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[2370] Paper Crown - Starfleet Academy

[ Cadet Rutherford | Starfleet Academy | Transporter Room | San Francisco | Earth ] attn: @Swift
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The most elusive force in all of rhyme and law, a concept neither understood by poets nor scientists, time eluded the most provident of minds. It could be as fleeting as grains of sand through your fingers, rushing by as a passing train, leaving nothing behind but a cloud of venom and vapor. And all the same, it could be as measured as a snail, weighing its every step with deliberate malice, grinding bone to dust. The very contemplation of its concept, an accomplice to time, stealing from the immaculate, a measure of life itself. But such worries did not plague the young cadet’s mind - brilliant fires of neurons beneath silky cascades of caramel gold – as she pondered the minutes ticking off the clock, as if leaves on a calendar, or foliage in an autumn drought. Plush lips extinguishing the desire to contest, like rogue ambers of defiance between slices of rose petals. Two years, three months, five days, since she had joined Starfleet Academy and the venerated fellowship of earth’s most courageous minds.

An environment that burdened the young woman with new challenges, igniting a fire of defiance within, that would sustain her for the duration of the entire education. A flame that burned solitary, for the most part, unreliant on the fomentation of others, but rather grooming that sense of entitlement that acted as fuel eternal, to the chain reaction within. Samantha hadn’t planned to make friends, at the academy, and her plans had always unfolded exactly as they had been conceived. Even if they were a detriment in disguise. However, she vowed to carry loneliness as a badge of honor, in lieu of the mature self-awareness necessary to admit fault. Grooming a following, rather than equals, at the temple of knowledge. Using diplomacy as a means to pull wool over the eyes of the uninitiated flock, coddling those deeming themselves closest to her in an illusion of warmth, that was nothing more than the blood of the sacrificial lamb.

Carter had followed her since Freshman year, seeking those fleeting moments of warmth like a moth did the flame. Comfortable at the concession of an arm’s length, rather than a dignified mile away. Learning the most valuable lesson of his scholastic career not by the ethos of a professor, but rather the siren’s song of a fellow classmate. For the way to someone’s unconditional devotion was facilitated by offering just enough, to make them want more, but never actually giving it. A man who would eventually move on to become a scholar himself, teaching alien members of the Federation about its values and procedures, but never his own training, in the art of being a tool. But even between the heaviest bricks and the sturdiest mortar, there resided a ginger sense of affection, for the chestnut-haired sport. As naïve his ideologies were, and as self-serving, he possessed an almost childlike capacity for miracles, an unwavering faith into a concept larger than life, which Samantha always silently envied him for.

Together, they had become a force to be reckoned with, among their respective class in the diplomatic lane. A good cop, bad coop routine that not even the most diligently planned out defense could break. Just returned from a practical exercise on Outpost 23, which they would’ve finished second as a team, their score had ultimately been recalculated, as Samantha had argued a secret case on the young man’s lovestruck trepidations, interfering with his capacity to assess the situation rationally. In light of which they were granted first place over Selena Watson and her team. A bunch of limp hyenas, strong on the scent of victory, but never quite able to catch up with it. Granted, their shared quarters had been an Andorian ice-box ever since. No matter how many times Carter petitioned for co-educational guidelines to let him bunk with Samantha instead. She herself actually preferred it that way.

Keep your bootlicking lackeys close, and your toughest competition – by a wide margin - even closer.

The PADD teetered on Samantha’s crossed legs like a seesaw in perfect equilibrium, as she studied the guidelines of the practical exercise once more. The goal, of their roundtrip through the solar system, was to familiarize the cadets with the more practical aspects of diplomacy. What planetary orbits to favor, how to literally initiate a first contact call, the various stances a starship could take up in relation to another, and what the signifying differences were. Contemplations that might’ve sounded crazy or unnecessary to members of other branches of service. But the way you physically approached an alien ship could mean the difference between being able to even just walk away again, or ending up as part of a planetary ring system. Let alone leading talks into a favorable outcome. At any rate, the blonde was confident she would breathe through this just as she had through any subject prior (and if she wouldn’t, any result was merely a matter of negotiation anyways). But she also had taken into account a lot of the original Vulcan protocols of diplomatic engagement. In the form before they were corrupted by Starfleet morals while being adapted into a more human centric organization, almost two centuries ago. Undoubtedly this unique angle would help her team to come up with unexpected approaches.

