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From the Ground Up [SFA]

Posted on Fri Oct 4th, 2019 @ 9:49am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Cadet Freshman Grade Darylan Karga & Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic

Mission: Academy Days
Location: Starfleet Academy Main Campus, San Francisco Earth
Timeline: March 14, 2395 12:35 Hours


Cadet Gianna Djokovic knelt down, dropped her USS Firebird duffel bag next to herself onto the decorative flagstone walkway, and dipped her hand into the cool turquoise depths of the fountain pool that sat at the heart of campus like a crown jewel. Academy lore said this was supposed to be good luck for freshmen but details from there seemed to vary-- some people claimed you had to drink the water from the fountain, some said you needed to bathe in it by the light of a new moon, and some were adamant that just touching it was enough. Gia was inclined to believe the latter, not that she carried much stock in the notion of luck anyway.

She let the water run out of her palm and wiped her face with the dampness that remained.

Through fresh eyes, she took a long moment to absorb everything that buzzed around her -- young, fresh faces full of hope and an excited energy that seemed almost palpable. Some who were clearly new to Starfleet had their heads craned up to take in the glittering buildings around them. Some looked like old hands, knew right where they were going and needed to be, and darted away with little notice given to others around them as they passed by. She secretly hoped she would never be so focused that she'd be blind to everything else around her.

Snapping pictures with his holo-imager, Cadet Darylan Karga was surprised to find that when he brought up the image of the fountain there seemed to be something wrong with it. A dark smudge. He first looked on the lens but found nothing. Placing the device up to his face again however he discovered that the moment he'd taken the image a woman seemed to have knelt down and was dipping her hands into the water. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a friend, the thought terrified him but he pushed himself forward, bags and holo-imager in hand approaching the dark haired cadet girl. "Umm . . . . excuse me." Darylan had to repeat himself before she heard him over the sounds of people coming and going around them. "Hi." Then he froze and just stood there staring at her.

She was no telepath, but in that moment their eyes connected and she read him. She recognized the deer-in-headlights expression and the way the words would catch in his throat. She'd once found the same bashful qualities in Max Trager, the Nordic, piano-playing, stellar cartographer-turned-pilot-in-training. Max. He's on earth, you know. You could look him up. He'd love to see you again. She shook the thought from her head and gave the cadet a warm, but curious smile. "Hello," she said with a friendly confidence. She gave a second of pause that lingered between them awkwardly. "Do... I know you?"

Darylan sucked in a breath as if he could only speak one word with a lungful of air. "No." He said simply. It registered a few seconds later that she'd probably need more to go on. "No, sorry. I was taking an image of the fountain and you sort of slipped in just as I hit save. So now I'm not sure if I should delete it and take one without you or keep it and think of this awkward and interesting moment where we met which I guess we haven't done. I'm Darylan." The words poured from his body until he had used up all of the breath he'd taken before.

"Darylan, I'm Gia," she extended a hand confidently, and took his when he reciprocated. Her hands were strong for their size and in fact that same descriptor could be used for the rest of her. She was strong, in more ways than one, and athletic; a powerful punch in a small package. "You know," she offered, "I think option C might be best? Take an h-vid with me, both of us."

"Really?" Darylan said, taken aback by the idea. "Sure, I guess we could do that." Just to break the tension probably only he felt he asked, "What are you here for, I mean what's your specialty, or what would you like it to be?"

She let out a subdued laugh as he got the imager into position and she moved herself next to him so that they would be in view together at the same time. "I'm going to command a starship," she told him, sounding as believable as someone who'd practiced the line in a mirror a couple dozen times. Fake it til you make it, right?

Darylan snapped the picture. "Oh really? What makes you want to do that?" He didn't seem as nervous this time, now that he was asking the questions. "I mean I know a lot of people want to do that but what makes you think you have what it takes to do so?" He was smiling at her now, it seems he'd forgotten to be nervous for a moment.

"Seven months ago I probably wouldn't have thought so," she admitted, a wry smile settled across her lips. "That's... that's probably a story you don't have time for. But, I've seen a few things, served under the best Captain in the fleet. And... uh... yeah," she nodded, assuredly.

Gia waited a moment, "What about you? You look like a science nerd--- and I mean that in a completely good way--" She bit her lip a second as she thought about it. "I'm going to guess xenozoology."

"Thanks," he said, not nearly convinced of her honesty. "No, I do love animals but counseling is what I'm really interested in. People fascinate me. Don't . . . . don't freak out and run off."

If Gia was at freaked out, she sure didn't look it and instead gave a subdued laugh. "I respect counselors a lot. I had a few recently help me out. And... once I had a good friend who was a counselor. He taught me Japanese sword fighting, though I'm probably pretty rusty now. I haven't picked one up in awhile."

"Well I don't know any Japanese sword fighting but I'm sure it's very therapeutic. I could teach you about the little fuzzy animals from my homeworld but you're not likely to come across many of them. I could teach you how to make cord from dried grass, but that might drive you more crazy. Not that I think you're crazy!"

Making cord from grass actually sounded like a useful survival skill and it caused Gia's mind to flashback to a moment on Planet ZP0442.

The sun streamed through a sparse canopy of trees that dotted riverbed. Emily was taking a moment to watch the orange and blue fish swim by in the shade. Seeing her so happy was uplifting, but the emotions around their hike were complex. They had no idea where Emily's mother was, where anyone on the Firebird was, for that matter, and yet they'd found an unsteady peace in settling into a day-to-day life with a local rancher.

"Gia," why do you think we haven't found anyone yet?" the young girl asked, throwing another rock. Her shoulder was getting tired but she was determined to get six skips.

"Well, they have to be really careful," Gia answered honestly. "The people on this planet don't have everything we do. We could contaminate them with ideas and technology before they're ready for it. So, the responsible thing to do is to hide from all people. That's probably what everyone is doing. That's what the rules say we should do."

Gia tossed a rock into the water that didn't skip at all, but rather just immediately sank to the bottom. "They're probably all hanging out together though, wondering where we are. If only we hadn't lost power. At least we hid our pod well," she chuckled. The escape pod was well hidden -- at the bottom of a lake. "I mean no one can accuse us of cultural contamination, right?"

Gia turned her back for a moment and the memory shifted like a nightmare, darkness setted in around them on the river path. When she looked back to Emily, a man in a wide brimmed black hat with a matching black cloak had the little girl by the back of her neck, his black glove wrapped around her tiny neck like a snake.

"You strike me as someone who is very troublesome. We need to find a way to limit that." The skin on the man's narrow face stretched, giving him a ghoulish look. "I think I have just the thing."

Terror momentarily ran through Gia's blood like ice water and the color drained from her face. She lifted a hand to her left eye as though to check if it was still there. The rippling sound of the river in her memory was replaced by the nearby fountain and she looked at Darylan's face and was back in the present.

"Sorry... I.. um.. just realized I'm probably going to be late for a meeting with my adviser," she said suddenly as she collected her bag.

Darylan frowned slightly. She looked afraid. What had he done? He'd only touched her the one time, when they'd shook hands. "Uh, yes, of course. Sorry to keep you." He said. He watched her wander off, completely confused about how their conversation had ended.


Cadet Freshman Grade Darylan Karga
Starfleet Academy

Cadet Freshman Grade Gianna Djokovic
Starfleet Academy


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