How I Flunked Out of Starfleet Academy Part 11
"All hands, prepare for warp speed."
I felt the engines rumble, even though we were three decks above them. The old Voyager still had some guts. I held onto the edge of the sink. Soapy water slopped over the edge, soaking the front of my uniform despite the stained apron I'd tied on.
"Keep scrubbing." Sergeant Schuler glared as he stomped past. The stench of freshly chopped onions made my eyes tear up. "And don't you dare cry, Ensign. You're in Starfleet now. You should be proud."
I muttered under my breath, "I'm so proud to scrub your dirty dishes, sir. This is what I traveled seventeen light years to accomplish. My mama would be so proud."
He slapped the back of my head. "Show some respect. I want to see my face in those pots, Stevens. Put some elbow grease into it."
I waited until he left before telling him where he could use some elbow grease.
"Schuler?" I snuck a peek at the owner of the sweet voice. She was young with long brunette hair fastened in a ponytail. "I need some assistance serving in the captain's mess tonight."
"No." Schuler refused flatly. "I'm not getting into a dress uniform. I've got too much to do here."
"How about that new Ensign? Adrian, wasn't it?"
I hefted a huge pot out of the sink and into the rinse water. I only splashed a little. My squashed hopes rose. Maybe I could impress Stanbol with my grace and manners while serving. Maybe I could redeem myself. I regretted the juvenile tricks I'd played on Nicole and her friends. Even if they had deserved every uncomfortable moment.
"You really want her, Miranda?" Schuler ripped open a stasis pack with his teeth.
"I need the extra hands. The captain's hosting a gathering for all the command officers and the newest command trainees."
He dumped freeze-dried onions into the soup. "Take her, then. But she still has to report back here to finish scrubbing the pots."
Miranda tapped my shoulder. "Follow me. And leave that apron here. Do you have a dress uniform? No matter. I can get you one from stores."
I followed her from the galley. She walked like she owned the ship, which she sort of did. She wore Quartermaster's stripes on her sleeve, which meant she was responsible for every item brought on the ship for consumption or disposal. She was the one who made certain we had enough food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper, you name it. She tracked it.
An hour later, I was scrubbed to her exacting standards and wearing brand-new dress whites that mostly fit. My hair was trimmed and glued to the back of my head in a bun that felt like a rock. Miranda smiled her approval. "We'll let you fetch clean napkins. And maybe serve the rolls. I wouldn't trust you with anything else, not until I've tested your etiquette protocols. Dave, show her how it's done."
I stared at Dave's immaculate uniform and hair while he instructed me on how to offer rolls to my betters. I bit my tongue and didn't say what I thought of it. I would have ended up scrubbing toilets. Probably with my tongue.