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  Lieutenant Commander Lucia Rinaldi, SD
 
Meeting Mei JDL: Cadet Soan th'Hanera and Cadet Shandari with Boothby
 
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Meeting Mei
JDL: Cadet Soan th'Hanera and Cadet Shandari with Boothby

Cadet Soan th’Hanera spent almost fifteen minutes in the sonic shower after Professor Trumbull’s class and he could still swear he could feel a greasiness on his skin.  He was certain it was all in his mind, so he put on  a fresh uniform and headed out of his dorm.  He wondered how long it would take to find Cadet Shandari.  He knew she wanted to talk with him, but he just had to get out of his wet uniform.

Shandari had tried to follow th'Hanera intending to talk with him but he had sped off.  She found keeping up with the older cadet difficult and before she had the chance to catch up, he disappeared into the dorm.  Now what?  She thought.  Going inside and knocking on his door felt...odd.

Shandari opted to wait off to the side and see if he reemerged soon.

"You!"  Shouted a male voice which was laced with annoyance.

Shandari looked for the person but didn't see the source, instead, the source found her.

"Yes, you!"  Exclaimed the grey-haired man standing in front of her brandishing a wooden-handled implement with an oblong metal head.   "Move it!" He gestured.  "Get out of there!"  He demanded.  "You're crushing my hibiscus!" 

Weapon!  Thought Shandari is she put some distance between them by sliding sideways a few yards, keeping a wary eye on the man.

"No, no, no not THERE!!  Oh my!  My leucadendrons!"  He moaned and waved the hand holding the item around and he started after Shandari.

She crouched down,  ready to jump on him if he got much closer. "Go away!" She told him mustering up her most threatening voice.  "I know Carrot-tay."

Shandari suddenly felt a pull of her uniform and felt herself physically being lifted off the ground.  Before she could wriggle around to see who or what had her, she heard, “Get out of the man’s plants!”

Cadet th’Hanera set her on her feet roughly. His attention turned to the grey-haired man. “Sorry, Boothby,” he apologized to the groundskeeper.

“As you should be!” Boothby scolded.  “You are in charge of these…"  He glared momentarily at Shandari, then looked back at Soan, “Plebes.  You should have advised them better!”

“Yes, Sir,” th’Hanera said with a forced calm. His antennae twitched betraying him.  “I shall try to make them understand, Sir.”

This seemed to satisfy the groundskeeper.  He turned off in a huff and started back to tending the “damaged” plants.  Soan looked slightly apologetically to Shandari.  In a voice free of all anger, he said, “You really should stay out of the plants.”

"Plants?" Shandari looked between the older man and  the spots where she had been waiting for th'Hanera. "He had a weapon....." The girl started to argue but then she noticed the man on his knees, using his weapon to ever-so-gently pat soil around the bottoms of a bit of slightly battered greenery.  "Oh!  I'm sorry!" She exclaimed.  "I didn't mean to hurt his plants!" She told Soan.  "I was just waiting for you. I wanted to ask you something."

Th’Hanera followed Shandari’s gaze toward Boothby. Yeah, I can see Boothby using that hand-spade for a weapon on anyone messing with his plants, he thought to himself.  His antennae now swiveled lightly.  He glanced back to the other cadet.  “I remembered you wanted to talk to me. I was coming to look for you.  What’s up?”

"I might need your help."   She said looking into th'Hanera's eyes. 

Soan looked from Shandari to Boothby still working just a bit of a distance away. He wasn’t totally certain of the old man had any supernatural powers or not, because he always seemed to know exactly what was going on with … well, everything happening on campus. Soan wasn’t going to make it any easier on the man to hear whatever confession Shandari was about to say. He took her arm and urged her back to his dorm.

They walked into the building and Soan directed her to the common room. There were two other cadets sitting in there studying, so Soan led her to the opposite side of the large room. He ordered up a cup of Andorian black coffee and looked to Shandari to see if she wanted a drink.

She shook her head and looked around, relieved to see so few others were present.

