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USS Internship

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In 2151, the USS Enterprise (NX-01) set out on its maiden voyage; by 2200, Star Fleet had expanded dramatically as technology improved and as more planets and species continued to join the Federation. Not only did Star Fleet and the Federation gain new members, but so did the families of the crews.

On September 1st 2200, Star Fleet opened its own High School in the far west corner of the San Francisco Academy grounds. It was given the rather unimaginative name of Star Fleet Preparatory, for the simple reason that (at the time) the vast majority of its students were following in their parents’ footsteps and also heading into Star Fleet Academy and then onwards into stars. It was a combination of boarding and day school, mostly providing the students who had parents off-planet a stable home and education where it wasn’t too hard to keep in touch with their Fleet family.

The only requirement for entry was to have a parent or guardian actively serving, or having died in service of Star Fleet – the Fleet received criticism for being exclusive, but they certainly couldn’t be faulted for looking after their own.

In 2219, there was a protest.

Uptake from Star Fleet Prep. into the Academy was at an all-time low, somewhere around forty-percent. The sixty-percent of students that didn’t want to go to the Academy (and several political busy-bodies who stuck their noses in because they apparently didn’t have more pressing issues to deal with) demanded that the name of the school be amended to be more inclusive; and that a non-Fleet principal be brought in to run it. They necessitated that the school uniform be dropped and that students be free to express themselves through their wardrobe choices. It was petitioned that any child of a suitable age should have the opportunity to apply and attend the school if they lived within a ten kilometre radius, not just the ‘Fleet Brats’.

~

Captain William McKinley had been honourably discharged on medical grounds at the same time as the unrest at Star Fleet Prep. began. The once strong human male had become the host to a species of previously un-encountered microscopic parasites on an away mission; they burrowed into his flesh and caused his muscles to atrophy suddenly. Star Fleet Medical and the Science Teams had worked tirelessly to find a cure; but it didn’t come soon enough to prevent severe damage that couldn’t be regenerated. Due to the surgical debridement that had been required to clean away the dead tissue, the Captain had to rely on splints and other prosthetics for him to stand and function independently; he required constant pain medication.

McKinley didn’t have any close family, he’d been married to his work; his ship was his baby; his crew had been a substitute for siblings and cousins; the Admirals were almost parental figures. With nowhere left to go (and honestly with no real desire to actually leave the environment he loved), he’d taken up a small retirement apartment on the Academy grounds, his fifth-floor kitchen window overlooking the Star Fleet Preparatory playing fields and providing him a perfect view of the various sporting events.

In 2220, the retired Captain relapsed after a dormant form of the parasite burrowed deep in his tissue reanimated. Despite the very best efforts of Star Fleet’s medics and scientists, he died due to an opportunistic secondary infection that attacked his weakened state; he slipped away as peacefully as could be hoped for.

McKinley had been a frugal man; Star Fleet had provided everything he could ask for since he was in his twenties: a roof over his head (be it an Academy dorm room, Star Base, Starship, his retirement apartment or the hospital); food in his belly; clothing; fellowship, excitement and mental stimulation. His wages had mounted up and been invested for a rainy day that came-and-went much sooner than anyone ever expected. Each-and-every credit had been left to the school that had provided hours of entertainment as he sat by his kitchen window watching various sports and activities – though, the football team had been lacking a decent coach, in his opinion.

In honour of the man who’d left them his entire estate (and to shut up the various protestors), Star Fleet Preparatory was re-named as the Captain William McKinley High School. The uniform regulations were relaxed slowly and then dropped entirely over the next two years (the dark blue blazer and white shirt, combined with grey pants or skirt and the required striped tie hadn’t been popular to begin with, and nobody was all that sad to see it go).

Other students that weren’t ‘Fleet Brats’ were permitted to attend within three years of the name change; but with the strict stipulation that they intended to advance into Star Fleet Academy – it was after all Star Fleet that were funding most of the educational facilities, and many former officers and Academy Instructors were teachers. Non-Fleet principals were brought in and the board of governors was split equally between Fleet personnel and civilians.

Others would later follow Captain William McKinley’s lead and leave a donation or even their whole estates to the school; noticeably there had been the Commander Irvine Dalton Memorial Library and the Lieutenant Valarie Carmel Memorial Auditorium.

However, in 2257, a year before the crisis of Vulcan and the Nerada Incident; Principal Figgins, whom had held the role for nineteen years, failed to protect the welfare of several students. He was replaced by one of the governors: Commodore Sue Sylvester, formerly of the Academy – who decided that it was about time that the kids who wanted to progress into the Fleet had the opportunity to see what it was really like.

