The Empty Shell - Fan fiction.
I've started writing a story about how one of my STO characters came to be commanding a starship for the Federation, and I'd appreciate hearing what you think of it so far. The part I have written, I feel, makes a good chapter one (length and introduction wise anyways).
The Empty Shell
Chapter One - Farewell, my friend.
Captain Rewman of the U.S.S. Farseer sat in his ready room, watching the stars fly by as his ship travelled on towards Trill, the homeworld of a race of beings who carried the same name. Normally, they would stick to speeds below warp 6 due to the age of the ship, but today, the stars were even more elongated than usual as they hurtled along closer to warp 9. They had a rather important assignment to do, and a rather important passenger to take care of. That is, if they could be taken care of.
Rewman sighed, hoping his passenger, several decks below in Sickbay, would survive long enough to be delivered home.
Terras floated, his consciousness a visitor in his own mind. He could feel life slipping away, only holding on due to the dual wills of his own mind, and that of Jinx, his symbiont. It was important they returned to Trill, and arrived soon. The pact between the Trill race and the symbionts demanded it. A lifetime of study and servitude, but it was worth it if you were one of the chosen few who were allowed to create a symbiotic bond with the race of water-dwelling slug-like creatures who lived in giant, nutrient-rich lakes and pools under the surface of Trill.
A simple insect bite, and the bond between his symbiont and his body was splintering and falling apart. Once it was gone completely, they would both die. Of course, for Terras, there was no question of survival now anyway. All he could do was his duty to Jinx and get back home in time for the symbiont to be removed from his body and placed into a new host. Terras hoped the new host would appreciate the honour that was being done to them.
“Be calm. We will make it.” He thought, feeling Jinx’s anxiety and worry that they would not get home before it was too late. Indeed the symbiont was moving around so much it was giving him a stomach ache.
“But time grows short.” Came the thought back into his mind.
“I know, my friend, but short or not, there is still time enough.”
Terras felt his words soothe Jinx, and the symbiont stopped thrashing around in his gut and fell silent. They rested for a while, each comfortable in the presence of the other, oblivious to the outside world.
Kaylan read the message again. Nope, it hadn’t changed. The Symbiosis Commission still wanted to see her. After all this time, all these years in training, could this finally be it? Was she really going to get a symbiont of her own? She didn’t dare hope. It was much more likely she was going to be ordered to assist in the testing of other Trills, or possibly the healing of injured symbionts. Worthy, to be sure, but not like having your own symbiont.
Checking her reflection in a nearby mirror, she ran her hands down her top, smoothing her tunic. She still looked respectable. A little under 6 feet in height, she had a slim figure that belied the strength her body had. As she walked over towards the Commission Headquarters, she pondered on her life and the 20 years that had led her to this moment. Much of it had been spent at the Academy, learning about the symbionts, how to care for them, and preparing to be Joined. Even so, with all of the other candidates, there was still a pretty low chance of ever being Joined, training or not.
Kaylan reached the Commission building. She looked around at the lush green landscapes, took a deep breath, and entered.
“Ah, Kaylan. So good to see you again.” Said a voice almost immediately. It came from a male who looked old enough to be her great-grandfather. Kaylan smiled.
“Good to see you too, Toran. How are you and Pezan?” she asked, referring to the Trill and his symbiont.
“We are fine, thank you.” He replied with a smile, “But you won’t be if you keep the Commission waiting.” The smile took away any venom his words may have carried.
With a quick wave, Kaylan headed over to the elevators, pressed a button, and stepped inside as the door opened.
“Commission Meeting Hall” she said, and the elevator closed its doors and started rising.
Turning away from the doors, she looked out of the glass wall of the elevator, admiring the view outside as the lift progressed up the side of the building. She saw a flash of light in the sky, and watched as a Starfleet shuttle flew into view, growing bigger with every metre. As the elevator reached the correct floor, the shuttle turned, and so Kaylan could read the name of its home ship before she turned and stepped out of the elevator – the U.S.S Farseer.
Putting the shuttle from her mind, Kaylan walked into the hallway towards a large set of double doors. She paused outside and pressed the button to attract the attention of the occupants. After a moment, a small screen by the doors flashed to life revealing a stern looking female face. She looked at Kaylan, nodded, and the doors swung open. Kaylan stepped inside and walked to the centre of the room. She stood straight, her hands clasped behind her back, and glanced around at the 3 elderly Trills sitting in the room.
“You wished to see me, Elders?”
“We did.” Said the centremost being. He was old. Older even than Toran. But then, the other two Elders were just as old too. That was the point, and the reason they ruled the Symbiosis Commission. They were old enough to have the knowledge, experience, and wisdom to rule the Commission well.
“There is less time than we would like to prepare you, but you are to be Joined to the symbiont Jinx.” These words came from the Elder Kaylan had seen on the screen just outside the door. “The Federation starship, Farseer, has recently arrived in orbit, and a shuttle has just delivered Terras Jinx home. You are to report to Medical Three as soon as we are finished here. Time is short.”
Kaylan was stunned. She had hoped, dreamed of this day, but never expected it. Forcing herself to hold back a jubilant grin, she looked at each of the Commission Elders.
“I thank you for this honour. I will be worthy of the name Jinx.”
“We are sure you will, else you would not have been chosen. You are dismissed Kaylan Howsen. When next we speak you shall be Kaylan Jinx.” The centremost Elder said, waving her towards the doors, which swung open.
Kaylan bowed, turned, and walked out. As soon as the doors closed behind her, she picked up speed, almost running to the elevator.
