It's now disclaimer time, It's time to sing our rhyme, If somebody sues me, I'll scream and cry and whine! Star Trek is the property of Paramount, and was created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Traks is the property and creation of Alan Decker. The number of Star Traks spin-offs is growing rapidly, so if I try to list them all here, the disclaimer will be longer than the actual story. Star Traks: Crash Course is the demented creation of Brendan Chris. The events and characters depicted in this story are completely fictional. Any resemblance to real people or events is intended as humorous flattery. However, if there isn't a character that resembles you, try not to take it personally. Or maybe you should. Maybe I just don't like you. (But that's probably not the case.)

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2008

Author’s Note: This story takes place in the Star Traks Universe. If you’re not a Star Trek fan, that’s probably a good thing. Star Traks chronicles the voyages of the truly inept. Their ongoing mission: To simply survive! To seek out new life forms and flee from them. To boldly screw up where none have screwed up before!


The Star Traks Nexus contains hundreds of stories about never-before-seen ships and crews, and while some ideas such as Starfleet and the Federation bear resemblance to the television show, you’ll find that the characters, storylines and situations in the Star Traks Universe are a bit less serious, a fair bit less boring and a lot more fun. So if you find yourself wondering ‘What the hell is the USS Secondprize’, head over to the Nexus and find out…


And if you’re too lazy to do that, I’ll try throwing in a few footnotes.


Prologue:


Captain Andy Baxter sat in his ready room aboard the USS Explorer1. His wife, Counselor Kelly Peterman, was standing behind him rubbing his shoulders.

“I don’t see what the problem is, Andy,” she said, “Your cousin’s, sister’s nephew’s…um, a relative of yours made it into the Academy. Good for him.”

“You don’t understand, Kelly,” Baxter groaned, “When I sponsored him, I never thought he’d actually get into the Academy,”

“Well, having a starship captain sponsoring him probably helped,” Kelly said, putting one finger in her mouth as she thought.

“The Academy’s gonna be tough work,” Baxter went on, “I mean, only the best ever go there!” Baxter suddenly recalled a few of the cadets he himself had known, “Well, most of the time they’re the best. He’s going to have to deal with classes, senior-classmen, professors, the discipline, the living conditions and,” Baxter shuddered, “SNAP,”

“Oh, Andy,” Peterman said, giving Baxter a squeeze, “Starfleet never would have let him in if they didn’t think he could do well,”

“Dylan’s always been the ‘special’ kid in the family,” Baxter said, making little air quotes.

“I thought you were the ‘special’ kid in the family,” Peterman giggled.

“I was until Dylan came along,” Baxter said, “That’s why he’s my favourite relative.”

“Bridge to Captain Baxter,”

“Baxter here,” Andy said, tapping his comm-badge2.

“We have a bit of a situation here, Captain,” Explorer’s first officer Commander Christopher Richards reported, his voice sounding strangely pained, “Dr. Browning overloaded the replicator system again with her super-sized prime-rib-ham-chicken-lamb and meatball sandwich, Lieutenant Mandera spilled her coffee on J’Hana’s lap and now J’Hana’s threatening her with some kind of Andorian evisceration ceremony3.”

“Can’t you take care of it, Chris?” Baxter asked.

“I would,” Richards replied, still sounding pained, “But I just caught myself in my zipper, if you get my meaning, and I’ll be in the bathroom until I figure out how to get, uh, ‘it’ out,”

“Ouch,” Baxter winced, “I’ll be right up,”

“I wouldn’t worry, sweetie,” Peterman said, “If people like us can make it through Starfleet Academy, I’m sure Dylan Baxter can,”


Over the nearly two centuries it has been in existence, Starfleet Command has taken great pains to ensure that Starfleet Academy, the institution from which all future officers must graduate, has nothing but the highest reputation in the public eye. This tactic has been for the most part successful, although for those who have actually graduated the Academy it’s well known that a lot more goes on there than Starfleet would like to admit.

Nobody is quite sure why, but there have always been a number of officers who could be best described as ‘eccentric’. Officers with odd obsessions, unusual beliefs and strange, new neurosis. Of course these officers are rare, and usually mature into stable adults by the time they graduate the Academy.

Those that don’t are sent to the USS Secondprize4, where they encounter planets of obnoxious belchers, stupidity viruses and creepy, oily aliens who want to Joegonotize the galaxy. Or to the USS Explorer, where they encounter human-eating insects and lunatic cults that worship giant lips. Or to Waystation5, where they encounter alternate universes filled with maniacally happy brainwash victims, xenophobic aliens and extremely obsessed Collectors. There’s also the USS Banshee6, which lasted a few whole months before the ship was destroyed. More recently, they’ve been sent to the USS Silverado7, where they encounter empires of mind-controlling, man-hating women, crazy Klingon pirates that enjoy crushing planets and civilizations that take the term ‘time zone’ to a bizarre new level.

But if these ‘special’ officers are as rare as Starfleet claims, how have they managed to fill so many ships with them? Where do these rejects come from?

And how do they get through the Academy?


Part One: Introductions


Baxter


“Who-hoo!” Dylan Baxter exclaimed, holding a message padd over his head, “I’m so totally in!” He slapped a high-five to his buddy, Rex. The high-five was followed by a punch on the shoulder, then a head-butt, their skulls cracking loudly as they collided. Baxter and Rex both fell back, dazed and rubbing their foreheads.

“I though we weren’t going to do that anymore,” Rex said.

“Like, who cares!” Baxter exclaimed, “I’m outta here! No more working at McBaughb’s8 for me!”

“Boo-yah!”

Dylon Baxter was a human male of white descent. He was a bit short for a human, with dark brown hair and wide eyes that on a normal human would give a look of perpetual surprise. In Baxter’s case, they made it look like he was about to say ‘huh?’ or ‘d’uh!’ or some other expression of startling intelligence. OK, I’ll cut the literary crap. Baxter was dumb as a post. His parents weren’t sure if it was from being dropped on his head as a baby (which his mother swore was an accident) or if there had been some kind of accident involving brain-sucking aliens. Now, Baxter wasn’t completely stupid. Academically, he could mange. Barely. But in terms of common sense? Nada.

“How did you do it, man?” Rex asked, holding up his own message padd. On it, a rejection letter from Starfleet Academy was clearly visible, “I mean, we’re totally alike! We had the same scores and everything! How did you get in?”

“Well, they must have been attracted by my good looks and natural charm,” Baxter said, striking a heroic pose.

“Your stomach’s hanging out again,” Rex giggled, pointing, “Don’t you have to be, like, in shape to go to the Academy?”

Oh yeah. Dylon Baxter was overweight, too.

He quickly sucked in his gut.

“It’s no problem,” he said, “I’ll get plenty of exercise,”

He eyed the holo-vision set sitting at the far side of the room. Grabbing a bag of chips, he jumped on the couch.

“After I get to the Academy, anyway,”


Malespere:


“Marc, are you sure this is such a good idea?”

“Yeah, man!” Marc Malespere shouted, slamming his fists together as he stood in the rear of the shuttle, “Let’s do this!”

Malespere was a human of French descent. He was slightly shorter than average height for a human, but made up for it with a solid, athletic build. His bright blue eyes, fair hair and chiselled features attracted more than a bit of attention from the ladies (and even from some of the men).

None of this was visible at the moment, as Malespere was completely covered from head to toe in a thick, silver suit, with a pair of oxygen tanks and a parachute strapped to his back.

“Marc,” his buddy, Eddie, was piloting the shuttle, “My mom says that orbital skydiving9 is really dangerous, and that-“

“C’mon, man!” Malespere exclaimed, “Don’t be a downer! C’est cool, le!” He slammed one hand against the hatch control. The rear hatch of the shuttle slowly opened, revealing the blackness of space. Below them the Earth slowly rotated, the atmosphere hugging the surface in delicate wisps. Malespere braced himself against the hatch, ready to jump through the force field that was holding in the shuttle’s atmosphere.

“Hey, Marc,” Eddie called over the radio, “We’re getting a message for you,”

“I’m about to jump!”

“It looks important,”

“Look, just put it on a padd10 and give it here; I’ll read it on the way down!”

Eddie copied the message over, then tossed Marc the padd. Tapping another control, he closed the hatch between the cockpit and the rear compartment.

Malespere started reading the padd.

“Mr. Marc Malespere,” he read, “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted into Starfleet Academy,”

“Are you ready back there?” Eddie asked.

Malespere ignored him, re-reading the first line of the message over again.

“I’m in,” he said softly.

“Hey, Merc,” Eddie repeated, “Are you ready?”

“YES!” Malespere shouted, pumping his arm in victory, “BOO-YAH!”

“OK,”

Eddie dropped the atmospheric containment field. In a rush of wind, everything in the aft compartment, including Malespere, was sucked out into space.

“AHHHHHH!!!!!”

He spun, out of control as Earth’s gravity started pulling him in. The padd went flying off into its own orbit as Malespere clutched his suit controls, firing thrusters to try to get his spin under control. Although he was plummeting straight towards North America, there was almost no sense of motion as he fell. Soon, that would change as he started entering the atmosphere. Sure enough, he began to feel the force of friction against the air, faint at first, but building rapidly. His suit was strong enough to absorb the worst of the strain, and as the air started thickening, his heavily-insulated suit began to glow with the heat of re-entry.

“WHOOOOOO-HOOOOOO!!!!” Malespere shouted as he fell, a fiery comet plunging towards the Earth.


“I am SO sorry, man!” Eddie said. He’d tracked Malespere’s decent via locator beacon, and had followed him down in the shuttle, “I thought-“

“Dude, that was AWSOME!” Malespere exclaimed, “Man, I thought the tumble was going to throw me off, but I like, TOTALLY got it!”

“Uh, right,” Eddie said, “Oh, hey. What was that message about, anyway?”

Malespere looked down at his skydiving helmet.

“I’m heading off,” he said, suddenly somber, “To bigger and better things,”

“Oh,” Eddie said, surprised, “Um. Congratulations?”

“Thanks, man,” Malespere said, “C’mon, let’s go get a beer,”


Veksai:


“Hey, Steve, I have this Klingon lady on the line, and she says she can’t get her Sens-O-Matic to pick up week-old gagh,”

Steven Veksai, a half human, half Orion male sighed as he stepped over.

“Why does she want to scan for week-old gagh?” he asked.

“She said one of her kids has been stashing it all over the house, and it’s stinking to high heaven,”

“Good God,” Veksai rolled his eyes, “What is wrong with these people?”

Veksai was an instructor at the Dillon Enterprises Technical Support Center on Waystation. As much as he enjoyed the teaching part of his job, working for Dillon Enterprises was driving him completely up the wall. As far as he was concerned, the company was demanding, inflexible and seemed to be ready to move the universe for its customers, breaking the backs of its employees in the process if need be. Veksai’s job was to train new employees to assist customers who were having problems with their Dillon Enterprises products. He was just in the process of bringing a new class of agents onto the floor. He didn’t mind the Sens-O-Matic classes that much, but he absolutely hated working with D-Mobile, the Dillon Enterprises communications service. Veksai was tall, slim and just a bit green. His Orion half showed itself in his slightly greenish, almost translucent skin, his fur-like black hair and tendency to take things just a step further than most people would like.

Veksai was about to speak when his padd beeped, indicating an incoming message. He pulled it out, then put it back with disgust when he saw the message was from one of his co-workers, probably wanting him to cover one of their classes while they went off to some meeting or other.

“Look, just tell her how to scan for high concentrations of bacteria,” he told the agent, “If the damned stuff is stinking, it’s probably rotting too,”

“Oh, good idea,” the agent immediately went back to the customer, Veksai forgotten.

“I hate my job,” he muttered.

His padd vibrated again. With a grimace, he pulled it out.

“‘O’Keefe,’” he read, looking at the source of the message, “Who the hell is O’Keefe? I don’t know any f**king O’Keefe…”

Veksai trailed off as realization dawned. He did know an O’Keefe. Just over a month ago he’d been interviewed by Lieutenant O’Keefe, down in the Starfleet Academy Annex in Waystation’s lower saucer. He quickly opened the message.

“Mr. Steven Veksai,” he read, “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted into Starfleet Academy,”

“I’ve been accepted,” he muttered. He leaned against the nearest desk, suddenly weak in the knees. “Oh my God,” he swallowed as waves of relief, fear and excitement rushed through him, “I’m in!”

“Veksai, are you all right?” it was his manager, “You look a bit pale, even for you,”

“Huh? Oh!” Veksai shook his head, trying to clear it as he quickly put his padd away, “I’m just a bit dizzy. I think I’ll go home for the day,”

“Sure. Just make sure you finalize the new Sens-O-Matic curriculum by Friday. Oh, and you know you’re starting a new D-Mobile class next week,”

“Uh, yeah. Um, can I talk to you about that tomorrow?”

“Sure,”

Fighting the urge to tell her just then and there she could shove her new D-Mobile class, Veksai turned and left.


Bahred:


“Am I up next coach? I’m ready to go. I know what to do. Breaststroke if I’m swimming against a Klingon, front crawl for Vulcans and-“

“Calm down, Archie,” Bahred’s swim coach, an extremely slim and balding man, chuckled, “You know what you’re doing. I know you know what you’re doing. You don’t need to tell me you know what you’re doing, cuz I already know you know what you’re doing,”

“Uh, yeah,”

Archie Bahred, a (mostly) human male, was standing on the pool deck wearing nothing but a green and white Speedo and a pair of goggles. Every hair on his body had been removed to improve his speed in the water, with the exception of his head, which he covered in a bright green swim-cap.

“Who am I swimming against, coach? Who? What species? Is anybody I’ve gone against before?”

“I don’t know,” his coach replied, “The roster has the Velvattian team up next, but I have no idea what a Velvattian is,”

At that moment, the doors to one of the change rooms burst open and a pair of huge, two meter tall squid-like aliens emerged. Their purple hides gleamed with moisture, and their suction-cupped tentacles flailed through the air as they made their way to the start-up line.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Bahred gasped, “I’m swimming against an octopus?”

“Squid,” his coach gulped, “Octopi don’t have the…oh, screw it. Just get into the water, Archie.”

It was really no competition. Bahred swam his hardest, but the Velvattian competitor outraced him easily, returning to the starting line-up before Bahred had even made it to the far end of the pool. As he returned, exhausted, he took the tentacle offered to him by his competitor.

“It was a good swim, man. Or woman. Or whatever the hell you are.” Bahred gasped, “A good swim…HEY!”

He suddenly found himself dangling upside down, caught in the grip of the incredibly strong alien. The Velvattian held him high over its head, then opened its wide, vertical mouth-slit.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Bahred’s swim coach demanded, turning to the second Velvattian, “What’s it doing?”

“We won,” the alien gurgled, “Lunch time,”

“HEY!” the coach chased after the alien holding Bahred at is slowly lowered him towards it’s gaping mouth, “We DO NOT EAT the LOSING TEAM on this PLANET! Put him down!” He’d grabbed a pole, one of those weird life-saving poles with the hooks on the end, from one wall and started bashing at the alien, “BAD SQUID! DROP HIM!”


Half an hour (and a team of security guards) later, Bahred was still in the showers, trying to get the last of the Velvattian slime11 off his body before the stuff could start dissolving him, or something.

“Archie?” it was his brother, Jake.

“What do you want?”

“Hey, chill, man. Mom sent me to give you this message,” he held out a padd.

“Jake,” Bahred said, “I was just about killed and eaten by a giant squid. And I’m butt-naked in the shower! I don’t feel like taking messages right now!”

“Get used to it,” Jake grinned.

“Get used to what? Being naked in the shower? Go away!”

“No, get used to being eaten by giant aliens,” Jake said, holding out the padd.

“What?” Bahred grabbed the padd (luckily, it was waterproof) and started reading.

