Alex was born on Nouvelle Genève, a Federation Colony in the Antares System (Antares III) which was founded by pacifistic scientists. Her scientist parents have brought her up to think that she can accomplish anything, and she can, when she puts her mind to it.
With two scientists for parents, and an older brother who became another scientist, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to pursue science as a career. She excelled in the sciences, especially in physics and mathematics. And she had no doubts about the pacifist way of life, until that day when she was sixteen, when her father was kidnapped.
The Antares System was also home to the Belgarian Union, a warlike society which had only recently achieved space travel. The Geneviens and the Belgarians made first contact when Alex was ten, and they were able to reach a non-invasion treaty through the work of Federation mediators.
Six years later, Dr. Ripley was invited to be the keynote speaker at the decennial Genetics Research Conference on Vulcan, and he decided to bring his daughter Alex as well as his Assistant Kergan Edwards. While en route to Vulcan on the USS Centurion, a Belgarian operative, disguised as a merchant, with the assistance of Edwards, kidnapped him from the Federation vessel. Pregnant Belgarian women were suffering from a plague which mysteriously did not affect the women themselves, but somehow forced their babies to be stillborn, and they wanted Ripley to find them a cure.
The Belgarians were not apologetic; in a way, Ripley had aggravated the situation, for he was possibly the most obstinate pacifist, even among the Geneviens. He had repeatedly refused any request from the Belgarians for his assistance, even when his own government tried to get him to help them.
Dr. Ripley did eventually develop a cure for the Belgarian Plague; the experience changed his life. The Belgarian government had used force to get him; however, working closely with their doctors, who did not necessarily agree with their government's policies, changed his perception of the Belgarians as belligerent savages. And enabling a courageous Belgarian woman to bear the first healthy Belgarian baby in decades certainly helped to radically reshape his own view on using his expertise to assist others, regardless of their philosophy or ideology.
And it changed Alex, as well. She came to respect the role of the military in protecting their interests, and her interest in a possible career in Starfleet blossomed. Although she was still opposed to wars in general, she understood that a show of force, and sometimes its use, was occasionally necessary to resolve a conflict. Her decision to apply was accepted by her father, who would certainly have refused his blessing to join Starfleet before the whole Belgarian incident.
After finishing at the Lycée, she successfully applied to Starfleet Academy, where she majored in Climatology and Geophysics. She specialized in studies of Terraforming methods, writing her senior thesis on the hypothetical terraforming of an arid planet. She graduated Starfleet Academy with Honors, with a BS in Climatology, along with MOC training in Sciences (Geophysics), Astrogation, and Engineering.
Her first posting was in the research facilities at Starfleet Headquarters on SB ALPHA, where she was one of five research fellows in the Geophysics Department. Although she felt trapped on a Star Base -- her first choice was a posting on an exploratory vessel -- she made the best of it. She published several articles based on their work in the facility, but two years later, she applied to the Advanced Officers Training School at Armstrong Lunar Base, and was accepted. Upon finishing at ALB, she was requested by the new CO of the USS SARATOGA.
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