How I Flunked Out of Starfleet Academy Part 12
I stood at stiff attention, a pile of starched napkins sitting in my hands like slices of cardboard. Captain Stanbol and his command officers had enough medals they could have been used as ballast. They mingled with my fellow cadets, now Ensigns in command red. Nicole smirked when she caught sight of me. She turned to whisper to Rachel. I ignored the flush of shame creeping up my neck. Why couldn't I have been assigned to Special Ops, or Engineering, or even Medical?
Starfleet Janitorial needs YOU! My life had become a joke. I thought the Academy turned out officers. I thought I'd be one of the privileged few commanding a ship. Yes, I'd pictured myself sitting in a captain's chair someday. My ears burned with embarrassment. I could never show my face back home, not as a starship kitchen slave.
"You! Are you deaf? I said, I need a clean napkin, this one is soiled." Rachel tossed her napkin in my face. She lifted one boot, twisting her foot side to side as she inspected it. "I see a spot. Wipe it for me, Stevens."
I took the dirty napkin and tucked it over my arm, like Miranda had instructed. I lifted the top stiff square from my pile, proferring it to Rachel. "Your napkin. Sir."
She folded her arms over her chest. "I said to clean my boot. I seem to have gotten a smudge."
Two could play her game. "Article Thirty-Nine, Subsection B, Paragraph Nineteen. An officer is responsible for the cleanliness and appearance of his or her quarters and all personal belongings including uniforms. Shall I continue to quote or shall I report you to your commanding officer for breach of protocol?"
She snatched the napkin from me, then stalked away. Nicole shot a glare my way before hurrying after.
"Nice shot," a short balding man said near my elbow. He really was that short. "Those cadets are really too big for their britches." He wiped crumbs from his hand onto the flamboyantly pink shirt covering his paunch. "Name's Birkin. I'm a science specialist."
I offered him a napkin. "Adrian Stevens." I wasn't sure what else to add.
Birkin wrinkled his nose at the over-starched cloth. "I'd rather use my shirt. You know anything about subspace interdimensional string theory?"
I blinked. I'd never heard of it.
Birkin shrugged. "How about cards? I've got a deck of Uno cards in my cabin if you're up for a game sometime."
Miranda appeared in the far doorway, her white uniform gleaming. "Dinner is served."
I stayed at my post while they meandered into the dining room. Miranda signaled me with a twitch of one white-gloved hand. "I need you to serve. We're short staffed tonight. Go help with the plates."
The salads and rolls went well enough. I slid a plate in front of Birkin. He winked at me. I was getting the hang of serving. I set four more plates in front of various officers. Miranda kept me to the lower tables, though. I wasn't allowed near Stanbol or Admiral Williamson at the head table. Nicole and Rachel were at the table with the captain but I made myself not care. Someday, I would be up there just not today. I finished my table then stepped back near the wall to wait for the next course.
I cleared the salad plates, balancing them in a precarious stack as I carried them to the service door where Miranda stood guard. I set them in the cart then turned to pick up the main dish plates.
Spaghetti? Who served spaghetti and red sauce with meatballs to officers in dress whites? Maybe this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought.