Author's Note:  This is a story about various odd persons attending Starfleet Academy.  While this takes place in the pre-made Star Trek universe, most of the characters are original creations.  Well . . . kind of original, they're based after real people, but only partially.  This is a joint story effort with the author Jaeryn, so if you see some similar stories under Jaeryn's name, now you know why.  Anyway, I try to stay true to the "rules" outlined in the Star Trek series, but I will contract some of the books (gee, they contradict themselves).  On the other hand, some of the books brought really cool information and mythology out about various planets, specifically Vulcan, so I do borrow some of the historicity from extra-series material . . . and some stuff I happily make up.  Oh, and I like 'what ifs' so if its seems overly philosophical and theoretical at times, I think that sort of thing is fun so I write about it.  Consider this your warning.  And the various philosophies and opinions the characters espouse are not necessarily my own—in fact, most of the time, they aren't.

Time:  After Voyager got chucked into the Delta Quadrant, but before First Contact and the start of the Dominion War.

Title:  A Flight of Fancy

Chapter 1

            Ayuiij ch'Ishima was bored.  Although Ayuiij had been on Earth for several weeks, this was the first day of classes at Starfleet Academy.  She had just begun to adjust to the differences between Andor and Earth.  Earth was a little bit cooler, had a weaker gravitational field, and was, on the whole, brighter than Andor.  That was the most disconcerting thing—the light.  Earth obsessed over light.  There was light everywhere.  The Terrans cities were so bright and colorful that one could see the lights from space.  In addition, one couldn't get a proper view of the stars unless she traveled out to the country to get it.  Terrans also seemed to have a sort of obsession with candles and lamps.  Ayuiij's roommate at the Academy, Kali Samsara insisted upon burning a little votive candle that smelled specifically of "sun-ripened raspberry".  Of course, Kali had very hesitantly and nicely asked if Ayuiij minded if she burned the candle in their room.  Ayuiij had responded with a grunt.  Kali had hesitated again, so Ayuiij said she didn't mind.  And truly, Ayuiij didn't mind—she just didn't see the point.  If Kali wanted to smell raspberries—whatever they were—why didn't she go out and get some raspberries?  Why did she have to burn a noxious little candle? 

            But the Terrans were pretty boring themselves.  They weren't as boring as the Trill, and the Trill weren't as boring as the Vulcans—only the Borg could top the Vulcans in that department—but they were boring.  To add to that, everyone was quiet, too, and far too pacifistic for Ayuiij's taste.  Also, the whole lot of them were boring, pallid colors—no one had the curving antennae, striking powdery blue skin, white hair, and predatory yellow eyes of an Andorian.  Granted, the yellow eyes and the darker skin tone were unusual for most Andorians as well, but humans generally didn't come in interesting colors.  Ayuiij had to admit the spots of a Trill were unusual and therefore interesting, and Vulcan ears held promise, but mostly aliens were physically uninteresting.  Of course, Ayuiij found the concept of telepathic species like Vulcans and Betazoids fascinating, but she had yet to meet one that wouldn't put her to sleep in a prolonged conversation.  On a whole, the students at the Academy seemed to lack spice.  At first, Ayuiij had thought she was to be spared additional boredom with Kali as her roommate, but she was wrong.  Kali had shown a hint of being interesting because she seemed to have an inordinate obsession with small Terran animals known as penguins.  Ayuiij didn't know what the little creatures were, but they were kind of cute, and the fact that Kali had about twenty of them, all shapes and sides, foretold that Kali was a trifle odd.  Ayuiij was incredibly strange for an Andorian, let alone a Terran, so "a trifle odd" showed some promise.

            Unfortunately, Kali seemed to be deathly afraid of Ayuiij.  At first, Ayuiij was confused by this fear, but, by now she didn't care anymore.  Perhaps if she weren't bored, she would care a little more.  So, Ayuiij retreated to her tested and true method of alleviating boredom.  She was going to annoy people, and, if possible, scare them.  Scaring was better—Ayuiij had discovered that most humanoids made humorous noises when they were scared.  Ayuiij decided that she would target Kali for terror first.  After all, they were in the same room—it would take little energy and probably ensure maximum results.

            Ayuiij had been laying flat on her bed.  From her supine position, she could see her slightly curved, double-bladed Andorian Spiritsword hanging on the wall behind her desk.  Tiny bits of light glanced off the sword's sheathed blade and made random patterns upon the walls.  The rooms of Starfleet cadets were all the same—small and boring.  Ayuiij could not wait until her junior year at the academy—then she could get an apartment in nearby San Francisco or Oakland.  Or, Ayuiij supposed, as long as I get myself a transporter, I can live in Australia if I wanted to.  Kali's side of the room was exactly like Ayuiij's.  Bed, desk, drawer—boring. 

Now, Ayuiij rocked forward and stood up on her bed with the silence and speed native to her people.  She positioned herself so her body was angled toward Kali.  She stared in Kali's direction and crossed her eyes.  Then, as an afterthought, she began to growl, steadily increasing in volume.

            At first, Kali did not seem to notice Ayuiij at all—then, she looked up at her, and could not stop an expression of alarm from quickly crossing her features.  Ayuiij was already tall, almost six feet in height, and she was standing onto of her bed, which was over two feet in height, so she seemed very tall and imposing to Kali, who was sitting at her desk.  It didn't help that it was a little bit after dusk and the only light on in the room came from Kali's computer screen.  "What are you doing?"  Kali asked, her voice automatically going up in pitch.

            "What do you care?"  Ayuiij snarled back while inwardly forcing herself not to break out into laughter.

            "Uh . . ." Kali stammered, her wariness increasing by the moment.

            Success! Ayuiij thought.  "Are you afraid of me?"  Ayuiij demanded in a low, menacing voice.  Ayuiij could now feel the Terran's fear.  Andorian antennae picked up useful things, including increases in biochemical or bioelectrical impulses.  Right now, Ayuiij could guess that Kali's adrenaline gland was going haywire.

            "Uh . . . I wasn't, but now I am," Kali said, in her discomfiture, blurting out the truth.