Larimar ponds rising to meet the icy blue dwarf suns of the first round of cadest dissolving in a flurry of white and azure sparks, the blonde cadet shifted her silky waves back with a delicate wiggle of her pate. Sitting across form the platform, their group was next in line, yet the last still had to arrive. “I wonder if she’s actually going to fake a Tamarian larva infection and call in sick for this exercise.” Samantha raised laconically, her voice like the song of a mocking bird. “She’s got the bloated face for it.” Letting larimar ponds cast their unrelenting glimmer over the man next to her, if only with the delicate warmth she afforded very few, her lithe features basked in the glorious reprieve of his heartfelt chuckle. Only to be replaced by a far colder expression of glee, as she caught notice of the group arriving right behind him, led by her raven-haired roommate and self-proclaimed ‘competition’. In the sense that a snail was a competition to a cheetah. Dipping her pate to a disparaging angle, the blonde made sure Carter was not in the line of fire, once daggers started to erupt from her azure corneas.

“I am glad you made it!” she exclaimed, voice raised over the gentle hush between conspirators. “Shows true devotion when you turn up no matter the state you’re in.” Training her face back straight ahead, tongue in cheek, paired with a sardonic grin, Samantha treasured the wonderful timing of the moment, as her group was beckoned onto the transporter PADD. Bending ever so slightly to pick up her bag, as did the rest of her team, she moved ahead and into the center-front spot of the transporter. Turning on her heel to face the remaining classmates she gave Selena one last look of abject sympathy, as the chief of the deck spun up the coils to send them to the academy vessel in orbit. And with a swirl of light, she vanished into the matter stream towards space.

Re: [2370] Paper Crown - Starfleet Academy

Reply #1
[ Cadet Watson | Starfleet Academy | Transporter Room | San Francisco | Earth ] Attn: @stardust

Any measure of contentment which had existed within Selena Watson’s current temperament had evaporated in an instant just as she neared her assigned transporter room, the awareness of what awaited her upon arrival looming like a shadow cast by an encroaching tempest. The radiant warmth she’d carried with her a moment earlier when she’d made her way through the corridors that had led her here had faded, only to be replaced with an overt coolness that often reserved for one specific person: her roommate and evident rival, Samantha Rutherford. From the very onset of their relationship, it was obvious that there would be little love lost between them, and though Selena hadn’t exactly been the most open and kind person toward Sam, the same would’ve been true in reverse. Diametrically, they were opposed in almost ever facet of their back history, and Selena knew all too well that her early blunders at the Academy had been something in which Rutherford had taken no small measure of joy in observing. Effectively, it had put Selena in a de facto position just behind Samantha, and ever since, the raven-haired Cadet had been struggling to not only keep up, but had endeavored to somehow, someway get the better of her blonde counterpart.

The ‘Outpost 23’ exercise that the Academy afforded to a select number of Cadets each year, had seemed the perfect opportunity to not only arise to the occasion, but to finally supplant her rival at the forefront of their class. And, in fact when the dust had initially settled afterward, Selena had achieved exactly that. Similarly, she had felt no small measure of joy in knowing she had finally bested her foe, even going so far as to laud it verbally among her fellows, but that feeling of victory had proven folly, as a recalculation of the scoring for the exercise subsequently changed the rankings. And though Selena had technically figured higher than Samantha at first, in the end, she’d wound up just behind once again, finishing in a very close second-place. On her record it was duly noted that she had achieved mightily, however it was still technically not the highest score of the year, nor would it have been the year prior, meaning she’d yet to best Rutherford. This ate at her almost constantly and had now spoiled the afternoon she’d spent in the company of her boyfriend, a Starfleet Officer by the name of ‘Andrew’, who she’d met a few weeks earlier at a bar in Boston while on temporary leave.

Clenching fists as she drew ever nearer the doors which led into the transporter room, she watched as always, just ahead of her was Samantha Rutherford, arriving for their next joint assignment together, toadlike lackey falling in beside her as she entered first.

