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“Hey, Liz, Come on in!” Heather said, greeting her guest at the door with a hug and a kiss. “I want to show you my garden.”

“Great.” Liz smiled, feeling chills running up and down her spine at the sound of her red-headed friend’s sultry voice. “I love roses especially.”

“Then, you are really going to be pleased.” Heather grinned as she took Liz’s hand in hers and walked with her to a little arboretum she had.

“This is so beautiful!” Liz gushed as she took in all the blooming flowers. “Oh…” The young blonde sighed as she spotted a rose bush with a red rose in full bloom.

“You like that?” Heather asked as she reveled in the natural scent of her friend.

“I love it.” Liz smiled as she bent down and sniffed the flower. “It smells so good.”

“Here.” Heather grinned as she cut the flower and placed it in Liz’s hair above her right ear. Stepping back, she sighed, “You look so beautiful!”

“No…” Liz shook her head, “Not dressed like this.” She said as she looked down at her uniform.

“Well then.” Heather remarked, with a faux serious look on her face. “Let’s get you out of that thing and into something that will show you just how gorgeous and sexy you are. You game?”

“Yeah.” Liz smiled, “Let’s do it.”

“Ok!” Heather grinned, “Let’s go shopping!”

“Shopping?” Liz queried, “We could just replicate it.”

“And take all the fun out of it?” Heather shook her head, “Baby…part of the fun in making yourself look sexy is the process—and that means shopping for a nice outfit and jewelry and a full treatment at the spa and new shoes.”

“Ok…” Liz chuckled, “Let’s do it!”

“First we go to a little spa me and Sandy like to go to whenever we want to feel pretty—they’ve got a pair of gorgeous masseurs who I guarantee will work out any muscle strains or tension you might have…” She quipped with a wicked grin. “Then we get our nails done. Then, our hair done at Franco’s, and then a little shop I know for your outfit. So…ready?” Seeing Liz’s enthusiastic nod of her head, Heather grinned, “Ok…Let’s go!”

“Last stop—Erica’s.” Heather said as she guided Liz into a little shop in the old town. “She makes some of the best outfits I’ve ever seen. Hey Erica…” Heather called out, her voice once again sending shivers down Liz’s spine, “You back there? I got a friend who needs a new outfit!”

“Come on back, Heather.” A voice shouted back.

“You’re going to love Erica.” Heather grinned, “She’s part Betazoid and one of the best designers I know.” Seeing a dark-haired woman setting an outfit on a mannequin, the red-headed poet beamed, “Erica, I’d like you to meet Liz…Liz, this is Erica.”

“Hi.” Erica greeted, extending her hand towards the blonde cadet.

Liz, taking Erica’s hand in hers, smiled and greeted the shop owner with a cheerful, “Hi” of her own.

“I see you’ve been to Franco’s.” Erica grinned.

“Yeah.” Heather smiled. “He told us to tell you Hi.”

“He is a dear…isn’t he?” Erica replied. “I’ve got an appointment with him tomorrow—I think I’m going to go for a retro look—what do you think—mid-23rd century?”

“Go for it.” Heather agreed, “You’ve got the long hair to pull it off.”

“So…what can I help you with?”

“We’re looking for a new outfit for Liz.” Heather remarked.

“Hmmm…” Erica vocalized, “Any special occasion.”

“Not really.” Heather grinned, “Just a ‘I want to feel gorgeous and sexy type outfit’ Liz can wear whenever she wants to feel that way—right, Liz?”

“Yeah.” Liz enthusiastically nodded her head in agreement.

“I think I might have an idea—and it’ll go perfect with that beautiful rose in your hair Liz—wear it back to the Academy and they’ll fall all over themselves.”

After several minutes during which Heather and Liz talked while sipping real champagne, Erica came back with a black dress and matching high heel shoes and a pearl necklace and earrings. “Here…try this on. I have a feeling you’ll love it.”

“Ok.” Liz smiled a she took the bundle in her hands, “I’ll just slip into the changing room and be right back.”

Waiting until the blonde had went into the changing room, Erica poured champagne into an empty champagne flute. Speaking in a low voice, she remarked, “I know she turns you on, but did you know that you turn her on too?”

