Title: Drift
Author: D'Alaire
Rated: T, for mention of adult theme, mild language
Summary: B'Elanna grows into her decision to leave Kessik and attend the academy.

Notes: Another old story, re-edited. This stream of vignettes with a selective memory is what came to mind when I saw the challenge, "Why did B'Elanna join the Academy?"

The equations used in this story were taken directly from the book or ExAstris Sciencia. Equals signs and subscript, among other notations, cannot be used here, so the closest approximation was used. A key is in the endnotes.

Feedback is welcome.


...

...drift

...

"Well, no. That's not a workable alternative. And it's also off the topic at hand."

"But I've seen it work before, Commander. I did the experiment and showed that rate of silicate degeneration. Why is it wrong?"

"I never said it was wrong, and it must have been a nice project--a school project, right? Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with this formulation, and we don't have time to go into it today. The corruption rate during neutron degeneracy in a Ramalok's singularity is what we're trying to compute. Any theories you'd like to argue with me outside of that, you can save for later. But for now, let's stick with quantum mechanics. One thing at a time."

The cadet's face turned to stone upon that final word and remained in that cast for the remainder of the session. The shadows on her face fell hard in the hall's ceiling light, emphasizing her frown and her dark gaze. She didn't take any more notes.

She did listen to the lecture, however, watched the viewscreen carefully for the last thirty-seven minutes.

It was a long half hour regardless.

"I hope to see some of you at the presentation tonight," the instructor concluded, clicking off the screen. "There'll be dinner, and a number of speakers from the Daystrom forum might give you some ideas for your interim projects to come; my own small offering might even give you the answers to your final exams." A little wave of laughter rose and ebbed through the hall, whereupon the commander offered the class a responding grin. "If you have the time, drop in for a while. Until then, dismissed."

The cadet stood before the word lost its echo, grabbing her PADDs and shooting one more stare towards the lectern before turning on a heel to leave.

The commander watched the young woman go--watched the door, in fact, until the hall was as silent as it had been two hours before. With a couple minutes to spare before needing to head out for the transport, and a couple clicks below to the monitor in the stand, the cadet's file appeared.

She was struggling with at least half her courses, though she'd gotten through secondary school with honors. Twice on probation, one formal disciplinary warning, two letters requesting remission.

It was only her third freshman quarter.

Psychological profile: Grade theta; 4. 5 tolerance; kappa level stress endurance/outcome ratio. All other information classified to personal file. Recommendation: Layover for further evaluation.

Funny thing was, the young woman seemed normal enough--normal as a cadet could be for the most part, anyway. They all had quirks they tried to hide. Outside, where she lurked before lecture or labs--always a little early--she sat and read her PADDs with either an unconcerned air or with intense interest. After class, she sometimes walked with other people. Other times, she could be seen walking briskly and alone, usually towards the labs or the research facilities.

She appeared dedicated, but she was failing, becoming unstable, unruly--frustrated. In all their subtlety, the evaluations said as much. But it was starting to show in her courses, too, and would only show more with time, it seemed.

Unfortunately, it fit the pattern.