            "Why?"  Ayuiij snapped, putting on a convincing facsimile of anger.

            "Well, right now you look like you're going to eat me."

            It only took a split second for a reply to formulate in Ayuiij's mind.  "You Terrans are wonderfully perceptive, you know."

            An instant flash of understanding arched across Kali's face.  "Oh, dear," she muttered.  Ayuiij then imitated a noise that another of the Earth creatures, a dog, customarily makes.  Correspondingly, Kali's eyes widened in shock and she bolted for the door.

            As soon as the doors whisked shut behind Kali, Ayuiij collapsed on top of her bed in a massive fit of giggles.  "Works every time," she gasped out loud to herself.  She laughed herself nearly sick for about ten minutes, and she began plotting to find her next victim.

            About a half an hour later, when Ayuiij was trying to decide whether or not to seek out Kali and pretend to stalk her, or choose another victim at random, the doors whisked open again.  This time, a short, thin human appeared.  She looked over at Ayuiij who was sitting on the bed, staring at her in silence.  The girl had sharp gray-green eyes and appeared far more confident than Kali.  "Hi," she said in a voice devoid of enthusiasm and bordering on the intensely impatient and annoyed.  She folded her arms across her chest and announced: "You're Ayuiij ch'Ishima, I'm Yoshi Tamakari, and guess what?  When people try to eat me, I bite back."  She smiled brightly—even that seemed to hold a note of sarcasm.  "I'm your new roommate."

            Delighted by this introduction, Ayuiij laughed out loud, visibly startling Yoshi.  Yoshi's eyes narrowed.  "Ah—you told her that just so you could scare the crap out of her and laugh your butt off."

            "Yeah," Ayuiij admitted as she laughed.  "What can I say?  I was bored."  A flicker of a smile crossed Yoshi's face, then disappeared.

            "You know, thanks to you I have to move all of Kali's stuff for her 'cause she too scared to come back here."

            "Let me keep one of the . . . penguins," Ayuiij implored.


            "So I can torture her with the knowledge that I have one of her beloved animals," Ayuiij replied.  Seeing the refusal on Yoshi's face, she quickly added: "Think of it as revenge for making you move all of her things." 

            Both of Yoshi's eyebrows rose in consideration of that.  "Kay!" she agreed enthusiastically.

            "Kay?"  Ayuiij repeated, confusion passing over her almost sky-blue features.

            "Short for 'okay'," Yoshi translated.  Yoshi made an exasperated noise at Ayuiij's further incomprehension.  "Which means 'yes', or 'alright', or 'okalie-dokalie' or—"

            "Okay, I get the point," Ayuiij said, emphasizing the first word clearly.  "You don't have much in the patience department, do you?  I'd like to see you try Andorian!"

            Yoshi stared at her for a long moment, then gave a derisive bark of laughter, "HA!"

            "That's what I thought," Ayuiij said smugly.  Then her lips stretched into a smile.  Yoshi Takamari seemed anything but boring and docile.  With any luck, Yoshi would be violent as well, and the two would get along famously.

            "You know," Yoshi added after the two had packed up most of Kali's things and replaced them with Yoshi's, "you would probably like Kali once you got to know her."

            "It's not that I hate her or anything," Ayuiij said, punctuating her with the useful shrug she had picked up from humans, "she's just boring."

            Yoshi rolled her eyes impatiently.  "Boring?  How is she boring?  Compared to a lot of the other kids running around here, she's absolutely intriguing.  And in comparison with everybody here at the Academy, the rest of the youthful population here on Earth is a black hole of interest."

            "Black hole?"  Ayuiij queried.  "You mean a black star, a quantum singularity?"

            "Sure," Yoshi replied noncommittally. 

            Ayuiij growled.  "You Terrans are so geo-centric.  Only humans say "black holes"—the rest of the galaxy calls them by their proper name."

            "Proper names are boring," Yoshi shot back.  Then her eyes lit in challenge.  "Hey—wormholes are 'quantum singularities' too, so, there—how would you know the difference if I used the 'proper' words?"

            Ayuiij made a grunting noise, acknowledging her point.  "Anyway," Yoshi said, "I have been working on a little something to annoy my roommate—former roommate.  Care to help out?"

            "Yes," Ayuiij replied instantaneously, "what is it?"

            "It's a little something that Kali is pretty good at too—satire."

            "'Satire'?  I do not know this word in Federation Standard," Ayuiij replied.

            "Uh . . . it's making fun of something using exaggeration, understatement, sarcasm, or a combination of the three."

            "That's right up my alley," Ayuiij said, voice gleeful.

            Yoshi stopped her with a glare.  "How do you know expressions like 'up my alley' and not 'okay'."

            "I've read a few books in Federation Standard—I had to look up colloquialisms in the dictionary.  They're fun, so I try to use as many as possible."

            "Ah," Yoshi said in understanding.  "So, my roommate's a Vulcan—"

            "Vulcans are boring."

            "Vulcans are boring," Yoshi agreed.  "At least all the ones I've ever met are—I haven't exactly met this one yet."

            "Wait a minute," Ayuiij said, her hope rising; she grabbed Yoshi's arms in delight.  "Are you telling me you are already planning to annoy someone you've never met?"

            "Well," Yoshi said, not seeming embarrassed at all, "yeah, what else am I supposed to do in my free time?"

            "Yes!"  Ayuiij exalted.  "I have found the perfect roommate.  We can devise our evil schemes together.  Please, continue!"

            "That sentence does not require an interjection or an exclamation point, and if someone were writing this down, they would have used both," Yoshi grumbled as she shook out of Ayuiij's grip.  "So Kali knows a lot about Vulcan philosophy—she went two years ago for a few months.  She can tell us enough about it so we can come up with something.  Then," here Yoshi paused, and rubbed her hands together, her eyes lighting up in unmistakable mischievous glee.  She knelt down by one of her packs and pulled out a black rectangular solid.  She tapped a control on the side, and a compartment opened to show a small computer keypad.  She then depressed the top of the solid and a lid-like feature popped up, revealing another metallic surface.  Upon further examination, Ayuiij could see that the surface had upon it a circular pattern of some sort.

