I groaned and rolled onto my stomach. Yellow light fought its way through the broken blinds covering the small window above my bed.

"Jane! Get up!"

"Sio, don't," another voice pleaded.

My blanket surrounded me like a cocoon. I wasn't ready to emerge as a beautiful butterfly quite yet. Beside me, a man from the night before stirred, echoing my own groans. "What the hell?" it croaked.

"You should go," I responded, tearing the blankets off both of us, the afternoon sun caressing our bare skin.

The shouting and pleas beyond my door continued as I quickly found clothes for myself along with the stranger's. At the speed of light, we dressed, just as the shouting came closer.

"Jane!" BANG! "Get out here!"

"Will I see you again?" the stranger asked.

"I really doubt it," I responded. "Sorry." I unlocked the door and it slid open to reveal an angry grey-haired man and his worried wife.

The stranger slid past the couple without another word.

"Good morning, Sio," I said. His face was beet red and veiny. If that wasn't anger, I didn't know the meaning.

"Good morning, Jane," Tillie started from behind her angry husband.

"Morning?!" Sio barked. "Morning is long-gone, sweetheart! What happened to helping out? We're not keeping you for our health!"

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize the time," I said apologetically. I was sorry, but another day of back-breaking labour was something I wanted to avoid.

"How convenient that you lose track of time so frequently."


"Enough, Till! It's time for her to go."


"Don't worry, Tillie. He's right." I turned into my room and began to pack what little I had into a backpack. "I'm sorry this didn't work out."

"You're going to be sorry," Sio raged. "Get off my property."

There were so many things I wanted to say, but I kept my tongue, finished packing, and left without a word. Tillie waved subtly but sincerely as I left the tiny white farmhouse and began walking down the long dirt road that led to the main paved highway.

It was a hot day. There wasn't a single cloud in the bright blue sky. The land around here was flat except for the odd collection of ridged peaks jutting out of the ground like icebergs out of the ocean. Beautiful. I walked towards the city where I would be able to find work – hopefully work that wasn't quite as laborious as farm work. Slaving over the land became exhausting quite quickly. Even more so with the soothing sounds of Sio shouting orders at me. I had worked many a terrible job in exchange for a place to rest my head, but farm work was up there with my least favourite – right next to maid services and dish duty at a busy diner. Still, I was under-qualified for most things so had to take what I could get.

It took nearly 90 minutes for me to reach the city. By then, I was a stinking, sweaty mess. People stared as I dripped on the pavement, searching for somewhere that had air conditioning and water.

I spotted a tall glass building shimmering in the distance, the sun hitting it in perfect places. I had been there before and knew that it had everything I wanted, so that's where I went.

Eventually, I made it and sat in a circular booth surrounded on either side by tropical plants. Water was all I wanted and that's all I got, gulping the first glass down quickly while nursing the second. Arm hairs stood on end as the air conditioning cooled my sweat, causing goosebumps to run up and down my body. The water trickled refreshingly down my throat as I sipped from the tall glass. Relaxing. Soft bossa nova rhythms filtered through speakers on the walls, pushing any worries into the back of my mind. Though I fought, my eyes soon closed and I slipped into a light sleep.

"Jane Arlo?"

With a start, my eyes lurched open to find the source of the soft voice.

Standing before me was a tall, thin man in a Starfleet uniform. An admiral. I sat up straight, took a sip of my water, and said, "yes?"

"May I sit?"

"Of course," I said, a little too flustered.

"My name is Admiral Forma. I was sent to your last place of residence, but you had left. It's by chance that I happened upon you here. Good luck, actually."

I was confused. "Okay?"

"I'm here to offer you admission to the Starfleet Academy pre-course program. It's designed for those who were unable to finish basic education and hope to eventually attend Starfleet Academy."

Still confused.

"A friend – Captain Cathal of the USS Drogo – suggested you for the program. It's fairly new, but we have a lot of interest already. You would move into dorms at the Academy and attend classes to achieve standard qualifications or refresh your abilities. However, you first must take an examination at the beginning so that we can aptly judge your abilities and, if your scores suggest future achievement within our program, you will be enrolled and start working towards a career with Starfleet. Any questions?"

