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The Longest Day [SFA]

Posted on Thu Aug 22nd, 2019 @ 3:53pm by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Cadet Freshman Grade Gazo Daw

Mission: Academy Days
Location: Ft. Ord, Department of Initial Officer Training HQ
Timeline: 13 March, 2395 - 1330 Hours

[ON]

The other two shuttles ended up disgorging a total of six more cadets. They were all roughly Daw's age, uniformly weary-looking and as entranced by the ocean as he was, even the Vulcan. Lieutenant Shnell muttered a string of obscenities under his breath that made Daw's head spin. He'd heard some of the veterans of the resistance say things like that but Shnell was some kind of artist. Eventually, he had the seven cadets across the landing pad and moving up the hard-surfaced path that led towards the buildings. Daw said nothing to his fellow cadets, merely nodding at a couple of them.

"Alright, cadets," Lieutenant Shnell said, drawling the second word. "We're going to walk to that big building over there and I'm going to turn you over to someone else."

A tall, muscular looking human man with blonde hair and fair skin raised a hand. Shnell shook his head, an incredulous look on his face. The cadet kept his hand raised.

"Yes?"

"Lieutenant, I was wondering when we're going to get some rest. It has been a long trip," the cadet said with a smile.

"Oh. A long trip, huh? Where did you come from," Lieutenant Shnell said in a soothing tone. Daw squinted his eyes.

The cadet nodded. "Oh yeah. It took me three days to get here and one of them I had to share a room with a vile Ferengi."

"What's your name, cadet?" Shnell asked as they tromped down the path towards the admin building. Daw was impressed with the sheer amount of gleaming glass and shining metal. He'd never seen anything like it back in his home province. Around the building, in a large circle, was a huge paved assembly area. Into the stone of the circle were splashes of color that Daw couldn't quite make out.

"I'm Jonathan Vickers, sir," the cadet said and held out his hand. Daw couldn't believe the guy. The Vulcan raised an eyebrow and another cadet, a Bolian woman, rolled her eyes. Shnell looked at the hand and then shook. "Good to meet you Vickers. How about I put you in charge of the rest of these cadets. You'll be the Cadet Commander."

Vickers smiled. "Sure thing, lieutenant."

Their footsteps sounded different when they left the path and stepped onto the assembly area. Daw didn't know why. He looked down at the surface and saw that the colors he'd seen previously were actually planets. In fact, all of the planets of the members of the Federation were depicted in a massive ring around the administrative building. He looked for Bajor but couldn't spot it.

There were also a lot more people. He saw a strange pattern emerge as he studied the bustling groups of people. Many of them were cadets of all races, wearing uniforms that differed subtly. The other large group were clearly the established officers of the fleet, many of whom were carrying shoulder bags like Daw's. The sudden thought of home crashed into him and the next thing he knew he was entering the admin building.

The interior lobby had a soaring, two-story ceiling that allowed sunshine to pour inside. The interior was decorated, tastefully he thought, in Federation blue and gray. The carped absorbed the hundreds of footsteps, reducing what would have been a thunder of noise to a soothing swish of feet as officers and cadets moved with a purpose to parts unknown. Lieutenant Shnell snapped his fingers at the gawking group of cadets and motioned for them to follow.

"We're almost there, people. Right this way," Shnell said, heading down a side passageway large enough for a Runabout to fly through. Daw saw many more branching corridors and wondered where they went. They turned again, into a smaller passage and the floor descended gently, indicating that they were going beneath the building. The passage ended at a large turbolift and Shnell herded them inside.

"Where are we going, lieutenant," Vickers asked as the turbolift doors closed. Shnell held up a hand.

"Reception," Shnell said and the turbolift whirred to life. "You'll see. Almost done traveling for a long time."

The turbolift moved for a lot longer than Daw was expecting. He'd traveled on a lot of ships and none had had a turbolift like this. A moment later the turbolift doors opened, revealing a large, utilitarian looking room with row after row of hard benches where other cadets, just like them, sat in clumps. Their group of cadets shuffled out of the turbolift but Lieutenant Shnell stayed inside.

"Aren't you coming?" Vickers asked. Shnell shook his head.

"Alas my time with you is now over. I've got more cadets to herd in an hour and I need to get something to eat. Don't worry though. Master Chief Petty Officer Howling should be along to get you shortly. Have a seat on the bench," Shnell said.

"Ok," Vickers said.

"Thanks, sir," Daw said. Shnell nodded and the turbolift doors closed, leaving the small group of cadets alone in a crowd.

"Lets go find some seats," Vickers said and marched off without looking to see if anyone was following. The other cadets actually did. Daw hesitated and then slid into the last row of benches, hiding behind a stout looking woman. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to stay with his group but he had a bad feeling about Vickers and his parents had taught him to listen to his feelings because the prophets prompted you in all kinds of ways.

He could see Vickers' blonde head as the rest of the group made their way about ten rows forward and sat down. Vickers stayed on his feet, a bewildered look on his face as he turned in a circle. Daw ducked behind his cover. He was glad he hadn't given his name.

"What the hell are you doing, cadet!" A voice boomed. Daw shook his head.