“Archie Bahred, blah blah, accepted! Who-hoo!” Bahred threw his arms up. “YES! I’M IN!”

“Uh, huh,” Jake turned away, not needing to see any more of Archie’s nakedness today, thank you. “Hurry up. Mom and dad want to take you out for dinner to celebrate,”

“Awsome!” Bahred laughed, “Just do me a favour,”

“What?”

“No seafood, please.”


Kumari:


“And that’s a run to the Cardinals, wonderful job by Suvarti Xin,” the announcer said calmly.

“Another Sluggo cola, my lady?”

“Is the view to your liking, my lady?”

Akavarti Kumari nodded politely to her servants.

“Yes, another refreshment, please,” she said, “And the view is perfect, thank you,”

Both servants nodded, then moved away. Kumari leaned forward, watching the cricket match with a mix of boredom and anxiety. Boredom, because she really didn’t care about cricket, no matter how much her father insisted that it would help ‘culture’ her. Anxiety because she still hadn’t heard anything back from the Academy.

Kumari was First Princess of Banda IV, a planet colonized nearly two hundred years ago by humans of primarily Indian descent. After landing, they had decided that a monarchy would be the best way to rule their new world, and the rest as they say, is history. With abundant deposits of dilithium12 and a bustling economy, Banda IV was a relatively rich world. As such, Kumari had found herself born into a world of wealth, privilege and high society. On top of this, Kumari herself was an exceptionally beautiful woman, with skin the colour of milk chocolate, deep, expressive brown eyes and black hair like the deep of the night. She could barely walk down the streets of Mituka, the capitol city of Banda IV, without men throwing themselves at her.

Finally, the match was over. As Kumari stood to leave, her servants were immediately at her side, guiding her towards the exit. Kumari and the rest of the population assumed this was just another quaint little custom, but the truth of the matter was that the help was badly needed.

Princess Kumari was a world-class klutz. Her parents had started to worry when, at the age of five, she’d accidentally pushed a bowling ball down the front steps of the palace. One thing led to another, with the end result being a fifteen hover-car pile-up right in front of the royal estates. The final straw had been during a school tour, when she’d stumbled on a loose cord and started a chain reaction in a fusion reactor. (Luckily, the reactor had been shut down before the city could be destroyed.) Ever since, at least two servants had escorted her everywhere.

As the hover-limo drove them back to the palace, one servant withdrew a silver platter from a storage compartment. On it was an electronic message padd. Kumari reached for it, knocking over two bottles of seltzer water in the process in her eagerness.

“A message! What does it say?” she demanded.

“We cannot read it to you if you’re holding it, mi’lady,” one said.

“Oh, right,” she handed it over.

“Ms. Akavarti Kumari,” he read, “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted into Starfleet Academy,”

“Goody!” Kumari squealed, clapping her hands, “I’m going to the Academy!”

The servants exchanged glances.

“If I may be so bold, my lady,” one asked, “does your father know of your plans?”

“Oh, I’ll just tell Daddy, I’m vacationing on Earth,” Kumari said, waving one hand, “He’ll be totally oblivious!” She smiled, “Take me to the mall, I feel like celebrating!”


M’Kr’gr:


“Ah, Mr,” the interviewer squinted at his padd, “McGregor?”

“M’Kr’gr,” the large reptile seated at the desk corrected, “It is pronounced ‘Mm-ker-ger,”

“Sorry,” the interviewer said, looking nervously up at M’Kr’gr, “So many alien names, so little time to learn how to pronounce them. I’m Lieutenant Casoni.”

“I was told there was a problem with my application,” M’Kr’gr said bluntly.

“Er, yes,” the Bajoran13 man swallowed, “You see, we’ve never had a, um,” he consulted his padd again, “Parian14 apply to the Academy before,”

Put bluntly, M’Kr’gr resembled a talking velociraptor. Reptillian, with greenish-brown scales, blood-red eyes and a sharp ridge running from the center of his head down his neck, he was a terrifying sight. The tips of his fangs were clearly visible, even when his mouth was closed, and the tips of his razor-sharp claws gleamed from their fingertip sheaths. His tail was curled uncomfortably behind him, and the small chair he’d been forced to use kept his knees banging against the bottom of the table. He was slim for a Parian, with sharply defined muscles visible even through the tunic he wore. Slim for a Parian, however, was not slim for a human. He looked like he could break somebody in half without even giving it a second thought.

“Yes, you have,” M’Kr’gr growled, “Commander T’Parief is Parian, and has been in Starfleet for many years.

“Yes, I see on your application that you cited him as precedence,” Casoni said, swallowing again, “But, you see, Commander T’Parief was born on a Federation member planet. Also, he’s listed as Gorn/Klingon/Andorian hybrid, not as a Parian.”

“Things have changed,” M’Kr’gr said.

“Maybe so,” Casoni admitted, “But, you see, you weren’t born on a member planet. In fact, you birthplace is listed as,” the interviewer squinted at the application, “A moon base in a parallel universe. The Federation council is still debating whether or not to admit your current home planet to the Federation, and Starfleet is uneasy about admitting an officer who was genetically engineered without just cause,”

A low rumble started in the back of M’Kr’gr’s throat, a sign of rising anger.

“I’m sorry,” Casoni said firmly, “But you need a commissioned officer to sponsor you before we can even begin to think about letting you into the Academy. And then he’ll need to go in front of the admissions board and make a case for your entry. Do you know any officers who would be willing to-“

“I am willing to offer my life to Starfleet and the Federation,” M’Kr’gr said sharply, “And this bureaucratic nonsense is what I get in return?”

There was a knock at the door. Casoni sighed.

“Apparently, some people can’t read the ‘Interview in Progress - Do Not Disturb’ sign,” he said. He stood, then tapped the door control. Looking over his shoulder, M’Kr’gr could see the form of a tall, humanoid officer wearing the rank of Commander. The man had extremely pale skin and vibrant green eyes, making M’Kr’gr doubt he was human. He spoke softly, but M’Kr’gr couldn’t make out the words. He noticed M’Kr’gr’s gaze and smiled. M’Kr’gr was startled to see that the man had fangs! Smaller than M’Kr’gr’s, for sure, and carefully hidden. But they were there. M’Kr’gr had been studying Federation races and cultures for months, getting ready to apply to the Academy, but he didn’t recognize that man’s race at all. After speaking with Casoni for a few more minutes, he nodded at M’Kr’gr, then left.

“OK,” Casoni said, laying his padd down in front of M’Kr’gr, “Please initial here, sign here, and mark in today’s stardate,”

“Who was that?” M’Kr’gr demanded.

“That was your sponsoring officer,” Casoni said, as calmly as though he was announcing the weather, “He’s going in front of the admissions board this afternoon to argue your case, but I doubt you have anything to worry about.”

“What race is he?”

“Commander Noonan15?” Casoni raised an eyebrow, “Why, human, of course. Now, sign here, and we’ll have you at the Academy before you know it.”


Part Two: Arrival


Marc Malespere sat looking out the viewport at the clear, sunny day outside. He was seated in an ordinary, run-of the mill transport shuttle flying high over the west coast of North America. He’d already endured the fifteen minute flight over the Pacific Ocean from Russia, where they’d made their last pick-up. All in all, he wasn’t sure why he was being forced to spend four whole hours as a passenger while the damned shuttle flew all over the planet. Why couldn’t he have just beamed right to the Academy? The inter-continental transporter was a ten minute ride from his parent’s home in Marseille.

“Attention all passengers, this is your pilot speaking. We’ll be stopping in Calgary for a pickup before beginning the final leg of our trip to San Francisco. If you would please…”

Malespere payed no attention to the standard safety speech. The shuttle had already landed by the time the pilot got to the part about emergency exits for non-humanoid16 passengers. The hatch opened and three or four terrified looking youths made their way into the cabin. One of them, a very tall male with very short hair, took the seat next to Malespere.

“Hi,” the guy said, swallowing and nodding his head a bit nervously, “How’s it going? Nice weather today, huh?”

