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First Year, 2368-69JAYME TOOK THE START two steps at a time, but the antique monorail let out a melodious chime, announcing the closing of the doors. Using the guardrail as support, she propelled herself onto the platform as the monorail began to silently slide away from the Academy station.It was nearly midnight, so there were no people on the platform and few were inside the monorail. Jayme ran alongside the train, nearing the edge of the platform, unable to stop and give up. She could see Elma sitting inside, her head held high and her back stiff, unable to relax and lean back even in the empty passenger compartment. Jayme could also see her own tricorder in Elma's hand.She scrabbled to get hold of the monorail, but its smooth, modular design gave her no purchase. As it began to pick up speed, Jayme lunged desperately at the rear of the last car. One of her booted feet got purchase on the small brake box protruding right over the rail.Her fingers strained to hang on to the groove of the rear window, and she realized she had made a very bad mistake. She was wearing the new waffle-cut style shoes instead of her regulation Starfleet-issue boots. As the monorail pulled out of the Academy station, heading into San Francisco and parts unknown, along with Elma and the tricorder, Jayme'sfoot slid off the brake box.Jayme hit the rail with a solid ooze and tried to grab on. The double rail was about a meter wide, and her arms could barely get around it. As her legs went over, she had nothing to grab hold of. She hung for a second by one elbow, and almost stuck her hand into the tempting grooves on the side of the rail. Anyone else would have, but Jayme's trained engineering reflexes made her jerk away from the highly charged conduit.She had just enough time to congratulate herself on her own wisdom before she fell.It flashed through her mind during the twelvemeter drop that it was her own fault if she got killed. Then she hit something solid, but not solid, sending a tingling energy shock wave through her body as her stomach seemed to keep on falling. She let herself go limp, knowing better than to resist a forcefield.All she could see beneath her were the orange, gaping mouths of Ibernian tulips, freshly planted and protected from dimwits like her by a forcefield bubble. She slid off the side of the bubble, headfirst into the grass.Rubbing her head, Jayme groaned at the rips in her cadet uniform. One sleeve was hanging by a few threads, looking exactly the way the pulled muscle in her shoulder felt. Next to her, the blue residue of ionization crackled over the flowers before the forcefield became invisible again.At least it was the dead of night, so there wasn't a crowd gathering around. Jayme knew she should feel lucky at her narrow escape -- the cobblestone pathway was two paces away -- but she was upset about Elma getting away. Where was Elma taking her tricorder? She knew her roommate had taken it before, but the temporary memory of the tricorder was always erased after Elma used it. So Jayme had been watching her carefully for several weeks to catch her in the act.She pulled a small device from the roomy trouser pocket of her cadet uniform. With a few keystrokes, she activated the homing beacon she had recently planted inside the tricorder, and a map appeared on the tiny holoscreen. A green blip appeared, moving slowly across the grid as the centuries-old monorail system carried Elma east of the Presidio, into San Francisco. Jayme glanced around, looking for the Golden Gate Bridge to orient herself. The graceful span of the bridge was visible from almost everywhere on the Academy grounds."That was pretty impressive," a voice said right behind her.The homing map flew into the air as Jayme startled. If it wasn't for the forcefield, she would have crushed the tulips a second time.Her hands clutched at her chest, staring at the intruder, her heart beating faster than it had from the fall. "Who are you?"A woman stepped forward, letting the light of the monorail tower fall on her smooth, dark skin. For a moment, from the strange shape of her head, Jayme thought it was an alien she'd never seen before -- and she had seen more than most. Then she realized the woman was wearing an odd, bulbous hat made of some kind of plushy maroon material."I'm Guinan. And who are you?""Cadet Jayme Miranda," she replied, straightening her uniform. She ignored the hanging rags of her black sleeve as she tried to regain her dignity. "You're not Starfleet, are you?""Not exactly. I'm the bartender on the Enterprise. ""The bartender?" Jayme repeated incredulously.Guinan stooped and picked up the homing map, considering it. "You know, on Earth, electronic eavesdropping is illegal.""It's my own tricorder," Jayme quickly defended herself. "My roommate took it."One smooth brow lifted, slightly incredulous. "Your roommate stole your tricorder? Is that why you almost killed yourself?"Jayme wasn't about to mention the extra gadgets it had taken months to jury-rig into that tricorder. "It's more than that. Elma's a member of my Quad, she's my roommate. We're responsible for each other."Guinan's eyes narrowed slightly, as if considering the well-known Starfleet policy that made a unit out of the eight cadets living on each floor of the dormitory towers. The Quads were often a cadet's first taste of what it took to be a team. If a cadet got in bad enough trouble, the members of their Quad were questioned and if negligence was found, then they were disciplined as well.Overhead, a monorail chimed as it pulled into the tower station. Voices emerged from the cars and a few cadets descended the stair-lift on the other side of the station, disappearing toward the Quads. The hum of the white monorail as it smoothly passed by overheadwasn't loud, but Guinan watched it with interest as if she had never seen anything like it before.Jayme decided to take the offensive. "What are you doing here? I thought the Enterprise was in the Signat system for those trade negotiations.""They are. I'm here to see a friend.""Here at the Academy?" Jayme asked doubtfully, eyeing the bartender's outlandish costume again. If she had a few hours and a bonding tool, she might be able to make something interesting out of Guinan's tunic and that hat -- but right now all you could see was the round oval of her face.Guinan's pleasant expression never changed. "You may know him. His name is Wesley Crusher."Jayme stopped herself from letting out a laugh of disbelief. Wesley Crusher? Who didn't know Crusher and the rest of the Nova Squadron, who had tried and failed to perform a Kolvoord Starburst?"Yeah, he's in the class ahead of me," Jayme said diplomatically, leaving out the fact that the members of Nova Squadron were repeating a year."You don't sound very sympathetic," Guinan told her.Stung, Jayme protested, "There's only so much you can sympathize, especially when people do stupid things. Besides, we're all getting punished because of Joshua Albert's death. The Academy has clamped down on everyone, like we can't be trusted because a few cadets made a mistake."Guinan shrugged slightly, undisturbed by Jayme's outburst. "People make mistakes. It could have happened to anyone. It could happen to you.""Excuse me, I know he's a friend of yours, but I wouldn't do anything like that."Guinan smiled, glancing up at the gleaming monorail overhead. "You wouldn't?"Jayme shifted, trying to ignore the bed of Ibernian tulips that seemed to be mocking her with their vibrant orange mouths. "That's different. I'm trying to help my roommate. I can't just turn her into Academy security.""Have you tried talking to her?" Guinan asked."Of course! I try all the time, but she's . . . she's an odd person. Elma grew up on Holt, in the habitat domes."Guinan nodded as if she knew Holt well. "You would value your privacy, too, if you lived with that many people under one roof.""So you understand my problem!" Jayme exclaimed in relief. "She won't confide in me, and I'm afraid she's gotten into something over her head."Guinan turned her head slightly, once more considering the homing beacon in her hand. Jayme couldn't see the map, but she heard the tone that signaled that the beacon was now stationary."Listen," Jayme said urgently, taking a step closer to Guinan. "What is Holt known for? It's mostly Bajoran resettlement camps, right? Well, why do you think that is?""Because Bajorans are the only ones desperate enough to put up with those conditions?" Guinan suggested."Well, that's true," Jayme conceded. "But it's also in the perfect strategic position to serve as a resistance base."Guinan furrowed her brow. "So what are you saying?" she asked."I'm saying that I grew up here in San Francisco, and most of my mother's family is in StarDeet. Myaunt Dani is on a patrol right now near the border of occupied Bajor. I know the Federation can't risk their peace with the Cardassians by helping the Bajorans get back their homeworld. And I'm afraid Elma is trying to help the Bajoran resistance. She might get something from my aunt's messages, or. . ." Jayme glanced away, as if suddenly more interested in the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge than the homing beacon in Guinan's hand. "There's lots of programs in my tricorder that could be used to . . . well, used to compromise Starfieet systems.""I see." For a moment Jayme thought Guinan really understood, then the bartender added, "If you turn in your roommate, they'll find out that you've juiced up your tricorder.""No!" Jayme quickly denied. "I've done nothing illegal, just . . . unorthodox. If I thought there was a real danger, I would tell security even if I got into trouble myself. See, I realize we're in this together. I'd just like to be able to confront her with everything." She looked longingly at the homing beacon. "But it would help if I knew where she was going. She could be in a bar right now, and I'm making a big deal over nothing."Guinan slowly nodded. "You're very good, Jayme Miranda."For some reason, Jayme didn't think that was intended as a compliment. But when Guinan handed back the homing device, she was too pleased to care.As she zoomed and focused the map, Jayme absently told Guinan, "You know, Crusher's lucky to have you for a friend." Finally the correct section of the city clicked in and the readout showed the location -- the radio observatory.
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