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Ensign Dueld taJoot: Hey, can I crash here?


Renos

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((Grelesev Military Shipyards, Zakdorn IV: Bay One, after all the officer teams have split up and taken off))

:: Dueld would probably freak out, around now, if he wasn't mostly all out of freaked out at this point.

First there had been the bizarre final exam on the holodeck-- which, if there was a chance he was going to crash and burn at the last minute and fail out of Starfleet, why did they have to ship him to Starbase 118 to do it? (Maybe Starbase 118 had some kind of cadet reform school hidden away on one of its levels, like, under the lake in the biodome. Or squeezed inside one of the Sovereign-class hangar doors. Those things were huge. Totally feasible.)

Then the holoprogram had abruptly stopped. The cadets had been patted on the head and told not to end up in jail. But before he could even decide what kind of spice chips he wanted with his celebration dinner, he'd been commed to report to Airlock HS233-2 on the double, with his gear. Halfway there, they'd halted his turbolift because it was taking too long and just beamed him straight onto an Andorian freighter, one that was already several ship lengths from the starbase, and picking up speed.

There had been a pile of Starfleet stuff waiting for him when he rematerialized; apparently it had been sent over before him while they were waiting for his damn turbolift. It included a PADD with his new assignment, the ... USS Vigilant, a new Intrepid-class ship being built all the way out on Zakdorn. Zakdorn? Seriously? Tsooood, there'd be attitude literally built into every system. He'd be wiping snarky comments out of the codebases for months, if not years. Like, at least with Vulcans, you knew they were resigned to your inferiority. Zakdorn seemed to think you'd been born stupid to annoy them.

Anyway, Fleet wanted Dueld on the Vigilant before it got even further away. But it had run out of passenger spaces on its own ships in the sector. So, apparently, Fleet had just given up and started tying its personnel onto the hulls of random vessels. The Andorian freighter had been going the right way, at least, carrying relief supplies to Alpha Zeta Volantis. This meant it slid right between the Romulan and Klingon borders (which, what? How could he be a commissioned officer for less than two days and already be violating the Neutral Zone? Even Kirk took a couple of months to work up to it.)

Still, either these zhen (shen? how could you tell? maybe you weren't supposed to?) were experienced smugglers, or the Romulan infrastructure truly was fried, because the whole trip went off without so much as a yellow alert. They dumped him at Starbase 173 (not as nice as 118), a Ferengi named Glit (two words: live grubs) ferried him to Deep Space 6, and from there he got folded into a paper glider and thrown really hard toward Zakdorn. Okay, fine, it wasn't a paper glider, but that was not a shuttle.

And now, now that he was finally here on Utterly Frozen Zakdorn, Dueld's wacky journey and consequent sheer relief had prepared him to love his new ship. Love it. Worship it. Give it a big hug. Promise it undying fidelity and dilithium chamber micro-alignments every six weeks. And he would totally start one right this very second if only this frekagget Zakdorn woman would let him on board. ::

Dueld (plaintively): ... but, see, ma'am, mistress? Lady? Sir? Honoured ally? If my comm badge lets me wander freely around this extremely impressive facility which you and your esteemed colleagues are keeping secure, and I am clearly not a member of the Zakdorn construction teams, I must be one of the crew, right? Yes?

Site security team member (flatly): You're still not. On. The. List.

Dueld: ::hangs head in anguish and despair :: Okay, fine, whatever, you totally win. How do I get on the list? Who's in charge of it?

Site security team member (beginning to finger her sidearm, lips thinned with distaste): Now that the ship's captain has taken charge of this vessel, only he or his designated subordinates can amend this list. He is not available to do so at this time. You may observe the final phases of the ship's preparation while you wait, you may take refreshment in the refectory, or you may go and partake of the many amenities visitors to Zakdorn are priviliged to experience. What you may not do is continue to block this ramp.

:: Dueld stifled a moan, and slouched back down onto the bay floor. The bay floor did not look comfortable. The refectory chairs had not been comfortable, either, when he'd tried them earlier. Rolling off the refectory chairs onto the refectory floor had definitely not been comfortable.

In a haze of fatigue, he began to wander down the length of the Vigilant, head tilted back. Crews hurried around and past him, applying final coats, slipping hull sensor clusters into their slots, securing hull panels. Aside from the hum and sizzle and skirl of tools, the work progressed mostly in sour silence, as if speaking was the same as admitting there were complications you'd failed to anticipate.

But it wasn't completely quiet. They did mutter at each other from time to time. At one point, Dueld wasn't sure how long he'd been standing there, three Zakdorn up on the bay's observation deck got into a massive disagreement-- they were waving their hands around and yelling and pointing at a wireframe hologram. One of them actually knocked the holo projector off the deck railing and kept right on shouting through the resulting smack and bang.

By that time, everybody in the hangar had stopped pretending they weren't watching, except for Dueld. The shrieking reminded him uncomfortably of the Ferengi, Glit, arguing via subspace with his mother, grubs spewing out of his mouth, half-chewed.

And it was only because Dueld had turned away, at that moment, that he saw some Zakdorn slip through the hatch of one of the Vigilant's lifeboats, lined up on the floor and waiting to be slung into place via antigrav crane. ::


------------


Ensign Dueld taJoot,
Engineer,
USS Vigilant

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