Cadet Amira longingly stared out the windows of Griffith Hall towards the Japanese Gardens. She shifted in her uncomfortable cadet's tunic, longing to get out of class and enjoy the beautiful late summer's day outside.
Normally, her lectures kept her attention better, but "Introduction to Sensor Theory" was proving to be one of the most mind-numbingly boring experiences of her life. If it wasn't required for cadets on the Science Division track, she would have dropped it within the first ten seconds of the professor's opening speech.
The topics that Professor Kane, a Starfleet Commander, was drilling into their heads were nothing she hadn't covered on her own in middle school: subspace reverberation equations, basic detection designs, electromagnetic spectrum de-confliction. Laria expected this to be one of the most challenging courses of her second year at the Academy, but while most Yearlings were struggling with Kane's syllabus, Laria thought she might literally die from the monotony.
She glanced up at the board. Commander Kane was sketching out the basic construction of a 22nd Century Vulcan Sensor Array and highlighting the differences between that design and modern units. To her left, another cadet was furiously scribbling notes into his PADD, trying to glean any sort of insight into the materiel that would be on next week's midterm.
Just as Laria eeked out a bit of pity for the poor lad from Alpha Centauri, a revelation crossed her mind. Early Vulcan arrays used a subspace reverberation chamber to amplify electromagnetic signatures similar to the way a drum or an acoustic guitar used empty space to amplify atmospheric sound waves. The concept had been abandoned in the early 23rd century in favor of enhanced array phasing, but Laria thought if she could somehow rectify the two methods, she could increase the baseline efficiency of a passive sensor scan by dozens of orders of magnitude. The challenge would be finding a way to compensate for the signal degradation between the reverberation chamber and the array.
She started sketching out a few equations and schematics on her PADD…
"CADET AMIRA!" Professor Kane's angry voice echoed through the classroom. Laria jumped to the position of attention.
"Yes Sir?" she said staring straight ahead.
"What exactly are doing?"
"Sir, I do not understand," Laria said nervously.
"This is the third time I've looked over to you and you just seem to be doodling. If I'm boring you, just let me know. I can save myself a lot of time and effort by just failing you now!"
"Sir," Laria said as her heart started pounding in her chest. "You are not boring me."
"I'm so relieved," Kane said sarcastically. "What exactly is so damned important that you feel the need to ignore me?"
"Sir, I'm not ignoring you at all. In fact, your lecture has given me an idea. I was just trying to get a handle on the math…"
"AN IDEA!?" Kane said charging over to her desk. "Second year cadets don't yet have the luxury of getting ideas. You are here to listen, learn, and do what you're told. Only then can you gain the appropriate level of knowledge and understanding…" he cut himself off as soon as his eyes saw her PADD. He picked it off her desk and started scrolling through her notes.
"You wrote these?" he said looking up at her in shock.
The rest of the class was completely silent as they watched the exchange between the professor and Laria.
"Nobody gave these to you?" Kane said incredulously.
"No Sir, I was just working off some things I remembered from one of my high school research papers."
A few other cadets started laughing across the room.
Kane stood there for a few seconds dumbstruck.
"Cadets," he said looking over his shoulder. "Read chapters 3 to 7 for next week. Dismissed."
The rest of the class climbed to their feet, saluted, and gathered up their belongings.
"Amira," Kane said turning back to Laria. "Come with me."
Laria was nearly in a panic as she grabbed her backpack and followed Kane out into the hallway. He led her to the stairs and up to Griffith Hall's second floor where the senior faculty offices were located.
They stopped outside the door to Captain Vernabi, the Department Head's, office.
"Wait here until I call you."
"Yes Sir," Laria said as her knees started to shake. She was convinced that Kane didn't believe those were her equations and she was about to be expelled for plagiarism. It was the longest five minutes of her life.
"Cadet Amira," Captain Vernabi's voice eched from behind the wooden door. "Report." Laria wiped her sweaty palms on her trousers and then banged on the captain's door three times. "Enter."
Laria opened the door, marched inside, and snapped to attention.
"Cadet Amira Laria reporting as ordered."
Captain Vernabi was sitting at his desk staring down at her PADD. Commander Kane stood behind him. Neither told her to stand at ease. Her eyes nervously darted around the wood paneled room, decorated with mementos from a long and prosperous career in the fleet. Captain Vernabi had spent almost twenty-five years serving out in the stars conducting research and scientific exploration before accepting a permanent professor position at the Academy. More importantly, every cadet knew of his deep space credentials and respected him greatly for it.
"You wrote these equations, Cadet?" Vernabi asked glancing up at her.
"Yes Sir," Laria said. "Commander Kane's lecture inspired me and I just started sketching them out."
"Professor Kane is an excellent teacher, but without any offense intended, his lecture couldn't possibly inspire these…"
A very confused look crossed Laria's face.
"Relax, Cadet," Vernabi said as a smile crossed his face. "I know you're not lying, because I see the most cutting edge research Starfleet Science is doing in sensor design and these equations are about a decade ahead of that.
I just spoke with Commander Kane, and he and I agree that your talents are probably not best served by you continuing in "Introduction to Sensor Theory."
"I think you're probably right, Sir," Laria said allowing herself the slightest of grins.
"May I make you an offer, Cadet Amira?" Vernabi asked.
"Yes Sir," Laria replied.
"How would you like to try to build this thing?"