This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to space center employees or volunteers is deliberate. If you want included in the story, just let me know, but be warned. You may end up as a bad guy or a whiner or the cook or something else entirely.
How I Flunked Out of Starfleet Academy: Part 2
The female cadets scrambled to line up at the end of their bunks. We'd been given one hour to settle in. I guessed that hour was up as the drill sergeant strode through the door, tailed by her assistant.
"Cadet, you are out of uniform." The sergeant glared at the first cadet in line. The girl still wore her street clothes. "These bunks are atrocious. And the lockers," she flipped open the nearest foot locker to reveal a jumble of belongings, "are not properly stowed. Your response time is also lacking. But I'll be generous since this is your first day. I'm going to walk out the door and come back in two minutes." She turned on her heel and marched through the dormitory door.
"Who does she think she is?" The cadet bunking on the other side of Christine complained.
Christine and I had the beds in the very far corner, right next to the lavatory. She and I traded glances. How stupid was the cadet? We straightened the military issue blankets on our beds and made sure our gear was stowed correctly. Wasn't hard for me, I hadn't brought much from home.
"She's drill sergeant Warner, thinks she owns the place." The cadet across from us jerked her head to the door. "And her assistant, watch out for her. That woman is a menace to everyone. I think her name is VandenBerger. They call her the Big V." Her eyes dropped to our collars where the lack of colored pips declared our status. "General studies? Losers." Her collar sported red piping.
"Attention!" Warner and Big V were back for inspection.
Christine and I jumped to position, at attention to the left side of our foot lockers.
"How long did they take?" Warner asked her assistant.
"Fifteen point seven three seconds."
Warner shook her head. Her hair didn't shift. It looked painted on, every lock glued into position. "That's over ten seconds too long. Do you know what that means?" She turned on the nearest cadet.
"No, ma'am." The girl swallowed nervously.
Warner shoved her nose into the girl's face. "Sir! Not ma'am. Sir. Got that? And next time, don't squeak. Shout like you mean it. Now, do you know what that extra ten seconds means?"
"Five extra laps of the track when we finish inspection. Show me your locker, cadet."
I tried not to fidget as Warner and Big V worked their way down the line of cadets. They were generous with the demerits. A wrinkle in your pillowcase? Demerit. Your clothing not folded precisely in the locker? Demerit. A stray hair out of place? Demerit and a recommendation to get your head shaved.
She reached Christine. Warner eyed her head to toe. "Your hair is too long for regulations. Your blanket is not tucked in properly. Do it again. Now."
Warner turned to me while Christine untucked and retucked the corners of her bed. "Sloppy. What's your name, cadet?"
"Well, Stevens, do you know what general studies cadets do while the other cadets are at morning training?" She smiled. It was evil, like a big snake preparing to eat it's next meal. "They get to scrub the barracks. You and your friend will find cleaning supplies in the closet. You have one hour."
My heart sank as the other cadets smirked. I didn't come to the Academy to clean barracks. I was here to be an officer.
Warner marched up the aisle between the rows of beds. "Cadets, report to training. Dismissed!"
Christine and I traded looks as the room emptied.
"Cleaning? Seriously?" Christine kicked her foot locker.
I grinned. "We can do it fast. I'll show you. I worked janitorial on the ship here to pay my passage. And then I've got an idea."
"That smile scares me." But she followed me to the closet.
An hour later, the barracks gleamed. The rows of short-sheeted bunks showed not a single wrinkle, the blankets tight enough to bounce coins. Christine and I stood at attention as Warner and Big V inspected.
"Very good, cadets. You have until lunch at twelve hundred. I suggest you spend it in the library and the gym."
"Sir? What about classes?" Christine asked, her voice squeaking just a bit.
"Study what you want, at least for the first month. Further training will be based on what you pursue." Warner paused, hands clasped behind her back. "General studies is just that. Many admirals were general studies cadets, as well as most of those directing special ops and undercover assignments. Specialists are necessary, but those who understand more than their chosen field are the ones needed at the top. Remember that."
I watched her and her assistant leave the room. A faint ray of hope glimmered in the depths of my mind.
"We should short sheet our own bunks, just to allay suspicions," Christine said.
"They're going to know, Christine. Who else has access to the dorms?" I shrugged. "They fired the first shot."
"And what if we get into trouble?"
"I don't think we need to worry about that, not with Warner."
I was right. The cadets who complained ended up with extra KP duty. Christine and I ended up with fifty-eight enemies.
Aleta Clegg, writing as Jaleta Clegg