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.) (But maybe it is.)

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2009

Starfleet Academy: Bastion of learning. A place where future officers came to work, bond, learn and strive to reach their potential.

But who gives a rat’s ass? Really?

In an organization that spans hundreds of planets spread over thousands of light-years, a single institution is really nothing more than a miniscule speck, a needle in a haystack, a rock in a field. With the need to provide hundreds of thousands of officers on thousands of ships, space stations and planetary bases, it was impractical (and impossible) for a single training facility to meet the demand. Not to mention how much it would suck to spend a year traveling to school, then another year travelling back.1

As a result, most of the Federation citizens who became Starfleet officers did so at a Starfleet Academy Annex: education centers spread across over a dozen planets and starbases that, according to them, provided the same quality education provided by the original Academy on Earth. Of course, any officer that had attended the ‘real’ Academy holds that the Academy on Earth was naturally superior. Conversely, any officer that attended an Annex holds that graduates of the ‘real’ Academy are stuck-up snobs.2

So you’ve got hundreds of thousands of officers, many of whom have never even stepped foot on Earth. When you consider the trillions of sentient beings in the Federation, you’re right back down to the needle in the haystack.

So, in the end, who really cares about Starfleet Academy?

If you ask somebody with power and/or wealth, somebody like the Dillons or the Simms of the galaxy, they’d scoff, give you a pitying look and reply “That’s where the poor kids who couldn’t get into Harvord, Oxford or the Vulcan Science Academy go.” If you asked the average citizen on the street, they’d probably give you a blank look, then realize “Oh yeah, I guess they have to train all those people somewhere.” And, of course, you’d have the anti-military, anti-government types who would hand you a flyer and say something like “Peace, man. We don’t need giant ships full of weapons. Just spread the love.” You could try pointing out that Starfleet’s mission was exploration, but the attention span of the average stoned hippie probably wouldn’t last long enough.

The answer then, is that not a lot of people really give a damn. On the other hand, scattered around the core Federation worlds, millions of young students were in the process of wrapping up their final year of primary education, either at an Earth High School, a Vulcan Training Sphere or an Andorian Battle-School Arena. Of the thousands of students actually planning to enter Starfleet, a fraction would find their way onto the Academy grounds come the following September, Earth time.

Little did they know, events were already being put into play that would drastically effect their first semester at the Academy.


Starfleet Academy: Fort Pike


January


Akavarti Kumari was just about on top of the world. She’d returned home from a great holiday on Banda IV about a week ago. Her parents, the ruling couple, had finally stopped flat out suggesting that she should come home and find a nice Indian man to marry, like any good princess should. Now they were down to subtly hinting. Her boyfriend, Cadet Ross, had been waiting for her at the San Francisco Transporter Terminal, and her transcripts showed that she’d passed all of her exams from the following year.

The petite dark-skinned girl was just in the process of tying her long, flowing black hair into the requisite Starfleet Bun when there was a knock on her door.

“Heeeeyyy girl! What’s up!” Marc Malespere came in, arms in the air. Archie Bahred, his best bud, was right behind him. Slimmer and more wiry than the stocky Malespere, Bahred was also from Earth. The three of them had become nearly inseparable during their first year at the Academy.

“Hey, Kumari, are you almost ready to…oh…hi,” this was Steven Veksai, Kumari’s half-human, half-Orion neighbour. He gave Malespere a cold look, then greeted Bahred. Malespere ignored him and started walking down the hall, in the direction of the first morning’s class. Kumari didn’t know what had happened between Malespere and Veksai during the last semester, but the two had definitely had a falling out of some kind. She and Bahred still got along with him well enough, though as the first semester of second year had progressed he’d started spending more time with Igor, Gallium, Fastocheni and some of his computer engineering classmates that Kumari didn’t know.

Well, whatever.

As they exited Fort Pike and started walking towards Khitomer Building, the main academic building, they were joined by several of the Antares Sector lower-classmen.

“So, did you guys hear they’re not mixing the lowers in with everybody else this year?” Aned Labal, a bulky Bolian boy asked.

“Yeah, they’re keeping us all trapped in our own little corridor,” Jefth B’Kar added. Nobody was really sure what species B’Kar was, but he looked vaguely like a human crossed with a monkey. Wronski, the third lower in the group, said nothing. (As usual.)

“That’s a dumb idea,” Malespere said, “We totally fit in way better after they moved us into the other Squads,”

“Totally,” Bahred agreed.

“I agree,” Veksai nodded.

“At least you guys get to be Brute Squad for another semester,” Kumari shrugged.

“Oh yeah,” Labal scoffed, “Cuz the first semester was such a piece of pie,”

“Cake,” Bahred corrected.

“There are advantages to keeping you guys in one squad though,” Veksai mused.

“Oh yeah?” B’Kar asked, “What’s that, Mr. Veksai?”

Veksai grimaced. He hated being called ‘Mister’. I just made him feel so…old.

“It means,” he said coolly, “the rest of the Sector has easy access to slave labour,”

Kumari and the other junior-classmen found that amusing. The lowers, not so much.


Another semester, another course load. At this point the start of a semester had passed ‘routine’ and was bordering on ‘mundane’. Their classes were all pre-assigned based on their majors and their career paths. The timetables were processed by the computer and appeared automatically on the Academy InfoNet and each class was introduced basically the same way. ‘Hi, I’m Professor <Insert Name> and this term we’ll be learning…’

On the more Starfleet side of things, life was a bit more exciting. Senior-classman Ahnk had taken over Buhras’ position as Sector Leader. All the pip positions had changed for the semester, with the exception of Veksai, who held onto the Technology Officer position for the simple reason that none of the other junior-classmen had the skills or desire to take the job. With all the leadership changes, it was really no surprise that Ahnk called a Sector meeting while they were still in the first week of classes.