Chapter Text

“Sylvester, off the record here… it’s an absolutely brilliant idea! But we just can’t possibly justify sending teenagers onto Star Ships! We’ve just lost half of the fleet over Vulcan, as well as a huge number of cadets! I’m sorry, but we need to concentrate on other things; so much more has to take priority right now.” Admiral Archer said, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger.

“Admiral, recruitment of suitable people just went through the floor – you need every single decent cadet you can possibly get your hands on through the doors of the Academy – what better way to insure that these excellent kids actually enlist? Currently you’ve only had mass-applications from trigger-happy idiots and adrenaline junkies! The ones with brains – the ones we actually want – are thinking twice before applying.” Commodore Sylvester countered, refusing to back down.

“It’s too dangerous!” Admiral Bartlett commented, leaning back in his chair and hoping that it might just release the knot of tension that had been permanent since the destruction of Vulcan and tragedy above it; it didn’t make any difference; his muscles still complained.

“And before the Nerada Incident, there was a higher probability of being killed by a kitchen replicator than meeting death while serving on a Star Ship!”

“And just how many people had ‘Death by Replicator’ as cause of death?” Admiral Pike asked, staring directly into Commodore Sylvester’s eyes and finding his silent challenge met and held.

“Seven hundred and nine last year, Admiral.” She replied, her gaze unflinching.

“How did they manage that?” Admiral Archer muttered, turning to the Surgeon General, Philip Boyce, who whispered back: “Pure stupidity and technical malfunctions.”

“Commodore, we can accommodate as many as you like into the Academy to get a taste of things to come; and there are the various Earth-Bound sectors that would be glad for enthusiastic interns; but we just can’t justify putting children on Star Ships!” Admiral Marcus commented.

“Oh, I want those Earth-bound opportunities also – but the very best deserve a chance on a Star Ship – or at the very least a Star Base!” she replied, finally breaking eye contact with Admiral Pike, “And how about the babies who are born in Star Ship Med Bays? Six of my students had a Ship for a crèche! Surely it isn’t safe for the infants in space either? At least the teenagers are toilet trained!”

“Teenagers get into too much trouble!” Admiral Marcus countered.

“You do have a point though, Commodore…” the Surgeon General began, “We do have babies born in space and who thrive on the Ships – most only come back to Earth for school – its why we built Star Fleet Prep in the first place. Plenty of Fleet parents take their kids with them on the safer missions.”

“I always liked you, Sir.” Sue said, nodding appreciatively at the only person in the room who outwardly appeared to agree with her.

“I remember you giving me a black eye when your appendix ruptured and I ordered you to leave your post for treatment, Sylvester.” He replied.

“That was twenty years ago! And dealing with pissed Kingons trumped a burst appendix.” She said with a wink, “With a few passes of the regenerator your face was fine – you managed to get my appendix out and have me back on duty in three hours.”

“You left sickbay even though you’d been ordered to stay in bed!” he countered.

“Well, if I could have run a Star Base from a biobed, I would have – but sickbay was severely lacking when it came to being able argue with crinkly-fore-headed, pissed-beyond-reason belligerents firing at us for no apparent reason! My appendix was just being inconvenient.” she snipped.

“Inconvenient? Inconvenient?! You forget that you were an hour away from septicaemia by the time I managed to get you into surgery! And even then it took three members of security to get you into the O.R.!” Boyce countered.

We’re digressing.” Archer chipped in to halt the argument before it could really get going. “We’re admittedly being… cautious I guess is an accurate term… with the ships we do have, how about we see what the Captains with ships docked at Earth actually think. The argument that we do already have young children on some ships is valid – and does make us look like hypocrites for refusing young adults the opportunity.”

“Jon, we have a very small number of kids on nice and safe Research Vessels, freighters, Couriers, Star Bases – not on Constitution Class ships! The Cadets do a semester on the Heavy Cruisers, but they’ve had the training!” Admiral Marcus said, his body language demonstrating his dislike of the topic.

“We’re talking four weeks over the summer vacation – you’re keeping the ships around Earth close-by and on what are essentially Milk Runs! Give these kids a chance!” Sue cried, finally losing her legendry cool and standing up suddenly.

“Commodore, at ease – we’ll contact the Captains to get their thoughts – but their word is final.” Admiral Archer said, and the blonde woman took a deep breath before taking her seat once more.

“I am formally objecting to this. We should not be part of this ‘USS Internship’ nonsense!” Admiral Marcus snapped, logging it into the minutes being taken.

“Oh, I like that! That’s better than what I came up with! USS Internship! I’m using that.” Sylvester whispered, nodding at her Yeoman, who smiled and nodded back, already changing the comms that she’d put together in preparation for the project getting the green light. Admiral Marcus looked less than impressed.