"Uhh..." All conversation ceased and Daw could hear heavy footsteps rapidly approaching from the far side of the room. There must have been a concealed entrance because he'd thought the room was just a big blank square. He risked a look and his eyes went wide. The largest, darkest, angriest looking man Daw had ever seen was stomping towards the hapless Vickers who was standing in the middle of the aisle, frozen. The cadets near the edges of the nearby benches instinctively edged away, causing a ripple, not unlike that a rock would cause when thrown into water.

"I asked you a question cadet!" The man yelled. "Why aren't you sitting down with the rest of these idiots like you were told?"

Vickers' mouth opened like a dying fish. "Uhh..."

"Are you sick? Are you injured?" The man asked, putting his face inches from Vickers'. Daw could see the muscles standing out on the man's neck like cables and his eyes were white around the edges. The rank on his collar identified him as a Chief Petty Officer, Daw noted. He was glad he'd spent time reviewing the rank systems before coming to Earth.

"No, I'm not inured," Vickers finally managed. Then he squared his shoulders. "I'm an, uh, Cadet Commander Vickers and I've lost someone who I was supposed to bring here," Vickers said.

"Well, Cadet Commander Vickers, is it? I'm Master Chief Petty Officer Howling!" Howling yelled. "Where is your uniform, Cadet Commander Vickers?"

Vickers' face had gone so pale, Daw thought he could see his bones through his skin. "I... haven't been..." he started to say and then Master Chief Petty Officer Howling cut him off.

"Sit down! Sit down right now! Sit down on one of these benches and shut your mouth!" Howling screamed. "I don't care who you were before or who you think you are. I'm here to tell you who you really are! You're a nobody! You're not a cadet and you sure as shit aren't a cadet commander. You haven't even earned the right to wear a uniform yet. I'm tempted to stick my boot up your backside just to see what comes out. You're a sorry excuse for a cadet recruit. Now SIT!"

Vickers collapsed onto the nearest bench, his shoulders visibly shaking. None of the other cadets made eye-contact with the obviously deranged Master Chief Petty Officer Howling, who literally had spittle flying from his mouth as he yelled. Daw couldn't make himself look away.

Howling turned in a circle, taking in the mass of cadets, some hundred strong. "None of you are cadets yet! You are here for Initial Officer Training, at the end of which you might be allowed the privilege of proceeding on to the academy, blessed be that place," Howling said. He wasn't screaming anymore but his voice was powerful and clear. He started pacing up and down the aisle.

"None of you will do anything unless you are told. You will ask permission to do everything, including visiting the lavatories. You will learn the conduct, bearing and manners befitting an officer, which I as a Master Chief Petty Officer am unqualified to teach you. Because of that, you will have an outstanding cadre of officer instructors for those topics. I," Howling said, holding up a finger. "I will be responsible for your physical readiness and discipline."

The eyes of the crowd were now locked on the Master Chief Petty Officer as his boots clicked on the hard floor. "And believe me when I tell you, I take that responsibility very seriously. Very. Seriously. If you cross me or one of my fellow trainers, I will take you to the wall," Howling said, his voice becoming quiet.

Daw had no idea what being taken to the wall was but he knew he didn't want to find out. Ever. Master Chief Petty Officer Howling put something to his lips and a high pitched whistle sounded, echoing through the chamber.

"Recruits! On your feet!" Howling yelled.

There was a mad scrambled that verged on the edge of a riot as every single cadet attempted to stand at the same time, pushing and shoving in order to get up. Howling clasped his hands behind his back and watched the chaos unfold, waiting until it finally resolved itself, ignoring a quick skirmish in the third row. Once everyone was standing still, or close enough, a large door opened and five other intimidating-looking men and women, all enlisted, marched in and stood at the front of the room.

"You will be separated into five platoons," Howling said. "These will be your Platoon Chief Petty Officers. They are an extension of me. When they talk, it is with my voice. Do not make me repeat myself! Tomorrow the rest of your cycle arrives and training will begin. Until then, you're all going to fill out paperwork and get physicals. Do you understand?"

Nobody said a word. Howling's face turned into a black hole of anger.

"I said DO YOU UNDERSTAND, RECRUITS?"

There was an uneven, rolling response of Yes, sirs, yes, yeah, ok etc. Howling shook his head in obvious disgust. Daw, who had kept quiet at the back, braced for more verbal abuse.

"When you are replying to me or my cadre, you say 'Yes, Master Chief Petty Officer' or whatever their rank is. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Master Chief Petty Officer!" The cadets replied, mostly, together. Daw felt dazed.

Howling nodded. "Be seated!"

They sat.

"Cadre, these recruits are yours," Howling said. The five platoon Chief Petty Officer's came to attention and saluted.

"Yes, Master Chief Petty Officer Howling!" They said in perfect unison.

"Carry on," Howling said, for the first time in a normal voice. Nobody said anything or moved until Howling's intimidating form disappeared through the far door.

Daw exhaled. He had a feeling that this was going to be the longest day of his life.

He was right.

[OFF]

Cadet Freshman Grade Gazo Daw
Starfleet Academy



 

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