“Welcome back everybody,” the Asian-looking girl said warmly, “I’m sure you all know me, I’m senior-classmen Ahnk,”

“I’m positive I’ve never seen her before,” Veksai frowned.

“That’s because you don’t get out enough,” Kumari whispered back.

“Have you SEEN my course load this semester???”

Senior-classmen Noig gave him a poke and he clammed up.

“So, priorities for this year,” Ahnk was saying, “First, we need to make sure all the loose ends are tied up for the graduating senior-classmen-“

“Oh yeah!” senior Solaris cheered.

“Second, we need to address the Sector morale problem,”

Suddenly, she was again the center of attention.

“Look, I know it’s no secret that our…reputation has taken a bit of a dive lately,” Ahnk said, “Lower- and junior-classmen, this is a bit before your time. But we’ve had a couple of bad years. Now, the new pipmen have been trying to puzzle this one out. Our performance academically has been good, our lowers came in third in the survival challenge, and our intramural teams are holding a healthy average.”

“But there have been things said in the Sector lines, things that have happened and comments made to other Sectors that have been pointing to a serious problem: A lot of people in Antares Sector have a very low opinion of Antares. And we need to correct this.”

Ahnk was now looking out at them gravely.

“So, the Sector seniors and I are going to be working on ways to boost Sector moral, but we put it out to all of you: If you have problems or issues with somebody in the Sector, or with the way the Sector is run, bring it up to us. Don’t just let it fester. If you have ideas for boosting Sector moral, pass them to O’Denth. Any questions?”

“I’d like to make a comment, Ms. Ahnk.”

Heads snapped towards the door and more than a few spines stiffened when the cadets saw that Lt. Wellington was standing in the door.

“Sir!” Ahnk snapped to attention, “Please,”

Wellington walked into the room. A pleasant human (or human-like alien) in his mid-thirties, Wellington had been the Antares Sector Commander for nearly two years and was looking forward to getting back into space.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “As I’m sure you noticed, I wasn’t around much last semester. A lot of things slipped past my attention, and I wasn’t there to give senior-classmen Buhras the support she needed. I want to apologize to all of your for not giving you my full attention.”

Veksai, M’kr’gr, Fastocheni and Gallium exchanged uncomfortable looks. They’d not only noticed Wellington’s absence and near-depression, they’d gone snooping into the Lieutenant’s business just enough to find out that it’d had something to do with his daughter…and that it seemed to be resolved.

“The issues were largely personal,” Wellington went on. (Gallium looked very embarrassed now.) “But to sum up, my daughter was born with a very serious medical problem.”

At this there were gasps. Bizkit brought her hand up to her mouth and Quarterman paled.

“In any event, this semester I’ll be back to my regular work schedule,”

Fast’s hand shot up. Wellington nodded in his direction.

“Is she OK?” Fast asked.

“Oh! Yes, she’s fine. Full recovery.”

There was a palpable sigh of relief.

“So, Ms. Ahnk will be doing her best to get the Sector back in order. She has my full confidence, and my full support.”

With that, Wellingston nodded and left.

“OK Antares,” Ahnk said, “Let’s turn this thing around!


February


Within weeks of the meeting changes were already becoming visible in the Antares Sector hallways of Fort Pike. First, the faded info-boards displaying images and information on the Sector intramural teams were updated. New images of the Andorian water-polo, jhad-ball and even Klingon hockey teams had been put up, along with their standing against other Sectors. Information on Academy clubs had been updated and posted in the lobby. And a serious of homemade motivation posters had appeared, such as a picture of Vexnar and O’Denth dragging a very drunk Noig with the caption ‘Antares Sector: Making or breaking as a team’. Or a picture of Roger the sentient mold-pile in his bathtub with the caption ‘Fort Pike: Nuff said.’.

It was a good start.


Kumari was sitting calmly in her room when Gallium burst through the door, not bothering to knock.

“Guess what!” he asked excitedly.

“DO YOU MIND?” Kumari snapped peevishly, her inner princess suddenly jumping to the surface, “What if I’d been changing? What if I’d been naked? What if Ross and I had been in the middle of-“

“Now that wouldn’t happen,” Veksai cut in, his head peeking around from his own doorway, “You’d never let him do that. You’re still pure,”

“And how do you know that?” Kumari demanded, shocked at the man’s nerve.

“Because my whole image of you would shatter like a cheap mirror if you ever gave it up easily,” he called.

“Awww…that’s so…” Kumari frowned, “Hey! Shut up!”

“Um, about my news…” Gallium held up a hand.

“I can’t help it,” Veksai said, coming out into the hall, “You’re just far too sweet and innocent,”

“Um, hello? You live RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO ME!” Kumari objected, “These walls are, like, paper thin!”

“Tell me about it. I heard Graveti’s girlfriend giggling half of last night,” Veksai complained.

“Um, I came here to talk to you guys…” Gallium tried again.

“Well, I guess I know who to introduce my father to the next time he’s out,” Kumari put on what, in her mind, was a dark, annoyed face. To everybody else, she just looked cute.

“Goody,” Veksai shrugged, turning back to his room.

“THEY WANT THE PIPMAN MEMOS IN!” Gallium insisted loudly.

“The what?” Kumari asked.

“Really?” Veksai perked up.