“Yeah. I had an idea, but I wasn’t completely sure.” Heather replied with a smile.

“So…” Erica flashed a wicked grin, “Go get her.”

“No…” Heather shook her head, “She’s still finding herself…finding out who she is. I can wait.”

Nodding her head, Erica whispered back, “Yeah. That makes sense.” Then smiling as Liz came out, the dress designer remarked, “Beautiful!”

“You really think so?” Liz exclaimed, as she looked at herself in a mirror, “Oh, my…” She whispered as she saw a lovely creamy skinned young woman with her blonde hair done up, a few stray tresses left deliberately, the red rose in her hair, and wearing a black strapless angled dress about thigh length—not quite a minidress, but showing plenty of her attractive shapely legs, with the left leg showing a bit more skin than the right. Completing the ensemble, she wore the black shoes and necklace and earrings, along with a gold bracelet.

“You are knock-dead gorgeous.” Heather breathed, her voice even more sultry than usual, much to the delight of her blonde companion. “They’re not going to know what hit them back at the Academy.”

“Speaking of which…” Liz said as she took Heather’s hand in hers, “I’ve got to get back.” She then gave the lovely red-head a tentative flirty wink, “Want to walk me back?”

Smiling, Heather responded in a slightly coquettish voice, “Love to.”

As they entered the Academy grounds, the lovely pair, walking with their arms around each other, attracted more than their fair share of attention from both cadets and instructors.

“Cadet Shelby?”

Quickly turning towards the source of the voice, Liz recognized Captain Hanson with another Starfleet officer. “Sir?”

As he and the other Starfleet officer approached the two women, the captain’s lips turned up in a smile, “Special occasion, Cadet?”

“No, Sir.” Liz responded, “I was just out shopping with my friend, Heather.” Liz then introduced the stunning redhead with her arm still around her waist, “Heather, this is Captain Hanson.”

“A pleasure, Captain.” Heather responded with a smile, “Liz has told me so much about you.”

“Nothing bad, I hope.” The captain responded and then introduced the man beside him, “This is Commander William Ross. He’s in between assignments right now, but he used to serve with me on the Vittoro Venito.”

“Sir.”

“Well…Cadet…I’ll let you go now. Don’t forget…” He reminded with a friendly wink, “You’ve got an exam next week and I’m expecting your usual excellent performance.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Well…” Heather grinned as the pair walked away from the two officers, “He seems like a nice guy—bet he’s a good teacher.”

“Oh, yeah!” Liz nodded her head, “The best. Tough too. He doesn’t cut me any slack.”

Coming to her room, Liz grinned, “I’d invite you in, Heather, but I think Jadzia’s sleeping. Poor thing was up all night studying for a big xenology exam.”

“That’s ok, I’ve got to get back anyway.” Heather smiled back, “I’m trying to work out the kinks on my latest poem.”

“Well, good luck with that, and I had a marvelous time.” Liz said with a low voice as she reached up and gently gave Heather a goodbye kiss on her lips.

“Bye, Sweetie.” Heather answered back as she returned Liz’s kiss. “I’ll see you later.”

Watching Heather’s gently swaying hips as she walked away, Liz almost didn’t hear Jason Aubrey’s slightly teasing, “Hot date?”

“Huh?” Turning and quickly recognizing the blond cadet, Liz smiled, “I don’t know if I’d call it a date precisely, but I did have a good time.” Then whispering in a low voice so that no one could hear, she added, “Definitely hot.”

**********************************************************************

“So…heard you got invited into Nova Squadron.” Jadzia remarked as she and Liz walked together to class. She then said with a mournful sigh, “Guess that means I’m getting a new roommate.”

“Nope. Can’t get rid of me that easy.” Liz laughed, “I told them ‘Thanks, but no thanks’.”

“What?” An astonished Jadzia exclaimed attracting curious glances with her loud shout of surprise. “You…turned down an invitation to join Nova Squadron—no one does that!”

“Well, I did.” Liz replied with a shrug of her shoulders.

“Why?” Her Trill friend asked.

“I don’t think it’s right to have groups like that in the Academy—or Starfleet for that matter.” Liz declared, all signs of levity gone from her. “They can cause problems.” Shaking her head, Liz gestured towards the classroom. “We better hurry, Jadz or we’ll be late for Captain Hanson’s class.”

Walking with his friend Amaya Donners, Michael Owens, just back from a training cruise on the Kitty Hawk, couldn’t help but overhear the conversation the two cadets were having. His lips curling up in a slight grin, he remarked to his friend beside him, “Good for her.”

Early as usual for their class, Liz spotted Captain Hanson motioning for her to come see him. Bending over to whisper into Jadzia’s ear, she asked, “Can you hold my seat for me?”

“Sure.” Jadzia replied as Liz made he way to the lectern where the captain was standing.

“Sir?” Liz queried.

“I understand you refused Nova Squadron’s invitation. Care to explain why?” Captain Hanson inquired with a stern expression on his face.

Taking a deep breath, Liz exhaled, “I don’t think formations like that have any place in Starfleet, much less the Academy, Sir.”

“Don’t you think excellence should be rewarded, Cadet?”

“Oh…most definitely, Sir.” Liz concurred. “But I think it can be problematic on many levels when you have elite formations that enjoy special privileges over and above those permitted everyone else.”

“Interesting. Care to back up that argument with an extra assignment.”

Recognizing a challenge when she saw and heard one, Liz’s lips turned up in a smile. “Of course, Sir.”

“Great.” The captain replied, “I want a paper from you discussing the impact both positive and negative concerning elite military units and formations and then I want to see what conclusions you reach and how you reached them, and I want that paper on my desk no later than two weeks from today. Can you do it?”

“Yes, Sir!” Liz exclaimed enthusiastically.

“Now understand, Cadet.” Captain Hanson admonished, “This is not extra credit. Rather, it’s extra work for you above and beyond your current workload and I won’t cut you any slack on your regular assignments. So…still game?”

“You bet, Sir!” Liz declared, her smile growing even wider.

“All right, then.” Hanson remarked, pleased at the young cadet’s attitude. “I’ll expect that paper in two weeks. You can go back to your seat now—class is about to start.”

***********************************************************************

“Well…you’re dressed up!” Jadzia exclaimed as she saw her roommate wearing a stylish Betazoid style red dress with matching high-heel shoes and gold necklace and earrings. “Special occasion?”

“Raul’s fixing dinner for me to celebrate my getting a high mark on Captain Hanson’s extra assignment.” Liz grinned, “And he gets ever so upset if you don’t dress for the occasion. Says dressing for dinner enhances the meal…and you know…” Liz chuckled, “He’s right. It does.”

“Well…” Jadzia chuckled, “Have a good time.”

“See you later, Jadz.”

As she walked down the corridor towards the transporter pads, Liz smirked at the looks she was getting from her fellow cadets as she walked by, subconsciously adding a little sway to her hips. Seeing a dark-skinned cadet of African-American descent exiting her room, Liz smiled, “Hi Amaya…how goes?”

“Not bad.” Cadet Amaya Donners replied, “On my way to the library—got to look up some stuff in the archives for Jansen’s Diplomacy and Protocols class tomorrow.” Her lips curling up in a wry grin, she quipped, “Looks like you’ve got a hot date planned.”

“I guess you could say that.” Liz chuckled, “Raul’s fixing dinner for me.”

“Isn’t he one of those artists you hang out with—the good looking Spanish guy?” Amaya asked as the pair walked together.

“Yeah.” Liz nodded her head, “Besides being an interior designer, he’s a gourmet cook.” She then smirked, “He says he’s cooking his special paella for me tonight.”

“Well…” Amaya quipped as the pair split ways, “You have fun and don’t stay out too late.”

*************************************************************************

“Liz, cara mio! You look absolutely ravishing tonight.” Raul greeted as he gave his guest a hug and kiss on both cheeks.

“You’re looking spectacular yourself, Raul.” Liz grinned as returned the Castilian’s hug and kisses.

“Come, my dear.” Raul encouraged, offering an arm to his dinner guest, “How about an aperitif before we dine.”

“Love to.” Liz replied as she took her host’s arm, letting him guide her to the bar. At once recognizing Raul’s slight gesture of his head, Liz requested, “Martini.”

