Star Trek: Frontier Academy – Part 5

This is part of a collaborative effort to produce a piece of Star Trek fiction that looks forward, rather than backward. Future installments will follow as they are written.

Link to Frontier Academy – Part 4

The room was awkward. Pleasant, but awkward. Like the rest of the building, Nav’s new quarters were all organic curves, smooth lines, no edges to speak of besides the shelves built (or maybe grown) into the wall.

Nav soon came to realised that she missed having corners.

Corners were nice. Corners were defined – they showed you where one wall ended and another began. And corners were natural homes for things – for lights, or tables, or bookshelves, or even just piles of clothes and boxes of stuff.

Nav had lived out of Boxes of Stuff for the last seven months of her life, between moving to San Fran, finding out she would be leaving and so never unpacking, living on a cramped starship as it crawled across the Gamma Quadrant. Boxes of Stuff had been her life, and they had always found a home in a spare corner of whatever room in which she happened to be sleeping.

And now, this room had no corners, and so her Boxes had no home, and so she had no home – just a bed, and some shelves, and an unmarked border with her roommate, who was presumably a Vulcan based on the sparse decoration and the absence of anything which might possibly possess sentimental value.

This wasn’t an immediate issue, as Nav’s Boxes were all still aboard the Nicholls, due to be beamed down in the evening. But it would definitely be a problem, she knew, when she would eventually have to confront the notion of – and this word made her shudder – the notion of unpacking.

Seriously, how the hell did people live their lives with all of their stuff in different parts of a room?

She also had a chest of drawers, she realised. Which was a bit like a stack of boxes, she had to admit. But she was probably going to have to designate specific draws for specific things, like some kind of bloody sociopath.

She missed Earth.

“Good afternoon.”

Nav span on her feet to see a Vulcan in the doorway. She was tall, and had the physique of a champion athlete, and god bloody damn it was she striking to look at. She was also staring at her own side of the room, her eyes darting to each item in turn.

Nav followed her gaze. “I didn’t touch anything.”

The Vulcan looked at her. “It would not be a problem if you had.”

Nav found this odd, because Vulcans weren’t supposed to lie. “I’m Nav. Nawisah. Whatever. Hi.” She pointedly held out her hand.

The Vulcan stepped forward and shook it, firmly, and this caused Nav some degree of alarm. “I am Suvek,” she said. “I am fascinated to meet you, Nav Nawisah.”

“It’s just Nav.”

“I know.” Suvek’s face gave nothing away. “You do not appear to have many possessions,” she said, looking around. “If there is anything you require, the replicator will be able to attend your needs.”

“Replicator?” Nav asked.

“Indeed. It is a common piece of technology. It is curious that you are not familiar with the concept.”

“I know what a bloody replicator is.” Nav was beginning to lose her grip on her emotions. She normally enjoyed speaking to Vulcans. They normally had a calming effect on her. She kept her voice level. “I meant that I don’t see a damn replicator in here.”

“Indeed,” Suvek said, in a tone both completely even and Vulcanian, and yet somehow dripping with condescension. “Computer, hairbrush, calibrate for dry hair.”

Glowing particles coalesced in front of Suvek, forming the shape and structure of a hairbrush. It hung motionless in the air until Suvek took hold of it and presented it to Nav. “This will get you started,” she said.

Nav was stuck in the middle between awe and rage, her surprise at the invisible replicator matched only by her desire to shove the hairbrush down Suvek’s throat. She took the brush from Suvek, closed her eyes, counted to three silently, and then looked the Vulcan straight in the eye. “Wouldn’t it be a failing in logic,” she said, “to piss off the person with whom you’ll be living for the next year?”

Suvek raised an eyebrow. “You proceed on three false assumptions,” she asserted. “The first is that we will be sharing these quarters for a year – we will in fact part ways at the end of the semester. The second is that this is a zero-sum game: of the two of us, only you are capable of experiencing emotional responses such as anger, frustration, or of being pissed off. The third,” she continued, ignoring Nav’s swiftly-flushing cheeks, “is that this is an attempt to piss you off. In point of fact, your hostile tone and provocative body language implied a need for me to assert myself sooner, rather than later, and make clear to you from the outset that your negative attitude would go neither unnoticed nor disregarded.”

Nav had no response. For several seconds she had no response. She felt like she might explode with rage. Or implode with shame. Certainly some kind of stellar catastrophe was on her emotional horizon.

She realised she hadn’t taken a full breath since Suvek began talking. She inhaled through her nose, exhaled through her mouth. Suvek was staring at her the whole time, expressionless and unblinking.

Finally, Nav relaxed her fists. “I haven’t got dry hair,” she stated.

“Indeed,” Suvek acknowledged. “By all counts, you attend to it very effectively. But you should keep the brush. It is equally effective on all hair types. It is, after all, merely a brush.”

Nav’s mood was swinging like a metronome, and the only thing she was certain of was that she was wildly out of balance. She said nothing more, but turned away and began unloading her travel bag onto her bed. Behind her, Suvek sat down on her own bed and retrieved a PADD, which she began to read.

A few minutes passed in silence. Nav surveyed her belongings on the bed – a spare uniform, some toiletries, data crystals with libraries of her favourite books and music, a few holodeck programs, two bags of coffee beans (her espresso machine was yet to be beamed down), some casual clothes, a tricorder, a backup tricorder, the inscribed custom-built tricorder dad had made for one of her birthdays and which never saw use, a pair of walking boots, a pair of running shoes, a-

“Will you be attending the ceremony in the afternoon?” Suvek enquired.

Nav didn’t turn to face her but remained focused on her unpacking. “Maybe,” she said, “depends on if my parents are there.”

“I am sure they would be.”