In an attempt to encourage cadets to improve their leadership and other officer-type skills, the Academy had put into a place a system where senior cadets took on the role of managing and administrating the rest of the cadets. The system was hardly new and had been used for centuries in old Earth military academies. As junior and lower classmen, Kumari and her classmates hadn’t had to worry about pip positions, aside from a few like Veksai chosen to be computer-tech officers, or band representatives or other, minor tasks. With their third year under a year away, it was time for them to start taking on some role in running Antares Sector. The Sector Commander and senior-classmen were responsible for selecting cadets for pip positions, but to apply for a position a cadet had to submit a memo.

“When are they due?” Veksai demanded, “Do they want anything in particular for SNAP staff?”

“Yeah, I gotta go talk to my Team Leader about it,” Gallium said, “Who’s your Team Leader again?”

“I don’t have one,” Veksai said, tapping the silver pips on his uniform collar, “I report to the Admin Officer…Solaris.”

“Oh, right,” Gallium was quiet for a moment.

“So what positions are you guys applying for?” Kumari asked.

“SNAP staff,” the two males replied immediately.

“I know, but which position?”

“Oh,” Veksai shrugged, “Deputy Squad Leader. I figure I’ve got a bit more management and admin experience then you guys. Plus, there won’t be as many people applying.”

“Are there a lot going for SNAP staff?” Kumari asked.

“Us,” Gallium said immediately, “Quarterman, Baxter,”

“Malespere,” Kumari added, “Bahred,”

“M’kr’gr,” Veksai said, “I think Wind is applying too,”

“Who isn’t applying?” Kumari asked.

They exchanged glances.

“Good question.”


“OK, Antares,” Sector Leader Ahnk was standing in front of the ranks of Antares cadets, “Next week the Academy is rolling out the new Class E uniforms. Before you all get your replicator patterns, Cadet Gallium and Cadet Bizkit have offered to demonstrate them for us.”

“Just like Gallium to hog the runway at the fashion show,” Igor whispered to Derok.

“New, classy uniforms?” Derok wondered, “I thought these were old uniforms. Those red things they wore in the 23rd Century.”

“They’ve been updated a little,” senior-classman Drain said. The canine alien was fighting the urge to scratch his ears with his foot-paw so hard his whole body was starting to vibrate. “See the Sector badge, and the pips?”

“Oh, yeah…”

Gallium and Bizkit had walked out of Fort Pike wearing his and hers versions of the new (old) uniforms. They were coloured a deep red, almost the same colour as the formal jacket the cadets wore on special occasions, which ws basically the same jacket worn by the Fleet during the Project Genesis3 crisis in the 23rd Century. This uniform was older, dating back about thirty years before then. The high, stiff collar looked like it might be a bit uncomfortable, but the females were (mostly) pleased to see that they at least had a skirt option with this uniform. (Kodene was wondering where he was going to fit all his tentacles, but assumed that they’d tailor a version specific to Valvattians.)

“This is totally going to suck,” groaned mid-classman Prithar, a human with a somewhat pasty complexion.

“Are you for real?” mid-classmen Adeth, a red-headed reptile demanded, “What about women in short skirts could possibly suck?”

“They’re too long to show anything above the knee,” complained Prithar.

“So? We just hack into the replicator patterns, make a few alterations…”

“Hmmm…good point…”

Further down the ranks, Veksai was muttering to Fastocheni.

“You got your SNAP memo in yet?” he asked.

“Nope,” Fast said, “I’m not applying,”

“Really?” Veksai exclaimed. Ahnk gave him a dirty look, so he dropped his voice back down, “Why not? You’d be great for it!”

Fast looked slightly embarrassed.

“I flunked n-Dimensional Calculus,” he said, “I gotta focus on my studies. I can’t afford to lose a month chasing after lower-classmen,”

“Oh,” was all Veksai could manage.


March


“I don’t get why everybody on campus is getting worked up over these pip things,” Dylan Baxter said, taking a swig of his beer and wobbling slightly on his seat, “I mean, it’s just more work. Why do I want more work? I don’t!”

“You applied for SNAP, just like I did,” Quarterman said glumly, “except I doubt I’m going to get it,”

“Me neither!” Baxter exclaimed, “I just applied cuz it’ll look good on my record. I’ve got better things to do than watch a bunch of little punks run around,”

“If you aren’t careful, you are going to run out of places to drink,” Kodene gurgled.

The three of them were sitting up on the roof of Khitomer Building, dozens of stories above the ground. The top level of the tapered building was narrow, and the Academy’s deflector shield generator took up most of the space. It had been a warm but cloudy day when they’d snuck up the stairway to the roof, the security sensors having been disabled by a group of cadets from another Sector. Somebody was always disabling the security sensors because there simply was no better vantage point than the peak of Khitomer Building. They’d lugged a small keg of beer along with them. The keg was now wedged between two shield emitters, a tap screwed in near the bottom. As the sun started drifting down towards the horizon the clouds had thickened. Now, the sun was obscured by storm clouds and lightening was starting to flash through the sky.

“I’m thinking it’s time for us to go,” Quarterman said.

“Naaw, it’s time for us to watch an awesome show!” Baxter said, “Besides, if things get bad, they’ll just hit the shields,”

None of them gave any notice to the metal beer keg now attached to the shield generator.


Across the bay in Starfleet Operations, Lieutenant Jakob Sart was supervising a team of ensigns as they monitored the storm.

“We’re seeing a 300% increase in lightening hits in the San Fransisco area,” Ensign Feg reported, “Weather Services say we’re due for a good storm, so they’re not touching this one,”

Weather Services was always caught in the middle of the unending battle between the environmentalists who wanted to allow nature to run its course, the city-dwellers who wanted a bright, sunny day and the farmers who wanted whatever their crops needed. It was a balancing act, but generally they tried to avoid interfering in natural weather unless there was a genuine need.

“We’re seeing precipitation picking up in the south” Ensign Robertson added, “Looks like there’s going to be a lot more,”

“We’re seeing instabilities in the power grid due to lightening strikes,” Feg cut in, “Automatic switching systems are rerouting, but if the lighting keeps increasing…”

“All right,” Sart nodded, “Let’s raise the shields over HQ, the Admiralty and the power station. Environmental strength only. Oh, better put the Academy shields up too.”


Up on Khitomer building, Quarterman had had enough.

“Baxter, it’s raining, I’m getting wet and my ninety credit hairdo is being RUINED!” s/he snapped, “Time to go!”

“Just another minute…do you hear that?”

Behind them there was a sudden hum from the shield generator as the ring of shield emitters slowly started to rotate, taking the beer keg with them. As they watched, swirls of energy started to form, then surged out as they formed a perfect dome over the Academy campus. Or what would have been a perfect dome, if two emitters weren’t in the process of shorting out through a poorly placed beer keg. Instead, a quarter of the campus was still exposed to the storm, including the power grid connection between San Francisco and the Academy.

“Let’s go,” Kodene said.

“Um…yeah,” Baxter gulped, running towards the exit.


“What’s the story with those shields?” Sart demanded.

“Green lights from HQ and the Admiralty. San Francisco Ops reports they’ve raised shields over the power facilities,”

“Problems with the Academy generator,” Feg cut in, “We’ve only got partial coverage. Trying to compensate…”


As Feg increased power to the problem-causing emitters, she unfortunately remained unaware that the cause of the short wasn’t a branch or some other chunk of refuse. Still, her attempts to fix the problem might have worked if the energy coursing though the keg hadn’t brought the remaining beer to a boil. Pressure built in the keg until, eventually…

KA-BOOOM!

Hot beer sprayed out, coating the shield generator, dripping into nooks, crevices and finally delicate circuits. The technicians who’d installed the generator had certified it waterproof, but nobody had thought to certify it beer-proof.

Unfortunately, just as the shield generator blew with a deafening WHHOOMMPPHH, a thick bolt of lighting speared down from the sky and struck the power transfer systems connecting the Academy to the power grid. Before anybody even knew what had happened, power went out through the entire campus.


In a small, run-down conference room in Fort Pike, Sector Leader Ahnk was seated with her deputy, mid-classman Larashentali, Solaris the Admin Officer, Vexnar, now Training Officer and the three Squad Leaders.

“OK, so the replicator patterns for the new uniforms are out,” Ahnk was saying, “Make sure everybody has a set by Monday. Oh, and Solaris and I are sending out the interview invitations for SNAP staff next week. Finally, we still need more ideas for bringing up Sector morale. Making all those posters for the corridor walls was a good start, but we need to do more to show people that it’s GOOD to be in Antares-“

At that moment, the power died.

“Uh-oh…”

“Shitty old building, I bet Fort Hillier doesn’t…”

“Under attack?”

“…Borg?”

“The rest of the Academy is out,” Vexnar said, his tone clipped as he peered out the window, squinting to make out the city across the bay, “But the city and Starfleet HQ have power,”

As the rest joined him at the window, another flash of lightning struck a nearby building, sending a shower of sparks into the air.

“Some idiot didn’t raise the environmental shields,” Vexnar concluded, his tone now simply annoyed, “We will be sitting in the dark all night!”

Ahnk suddenly moved towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Solaris asked.

“This is a perfect morale opportunity!” she called back, “Somebody get on the line and get us pizza. Lots and lots of pizza. ASAP!”


M’kr’gr and Malespere sat in M’kr’gr’s room. M’kr’gr was mixing post-workout protein supplements for the two of them while Malespere carefully measured his body-fat percentage. Rain was spattering the old windows of Fort Pike and puddles were starting to form on the street outside.

“I tell you, a lot of juniors in Antares would make good SNAP staff,” Malespere was saying, “But we’d make the best, you and I. And Bahred. Maybe Kumari,”

“Gallium is a strong possibility,” M’kr’gr said thoughtfully, “He is very fit, and his academics are above average,”

The upper leadership of Antares Sector had informed all the candidates that the SNAP positions would be filled based on the performance of the candidates in the areas of focus for the Academy: academic average, fitness rating, Fleet skills and an interview. This of course had led to rounds of speculation on who was likely to be chosen, based on what they knew of their classmate’s performances.

“Then we can probably rule out Quarterman,” Malespere said, “Her marks aren’t that great, and she has had a recurring hip injury,”

“Verone will be a strong candidate,” M’kr’gr continued, “she is a leading member of the Academy jhad-ball team and has excellent marks,”

“I’d rather see Kumari there,” Malespere frowned, “Look, we know they’re probably going to want females on the staff, along with non-humans. They want to mix it. You’d fit the non-human role…”

<So would Veksai, Quarterman or Gallium> M’kr’gr thought.

“Kumari would be great in the female role…”

<As would Verone, Wind, perhaps Quarterman. Bizkit, were she applying.>

“And you and me are two of the most fit juniors in the Sector!” Malespere finished.

<Except that Bahred can run circles around both of us, Gallium can cycle for days on end and even old Veksai was barely five points behind my score on the last Fitness Evaluation. Come to think of it, Veksai also had very high academics,..>

“I tell ya, that would be the best team. Us, Bahred and Kumari.”

“It would be an excellent team,” M’kr’gr nodded, “But there are still other good choices as well.”