“I object to the teenagers being around potentially dangerous environments; they must not be placed onto ships where there is a higher probability of danger. I do not object to the activity itself.” The Surgeon General said.

“I think it depends on the individual Captains; if I still had the Enterprise, I’d not be taking anyone who hadn’t come from the Academy.” Pike said, being brutally honest, “Has anyone spoken to Space Dock? Dock Control might take on a couple.”

“Space dock is on my list of requests already. See page seventeen of the brief I put together.” Sylvester replied.

“Let’s go to recess – we’ve been discussing this in circles for the best part of three hours now. I need coffee and to check in with everything else going on. Commodore Sylvester, we’ll be in touch by comm. Right now, there isn’t a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – we need to go through this in much greater detail.” Archer said, standing. All (except the wheelchair-bound Pike) rose; Sue saluted, and the Admirals filed out of the room.

“Jaxxon, let’s go and tell the kids we might just be getting somewhere. USS Internship should get the go-ahead if the Admirals have a scrap of sense between them.” Sue said, turning to her Yeoman before leaving the meeting room; the lights automatically turning off as the door closed behind them.

Chapter Text

It was highly unusual for teenagers to be up and alert at 05:30hrs on the first day of the school summer vacation (especially after the parties that the various individual cliques had held the night before); but a crowd of CWMHS students were the obvious exception as they entered the Lieutenant Valarie Carmel Memorial Auditorium and sat in the front rows. Some visibly twitched with overflowing enthusiasm; the others would be likewise once the caffeine or high-sugar sports drink they’d consumed kicked in.

At the back of the auditorium in dim light sat a gathering of the Instructor-Grey, Command-Gold, Science-Blue and Operations-Red of Star Fleet; waiting to see who they’d be sharing their knowledge with for the next four weeks. From the front seats, you couldn’t see their faces.

“Ok, listen up – your parents have given you permission to take part in the maiden voyage of USS Internship. You’ve been placed where it is believed you will gain the most from the experience – in other words don’t bitch if you didn’t get put where you dreamed you’d be!” Sylvester called, the little comm unit pinned to her collar picked up her words, amplifying her voice through the speakers around the room. “Your end of term medical scans have been used to procure uniforms for you – hopefully none of you grew in the past three weeks; it’s tough luck if you did. Amendments have been made for anatomical differences that make standard humanoid uniforms un-wearable.”

Sylvester paused, her face perfectly neutral as she surveyed her sleepy students – it changed to a scowl as she picked up on one person that definitely shouldn’t be there.

“Rachel Berry, what the Hell are you doing here?” She yelled, not giving the girl time to answer before continuing, “Miss Berry, your Fathers didn’t give you permission – and as you want to be a star of the stage, not serve in Star Fleet, you don’t have business being here!”

“I for one think that excluding those of us who do not desire a career with Star Fleet from this opportunity is discrimination.” said the petite girl, standing and attempting to stare down the Commodore. Higher ranks (and Klingons) had tried and failed at that task; within a few moments, the girl in the kitten sweater had looked away.

“How is it ‘discrimination’? Why should I waste Star Fleet resources on someone who won’t get any benefit? And as I’ve already said: you don’t have permission to be here from your Fathers, exit stage left.” Sylvester said, giving a few moments of pause, in which the teen didn’t move, “You’re still here, Miss Berry. You’re holding everyone up, and we have ships on a tight schedule. Get Out!”

“Finn?” she said, turning to the boy she’d been sat next to, “Are you coming?”

“Rachel, you know I’ve always wanted to join the Fleet – this is an awesome chance! I can make my Dad and my Mom and even Burt proud! I’ve worked so hard for this.” he replied, looking a bit sheepish as she glared at him.

“We’ll talk about this, Finn!” she snipped.

“Talk in four weeks – leave. Now.” The Commodore yelled. The Fleet personnel at the back of the room were surprised at the storm-out the girl performed; her peers had seen her do it countless times before, and didn’t bat an eyelash between them. A petite red-headed teacher in perfectly presented, casual civilian clothing quietly slipped out of the room after her.

“Hudson, I’m delighted to see that you actually have a spine. Though you probably don’t have a girlfriend anymore; not a huge loss – it’s not as if she’d stick around if you were accepted into the Academy anyway.” Sylvester said once the door had gently hissed closed, “Okay, where were we?... luckily for us, there were two Constitution Class Ship Captains that were prepared to take some of you on – but they need to leave Space Dock at 08:00, which is why you’re all in so bright and early. Jaxxon, let’s get group A underway.”