The two went to one of the small tables and sat down. Soan took a sip of his beverage then looked to Shandari. “I am listening,” he said to her.

"You probably hate me, but, I'm in serious trouble or I will be soon and the only person I know here is Charlie and I can't find him anywhere." The girl talked fast, which gave away her degree of nervousness. And while her tone wasn't apologetic she still hadn't lost all of her "edge". "I just need to know what to do...how to...fix things...I need help."

Th’Hanera felt a sudden pit in his stomach. What the heck has this girl gotten herself into, and what am I getting myself into? He silently asked himself. Plus, I have to figure out where in Hades Hatfield is.

“Why don’t you tell me what kind of trouble you are, or may soon be in,” th’Hanera said to her.

"Just please don't arrest me out here in public okay? I'll go willingly if you say I need to." She asked, her eyes searching his for his answer.

A few seconds passed and she must have seen whatever glimmer of hope she'd been searching for.

"I'm not named Shandari. No, that's not the right way to say it. Um...there IS a girl named Shandari, but she's not me. I'm Mei. Does that make sense?"

Soan’s antennae stopped completely and remained still. “Honestly, no,” he replied. “You are not Shandari, but you are you. If you do not want me to arrest you, please tell me you are not a spy and have the real Shandari tied up somewhere.”

The girl looked horrified. "Spy?" She shook her head no very emphatically. "And I would NEVER kidnap someone. NEVER. And yes, I'm MEI, not Shandari. It's a really long story." She sighed. "Here's the important part. The part you can check on to be sure that I'm not a spy or some kind of disgusting kidnapper! You can find the real Shandari is on Risa, using the name Elessa. She paid me a lot of credits to impersonate her because her parents pushed her to apply to and come to Starfleet Academy even though all she wanted to do was marry her boyfriend and become a chef. And no, that's not all there is to the story but I don't want to be arrested....and I'd really like to stay here....which is why I need your help. Can you go check to see that I'm telling the truth?"

Cadet th’Hanera entered in a few notes on his PADD. It would be easy to check out what Shandari…. Or whatever her name really was, he still wasn’t certain, told him. He looked at her curiously. For some reason, he actually felt sorry for the girl. Why, he couldn’t say. Getting her and Hatfield kicked out of the academy would solve sixty-six percent of his plebe problems.

“Why didn’t YOU just apply to the academy?” he asked her.

Her eyes flashed angrily at th'Hanera and she stopped herself just short of smarting-off at him. "My educational credentials would be found lacking." She answered without elaborating.

Soan nodded his head in understanding. If it hadn’t been for Lt. Boreallis, th’Hanera, himself, would never have gotten into the academy. With a compassion he didn’t realize he was capable of, the Andorian said, “I do understand, Sha…. “ He gave a small smile. “I still don’t know your name, but I will try to help you however I can. I cannot, however, help to perpetrate fraud against Starfleet and the academy. They will have to find out about this. Maybe if we went to Commander Rinaldi…”

"My name is Mei. I promise I'm not trying to set you up or run a scam on you or even to use being female to trick you, just please don't handcuff me or lock me in a cell. I won't run away." She sounded resolute but there was an edge of anger and a trace of fear in her next words. "Rinaldi, the Counselor? Really? One, I'm NOT a nutcase and two, she's going to be as angry sentient rat when I confess...tell her...heck, she may already suspect. Whatever, call whomever you like." She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a decidedly ineffective glare.

Th’Hanera’s antennae twitched in irritation at the sudden attitude of Mei. “Kill the attitude,” he said to her. “I’m not going to lead you away in cuffs or lock you in a cell… Not if I can help it anyway. I am a lot more sympathetic to your plight than you realize. My educational credentials were pretty much non-existent and if it weren’t for the assistance of another, I wouldn’t be here. Yeah, Rinaldi might rat you out, but I’m inclined to think that if we went to her together, and I told her how you came to me, she might be more inclined to help you, and I don’t mean ‘shrinking’ you either. So, what do you say?”

Mei uncrossed her arms but still looked wary. "Okay. Let's go."


TBC

#Shandari#

   
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