“Of course!” lamented Selena, frustration evident in her voice as she cast deep-blue eyes back, peering over her shoulder at Reggie, the second-year Cadet who had similarly attached himself to her like a pilotfish at the onset of this Academic semester. Initially, she’d feigned him any sort of attention, assuming that he was interested in her for all the wrong reasons, and since he wasn’t exactly what she was looking for in a partner. But as it became clearer, that she didn’t necessarily fit his interests either, and that instead his wish to work alongside her lay more in a personal desire to get closer to Rutherford’s lapdog, Selena had relented and allowed him a steadily increasing measure of accompaniment at her side. He had over time also proven himself to be an invaluable asset, as he’d been something of a bookworm, and had by mid-point of the semester memorized a sizeable chunk of the diplomatic records kept available to Academy cadets. Had Selena taken the time to account for the reasons she’d managed to recover her standing at the Academy so quickly, she would’ve had to have given Reggie his due recognition for acting as a study partner, and an assisting hand.

“Damnit!” she swore aloud, picking up the pace of her long strides in an effort to close-in with alacrity, rather than not.

Entering the transporter room after the double-doors had swished open as though they glided on a cushion of air, the Cadet laid narrowed eyes upon the form of her nemesis, a cursory greeting shared, however heavily tainted with vitriol, she paid a similarly sarcastic grin in Rutherford’s direction. The follow-up, making reference to some unknown, though pointedly aimed remark about having made it despite, caused a sudden surge of radiant hatred boil up from within Selena’s chest, eliciting her fists to clench tightly, knuckles cracking audibly. The tale of Ahab’s red-hot, all-consuming vindictiveness toward the white whale came to mind, and Selena knew that she too would’ve fired her heart upon Samantha had her chest been a cannon from which she could launch her disdain. Oh how she desired to harpoon the lithe blonde casting smug emanations in her direction from the fore position of the transporter pad, a shimmering blue-light enveloping Rutherford until there was nothing but a lingering sensation of anger in Selena, and a general feeling of discomfort which permeated the confines of the transporter room.

“Your team may proceed, Cadet Watson.” Chimed a nearby instructor, a wave of his hand beckoning her on.

A sense of regret began to race throughout her conscious thought now, as she wished she’d have fired back some form of a witty retort prior to the completion of transport, but the moment had simply been lost to her. The opportunity never having presented itself, and Samantha once more in a position of advantage which she would defiantly resist surrendering, no matter how unyieldingly Selena raged. At the back of her mind, a thought flared which she immediately suppressed as it would’ve been little more than a conceding on her part, if she so involved her father in the matter. She couldn’t resort to such a tactic in the fight against her roommate, regardless of how very badly she wanted to see the blonde knocked down a peg or two. Besides which, the rumors had still hung in the air around Selena ever since she’d been cleared from Academic suspension, and if anything happened to derail the ascent of her rival, beyond any doing directly of her own, then she would never escape the reputation of having been nothing but a privileged heiress.

“Well... what’re you waiting for? Energize!” Selena snapped as she realized she’d been left standing on the transporter pad for a little over a minute now, while the Engineering Cadet at the controls futzed around with something, his instructor attempting to coach him through some sort of an error. Scoffing, Selena cast an annoyed gaze at Reggie before finally, the low-thrum of a spooling pattern buffer began to radiate throughout the confined space. Stiffening up in her posture once blue-shimmering light began to envelope her, the world transitioning scenes from that of a transporter room at the Academy to one of similar yet still different design aboard a starship, she hesitated a moment to allow the transport to reach its completion.

“Welcome aboard, Cadet.” Exclaimed a uniformed Officer bearing the rank of Junior Grade Lieutenant.

“Thank you, Sir!” she answered.

Re: [2370] Paper Crown - Starfleet Academy

Reply #2
[ Cadet Rutherford | Starfleet Academy | Transporter Room | San Francisco | Earth ] attn: @Swift
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Samantha hadn’t been raised to be competitive. If anything, ambition was illogical. However, while her earliest memories had taught her compassion and value, and her later childhood the merit of measuring one’s emotions, there wasn’t much merit in either of these philosophies in an arena as competitive as Starfleet Academy. Surely there would be a time and place to let all of her influence commingle into a well-rounded officer, serving in the Diplomatic Corps. But first the way there was to be paved with the tears and sweat of those trying to keep up. She would not venture into this great unknown with the stigma of being second best. Constantly doubting her value at the negotiating table, effectively becoming a liability, rather than an asset. In her opinion, anyone who didn’t finish at the top of that year should just apply for a desk job pushing PADDs around or switch branches entirely. Surely a second-best diplomat would be able to become a compassionate nurse by emphasizing with incapacity.

