Blind Ambition by David Falkayn
Summary: A short tale from early in Elizabeth Shelby's career that shows that our Liz is capable of being a very...unpleasant...person where her career is concerned.
Categories: Original Series, Next Generation, Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Drama
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: Sutherland
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 5307 Read: 1562 Published: 08 Feb 2010 Updated: 08 Feb 2010
Story Notes:
While nothing explicit is shown, this story does portray a female/female romance.

1. Chapter 1 by David Falkayn

Chapter 1 by David Falkayn
BLIND AMBITION


USS Hornet. As she read the orders assigning her to the Excelsior-class starship under its near-legendary captain, Kal Daval of Efrosia, Ensign Elizabeth Shelby, newly graduated in the top one percent of her class, grinned delightedly as she turned to her friend and roommate, Ensign Jadzia Idaris. “I got it, Jadz!” The young blonde exulted, “The Hornet!”

“I thought you were aiming for the Hood?” Her unjoined Trill friend, Jadzia, inquired with a half-grin.

Shrugging her shoulders, Liz replied, “I was—and it would have been great serving under Captain De Soto...”

“And the fact that the tactical officer on the Hood is both incredibly sexy and available had nothing to do with it...” Jadzia teased her grin now becoming a smirk as a delicate blush appeared on her friend’s face.

“Of course not.” Liz responded even as her flushed face betrayed her. “But the Hornet’s not a bad ship and Captain Daval is almost as well known as Captain De Soto...”

“Uh huh.” Jadzia retorted. Then, her grin disappearing, the young raven-haired Trill cautiously queried, “Was your father able to make it to the ceremony? I didn’t see him—but then the hall was pretty packed...”

“No.” Liz replied in a grim voice as her smile also vanished, “He couldn’t get away—the Exeter is currently assigned to the Cardassian front. But Mom made it.”

“Well, that’s something at least.” Jadzia consoled. Seeing the gloomy look that had suddenly overtaken her friend’s face, the young Trill added, “I know what you’re thinking, Liz, that your father didn’t want to make the time, but don’t you think you might be being a bit unfair to him now? After all, he is commanding a starship in a warzone.”

“I know.” Liz sighed, “Mom told me the same thing. And the rational part of me knows that both you and mom are right. But...” the petite blonde shook her head, “the other part of me...the part that remembers him standing me up time and time again knows that he would have found some excuse or other for not showing up. That’s the way it’s always been. This is just another in a long line of disappointments.” Changing the subject, Shelby then asked her friend, “So...where are you going?”

“I’ve submitted my application to the Symbiote Commission for joining.” Jadzia grinned nervously. “I’m hoping that the degrees I’ve picked up in astrophysics, exoarchaeology, exobiology, and zoology will convince them to accept me as a candidate.”

“They better take you.” Liz declared, “The way you’ve busted your butt here—taking extra classes and all—they’ve got to accept you.”

“From your lips to the Symbiote Commission’s ears.” Jadzia joked as the intercom announced the departure of both officer’s shuttles. “They’re playing our song.” Jadzia grinned as she hugged her friend tightly. “Take care of yourself Liz.”

“You too, Jadz.” The young blonde replied, her eyes moistening with tears as she hugged her friend close, “Thank you for everything you’ve done. You’re the best.”

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

“Welcome aboard the Hornet, my name is Commander Everett, the Executive Officer. Captain Daval will have a few words for you later. The captain has earned a reputation both as an explorer and also as a captain who takes the welfare of his crew most seriously. You’ll find that both reputations are well deserved...”

Liz listened quietly as first the executive officer, and then the rest of the senior staff, conducted their sections of the program until it was finally the Captain’s turn to speak. Her attention riveted on the white haired Efrosian skipper, Liz drank in every word.
“To those of you for whom this is your first assignment from the Academy, you will find that every day here will be a test. Oh, they won’t always be life or death tests—although at some point during this tour you might well have to face such a trial. No. The tests I’m talking about are much more mundane—in fact, most of the time you won’t even know you’re being tested. These are trials of compassion...curiosity...empathy...integrity...wisdom. You will face these tests not just on this tour, but throughout your lives and how you perform on them will mark you as the person you are for all to see. Welcome aboard and may your tour here be a productive and enriching experience for you all.”

“Attention!” The executive officer’s voice filled the room. “Your assignments have already been entered on to your padds as have your berthing assignments. You have eight hours to get settled in before reporting to your stations. Dismissed!”

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

Looking down at her padd, Liz noted that she had been assigned to Operations and that she would be working under a Lieutenant Phipps. Glancing down at her room assignment, the young blonde ensign began walking towards the turbolift, not really paying attention to her environment until she almost bumped into another officer.
“Collision alert!” A chestnut-haired ensign wearing red and black trim called out.

Stopping just in time, Liz looked up at the taller and very attractive woman, and blushed a deep crimson. “I’m sorry.” She apologized, “I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Yeah.” The woman chuckled, “I could see that. You must be one of the new arrivals from the Academy. I’m Erika Benteen.”

“Liz Shelby.” The pretty blonde responded with a shy grin. “I was just trying to find my way to my quarters.”
“Well...” Erika grinned, “Why don’t I keep you company? That way you won’t have to worry about running over anyone else. And then later...if you want...after you get settled in, we can grab a drink and a bite to eat at the Hive—it’s nothing fancy, but the food’s good and the synthohol’s drinkable.”

“Thanks.” Liz replied as the two women’s eyes briefly met, “I think I’d like that.”

“Great!” Erika exclaimed, “So...who’d they stick you with?”

“Ummm...” Liz stammered as she glanced down at her padd, “Ensign Yamura.”

Chuckling, the chestnut haired Erika jibed, “You poor dear...”

“Why?” A suddenly worried Liz inquired, “Anything I should know?”

“Oh...Don’t get me wrong! Kiko’s a perfectly nice person.” Erika quickly responded, “It’s just that she’s not exactly the most...gregarious...of people. And...she’s something of a neat-freak. But don’t worry. As long as you’re not a slob or expect to get to know her well, you should get along just fine with her.”

“Thanks.” Liz replied, “I think.”

“Don’t mention it.” Erika laughed, “Come on...let’s go...sooner we get you settled in, the sooner we can get to the Hive.”

“Lead on.” Liz exclaimed, joining in the laughter. “I’m all yours.”

“Hmmm....” Erika whispered in an almost inaudible tone, “I think I like the sound of that.”

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

“Thanks. I had a good time.” Liz said as she and Erika paused before the door to her quarters.

“I did too.” Erika responded as her fingers gently grazed those of the petite blonde standing close to her. “Look...I hope I’m not being too forward, but I’ve got some holodeck time saved up...” the chestnut-haired woman stammered shyly, “...it’s an aquatic program—nothing fancy—just a clear spring with some trees and a meadow or two, but it’s fun to go swimming or tubing in...we could pack a picnic lunch...maybe even a few non-synthehol real beers.”

“Say no more!” Liz smiled back, her heart still racing from the electric touch of Erika’s fingers on hers. “I’m there! Just say where and when.”

“All right!” Erika grinned back, “I’ll set it up for tomorrow afternoon after we finish our shifts—sound good to you.”

“It’s a date!” Liz replied as she looked up at the other woman, her lips gently parting as the door to her quarters slid open. “I can’t wait.”

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

“This is beautiful!” Liz squealed in delight as her eyes beheld the tree lined crystal-clear flowing stream. “Is there a real place like this?”

“Yeah.” Erika smiled, “Withlacoochee Springs, in Florida. My family used to go there every year in the summer. The water was always so clear and cool. We would tube and swim and dive and play with the manatees...”

“Sounds like fun.” Liz chuckled as she removed the wrap round her wrap to reveal a maroon bikini.

“You know...” Erika, a mischievous glint in her eyes, tempted, “It’s even more fun without the swimsuits...”