“Medical Three” she said as soon as she stepped inside. The elevator started moving, down this time, and Kaylan turned to stare out of the window again, her mind racing, and having to stop herself shouting and jumping for joy. She had done it. She had won. Or at least, that is how it felt. She was to be Joined. It was every one of her wildest dreams come true. A small, guilty part of her mind brought a somber note to her attention. If she was getting the Jinx symbiont, then what had happened to Tarres? He must be dying. The prospect of seeing someone die in front of her, well, beside her technically, dampened her spirits only a little.
As the lift doors opened, she wiped the grin off her face. She didn’t want to appear disrespectful after all. Waving at an orderly to get his attention, she gave her name and was directed to a waiting room. She was also asked to get changed into the garment waiting inside. It was an operating theatre gown, designed to give excellent access to the pouch besides the stomachs of the Trill race. This was where she would soon receive the Jinx symbiont. She changed her clothes, folding her own garments and placing them in a locker, then sat down to wait. Within ten minutes, she was being ushered through into an operating theatre with two beds, side by side. On one lay a man, older than her, but not by as many years as she had imagined. He smiled as she entered, and she smiled back. She heard him mutter something as she went and lay on the empty bed. She thought he had said ‘Told you we would make it’ but truly it could have been anything.
Terras smiled as the young lady entered the room and lay on the bed next to him. It seemed Jinx would have a very pretty host next.
“Told you we would make it.” He said quietly to Jinx, not realising he had spoken out loud. The girl looked a little confused for a moment, then smiled back.
“I’m Kaylan. I am sorry to take him from you, but I hope I will do Jinx honour.” She said with a quiet dignity. Terras smiled back at her.
“We made it home, and I am pleased that Jinx will live again. I am sure you will take good care of each other.”
Terras lay back and closed his eyes. He was so very tired, but exultant that he had survived long enough to see this through. He thought this Kaylan would do alright, and even if not, Jinx was more than capable of looking after her. As the doctors started work, his final thought was directed at Jinx.
“Thank you my friend. I love you.”
As life faded from Terras, he was warmed by the feeling of pleasure from Jinx.
Chapter 2 – A New Life.
Kaylan’s dreams were awash with a riot of sounds, colours, thoughts and memories. Almost all of them were not hers, but she felt them seeping into her being, becoming one with her mind. After the initial flood, the incoming memories started to slow, become more focused, and she could feel a presence behind them. Mentally, she recoiled, then stopped herself, studying this other presence. There was no confusion coming from it, but rather amusement, and a deep underlying sadness. She could also feel it, no, him, studying her back.
“Well done,” He thought at her. “You didn’t panic. It took Terras several hours to figure out what was happening to him.”
“Jinx?” Kaylan thought back.
“Indeed,” He seemed pleased by her insight. “Don’t be too confused by all this. Time will make it make sense.”
“What is wrong Jinx? I can feel how sad you are.”
“I am mourning, of course. A host’s memories may live on inside me, but it is no substitute for losing a friend.”
“Oh.” Kaylan felt like a fool. Then she felt a sensation that made her think of laughter.
“Do not worry about it Kaylan. I will be fine.”
“What happened? To Terras I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.” Kaylan asked Jinx, suddenly uncertain.
“He was bitten by a Miclopean Plasma Flea, if you could believe it.” She could almost see Jinx shaking his head. “It broke down the bond shared between Trill and symbiont.”
Kaylan was speechless. To think that something so tiny could so profoundly affect the most powerful bond in the known universe was astounding.
She felt her body stirring.
“Time to wake up” Thought Jinx. “Take it easy for the rest of the day.”
Kaylan opened her eyes and looked around. She was lying in a room in Medical Three. It was a room with quite a nice view outside. Glancing around the room, she spotted a nurse approach the bed.
“Ah, good. You are awake. How do you feel? Any dizziness? Nausea? No? Good.” She said, all before Kaylan had a chance to reply. “Come on, up you get. No point in lazing around. The best thing for you now is to move around. Get used to the extra weight.”
Kaylan sat up on the bed, then stood, nearly falling over as soon as her weight was on her feet instead of the bed. Grasping on to the side of the bed, she tried again. Her centre of balance was definitely off, but then she was warned to expect this. Taking small steps, she walked around the room, occasionally reaching out to grab something nearby to help keep her balance. After a little while, she was feeling a bit more comfortable on her feet and the nurse gave her instructions to get ready, pointing out her clothes in a neat pile on a cabinet, then to go to the Caves of Mak’ala and report to a Guardian there to make sure Jinx was doing well. Kaylan assured the nurse that Jinx was fine, but the nurse just replied that it didn’t matter, and that it still had to be done.
Once she was dressed, she stepped out of her room, and down the hall to the elevator. Commanding it down to the ground floor, she waited for it to arrive, then walked out into the lobby.
“Welcome home Jinx,” Toram’s voice called. “Are you heading to the Caves?”
“Thanks Pezan. As always, it is good to be back on Trill.” Kaylan’s voice replied, although she herself didn’t say a word. “And yes, we are going to the caves, for our check up. Coming for a walk?”
“Sure, why not?” said Pezan through Toram.
As they headed to the doors, Kaylan thought “Ok, that felt odd. Almost like I wasn’t in control any more. Not sure if I liked that.”
“It may happen from time to time, but don’t worry about it.” Jinx replied. “I can say a few words, but that is about it. I could possibly push your body to do something if there was something seriously wrong, but only if you didn’t stop me, and you stopping me would be so much easier than me getting you to even scratch your nose. Oh, and this is something we don’t tell outsiders, ok?”