Granted, this was not a view especially groomed for her roommate, Selena, but rather everyone like her. Cadets who felt like there were boundaries to adhere to when carving your way to the top. But to the blonde’s understanding, this was not how diplomacy worked. She had learned in high school that if you weren’t ready to get down and dirty then you’d set yourself up for a lifetime in the shadow of others. To do what others wouldn’t; to set yourself apart from the homogenous mush of underachieving bums. And as she had not received much complaisance from schoolmates back then, for being different and unsocialized, due to having grown up with few kids her own age, the blossoming woman wasn’t ready to give such concession in return either. Everything worth having was what she had fought for herself. And much more so, than if it had just been handed to her, like – say – a bratty little princess who coasted on a higher level of existence simply due to the random fact that her family had owned a few square miles of dirt, or some shit.

Sure, Sam had grown up in a considerable measure of privilege, the last few years of her life, before joining the academy. But none that was based in antiquated forms of wealth, but rather personal achievement. It was what had lit the fire of ambition within her, even though ironically her grandfather had surely tried his best for the opposite to become true. So, certainly, there was a measure of contempt between Watson and her that went beyond professional competitiveness. Hell, a ginger notion of jealousy too, for not having had to go through the childhood among the refugees of the galaxy as the blonde had. Which was an entirely irrational sentiment, as neither of them had any say in how they were to grow up. And even more so given that all these experiences had shaped her into what she judged to be the more well-rounded being, out of the two. But as predominantly being human went, most of those feelings weren’t very rational. Serving well as more reasoning to rely on her Vulcan teachings more, when it came to defensively conduct herself towards her peers and enemies alike.

Taking a considerably amount of pleasure in Selena’s chocked, haphazard attempts at deflecting the venom spat her way, Samantha not only dissolved into a flurry of molecules dissected into a matter stream, but also the complacency of having achieved yet another fleeting victory. If only by perfect timing. A romanticism that somehow managed to enter into solution with the data transmitted to the USS WHATSHERNAME, where it was put together in conjunction with the biological blueprint submitted, so the cadet could rejoice in the same notion once more, hundreds of miles above her nemesis. Stepping off the transporter pad to make room for team second best, the blonde and her lackey mingled with the already present team, which one would not even consider competition, but rather the filler needed so the lecture halls didn’t look half empty. It was then that she wondered if any one of them were actually aware of how futile their attempts were at achieving anything but gut-wrenching mediocrity. Or if the mawkish human notion of positive naiveté blinded them like the self-awareness they sorely seemed to lack.

A junior grade with golden collar welcomed the group aboard the ship, one by one, as if they were delegates from some alien prospect. Sam merely gave him a wayside nod in passing, focusing entirely on their new surroundings and Carter by her side. “Let’s make room for the others.” she instructed the young man quietly, ushering him to the side of the spacious reception area adjacent. Taking up position with her back against the bulkhead, PADD in confident grasp before her pelvis, the dignified cadet assumed the position of an ornate statue, to the rather cold and utilitarian design of the room. Momentarily illuminated by another blue swirl, she let the Selena’s group indulge the one privilege of being last - standing in the first row of the group, which was wedged against the opposite wall like a flock of sheep under the scrutiny of a border collie. Yet, as soon as everyone had settled into their spaces, the blonde and her companion detached themselves from the opposite side of the room to blatantly position themselves at the foremost precipice of the class towards the highest-ranking instructor, who was going to give them the introduction to the course.

“Class of ’71 is assembled, sir.” she chimed beautifully, like a harp in a flowery meadow, towards said officer. Not that it was necessary or mandatory for any of them to announce it, but that was beyond the point. No one else had, or potentially would have, done it. Which gave the blonde a unique measure of distinction from the get go. Whether the man in question would take it as a sign of dutifulness or rather boastfulness was irrelevant. Because when it came to exposure, there was no qualification on whether it was a good or bad one. It simply was. Yet, even as the exclamation had been aimed at solidifying herself as the de facto apex of the class, in the eyes of the officers present, it had of course also been intended as another subtle jab at the brunette fuming in line behind her. So, Samantha did not withhold added fuel, to the already smoldering fire, as she whispered to Carter, while the instructor started his monologue.

“Well … at least some of us will graduate that year.”

- FIN

 
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