“Exactly,” Nav said. “Why?”

“Myself and three other students will all be attending together,” Suvek said. “It may prove useful for you to be introduced to them.”

Nav shrugged. “We’ll see,” she said. “I’ve only been here three hours, seems a bit soon for a party.”

Star Trek: Frontier Academy – Part 4

This is part of a collaborative effort to produce a piece of Star Trek fiction that looks forward, rather than backward. Future installments will follow as they are written.

Link to Frontier Academy – Part 3

“Who’s the new meat?” Kor’va asked, tipping her head to indicate the fresher on the other side of the concourse.

“Don’t be crass,” Mateo chided. “She’s an Earther, she arrived on the Nicholls. I don’t know who she’s arguing with, though.” He watched the newbie as she gesticulated at two science officers. Her frustration was clear even from the other side of the concourse.

“Probably her parents,” Siron answered. “Maybe, I dunno, maybe she’s angry at them for dragging her away from the Academy on Earth, and they’re annoyed with her for picking this moment to start that argument again.”

Mateo turned to her. “Seriously, Siron?”

Siron blinked her innocent, Betazoid eyes with their big black irises at him. “What’s wrong?”

“We agreed: never on other cadets.”

“Oh please, she only just started,” Siron said, incredulously. “Besides, they’re hardly having a private discussion – you would chastise a Chelondite for being able to hear them.” Mateo stared at her disapprovingly before she relented. “Okay, fine, you win.”

The new cadet and her parents parted, neither side appearing satisfied. The show was over. The three spectators moved on to a café in one corner of the concourse and sat down at a table next to a Vulcan cadet, another first-year.

The four of them made for a diverse group: Kor’va, a Klingon; Mateo, a human (technically a Martian); Siron, a betazoid; and Suvek, the Vulcan. Starfleet in the Alpha Quadrant was still forty per-cent homo sapiens, but Zhenxun had been a destination for immigrants from all worlds of the Federation, and that was reflected in the intake of its academy.

One of the waiters brought over a tray of drinks – four spiced celosia teas, an incredibly popular beverage on Zhenxun, brewed from local celosia plants and served steaming hot. They each took one and breathed in the spiced, earthy aroma.

Siron took a sip, then addressed the group. “So, are we all going to the ceremony later?”

“I will be late,” Kor’va answered, “My Civics lecture finishes at fifteen-hundred.”

“It’s going to be pointless,” Mateo said. “It’ll just be a boring speech and a load of arrogant Alphas cheering about how well their little province is doing.”

Suvek raised an eyebrow. “That’s a very adversarial interpretation.”

“It’s true,” Kor’va said, “they see us as nothing but a curiosity, a side project of the great Federation Dream. They hold us in contempt, because they are secretly envious of our rapidly advancing culture and scientific achievements.”

Suvek’s eyebrow remained raised. The rest of the table was quiet for a moment. Siron was first to speak. “Well, I mean, I don’t know about all that. We’re still very much a part of the Federation.”

“Are we, though?” Mateo asked. “We’re six months from the Wormhole, six months through unclaimed territory. We fly different ships, we have different rules. The uniforms are the same, but…” He paused briefly. “Do you feel like you grew up in the Federation? Or do you feel like you grew up in the Gamma Quadrant?”

Siron shrugged. “I feel like I grew up on Zhenxun, in Maathai city. Which is a Federation planet and a Federation city.” She took a sip of celosia. “Suvek? How do you- Well, that is to say, what are your thoughts?”

Suvek calmly finished her tea before she spoke. When she did, she was impassive. “Cultural identity is a difficult topic to assess objectively. Having matured here, on a colony in the Gamma Quadrant, largely isolated from the politics and factions of the Alpha Quadrant, I could not claim to have had comparable experiences to my contemporaries on Vulcan. And yet this is a colony built and managed, at least nominally, by the Federation, an organisation very much shaped by those same politics and factions within the Alpha Quadrant. And so surely my development must have been shaped, even indirectly, by Alpha Quadrant concerns, no?”

As usual, no one really had much of a challenge to Suvek’s insight, either due to its accuracy or its sheer verbosity. Kor’va remained adamant. “This is not the Alpha Quadrant, and I am not an Alpha Quadrant Klingon.”

Mateo put his cup down and folded his arms. “Well, what about me, then? I wasn’t born here, but I didn’t grow up back there. What does that make me? A wormhole child? One of the Prophets?”

“That is not what I meant and you know it!” Kor’va barked. Mateo shrugged with indifference. “You are of this Quadrant, even if you weren’t born here,” Kor’va explained. “You have spent a lifetime breathing Zhenxun air, drinking Zhenxun water. The spirit of Zhenxun runs in your blood, literally!”

Siron hushed them all. “Careful!” she hissed, gesturing towards a senior officer in dress uniform several metres away. “He’s from the Nicholls. You know how they are about that stuff.”

“We dare not be ashamed of our own qualities!” Kor’va protested. “They’re the backwards ones! Get lost!” she shouted at Mateo as he kicked her under the table.

The commander moved away, apparently unheeding of their conversation, or of Kor’va’s outbursts. Suvek stood up and straightened her uniform. “I must adjourn, my new roommate is moving in this afternoon, and I ought to attend to her.”

Siron smiled impishly. “You’re going to make sure she doesn’t touch any of your stuff, aren’t you?”

“My belongings are arranged optimally for comfort and convenience,” she said, averting her gaze. “Having to re-arrange their layout following misplacement would be an unwanted disruption.” She began walking away.

Mateo connected two dots in his head, and called after her “Suvek! Are you getting the new Alpha girl?”

“I am ‘getting’ nothing,” Suvek called back, “I am merely losing half of my living space.”

On to Part 5