Kaylan felt a bit bemused, but agreed not to mention it to non-Trills. With Toram’s friendly banter in her ear, she walked across to the Caves of Mak’ala, and headed down into the dark, cool caverns where every symbiont comes to be Joined for the first time. As they walked down the steps, Jinx shared his memories of then with Kaylan. The cave was almost identical to now, and well over 200 years had passed since then. Even the Guardian looked nearly the same, when he stepped into view. A different Trill to the one that had presided all those years ago, but wearing the same style of clothing, and carrying himself with exactly the same manner. The Guardian looked up from the pools as Kaylan and Toram walked down the steps into the cavern.
“Hmmm,” he said, looking them over. “Jinx, and Pezan, if I’m not mistaken. Good morning. What can I do for you today?”
“Nothing for me. I was just accompanying Kaylan and Jinx here.” Said Toram, taking a seat on the bottom step and Kaylan stepped forward.
“I have just received the Jinx symbiont, and was told to come here for a check up.” Explained Kaylan.
“I see, I see,” muttered the Guardian, handing Kaylan a plain white robe. “Go and put that on, then climb into the pool.” He motioned in the direction of one of the pools of water.
Kaylan did as instructed, and soon found herself sitting neck deep in a pool of the rich liquids the symbionts lived it. She could feel other symbionts swimming around nearby, some of them brushing against her, as she reached out to stroke them. The Guardian disappeared for a minute, then came back carrying a small pack containing some kind of handheld scanner. Turning it on, he bade Kaylan stand up and started running the device over her abdomen. Twenty minutes later, Kaylan and Toram walked back out of the Caves, happy in the knowledge that Jinx was settling into Kaylan very well.
“Well, now that is done, the pair of you must decide where to go from here,” Toram said, just as they reached the Symbiosis Commission building. “This cannot be a decision you make alone, and you cannot allow Jinx to make it for you. The two of you are one being now, and will be for the rest of your life. Hopefully not the rest of yours, of course, Jinx. But the point is that you must learn to exist in harmony with each other. If one of you has problems with the other, it will sour everything you do. Trust me in this, I speak from experience. Pezan and his fourth host did not always see eye to eye as it were. On the other hand, Pezan and myself get along marvellously. I am his 24th host, and he wished to remain here, on Trill, to give the benefit of his years to you youngsters. I certainly had no desire to go gallivanting off around the galaxy, and always preferred working on the ground, so here we are.” Toram made a wide gesture with his arms, as though encompassing the Commission building and surrounding area, and gave Kaylan a smile. “Well, we can’t stand around chatting all day, we have work to do. Go home, go for a walk. Find someplace quiet and decide for yourselves what you want to do with your life. Then take a few days off, go and visit your family Kaylan. Come and see us here in three days time, and we will help you get started on your future. Good luck, and farewell for now.” Toram turned and walked up the stairs to the building, giving Kaylan a quick wave as he stepped through the doors.
“Do you enjoy flying Jinx?” asked Kaylan silently, as they turned away from the building.
“I have always enjoyed my time in space, if that is what you are referring to” came the reply.
“Not exactly. Let’s see what you think.”
An unusual perspective on the symbiotic natures of joined Trill, but well-written. I look forward to seeing this story progress.
I hope to have the next chapter or two up over the next few days.
Sorry it is a little later than planned, but here is the next chapter.
Chapter 3 – Decisions, Decisions.
An hour later, Kaylan was strapped into the pilot’s seat of a small atmospheric shuttle, skimming along the surface of one of Trill’s oceans. Jinx remained quiet, and enjoyed the calm he sensed from Kaylan. It seemed she genuinely did enjoy piloting and found it relaxing. He had never had a pilot host before. There had been four previous hosts, with Kaylan now his fifth.
The first, Joyra, had been an artist, and while she hadn’t taught Jinx a lot about interacting with others, he was proud to have been her symbiont, as she had created several famous paintings in the time they had been Joined, one of which was even on display in the Commission building. It was called ‘Dreams of Home’ and had been inspired by Jinx’s earliest memories of life in the pool, before their Joining.
His second host, Parew, had been a lot more practical. He had been a scientist, working at first on Trill, helping develop new methods and technologies for scanning and treating symbionts. Then in his later years, he took a position on a Federation starship, the U.S.S. Olympia, as a curious traveller, and a friend and advisor to the Captain.
Geran, his third host, had trained as a doctor, and was astounded to discover that Jinx had, during his time with Parew, been responsible for writing one of the medical books about symbiont physiology that Geran used to study while in training. Together Geran and Jinx perfected some of the techniques Parew had worked on, yet never left Trill.
His fourth host, Terras, was rather different to his previous three, although Terras had a certain lack of ability when it came to talking to others, so in a way, he put Jinx in mind of his first host, Joyra. She hadn’t known how to talk to others either. Jinx and Terras had only been together a half dozen years or so before the accident involving the Plasma Flea, certainly not long enough to pick up the life skills Terras had been developing. As a result, while he found being a starship engineer on the U.S.S. Farseer to be fascinating, Jinx did not really have the skills to go with the knowledge Terras had left him with.
This new host, this Kaylan seemed to be different yet again. She seemed smart, yet he sensed she would not be happy with a lifetime of study. She had a spark of something. Curiosity perhaps? A sense of adventure?
Given how much she enjoyed flying, their new life together would have to involve some kind of ship. That much was certain to Jinx. Possibly a small scout ship, and they could go and explore the far corners of the universe?
Then he realised that last thought was not his own. Kaylan had slipped into his mind while he had been considering their possible future.