“Yes ma’am.” Said the petite denobulan Yeoman, reading from her PADD, “Can the following join me on the stage: Abrhams, Arthur; Anderson, Blaine; Cohen-Chang, Tina; Evans, Samuel; Hummel, Kurt; Lopez, Santana; Pierce, Britt'nii; Puck; and Yok-kur Sa-te'kru, Sbahk, apologies if I didn’t pronounce your names correctly.”

Quite quickly, the gathering of teenagers (mostly human, but with a Catian, Vulcan, Orian and a Sauropsidan also present) stood from their seats and made their way to where the Yeoman stood; most of them were already sat in close proximity and didn’t have to clamber over other people. They stood close to each other, as if for moral support, glancing between one another nervously.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, you are the nine top students I have the duty of teaching; you have either shown consistent high performance or have demonstrated the most effort this year. Some of you have worked with the Academy already on various extra-curricular projects and extra-credit assignments…” Sylvester began, looking stern, before grinning widely, “…Congratulations kids, you’re interning on the USS Enterprise. Do. Not. Let. Me. Down.”

There was a collective gasp from the room at large; and almost every jaw on the stage dropped in surprise; the exceptions were the Vulcan teen, whose eyebrows had been lost somewhere in his hairline; and the Orian girl who was gazing intently at the emergency exit sign at the back of the room – and didn’t appear to be remotely interested in what was going on. The other students began clapping quietly; looking both simultaneously pleased for their peers and insanely jealous.

From the back of the room, well-recognised Star Fleet Officers began to make their way onto the stage – these people still had their faces all over news reports (months after the Narada Incident had been replaced by other headlines) and on the recruitment fliers and posters. They stood at the stairs leading to the stage and looked up at the teenagers.

“Don’t look so scared, we don’t bite.” Captain Kirk said, smiling widely. The teens relaxed, but none of them spoke, “You guys ready to go? We have a shuttle to catch to Space Dock and newly-fitted engines to get warmed up.”

“Listen up, you might be the senior officers of the flagship – but that means precisely squat to me. These kids are my best and brightest and I want them back in one piece at the end of these four weeks. Only I am allowed to break them down – not you.” Sylvester warned.

Kirk schooled his features before replying, “We’ll take good care of them, and let them get some experience of a real ship – but I’m not wrapping them in cotton wool, Ma’am.”

“Leave the soft bondage out of this, ok?” Sylvester countered.

“Erm, not quite what I meant Ma’am…”

“Kids, do me proud.” She cut Kirk off.

“Yes Ma’am!” the teens said, all of them saluting simultaneously; with Commodore Sylvester nodding in approval. The Enterprise, bridge officers waited as the students stepped down from the stage, falling into line with the Gold, Blue and Red-shirted crew.

~

Outside the auditorium doors they were met by three adults. An older human male, who was dressed in Operations-Red (commander rank, with an Engineering insignia and toolbelt around his hips) stood by a human female Fleet Nurse of a similar age; she was wearing the typical plastic-y white uniform, but had opted to wear pants beneath the short dress. Close by was a pastel-pink-skinned Catian male, he had long black hair braided neatly down his back, clipped periodically with engraved metal bands. He had an impressive moustache of long black whiskers that stuck out to the edge of his face. The feline wore Star Fleet blue doctors scrubs and the white clog-like shoes that medics seemed to be fond of (his rank was undetermined – he had the sleeves rolled up).

“Hold it; you kids had better behave right while you’re up there! You do your best, you hear me? You listen to what these people tell you! I will make sure you’re grounded and don’t get dessert for a year if you cause any mischief!” the human male said, each of the kids instantly serious and nodding.

“But Papa Burt, we’re always good!” piped up the Orian, her pinky finger linked around the tail of an adolescent female Caitian, “Except when sometimes we’re not good – but only sometimes. I like pudding, so I’ll try to be extra good.”

“Oh Britt’nii, I know you try your best.” The man replied, his face softening as he spoke.

“Mr. H? Can we still comm you if we wanna?” piped up the largest of the students; he was Sauropsidan, a humanoid species with a reptilian evolutionary ancestor; his skin was made up of fine scales with a grey-ish-blue tint to them; a spectacular crest ran from the bridge of his nose to the base of his skull, similar to a mohawk.

“Comm me? Of course you can, Puck – though I don’t know what’s so special about me though.” The commander replied, scratching at his bald head. The nurse next to him chuckled quietly.

“Because of all the Fleet Daddies we have to pick from, you’re the one we actually like the best, Papa Burt.” Said the Orian girl, grinning.

“Any chance of some introductions?” Kirk asked, looking between the kids and the three adults essentially blocking their path to the exit.

