Log Entry 141221.129

I wasn't surprised that I heard nothing more from Student Services so after a week, I decided it was time to visit the next most logical port of call—Steven Firth. As her guardian, he should be able to put me in touch with her.
I finally caught up with him in the corridor at the end of the day. I was feeling apprehensive anyway just because of Lizzy's reaction to him, but my nerves hit yellow alert when I saw him.
Steven Firth is a tall, gangly man with sallow, drawn features. His grey skin and dark shadows under his eyes tell of someone who doesn't spend much time outdoors and far too much time in the laboratory. As it was, he had his head buried in a datapad as he walked.
A thin curtain of silvery hair flopped over his face and a wispy ponytail hung down the back of his neck that would have looked awful on the youngest of men. As it was, it added a decade to his forty-odd years and made him look shabby and neglected.
"Excuse me," I said, almost throwing myself into his path.
He tried to dodge me, ignoring to my presence, but I manoeuvred myself back into his path.
"Excuse me, Mr Firth—"
He stopped abruptly and looked up at me with eyes so lifeless, I quite gasped.
"Yes," his voice completely devoid of expression.
I faltered and had to force a cough to find my voice.
"I'm looking for Lizzy," I explained.
"Lizzy? Lizzy who?" he scowled.
"Your ward."
His scowl didn't shift.
"Elizabeth Buffalo," I explained further. How many wards did he have, for goodness sake?
"Oh, her. She's gone."
He was positively icy in his response.
"Yes, I know, but where to please?"
I was trying to be polite.
"Home."
"But where is that please?"
"Why?"
He wasn't what you'd call helpful.
"Because she's my friend …"
His gaze completely lacked expression.
"And I miss her …"
Still nothing.
"And she left her hairbrush behind." I was clutching.
He head jerked, quite taken aback at the mention of her hairbrush.
"Her hairbrush?" he demanded.
"Yes. She left it behind. I know it's—"
"Well, leave it out and I'll have someone pick it up and send it on."
"No, that's okay. I expect she's got a new one by now anyway, but what about getting in touch with her?"
"I'll tell her you're asking after her."
"Oh, thank you," and began to step aside but suddenly realised that he probably had no idea who I was.
"Do you need to know my name?" I asked.
He looked up at me, but said nothing.
"Terran," I said. "My name is Jenny Terran."
"Yes, I'll tell her!" he snapped.
If he was half as charming as this with Lizzy, I could understand why she didn't like him.

Log Entry 141214.128

There is a very fine line between suspicion and paranoia. I'm not sure I can see it at the moment.
Having slept on the problem overnight, I realised that it could just as easily be true that Lizzy had gone home, leaving both the Academy life and her alter-ego behind; there might be nothing sinister about it at all. But I still needed to find out, for my own sanity's sake.
The easiest way to allay my fears would be to speak to Lizzy directly, but I had no idea where she lived—where home was for her. Student Services would know though, so that's where I headed.
The lady on the desk was very pleasant, overly pleasant some might say. She beamed me a thoroughly plastic smile and said, "Lizzy who?"
"Lizzy—Elizabeth Buffalo, my room mate—former room mate."
She began tapping away at the touch screen with her long, painted red talons, far too long for an efficient administrator.
"Buffalo, Buffalo, Buffalo," she mumbled as she flicked from page to page. "Ah, yes, here we are! Elizabeth Buffalo. Yes, she dropped out of the Academy, I'm afraid."
"Yes, I know that, but I'd like to get in touch with her please."
"I'm afraid I can't give you her details. You know that, don't you."
"But you could get a message to her for me."
"Yes, but if you were that close, surely you'd have her details anyway?"
"Yeah, I did have them, but I lost them."
"Oh, I see. Okay, so what message would you like to send her?"
I cobbled together something along those lines, wondering what Lizzie would think if she ever received such a garbled and completely fictitious message, and then left taking a short-cut across the courtyards so I wouldn't be late for my next lesson.
Midway, I noticed a man looking at me, a student whom I assumed must also be on the Development Program because he was about my age—older than your average cadet. I'd noticed him a couple of times around and about before, but never taken much notice of him … until now. It felt like his eyes were boring into me. I stared back at him.
Suddenly, he began waving furiously, as though saying hello to someone ahead of me. I turned, but of the people I could see, no one was returning his wave. I looked back. He had dropped his head, apparently burying his attention back into his datapad. I shrugged it off and continued on my way, brushing my paranoia aside, but I could see his reflection in the glass of the building ahead of me. I swear he was looking at me again.
Am I being paranoid?