“For sure,” Malespere shrugged, “But that’s the team I’d pick if I were in charge,”

M’kr’gr agreed that that would, in fact, be an excellent SNAP team. But it wasn’t up to him or Malespere to select the new SNAP staff, and there were several other good choices. M’kr’gr couldn’t help but notice that Malespere’s dream team just happened to include his closest friends. He also couldn’t have helped but notice that Malespere’s standing with the Sector wasn’t quite as high as it once was, especially after the incident with the new lowers during SNAP earlier in the year.

He wondered if Malespere had noticed those little items as well.

There was a flash of lightening outside then the power went out.


Kumari was sitting in the dim light coming in from her window and contemplating going to bed very early when she heard the shouting in the hallway. The windowless corridor was even darker, but she could just make out what was happening in the dim emergency lighting.

“Listen up, Antares!” it was Sector Leader Ahnk, “As you’ve noticed, the Academy is without power. Now of course this means a few things. First, Academy defences are down. Starfleet Security is handing it, so there’s no real reason to be concerned, but lower-classmen are being posted around the Academy gates, outside Khitomer Building and the Experimental Warp-Reactor labs. Also, the dining halls are running on emergency power. No replicators and no holographic staff.”

There was a series of groans up and down the corridor as everybody realized this meant a meal either hand-prepared by cranky cadets pushed into service as kitchen workers or consisting of cold rations.

“So Lt. Wellington and I have authorized an alternate menu for this evening,” Ahnk finished, looking slightly smug.

The doors at the end of the hall opened and Solaris, Vexnar and Prithnar walked in, each of them weighted down by the weigh of several pizza boxes. The groans turned into cheers.

“Hey!” Vexnar snapped as Baxter and Kodene snatched two of the boxes from his arms, “If either of you eats my spleen and bacon pizza, I shall vivisect you both!”

“Oh, is there vegetarian?” Bizkit asked.

“Do you know what the Andorian word for ‘vegetarian’ means?” Vexnar asked, looking slightly disgusted.

“No. I’m studying Rigellian as my second language.”

“There isn’t one,” Vexnar replied.

“Ohhh, did you get me some kibble with anchovie?” Drain yipped, wagging his tale.

“Kibble on pizza?” Veksai frowned.

“Better than human pinapple,” Drain replied, snagging a slice.

“I want sausage!” Quarterman declared loudly, hunting through the boxes as they were laid out on a table somebody had found.

“Use your own,” Baxter giggled.

“That’s dis-GUSTING!” Kumari cried.

“This is going to go straight to my hips,” Gallium complained, “Maybe if I scrape off the toppings-“

“Are we SURE that girl he brought to the ball wasn’t a hooker?” Junethec asked.

“HEY!” Gallium objected, “My girlfriend is NOT a hooker!”

“Uh-huh,” Veksai said sceptically, hunting through the pizza pile for a slice of good, old-fashioned pepperoni, “If you’re still dating girls in five years, I’ll eat my comm-badge.”

“Well then I hope you like your food sharp and pointy!”

“Isn’t there any puppy & kitten chunk pizza?” M’kr’gr asked, running his tongue over his fangs.

Drain started barking loudly as the other cadets made sounds of shock and/or disgust.

“Wasn’t on the menu,” Vexnar said, “But spleen & bacon is close,” he offered the reptilian cadet a slice of his pizza.

“Not bad,” M’kr’gr decided.


By the next morning the storm had passed and power had been restored to the Academy. An investigation was underway to find out just who had jammed a beer keg into the deflector shield generator, but given the sabotage to the security sensors and the damage to the crime scene caused by the generator shorting out, it was unlikely that the culprit would ever be caught. Given that beer was involved, the powers-that-be were willing to chalk it up to student immaturity rather than enemy sabotage.

Strangely enough Antares Sector had been the only Academy Sector that had thought to order in as a group due to the outage. The senior cadets in most of the other Sectors had taken off to town for supper, leaving their junior and lower years to their own devices. Or, specifically, to the devices of the cadets that had wound up spending their evening trying to cook. Terran and Vulcan Sectors had brought in crates of cold emergency rations while Denobula Sector had attempted (without success) to fish for their supper in the bay.

Kumari found herself in her Introduction to High-Energy Dynamics lab near junior-classman Cuirass. Cuirass was one of Veksai’s computer engineering classmates, but since High-Energy Dynamics was a common course all the various Eng/Ops cadets were mixed into different classes.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Cuirass complained as Kumari carefully programmed the scaled down navigational deflector dish4 she was working on.

“Please don’t puke on my lab,” Kumari said, “I need to get this thing producing a beamed tachyon pulse before the end of the period or I’m going to fail this assignment!”

“It’s those rations,” Cuirass went on as Kumari entered in another string of commands, “I’m not sure if they’re going to make me puke or give me the runs,”

“EWWWWW!” Kumari cried, “Can you, like, totally not talk about that?”

There was a menacing gurgle from Cuirass’s stomach.

“Why didn’t you guys just order pizza?” she asked, “That’s what our Sector Leader did,”

“Really?” Cuirass clutched his middle, ignoring his lab setup, “I wish ours had thought of that. What Sector are you in?”

“Antares,”

“Ohh yeah, with Veksai. Huh. I thought Antares never did anything right,”

“Hey!” Kumari spun towards him, grazing her particle beam with her hydrospanner and nearly vaporizing it, “Sure we do!”

“Hey, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard!”

“Yeah, well,” Kumari fumbled with the tool, “Which of us had pizza, and which of us is about to explode?”

“Good point,” Cuirass groaned, getting up and heading quickly to the bathroom, “But by the way, we’re supposed to be making a pulsed tachyon beam, not a beamed tachyon pulse!”

As he left, Kumari turned back to her notes. Yup, he was right.

“Shit!” she grumbled, resetting the beam and getting ready to start again. At this rate, she was going to be in the lab all night!