‘It is an idea which certainly has potential,’ he thought back to her, ‘But I do see a few small problems. What happens if something happens to us when we are many light years from home? What if our ship breaks down? I may have the knowledge of an engineer, but not the skills.’
‘But I like that idea,’ replied Kaylan, ‘Surely we can think of some way to make it work!’
It seemed that this new host of his was also stubborn. A good trait to have, if it did not get you killed.
As the conversation took place, Kaylan brought their shuttle in to land on the beach of a small island in the middle of the ocean, where she removed her socks and shoes and sat on the beach, her feet in the water. They discussed the idea at length, trying to think of some way of making the career choice of ‘Space Explorer’ work, but every suggestion one of them thought of, the other countered in an argument that just got more and more irrational and outrageous as time progressed.
‘No, stop, enough!!!’ Yelled Kaylan, or at least she tried to in between catching her breath from laughing. ‘Ok, you’ve persuaded me that kidnapping a bunch of Trill and forcing them to work on the ship we stole from the Commission isn’t going to work. Shame really, I thought it was a great idea.’ Jinx could sense the underlying amusement still flowing between them, but felt it time to bring the subject home to rest.
‘Well, that might not work, but you seem pretty certain about the explorer’s way of life, and I’ll admit, it does hold some fascination for me too. But I wanted to be sure before we looked at this option. It will take years of work to get there, but that should not be too much of a problem, and certain experiences I already have will be able to help us, but if we apply ourselves to this, then we will end up with our own ship. A crew too, and one, may I add, that we did not have to kidnap either.’
He could sense Kaylan hanging onto his every word. At his last line, she folded up with laughter again, but came to sense a few minutes later that he was not joking, that he had meant every word of that.
‘How? How would that be possible?’ she asked.
‘You recall the shuttle you saw this morning, from the U.S.S. Farseer? The one that brought me and Terras home?’
‘Well, the ship, Farseer, is part of a massive fleet taking part in trade, exploration, and diplomacy, all across the galaxy. Starfleet, they are called, and they are the military arm of the United Federation of Planets. Terras had gone and applied to Starfleet just before he received me as his symbiont. It seems he had given up on ever receiving one, and had made his own plans, which got a little upset when we bonded. But, we still went ahead with it. He was only a couple of years out of Starfleet Academy when the Plasma Flea bit him.’
‘Then I think we are decided. We will join this Starfleet, and they will give us a ship to go exploring in.’ Kaylan thought at Jinx, amusement leaking through the bond as she mentally said the end of her sentence.
The following morning, Kaylan awoke still lying on the beach, her shuttle still parked nearby. Scattering the remains of her fire, and throwing her shoes into the shuttle, she climbed in bare foot and flew back to the mainland. Walking home from the landing pad, she stopped just long enough to get showered, changed, and have a bite to eat, then left for the trip to visit her parents.
As always, they were happy to see her, and her mother was thrilled to hear she had received a symbiont. Her father accepted it, but he had never been keen on her entering the symbiont program. Neither of them were particularly impressed when she told them about Starfleet and that she had decided to join. Her mother seemed more concerned over Kaylan’s safety, unlike her father who still wanted her to ‘settle down and get a proper job, instead of gallivanting about the galaxy.’
Despite staying longer than she planned, as well as accepting one of her mother’s famous meals – she was an amazing cook – Kaylan had still not changed her father’s mind about Starfleet by the time she had to leave to head home. She did not let it bother her though. Her father had always disapproved of her choices in life. Taking her shuttle out again, she spent the evening listening to Jinx tell her tales of Terras, and their previous experiences in Starfleet.
Kaylan used her last free day visiting all those places on Trill that she loved, and introducing Jinx to a number of new activities his previous hosts, who were a lot less adventurous than Kaylan, had never taken part in. She did take time out to send a message to Toran explaining what her and Jinx had decided to do with their life and as the new day dawned on her third morning after accepting Jinx, Kaylan flew her shuttle to the Commission complex and went looking for Toran and Pezan.
After searching for them for about an hour, Kaylan came to the conclusion that they had arrived before Toran, and went and took a seat in the lobby of the Commission’s main building. However, when Toran did finally make an appearance, he came from the opposite direction, from deeper inside the complex.
“Good morning”, he said from behind Kaylan, who had been watching out the front of the building for him. She turned.
“Toran, you made me jump a mile. Are you well? Where have you been? We have been waiting here for ages for you.”
“We are indeed well, thank you. I trust you are well also?” Kaylan nodded as Toran continued speaking. “As for where I have been, I said I would help you make a start on your new life, did I not? The U.S.S. Farseer is currently on patrol near here, so will be able to take you to Earth, to Starfleet Academy, where you will join their ranks. I have made all the arrangements, and will send the information on to your home terminal.”
“Wow, already? Thanks Toran. I really do appreciate it.”
“You are welcome. Best of luck in Starfleet.”
Chapter 4 – Strange Sensations.
A few days later, having said all her goodbyes, Kaylan was spending some time rock climbing, when her communicator beeped. It was Toran, comming her to inform her that a Runabout from the U.S.S. Farseer had arrived to pick her up and take her back to its mother ship. Jinx wasn’t too pleased that Kaylan chose to hang upside down from the rock face while speaking on her comms though. He found it very disconcerting. He could feel Kaylan’s blood all around him trying to move in the wrong direction. Turning himself upside down in her pouch, so he was the right side up, he felt much better. Then he felt a moment of dread. If Kaylan was like this on a planet, where there was gravity, and all kinds of environmental forces at work, what would she be like in space, where she could exercise and play in a Zero-Gee atmosphere. He mentally groaned as Kaylan clicked off her communicator.