Log Entry 141206.127

I had expected a new roommate almost immediately, but it's been nearly a week and I still have the room to myself. Not that I mind—I'm used to having my own space. There are less distractions and I can concentrate better. In fact, for the first time ever, I'm well ahead in my studies. Bairn would have a pink fit though! I can hear her chastising me for all work and no play again. So much so, that I started to feel guilty about it this morning to the point that I decided to take a day off. It is Saturday after all.
A little bit of good, old, traditional shopping was in order. I've spent hardly any of the Federation Credits I've earned since I joined Starfleet and having seen Lizzy's wardrobe full of beautiful clothes, I've decided I really ought to treat myself to some new attire. I'm not talking ball gowns or evening dresses though, just some really nice casual clothes and maybe something to wear to a posh restaurant, that sort of thing.
The Palisades in San Francisco is a wonderful area for shopping. It's filled with lovely boutiques as well as caf├ęs, restaurants and bars, all set in an eclectic blend of buildings old and new. Ancient red bricks stand alongside glass and concrete, each sympathetic to its neighbour.
I have to be honest, after my life of thrift, I did get a bit carried away and was soon loaded up with bags and bags of goodies. By lunchtime, I was quite exhausted and found myself a nice little restaurant in a square for a spot of lunch. I felt quite indulgent as I sat alone eating an exceptionally good hot chicken salad accompanied by a glass of fine, white wine. Having finished my lunch, I further indulged with a second glass of wine and watched the world go by.
I can honestly say that I've not had such a lovely, relaxing day in ages. The sun shone and people went about their ordinary, everyday lives in a way that made me wonder about my own life that used to be so dull and mundane, but was now filled with adventures and excitement ... as well as dull and mundane paperwork and study!
A mum was sitting at a bench in the little square. It was a lovely square with red brick paths that wound through it and beds filled with bushes and blooms. There was also a pond in the middle with gorgeous white water lilies and enormous golden carp that kissed its glassy surface.
The woman had a double buggy with a baby in one side and a toddler in the other. They were eating sandwiches and throwing little bits of bread for the birds. Sparrows fought over the rich pickings and the toddler giggled, her hands outstretched in joy.
A couple sat on a nearby bench, holding hands, their heads bent as they whispered softly to each other. The man stroked her hand with his thumb as he held it and she wore a engagement ring on her finger. They were obviously very much in love.
My second glass of wine spent and my tummy full, slumber began to seduce me with its call. It had been a lovely day, but I was going to head back to the Academy and probably spoil myself with an afternoon nap. I've never done that before, but the idea was deliciously tempting.
I settled my bill, collected my bags together and made my way through the streets to catch one of the old restored trams that ran between the city centre and the Academy. I reached the stop and sat down to wait. It wouldn't be long before the next one came along, and it would be the perfect end to the perfect day.
The afternoon had worn on quickly, but the sun was still warm in the sky and bathed me in its bright glow. Across the street were more bars and restaurants, but these were more geared up for the evening trade. Bejazzled wasn't far from here, and the Byzantium was literally in front of me ... and that's when I saw it.
On one of their display boards was Lizzy's picture—or, rather, that of Bella Dinares. She had told me that she had a gig there later in the month so that made sense, but there was a banner splashed across the poster. It featured just one word: CANCELLED.
That was odd. If Lizzy had left the Academy to pursue a career as a singer, why would her gig be cancelled? I decided it was time to ask some questions.
The Byzantium wasn't busy inside. There were just a few people there enjoying late afternoon drinks. Soft, pre-recorded music played in the background and the barman was polishing glasses nonchalantly.
"Excuse me," I said.
"Yes, what can I get you?" he smiled.
"Well, nothing at the moment, thank you, but I was just wondering about Bella Dinares—"
"Sorry. She cancelled on us," and his brow furrowed a little.
"Yes, but that surprises me. Do you know why she cancelled?"
His face shrugged.
"No. Sorry. All I know is her agent called and said she couldn't make it."
I scowled in confusion. I didn't think she had an agent and said as much. He stopped polishing the glass and looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully. Puzzlement washed over his face.
"Funnily enough, neither did the boss, but he definitely called and cancelled on us."
"Did he say why?"
"No," he said, putting the glass down and shifting his weight. "And that was really weird 'cause the boss asked when she'd like to rebook for; but her agent said it wasn't a postponement, it was a cancellation. Bella was giving up singing altogether apparently."
Now I know someone is lying!