Leaving home.

Adelaide’s eyes fluttered to the rattling sound of her bedroom window as the public transport shuttle rumbled to a stop outside her building. She had been awake for a short while, lying in bed staring up at the ceiling blankly; mulling over the prospect of a long day full of feigned sincerity delivering a multitude of ‘good byes’ to friends and colleagues. This was to be her last day in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. She had received her acceptance communique from Starfleet earlier that spring, and while this was the day she had been eagerly anticipating for months, it felt more like the journey was coming to an end rather than beginning; a feeling of quiet relief.

She rose from the bed and tip-toed her way across the room to the rattling window and to her coffee steeper in front of it. She was an attractive girl with an athletic physique. Twenty two years old, her long blonde hair hung disorderly over her bright blue eyes and lightly freckled nose. Spooning some grains into the machine, she activated the steeper and with a flash and a whir the room instantly filled with the smell of warm roasted coffee. Taking a long slow sip from the steaming mug, she swiped her fingers down the wall over the window’s opacity controller filling the room with natural light and opening the view to the transport shuttle below her.

Her compartment was on the 32nd floor, two levels directly above the shuttle landing where morning commuters were lining up to get onboard. The shuttles were not replicas but the original crafts implemented back in the 23rd century which were state of the art at the time. Consequently, they were now cumbersome and slow; widely accepted to be a dated and inefficient form of public transportation. They were pretty though, bearing a vintage style about them; boxy and unloving, painted in drab colors. Over two hundred years, the city had continued to repair them as needed, never considering to replace the system altogether with a more modern, efficient vehicle. That was New Orleans in a nutshell. A city that inhibited its own progress by desperately clutching to nostalgia and customs long since passed. The shuttles ran all the way down historic St. Charles Avenue from uptown to downtown in opposite directions on either side of the avenue. There was a passenger landing every 10 floors on each building and a separate shuttle line for each platform level. On the ground below crowds of people would be meandering about beneath the great Live Oak trees which had lined the road for almost a thousand years. She was a native to New Orleans and had been living in the uptown Garden District since she was only sixteen years old to attend New Tulane University. She loved the area so much that for the first time that morning her heart momentarily sank at the thought of leaving it all behind.
She stood with her hands cupped around her mug and watched the pedestrians file into the shuttle before it sounded a chime and proceeded down the avenue. She was not concerned about being late for work today. It was, anyway, her last day and if the next shuttle wasn’t along shortly, she could try to catch another on the level 20 landing.

“Well, on with it then.”

“Addie! Addie!” Eryka yelled across the platform as Adelaide stepped off the shuttle in front of the Hall of Interplanetary Studies. “I was worried you weren’t coming in today.” Eryka Nay, a short bubbly girl with curly brown hair was one of Adelaide’s best friends. They had met at the university and had been almost inseparable since.

“I’m hoping that –“ Adelaide paused momentarily to exchange a quick hug with her friend, “-that Kalin won’t have too much use for me today and I can get out early.”

“Fat chance.” Eryka replied as they began walking to the hall’s entrance. “With the Alpha Quadrant Trade Conference beginning next week Madame Ellis has lost any semblance of sanity.”

“Oh, just lately?” Adelaide smirked.

“Cute. In fact, you may want to avoid the atrium. If she sees you coming in late she’ll no doubt keep you until the construction staff finishes the vermicular tanks for the Antedean delegate.”

“Ugh.” Adelaide grimaced. “That stuff is so repulsive.”

“And like, the smell?!” Eryka reminded her.

“I’d rather push a mop through the French Quarter; ward level.”

“Oh that reminds me,” Eryka said grabbing Adelaide’s arm to stop her before entering the hall. “tonight, you have to be free…”

“Oh, no.”

“I’ve got something planned.”


“-It’s nothing grandiose”


“-Just a few friends and-”

“Eryka! No! I rather not make my first impressions at Starfleet Academy suffering from a hang over.”

“Come on, Addie.” She whined in her most practiced pathetic tone, “You’re, like, going to be thousands of light years away in like a month while I’m stuck here fighting off the advances of the Shrekk brothers by myself. “

“Good grief Eryka. It’s not as if I’m going to show up and they’re going to just toss me the keys to a starship. Besides, I’m counting on you coming out to visit. I’ll need the respite from being around the most thickheaded, bent for leather jock-types Earth has to offer.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure of that.” Eryka gushed. “Considering the pre-reqs needed just to apply.”

“Hm. Dorks then.”

“Probly so.” Eryka smiled at her. “But we’re not letting you go without a proper send off. Just a few close friends. We’ll go to Club Boureé -or that dive you like, Beta-4. Besides, Jack will want to spend some time with you. You should bring him along.” Adelaide conceded with a soft groan and the two continued into the building.