            "This," Yoshi announced triumphantly, "is a transporter.  I programmed the matter/energy converter and assembled it myself."

            Ayuiij stared at her in amazement.  "Does it work?"

            "It still has a few bugs," Yoshi admitted.  "I wouldn't put your pet hamster in there, but I could deliver Kali's penguins to her."  Yoshi frowned.  "I would probably have to do it one at a time—this thing won't carry something more than 20 kilograms."

            "I don't have a pet hamster."

            Yoshi sighed exasperatedly.  "I know.  The Academy doesn't allow pets, of course you don't have one."

            "Then why did you say that?"

            "If you are going to live among humans, you need to realize that we say some pretty useless things sometimes.  And other times we speak metaphorically."  Yoshi frowned and glared at the mini-transporter sitting in front of her.  "I hate metaphors," she muttered.

            Ayuiij wisely chose to ignore that last statement.  "So what does a transporter have to do with anything?"  Yoshi shot a miffed look at her, displeased at Ayuiij lack of overwhelming enthusiasm.

            "We're going to use the transporter to deliver our satire right to my roommate.  After she sets up her stuff, we can have Kali give us the coordinates of her desk or something.  Beam it right there—she'll never know how it got there."

            Ayuiij frowned at that.  "But she's a Vulcan, right?  They're supposed to be all logical and everything.  She knows that things don't just appear.  Won't she think of transportation?"

            "Maybe," Yoshi replied.  "But students don't have access to the transporters here—unless it is an emergency like a fire or something, then the emergency protocols will allow students to operate the transporters.  So she will never be able to find out what happened, or at least, who did it."

            "I like it," Ayuiij pronounced gleefully.  "When can we begin?"

            "Unfortunately, not now.  I've got the plan, but I don't really know anything useful or fun about Vulcan philosophy, so I'll have to wait until Kali can come up with something."

            "I don't think it's possible for Vulcan philosophy to be useful or fun," Ayuiij said bluntly.

            "Probably not," Yoshi agreed as she put the mini-transporter on the desk.  "And I wouldn't care if it were, but I meant fun and useful in the sense of being 'bashable'."

            "'Bashable'?"  Ayuiij said, fighting the grin creeping across her face.  "Bashable?  I know that's not a word."

            Yoshi shrugged.  "Who cares?  Making up words is fun, and it makes people look at you funny."

            "Ooh . . . something I can add to my list," Ayuiij said, rubbing her hands together excitedly.  So, perhaps she had prejudged Terrans—Yoshi seemed to have enough quirks to be interesting, and she was definitely odd.  Making up words, I have to try that.

Yoshi gazed at her and raised a skeptical eyebrow.  She didn't even have to say it, Ayuiij knew what she was thinking: I don't think you have to add anything to your list.            "It's most fun to make up words that are grammatically incorrect and watch your English teacher's head explode," Yoshi added after a moment.  She smiled in what was obviously fond recollection.

Ayuiij gazed at her oddly.  "Do Terrans really do that, or were you speaking metaphorically again?"

"Think about that for half a second and I think you'll figure it out," Yoshi responded sarcastically.  Ayuiij responded with a growling noise that Yoshi promptly ignored.  "Sometimes they do turn red, though."

Ayuiij cocked her head to the side.  "Wait a minute . . . you change colors?"

Yoshi's eyebrows arched again.  "How long have you been on Earth?"

"Almost a month."

"You've never seen anyone blush?  Their skin turns a little more pink or red—it's actually blood rushing to your face."

"I can't say I've noticed, but I was at the Vulcan Embassy for most of the time and Vulcans don't blush," Ayuiij replied.

"And if they did, they wouldn't be turning red, that's for sure," Yoshi muttered.  Then Yoshi cocked her head to the size and gazed up at Ayuiij's five feet, eleven inch frame.  "The Vulcan Embassy, why were you at the Vulcan Embassy and not the Andorian Embassy?"

"They have better food," Ayuiij replied flatly.

Yoshi made a face.  "That is highly improbable—and I know obfuscation when I hear it."

Good, Ayuiij thought, she isn't dense either.  She knows that I don't want to talk about it.  Ayuiij supposed she should be grateful that her roommate was either apathetic or 'sensitive'—Ayuiij was leaning on the apathetic side—or she would have to explain why she didn't want to talk or even think about Andor.  And that was not a conversation Ayuiij wanted to have.  "Are you using big words on purpose because you don't think I know them in Federation Standard?"

"Maybe," she replied almost impishly, "and call it English why don't you?  Everybody else does."  She refolded her arms across her chest and shook a finger pointedly at Ayuiij.  "Hey—you have to promise me that you won't scare Kali until she gets to know you better."

"Why?"  Ayuiij asked, unimpressed.

"Because Kali and I actually went to secondary school together, we're friends and it is so not cool having a roommate and a friend that don't get along."  Seeing the lack of response on Ayuiij's light blue features, she continued, her eyes lighting up with an idea.  "Ooh—how about this?  If you make friends with her first, you'll be able to terrify her for the rest of her life, but if you just scare her away, you won't have the same plethora of opportunities."

"Plethora—mhee!"  Ayuiij said delightedly.  "I like it.  So, let's go make friends."

Yoshi rolled her gray-green eyes at Ayuiij's exorbitant extremes of enthusiasm.  "Uh, maybe you should help me bring her stuff down to her new room and you guys can make up or something."

"Does that mean you'll switch back?"  Ayuiij asked, not relishing that notion.

"No—the Academy decided that I was better suited—psychologically—to deal with an insane Andorian."

Ayuiij laughed.  "Yeah . . . but I can't imagine them saying that—everyone here is obnoxiously politically correct."

Yoshi nodded.  "Which is odd, because Starfleet officers are notoriously not politically correct.  Some of them will say anything to anyone."

"Yeah, some Starfleet guy made a crack about how 'the Klingons hate the Romulans and the Romulans hate the Cardassians and the Cardassians hate the Federation and the Federation hates the Dominion—but everybody hates the Ferengi."