“I think I can manage that.” chipped in Admiral Pike as he wheeled towards the gathering, propelling the wheelchair with a motion that suggested he hadn’t quite got the hang of it. Everyone stood to attention and saluted; Pike waved and told them to stand at ease.

“Jim, these are Commander Burt Hummel – Chief Engineer on the USS Yorktown, his wife Carol Hudson, one of the Yorktown nurses and Doctor Vepkhi Lopez from the Star Fleet Clinic. Burt, Carol, Vepkhi, these are the senior officers of the USS Enterprise.

“And us!” piped up the Orian again, waving hello.

“I think we already know who you kids are, sweetie. You all tend to be attached at the hip; where there’s one of you, the others are never too far away.” Carol said, smiling gently, the teenagers smiling back warmly at her. Carol had patched them all up at one time or another and was one of the favoured maternal figures available to them.

“Are you gonna let ‘em by Burt? They, and you, have a ship to get to.” Pike said, nudging the other man in the hip with his shoulder.

“Sure Admiral… you know Chris, it’s just plain weird calling someone I shared a dorm with at the Academy Admiral! You proof-read my assignments; we were on each other’s Koboyashi Maru. I’ve seen you in your underwear! I’ve drunk you under the table! I died your hair blue as a prank! You were Best Man when I married Lizzie!” Burt said, grinning at the fond memories. The Enterprise senior officers stood there in bemused silence observing the conversation.

“I still don’t know how you managed to turn it blue; it wouldn’t wash out for a month… Speaking of underwear, I struggle to take a Chief Engineer seriously who frequently wore a pair of silky neon pink boxers with yellow sequin hearts on them!” Pike replied with a snorting chuckle.

“Woah! That’s practically blasphemous! Those were my lucky boxers! You bought me them as a gag gift!” the engineer cried, folding his arms over his chest defensively.

“Gag gift – as in not to be taken seriously… And precisely how lucky were they? They looked ridiculous, which was the whole point after you insulted my wingman skills!” Pike laughed.

“You were useless as a wingman! And as for how lucky? Well, exhibit A is stood over there!” Burt said pointing in the direction of the teenagers, a high pitched cry of “Daaaaaaaaaaaad! Oh my God! We did not need to hear that!” earned several chuckles.

“What, kiddo? Did you think the ‘USS Stork’ flew over at warp and dropped you off in an escape pod?” Burt teased, earning an indignant squeak from one teen and chuckles from the rest.

“Kurt is that you, kid? Haven’t you shot up! I haven’t seen enough of you in person in an age thanks to getting the Enterprise ready and then all this mess with Nero; I think I was always asleep when you came by the hospital after school. Come over here, will you?” Pike said, looking the tall, slim young man up and down, “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: thank goodness you took after your Mom, because your Dad isn’t gonna be winning any beauty pageants any time soon.”

“We all know I’m about as pretty as a Klingon with toothache, Chris – I’ve got enough lines on my forehead these days. It’s a good thing he got Lizzie’s good looks – and her brains for that matter. God, she could out-think everyone; she had her heart set on being First Officer.” Burt smiled fondly at the happy memories as he looked on proudly at his son.

“She’d have made an impressive Captain too… So Kurt, bearing in mind your first word was ‘wrench’, followed in close succession by ‘me want’ I’m guessing you’re still planning on following your Dad into engineering?” the Admiral asked.

“Yes Uncle Chris, I mean, Sir. Sorry Sir.” The young man responded, not quite sure of the title he should be using for his Godfather.

“Relax, Kiddo.” The Admiral said, winking, “Though I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I still think you’d do very well on the command track...”

“…Chris, seriously, Kurt can strip a shuttle craft engine down and put it back together faster than even I can these days! And he can get his head around the theoretical stuff a lot quicker than me – I told you he got Lizzie’s brains!” Burt cut off his friend, “You know, I’d love to be going with him to get a look at those new engines on the Flagship; I’d have killed to do this as a teenager; it’s kinda sad that the Yorktown isn’t taking part in USS Internship, but we’re not going to be back on Earth for four months – and it’s a bit too long for them.” A chirruping-bleep had several of the Fleet members checking their comms.

“And that was the not so subtle reminder that you guys really do need to be getting to Space Dock… Burt – it’s been great to see you; you too Carol, keep him out of trouble, won’t you? Don’t be strangers whenever you’re next back on Earth. I’ll be dirt-side for the near future.” he said, shaking the engineer’s hand and then gently taking Carol’s hand in both of his.

