I don't understand. You've all but ignored me for ten weeks...yet all of a sudden, you want us to socialize?” She touched her bangs. “This is nothing more than hair, shaped in a different style. It hasn't changed who I am.”

“No one's asked you to change...” To her credit, Alaxa stopped herself with a sigh. “I realize we haven't exactly gotten off to a great start, but...”

Velana could feel her temper rising again. “Before we even met, you not only assumed that you already knew who I was, but that you weren't going to like me.”

“Well, let's be fair!” the Bajoran girl argued. “All they told me was that you were Vulcan!”

“And you assumed that such a limited description as my species provided all the information you would need in order to know me as an individual?”

Alaxa folded her arms. “Well. When you put it like that...” She let her arms fall back to her sides a second later. “I'm sorry. Please...come with us?”

“I will have a drink with you and your friends,” Velana eventually decided. “But I don't know how good I'll be at...was it 'commiseration'?”

“It's not hard,” her roommate assured her. “Just nod a lot and occasionally chime in with something along the lines of 'you're so much better than him'.”

Ten minutes later, after they had both changed out of their uniforms, Velana asked, “Would it not be logical to remind your friend that there are 5.4 billion male humanoids on Earth alone, any one of whom would be a suitable mate?”

“You know...that just might work.” Alaxa stopped just at the door that led out of their quad. “I probably should have said this a long time ago, but welcome to the Academy, Vee.”


“Like it?” Alaxa asked. “I thought about Lana as a nickname, but...”

“It's fine.” Velana tried to be restrained, but she couldn't keep a smile off her face as they headed out of the dorms. “Vee is...more than acceptable.”

Edited by Velana
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