“It makes well,” Malespere agreed. The other guy looked at him oddly for a second, then continued speaking.

“So, you’re, like, on your way to the Academy, right?”

“I would not be coming in this travel if not,” Malespere said, trying to sound pleasant.

Again, the other guy stared at him.

Sighing, Malespere turned his Universal Translator17 back on. He’d been practicing his Standard18 for weeks now, but apparently he was still getting his words confused. Learning a new language was a pain in the ass!

“Sorry,” he said, his words making a hell of a lot more sense now that they were filtered through the translator, “I was just trying to work on my Standard.” He twisted awkwardly in his seat and offered his hand, “I’m Marc,”

“Archie,” the other guy said.

“Cool,”

They sat in silence for a few moments as the pilot guided the shuttle into a steep climb. They’d barely reached their sub-orbital cruising altitude when the shuttle began descending again.

Down both cramped sides of the shuttle, anxious young soon-to-be cadets started peering out the windows, trying to catch a glimpse of their soon-to-be-home.

“I hear the first month is brutal,” somebody behind them said, “I’ve heard they, like, tie you to the wall and poke you with pain-sticks19,”

“SNAP,” a spindly alien with black feathers agreed, “The Starfleet New Arrivals Program. I hear it was designed by Klingons,”

“I’ve heard they, like, make you run all the way to San Fransisco and back,” a girl with blond hair (and a bit too much makeup) added.

“I’ve heard they treat you like an animal,” a frightened looking Bolian20 boy gulped, “Nothing to eat but bread and water, and they beat you every time you speak,”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous,” another voice added, dripping with disdain, “Grow the hell up!”

Malespere and Bared turned to look at this latest speaker. He was tall and slim, with a green cast to his skin and deep bags under his eyes. His hair was mussed, his cloths were wrinkled and he gave off a definite sense of hostility.

“What happened to you?” Malespere demanded.

“A five day trip from Waystation happened to me, what the hell is it to you?” the other man snarled.

“Jeez, chill, man,” Malespere said, settling back into his seat.

“And if you look outside,” the pilot announced over the cabin intercom, “You’ll see that we’re coming up on San Francisco. To starboard, you’ll see Starfleet Command and the Admiralty. Starfleet Academy will be coming up to port shortly afterward.”

Malespere tried to look cool and nonchalant as the others, including Bahred and the grumpy, greenish fellow, started peering out the view ports. It really wasn’t a big deal, after all. He’d seen holograms of the Academy at the recruiting center. The real thing wouldn’t be much different.

“Home for the next four years,” the guy from Waystation mused out loud, rubbing his face tiredly as he looked down, “I’ve never even seen what the place looks like,”

“What?” one of the other passengers, a furred alien with vertical cat’s-eye pupils exclaimed, “How can you have never seen the Academy? Images? Holograms? A fwarking post-card?”

“Can’t say I really cared,” the guy said, “I mean, I was coming here no matter what, so what difference did it make?”

“Really?” the nervous Bolian spoke up again, “B-but, like, you didn’t want to find out about where you were going to live?”

The green man shrugged.

“I’ve moved a few times before,” he said, “I guess I’ve gotten used to it.” His tone again took on a note of disdain, “Not all of us are moving right out of mommy and daddy’s house, you know,”

Abashed, the Bolian slumped back in his seat.

“That’s stupid,” the blond girl said, evidently not willing to give up, “I like, totally read up on the place and everything. I wanted to find out who else was coming this year, but they wouldn’t tell me,”

“Why would you want to know that?” Bahred asked.

“Duh,” the girl said, looked at Bahred like he was an idiot, “Because we’re probably going to be living together for the next four years!”

“Whoop-dee-doo,” the greenish man said, spinning a finger around in the air before turning back to his viewport.

“You don’t have to be a jerk about it,” the girl pouted.

Malespere gulped. Four years. It suddenly seemed like such a long time. He looked around the shuttle, seeing each of the occupants in a new light. How many of these scared looking kids would be in his Sector? His Squad, even? If any of them were, then yes, they’d be living and working together very closely for at least four years. Even if they weren’t in his Sector, they were still in his class. He’d still be seeing them around the Academy. He wouldn’t mind having Bahred as a squad-mate, the guy seemed OK. But that blond girl was a ditz, and that guy from Waystation (Malespere noticed he looked somewhat older than the other passengers) sounded like he wasn’t the kind of guy Malespere wanted to be around.

Four years.

What was he getting himself into? He’d always considered himself to be well-traveled for his nineteen years, having traveled all over Earth in search for a new thrill, or a new adventure. But somehow, he’d rarely made it off-world. His parents had firmly believed that the Sol System21 should be more than enough for any human, and had actively discouraged him from traveling any further than Jupiter’s moons. Sure, he’d seen aliens around, who hadn’t? This was the 24th Century after all. But now he suddenly realized that he might have somebody like the furry-guy with the cats-eyes as a roommate.

His previous nonchalance forgotten, Malespere turned to peer out the viewport, his eyes scanning the countryside outside.

There it was.

As the shuttle arced past the gracefully curving Golden Gate bridge, Starfleet Academy came into view.

A single tower dominated the campus, its gleaming windows shining in the sunlight. Stretching over thirty storeys tall, the tapered spire thrust up from the ground like a finger pointing to the sky. Surrounding it were dozens of smaller buildings, ranging from tiny, four or five storey brick buildings to sprawling, modern, utilitarian complexes. Several large, grassy fields were evenly spaced around the perimeter of the campus, which was bordered on one side by San Francisco bay. The central tower was surrounded by what looked like formal gardens, with carefully laid out hedges, flower gardens, trees, shrubs and flowing water fountains, along with a thick ring of dark pavement. Trees grew in abundance around the buildings and along the streets, and several of the brick buildings were half-covered in flowing ivy. (Malespere had no idea whether or not San Fransisco was supposed to have ivy, but supposed it could have been brought in from elsewhere.) The shuttle slowly circled the campus, giving Malespere and the others plenty of time to soak in the details of their new home.

Malespere could see several tiny figures walking between the buildings. He noticed with surprise that they weren’t dressed in uniforms, but instead appeared to be wearing civilian cloths. Maybe because it was the weekend? There didn’t seem to be many cadets walking around at all.

As the shuttle finished its flyby, Malespere saw that the central tower had a docking complex about the third of the way up. To his surprise, the shuttle flew right past it, heading instead for a small landing field near the edge of the campus. As it came in for a landing, Malespere could see several uniformed cadets standing in a perfectly straight line. He realized with a jolt of excitement that this was probably the ‘welcoming committee’

“Now arriving at Starfleet Academy,” the pilot announced. For the first time, his voice lost its bored tone. In fact, Malespere was sure the man was fighting back a chuckle! “Good luck,” he said. Then, under his breath, “Dear God, are you ever going to need it,”

“Not exactly encouraging,” Bahred muttered nervously.

Malespere gulped.


Grabbing their bags (carry-on only, the large items had been sent through the planetary transporter system), the shuttle-load of soon-to-be-cadets nervously started to disembark.

“LET’S GO! GET A MOVE ON!”

Several of the passengers jumped in surprise as the sharp, female voice broke through the shuttle.

“WE DON’T HAVE ALL DAY!”

Slowly, but quicker than before, the shuttle emptied out.

“FORM UP!”

“Wha?” Bahred blinked.

Four or five of the shuttle passengers promptly started forming a line, standing with their backs straight and their hands behind their backs. Bared and Malespere looked at each other in confusion. They’d been told that once they arrived, they’d be sorted into their Sectors, but nobody had mentioned anything about this.

“I SAID FORM UP!” the speaker, a tiny, human female with dark hair was shouting, in a voice waaay out of proportion to her size, “That means you STAND IN A LINE AND YOU DON”T TALK!”

Slowly, the passengers complied.

The small human walked along the line, a look of disgust on her face. Further ahead, the other cadets Malespere had spotted were standing calmly, hands behind their backs. Several of them appeared to be suppressing grins, or their species’ equivalent method of expressing amusement.

Each of the cadets was dressed in a uniform that, quite frankly, Malespere could never have recalled seeing. He looked at the short human standing in front of them, noticing that she wore shiny black shoes, black pants with a thick red stripe up the side and burgundy tunics. Her collar was white, turtleneck-style. On each shoulder a metal rank insignia gleamed. A Starfleet comm-badge22 gleamed on the left breast. On her right arm was a round Federation emblem23, on the left was an image of Earth. A black line started at the center of her collar, then ran horizontally to her right shoulder before turning sharply and running down to her navel in sort of strange half-diamond. Malespere was wondering what the hell that was for when she suddenly tugged on her jacket. There was the sound of Velcro as the tunic parted along the black line, revealing a white underlining. Snapping the resulting flap into place, the female now sported a white diamond stretching from her shoulder down to the opposite hip24. It was, Malespere noted, a good look.

“Welcome,” she said, “To Starfleet Academy. Consider yourselves lucky; it’s the weekend. That means you have a day to settle in before the fun starts. I’m senior classman Burch, and I am the Cadet Executive Officer for the Academy. I’ll be dividing you into your Sectors. These cadets,” she motioned to the people standing behind her, “Are the Squad Leaders for the lower-classmen squads of your respective Sectors.” She glared at the small group. “Do you know what Squads and Sectors are?”

Several of them, including the group that had formed up immediately when told to, nodded yes. Others stared back blankly. The Bolian boy cringed.

Burch rolled her eyes.

“It didn’t even occur to you lazy good-for-nothings to do a bit of research on the place before you got here?” she snapped, apparently ignoring those who claimed to know. Nobody answered her, they simply stared. She gave a theatrical sigh.

“The Academy is divided into Sectors. Each Sector is named after a sector of space in the Federation. Sector 1 is the Terran Sector. Sector 2 is the Vulcan Sector, then you have Andorian Sector, Rigel Sector and so on. Just hope to God you don’t get stuck in Antares Sector.”

“Why?” the greenish man asked.

“DON’T TALK IN RANKS!” Burch snapped, eyes blazing, “Anyway, each Sector is divided in Squads, based on your year. But I suppose we have plenty of time to teach you all this fun stuff. Luckily, it’s not my job.” She motioned at the cadets standing behind her, “It’s theirs.” Let’s get this finished with, so I can get back to doing something important, shall we?”

She pulled a padd off of her belt.

“Ak’th’s’par,” she called, “Terran Sector.” Behind her, one of the squad leaders took a step forward. None of the shuttle passengers moved.

“And which of you is Ak’th’s’par?” Burch demanded.

“M-me,” the black-feathered alien spoke up.

“Then don’t just stand there,” Burch said, her voice taking on a dark, silky tone. “GET THE HELL OVER THERE!!!” she pointed at the squad leader, the silky tone lost as though somebody had suddenly twisted her volume knob.

Squealing in surprise, Ak’th’s’par grabbed its bag and hurried across the landing field.

“Bared…” Burch trailed off, and for the first time, Malespere could see genuine amusement on her face, “What, are you from a nudist colony or something?”

“It’s ‘Bah-red’, Bahred said nervously.

“I see. Antares Sector.” Burch said. She stared at Bahred for a moment. “Are you waiting for an engraved invitation?”

“Huh?”

“GET THE HELL OVER THERE!” screamed.

She turned back to her padd as Bahred scurried across the landing field.

“Civix, Rigel Sector. Derethensi, Vulcan Sector. Exoter, Altair Sector. Furgeson, Andorian Sector.” As she called the names the indicated people, having finally taken the hint, grabbed their bags and walked across the field.

“Malespere, Antares Sector,”

Malespere walked across the field, not sure if he should be relieved that he was going to be with Bahred, or worried that he was in the supposedly-dreaded Antares Sector. He was soon joined by Gallium, the nervous Bolian boy and Veksai, the greenish man. They stood in a line facing a shorter, bald man. He stood ram-rod straight and was dressed identically to Burch, with the exception of the left arm. Where Burch had an image of Earth at the top of her sleeve, this cadet had a different planet.

“I am senior-classman Mecablox,” he said, a strange accent colouring his words, “I will be your Squad Leader for SNAP, and for the remainder of the first term. Pick up your bags, I will march you to our Sector Lines.” He paused, then frowned at them.

“You do know how to march, right?”

They stared blankly back at him.

Mecablox sighed.

“Just swing your arms and keep your elbows straight. Follow me,”

He started leading them deeper into the campus.

“We will be living in Fort Pike,” he said, “It is not the best, but it is home. You will be in Brute Squad, the Antares Sector lower-classmen squad,”

There was a groan from behind Malespere. It was the Gallium, the Bolian boy.”

“You know what he’s talking about?” Malespere asked softly.

“My secondary sister graduated from the Academy last year,” Gallium said, “She said ‘Whatever you do, don’t end up in Fort Pike25’!”

“Did she say why-“ Malespere started to ask.

“Don’t talk in rank,” Mecablox said calmly.

Malespere shut up. Well, he mused, at least this guy is more polite about it. That’s a good sign.

Further back in the line, Veksai was thinking the exact opposite. He didn’t know squat about SNAP, or the Sectors, or how things were done at the Academy. But he did know that Mecablox’s calm attitude was probably not a good thing. Burch had probably been harsh because she’d only be with the new arrivals for a very short time. Mecablox, on the other hand, would be with them for a while, and Veksai was willing to bet that his ‘Mr. Nice-Guy’ personae would be ending when the weekend did.

As they walked down the tree-lined street, Mecablox took a left turn, leading them to one of the ivy-coated brick buildings.

“So we’re like, not living in that tower?” Bahred asked, pointing at the central building that dominated the Academy campus.

“In Khitomer Building?” Mecablox shook his head, “No. Lower-classmen are only permitted inside Khitomer Building or ‘Spire’, as we sometimes call it, for classes during SNAP. Khitomer Building is primarily comprised of administrative offices, laboratories and classrooms. You will not live there, even after SNAP. Fort Pike is…adequate.”

The building they were approaching was a four-story, circular affair. Rows of windows glinted in the sunlight. Mecablox led them under an archway into a circular courtyard inside the building. As they walked across it to the double entrance doors, Veksaid and Malespere noticed several pieces of debris littering the courtyard: A chunk of stone that had fallen off the roof of the building, an outer panel from a window and a few chunks of unidentifiable piping. As they approached the doors, only one of the two panels slid out of the way. Mecablox deftly slid through the opening, while the cadet right behind him banged his shoulder on the broken panel. Inside the small foyer, several broken pieces of furniture were piled against one wall. The stone walls were scuffed, some of the lighting panels were flickering and an ‘Out of Order’ sign hung on the turbolift26. Veksai looked around at the devastation, and wondered if this was a test of some kind, or if Starfleet actually intended for them to live in this hellhole.

“We’ll be living on the first floor,” Mecablox said, guiding the group down into a curved corridor with several doors leading off both sides. The doors were as scuffed as the rest of the corridor, and each had two small signs. Veksai wasn’t surprised when he saw Gallium’s name on the first set of doors. Obviously the Academy had had ample time to prepare for them.

So why couldn’t they fix up the damned building?

“Find your rooms,” Mecablox said, “You have some time to settle in before dinner. I will give you half an hour, then we will meet and I will show you where the dining hall is,”

“Uh, which room is ours?” Gallium asked.

“They’re labelled,” Veksai grunted, pointing, “Just find the one with your name on it. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve been stuck on various transports for the past five days, and I need a shower,”

He took a few steps down the hall and quickly found a room that had his name on it, along with the name ‘Nuhvill’. He strode forward, expecting the doors to slide open. He was somewhat surprised when instead, he hit them face first, flattening his nose.27

“Ooops,” Mecablox said calmly as Veksai cursed, “I almost forgot,” he stepped over to a large control panel set into the wall. He removed a cover, then pulled an isolinear chip28 from his pocket and slid it into one of the slots, “The doors will work now,”

“Almost forgot?” Veksai snapped, “You DID forget!”

“I suggest you adjust that attitude before the weekend ends,” Mecablox calmly advised him.

Veksai just glared.

“We’re roommates, huh?” Bahred said to Malespere, noticing that their names were both on the door to one of the rooms,”

“Sweet,” Malespere replied.

“Well,” Gallium said, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve gotta use the little blue boys room,”

“Down the hall, to your left,” Mecablox said calmly.

He’d taken no more than half a dozen paces when, with a groan, the floor beneath him abruptly gave way. There was a crash and a surprised yelp as Gallium disappeared from view, replaced by a cloud of dust. The others quickly rushed over, peering over the edge of the hole into the basement below.

“Are you broken?” Mecablox asked, not really sounding like he cared one way or another.

“Mommy, can I have some chocolates?” Gallium groaned.

“He must have hit his head,” Bahred said, sounding worried.

“I’ll get him,” Malespere said, positioning himself at the edge of the hole, “I do a lot of climbing, this’ll be a snap,”

“Uh,” Veksai tried interrupted.

“No man, it’s cool,” Malespere shushed him, “Let’s do this! Our man’s down, and we’re gonna go down there and f**king do this!”

“But-“

Ignoring him, Malespere started lowing himself into the hole. Beneath him, Gallium was mumbling something about candy-coated Titanic propellers.

“Don’t just stand there,” Mecablox said, watching as Malesphere dangled from his fingertips, “Help him!”

With a sign, Veksai opened the door labelled ‘Stairs’, which he had been trying to bring to Malespere’s attention, and walked down.

He found Malespere hunched over Gallium, helping the Bolian to his feet.

“He’s fine,” he assured Veksai, “Just a bit shaken up, right big guy?”

“Happy exacto-blade tree reactor,” Gallium mumbled.

“Atta-boy!” Malespere slapped him on the back, onto to have to lunge forward to keep him from falling over, “Hey, how did you get down here anyway?”

Veksai, already irritated from lack of sleep, just gave Malespere a dark look, then started leading Gallium up the stairs. The French cadet was about to follow when he heard something.

“Hello?” he asked, turning away from the stairs and peering into the gloomy basement, “Is somebody there?”

Another sound: Not quite a growl, not quite a breath. But there.

Slowly following the noise, Malespere found himself facing a battered, hinge-style door. The noise was coming from directly behind it.

“Hello?” he called again, pushing the door open. A large shape was hunched in one corner. There was an intake of breath, then Malespere saw a pair of deep-red eyes open directly in front of him.

“Oh shit,” he muttered.


“What is taking Mr. Malespere so long?” Mecablox mused as he placed a ‘caution’ sign next to the gaping hole in the floor. Veksai had led Gallium to his room to recover, and was currently in the midst of a sneezing fit due to the large amount of dust. Bahred was peering down into the hole.

There was a high-pitched scream, then the sound of running footsteps. Seconds later, Malespere burst out of the stairwell.

“RUN!” he screamed, bolting for the exit, eyes wide with terror, “IT’S BIG, AND IT’S GOT TEETH!”

Bahred looked up.

“Wha?” he asked, staring dumbly in the direction Malespere had gone. He looked back to the stairwell, took about half a second to look at the scaled, fanged and clawed creature that had followed Malespere up, screamed, and then took off running after Malespere.

Mecablox turned to face the newcomer.

“Mr. M’Kr’gr,” Mecablox said, “What were you doing in the basement?”

The six-and-a-half foot reptile turned to regard Mecablox.

“It was suggested that I might find the damp corners more comfortable,” he replied, his fangs glinting in the light. .

“That area is out-of-bounds,” Mecablox said, “Do not go there again,”

“Very well,” M’Kr’gr bowed slightly.

“Good. Now go bring back Mr. Malespere and Mr. Bahred.”

As M’Kr’gr turned to go, Mecablox looked around quickly. Gallium was lying on his bunk rubbing his head. The other members of his squad either had not arrived or were out enjoying their last weekend of freedom. Veksai was now in his new room, making a vain effort to clean out the dust and cobwebs. Assured for the moment that all was well, he walked down the corridor, carefully skirting past the new hole. In moments, he’d reached the Fort Pike Security Office, a grungy room with a communications and surveillance panel. He was utterly unsurprised to find Buhras Adi and Vexnar, two of his Team Leaders, huddled over the panel and watching the security feed from the Brute Squad hallway. Buhras, a Bajoran female, was laughing uproariously while Vexnar, an Andorian29 male, bared his teeth in amusement.

“So you were the ones who told M’Kr’gr to hide in the basement?” Mecablox demanded.

“That was awesome!” Buhras laughed, hitting the ‘replay’ button, then pointing at the look of sheer terror on Malespere’s face as he raced out of the building. Vexnar said nothing.

“You could have hurt Gallium,” Mecablox said.

“I think not,” Vexnar said, his dry voice deceptively soft, “The floor-“

“Should have been repaired,” Mecablox said, “Would you want to injure one of your cadets before SNAP even started?”

“It wouldn’t be anything the Infirmary couldn’t fix,” Buhras objected.

“Unless the cadet was very lucky,” Vexnar hissed.

“Don’t be silly,” Buhras said, “Falling and breaking your neck isn’t an honourable death!” She frowned, then turned back to look at the Andorian, “Is it?”

“I will have to check my ‘75,000 Ways to Die Horribly’ handbook,” Vexnar said, unconsciously rubbing one of the two antennas that sprouted from his head, “But I think not, no,”

Mecablox put his hands on his hips.

“We have enough ways to make them miserable,” he said, “Don’t do anything stupid! The idea is to wear them down and wear them out, not to kill them!”

Vexnar started to raise his hand.

“And no, we will NOT be driving them to commit ritual suicide!” Mexablox added firmly.

“But-“

“NO!”

“Just one?” Vexnar whined.

Mecablox turned to go, shaking his head.

“Leave them alone for now,” he said, “Monday morning, they are all yours,”


Shortly thereafter, Mecablox was leading the group down the street that led to the dining hall. Malespere and Bahred had calmed down, but were still casting nervous glances in M’Kr’gr’s direction. Veksai was trying to simultaneously march and brush dust off his cloths. Every now and then he’d reach ahead to nudge Gallium back on course, as the dazed Bolian kept veering to the right like a alcoholic veering towards a liquor store. They’d been joined by two more cadets as they left Fort Pike, but Mecablox wasn’t allowing them to speak during the walk.

They were trying to listen as Mecablox droned on about the different buildings they were passing. They’d passed many more dormitories, all of them appearing to be in better condition than Fort Pike. Near the base of the Spire, they found the Junior Years Dining Hall. Mecablox led them inside. Malespere and Veksai looked around, noting the wood paneling in the walls, the solid oak tables and the framed images of various starships30 hanging on the walls.

“Nice place,” Bahred commented.

“This is, like, so totally sweet,” Malespere said, rubbing his hands together and looking like a kid who’d just walked into a candy store.

Mecablox led them through the mostly-empty tables to a bank of replicators31 located on the rear wall.

“Food time!” Malespere said. He walked up to one replicator.

“I want chicken breast in a white wine sauce, a little field rice, easy on the ginger, Caesar salad and a chocolate protein shake,” he ordered.

Nothing happened.

“Lower-classmen have a limited menu,” Mecablox explained calmly. He showed Malespere how to access the daily menu listing.

“Aw, man, you gotta be kidding me!” Malespere groaned as he looked over the very, very limited menu.

“Whatever,” Veksai said, walking up to the next replicator and tapping away, “I just want to eat and go to bed,”

They quickly obtained their meals and found a table.

“Once you finish your second year, you will be permitted into the Senior Years Dining Hall,” Mecablox said calmly, “They have a wider selection. Enjoy,”

He walked away, taking a table near the door.

