Into the Wild Black Yonder
Posted on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 @ 2:16pm by Ensign Nathaniel Wick
Episode 3: Something Wicked This Way Comes
The wormhole was spectacular and still Wick wanted to vomit.
It was not the trip. A well-designed personnel transport navigated the phenomenon so smoothly his coffee barely rattled on the tray. He didn't struggle with flight anyway; that was the sort of thing they wrung out of you at the Academy. A Starfleet officer needed to be at home in, well, the stars.
'You alright, kid?' The dour-faced petty officer sat next to him had endured his company only grudgingly so far. He had the look of a veteran about him, of space and the wormhole alike, not even looking up from the videos on his PADD when the spiralling vortex sprung to life ahead of them, bursting out of seemingly nothing to open its arms on a catapulting trip across the cosmos.
But then Wick had fallen silent, head in his hand as he fought nausea, and after talking a mile a minute on the journey so far, the keen-eyed petty officer had to have realised something was wrong. More impressive, he seemed to care.
'Quite fine,' Wick replied automatically.
'Only you look like you're gonna throw up on my boots -'
'Cos I'd have to complain to the steward if that happened -'
'And look, the wormhole isn't going to eat us or anything -'
Wick forced himself to sit up. 'It's none of that. I'm fine. See?' For some reason he thought a slug of coffee would quell the nausea and make him look perky. It achieved one of those things, because as it burnt his throat and he broke into a coughing fit, he wasn't worried about nausea anymore.
'Picture of health,' drawled the petty officer. 'First time through?'
Then they were, indeed, through, the sight of a lifetime missed by an upset stomach and now all that stretched beyond the transport's windows were stars that at a glance looked no less foreign than the ones in the Alpha Quadrant. 'Yeah,' said Wick, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. 'First time in the Gamma Quadrant.'
'Oh, it's fine. We don't get marauding Jem'hadar blowing us up just for poking our noses in the wrong place. Not any more.'
'Yeah. No, that doesn't worry me,' Wick said quickly.
'I mean, you might get melted in the Finnean Convergence Zone -'
He drained his coffee. 'Petty Officer. I'm fine, truly.'
'Who said I was reassuring you?' The other man shrugged and leaned back in his chair. 'Look, kid, you'll get to your posting, you'll report in, you'll spend the next two years filing reports and sitting on the bridge only when less than nothing's going on, you'll be woken up in the middle of the night by a crisis but it won't be your job to do anything about it so you stay out of the way. It's not as exciting as the Academy told you.'
What made it unpleasant was that this was no poor summary of Wick's experiences so far. A dull posting where he'd learnt plenty about logistics and management of a large ship, and very little of it had needed doing under pressure of anything but a looming inspection deadline. It was why he'd put in for a transfer. Why he'd wanted more.
Why his gut was trying to escape through his chest.
'It's not going to be like that,' he said with forced conviction. 'Not for me.' Command training, assignments to get experience under his belt, opportunities seized; he'd done the leg-work, done his preparation, and now it was time for everything to take off, just like he knew he was worth, just like he owed -
The petty officer scoffed, but signalled the end of his interest by closing his eyes. 'It's like that for everyone.'
The rest of the trip to New Bajor, which turned out to be the petty officer's quiet posting, passed in silence. Time for Wick to refresh himself on the assignment, on his directions upon arrival. When they docked, the pilot offered apologies over the comm for what had apparently been a sub-par trip through the wormhole, which allowed Wick to pretend his nausea had been all about that and not at all about apprehension of impending failure.
Or impending mundanity. He wasn't sure which was worse.
It was at the shipyards that he first saw the Nogura. He had time to board before impending departure, time to get settled, and time to take a moment. Just peer out of the observation window, as officer bustled and hurried around him to get to their destinations, and take in the sweeping lines, the gleaming hull, the glow of promise. This was a proper Starfleet ship, the sort dreams were made of; not an aged relic of a past generation or a bristling patrol boat. This was opportunity.
It would be mundane for everyone, the petty officer had warned him, weary, experienced cynicism in his eyes.
'Not for me,' Wick muttered to himself, and forcibly tore himself away from the viewport.
In the end, he'd taken so long soaking in the sight he had to run to make the boarding deadline.