Yoshi smiled briefly, then frowned.  "Ten to one we're at war with the Dominion within the next ten years.  All out war, that is."

Ayuiij gave a bark of derisive laughter.  "Ten years?  Try five—or less.  I mean, come on, the Federation has fought with everybody else who has their own empire.  First we fought the Romulans, then the Klingons, then the Cardassians.  Who didn't we fight with?"

"The Vulcans," Yoshi added.  "The Romulan wars happened before the Federation was founded, so this counts.  The Vulcans had a whole bunch of colonies, but they didn't fight Earth or Andor or Trill."

"Hello?  Pacifism, remember?"  Ayuiij said.  "Vulcan came up with the whole Prime Directive—we-don't-interfere-with-'lower'-species-development anyway—philosophy."

"It's called IDIC—Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations," Yoshi said smugly.  Then she laughed.  "You now know the sum total of my knowledge about Vulcan."

"Mine too—if the Vulcans are all about diversity, then why are they so stuck-up?"  Ayuiij grumbled.  "My stay at the Embassy was not fun—I don't think my intelligence was ever insulted so many times before in my life."

"It isn't all Vulcans, Kali said she liked her trip to Vulcan.  I think it is just the really smart ones—they're all elitists or something."

"Great, that's just great.  Well, I hope Kali has fun with her new roommate—aren't we supposed to be dragging her stuff over there?"

Without replying, Yoshi went to one of the drawers and opened it.  She proceeded to messily stuff all of Kali's clothes into a duffle bag.  Ayuiij grabbed Kali's uniforms out of the small closet they had oh-so-briefly shared, and tossed them into the bag as well.  They bundled up all of Kali's penguins but one, tossed the candle into a bag and dragged/man-handled Kali's stuff down the corridor.  Unfortunately, Kali's new room was in the westernmost part of the Academy dorms while Ayuiij's and Yoshi's room was in the easternmost part.  Kali's room also happened to be on the third floor.

"Don't these people believe in turbolifts?"  Yoshi asked rhetorically and with a growl.  "And how the heck did they choose where to put the first year students?  How are we on opposite sides of the Academy?"

"I think they spread everyone out so there's an equal number of first, second, third, and fourth students in each of the sections," Ayuiij replied as they began walking down the third floor hallway.  They stopped at room 386.  Yoshi knocked swiftly on the door and it opened to reveal Kali.

Kali instantly looked up at Ayuiij, and, to her credit did not balk, but only looked over to Yoshi.  "So you're here to say, 'She was just messing with your mind, now will you help me undermine the last 100 years of Vulcan-Terran relations?'"

Ayuiij was slightly surprised.  "You are perceptive," she said, for a moment being serious.  Her opinion of Kali went up a notch.

"Not really," Kali replied with a slightly crooked smile.  "I just know Yoshi pretty well."  She looked at Yoshi with a fair amount of trepidation.  "Too well, insanely well."

Yoshi tapped her foot impatiently.  "I'm not getting any younger standing here and my arm's about to fall out—can we come in already?"

"No," Kali said as she stepped aside to let them in.  That caught Ayuiij by surprise and she had to hide a smile.  So Kali did have a sense of humor—she was probably just uneasy around people she didn't know.

"Hey," Ayuiij said, surprising herself with her next words.  "I didn't actually mean to scare you, scare you—I was just bored."

"You know," Kali said, punctuating each word with a mild stab of her finger.  "If it had been someone else and I was watching, I would have probably laughed."

"Ha, ha, then you deserved it," Ayuiij said with a snicker.  Again, to her surprise, Kali laughed as well.  Startled, Ayuiij realized that she might actually fit in at the Academy.  Or, at least, she'd have a couple of people that had something nearing her sense of humor.  Ayuiij also noticed that Kali was still a bit wary of her.  She wondered if Kali were slightly xenophobic, or if it was just Ayuiij.  It's probably just me, Ayuiij reflected after a moment, I would scare me too.

"So where's your unfun roommate?"  Yoshi asked brightly.

Kali looked at Yoshi strangely.  "Not here yet . . . the commander said the ship bringing some of the students from Vulcan, Trill, and Betazed was delayed for some reason.  Something about having to return to Trill."

"Maybe they left someone in orbit," Ayuiij commented, then burst into laughter at her own joke.         

Yoshi ignored her with a mildly bemused expression and Kali grinned for a moment, then continued speaking, "Why did you say she was unfun?"

"Hope they don't run into anyone when they come back," Ayuiij said, still chortling.  "Wham!"

"Vulcan," Yoshi replied succinctly to Kali.  She then purposefully caught Ayuiij's gaze and rolled her eyes.

Kali nodded once, but Ayuiij had the impression she was merely acknowledging what Yoshi had to say, not agreeing with it.  "What do you think of Vulcans?"  Ayuiij asked, abruptly calming down.

Kali shrugged noncommittally, but then continued speaking, almost in a rush, "I like Vulcans, they're happy."

"Happy?"  Ayuiij echoed, amused.  She had never encountered that particular view concerning Vulcans.

Yoshi smirked at that.  "Uh, with the whole unemotional thing?  I think the Vulcans would beg to differ."

Kali hesitated again, then spoke: "It's not that they don't have emotions, they just believe in—"

"Repression?"  Ayuiij asked.  "That's unhealthy."

"It's not exactly repression—it's control."

"Well, most Vulcans I know are pretty deeply repressed," Yoshi argued.  Then she grinned as Kali groaned in agony.

"What?"  Ayuiij asked, knowing that she missed something.

"Yoshi just made a really horrible pun," Kali said, glaring daggers at her friend.  "The words 'well' and 'deeply'."

"Oh," Ayuiij grunted, then she couldn't help it, she grinned.  "That is terrible," she admitted.  "I hope you come up with more."

"You don't have to worry about that," Yoshi said with a mischievous grin.  "But about those Vulcans . . . so it's not repression, it's denial, and not the river in Egypt."  This time, both Ayuiij and Kali groaned in agony.