“Of course.” Raul smiled, pleased at his escort’s choice. “I’m glad to see you’re learning to appreciate the finer things in life.” He gently teased as he handed his blonde guest her drink. “Now, love…nothing you’re eating or drinking tonight is synth—it’s real…so…don’t forget...”

“Moderation.” Liz completed with a gentle chuckle. “I remember you telling me that the first time I drank one of your martinis.”

“That’s right.” He said as he sipped his martini. “Life and the pleasures of the flesh are to be enjoyed.”

After several minutes talking, laughing, and drinking their pre-dinner cocktails, Raul smiled, “Come, cara mio, dinner awaits.

As Raul escorted her to the table, Liz gasped when she saw the elaborate table setting complete with genuine silverware and crystal. How did you get all this, Raul?”

“Payment from a client for redesigning his living room.” The interior designer preened as he held Liz’s seat out for her. Then, after ensuring that his guest was comfortable, he took his own seat across from her. As she and her host made their way through the seven-course meal, Liz savored every bite and every sip of the fine wines that accompanied the meal, as well as enjoying the conversation with Raul, laughing several times at his jokes and blushing more than once at his sophisticated flirtations, responding with coy looks and flirtations of her own.

Their dinner done, the pair retired to Raul’s balcony where they sat on a bench, Liz comfortable in Raul’s arms, basking in his warmth and gentle conversation as they enjoyed the transparent, starry night sky. “You can’ t wait until you’re out there amongst the stars, can you, my lovely?”

Chuckling gently, Liz responded as she gently caressed Raul’s arm, “No, I can’t. There’s so much I want to see and do out there.”

“Then, my sweet,” Raul urged as he gently kissed Liz on the lips, “Go…do it…see it…and savor every minute of it and then come back and tell me and all the rest of us what it’s like.”

***********************************************************************

“So…” Jadzia smirked as she saw Liz appearing at the door to their room, “How did the date go?”

‘It was wonderful!” Liz gushed, “The food…the wine…the atmosphere…Raul…” Her enthusiasm bubbling over, the young blonde blurted out, “I’m learning so many new things about myself…”

“Like what?”

“That it’s ok to enjoy myself. That I’m more than just Philip Shelby’s daughter. Oh…” Her lips turned up in a wicked grin, “Also that Raul is a great kisser.” She then giggled, “And so are Heather and Jason.”

***********************************************************************

Entering the gym, Liz immediately went into the female cadets’ locker room and began changing out of her uniform and in to her dancer tights and leotard. Exiting the locker room, she made her way to a parallel bar and began to do her stretching exercises. As she was warming up, she didn’t notice that she was being watched by a handsome dark-skinned male Starfleet officer. Finishing her exercises, she called out, “Computer, play Satin Doll. As the music filled the air, Liz danced, letting the sensuous sounds of the clarinet guide her steps into a sultry rhythm as she danced.

“Not bad.” Terrence Glover whispered to himself as the blonde cadet danced. Other cadets, entering the gym for their workouts, on seeing Liz dance, stopped what they were doing and watched. The song ended, Liz caught out of the corner of her eye that she was beginning to attract an audience. Wiping the sweat off her body, she grinned inwardly, “Let’s give ‘em a show,” as she commanded the computer to play Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing. Getting into the rhythm, she danced close to the cadets sitting and watching, flirting with her eyes and hips at several of the males and females watching. Letting the music take her, Liz kicked and twirled and moved to the rhythm until, the song coming to conclusion, she ended with a flourish and bowed to her applauding audience.
“Thanks, you all!” Liz grinned as she blew the audience a kiss, “But I’ve got to go and hit the showers now. Bye.”

After showering and changing back into her uniform, Liz rushed to make her next class with Captain Hanson. Entering the classroom first, the balding captain grinned at the blonde cadet who had become his prize pupil, “Heard you put on a little show in the gym, Cadet.”

“I was just practicing my dancing, Sir.” Liz explained blushing, “And I guess I kind of got carried away.”