“You mean...” Thinking about it for a moment, a sly smile crossed Liz’s face, “Hmmm...why not? It’s just the two of us.” With that, she undid first her top and then the bikini’s bottom, allowing both pieces of fabric to fall at her feet while her companion did the same. Barely holding in her gasp as she beheld the lean and athletic form of the chestnut-haired woman standing before her, Liz reluctantly took her eyes off her companion as she turned her head towards the stream. “C’mon! Let’s go!” With that, the lovely blonde executed a near flawless dive into the water, entering with a splash.

Laughing in delight as her eyes took in the graceful creamy white form of Elizabeth Shelby diving into the water, Erika called back as she ran towards the water, “On my way!”

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

Much later, the two women lay together on a large beach towel, allowing the sun to dry them as they watched the processional of large white clouds slowly pass over their heads.

“That’s a dolphin.” Liz declared definitively as she pointed at one particular cloud.

“You sure?” An amused Erika countered, “It looks more like an old fashioned submarine to me.”

“A submarine?” An astonished Elizabeth exclaimed, “How did you get a submarine out of that cloud.”

“Well...” Erika laughed as she raised her arm to point at the cloud, “If you look right over there, you can see it’s bow...”

“That’s the nose of the dolphin.” Liz retorted with a grin.

“And there’s the conning tower and over there’s the stern.”

“No it’s not!” Liz laughed merrily, “That’s the dorsal fin and that’s its tail.”

“All right! All right!” Erika giggled as she mock pouted, “You win! It’s a dolphin.”

Then as she turned her head towards the naked woman lying next to her, her heart skipped a beat as her eyes took in her smooth alabaster skin, luscious red lips, and curly blonde hair. Her breath low and shallow, the tanned chestnut haired woman spoke in a soft, husky voice, “Do you always get what you want?”

Her heart also racing as she gazed on the nude form of the women beside her, Liz answered back with just the slightest stammer to her voice, “Uh huh...always.”

“So do I.” Erika whispered as the two women’s lips drew closer until they finally touched. First a cautious, tentative graze, followed immediately afterwards by a fervent kiss as the two women immediately lost themselves in each other.

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

Three months later

“Come on in, Liz! Let’s get your stuff put away and get you settled in.” Erika Benteen remarked, giving her lover a quick kiss as she guided Liz into her new quarters.

“Thanks, Erika.” Ensign Elizabeth Shelby responded, kissing the taller woman back. “It was nice of Stephanie to agree to switch.”

“Well...Steph’s a quiet sort of person...” Erika grinned, “I think she’ll get along perfectly with Kiko.”

Setting her bag down, Liz’s eyes fell on a two dimensional hologram of a man standing on Erika’s dresser drawer. “Should I be jealous?” The lovely blonde teased.
Erika replied with a chuckle, “Of Michael—nah—he’s my cousin. Michael Owens. He’s in Starfleet too. He’s a helmsman on the Fearless.”

“Seems like a pretty nice guy.” Liz remarked as she took out a couple of framed holopictures of her own. “Do you mind if I put these up?”

“Not at all.” Erika responded, nodding her head in approval, “After all...this is your home too.” The chestnut-haired woman watched as Elizabeth carefully put up a picture of a middle-aged man with graying hair wearing a 23rd century gold shirt and black pants with the solid gold bar of a commodore on his sleeves standing close to a short auburn haired woman wearing a gold miniskirt and the single gold bar of a lieutenant. Recognizing the man immediately, Erika gasped, “Is that who I think it is?”

“Yep.” Liz grinned, “That’s Robert Wesley, Poppy—my grandfather. And the woman standing next to him is my nagyanya, grandmother, Aliz. This was taken in 2270—just after the Lexington had completed its five year tour and before Poppy got his promotion to the Admiralty and took nagyanya on as his aide. That was when they officially started seeing each other.” She grinned shyly as she further explained, “Poppy’s divorce from his first wife, Virginia, was finalized the year before—not too many months after the M-5 incident...”

“And the other photo?” Erika asked, pointing to a picture of a middle aged, elegant looking woman.

“My mother.” Liz smiled, “Anna.”

Knowing about the strained relationship between her lover and her father, Erika, not wanting to bring down the occasion with an unwelcome discussion about Phillip Shelby, glanced towards the bed as a wicked grin crossed her face, “I took the liberty...” she said coyly, “...of moving the beds together to make a double bed—I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“Mmmm...” Liz purred as she slowly wriggled out of the optional skirt that she wore in preference to the clingy and uncomfortable general standard one-piece uniform, “...since we’ve got a few hours before we go on duty...why don’t we break it in?”

“Sounds like a good idea to me.” Erika responded in a husky voice as she unzipped her top and stripped out of the uncomfortable one piece uniform. Smiling as she slipped into bed next to her blonde lover, the more graceful Erika remarked, “Maybe I should switch to skirts like you have.”

“You better not.” Liz teased back as she kissed the woman lying next to her. “I like how your butt looks in that uniform.”

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

Six Months Later

“Here are the evaluations, Captain.” Commander Everett announced as he entered Captain Daval’s ready room, chortling in amusement at the Efrosian captain’s audible groan.

“Careful, Commander.” Daval mock-chided as he motioned for his executive officer to take the chair across from him, “I might just have you do these all by yourself next time.” Pouring two glasses of Altairan water from a flask, Daval pushed one of the glasses towards the human commander as he inquired, “So...what have you got for me?”
Handing one of the padds in his hands to the captain as he set the others on the desk in front of him, Everett took a sip of his Altairan water before speaking.

“Well...looks like we might have some competition once the night operations officer slot opens up at the end of the year.”

“Good!” Captain Daval grinned widely. “That’s what I like to hear. So, who are they?

“Well, sir.” Commander Everett smiled back, “We’ve got two ensigns that are most definitely standing out...Ensign Benteen...”

“Yes...” The Efrosian captain interjected with a smile, “I’m familiar with Benteen’s record. She’s been with us for a year now, I believe.”

“Aye, sir.” Everett agreed with a smile, “Hornet was her first assignment out of the Academy.”

“And the other?” Daval inquired.

“Oddly enough...” the XO replied as he took a sip of his water, “Hornet’s also her first assignment out of the Academy. She’s one of the new transferees that we got six months ago.”

“Which one?”

“Ensign Shelby. She’s currently assigned to operations in beta-shift, although I was thinking about reassigning her to alpha.”

“Doing that well, is she?”
“She has drive...ability...she’s fast on her feet...possesses a great deal of initiative...”

“But...” Daval, knowing well the thought processes of his XO, interjected.

“But, sometimes I think she possesses a bit too much initiative.” Everett flatly stated. “She’s also a workaholic—her section commander has had to order her off shift on more than one occasion.”

“Some would call that dedication to duty.” Daval wryly noted.

Nodding his head, Everett agreed, “Yes, sir. But...she sometimes has a tendency to take matters into her own hands. Remember Emras III? The landing party?”

“Yes, I recall.” Daval replied as he took a sip of the golden water in his glass. “Shelby was on the landing party and, if I recall correctly, her team ran into a group of hostile indigenous peoples.”

“Correct.” Everett affirmed. “That particular culture is an iron age culture...”

“Hence protected by the Prime Directive.”

“Yes, sir. Anyway, standing orders were to avoid contact, and if contact was made to withdraw as expeditiously and safely as possible.”

“From what I read of her report, it seems she did just that.” Daval declared as he stroked his long white goatee.

“Aye, sir.” Everett demurred, “While she did follow the letter of her orders, I would not say that she followed the spirit of them.”

“How so?”

“Did you note, Captain, that her retreat carried her through the territory of a band that was a fierce rival of the group that was pursuing her and her people?”