Veksai was sitting on the desk in Adon Solaris’ room while the older cadet got ready for his role in the Academy drama club’s presentation of Black Comedy. (An amusing British play where the audience sat in the dark anytime the lights in the fictional setting of the play were on, and had lights during the ‘power outage’ that drove the plot.) As the Sector Administrator, Solaris was Veksai’s boss so long as the latter remained the IT Officer.

“So, Baxter’s managed to get yet another virus on his console,” Veksai reported, “I don’t know how he does it…the Academy has so many hunter-programs…but he keeps figuring it out. Oh, and the security reports on the lowers is done,”

“Yeah, just leave it on my desk,” Solaris said, fiddling with a hydrospanner that had been painted gold, “I gotta get ready…this is our last performance,”

“I saw it two nights ago,” Veksai said, “it’s great. I almost burst a gut”

“Thanks, man,” Solaris nodded, “We’re giving the stage hands these gold tools tonight. Sort of a thank you, y’know?” Solaris started tossing the hammer back and forth and chanting.

“This is my gold-en spanner! This is my gold-en spanner!”

Veksai, used to the other cadet’s strange sense of humor by now, simple laughed. What he wasn’t expecting was for Solaris to toss the spanner just a bit too high, hitting himself in the nose and letting lose a burst of blood.

“Oh my God!” Solaris exclaimed, holding one had to his nose and looking at the blood. “that was AWSOME! HIGH-FIVE!”

Struggling between laughter and concern, Veksai slapped his hand, then went to find a tissue.


April


Veksai, M’kr’gr, Malespere, Bahred, Quarterman, Gallium, Kumari and Verone were seated in a conference room in Zzzrixix Building. Of the dozen or so junior-classmen in Antares that had applied for SNAP staff, those eight had been chosen to be interviewed for the four positions available. Ahnk and Wellington had opted for a group interview, in which the candidates would round-robin through the questions. Other Sectors had their own way of selecting their SNAP staff, such as the traditional Andorian Sector fight to the near-death, or the Vulcan Sector debate. Antares, however, took a more methodical approach.

“Of the different areas of focus here at the Academy, which one do you think lower-classmen should be focusing on?” Ahnk asked, after giving a brief welcome and introduction. She was running in full ‘professional-look-at-me-I’m-becoming-a-commissioned-officer-in-a-month’ mode, “Malespere, why don’t you start with this one?”

“Athletics, totally,” Malespere replied, “Like, you gotta get fit right away.”

“Thank you. Bahred, your thoughts?” Ahnk prompted.

“Um, I, uh, think that you have to focus on all of them,” Bahred said, his voice a little uncertain, “They’re all important,”

“Verone?”

“I agree with Mr. Bahred,” Verone said, taking her cue from Ahnk and adding the ‘Mister’.

“Agree with Mr. Bahred,” Gallium said when his turn came around.

“I agree that you have to cover all of them, but I’d want to focus on Athletics and Academics the first month,” Veksai said when prompted.

“And why do you want this position?” Ahnk asked, once everybody had had a chance to answer the first question, “Mr. M’kr’gr, start us off.”

“It is an opportunity to pass on what we know,” he said.

“Veksai,” Ahnk said.

“I want to make sure our new lowers learn the habits they need to graduate. And once SNAP is finished, I want to make sure they keep using them.”

“Malespere,”

“I’ve been really successful so far, and I want to teach them to do what I’ve done-“

“Verone?”

As the questions continued, Kumari noticed a couple of things. First, Ahnk was cutting people off after only a sentence or two, making it important that they made their points quickly. Also, there really wasn’t much variety in the answers. She knew that part of that was due to the fact that they were all in the same room, listening to each other. But a large part of it was that, for the most part, they did truly agree on many aspects of SNAP. She found herself watching the posture of her competitors, more than listening to their answers. Malespere was lounging a bit in his seat, giving off that vibe that Veksai claimed was cockiness but that Kumari though was just confidence. Bahred looked the most nervous of the group, stuttering through a couple of questions. Veksai looked like he’d sat through several of these before, which given his age was likely. Gallium had that same eager, earnest expression he usually had.

Ahnk was going to have a very, very hard time making a decision, Kumari thought again.

“What’s your overall goal here at the Academy, Bahred?” Ahnk asked.

“Uh, like, learn how to be the best, right? Just work hard, learn what you need to know and be the best,” Bahred swallowed.

“Verone?”

“Pass all my courses, and get the soccer team to finals for once,”

“M’kr’gr?”

“I want to become a test pilot,” M’kr’gr said, “And so I will be working to excel in the classes I need in order to make that kind of career path possible,”

“Veksai?”

“I want an education that I can use in the fleet, but that will still be useful in the civilian world if I choose to leave the fleet,”

“What would you do if you found one of your lowers drinking in their rooms?”

This was a loaded question. Synthehol was readily available at the Academy lounge, but strictly forbidden in the dormitories. Some cadets kept a bottle tucked away anyway, and provided they caused no problems the senior cadets rarely made an issue of it. After all, they were legally adults and the Academy was the only institution in the entire Starfleet that prohibited drinking in private quarters.

“Won’t allow it,” Kumari said, “I mean, you have to set the example,”

“It’s not that big a deal,” Malespere said, “Like, if I don’t know about it, I can’t do anything about it, right?”

“If I see it, I can’t let it slide,” Veksai said, “I’d have to take action,”

And so on.

“True or false: it is possible to be friends with your subordinates.”

“Sure,” Gallium said, “I mean, as long as they follow your instructions,”

“I agree,” Malespere said, “Especially after SNAP. You can be in charge, but they can still be your buddies.”