"I don't really know how to explain it," Kali confessed, obviously frustrated with herself.  "It's called cthia or something.  It is supposed to be mastery or control, not repression.  But it's like that's the ideal or something . . . I don't know!  Ask a Vulcan."

"Yeah, right," Yoshi muttered.  "Like I care that much."

"Like you care about anything that much," Ayuiij shot back.

Kali smirked.  "He-he-he, so Ayuiij knows you almost as well as I do now."

"Hey!" Yoshi said indignantly, "I care about a few things that much."

"Oh really, like what?"  Kali challenged.

"Uh, I would greatly prefer that the world not end.  And I don't much care to be assimilated—the Borg can keep their nanoprobes and ick-factor to themselves.  And I want to avoid any class on time travel like the plague."

"Time travel is fun," Kali protested.

"Time travel is fun—but it makes my brain hurt," Ayuiij said.

            "You know, you guys can sit down," Kali said, gesturing to the two chairs and the two beds in the now sparsely furnished room. 

            "We prefer to stand," Yoshi said as she took a chair and Ayuiij flopped down on the bed.

            Kali gave Ayuiij a look and belatedly said, "The brain does not experience the sensation of pain."

            "Mine does," Ayuiij retorted as Yoshi smiled and Kali gave a long sigh.

            "So, do you have any fun classes?"  Kali asked.  "I wonder if we're in any together?"

            "Fun?" Yoshi echoed.  Kali moved over to the computer at her desk as Yoshi spoke.  "I think I'm taking Computer Programming, Special and General Relativity, Calc 2, Klingonese, and the ones everyone has to take—Lit of the Federation, History of the Alpha Quadrant and the Federation, and Conceptual Temporal Theory, and Navigations."

            "I guess you're majoring in Operations," Ayuiij said.  "And what, minoring in engineering?"

            "Navigations, actually," Yoshi replied.  "None of my classes actually get interesting until next year."

            "I've got a couple fun ones—Molecular Biochemistry, Special and General Relativity, Integrative Biology, Genetic Engineering, and Calc 2," Kali said, reading from the list on her computer screen.

            "That's a lot of classes," Ayuiij muttered.  "I'm looking forward to the self-defense classes.  Apparently they're very hands on."

            "How is this good?"  Kali asked.  "I live in fear of self-defense classes."

            "I'm going into security, so I have to log more hours than you do," Ayuiij said, gazing reflectively out the window.  Ayuiij decided that Kali now had a much better view than Yoshi or Ayuiij did—from her position near the window, she could see the entirety of the Golden Gate Bridge and the sea stretching out into infinity.  "I'm taking Vulcan for my language."

            "So am I, but I already know some, so I am in the second level class," Kali said.

            "How is it that you think Vulcans are so boring, yet you take their language?"  Yoshi demanded.

            "Are you joking?  Their language is awesome.  The calligraphy is almost like Arabic, but more, uh, vertical.  It looks cool," Ayuiij paused for a moment.  "Aren't we supposed to be thinking up devious plans to undermine Vulcan-Terran relations?"

            Yoshi smiled.  "Vulcan-Terran-Andorian," she commented.  She turned and raised a pair of expectant eyebrows at Kali.  "So, about that Vulcan philosophy."

            Kali launched into a slightly convoluted explanation of Vulcan philosophy, including IDIC and the Reformation.  She explained Surak's role as the Confucius or Buddha of Vulcan, the Kolinahr excising of all emotion and various related topics.  She finished by saying, "It all boils down to what we would call the Vulcan version of the Golden Rule, 'The spear in the other's heart is the spear in your own—you are he.'"

            "That's not the Golden Rule," Yoshi argued.  "The Golden Rule is 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.  The Vulcans are saying that what you do unto others is done to yourself."

            As Yoshi and Kali argued about whether or not Surak's famous maxim was like this "Golden Rule"—whatever that was, Ayuiij got up and began searching through Kali's things for a piece of paper and something to draw with.  Ayuiij was surprised when she found the packet of paper.  Most humans no longer used paper, they preferred to do things solely on computers.  Ayuiij grabbed a pen from Kali's hand almost without being noticed and sat back down on the bed to draw.

            "How's this for your satire?"  Ayuiij asked, smiling evilly.  Kali and Yoshi had subsided into silence, glaring at each other, not really in anger, but in indigence.  She held up a piece of paper.  Upon it was drawn a cartoonish, dead, Vulcan with a spear sticking out of its heart, and the caption: The spear in the other's heart is the spear in your own—you are he—The New Multiple Personality Disorder.

            "That's horrible," Kali said while laughing.  "Here, write it in Vulcan."  Kali scribbled down the statement in Vulcan and Ayuiij carefully copied it onto the piece of paper.  Kali and Yoshi spent the next hour or so re-interpreting the whole of Vulcan philosophy into a combination of military totalitarianism and psychological disorders.  Ayuiij contributed every once in a while, but she found herself sitting back and listening to and being impressed by the pure nonsense humans could invent and then justify.  By the time an hour had passed, Kali and Yoshi had six or so pages of material.

            After swiftly reviewing its contents, Ayuiij shook her head.  "And you thought I was going to eat you?"  Ayuiij asked Kali.  "Your new roommate is going to roast you alive if she finds out that you did it."

            "She's not going to find out, because Yoshi's going to use her happy little transporter to beam it on her desk while I am in the room—it will clear me of suspicion."  Then Kali laughed far more evilly than Ayuiij had thought possible.

            Ayuiij and Yoshi left soon afterward and made their way back to their cabin.  On the way, Yoshi mentioned that she wanted Ayuiij to help her with a holomatrices she was designing for something called a 'video game'.

            "What's a video game?"  Ayuiij asked curiously.

            "Old earth progenitor of the holodeck," Yoshi explained.  "There's this old game called Tekken © that I want to make into a holodeck program.  I noticed you have a sword—can you use it?"

            Ayuiij took offense.  "Of course I can use it," she said, irritated.  "I have it, don't I?"