“I’m Dylan,” one of the new cadets introduced himself, “Dylan Baxter. I got here yesterday, easy trip. Just been chillin’, y’know, takin’ it easy before SNAP,”

The rest of the cadets introduced themselves.

“What the heck’s wrong with you, anyway?” Baxter asked Veksai, “Yer like, all green and pale. Did you, like, get really airsick on the way over?”

“I’m half Orion,” Veksai said.

“Orion,” M’Kr’gr said, looking thoughtful, “A race of thieving pirates. Violent, aggressive and likely to stab unsuspecting victims in the back,” he extended a hand to Veksai, “It is a pleasure to meet you,”

“Thanks,” Veksai said dully, “And we’re not all thieving pirates you know. Just like all Italians aren’t mobsters,”

“I love O’Ryan’s,” Baxter said happily, trying to fit into the conversation, “That bar’s got the best beer and wing night in town! That’s what happened, you had too much beer?”

Everybody stared at Baxter for a moment.

“That is the stupidest thing I’ve heard anybody say,” Veksai said.

“Yeah, well, your mother wears Klingon boots!” Baxter giggled.

“I stand corrected,” Veksai muttered.

“And you?” Malespere asked, turning to the last member of their party, a tiny female cadet with skin the colour of chocolate, “Who are you?”

“We,” she said, somewhat imperiously, “are Princess Akavarti Kunami, First Princess and heir to the throne of Banda IV,”

“Huh?” Baxter looked over at her, “I only see one of you. What’s with the ‘we’?”

“It is customary for those of us with royal blood to refer to ourselves in plural,”

She looked around for a moment, noting the unimpressed looks on Veksai and M’Kr’gr’s faces, the baffled expressions on Bahred and Malespere’s faces and the look of complete and total confusion on Baxter’s.

“OK, forget it,” she said, stabbing her fork into her food, “I’m a princess, goody for me, la-dee-da. Can we move on to the next part of the conversation?” She’d failed to notice that her violent fork thrust had sent a piece of potato skin onto the floor.

“Uh, sure,” Bahred said.

The six cadets sat in silence for a moment.

“Perhaps one of you could explain this SNAP thing to me,” Veksai said finally.

“You, like, don’t know about SNAP?” Baxter’s eyes widened ever more, “F**k, man! It’s like, the hardest part of this whole Academy thing! They’re gonna, like, put us right through hell! We’re gonna be running, and doing push-ups, and getting inspected. Oh, and then there’s the Survival Challenge,”

“How do you know so much about this?” Malespere frowned.

“My father’s brother’s cousin’s…” Baxter trailed off, “Well, a relative of mine anyway is a starship captain. He told me all about SNAP,”

“Whatever it is, we’re TOTALLY gonna ROCK IT!” Malespere said, slamming a fist on the table.

“Uh-huh,” Veksai said, looking doubtful, “What ship?”

“What do you mean, what ship?” Baxter asked.

“What ship does your relative command, you twit!”

“The USS Explorer!” Baxter said proudly.

Veksai laughed, nearly choking on a piece of lasagne.

“What’s so funny?”

“I used to live on Waystation,” he said.

Baxter looked at him blankly.

“A space station. Near the Multek32 border.”

Blank stares.

“The Explorer’s been there a few times,” Veksai explained, “Anytime they visit, their security chief trashes at least one restaurant, their telepath probes our minds like there’s no tomorrow, their operations officer hides behind the potted plants in the mall and their chief engineer breaks somebody’s nose. Oh, and their doctor nearly killed Waystation’s security chief once.” He chuckled, “They’re ever worse than that Silverado bunch,”

Baxter still had that blank look on his face.

“So?” he finally demanded.

“Your relative commands a ship of idiots!” Veksai said sharply.

“You’re an idiot!” Baxter shot back.

“No, YOU’RE an idiot!”

“YOU’RE the idiot!”

“I take it you are all finished?”

Heads turned to find Mecablox standing at the head of the table,”

“Actually-“ Malespere started.

“I’m hearing a lot of loud conversation from this table. It sounds to me like you’re finished eating,” Mecablox said firmly, “Let’s go,”

“But we’re not finished eating,” Kumari objected. She’d barely touched her replicated samosa, “And this replicated food is…is…”

“Perfectly acceptable,” Mecablox cut her off, “Come. Now.”

The cadets exchanged glances.

“Do not make me tell you again,” Mecablox said calmly.

Grumbling, the six started carrying their trays to the reclamators33. They’d barely made it two steps with Kumari’s foot shot out from under her. A potato skin went whizzing through the air as she fell back, losing her grip on her tray. Uneaten food items flew in all directions, peppering Kumari and the surrounding cadets.

“Oopsies,” she groaned, lying flat on the floor.


The remainder of the evening was relatively uneventful. Veksai managed to cleanse the dust from his room, only to have a fresh cloud waft in the door when Malespere and M’Kr’gr started a competition to see who could do the most push-ups. Kumari and Bahred started watching a ‘Days of Honour’34 re-run on a vidscreen35 in one of the rooms. Finally, they drifted off to their own rooms.

The next morning was equally quiet. Mecablox again walked them to the dining hall for breakfast, then lunch. In the afternoon, more shuttles loaded with cadets started arriving, turning the airspace around the Academy into a maelstrom of darting shuttlecraft. Unlike the earlier shuttle, which had primarily carried cadets from across the planet, these shuttles were coming down from Spacedock, the huge space station in Earth orbit. Cadets from across the Federation were pouring into the Academy. Mecablox left several times, returning each time with more scared-looking cadets. Looking out one of the windows, Gallium and Kumari saw that dozens of uniformed squad commanders were leading new arrivals to their various Sectors. By the time evening rolled around again, Brute Squad was over twenty cadets strong.

“Everybody outside!” Mecablox called out loudly, walking through the corridor and deftly avoiding the hole in the floor, “Let’s get a move on!”

Exchanging confused glances, the cadets trudged their way out of their rooms and started towards the exit. Malespere found himself walking between Bahred and a tall, slim Centaurian. The younger boy had introduced himself earlier, but Malespere couldn’t remember even half of the newarrivals. There was some half-hearted chatter, but most of the new arrivals were too tired from their trips (and respective time-zone changes) to say much.

Once outside, Mecablox led them out of the circular courtyard and onto a side path that led towards the bay. Waiting were three cadets, each wearing the same burgundy tunic as Mecablox.

“Look,” Mecablox pointed. The new arrivals followed his gaze and found themselves looking across the bay at the city of San Fransisco. The sun had set, and the lights of the city were reflecting off the water. “Do you know what is happening over there right now?”

“Wing night at O’Ryan’s?” Baxter asked. One of the uniformed cadets, an Andorian, sneered.

“Yes, actually,” Mecablox said, “Wing night at O’Ryan’s, a concert at the Vulcan Embassy, and dozens of others events. Federations citizens are living their lives in peace and security. They are enjoying their lives, leisure activities, sleeping in and all the enjoyable things that come with being a civilian. And why?”

“Because of the very large fleet of starships defending them?” Kumari ventured.

“Because of the people on those ships,” Mecablox said, “Men and women who are dedicating their lives to the peaceful exploration of space, and to the defence of the Federation. You are here because, for whatever reason, you’ve decided you want to leave the cushy civilian life and join them. Whether or not you actually will depends on your success at the Academy,”

The new cadets were watching Mecablox carefully, paying close attention.

“You will have classes, lectures and theory along with laboratory and hands-on experience. You will be trained in the arts and the sciences, but you will also be trained in tactics and leadership. You will have athletic training and combat training.”

“Combat?” Kumari asked, “But I thought Starfleet wasn’t a military organization?”

Again, the Andorian cadet sneered at her, but Mecablox nodded.

“Ms. Kumari is right. Starfleet’s primary purpose is exploration and diplomacy. But it is also charged with defence. It is a paramilitary organization, and you must be able to fight if necessary,”

“This is going to be the busiest time of your lives,” Mecablox went on, “But if you succeed, you will look back on it as one of the best. The first stage of your training, SNAP, starts tomorrow.”