“Yes, I did.” Daval replied, nodding his head. “Looks to me like she deliberately attempted to bait her pursuers into getting too close to the other tribe and it paid off—the other tribe noticed their presence and attacked the intruders, giving Shelby and her people time enough to reach a safe position so that they could beam out undetected. A risky gamble, to be sure, but one that paid off.”

“But...” Everett persisted, “She could have just simply continued on down the valley until her and her team had outran the tribals pursuing them. By leading them into a conflict with that other tribe, in all probability, she caused a needless loss of life.”

“Have you looked at the terrain in that valley, Ev?” Captain Daval countered as he called up a map on his padd. “That’s wide open ground. If she’d have taken that route, those people would have caught up with her easily. She would either had to have surrendered, gotten killed, or used phasers. The way I see it, doing it her way she avoided all that, plus the natives didn’t even get a good look at the landing party. I’m sorry, Ev, but I have to give this one to her.”

“Maybe.” The executive officer reluctantly conceded, “Still...I’ve seen her type before, Captain. Ambitious, a risk taker, a gambler. She’s the type that gets people killed."

“Also the type that makes good starship captains one day.” Daval pointed out, adding, “Provided she learns the difference between foolish and calculated risks and between healthy ambition and hubris.” Taking a deep breath, the captain noted, “Well...we’ll see in the coming months. Right now, though, I’d say we’ve got a fine competition taking shape for the night operations officer’s slot. Go ahead, transfer Ensign Shelby to alpha shift. That will allow both of us to keep a closer eye on her and Ensign Benteen.” Shaking his head, the Efrosian chuckled, “It seems this go-round we have an embarrassment of riches—I’m definitely going to have to rub DeSoto’s nose in it the next time we meet—from what I hear, he could have had Shelby, but didn’t submit his approval for her requested assignment on the Hood in time. His loss—our gain.”

Maybe...Commander Everett thought to himself...Maybe not.

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

“Hey, Liz!” Erika beamed as her lover stepped out of the sonic shower, “Congratulations! I heard the good news about you being transferred to alpha-shift. Looks like we’ll be working together now. Of course, you know what it also means, don’t you?”

“Yeah.” Liz smiled back, “It means they’re thinking about both of us for the night operations officer position when it opens up next.”

“That’s right.” Erika exclaimed as she stripped off her uniform and then made her way to the shower just vacated by her blonde roommate. “We’ve got the inside track.”

“Not me.” Liz replied with a chuckle, “You do. You’ve been here longer—they’re sure to give it to you.”

“Maybe...maybe not.” Erika called back as she stepped in the shower, “But...the way I see it, with both of us keeping each other on our toes, one of us is sure to get it.”

“Yeah.” Liz answered back, and then added in a low, inaudible voice once her roommate had closed the door to the shower, “One of us will.”

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

Three months later

“Morning, Lover! Happy One Year Anniversary!” Liz, awakened from her light slumber, gasped in surprise and delight as she saw Erika approach their bed with a large tray in her hands. “I thought we’d begin celebrating with breakfast in bed—sound good?”

“Sounds great.” Liz grinned as she sat up in the bed while her roommate slipped into bed next to her, positioning the tray on the blonde woman’s lap. “Looks good.” Liz remarked as her eyes took in the scrambled eggs and bacon with toast and jelly with glasses of orange juice and cups of steaming hot coffee on the side.

“Fresh from the replicator.” Erika quipped, “Dig in—we’ve got a full rich day today. Then, after our shift, I’m thinking dinner and dancing at the Hive and then...”

“Hmmm...sounds good to me.” Liz purred as she took a nibble of her toast. Setting down her bread, the young blonde turned her head to kiss her lover, “Thank you.”

“My pleasure.” Erika replied with a husky voice as she returned the kiss. “Now, eat. You’re going to need your strength for today—and tonight.”

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

“I better go now!” Erika grinned as she gave her lover a quick peck on the lips, “I’m supposed to monitor the mu-neutrino flux indicators today. You better hurry too!” The chestnut haired ensign warned as she slipped into her one-piece uniform, “Don’t forget they’re watching both of us!”