“Nothing to be ashamed of or feel bad about, Cadet.” The captain said as he smiled beatifically on his student. “It’s good that you have outside interests and even better that those interests make other people feel good.” Taking a deep breath, he exhaled, “The hallmark of a good captain is that captain’s ability to keep morale up—not just your morale, but also that of your crew and anyone who might be dependent on you. Good morale can more often than not be that intangible thing that makes the difference between success and failure. Never forget that, Cadet Shelby.”

“No sir.” Liz promised, “I won’t.”

*************************************************************************

“Much better, Liz.” Renee praised as the blonde dancer finished her routine. “Your endurance was already good to begin with—I guess that’s thanks to the Academy training, but it’s gotten even better, plus your form has definitely improved—you’ve obviously been practicing—Good.” She grinned and winked, “Too bad I can’t talk you into going pro—you’re a natural.”

Laughing gently, Liz replied, “It’s like I told Jadz, it’s not that I’m not seriously tempted, but…” She shook her head, “My heart’s in Starfleet. I want to see what’s out there and I think I can do that while at the same time expressing what I feel in here.” She said as she touched her heart with the palm of her hand.

“Good for you, girl.” The dark-skinned dance choreographer grinned, “No rule says you can’t have it all.” Pausing for a moment, she nodded her head, “I think you’re almost ready for Sandy’s project. We’ve got the dance steps down. And as for that other little number you want to do, I think you can do that too, but we’ll work on it some more just to be sure you nail it—I want you to knock the socks off your fellow cadets at that talent show.”

“Great.” Liz grinned.

“Oh…I almost forgot to mention because, well, it’s not that big a deal for us, but I’m not sure you’ll go for it. Thing is, doing it would put Sandy’s program over the top.

“What is it? Liz asked.

“Well…” She said as she gestured for Liz to sit on a couch and then joined her, “It concerns your costuming for Sandy’s program once she’s ready to roll it out. Leotard and tights are fine for rehearsals, but for the real thing, if you’re going to seamlessly blend with the colors and tapestries of the holoimages, you really should be wearing body paint and nothing else. Tights, even multicolored tights, would still leave lines that would set you off from the work as a whole—body paint permits a perfect melding of your body and the images and the music.”

“Hmmm…” Liz pondered, “What if I get into trouble with the Academy? They might not like it for me to do that.”

“Well, dear.” Renee sighed, “You wouldn’t be doing it as a Starfleet cadet and it would be art—very good art. I’m sure the Academy has art classes and sculpture classes that use nude models—and I’m sure those models are cadets as well.”

“Well…” Liz considered, weighing the pros and cons. “I can see where you’re right. It is art and it’s not Starfleet sponsored, and I know that some cadets have posed nude for paintings and sculptures. So…yeah…” She smiled, “I’ll do it.”

“Great!” Renee smiled, “I know Sandy’ll be pleased!”

“Well…” Liz grinned, “I better go now—I’ve got watch tonight and it’s a busy day tomorrow.

***********************************************************************

“Warp core breach in thirty seconds.” The computer’s voice announced as the engineering bulkheads slammed shut, trapping Liz, Jadzia, and the rest of the engineering department. “Warp core breach in twenty-five seconds.”

“Set matter-antimatter flux to 0.45% and reverse magnetic containment on my mark!” Shelby commanded.

“Liz!” Jadzia called out, “Procedure calls for jettisoning the warp core.”

“Do it!” Liz ordered, putting steel in her voice as she raised it.

“Warp core breach in ten seconds.”

“Aye, Sir.” Jadzia complied.

“Warp core stabilized.” The computer sounded out.
“Systems restored. Simulation success.”

“End simulation.”

The engineering section was immediately replaced by a hologrid in the middle of a circular lecture hall.

“Cadet Shelby?” Commander G’aarvan, a portly Tellarite wearing the gold of the engineering and security barked, “You almost destroyed my ship!”

“With respect, Sir.” Liz protested, “I saved your ship! If I’d have jettisoned the warp core, the Cardassians would be towing us to their home by now.”

“At least I’d be alive.” G’aarvan countered.

“As a Cardassian prisoner, Sir.” Liz concluded.

“Better a prisoner than dead.” The Tellarite bit back.

“In some ways, Sir, being a Cardassian prisoner is worse than being dead.” Shelby concluded.

“Hrmph.” The Tellarite instructor huffed as he made a notation in his padd. “That’ll be all today, class dismissed.”

************************************************************************

“Hmmm…” Captain Hanson muttered as he regarded his favorite cadet of this year’s class. “Seems you’ve made an impression on Commander G’aarvan—not a very good one in his case.”

“With respect, Captain…” Liz rose to defend herself, “The risk I took was a calculated one. Jettisoning the warp core would have meant capture which in this case was tantamount to destruction. Taking the risk, I knew I had a good chance of restoring warp core balance resulting in the ship being able to escape.”

The captain nodded his head, “This is off the record, Cadet. Understood?” Seeing his young protégé nod her head in acknowledgement, Hanson continued, “Commander G’aarvan is an excellent instructor, but he’s never seen combat. I’ve fought the Cardassians. I know what they do to their prisoners—slave labor camps, mistreatment. And I also know the fate of all too many female prisoners—being forced to serve as ‘comfort’ women. If I were in your shoes, I’d have done the same thing. That being said, and now we’re on the record, Cadet, “When you take a risk, always be sure to be able to answer this question: Is the risk worth the reward.”

“Aye, Sir.” Liz affirmed, “I understand.”

“Good.” Hanson nodded his head approvingly, “Now…you need to get ready for your next class.”

**********************************************************************

“Come in!” Sandy called out as her door chime rang, “Lizzy!” The statuesque blonde exclaimed with a big smile on her face as she greeted her cadet friend with a gentle kiss on the lips. Her smile growing warmer as Liz returned her kiss, the young artist motioned for Liz to join her on the couch. Bringing over two glasses of wine, Sandy grinned, “Renee says you’re cool with the body paint. I’m glad—thank you.”

“I’m happy to.” Liz responded, “I’ll admit, I was a little worried about it at first, but Renee pointed out a few things, and believe it or not, so did Captain Hanson.”

“Oh?” A surprised Sandy exclaimed.

“Yeah.” Liz nodded her head, “He didn’t know about the body paint of course—that was before Renee broached the subject with me. I’d come in early to class and he said that it was important for me to have outside interests and that it’s even better when those interests can help people feel good.”

“Sounds like a pretty smart man.” Sandy commented.

“Yeah.” Liz’s lips turned up in a warm smile, “He’s becoming a favorite instructor of mine. He pushes me…when I do good, he praises, and when I screw up, he tells me how and why I screwed up and how to fix it, so I don’t do it again in the future.”

“Yeah.” Sandy nodded her head as she remarked in an affectionate tone, “I’ve had a few good teachers like him. Well…if you’re game…” Sandy grinned, “Go ahead and get changed into your leotards and we’ll get started. Or…” She proposed, “If you’re up for it and don’t mind, you can just go without the leotard and do the routine au naturel. It’ll get you used to being in the buff when we do it live. But…like I said, whatever’s more comfortable for you.”

“Well…” Liz pondered, “Since I’m going to be wearing body paint and nothing else anyway, might as well start now.”

“That’s the spirit, Lizzy!” Sandy smile as she enthusiastically motioned towards the studio, “C’mon…you can get disrobed while I set up and then we’ll get to it.”

*************************************************************************

“And that is why…” The guest lecturer, Lieutenant Pava Lar’ragos concluded, “If you’re looking to sit in that center seat that much faster, you’ll want to begin your Starfleet career in tactical/security. Because, when you finally get that command of your own, you’ll have a better chance of completing your mission and bringing your ship and crew back in one piece with the experience and training you will have received this early in your careers. Now…any questions?”

“Yes, Cadet Shelby? You have a question?”

“Yes, Sir.” The petite blonde cadet stood up, “If you run into a situation where your commanding officer issues strict orders regarding how you carry out your mission, but the situation on the ground is such that you have to disregard those orders or face a catastrophic mission failure, what should you do?”

“The by-the-book answer, cadet, is that you follow all lawful orders. The common-sense answer…” He said with a crooked grin, “Is that you do what you have to do to get the job done—provided, that is…” he added as a disclaimer, but also with a sly, almost undetectable wink, “…that it doesn’t violate the Prime Directive.” Smirking as he saw the blonde cadet’s slight upturn of her lips at his answer, Pava added, this time with a deadly serious expression on his face, “In all cases, you’re going to have to deal with the consequences of your actions—so take that it into account as well.”