Veksai, who had been starting to grow a bit impatient with the rhetoric, perked up.

“The Starfleet New Arrivals Program is designed to teach you the skills you will need at the Academy. You will be put through physical and mental trials that will test your limits. At the end of SNAP is the Survival Challenge, after which you will officially be welcomed into the Academy.”

Mecablox stepped to the side, gesturing to the three uniformed cadets as he did.

“Meet your Team Leaders. This is mid-classman Buhras,” he said, introducing a dark-haired Bajoran woman, “She will be leading Team 3. Mid-classman Vexnar,” the Andorian male stepped forward, “is Team Leader of Team 2. And mid-classman Kethnor, who will be leading Team 1,”

The third cadet had been standing in the shadows, and as he stepped forward, Malespere was amazed to see that he was a Klingon. He was also a lot shorter than the Klingons he’d seen on the vidscreen. A LOT shorter. Gallium gulped, noticing Kethnor’s jagged teeth and ridged forehead. Kumari took an involuntary step back and M’kr’gr bared his fangs.

“These three will be leading you through SNAP,” Mecablox said, “You will follow their instructions exactly. But remember, they are here to test your limits,”

He took one more look around at the gathered cadets.

“We start first thing tomorrow morning. Go to bed, you need your rest,”

Taking one last look at the city, the cadets followed him back towards Fort Pike.

“They have no idea what’s in store for them, do they?” Buhras giggled.

“They do not,” Kethnor grinned darkly.

“I will enjoy showing them,” Vexnar said, cracking his knuckles.


Next: When it rains, it pours! Can Malespere, Bahred, Kumari and the others survive the first week of SNAP? What do Kethnor, Buhras and Vexnar have in store for them? Find out in Star Traks: Crash Course 1.2 - ‘No Pain, No Gain’



  1. USS Explorer - Flagship of the Explorer project and one of many ‘ships of rejects’ (Star Traks: The Vexed Generation) 

  2. Comm-badge - The 24th equivalent of a cell phone. 

  3. It’s messy. Don’t ask. 

  4. The original ‘ship of rejects’, originally commanded by Captain Alexander Rydell. (Star Traks: The Original Series) 

  5. A space station commanded by Captain Lisa Beck. Waystation is home to the Dillon Enterprises HQ, a Starfleet Academy Annex and the horniest officer in the fleet: Sean Russell. (Star Traks: Waystation) 

  6. The USS Banshee, another ‘ship of rejects’ is listed as destroyed. In reality, the crew faked the ship’s destruction to join Section 31, the Federations ultra-secret service. (Star Traks: Banshee) 

  7. The USS Silverado, yet another ‘ship of rejects’, is the flagship of ‘Operation Salvage’, a project that recycles old and decommissioned starships. (Star Traks: Silverado) 

  8. McBaughb’s - An Andorian fast-food chain. Spleen pie is a specialty. 

  9. Orbital skydiving. It’s like skydiving, only from a spaceship. Dress warmly. 

  10. PADD - Personal Access Display Device. The 24th century version of a PDA. 

  11. Velvattian slime is actually harmless, has a pleasant scent and completely evaporates after a few minutes. If Bahred would actually get out of the shower instead of staying wet, it would quickly vanish. Idiot. 

  12. Dilithium - A rare crystal required for faster-than-light propulsion. 

  13. Bajorans - A highly religious race, characterized by a ridge on the bridge of their nose. Mostly featured in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. 

  14. Parians - A race of genetically engineered aliens created by a Gorn named Slezar. A blend of Klingons, Gorn and Andorian, the project that created the Parians was disguised as an attempt to allow Slezar and his wife to have a child. Their child, T’Parief, serves aboard the USS Silverado, and was unaware that he was the prototype for an entirely new race until Slezar used him and the Silverado crew to bring his plans to fruition. (Star Traks: Silverado - Season 2, Stories 2.7, 2.8, 2.15, 2.16, 2.17, 2.18 and 2.19) 

  15. Commander Matthew Noonan - Served as first officer aboard the USS Silverado for nearly three years before returning to Earth to pursue other endeavours. Noonan’s strange appearance and abilities caused more than a bit of friction between himself and his crewmates, eventually leading to his decision to leave the ship. (Star Traks: Silverado - Season 3, Stories 3.12 and 3.14) 

  16. Non-humanoid - Humanoid refers to a being with the same overall shape as a human being. Non-humanoid would refer to beings that differ greatly, such as blobs of slime, giant insects or Cher. 

  17. Universal Translator - A device that instantaneously translates languages, making it appear that the speaker is in fact speaking in your native tounge. 

  18. Standard - The predominant language spoken in the Federation. Chosen for its relative simplicity, most member races use it as a second language, at the very least. Universal Translators, however, have made all but eliminated a need for a common language. (Unless the damned things are broken.) 

  19. Pain-sticks - A Klingon device used in numerous rituals and ceremonies, pain-sticks use energy surges to generate intense pain. Think of cattle-prods, only for people. 

  20. Bolians - A race characterized by blue skin, nose ridges, baldness and a slight obsession with Earth. 

  21. Terran System - The solar system containing Earth. 

  22. Comm-badge - A communications device. Once a flip-style gadget similar to cell phones, current communications devices are built into a badge that is worn on the chest. 

  23. The Federation Emblem - A blue circle filled with stars. Three stars are larger than the rest, representing Earth, Vulcan and Andor as founding members of the Federation. The circle is surrounded by two wreaths. 

  24. This style of uniform was seen in several of the Star Trek motion pictures, from 2 to 6. 

  25. Christopher Pike commanded the USS Enterprise in the first Star Trek pilot, ‘The Cage’. He was replaced by James Kirk in the second pilot. I don’t remember what that one was called…knowing the first one makes me enough of a nerd as it is. 

  26. Turbolift - A high-tech elevator. Turbolifts can travel in any direction and are used for provide rapid transit inside starships, space stations and large buildings. The one in Fort Pike however, only goes up and down. Or it would, if it wasn’t busted. 

  27. Science-fiction type doors usually open automatically, and can magically sense when somebody is planning to enter a room as opposed to walking by. (Actually a group of rebellious door AIs once tried to take over the USS Secondprise, but that’s a different story.) When the doors don’t work, people usually end up with nosebleeds. If, that is, they are a species that include noses as part of their anatomy. 

  28. Isolinear Optical Chip - A component of Federation technology. They’re actually a LOT like USB keys, in that they store data and fit into universal slots. Strange, considering Star Trek had Isolinear Chips about 15 years before USB keys were invented. 

  29. Andorians - One of those Star Trek races that were mentioned a lot, but never really explored. Andorians have blue skin, white hair and a funny pair of antennae-things sticking out of their heads. Anthony Butler did a hilarious job of making Andorians a delightfully violent race in his Vexed Generation stories. He wrote them as being warlike, always in the mood for a good fight and ready for ritual suicide at the drop of a hat. In Anthony’s world, Andorians send assassins the way humans send greeting cards. I really prefer Anthony’s idea of Andorians compared to the s**t that Star Trek: Enterprise tried to develop. 

  30. Starship - Like a space ship, only cooler. 

  31. Replicators - Fabrication devices. Replicators alter the bonds between atoms, converting a sludge-like paste into food, clothing, equipment or almost anything else you could imagine. Results may vary. 

  32. Multeks - Oh geez. I don’t even know how to explain this one. They hated aliens a lot, and used to pretend to fire weapons at imaginary ships that were actually real. If you really want to know, read the Star Traks Waystation Premier: ‘In-the-Way Station’. 

  33. Reclamators - Sometimes called recyclers or matter reclaimation units. Basically, the reverse of replicators, these devices manipulate the atomic bonds between molecules, converting objects into the sludge used by replicators. 

  34. Days of Honour - A Klingon soap opera. People get stabbed, sometimes gutted. Creation credit for this one goes to Anthony Butler and/or Alan Decker. I forget, really. 

  35. Vidscreen - Combination television and computer display. If you needed that explained, maybe science-fiction isn’t for you.