“Well Jinx, time to go. Aren’t you excited? I am.” She thought at him. He could sense the excitement in her mind.
“I’m certainly looking forward to it, although more immediately, I am looking forward to you righting yourself on this cliff face. Hanging upside down does nothing good for my internal organs. Or yours.” He replied, with a hint of rueful amusement as he considered that, technically, he could now be thought of as one of her internal organs. He managed to keep himself the right way up as Kaylan turned and righted herself on the cliff.
She quickly climbed to the top where she had left her shuttle, climbed inside, and took off for her home. She quickly gathered her belongings, and sent a quick message to her mother, telling her parents she was off, and would be in touch soon. And if her little brother wanted to use her apartment, he was welcome to, so long as he took good care of it. Unsurprisingly, her mother got a bit tearful, and so the farewell took longer than planned, but still in good time, Kaylan was soon flying over to the Commission complex to meet the Runabout from the Farseer.
She could see it as she came in to land next to it. It was quite a sleek looking shuttle, larger than the shuttle she had seen from the Farseer, and considerably larger than her tiny atmospheric shuttle. Still, she understood that it would take a couple of days to reach the Farseer’s location, and that Runabout looked a lot more comfortable than her shuttle for such an extended flight.
As her shuttle landed and she climbed out, Kaylan spotted Toran and another being, with purple skin, it appeared from this distance, step out of the commission building and walk over towards her. By the time they arrived, she had unloaded everything she was bringing with her. All in all, there was not too much stuff there, some clothing, and a few personal items were about all there was.
Leaving her belongings next to the Runabout, Kaylan walked a short distance to meet Toran and the other person. Up close, she could see, he did indeed have purple skin, and was of no species Kaylan had ever seen or heard of, although he did seem vaguely familiar to her. He was wearing what she knew from Jinx was a Starfleet uniform, mostly black with blue sections running down the sides of his legs and across his shoulders, and two small rank pips attached to his collar. Medical or Science divisions, Jinx informed her.
“Morning Kaylan, Jinx,” waved Toran as they got closer. “This is Lieutenant Fless. He will be piloting you to the Farseer.”
“Miss Kaylan,” Fless greeted her with a slight bow, “Please allow me to express my condolences on the loss of your brother, Terras. I did not know him personally, however I understand he was a good officer.” Kaylan gave him a startled look.
“On Jinx’s behalf, thank you Lieutenant, however Terras was not my brother. I take it you do not know a lot about Trill physiology?” Now it was Fless’ turn to look startled. Giving him a grin, Kaylan continued, “If you like, I’ll tell you a bit more on our flight, or better yet, a trade. I explain Trill physiology, and you explain how to fly that.” She pointed at the Runabout.
The next few days were rather pleasant for Kaylan. Between Fless’ instruction and Jinx’s previous experience, she learned how to pilot a Runabout quite quickly, and in return, she spent quite some time explaining Trills and their symbionts to Fless, without going into too much detail. Fless was intrigued by the fact that Jinx carried all the memories of his previous hosts. Apparently, there was a species of wild animal on his homeworld, a small planet in the Delta Volanis cluster, who had something similar, although it was genetic memory passed through generations, as opposed to inherited from a host.
Over the course of the journey, Kaylan figured out why this person was familiar to her. Terras had served on the Farseer, so she was remembering Fless from Terras’ memories. So far as she could recall, Fless and Terras never really knew each other, but had seen each other in the course of their duties. All in all, she found it rather confusing, to say the least.
In the days that followed, on board the Farseer, Kaylan’s confusion got steadily worse, as she kept spotting members of the crew she recognised and knew, but from Terras’ perspective, not her own. On more than one occasion she received strange looks from others who she casually greeted without thought. She must have found herself standing outside of Terras’ old room, instead of her own at least a dozen times before she got it into her head, well, hers and Jinx’s heads, that that room was not hers any longer.
A few days before she was due to arrive on Earth, she confided to Jinx that she would be happy when she got off this ship. She was getting used to knowing people without them knowing who she was, and had finally got her ‘automatic pilot’ route back to her quarters worked out so it took her back to her rooms and not Terras’. Even once she was used to the strange sense of familiarity of the ship, even though she had never been on board before, just the fact that it was an entirely new and alien environment to her meant she could not get herself comfortable with being on board.
Then one morning, she was sat by herself in Ten Forward, watching the stars streak by at warp 5, when her communicator beeped. Pressing it, she spoke, “Jinx here.”
“Jinx, this is Captain Rewman. I thought you may like to come up to the bridge for your first view of Earth.”
Kaylan grinned and stood up. Her biggest wonder about this Starfleet was that it could make all those stars seems so close. Being able to see them arrive at the planet where she would spend her next few years would be appreciated.
“On my way Captain, and thanks.”
Kaylan quickly crossed over to the turbolift, stepped in and directed it to the bridge. The doors whooshed closed and the lift accelerated. After a couple of seconds, the lift stopped and the doors whooshed open again, revealing the bridge. Kaylan stepped out and stepped over to where the Captain was sat. Rewman’s first officer looked up, saw her, then stood and offered her his seat. She thanked him and took it, turning to look at the viewscreen.
“I remember my first time on Earth,” said Rewman, without taking his eyes off his readout consoles. “Coming out of warp and seeing the planet for the first time was impressive. So, if I am ever carrying people bound for the Academy, I always invite them up here to see it.” He obviously felt that this was not required and he was doing it as some sort of favour to Kaylan.