“I agree,” M’kr’gr said.

As the question went around the table, Kumari noticed that Veksai was frowning. She didn’t know why…the answers all seemed to reflect the general attitude of Antares Sector. Everybody felt free to chat up Ahnk, or Buhras when she’d been in charge. The formal ‘Mister’ and ‘Miss’ had largely been dropped after SNAP had ended. What was wrong?

“Mr. Veksai?” Ahnk prompted.

Veksai took a breath.

“I have to disagree,” he said. There were guarded expressions of surprise around the table. So far, none of them had gone so far as to flat out disagree with the rest. Was he trying to blade them, or did he have a valid point?”

“In my last job I had to maintain a professional distance from my trainees,” Veksai explained, “Here, in the Starfleet environment, it’s even more important. I mean, there are things I do and say with my buddies that I’d never want one of my lowers to see or hear. Like stumbling home drunk, y’know?”

“I agree,” M’kr’gr said after a moment.

“It’s a good point,” Bahred nodded.

“Well, that about rounds out our questions for today,” Ahnk said, standing, “I wanted to thank you all for coming today. I really have to say, this is going to be a hard decision. You’re all so close together in the rankings that your score on this interview is going to be a big part of who’s chosen.”

As soon as the candidates were out of earshot of Ahnk, Wellington and the other Sector seniors, there was a burst of nervous conversation.

“Man, can’t believe I said that-“

“Interview is that important?”

“How are they going to decide that?”

“I don’t think I’m going to get it-“

After the jibbering had subsided, they started heading back to their assorted classes.

“You don’t look too happy,” Kumari said, catching up to Veksai as he headed towards the Montgomery Scott Experimental Propulsion Laboratry.

“Aside from the fact that I have an exam in Warp Field Theory in a week and still don’t understand half the equations?” he grumbled.

“C’mon, you just finished a really good interview,” she prodded.

“I know. But…y’know. I heard Ahnk talking about the rankings the other day,”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I’m fifth,” Veksai sighed.

“So? You’ve got as good a chance as the rest of us. Especially with your academics.” Kumari shook her head, “I know I’m not all that likely to get it, but you don’t see me moping!”

“I know. But we were all neck-in-neck in that interview,” Veksai shrugged, “It means to get on the SNAP staff I’ve got to do better in my interview than the top four ranked cadets did,”

“Who are they?” Kumari asked.

“No idea. Probably M’Kr’gr, Malespere, Verone and either Gallium or Bahred.”

“Hmmm. You’re probably right.” Kumari shrugged. “Ah well. Once exams are done, we’ll find out.”

“Yeah. I just wish we didn’t have to wait another month.”


The next month was a busy one for the Academy in general as classes wrapped up and exams began. Many of the senior-classmen were especially stressed. Buhras had to climb to the roof of Fort Pike and bring Drain down after he started howling at the moon, bringing up noise complaints from neighbouring buildings. Vexnar had started eating squirrels at an alarming rate, to the point where the squirriloids of Ramson VI lodged a formal complaint with the Academy administration. Kethnor broke two junior-classmen in half during a sparring match and the city had banned him from hunting in any of the forests near San Francisco after an unfortunate incident involving plasma grenades and a very hungry, then very confused and finally very exploded bear.

“We need to get out of here,” Buhras said to Malespere one afternoon, “We’ve been at this place for four years now. We’re about ready to snap!” Her face suddenly took on a disgusted expression. “OMIGOD!” She shrieked, “I did NOT just SAY that!”

“You did,” Malespere said, giving her a crooked grin. She grabbed him by the collar.

“Four years! Four years of Sectors, and form-ups and inspections and standards and classes! I can’t take it any more! AND I STILL HAVE FOUR EXAMS LEFT!”

“I hate this place,” Vexnar said, passing by the hall, “I hate it with a burning, bleeding passion.” The Andorian cadet and former SNAP-staff looked thoughtful for a moment. “Perhaps I will burn it down when I leave?”

“Hey, we gotta go to school here for two more years,” Kumari said, joining the conversation.

“I wouldn’t mind if you burnt it down,” Veksai called from his room just down the hall, “But could you do it today? With me in it? Otherwise I have to write this Warp Theory exam.”

“No, I cannot,” Vexnar said, “But if you wish, I can loan you my Andorian Ritual Suicide Handbook,”

“Don’t tempt me,” Veksai muttered, turning back to his textbook padd.

“There’s an actual handbook?” Kumari asked.

“Puny human,” Vexnar laughed, “It took you over a week just to memorize the Sectors at the Academy. There are thousands of Andorian suicide rites, tens of thousands of sub-rites and millions of variations!”

“Um. Great. I’m just…gonna go back…to my room….uh…now.” Kumari slowly backed away.

“Y’know,” Veksai said, poking his head around to her door again, “I’m never thought I’d say this, but I’m really going to miss our senior-classmen when they graduate.”

Kumari thought for a moment. Mecablox, their SNAP Team Leader had graduated last year, but he hadn’t been around very much during SNAP. He’d all but vanished following SNAP. Buhras, Vexnar, Kethnor and Drain had been around constantly. They’d been with them through SNAP, after SNAP and all through their lower and junior years. Now, the idea that those four cadets that had done so much to introduce them to Academy were leaving was a little sad.