            Yoshi threw up her hands impatiently.  "Well, it could have been a family heirloom or something."

            "It is a family heirloom!"  Ayuiij snapped, then she let out a sigh.  "Sorry, I forgot that you don't know anything about Andor.  We learn to fight as soon as we breathe, practically.  Otherwise we'd all just kill each other."

            "Great," Yoshi said sarcastically.  "So you should like Tekken—it's a martial arts fighting game."

            "Yeah?"  Ayuiij said.  "I wouldn't mind helping you out at all."

            "Good," Yoshi responded.  "That settles that, then."  The two entered their room and stayed up far past the Academy's recommended bedtime speaking to one another.

            The next day was orientation for all of the new, first year cadets.  Ayuiij thought that Starfleet was more efficient than her old school, but orientation was still, necessarily boring.  The only interesting thing that occurred all day happened when Ayuiij noticed that someone was even more bored than Ayuiij.  This particular person had come into one of the physics classrooms, sat down at a desk, put her head down, and promptly fell asleep.  Ayuiij had smirked at that, and then continued to smirk at the teacher's mounting irritation.  Finally, the teacher, an older Vulcan had let out a rather human-sounding sigh and raised his voice:

            "Cadet Sadik, perhaps you would care to wake up and pay attention."  Sadik sat up slowly and deliberately as she gazed directly at the Vulcan with sharp, impertinent blue eyes.  Her shoulder length black hair was perfectly straight and framed her face until the girl rudely shoved it back with both hands.

            "Isn't there any way to speed this up, Mr. Surak?"  Sadik asked with an annoyed air.  A dangerous smirk played around the edges of her lips.  "I'm bored."

            Ayuiij nearly fell out of her chair laughing, but she held her breath and waited to see if Cadet Sadik would be expelled then and there.

            "Yes, Miss Sadik, we could speed this up, as you put it, if you were to pay attention.  As it is, you have caused this to take longer, 12.65 seconds, to be precise.  You will see me one hour before class tomorrow, Cadet—and my name is Commander Senek—you will address me accordingly."

            "Aye, sir," Sadik replied neutrally.  Ayuiij didn't think Sadik had been chastened at all.  When the cadets were released from the class Ayuiij made her way over to where Sadik was seated.  The girl appeared to be from somewhere around Southeast Asia.  She was shorter than Ayuiij by three inches, and had an athletic, slender build.  Sadik rose from her chair in a prolonged sort of way, then looked at Ayuiij and raised an ink-black eyebrow.

            "Hello," Ayuiij said with a mischievous smile.  "I couldn't help but notice you were bored in that class."  Yoshi and Kali came over to stand slightly beside Ayuiij.  "Me, too."

            Sadik gave a smile that was slightly hesitant and fairly friendly.  She stuck out her hand for Ayuiij to shake.  "My name is Jori Sadik," she said in a voice lower than either Kali's or Yoshi's.

            "I'm Ayuiij ch'Ishima," Ayuiij replied, grasping Jori's hand tentatively; Andorians were much stronger than the average human.  She didn't want to break something accidentally.

            Jori startled her by breaking out into laughter.  "Wow, I'm bad with names anyway, but I'll never remember any one like yours," she said.  She looked over at Kali and Yoshi.  "Tell me yours are more normal."

            Confused, Ayuiij wasn't sure whether to take offense at what seemed like a serious breech in etiquette.  On Andor, one did not mock another because of a name, names were too important.  Ayuiij could already feel a thread of anger rising from within her.  She quickly tried to dismiss it—Jori seemed like the type to insult openly if she truly wanted to.

            "Yoshi Tamakari," Yoshi said, her voice far more skeptical than friendly.  She cast a glance at Ayuiij.  "Like 'Jori Sadik' is normal.  Ayuiij ch'Ishima is perfectly normal for an Andorian."

            Ayuiij knew very well that Yoshi knew nothing about Andorian names, or nothing about Andorian culture in general.  Ayuiij wasn't going to tell Jori that, though.

            "I'm Kali," Kali interjected, sensing that Yoshi was about to say something rude to Sadik.

            "'Jori Sadik' isn't normal at all," Jori replied, "that's why I like it."

            "Make sure you let your parents know," Yoshi suggested facetiously.

            Jori frowned slightly, her forehead creasing.  "I barely remember my parents," she said matter-of-factly, "they died when I was . . . younger."  She paused and gestured that the small group make their way into the hall.  "So, Ayuiij, Yoshi, and Kali—what are you people going to do now?"

            "Eat," Yoshi replied firmly.  "We're going down to the Replicafe."

            Jori shrugged.  "Food is good, works for me."

            "You'll love Yoshi, then," Kali told Jori as they began walking toward the Replicafe which was outside between the athletic fields and the Academy Observatory.  "She eats all the time."

            Jori gave Yoshi a sideways look, "Don't look it," she commented.

            The quartet went and ate lunch, passing the time making sarcastic comments about everything possible.  To Ayuiij's surprise, she felt that the group needed a little optimism to round out the cynicism.  Compared to the three humans, the Andorian was a cup full of sunshine.  When Ayuiij commented that the three were enough to make anyone psychologically unstable, she was met with a chorus of ragged cheers.

            A couple of days passed, and finally Ayuiij had been to all of her classes and met most of her instructors.  Most teachers had actually begun teaching.  The only class that was still dragging on was the self-defense class.  Apparently, the teachers had pre-paired sparring and practice partners according to strength and ability.  Because of the students delayed on Trill, the teacher, a very British Lt. Commander Keating, had decided to fit the students for sparring gear, and various equipment.  The only entertaining thing that had passed in that class had been Kali's muttered cries for help upon receiving her staff.  Ayuiij shook her head in mild disgust—it was the responsibility of the parent to teach the child to defend herself. 

Every Starfleet cadet had self-defense training every day until they attained a certain level of skill.  I guess they got tired of their people being beat up by everybody in the galaxy, Ayuiij mused.  Ayuiij was not the only person to notice that Starfleet had been starting to edge toward a higher state of military efficiency again; Jori had commented on it as well.  Ayuiij had received enough good practice weapons to make her happy for a month.  She, like Kali, had a staff, but in addition, she had a short sword, a broad sword, double sticks, and a Klingon bat'leth.