“I am sure it will be, Captain, and thank you for the invite.” Kaylan replied, not really wanting to spoil the Captain’s moment and tell him that she had seen the approach to Earth at warp on several occasions thanks to Terras and Jinx and their memories.
Then, without warning, the elongated stars on the screen suddenly stopped, showing a small green and blue planet, with a rocky grey moon, floating in space in front of them. The area of space around the planet and moon was extremely busy. There were spacedocks at work, building or repairing ships, patrol ships wandering around the system, and a few starships either heading towards or away from the giant space stations. While her eyes tried to drink in the sight and see everything there was to see, Jinx sat in the back of her head, filling in the details from his memories.
“Welcome to Earth Kaylan. I hope you enjoy your stay.” Rewman looked over at where she sat, jaw open, staring out of the viewport.
Chapter 5: Strange New World.
Kaylan stepped from the transporter pad and looked around. Her first glimpse of San Francisco. All those people. And very few, if any, Trill amongst them. Suddenly Kaylan felt rather lonely, Here she was, on her own, well, nearly, on a completely different world to the one she came from, and if there were similarities between Earth and Trill, it was still alien enough to be, well, alien to her.
Shaking off her sudden feelings of anxiety, she picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder. The rest of her baggage was being transported directly to the Academy, but as she wasn’t due there until tomorrow, Kaylan had decided to take a look around this city first. She very quickly came to the conclusion that there were no cities of this size back home, and she thought it would be very easy to get lost here, but Jinx seemed to know the city pretty well, and directed her if she started taking wrong turns.
As evening fell, Jinx led Kaylan back to a transporter pad, and advised her to get on, and beam to Starfleet Academy. She did so, and within a few seconds she was standing in a courtyard or garden surrounded by buildings. The buildings were labelled SFA01, SFA02, and so on. Looking around the garden, she could see a number of other cadets around, some sitting reading, or chatting, others running, either errands, or just for exercise. Kaylan approached a young lady wearing a cadet’s uniform that appeared mostly human, apart from some slight wrinkling above her nose. She wore some kind of elaborate earring that ran from one of the top of ear to lobe.
“Excuse me,” Kaylan said as she got closer. The other woman looked up and gave Kaylan a rather cold stare.
“Yes?” she said.
“Hi, I’ve just arrived. Could you give me directions as to where I go to see about getting my room please?”
“Try building one. You should find it easily enough.” The woman turned back to her datapad and continued reading, effectively blocking Kaylan out of her thoughts.
“Thanks,” said Kaylan as she moved off. The cadet didn’t even register that she had been addressed.
Sure enough, Kaylan found building one easily. Having giant numbers painted on the sides of the buildings really helped, she thought. Stepping inside, she quickly found an information terminal, keyed in her name, and was given directions to a cadet’s lodge, where it seemed she would be living with 5 others until her time at the Academy was completed. Making a note of the directions, she headed off to find her lodge.
Upon arriving there, she walked into the dark building, and realised she was not alone. Curled up in one of the chairs in the corner of the lodge’s common room was a giant cat, it’s black fur blending into the darkness or the room, and it’s green eyes seemingly glowing as it tracked Kaylan’s movement around the lodge. Kaylan placed her bag down next to one of the other chairs and sat down, grinning over at the cat. She got quite a surprise when the cat uncurled itself, stretched, then stood up on its hind legs. It was a lot larger than Kaylan had expected, nearly matching her own height. And it was wearing a cadet’s uniform, or at least, some of a cadet’s uniform.
“Kaylan Jinx, I assume?” the cat spoke, with a decidedly feminine voice. “We were told to expect you. I’m Winter. Not my real name of course, but you people with your stunted tongues couldn’t pronounce it. So far, we just have us two and Miranda in here, but I’d expect the other three rooms to fill up pretty quickly. I’m in that room, and that one is Miranda’s.” Winter pointed out a couple of the doors leading off the common room.
“Hi, yes, I’m Kaylan Jinx. Good to meet you Winter. And if no-one minds, I’ll have that room.” Kaylan pointed to one of the unclaimed rooms.
“Well, it’s a first come, first served basis, so go for it.” Winter replied with a toothy grin.
Kaylan walked into her room and dropped her bag on the bed, quickly unpacking the contents. When she returned to the common room, she saw that Winter had prepared a mug of something hot for both of them, so she picked it up with thanks, and sat down. Winter had gone back to being curled up on her chair.
The pair of them spent the next hour or so drinking Tarkalian tea, chatting and getting to know one another. Winter was of a species called the Caitian and was, more or less, a giant, bipedal cat, complete with tail. One advantage that she had against common household cats, though, was that she had opposable thumbs. She was here to study science, and one day hoped to be assigned back home where she could really help her people. Winter did laugh a little when Kaylan admitted she had joined Starfleet simply so they would provide her with a ship to go exploring the galaxy in, but all the while was nodding and saying it was a brilliant idea.
After a while, they heard the door open, and in walked the woman Kaylan had spoken to back in the garden when she first arrived at the Academy. Winter waved her over as she tried to walk straight through the commons and into her room.
“Hey, Miranda, come meet the new blood. She is staying here with us. Miranda, this is Kaylan, and Kaylan, this is Miranda.”
Kaylan stood and offered Miranda her hand to shake, but Miranda simply muttered something, then turned and walked into her room, closing the door behind her. Kaylan watched her walk away in astonishment, until Winter came over and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Miranda has always been a bit like that. Standoffish. It comes from being a member of some obscenely rich family from Bajor and being ordered to come to Starfleet Academy by her parents. She doesn’t want to be here, so goes out of her way to be miserable.”