I shook my head, "so many." I didn't know where to begin. The suddenness of the situation made the content seem surreal. I wasn't entirely convinced that I was awake. Perhaps it was just a strange dream.

The Admiral smiled. "Is this something that you would be interested in pursuing?"

Dream or not, I nodded. What else did I have going for me?

"Well, if you don't have any further engagements, we can leave immediately and get to the Academy earlier than anticipated."

Starfleet Academy was beautiful. White stone intertwined with metal and glass. A modern marvel. Several buildings made up the campus, but the pre-course program was designated to a boring old brown rectangular building, hidden away in the back. The dorms and common room were on the second and third floor while the classrooms would be on the main level.

A room was assigned to me – an old ugly room with brown walls and green carpet. It was clean, but didn't feel like it. The scent of many lives previously inhabiting the room lingered in the walls and carpet. Ugly art and synthetic plants took the place of actual decor. If I did end up staying, something would have to be done.

But I didn't unpack my bag. Something inside me told me to not bother. The last year of school I had attended was when I was sixteen. I never struggled with any subject, but I couldn't handle the stress of school and home, so I left. The chances of me succeeding here were slim to none.

Still, Starfleet had been a dream of mine from an early age. I loved looking at the stars and thinking up adventures I would go on. I tried learning many an alien language, resulting in the ability to say 'hello' in several languages, but not much else. If I were accepted to Starfleet Academy, these would be things that I could actually do. It wouldn't be a dream anymore, it would be a truth.

I decided to simply do what I could.

Books had been provided in order to prepare for the entrance exam and I had been shown to the library for any further reading I wished to do. That's where I went.

It was a massive hall with shelves reaching from ceiling to floor. They had books from every country on Earth as well as books from many planets within the galaxy in many languages. It took all of my strength to avoid getting lost in some language or another.

Light shone through the windows that enveloped the building. Hardly any wall space could be seen that wasn't covered by a window. As far as libraries went, this place was magnificent.

In the back of the library, there was a pod-like desk available, which I happily climbed into, my books in hand. As soon as I sat inside, all outside noise ceased and I felt like I was in my own personal bubble. A built in computer turned on with a 'welcome' and I got to work.

Hours passed as I read, highlighted, and took notes in Math and then Physics; Biology and then Chemistry. Maths and Sciences were supposed to be the most difficult, so I figured I'd spend more time on those subjects first. Some of the information was familiar, but a lot of it was advanced and confusing.

Soon, my brain was filled to the brim and my eyes stung. I needed a break.

"Computer." The computer beeped in response. I wanted to know how I got here.

"Search: Admiral Forma."

Admiral Forma. Formerly Captain Forma of the USS Warren. He has been in Starfleet for 27.25 years. The Admiral first joined Starfleet at the age of-

"Thank you computer," I said, bored already. I wanted to search the person who had suggested me for the program. I didn't know any captains. I briefly wondered if this person had impersonated a captain.

"Computer. Search Captain... um..." I couldn't remember the name.

Please repeat query.

"Um... Computer, search USS... Drogo."

The USS Drogo is a Galaxy-class star ship currently on mission in the Alpha Quadrant, surveying uninhabited planets. Her current captain is Captain Cathal who has been in this position for three years. The ship's first officer-

"Computer, search Captain Cathal."

Captain Cathal has served on the USS Drogo for 9.12 years. He began as an Ensign working in Engineering and was promoted several times before becoming First Officer of Captain Ratzi. Captain Cathal became titled such after Captain Ratzi's tragic death during the Tielo Mission on stardate 2548.26. He is the youngest officer to captain the USS Drogo. Captain Cathal first joined Starfleet at the age of-

None of this sounded like anyone I knew.

"Computer, display image of Captain Cathal."

Familiar grey eyes stared nobly through the screen, though the image was of a younger man than I had known. An Engineer, he said. Is omission of truth the same as lying? I didn't suppose he simply forgot that he was a Captain.

I studied the image a little longer, wondering how someone I barely knew – someone I knew for such a short time – could know about my Starfleet dreams. We had barely talked... Had I mentioned it to him? Was this something I shouted when drunk? Regardless, why would he make the effort?

If he was trying to make an impression, it worked.