Part of Starbase Bravo: Q2 2400

Bottom Ranked

Mellstoxx III, Starfleet Academy, The Ellipse
March 2400
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Her scaly pink head on a pivot, Cadet Lyrakkiton Parze took in all the sights and aromas as she crossed the grassy greenspace towards the administrative building.  Having grown up aboard a starbase, the novelty of planet-living hadn’t grown routine for Parze just yet.  Letting her gaze wander, her obsidian Saurian eyes locked onto a familiar face and a thought occurred to her.  Parze checked the chronometer on her holoPADD and supposed she still had time to spare.

Parze folded her hands behind her back as she approached a young cadet seated at a picnic table.  “Excuse me,” Parze said, “You’re Cadet Mianaai, aren’t you?  We met at the Cadet Squadron Bravo orientation?”

Katlyn’s focus took a while to shift from the holographic chessboard, projected by a small device on the table, to Parze. The board looked like utter chaos, with both sides massacred and what remained down to a manoeuvre warfare situation. “Parze yes?“ she finally responded, then indicated the other side of the table and the seat there, saving the chess game with a single command and turning off the device. “What’s up?”

Offering her appreciation with a deep nod, Parze slinked onto the bench that was offered to her.  She met Katlyn’s eyes and then she looked away evasively.  After she started to speak, Parze looked back again.  ”I thought I overheard you speaking about piloting with great joy and reverence the other day,“ Parze said in a probing tone.  ”Was my eavesdropping accurate?“

”I…” Katlyn paused for a moment, looking skyward for a second. “I was talking about piloting the other day, but I’m not sure about joy, or reverence.“ Her tone was neutral like one would adopt if speaking to someone you were unfamiliar with, which nominally she was. “I am also technically the bottom-ranked pilot of Bravo, as fair warning.”

In her native Saurian, Parze made a dismissive clicking sound that had no direct translation for the universal translator to catch.  Refusing to accept self-depreciating talk when she had a mission, Parze said, “Rankings are subjective,” with a tight shake of her head.  Her timbre took on a bit more desperation when Parze affirmed, “I’m training to be a teal shirt, not any kind of pilot.  I expected to be… gracefully excused from the flight training on Stinsfor, but nobody is excused from Cadet Bravo Squadron.  I can’t be bottom ranked.  I need help, Katlyn.  Will you help me?”

Katlyn’s response wasn’t immediate, but she did seem to stare off into the middle distance for a moment before she responded. “I can assist yes, but my warning still stands.” A moment after she spoke, full attention returned to Parze, an eyebrow-raising gently. “Small craft or starship qualifications?” she asked.

Parze flexed her neck back, her chin disappearing in an expression of trepidation.  Her already bulbous eyes bulged even further.  “That is a good question,” Parze replied insecurely.  “I should have thought about that before I came over.  See?  I knew you were the right cadet to ask.  Strategic thinker all over.”

”Stick with small craft if unsure. You’re more likely to need to pilot a shuttle than a starship.” Katlyn’s eyes narrowed for a moment before relaxing. “What’s your field of expertise? I’m just wondering about a quid pro quo, not that I mind helping with your flight qualifications.”

Nodding rapidly, Parze replied, “Sitting in the cockpit is the last place you’d expect to find a psychology major.  That’s why I’m dreading Stinsfor so much.”  Parze shrugged briefly and her gaze drifted off somewhere in the middle distance over Katlyn’s shoulder.  “I don’t expect to fly many small craft as a counselor.  …Or a sociology researcher.  …Or a protocol officer?”

“That’s a very imprecise resume,” Katlyn stated. “But you never know when you’ll be asked to fly a shuttle. Basic qualifications are standard after all. It shouldn’t be too difficult to help you pass the test. If you have time this evening we could even make a start with simulation flying and see about checking a shuttle for a flight this weekend.” As she spoke an upward lilt could be heard in her voice, a difference from the neutral tone she’d been maintaining.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyou,” Parze said excitedly.  “Yes, I’m at your mercy; whatever you think will help.”  Mission accomplished, she shifted her weight on the bench and she pulled back on the hypersonic energy.  In a timbre of understated curiosity, Parze asked, “Is becoming a pilot what you want to do?  …Clearly, I haven’t decided yet for myself.”

“I…” Katlyn stopped, thought about her answer, and then continued. “Yes.” Short, simple, to the point. “I’m transferring up to the station in the next couple of days, but as long as our schedules line up, I can beam back and forth without any issues.” She was back to matter-of-fact. “In fact taking an Academy shuttle from the station out for a flight would be an easier flight if we can arrange it. I’ll check the booking schedule after lunch.”

“You’re the best,” Parze said, in gratitude for Katlyn’s generosity. She clasped her clawed hands together. Parze ramped up to a hint of classic over-achiever mania, when she said, “Forget about beaming.  Maybe you’ll even trust me to be your chauffeur… in a month.  What’re you most excited for when you move to the station?”

“Greater access to small craft for flight hours, possibility of a berth on an Exeter cruise.” Katlyn shook her head side to side in thought. “Working with actual officers on real projects and work too. I’d like to get my hands on the telescope array for a bit, even if just a small piece of it. What about yourself?”

“Talking to counseling patients.  Not holograms or cadet role play; real sentient patients,” Parze said.  This answer came to her easily.  Even if she didn’t know that she wanted to be a counselor, she knew she couldn’t know until she tried.  Sounding surprised that she was even saying it, Parze added, “And being stranded on Mellstoxx II for survival training?  It sounds romantic to me.  A real larger than life Starfleet experience, y’know?”

”Camping with extra steps,” Katlyn mused aloud. ”But yes, something to look forward to.” She then collected up the holoemitter for the chess game and her study PADD. “I need to get something to eat for lunch before next class and get our name on the list if we want a shuttle. Care to join me?”

Watching Katlyn’s movements sparked Parze to pat the cargo pocket on her uniform trousers, making certain she still had her own holographic PADD emitter.  Rising to join Katlyn, Parze nodded and she said, “It would bring me joy.”