“Sure thing, Erika.” Liz replied as she returned her lover’s kiss. Waiting until the door had slid shut behind her roommate, Shelby called up first the message log and then the duty log on the computer monitor. Her lips turning up into a smirk as she spied a familiar name on the message log and then the name of one of the security ensigns on duty, Liz quietly slipped on her top and skirt. Exiting her quarters, the blonde ensign made her way deliberately to the quarters occupied by Ensign James Allen and pressed the enunciator by the cabin door.

“Hey, Liz!” The sandy-haired security officer greeted. “Thanks for the loan of the holoprogram—It was a lot of fun. So...what can I do for you?”

“I was hoping...” Liz replied in a deliberately husky voice as she lowered her eyes demurely, “That...you could do a favor for me?”

“Of course! Anything!” James replied good-naturedly. “What do you want?”

“Well...” Liz smiled back, “It’s not for me...it’s for Erika...you see...today’s our one year anniversary, I was planning a special surprise for her...”

“Like a surprise party?” James interjected with a chuckle.

“Sort of.” Liz replied. “I was thinking about doing something quick while we were on shift—you know, where everyone could join in. It wouldn’t last long—just a few minutes or so and then everyone’s back to work. But I’m worried about doing it, and then all of a sudden an alert gets called...”

“Let’s see...” James responded as he called up information on his padd. “You know I’m not supposed to do this, but...seeing as it’s a special occasion and it’s not really going to hurt anyone. Ok...there’s an alert scheduled for 1300 hours—give or take about a half hour. If you throw the party anytime before 1200 hours you should be ok.”

“Thanks!” Liz smiled back as she gave the young ensign a kiss on his cheek.

“Don’t mention it.” James replied, “Just remember to save me a piece of cake.”

“Will do.” Liz answered back as she exited the man’s quarters. As she walked down the corridor, the blonde ensign’s mind raced. Finalizing her plans, Elizabeth Shelby brutally shoved to the side that nagging voice of her conscience as she took her station near the mu-neutrino flux indicators. Smiling at her lover who was currently manning her station, Liz waited patiently, performing her duties until the chronometer read 1215. Then, on cue, Ensign Hope brought in a small cake as Liz yelled, “Surprise!”

Blushing at the quiet clapping and cheers, Erika remarked rather primly as a piece of cake was shoved in her hands, “You shouldn’t have, Liz. What if an alert’s called?”

“It’s just a quick little thing.” The lovely blonde countered with a grin. “We’ll be done and cleaned up in five minutes. And admit it—it was a nice surprise!”

“Yeah...you’re right.” Ensign Benteen admitted as she took a bite of the white cake. “My favorite too.”

“I’ve also got another surprise for you.” Liz grinned, “Your cousin’s waiting on subspace back in our quarters. If you hurry up, you should be able to catch him—he’s waiting.”

“Michael? You got Michael?” Erika squealed in delight and then frowned as she shook her head. “I can’t leave my post, you know that.” Sighing, she remarked in a rueful voice, “I’ll just have to try to reach him later on this evening.”

“Erika...” Liz countered, shaking her head, “You know how difficult it can be to set up personal subspace calls. Go on—It should take only about ten or fifteen minutes. We’ll cover for you here.”

“You sure?” Erika responded, her lips turning back up into a smile.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Liz replied, Now...go.”

Smiling as her roommate took off at a run down the corridor, Liz turned to her coworkers. “We better clean up, guys...just in case.” She instructed as that voice inside her continued to nag at her.

Shut up! No one’s really getting hurt by this. Erika will get her promotion in another six months or less anyway.

Is that any excuse? The voice inside her head persisted. Does that make this right?

I don’t care! Liz retorted, answering her conscience’s challenge. I’ve worked for this promotion—it’s mine. So...shut the frak up!
**********************************************************

One week later...