“Engineers tend to keep medical on their toes; but I do my best with the accident-prone bunch. Don’t think I don’t know about how Burt put some ‘upgrades’ on that chair of yours – no racing anybody you adrenaline junkie.” Carol laughed, leaning down and kissing Pike on both cheeks, “You keep yourself well too, follow that PT plan and don’t push it too far! We’re going to stick around for just a few minutes to see Finn off too.”

“I don’t know anything about any upgrades, ma’am! Dr. Lopez here will be taking excellent care of me – though I don’t think he can bake cookies as well as you can.” Pike said with a cheeky wink to the nurse.

“No word of a lie, Admiral, my Dad burnt a salad.” Santana said, turning to the older Caitian and giving him a toothy grin.

“I am not a chef, I am a doctor – but we’ve never starved, kitten-mine.” He replied, gently tugging on one of her high pigtails and earning a hiss in reply.

“Woah! Chris gets cookies? I don’t get cookies!” Burt complained.

“That’s because Uncle Chris hasn’t needed a new heart grown from his stem-cells, Dad! You need to stick to the recommended diet!” Kurt snapped.

“One cookie won’t hurt me!” Burt replied.

“No, but you tend to eat more than one, honey.” Carole soothed, catching Kurt’s eye and shaking her head in amused exasperation.

“Commander Hummel, whenever the Enterprise and Yorktown next cross paths, I’m sure we can set up you coming over to visit.” Kirk said, Commander Scott nodding enthusiastically behind him. Though the Enterprise’s engineer had never personally worked with Burt Hummel, his name was well respected when mentioned in the Star Fleet engineering world; both for his hard work and gruff-but-gentle attitude to those around him. His seemingly unconditional-love of warp cores certainly didn’t harm his reputation either.

“Well that’s fantastic! I don’t know when that’ll be – so until then I’ll just have to get the gossip from Kurt, right Kiddo?” Burt turned to the teens, “Now remember, all of you behave yourselves!”

“Kids, also remember to enjoy it! This is going to be wonderful for you.” Carol said with a grin.

“Come on everyone, we’d better talk and move at the same time or the shuttle will go without us.” Without being asked, Captain Kirk took the handles of the wheel chair and started pushing the Admiral slowly towards the exit and the waiting transports that would take them to the hangar.

Seeing that Pike was being pushed by the Captain, Dr. Lopez dropped back and shook hands with McCoy, the two medics quietly talking between themselves. They were vaguely familiar with the sight of each other from Star Fleet Medical, but had never said much more than good morning/good afternoon/good evening, and updated the condition of patients during hand-overs to each other. Unfortunately, thanks to red-tape, McCoy had had access to the kids’ medical files for less than half-an-hour; however, Lopez was each one’s primary physician and he wanted to provide further insight for the flagship CMO.

A chorus of ‘Bye Carol’, ‘bye Dad’, ‘bye Papa Burt’ and ‘Bye Mr. H’ filled the air as the larger group left at a clipped pace.

“Who else do I just about recognise from the holos your parents have shown me… Anderson? Are you Grant Anderson’s youngest?”

“Yes sir.” The smallest of the males replied.

“Kid, the day your older brother washed out of the Academy I sat down with several instructors and drank half a bottle of the good stuff in celebration… I’ve never been more relieved than when I saw you were the polar opposite.” Pike said, smiling kindly.

“Thank you, sir?” Blaine replied, blushing.

“Anderson, there’s no need to be so modest; I know you’re on for a bright future if you keep the effort up... Cooper was arrogant, slack with his work, a show-off and genuinely thought he could bull shit his way through.”

Blaine sighed quietly before replying, “With all due respect, Admiral, you didn’t have to grow up around him – you only saw him in small doses.”

“Thank God for small mercies. At least you turned out all right. Your Dad is so proud of you, tells anyone who’ll listen how well you’re doing at school – but not a peep about your brother; has anyone spoken to Cooper recently? Your Dad doesn’t talk about him much anymore; just about how you’re doing. What’s happened to him?” Pike asked.

“Sir, He’s on Risa. He got a bit-part in a holo soap opera; I think he’s on the books as ‘delivery being number six’. He and Dad won’t communicate directly; Mom and I are pretty much the go-betweens.” Blaine replied.

“Remind me not to take any leave on Risa; if I ever have the misfortune to see him again, it’ll be too soon.” Pike said with a grimace.

“I don’t recommend tuning in to watch ‘Risa Life’ any time soon, Sir. Cooper has seven whole words in next week’s episode. He took an hour to tell me all about it… In hindsight, I don’t think Dad should have pushed Cooper into the Academy, and I think Cooper should have had the guts to stand up for himself, say no and do what he actually wanted.” He replied with a shrug.