A dark skinned young ensign, tasked to serve as a temporary teaching aide, watched as the young blonde asked her question. Earlier, he had heard about her risky solution to Captain Hanson’s tactical problem and about her even more chancy solution to the exercise posed by Commander G’aarvan. Not only that, he had also seen her on more than one occasion practicing or putting on impromptu dance shows in the gym. As Terrence Glover’s eyes carefully appraised the young cadet, he found her to be quite attractive and graceful in her movements and was pleased to see that she also seemed to possess an inner fire as well as outer beauty.

“Cadet Shelby?” Turning towards the source of the voice, Liz saw that the instructor was waving for her to come over to him. Turning towards her roommate, Liz asked, “Can you give me a few moments, Jadz, I think Lieutenant Lar’ragos wants to speak with me.”

“Sure, Liz…I’ll wait.”

Seeing his opportunity to get to know something more about the blonde cadet, not to mention get to know her lovely Trill roommate, Terrence approached Jadzia.” Hello, Cadet…” He trailed his voice.

‘Idaris, Sir.” Jadzia promptly replied, “Cadet Jadzia Idaris.”

“Relax, Cadet.” Terrence smiled, “And since we’re not at this moment in a teacher-student situation, please feel free to call me, Terrence.”

“Yes, Sir. Thank you, Terrence.” Jadzia replied as her eyes assessed the handsome dark-skinned human standing next to her, finding him quite attractive. “What can I help you with, Terrence…”

“Your friend…”

“Friend and roommate.” Jadzia answered back, “Liz…Elizabeth Shelby.”

“Any relation to Captain Philip Shelby?” Terrence asked.

“Yes, Sir. Captain Shelby’s her father.” Jadzia responded and then cautioned, “But you might want to be careful about mentioning his name.” Seeing the questioning look on the ensign’s face, Jadzia explained, “Let’s just say that right now, Liz is a little upset with her father, and if it’s okay with you, Sir, I’d like to leave it with that.”

“That’ll be fine, Jadzia.” Terrence nodded his head and then conjectured, “So, that would make her grandfather…”

“Admiral Robert Wesley.” Jadzia nodded. “Yes, Sir.”

“Now him…” Jadzia’s lips turned up in a wicked grin, “You can talk to her about all day and she’ll just want to hear more and more.”

“Thanks.” Terrence grinned back, “I’ll remember that. You see, my great-grandfather served with Admiral Wesley back in the Four Years War—when the admiral was a lieutenant.” Terrence recalled. “I’m not sure if he served with Captain Dennis Shelby or not.”

“I’d have to ask Liz about that.” Jadzia replied with a smirk, “When she’s in a good mood, that is.” She then suggested, “Sir...I know Liz would love to hear any stories you might have about your great-grandfather and your father.”

“I heard about your solution to Captain Hanson’s simulation.” Pava grinned as the young cadet approached. “You made quiet the impression on the captain.” His smile then vanished to be replaced by a careful appraising gaze, “He’s a man you want to make a good impression on, Cadet. It’s not going to be much longer until he gets his admiral’s rank and one day—especially if you do take that wild risk—it might not be a bad thing to have someone like him in your corner to back you up when everything goes tits up.”

“Yes, Sir.” Liz carefully replied, keeping a poker face.

Nodding his head slightly, Pava’s lips turned up in a shrewd grin. “I’ll bet you’re murder at the poker table.”

“I win my share of pots, Sir.” Liz allowed a slight grin to appear on her face. “But I don’t like playing when there are no real stakes like most of the cadets do here.”

“Good.” Pava nodded his head. “That makes you a better player—because you know you’ve got something real to lose. That will also make you a better officer. So…” He quizzed, “Do you know how many different types of risks there are?”

“No, Sir.” Liz responded, shaking her head.