“Sounds like a real charmer.” Was Kaylan’s reply.
Winter gave her a grin. “Oh, she’s not too bad, once you get to know her.”
Later that night, she was lying in bed awake and thinking about her new situation and discussing the day with Jinx.
“Well, Winter seems nice enough, but Miranda struck me as being a bit... cold.”
“It no doubt is because she is not here of her own free will. Give her some time and she will come around.” Jinx advised her. “I recall seeing several new entrants to the Commission back on Trill who had been forced there by parents or guardians. They resented it at first, but soon grew accustomed. As I understand it, even one of the current Elders was one of the reluctant ones.”
“Wow... I guess anyone can get used to anything if one of our Elders rebelled against going into the Commission.” Kaylan paused. “Wait a moment, is this your attempt to make me feel more comfortable here?”
“Well, I have sensed that you are not very happy.”
“Oh, I just miss home, but I’ll be fine. I think we’ll be too busy to miss anywhere soon enough. I noticed they put us in with two scientist cadets. Well, Winter is science and she says Miranda is going medical, but they both wear blue in either case. Do you think they are expecting us to go science too? I hope not. Science would bore me I think.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Jinx said, with an amused feeling behind his words. “Remember I’ve had both science and medical hosts. I think you’ll find science more interesting than you think.” He could feel Kaylan grimace with that thought and laughed at her.
“Ugh, no thanks,” she thought back at him. “Out of the options Fless told us about, I’m thinking Tactical. Sounds like they get the more interesting jobs.”
“Well, if you can call ‘Point and Fire’ interesting, then I suppose it could be for you.” Jinx thought with another laugh.
Kaylan snorted a laugh then lay there in the darkness until sleep took her.
The following morning, Kaylan was woken up by the sounds of a loud voice coming through her bedroom door. Pulling herself up and into some clothes, she pushed the door open and stepped into the common area, searching for both the pot of coffee Winter told her would be there, and the source of the loud voice. She quickly found the two together, along with Winter.
“Morning Winter,” Kaylan said as she stepped up to pour herself coffee and give the newcomer a once over. Whoever she was, she was female and apparently human. Judging from the bags, she was one of their other roommates. Wonderful. She stuck her hand out, only for the human to take it and give it a hearty shake.
“Hi, I’m Kaylan Jinx. I take it you are our latest addition?”
“Hey, yeah, I’m Henriette. Good to meet you, and good to finally be here.”
“Henriette?” thought Jinx. “But that is a French name, and she doesn’t sound French.” Kaylan enquired on Jinx’s behalf.
“What? France? Oh no, I’m not from France, but I do have family over there. That’s how I ended up with the name. It belonged to my great-great-grandmother. I come from Texas.” Henriette drawled in that typical Texan accent. “I’m guessing you ain’t from these parts either Jinx? Them spots kinda give it away.”
“No, I’m a Trill, from Trill.” Kaylan was starting to wonder if this Henriette had any way of turning the volume down. Everything she said came out as a shout, or near enough. “Have you met Miranda yet? She is Bajoran.”
“The snobby one? Yeah, I saw her on my way in. She was leaving with a PADD under her arm. Anyone else I should know about, or are us four it until further notice?”
“We are ‘it’ as you put it for now,” said Winter, before going into the usual welcome speech.
After a few more minutes, once Henriette had deposited her bags into her room, the building comms beeped. Kaylan made it to them first and pressed the button. A voice came from the device on the wall.
“Could all unassigned cadets please report to the briefing hall in SFA03. Repeat, could all unassigned cadets please report to the briefing hall in SFA03.” She glanced over at Henriette.
“I guess that’s us, or do you know what you are doing yet?”
“Nope. Technically I’m unassigned too, but I know what I want to do.”
“Ok, let’s go then. See you later Winter.” Kaylan gave her a wave and left with Henriette for the walk over to SFA03.
Chapter 6: Academy.
Kaylan remembered where it was from when she first arrived, and led the way there in pretty short order. During the walk over, she discovered that Henriette was going into Tactical too. Apparently, her family told Henriette that her marksman skills were going to waste on something she called raccoons and they pushed her to join Starfleet. To ‘shoot some varmints who need shooting’, or so Henriette’s pa (whatever that was; at first, Kaylan suspected it was some kind of semi-intelligent pet, but as the day progressed and she talked with Henriette more, she realised that she was referring to her father) had said.
Again, Kaylan shared that she was hoping to gain captaincy of a starship so she could go and explore the universe. Henriette’s only comment was “Well, if you need a Chief Tactical Officer, you know where to find me.”
Upon arriving at the building marked SFA03, Kaylan and Henriette saw there was quite a crowd outside, just about everyone wearing civilian clothes, although, as with everywhere else in the Academy, there were a few people wearing cadet uniforms. The people seemed to be mostly between 20 and 30 years old, although with some species, it was very difficult to tell. Either way, Kaylan thought that everyone there would be considered reasonably ‘young’ by their civilization’s standards.
Everyone, that is, apart from the three people wearing complete Starfleet uniforms who were exiting building SFA03. Two of them spoke quietly with the third for a few minutes, then turned and walked away. The third figure stepped onto a small podium which had been raised to allow him a better view of the cadets, and allow the cadets a better view of him.