“If everyone had an outlook on life like that, things would be a lot better all over the universe. And if I wanted to watch a Soap Opera, kid, all I have to do is walk, well wheel for the moment, around the Academy on a Friday night… who else have we got? Artie? How’re things? It’s good to see you on your feet.”

“I still need to use the chair some days, but it’s going to be like that until I stop growing and they don’t have to keep upgrading me; how’s PT, Chris, I mean Sir?” another young man said, absently scratching at the scars on his back that covered his recent electrical upgrade. He’d been in an accident as a child, and doctors had grafted electrodes into his spinal cord to bridge where it had been severed; unfortunately, as he grew, he had to repeatedly have the electrodes replaced with larger ones.

“You know how PT is: awful, but necessary; it was certainly more fun when I had you to talk to during it! How’re the applications for college looking for you? And how did you do on that essay?”

“I really miss talking to you too; you’ve got some pretty cool stories – you managed to get me through the really bad days after the surgery when the new bio-tech hadn’t fully settled and been accepted. I still don’t know where to apply for, there are too many options to pick from just on Earth alone, and every doctor I talk to at the Clinic is biased to their own Alma Mata… I got a B-minus on that essay, it was so hard, it’s the lowest grade I’ve had all year in that class.”

“I hardly had time to notice the really bad days when we were picking through your homework after PT – so let’s call it even. And you’re gonna be a doctor, Artie, not a poet – I don’t think you need to worry about that B-minus too much.” Pike said with a wink.

“Good, I don’t like trying to work out the hidden meanings that may or may not be in a verse of a poem! I think I wrote fifteen-hundred words of utter rubbish!” Artie said, and Pike laughed, looking around once more.

“And how is life treating you, miss Britt’nii? Have you come up with any more ground-breaking formulae recently?” Pike said, catching the attention of the Orion.

“No. The numbers haven’t wanted to play with me. I was sad so Kurtie and ‘Tana and Tina took me shopping for shoes.”

“Everyone, this is Britt’nii Pierce, a Ward of the Federation who was picked up by the Pierce Children’s Foundation; she was recently published in the Federation Pure Mathematics Journal after coming up with what has been termed ‘The Pearce Equation’.” Pike said, watching as Spock and Chekov moved closer in sudden interest.

“They wouldn’t let me call it the ‘Unicorn Numbers’; and the people from the Academy were mean to me because I’d written it in pink marker on the bathroom walls and on the shower cubicles. They didn’t like the flowers I’d drawn or the pictures of Lord Tubbington. The janitor shouted at me too.”

“Britt’nii – you can write on the hull of the Enterprise herself in whatever colour you like if you come up with things like that – but it is a lot easier to work with if you use a PADD… if anyone gives you any crap, you come and see me in my office and I’ll deal with it. I’m not gonna stand for anyone bad-mouthing you.” Pike said, watching as Spock and Checkov looked back and forth between each other, judging by the tilt of Spock’s head, he was mildly confused.

“It’s not my fault that the numbers got noisy and were shouting at me while I was in the shower! But the nice professor, the older one who didn’t get mad, took me out for lunch and let me have two helpings of ice-cream! And the nice Admiral let me play with his puppies for the whole afternoon too! You’re a nice Admiral too, but you don’t have any dogs.” she said, bouncing on her toes as she walked, her pinkie finger still linked with Santana’s tail. “Is someone going to look after Lord Tubbington while I’m away?”

“I’m sure that someone will starve your pet tribble with love, I’ll check with Commodore Sylvester. Admiral Archer said you can visit the kennels again in the future, as long as he’s with you.” Pike said.

“Sylvester needs to make sure that Lord Tubbington doesn’t take off with the drug cartel again.” The Orian said, the Enterprise officers looked on in confused shock.

“Britt’nii, I think the closest your tribble could get to drugs in the care of the Commodore would be by ending up as a test subject in the labs and then being dissected.” Pike said gently.

“Would they put him through rehab afterwards?”

“Erm… I think so… Look, we’re here.” Pike said, saved from the conversation by arriving at one of the yellow school hover bus that would take them to the shuttle hangar.

Drs. McCoy and Lopez assisted Artie and Captain Pike onto the shuttle, and made a point of sitting next to the CMO at the back; the feline medic quietly continuing to go through the most pressing details in medical files of the kids; low-volume continuous mild-expletives (the ones deemed just suitable for use around ladies and children) coming from McCoy had Kirk suddenly concerned – but he knew Bones would let him know of anything serious when he calmed down.

“Cap’n, the rolls o’ paper we were given are suddenly starting t’ make sense.” Commander Scott whispered, and Kirk nodded as he fastened his seatbelt, the engineer then spoke louder, “Lassie, I would nae recommend drawing on tha hull – but there’s reams o’ real paper waiting for ye on tha ship.”

