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SD241904.22 - Civilian - "News Crews"

Posted on Mon Apr 22nd, 2019 @ 8:00am by Brigadier General Jonathan Grey

1,589 words; about a 8 minute read

Mission: The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Location: Passenger Ship "Pandora"
Timeline: Current

=^= Bridge =^=

The sound of sawed logs drowned out the gentle rumble of the engines. In the center of the room, a single chair on a stand had reclined until it was nearly horizontal. The sole occupant wore a white, circular hat with gold trim; pulled down over his eyes to block out the light while he slept.

Eyes met across the Pandora's bridge, and eyes rolled too, as the crew got on with the work and ignored the snoring. As the standard uniform, all of them wore white and gold hats with a blue suit. Pins on their lapels marked their positions, rather than their ranks; a crew of ten civilians having little need for a nuanced hierarchy.

Despite this, the Captain was definitely at the top of the pyramid, and young Kevin was definitely at the very, very bottom.

"Kevin!" shouted a woman behind one of the consoles, scowling at an error message scrolling in front of her. As a pair of scampering feet rushed up to her console, she glanced up and spotted the crew's newest recruit.

"Yes sir?"

"The Internal Comm's shorted out again on deck three. Get down there and tell our passengers it's time to disembark. Politely."

"Yes sir!" the eager crewman cried, exiting the bridge at top speed to the bemusement of his peers; the sound of tittering drowned out by the Captain's latest symphony.

=^= Deck 3 =^=

Kevin tidied his hair under his hat as he finished clattering down the stairs, the brown neck-length strands shaken loose by the jarring descent. He was still new to the concept of "stairs", having lived with turbolifts his while life, and his knees still suffered from using them.

Still, he was keen to get a good reference from this job, and that meant ignoring the discomfort and getting on with the work.

Today, that meant visiting the three large cabins on this floor, used by dignitaries, or people carrying lots of gear, or even both. He indulged for a moment with memories of a Klingon Ambassador's use of a cabin to store a small herd of Targ. He couldn't remember what had been worse, the smell or the noise.

Back in the present though, the large double-doored rooms were clean, and digital labels spelled out the groups that were using each.

The first pair of doors had been rented by "One Truth", which Kevin recognised as a news reporting group. He thumbed the door chime and waited, though not for long.

The door hissed open after only a second, startling Kevin with the swift response. A tall woman in a black suit now stood in front of him, her hair jet black, her eyes faintly asian, and her face wearing an expression of uncommon focus.

"Yes, crewman?" she inquired, in a strange combination of clipped words and friendly tones. Though she wore a faint smile, Kevin noticed that it did not extend to her eyes.

"Uh, um, yes." he stuttered, caught off-guard. "We will be arriving at Versailles shortly, ma'am."

"Good. We will prepare." she responded, taking a half-step backwards to close the door again, before hesitating, as if remembering something. "Thank you." she added, the door shutting in the middle of Kevin's "You're welcome."

Blinking, Kevin turned to the next door, and straight away he could tell this was a very different group. For one, he could already smell aromatherapy candles, or possibly some sort of incense. For another thing, the music was loud enough to be heard through the door.

A glance at the room label said "Hot Goss", and again Kevin recognised a news reporting group. Then again, he recalled, their articles tended towards, well, hot goss. Fresh from the grapevine, or whatever their motto was.

He had to press the button several times before someone actually answered the door, preceded (thankfully) by a sharp decrease in the music volume. He suspected he'd have lost some hearing if the music was still on full, and wondered how on earth they heard anything.

"Yo, maaan! Wassup dude?" drawled the surfer-type inside the door. The hair was blonde and spikey, the shirt was some sort of hawiian motif, and the feet were, yes, wearing sandals.

"Eyes are up here, bro." the man added, with faux-seriousness.

"Sorry, sir." said Kevin, ignoring the sniggering from the mellow bunch further inside the room. These lounged on bean-bag chairs, and one seemed to be hiding some sort of splif. It did explain the smell.

"We will be arriving at Versailles shortly." the crewman announced, already wondering if the next bunch would be as unusual as the first two.

