"Admiral?" I cautiously stuck my head in the door. I hated having to deal with command officers, but my orders were specific.
The chair slowly swiveled, revealing a slightly balding head of dark hair.
I swallowed a nervous lump as I held out my orders. Fleet Admiral Williamson, the sign on his desk read.
He took my paper, barely glancing at it before letting it drift into his disposal unit. He leaned back in his chair, bouncing slightly as he looked me over. "Quartermaster Stevens, your reputation for trouble precedes you. You do know that you're on the short list for dishonorable discharge? One more incident and you may even be doing prison time."
I nodded, keeping my mouth firmly shut. This was my last chance. Another few years and I'd be able to leave Starfleet honorably. I'd spoken too freely in the past. I'd taken a few too many liberties. Admiral Williamson was the last officer willing to even consider me for a posting.
He tapped his chin as he thought, his chair bobbing back and forth. He swung one foot, the polish on his boots catching the light.
I shuffled my scuffed boots on his dark blue carpet. The window behind him showed space dock. A gleaming white ship rested gently in the cradle, shuttles swarming around her. The USS Voyager was a beautiful ship, graceful and elegant with enough firepower to intimidate just about anyone. I could only dream of a posting on such a legendary ship.
Admiral Williamson's chair thumped forward, his boots thudding dully on the carpet. "I need volunteers for a dangerous mission. Classified, of course. I'm looking for those willing to risk everything if necessary. You have a choice, Stevens. Prison cook or Quartermaster on the Voyager."
I stared at him, my jaw dropping. "Quartermaster on the Voyager, sir?" Had I heard wrong?
"Not glamorous. You'll be on skeleton staff. You and two others will be responsible for all supplies, food, and the equipment to prepare it. I'm afraid the food replicators have been a bit off so you may be actually cooking for two hundred."
"I thought the Voyager had three hundred crew, sir."
"The support crew won't be the only ones on short staff." He smiled, benevolence with an edge. "You may not return, Stevens."
"But it's a chance to serve on the Voyager, sir. I accept. I've got no family, nothing to lose."
"Except your reputation." He stamped a paper and slid it across the desk. "Report immediately to the shuttle bay. You have less than four hours until the ship undocks."
"Sir." I snapped a salute then collected my new orders.
"Dismissed." He turned his chair away. "I suggest you hurry, Quartermaster."
I practically ran from his office, headed for the shuttle bays at a run. I couldn't help grinning. So the mission was dangerous, that didn't matter. I had a posting on the legendary Voyager!
The shuttle was crowded with officers headed for the ship. I hugged my duffle at the back, doing my best to avoid eye contact. I eyed their uniforms jealously. I wanted to be an officer but I couldn't stay out of trouble at the Academy. Quartermaster was the best I could hope for. I shifted my feed, impatient to board.
The shuttle docked, landing gracefully in the shuttle bay. The hatch opened. The officers filed out. I followed, breathing deeply of the recycled air of the Voyager. Glory tainted every molecule. I stepped off the boarding ramp.
"Papers?" The security guard glared at my blue service jumpsuit.
I handed the papers Admiral Williamson had just stamped.
"Captain on deck!"
Everyone snapped to attention. I dropped my duffle, standing rigid.
Boots thumped on the metal decking. I risked a single glance, rolling my eyes to the side. My heart sank. Maybe Captain Herring wouldn't remember me.
He stopped in front of me, breath whistling through his nose as he glared. "Adrian Stevens? You're what they sent for my Quartermaster?" His lip curled. He leaned very close.
I swallowed hard, staring at a pulsing vein in his forehead.
"Don't think I've forgotten the spaghetti incident. I'm watching you." His eyes drilled into mine.
So much for wishful thinking. Which would be more dangerous? The mission or the captain? Only time would tell.
Personal Log 1-2: Dereliction of Duty