Two weeks after ‘Fourteen Days’
Kathryn stared at the carpet of the hover car as it pulled into the Bloomington transport station, where a transporter would be taking her to San Francisco for Starfleet Academy admissions testing. Her mother and sister would be leaving them at the transport, but her father would be accompanying her to the campus. In some ways, she was glad for the company. After all, she wouldn’t know her way around, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to walk in with an Admiral at her side. Even if Starfleet had supposedly put all that behind them, it was fairly common knowledge that having access to a fountain of inside knowledge certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances.
“Good luck,” said Gretchen, looking somewhat misty-eyed, as if the realization that her daughter was doing something that could potentially cost her life had hit her all it once.
“You can do this, Kathryn. I know you can,” said Phoebe, full of youthful confidence. While she was fourteen and old enough to understand that nothing was ever truly certain, she still possessed a certain confidence that the sands of time wore away.
Kathryn smiled at them both. “Thank you. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Her eyes betrayed her words, showing a tightly controlled facade that very few were allowed to penetrate. Ordinarily, Gretchen would pry further, but as there was not the time and it was a skill that would serve her well in Starfleet, she let it slide.
“How are you feeling?” asked Edward.
“Fine I suppose. It’s not like I can change anything at this stage in the game,” responded Kathryn, a somewhat wistful expression gripping her face. In reality, a bucket of fears, doubts and anxieties were swimming beneath the surface. All she had to do was keep it under control long enough to get through today. After that, everything would be alright or, at the very least, out of her control. At least, that was the idea.
He gave her a long probing look, and she knew that he was aware that more was going on beneath the surface. “Let me know how it goes.”
“Of course,” said Kathryn with a smile.
“Welcome to Starfleet Academy San Francisco,” said her dad, glancing up at the archway that denoted the edge of the campus.
Kathryn smiled, a real one this time. “It’s beautiful,” she said, her gaze resting on the flowerbeds and landscaping.
“It is an incredible place.” For the first time, she noticed her dad was in his fold-trimmed uniform. “Just to warn you, there might be a few interactions with the cadets that are.. different than what you’re used to.”
“I know, Dad. It’s not like I know nothing about any of this.”
“I know you know.. and I know if I gave you one of those uniforms you could give a passable impression of a Starfleet Academy cadet, decorum and all.”
They continued to walk through the surprisingly empty campus. “Dad.. how early are we?”
“About two hours. I thought you might like to see some of the grounds before you had to report for testing.”
“Thank you. I do enjoy the scenery. And, well, being early is better than being late.”
As Edward showed Kathryn around, pointing out his favorite buildings and the most important ones, she noticed the beautiful buildings, the arrays of colors within the flowers, even the signs on the bulletin boards for clubs. After all, the glossy promotions didn’t show you, for instance, the lettuce club. There were so many details about a place that could only be experienced by being there, by seeing it for yourself. What was barely of note to one person could be the focal point for another.
The pair wandered around the campus for the next few hours, Kathryn’s nerves increasing with time until, finally, it was time for her to report to the testing center. She had studied everything there was to know about the test, which essentially amounted to one simple statement: Everything, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave is a test, plain and simple.