            Ayuiij had gathered all of her things and dumped them in her corner of the practice room, then began to stretch out.  Soon Commander Keating would tell them to line up with their partners.  Of course, Ayuiij's partner was one of the late students, so Ayuiij had not even met her.  Ayuiij removed her practice shoes and socks and began a gentle calf stretch.

            At that moment, Ayuiij saw Commander Keating walking over to her with another person dressed in workout clothing.  As the pair drew closer, Ayuiij saw that Keating's companion was female.  Darn, Ayuiij thought, she had found most other humanoid females to be less than vicious when fighting.  Ayuiij didn't want someone she would just run into the ground.

            "Cadet ch'Ishima," Commander Keating said in a crisp British accent, "This is Cadet Sayel, you're new sparring partner."  Keating caught her eyes and arched his eyebrows.  "Try not to eat this one, eh?"

            Ayuiij circled around the Vulcan female.  She was tall, only an inch or two shorter than Ayuiij, and had thick, wavy dark brown hair pulled back into a knot.  The knot revealed the trademark gracefully arched and pointed ears.  Her eyebrows arched upward in the characteristic manner, and she had unusual hazel-blue eyes.  Sayel watched Ayuiij with an expression of intrigue, but she only followed Ayuiij's circular movement with her eyes, not her body.

            Very slowly, Ayuiij reached out with a finger and tapped the tip of one of Sayel's ears.  "Pointy!"  Ayuiij exclaimed.  Ayuiij heard laughter from several of the other students, but the most prominent was another young woman—who happened to have even more startling physical characteristics than an Andorian.  Her skin was nearly indigo and seemed to sparkle, and she had long hair that appeared to be black, but was truly a very dark blue.  She gave Sayel a smile which seemed to mix amusement and affection.

            "Indeed," Sayel replied, and it almost seemed as if a flash of amusement passed beneath her eyes.  As Ayuiij watched, Commander Keating turned a shade of dull red.  So, that's blushing, Ayuiij realized.  Amused, Ayuiij cast a glance at Sayel who regarded Keating with the same amount of fascination that Ayuiij had.

            "Cadet ch'Ishima," Keating said, his accent thickened and his voice became more clipped, a sure sign of his displeasure.  "Surely you know that it is against proper etiquette to touch Vulcans."

            "Why is that?"  Ayuiij asked Sayel.

            Sayel tilted her head to the side and folded her arms across her chest.  "I believe most Vulcans prefer not to be touched because they are what is known as 'touch-telepaths'.  Upon physical contact, they encounter a momentary telepathic contact.  Mostly, this contact comes without preparation and can be unpleasant—if perchance, the other mind was overly chaotic."

            "Oh," Ayuiij said, "do you care?"

            "Incidentally . . . not," Sayel said with the same calm tones in which she had spoken the previous sentence.  "I happen to be half-Betazoid as well, which seems to remove the restrictions of touch-telepathy."

            "You're saying you wouldn't need to touch me to read my mind," Ayuiij summarized.

            "Essentially," Sayel said.

            Appearing to be in pain, Commander Keating rubbed his forehead.  Then he dropped his hands and clapped them together.  "All right," he shouted, suddenly turning into a very formidable Starfleet officer.  "My job is to ensure that you aren't needlessly killed by some idiot who thinks he knows self-defense.  You are in these groups because some of you know a lot about self-defense, and some of you don't know a blasted thing.  The students who know something are going to lead the classes and I'm going to make sure the rest of you who don't know anything are learning what you are supposed to be learning.  Good.  We'll start with the basics for any good little Starfleet officer.  Rolling it is.  Cadet Jori Sadik!"

            "Yes, sir!"  Jori shouted, for once sounding completely serious and not sarcastic.

            "Cadet Sadik, you know a little something about gymnastics.  Teach us to roll!"

            Ayuiij already knew how to roll, and she preferred to practice the more advanced jump dive roll because it ensured that she would not break her antennae.  Seeing as she had already done that twice, Ayuiij saw no need to repeat it.  Jori taught the class front rolls, back rolls and how to fall to the front, back, and either side.  To finish that portion of the class, Jori demonstrated a kip that most other students laughed heartily at—not because Jori did not complete it well but because they couldn't dream of doing on at their stage of development.

            Singularly unimpressed, Ayuiij preformed a handless kip seconds before her neighbor, Sayel preformed the same move.  "Hey—you know how to do a kip."

            Sayel nodded.  "As do you."

            "You wouldn't by chance be able to fight as well . . . ?" Ayuiij asked expectantly.

            Sayel nodded again, sharply.  "I am reasonably proficient in the martial art form Tal-Shaya as well as a Terran discipline called Tae-Kwon-Do.  In addition, I have advanced skill with the lipra, the staff, the bow, and the sling, and basic skills with the sword."

            "What kind of sword?"


            Ayuiij gave a dismissive grunt.  "Broadsword is better.  Vulcans learn fast, right?"

            Sayel inclined her head, "Vulcans are predisposed to accelerated advancement in study."

            "Could have just said 'yes'," Ayuiij muttered in Andorian.

            "That would have been . . . less accurate," Sayel replied in Federation Standard without a pause.

            Ayuiij ignored the class around her and waited for Sayel to practice her flawless back roll for the third time.  "I think you've got it," she said dryly.  "So you speak Andorian?"

            "Fluently," Sayel responded as she bent over to touch her toes.

            Ayuiij had to pause their conversation as Yoshi took over for Jori, teaching the class some straight forward blocks and punches.  "So, you want to learn how to fight with a broadsword."

            "That seems advantageous for me, but why would you wish to teach me?"

            "I need someone to spar with, and most humans have to train for years to get the muscle tone required.  You don't, you're a Vulcan."

            "Indeed," Sayel replied again, this time with a note of dryness.  Ayuiij and Sayel did not speak again until Commander Keating moved on to instruct in the staff.  After doing a few more monotonous drills, Ayuiij let out a sigh.