As his eyes bore into those of the young blonde ensign standing at attention before his desk, Captain Daval stroked his chin. “Correct me if I’m wrong, Ensign Shelby, but I thought that Ensign Benteen had been given the task of monitoring the mu-neutrino flux indicators for alpha shift?”

“Yes, sir.” Liz slowly nodded her head. “But when the alert was called...”

“You were on scene to readjust the matrix before it overloaded, while Ensign Benteen was...” the Efrosian captain paused for a moment, “...oh yes...sidetracked.” His eyes once again carefully appraising the youth standing before him, Daval’s lips narrowed into a thin line. “I think I’m beginning to see what happened.” Taking a tiny case from his desk drawer, the captain pushed the case across the desk at Ensign Shelby. “Go ahead, Ensign...or should I say, Lieutenant, junior grade.” Daval instructed as Liz, opening the lid of the case, barely held back her gasp of delight at seeing the two black pips. “Your actions over the past year have earned you both the promotion and the position of night operations officer, congratulations.” Daval tonelessly stated as he offered his hand to the stunned young officer.

Shaking her commanding officer’s hand, Liz replied numbly, “Thank you, sir. I promise I won’t...”

“Don’t make me any promises, Lieutenant.” Daval quickly interrupted, “I was not born yesterday. You’re not the first person who’s pulled this stunt—and you won’t be the last. This time—because of the situation and because neither I nor the XO can definitely prove that you did anything out of line—you got away with it. Don’t think that you will the next time.” Pausing for a moment, the wily Efrosian captain’s eyes bore into those of his subordinate’s as he declared in a flat, calm voice, “When I look at you, Lieutenant, I see someone of great potential—but also someone who, if she is not careful, could easily find herself consumed by the demons within you. I will wager now, Lieutenant Shelby, that, by the time you are forty, one or more of the following will have happened to you: you will have gotten yourself thrown into the stockade, thrown out of Starfleet, killed, and/or you will be commanding a starship. And I cannot say with any certainty as to which outcome or outcomes are most likely. Ambition...” the Efrosian sagely advised, “...is not a bad thing in and of itself. But...I believe there’s a line in one of your people’s holy works. I think it goes something like this: ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world...but lose his own soul?’ Think on that, Lieutenant. Think long and hard on that.”

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

As the door slid open to her quarters, Lieutenant, junior grade, Elizabeth Shelby recognized at once her roommate standing stiffly in the center of their quarters in full uniform. Her eyes scanning their quarters, Liz noted at once that the double bed was once again two single beds with her bed back in what would have been its original location, along with all her possessions. “Erika?” Liz greeted in a soft, guilty voice.

“You can sleep over there until you find new quarters, Lieutenant.” A stony faced Erika Benteen flatly declared. “I’m sure it won’t take you long to find a new place—when you want something, you get it.”

“Erika? I’m...”

“Don’t.” Benteen interrupted, her lips turned down into a frown. “I don’t want to hear it because I know you don’t mean it. While you’re still here, I’ll stay out of your way and you stay out of mine and we’ll both get along.”

“If that’s the way you want it.” Liz acknowledged in a glum voice, “Then I’ll put in a requisition for new quarters at once.” As she turned her back on her former lover, the lyrics to an old song popped into Lieutenant Shelby’s head and kept repeating themselves over and over again, I’ll never fall in love again...

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

“Congratulations, Liz...I mean Lieutenant!” Ensign James Allen called out as he raced to join the blonde night operations officer in the corridor. “So, how does that extra pip feel?”

“Pretty good.” Liz smiled back as she eyed the attractive sandy-haired ensign. “So...going off duty or coming on?”

“Going off.” James replied. “And you?”

“I’ve still got six hours before my shift.” A brief leer crossing her face, the petite blond propositioned, “Long enough for some dancing and whatever on the holodeck. Interested?”

“Umm...sure.” A slightly taken aback James replied, “But what about Erika?”

“Old news.” Liz grinned lecherously as she took the man’s arm, “So...wanna dance?”
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