"Ok, kewl. Thanks bro." the man announced, pulling his shades down to give Kevin a wink before slapping him on the shoulder and shutting the door. A moment later, the music was back on, and Kevin moved away towards the final cabin.

This one was labelled "Workday Times". Kevin didn't recognise this one, but based on the previous two, and the name, it was probably some sort of news reporting group again. He wondered what brand of oddity he was in for this time as he pushed the buzzer and waited.

This time, the door opened, and nobody was standing there. Cautiously looking around, the crewman saw that the people inside were busy packing recording equipment and padds into boxes. As he watched, one box of padds was filled, the lid was sealed on tight, and the group got to work on the next box.

"Over here, son." said someone further in, waving a hand to catch Kevin's attention. This gentleman was wearing a waistcoat and trousers, with the golden chain of a pocket watch dangling from a breast pocket and curving under one arm.

As Kevin stepped inside, one of the man's companions cast him a baleful look and moved away from her box to greet the crewman.

"Hello, my name is Emily. I do apologise for George." she said to Kevin in a warm, British accent. Kind wrinkles formed at the corner of her eyes as she smiled, and offered to shake hands. "You must think us dreadfully rude. Guests are to be greeted at the door." she stressed to her colleague, receiving a bemused look from George in response.

"Yes ma'am." said Kevin, uncertain of what to say.

"Quite so." she replied, nodding in understanding. "May I offer you some tea, perhaps?"

"Uh, no, ma'am. Thank you. I came to tell you the ship will be arriving at Versailles soon."

"I appreciate that you came to tell us in person. Do convey our regards to the Captain." said Emily, still smiling.

It took a moment for Kevin to realise he'd been asked to leave, and he grinned in an embarrassed way before scampering out the door.

=^= Bridge =^=

"Just in time, we're there." commented the Comms officer as Kevin entered the bridge. The crewman quickly took his seat in the corner of the room, and waited patiently with his eyes on the viewport. This was the tricky part, and his job was to stay out of it.

Meanwhile, one of the other officers walked over to the sleeping Captain and gently shook the man by the shoulders.

"What the..." said the Captain, knocking his own hat off as he jerked awake, glaring up at the officer who had woken him.

"We're there." said the officer, blunty, before returning to his post.

As the Captain collected his hat from the floor, the ship dropped out of warp, and immediately there was a Klingon Warbird on their bow.

"Incoming hail."

"Onscreen." replied the Captain, putting his hat back on and standing from the chair with a soft groan.

The screen changed from an image of the Warbird to an image of its Klingon Captain, who scowled at the screen as if it were a personal afront to look upon them.

"This area is under Klingon control." spat the Klingon, deepening his scowl, if such a thing were possible. "Why are you here?"

"We are here to drop off some passengers." said the Captain, biting back a cutting remark and sticking to the plain facts. "We were told to expect you, and we have auth-codes for safe passage."

The Klingon Captain looked off-screen, grunted in a noncommittal way, and gave a brisk nod to the screen.

"Fine. Your vessel will be monitored. Do not attempt to collect passengers or supplies here, or we be displeased. Understand?"

"Yes, I understand." the Captain replied through gritted teeth. This was getting on his nerves, and just as he'd woken up, too.

The comms channel shut off, and the Warbird moved the absolute minimum amount necessary for the Pandora to get past.

"Let's drop these folks off and get out of here." growled the Captain, frustrated with having to play nice to these jerks.

With a nod, the helm officer brought the ship within range of the station. This time it was a brief exchange of auth-codes that got them permission to enter the perimeter. A little impersonal, as it was all automated, but it beat Klingon hospitality any day.

A few moments later, and the passengers were all transported into the arrivals lounge in the station, along with a set of complimentary mints, and a brief message from the Captain explaining their short-notice drop-off.

Empty of passengers, and more than ready to not be here any more, the Pandora came about and jumped to warp.

=^= End of Log =^=

"One Truth"
News Reporting Group

"Hot Goss"
News Reporting Group

"Workday Times"
News Reporting Group


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