The New Orleans Hall of Interplanetary Studies was a large modern building whose entrance opened into an immense atrium beneath a glass dome filled with fountains and exotic flora from other worlds. The hall was built as a convention center for hosting various interplanetary events and conferences; an endeavor of the city to remain globally significant since its influence as an international shipping port was no longer relevant. While most of the duties of those that worked there pertained to event coordination and concierge services, there was a small academic wing conducting research of extraterrestrial races and cultures ensuring that any pertinent attendees would be considered for a function as well as to prepare the hall’s staff for any specific needs and accommodations. It was in this department that Adelaide and Eryka had been interning for two years under Dr. Kalin Kobaash, an elderly Grazerite who had been Adelaide’s collegiate mentor and friend.

The two crossed the atrium and proceeded to a security kiosk that led to the staff wings. Adelaide leaned forward into the kiosk and began to speak clearly: “Employee number 8457440. Adelaide Mary-“

“Adelaide Mary Murphy.” An interrupting voice slurred from behind them. They both turned to see two short Ferengi skulking in their direction.

“The brothers Shrekk.” Adelaide sighed standing up straight and placing a hand on her hip. “Good morning Roka.” She said acknowledging one of them. “Dak.” she said flatly as she acknowledged the other.

“We have been advised that it is an expected and most frustrating quality in human females to be consistently late for any obligation.” said Roka, one of two Ferengi.

“Yes. A quality which significantly decreases value.” added his brother, Dak.

“Aren’t there any children around you two could be stealing from?” Eryka snubbed.

“Gentlemen,” Adelaide began (which immediately prompted a grunt from Eryka), “as much as we’d love to hang around to be further berated, we’ve got somewhere to be. As you’ve pointed out, we’re perpetually late.”

“Ah yes, well today your inadequacies lend to your good fortune.” garbled Roka.

Eryka crossed her arms. “What is he talking about?”

“We wanted to inform you two that our father, Damon Shrekk, will be in attendance for next week’s trade conference.” began Roka.

“Yes” continued Dak, drumming his fingertips together, “He is highly influential-“

“-and wealthy” chimed Roka.

“-and extremely wealthy.” Continued Dak turning his attention to Adelaide. “I intend to present you to him as my potential mate. Perhaps the company of a man of his stature will help…assuage…your apprehensions?” He grinned a wide and crooked smile.

“And you as well.” Followed Roka extending his long tendril-like fingers around Eryka’s arm.

“Oh. Mah. God.” Scoffed Eryka batting away his hand. “I don’t know what I find more disgusting; romancing a Ferengi, or that you think we’re so cheap.”

“Do not try to lie to us, Ms. Nay.” Postured Dak, raising up his finger. “We have observed your resolve against sexual advances dwindle after only one glass of Saurian Brandy and short ride in a ground transport.”

“Pfft!” Adelaide’s snicker escaped before she was able to clasp her hand over her mouth. Eryka’s head wrenched to the side to deliver her friend a sharp glare for the betrayal.

“And we Shrekk,” continued Roka bowing slightly “are considered to be among a most desirable enterprise in the Alliance. It would be foolish for you two to pass on the opportunity to be acquired into that level of status.”

“As appealing as that sounds” Adelaide said composing herself “I’m afraid I won’t be present for the conference. You’ll have to find someone else for your father to purchase.”

“Bah! So it is true then.” Said Dak irritably. “You insist on covering that…” he paused to glide his tongue across his snaggled top teeth as he gawked her body over “…that form of yours with those unnecessary adornments, it would be a further pity to cover it with something as unflattering as a Starfleet uniform.”

“The little worm has a point.” Eryka jibed.

“Oh you too now?” Adelaide retorted. “Look fellas,” she said patronizingly as she turned to the Ferengi, “as enthralling as this little dance has been, we’ve had about as much as we can stomach. I’ll be happy to be rid of you both when I leave here.” She then approached Dak and pressed her finger into his chest hard enough to rock him backwards off balance. “And if I find out that you’ve continued to harass Eryka in my absence, not even the whole Federation fleet will be able to keep me from coming back here to host a little Lytasian Conflict of my own.”

“As provocative as I find your empty threats,” Dak began, furnishing a data pad from his belt. “The 21st Rule of Acquisition states; ‘Never place friendship before prof-‘.”

“Stuff it, Dak.” Adelaide interrupted, slapping the data pad out his hand to the floor. “This is NOT an empty threat.”

The two Ferengi froze and blinked silently as Eryka then leaned into the kiosk. “Eryka Nay. 2317603.” As the security doors slid open she grabbed Adelaide’s wrist and the two glided through the doors timely to ensure they closed immediately behind them.

A few moments passed before Roka stooped down and picked up the data pad from the floor. “She certainly has…spirit, brother.” He said handing the pad to Dak.

“Do not be concerned. This endeavor to join Starfleet is no more than her pathetic and childish ploy for me to continue the pursuit of her acquisition.” Said Dak as he placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “While the banter has been enticing, I grow tired of these…negotiations.” He grinned devilishly. “I think it is time to implement more…flamboyant methods if Ms. Murphy is to accept her station.”