Part of USS Altai: Here Be Monsters

Looking for Home

USS Altai, Holodeck & Officer's Wardroom
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“Computer, move south wall one meter to the left.” Hlad heard the chirp of the Holodeck interface program and watched as the room grew larger. “Move door one meter south and increase window size to match.” He adjusted the furniture and smiled as the recreated details of his childhood apartment began to match his memory. There was still something off about the Bratislava skyline, but all in all, it wasn’t a bad first try.

An alarm went off on his PADD. He wished he had could reserve more than an hour a week of Holodeck time, but as a junior officer, he should be grateful for what time he got. “Computer, save file as Kappler01 and end program.” Another series of chirps indicated the computer was at work and a moment later the familiar surroundings faded, becoming a sterile grid. He knew the afternoon’s work had been self indulgent, but after his first week on the job, a little self indulgence was warranted.

The door grated slightly on opening. He’d have to make a note of that and check it out later. There were several enlisted crewpersons he could assign to do the maintenance, but if he was going to earn their trust, he had to learn the ship as well as they did, which was no small order. He pushed aside the fear that they resented him. After all, he was an inexperienced kid who outranked them just because he had taken a few more classes.

He passed an officer he didn’t recognize, but said, “Good morning, sir.” He worried it came out a little too energetic. The officer nodded and simply said, “Ensign,” and continued his way down the hall.

How was he ever going to fit in around here? He wondered if the USS Altai even needed another Engineer or if he had been assigned at random to any old ship. Either way, he was going to the his job. He knew he had a lot to learn from this crew and this ship. Not ‘this ship’; ‘his ship’, he corrected in his mind.

He took the turbo lift to deck 3 and walked to the officers wardroom. He was both disappointed and relieved to find it empty. He desperately desired to fit in and make friendships, but all the changes in his life over the past couple months had left him exhausted. He stood looking out the window and thought about the look on his mother’s face at graduation, the farewell party his roommate had thrown for their friends and the tearful goodbye with his girlfriend. He knew the odds of making a quadrant-long distance relationship work was difficult at best.

He had too much time to think about his past and wonder about his future as the USS Buffalo took him and a cargo bay full of supplies from Earth to the USS Altai. He had offered the Captain of the USS Buffalo his services as an Engineer, but the Captain dismissed him by saying, “I prefer it when my cargo doesn’t talk.” He was in his small guest room or stretching his legs in that ship’s corridors for over a month.

The first week aboard the USS Altai was a marked improvement to life on the supply ship, but the intense learning curve left him exhausted mentally and physically. He thought he responded well to his first emergency situation, and while only being a small part of a larger rescue operation, lives had been saved. Of course repairing the hole he cut in the cargo bay door would be a bit less glamorous.

And now, for the first time in a week, he had a moment to stop and process as he stared out the window.

“Looking for home?” Hlad turned to see a Bajoran lieutenant wearing a blue uniform standing behind him. In his time of introspection he hadn’t heard the man enter the room.

“I suppose I am,” Hlad replied and then said, “I’m sorry. Yes sir.” He wasn’t sure if he should solute.

“At ease ensign,” the lieutenant said and smiled. “I’m Lieutenant Modan. It wasn’t that long ago I was staring out the same window.” He pointed and said. “You can’t see them this far away, but Bajor is there,” he paused to get his bearings. “And Earth is about there. You are an Earther, right?”

“Yes,” he answered. “Ensign Hladson Kappler, but most people call me Hlad… well not here yet.”

“Don’t worry, Hlad,” the Bajoran encouraged. “First assignments are always a rough transition, but I assure you, you’ll fit in before you know it.” He then looked at his PADD. “Oh sorry, I’ve got to run. See you around, Hlad.”

The ensign smiled as he watched the lieutenant walk out of the room. This was the start of his new life and he had the feeling the Bajoran was right. He’d fit in just fine.

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Lieutenant Modan touched his combadge with three fingers and held it for a couple seconds until a deep tone sounded. “Subject has been confirmed. Awaiting orders.”