“There are three.” The lieutenant explained, “Calculated, Crazy, and Stupid. Calculated is when you think the odds are in your favor when you take the risk—like what you did in Captain Hanson’s simulator. Crazy is when your back is up against a wall and it’s either do this or die. That’s what you did in Commander G’aarvan’s simulator. Stupid is when you take a risk for the sake of taking the risk—I don’t care whether it pays off or not—stupid is stupid and stupid will usually end up getting you and, as often as not, everyone around you killed. Do you understand me, Cadet?” Pava inquired, his gaze fixed on Shelby’s eyes.

“Yes, Sir.” Shelby responded, her poker face restored.

“Good. Because so far, I haven’t heard of you taking a stupid risk yet.” Pava nodded his head, pleased with what he’d seen and heard from the young cadet. “I hope when it’s time to choose your initial specialization that you do choose security/tactical.” His lips turning up in a sardonic grin, he offered as a final farewell—for now, “Cadet, I foresee good things for you—or you’ll end up in the stockade or the morgue—fifty-fifty either way.” He shrugged, “Take care and dismissed.”

Seeing that Liz had finished with her conversation, Jadzia gestured for her to join her and Terrence. “Liz…” Jadzia smiled, “This is Ensign Terrence Glover. Ensign Glover…Cadet Elizabeth Shelby.”

“Terrence when we’re off duty, Cadet.” Terrence grinned, adding, “You made quite an impression on both Captain Hanson and Lieutenant Lar’ragos.” He then stated, his smile now replaced by a serious expression, “Those are hard men to please.”

“Yes, Sir...” Then, seeing the slight nod of the head from the ensign, amended, “…I mean Terrence. Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it.” His smile quickly returned. “As I was telling your friend, my great-grandfather served with your grandfather during the Four Years War.”

“Really, Terrence?” A pleased Liz exclaimed.

“Yeah.” Terrence grinned, “Why don’t both of you join me for lunch sometime? As I was telling Jadzia, I know this good outdoor café in the park. I can tell you what my father told me about my great-grandfather and your grandfather if you’d like.”

“I’d like that, Terrence.” Shelby grinned as Ensign Glover shepherded both of the cadets, one on either side of him, away from the lecture hall and to their next class.

***********************************************************************

“So…you’re going to go through with it?” Jadzia asked.

“What?” Liz inquired, “Wear body paint?” She nodded her head, “Yeah. Why? You don’t think I should?”

“No!” The Trill exclaimed, “Actually, I think you should. It’s not as if you’re making some sleazy Orion or Ferengi holovid, this is art and I don’t think anyone unless they’re either very prudish or comes from a very prudish culture is going to object.”

“What I am concerned with…” Jadzia said a she motioned for Liz to join her sitting on the edge of her bed, “Is what are you wanting from your relationships with Sandy, Heather, Jason, and Raul?”

“What do you mean?” Liz asked.

“I’m sorry if I’m butting in and if you want me to shut up, just tell me and I will, but I think they’re interested in you as more than just a friend…and…I think you feel the same way about them.” Jadzia declared, laying all her cards out on the table.

After several minutes of thinking, Liz sighed and nodded her head, “Yeah…I do. Jadzia…I can’t explain it, but I’m attracted to them. I love how Sandy smells when we’re close…Heather’s voice…when she talks, she sends chills up and down my spine…and Raul’s warmth when we touch, and yeah, Jason’s looks and charm. And we have so much in common—yet we’re so different. What do I do, Jadz?”

“What do you want to do?” Her roommate asked.

“I want to be with them—all of them.”

“Then be with them.” Jadzia replied.

“But I don’t want to hurt any of them—and I don’t want to be hurt.” Liz cried.

“Be honest with them—all of them. Tell them how you feel and what you want.” Jadzia advised. If they’re feeling what they’re feeling for you, then I’d say that there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

“But it sounds so…” Liz began only to be gently interrupted by her friend.

“You’re attracted to them—right?” Seeing Liz nod her head, Jadzia continued, “And you’re pretty sure they’re attracted to you, right?” Again, Liz nodded her head, “Then what’s the problem? Like the Vulcans say…Infinite Diversity…"

“Through Infinite Combinations…Yeah.” Liz nodded her head. “Thanks, Jadzia. I know what I’m going to do now. I just needed to hear that it was all right coming from a friend.”

“Any time, Liz. Now…we better get some sleep…end of term exams is coming soon, and we’ve got to hit the books.”


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