Jinx did not recognise him. Both he and Kaylan were, however, surprised to see spots running out of his grey hair line and down the sides of his face. Spots remarkably similar to those Kaylan had down her face (and the rest of her body, but no-one on this planet apart from the man on the podium would likely know that). He was wearing a mostly red uniform, with black shoulders, and his rank pips consisted of 3 small dots contained within a box.
“He’s Trill!!!” Kaylan exclaimed mentally to Jinx.
“He is” replied Jinx, equally shocked to see another Trill here, especially one wearing Vice Admiral pips, “I wonder if –“
“Shhh, he is talking.” Kaylan strained to hear him.
“Good morning Cadets. I am Vice Admiral Jorel Quinn, commander of Starfleet Academy. Today, you start on a road to a new life, one dedicated to the safety and protection of all citizens in the United Federation of Planets. Of course, that safety and protection could take any number of forms.
“In just a few years some of you will be out there” – Quinn raised his arm and motioned towards the sky, indicating the galaxy at large – “serving on starships, travelling the galaxy, meeting new species, and doing good deeds in the name of Starfleet and the Federation.
“Some of you will concentrate on research, developing new ways of helping Federation citizens, or healing them.
“Others of you will remain here, on Earth, or on one of our other member worlds, working with the Civil Engineer Corps, or the Daystrom Institute, or one of any number of organisations committed to making life better for Federation citizens.
“Finally, there are those of you will join our thin red line, and serve as protectors of our great Federation. There are always threats out there, whether from a Klingon raiding party, or if the Borg ever decide to invade again, and Starfleet’s Tactical and Security division will be there to defend our own.
“But, for you, those days are not here yet. However, you do have an important decision to make today. Which of our three schools will you select? Science and Medical? Operations and Engineering? Or Tactical and Security?
“For today only, your names have been added to a security roster, and we are permitting you to roam the Academy, visiting classes and lecturers as you see fit. We would ask, however, that if you join a lecture in progress, please do not interrupt, and save any questions for the end. All of this is so you can formulate a decision as to how you want your future with Starfleet to proceed. If you are still unable to decide what you would like to do, there are counsellors available to speak to in SFA01.
“Even if you believe already that you know which school you would prefer to join, I would still recommend taking advantage of our open day to take a look at the other schools. There are always some cadets who change their minds after the lessons have begun, and having a greater understanding of what the schools do can save time and worry later.
“Once you have made your decision, you will need to sign up to the register for your school. You will find the registers on terminals outside of the following buildings. Science, SFA02; Engineering, SFA03; Tactical, SFA03.
“Finally, I would just like to say welcome to Starfleet Academy, and may you have the best of luck in the coming years.”
Quinn stepped down from the podium, and walked back into SFA03. He was out of sight before Kaylan could try to push through the crowd to reach him. Over the next few minutes, the crowd began to disperse, breaking up into smaller groups as the cadets began to wander through and around the Academy. Kaylan quite quickly found herself walking around with Henriette for company.
Henriette was a curious sort, and over the course of the day, Kaylan found herself telling her a lot about life on Trill, and the Joining.
“So, you’re telling me you have a worm in your gut?” Henriette looked vaguely sick at the thought.
“No, no, no. Nothing like that,” explained Kaylan, “Jinx looks much more like a slug than a worm.”
Henriette definitely looked sick.
“A slug indeed,” said Jinx to Kaylan in the depths of their shared consciousness. He sounded vaguely offended.
“I know it’s not very flattering Jinx, but compared to the rest of the animals on Earth, they are the ones you look the most like. Sorry.” Jinx could feel Kaylan’s amusement through the apology.
A little later, when Henriette was looking a more normal colour, she broached the subject again.
“So, this slug...” she started.
“Symbiont, not slug. They are called symbionts.” Jinx quickly interjected, usurping Kaylan’s voice briefly, startling Kaylan.
“Ok, this symbiont? Right, symbiont. It can hear everything we are saying? Does it know what you are thinking? Does Quinn have one? I noticed he was a Trill too when he was talking. Do all Trills have them?”
“Well Jinx, you wanted my mouth. You can answer her this time.” Kaylan thought, and mentally sat back to watch the show.
Jinx, not to be beaten, immediately started talking, explaining how the bond between symbiont and host worked, how they shared feelings and thoughts, and how memories and, to some extent, personality of previous hosts lived on through the symbiont.
He then went on to explain that on Trill, every candidate for Joining had to go through some rigorous tests and prove to the Commission that they were worthy of being Joined, and that only a very small percentage of the population (the Trill population, not the Symbiont population) could be Joined at all.
By the time he finished speaking, Henriette looked rather confused, but when Jinx asked her if she needed anything clarifying, she shook her head and said she got it.
“She doesn’t ‘get it’”, Kaylan thought to Jinx.
“I know, but she wanted answers, and now she has them,” replied Jinx, “If she needs anything clarifying, we will do that when she asks. She needs to work out what we just told her first, though.”
“By the way, how did you know Quinn isn’t Joined?” Kaylan asked.
“I couldn’t sense a symbiont within him.” Jinx replied, surprised that Kaylan had thought to ask.
“Oh. So, back when we were on Trill, and I thought I was going crazy and had to get away from everyone. The reason we went climbing in the first place... That was actually you sensing their symbionts?”
“Indeed it was, well done Kaylan. Very few hosts actually figure that out. The ‘sense’ as you put it is actually very faint, so it is difficult even for hosts to pick up on. It is one of the reasons Toram and Pezan recommended we went someplace quiet. You’ll get used to it as time progresses.”
Between walking around looking at the Academy, and the conversation with Henriette, it was approaching dusk by the time the pair of them reported back to SFA03 to register for their classes.
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