“Yeah,” Kumari replied, suddenly feeling pretty down, “Me too,”


May


“Welcome everybody to the first and hopefully annual Antares Sector End-Of-Year BBQ,” Sector Leader Ahnk said loudly. The entire Sector had gathered in Scotty’s, the lounge/coffee-house that catered largely to the human population. (The Andorians, Klingons and Tellarites often referred to it as the ‘Cowardly Human Hide-away’) Exams were finished, marks had been posted and preparations for the Graduation Parade were already underway. In less than two weeks the senior-classmen would be off to their first postings or to extended Fleet training while the lowers, juniors and mids were shuttled off to the USS Richelieu, an Academy Annex or another training vessel for two months of Fleet training. Most of the Antares cadets had already visited the food line and had their plates piled high with hot dogs, spleen pie or gagh.

“Right, let’s get to the pipman announcements. First, since I know it’s what everybody’s dying to hear, I’m going to go ahead and announce the SNAP staff for next year,”

The junior-classmen in the room tensed right up. Bahred, M’kr’gr, Gallium, Kumari, Quarterman and Verone all looked hopeful. Malespere had a small grin on his face, and Veksai just looked grumpy. He’d put in a good bid for Deputy Squad Leader, figuring it was the best shot he had. Still, the competition was tough and the odds weren’t good.

“First, as the new Brute Squad Leader, Mr. Lafonge,” Ahnk announced. Lafonge, a tall, skinny cadet with sharp features and a heavy colonial accent, stepped to the front of the group as the rest of the cadets applauded.

“Deputy Squad Leader Verone,”

Verone squealed (as Veksai thought ‘shit’) and hurried to take her place next to Lafonge.

“Team Leader, Brute Squad Team 3, Mr. Veskai,”

“Huh?” Veksai started.

“Get up there!” Fastocheni hissed, giving him a push.

Team Leader? SWEET!

Brute Squad, Team 2, Mr. M’kr’gr.

M’kr’gr jumped forward, shook Lafonge’s hand (drawing a bit of blood before he retracted his talons) and took his place in line.

“Brute Squad, Team 1, Mr. Bahred!”

“Go Archie!” Kumari cheered.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Ahnk said, “Your SNAP team for next year!”

There was a moment of applause.

“OK, now,” Ahnk went on, “We have two appointments to Academy HQ for next year. First, in the Deputy Academy Training Officer position, we have Mr. Malespere,”

She looked around.

“Where’d he go?” she asked.

Malespere had stormed out.

“Uh, and to the position of Academy Fitness Officer, we have Mr. Felps,”

As Ahnk announced that T’Henkie would be succeeding her as Sector Leader, the new SNAP staff shared an uncomfortable look.

“What’s with that?” Bahred asked.

“He’s upset, what do you think?” Kumari whispered. In the background. Dril had been named the new Sector Training Officer, with Bizkit as his deputy. With Dril standing nearly seven feet tall and Bizkit barely reaching five, they were a very odd pairing. As Ahnk continued listing the pipman, she kept shooting nervous glances at the door.

“Should we go talk to him?” Bahred wondered.

“I don’t know if he’d like that,” Kumari shook her head.

“I think he’s back,” Veksai pointed. Sure enough, Malespere had re-entered the lounge, though he did not look happy.

“And that rounds out the pipman announcements for next year,” Ahnk said finally, “Thank you all so much for a great semester, and best of luck on your summer training.”

“I can’t believe it,” Veksai said, looking around, “We’re actually SNAP staff!”

“Sorta made all the work this year worth it, huh?” Bahred said.

“Yeah,”

Across the room, Malespere had closed in on Ahnk and the two of them now seemed to be involved in a very heated (though very quiet) discussion.

“They gave him a really good position,” M’Kr’gr said, “He will be high in the Academy power structure next year,”

“Yeah,” Veksai said. Quarterman and Kumari were trudging out of the room, both looking unhappy.

“It’s not what he wanted, though,” Bahred said.

They remained a moment longer.

“I think we should go,” Veksai swallowed.

“Uh, yeah,”

They left.


Graduation day:


Another year, another graduation.

Once again, the Parade ring was circled by cadets in their maroon jackets. As usual, the graduating class formed a circle around Khitohmer Building, facing out and across the Ring towards the lowers, juniors and mids as they circled the outer rim of the Ring, facing in. Once again, the Commendant, Director of Cadets and even Fleet Admiral Ra’al herself addressed the graduating class, congratulating them on the work they’d done and on what they had now accomplished. That night would be the Graduation Ball, and the next day everybody would disperse to postings, training or even for some time off. The Academy campus would be empty for another summer. The High-Energy Physics labs would be empty, the Experimental Teleportation Platform would be powered down and the beds in all the buildings, from the brand-new Fort Hillier to the ancient Fort Pike, would be empty. Within forty-eight hours, the Academy would become a ghost town with only the academic and Fleet staff present to prepare for another year and another new group of students. Already, acceptance letters had been sent out and in a few cases new recruits on more distance worlds had already boarded transports for a three-month trek. (Sometimes, for some people, an Annex just wasn’t good enough.)

Soon, the cycle would start again.


Next: With junior year now complete the Antares cadets find themselves shipping out for a training mission. They’ve been cadets for two years, can they handle themselves as members of the fleet for two months? Find out in Crash Course: 3.1 - Shifting Priorities.

  1. Star Trek/Traks largely glazes over this for expediency sake, but any nerd who’s watched The Next Generation knows that the Federation is very, very big. 

  2. This actually reflects the Canadian system, with one (formerly three) Royal Military College that produces about 1/4 of commissioned officers (As of the time this story was written). The rest get their university education at civilian universities. (Civie U) And yes, RMC graduates tend to think they’re better than Civie U guys. And, of course, we are. ;) 

  3. Star Trek II, III and IV 

  4. Navigational Deflector - A device used to repel space debris away from a ship in flight. Consisting of magnetic fields and a high-energy beam that can be programmed to do just about anything Trek writers need it to do. 


Tags: academy