            "I'm bored—want to do a little free sparring?"  Ayuiij asked Sayel, a plaintive note in the Andorian's voice.

            "As long as you agree not to kill me," Sayel replied in that same serene tone of voice.

            "Done," Ayuiij said.  "I won't eat you either, not even a little bit."

            "How generous," Sayel said, then she struck at Ayuiij with blinding speed.  In the next few seconds, Ayuiij's world of perception became almost entirely focused on Sayel.  The Vulcan was strong and fast, faster than Ayuiij, who was forced to retreat for many steps.  Apparently, this Vulcan didn't give up aggression, Ayuiij grumbled to herself.  But after a few seconds, Ayuiij started doing better, although she was becoming winded.  Ayuiij knew she was in trouble then—Vulcans wouldn't get winded in a vacuum.

            Abruptly, Sayel's staff looped around Ayuiij's in a peculiar way, flipping Ayuiij's staff out of her hands and into the air.  Sayel spun around and caught the staff her left hand.  "Hey!" Ayuiij said in disbelief.  Firstly, she was startled that Sayel would execute such a move, and secondly, she was impressed.  "How did you do that?"

            "Forgive me," Sayel commented briskly, "I will show you in a moment."  She handed Ayuiij's staff back to her and swiftly walked over to where a Tellarite male and a Trill female were sparring.  Ayuiij could see that the Tellarite was being far too rough with the diminutive Trill.  "Cadet Trusk, Cadet Tereza," Sayel called out in an even, commanding voice.  "You will both stop, now."  When the two had stopped, Sayel turned toward Trusk.  "Anyone can see that you are being too rough, Cadet Trusk, you will stop."

            Trusk threw down his staff in frustration—the Trill jumped, but did not cringe.  Her bright blue-gray eyes flashed in anger, but that expression was quickly replaced by confusion.  "She's a coward!  I want a different sparring partner."

            "Cadet Tereza is not a coward," Sayel said without changing inflection.  "You may try being less harsh and more patient."  Sayel then promptly ignored Trusk and fixed her sedate eyes on Tereza.  "Are you injured?"

            "No, thank you, Sayel, that was very sweet of you."

            The Vulcan raised an eyebrow at that comment, but only replied: "You are welcome."  Sayel walked back over to Ayuiij who stared at the two, eyes burning in anger.  "Perhaps it would be best if you attempted meditation for a moment," Sayel suggested, her voice turning gentler.

            "Perhaps it would be best if I knocked his head off," Ayuiij replied.  "Little pipsqueak—I'd knock him across the room."

            "Please—" Sayel broke off as the Tellarite soundly and purposefully struck Tereza in the face with the staff, Tereza went down.

            "Block, you idiot Trill!" the Tellarite shouted.  Sayel swung her staff upwards and slid it between the Tellarite and his staff, then she jerked her staff backwards, yanking his out of his grip as well.

            With barely a grunt, Ayuiij grabbed the Tellarite, pushed and shoved simultaneously, and launched the Tellarite into the air.  He landed a good five feet away from his previous position, and sprawled, face-first.  Ayuiij's anger expelled, she rolled him over with her foot.  "Next time, play nice."

            Ayuiij walked back over to where Sayel crouched next to the Trill.  Her skin was a few shades paler than normal which made her brown spots and striking eyes stand out even more.  Her blue-gray eyes had filled with tears and now were spilling down her cheeks, but they were not the  fleeting tears of physical pain, but the lasting tears of frustration.  As Ayuiij looked at the Trill, she felt a sort of chill tingle down her spine.  At once, all her sense became alert and Ayuiij felt that Tereza was more than met the eye.  There was a certain . . . mist-like quality about her that defied description.  Then Ayuiij caught her gaze; it was there, something about the eyes that bespoke an unusual source of wisdom and stability for someone Tereza's age.  Some Vulcans possessed this sort of serenity—not Sayel, but some others had a powerful presence like the depths of the ocean.

            "You're a joined Trill, aren't you?" Ayuiij blurted out impetuously.

            Tereza nodded, then turned to Sayel.  "I don't know, all of the sudden there was just so much confusion—I didn't know who I was anymore!"  When a new round of tears threatened to spill from Tereza's eyes, Sayel grasped her by the arm and gently pulled her to her feet.  "Elora," Sayel said in a tone that Ayuiij would classify as compassionate.  "This is to be expected—do not fault yourself.  As for Cadet Trusk, you may safely ignore anything he has to say—it is of no value."

            Sayel briefly touched Ayuiij's arm.  "Will you tell the commander that we are visiting the infirmary?  I will make up this session with Cadet Tereza at another time."  Sayel guided Tereza out of the room, still holding her by the arm.

            "Sure," Ayuiij replied, mystified.  Due to her experience at the Vulcan Embassy, it was unfathomable to Ayuiij's imagination that a Vulcan actually be civil, let alone compassionate.  If this was Kali's new roommate, then Kali was fortunate to get a Vulcan who wasn't overly arrogant and superior.  She might actually have a sense of humor, too, Ayuiij thought, she almost seemed amused about the ear thing.  And even if she wasn't emotional, she still helped Cadet Tereza out—and managed to insult Trusk.

            "What are you so deep in thought about?"  Yoshi asked.  "Trying to figure out how you're going to explain throwing Trusk across the room?"

            "No, and it was only five feet."  Ayuiij shrugged and picked up Trusk's staff.  "I was thinking that there's hope for the Vulcans after all."

            "Well, hope does spring eternal," Yoshi muttered, then glared at Trusk.  "You want to spar with me?" she snapped at him.  "I'll kick your Tellarite butt up and down the dojo!"

            Typical for Tellarites, Trusk grunted.  Ayuiij threw him his staff a trifle harder than needed and gave him a warning look.  "So," Ayuiij said, looking at Yoshi.  "Lunch?" she asked absently.  Ayuiij found that her stereotypical view of Vulcans had been quickly dashed, and she harbored an inordinate curiosity about Elora Tereza.