“Real paper? For me? Are there crayons and markers too?” she said, her eyes bright with excitement.

“If not, I think we can get them replicated for you.” Kirk said, shaking his head at his First Officer before he could speak. “Have you met any other Orians since you came to Earth? I’ve got three Orian women on the Enterprise, Gaila especially has said she’d love to meet you.” The Orian’s jovial mood insantly deflated

“I don’t like other Orians, they hurt me.” She whimpered, cuddling closer to the female feline, her green complexion paling suddenly and drastically as her eyes started to fill with frightened tears. In an instant she’d gone from bubbly to terrified and Kirk wasn’t quite sure what to do – he looked to his Communications Officer for help.

“Gaila is really nice; she’s a Ward of the Federation too. She’s a computer engineer. You don’t have to meet her if you really don’t want to.” Uhura chipped in, speaking gently and taking the green-skinned girl’s hand; Britt’nii tentatively gripped the offered fingers.

“An engineer? Like Papa Burt is and like Kurtie will be? They’re nice.” she whispered.

“Sort of – a different type of engineering, but she’s pretty good with a wrench too. She’s my closest friend; we were roommates at the Academy.” Uhura continued, her voice still modulated and calm.

“Is she nice? She doesn’t hurt anyone?”

“Gaila is amazing; and I’ve only ever know her hurt people who have tried to harm her – and only ever in self-defence. I’ve seen her kick several guys getting handsy in the… well, in sensitive places. She’s my best friend. She made sure that I wasn’t too serious at the Academy.” Uhura said with a wide smile.

“That was ‘not too serious’? What the hell would you have been like without her?” Kirk muttered.

“Probably burnt-out, and not nearly as fabulous as I am on the dance floor.” Uhura quipped without missing a beat.

“Maybe I can say hi? Maybe take someone with me if we meet? I like dancing.” Britt’nii whispered, and the feline girl let the Orian continue to snuggle; baring her sharp teeth as a warning, tail writhing in obvious caution against upsetting the green girl further.

“Yeah, but you can settle in first; there’s no rush. You can take whoever you like with you.” Kirk said, reading the body language of both girls and dropping the topic - for now.

“Ok, I need to know who’s who and do the introductions – we’ve just got to the hangar, we can work that out on the shuttle. Please sit with the person you’ll be shadowing on the way up to the Enterprise.” Kirk said, just as the ground transport slowly came to a stop.

“This is where I get out – I look forward to the logs you kids are gonna make while you’re interning. Remember to do as you’re told and like Burt said, have fun. God Speed.” Pike said, everyone saluting. Dr. Lopez spoke briefly with his daughter before turning and taking the handles of Pike’s wheelchair.

“Let’s get everyone matched up: Anderson, you’re with me; Hummel you’re with Scotty; Bones you have both Abrhams and Cohen-Chang; Hendorff, you have both Puck and Evans; Uhura, you’ve got Lopez. Sbahk, you’re with Sulu - but Spock’s gonna be looking out for you too. Britt’nii, I was going to let you work with Checkov and Spock, but you’re welcome to latch onto any of us as you’re a pretty unique lady.” Kirk said, watching as the teens divided themselves among the crew without having to ask for their supervisors’ names; he simply observed and listened as they settled into their seats on the shuttle.

~

“So, you’re like My Pixie, but grown up?” Britt’nii asked, turning to Spock.

“Are you referring to Sbahk?” he asked, gesturing to the tall, thin Vulcan teen standing next to him, who had remained silent so far.

“I can’t really say his name right, and because he looks like a pixie he lets me call him that.” She said, blinking up at the much taller Vulcan adult.

“Interesting. I am half-human; however, my Vulcan heritage is more dominant both physiologically and behaviourally. It is appropriate to reason that I am indeed like Sbahk.” Spock replied, motioning for Sbahk to take the window seat. He himself took the middle spot and Britt’nii the aisle seat. Sbahk stood and fastened the Orion’s safety harness for her before sitting back down and attending to his own.

“That’s good. My Pixie’s planet is gone; he hasn’t got many people left – he needs more Vulcan friends. We’re all his friends too, but we’re not the same as him and we don’t really get it. I don’t even remember the planet I was born on, and I never ever want to go there.” She paused, obviously saddened, “My Pixie hasn’t said anything since it happened. Can you make him talk again? Please? I miss talking to him about the numbers. Santana’s Dad says his voice is ok and healthy – but he still can’t talk.”

“I am not certain that I will be able to assist with Sbahk’s silence…” Spock began, turning his attention to the Vulvan teen, “However, I believe that friendship will perhaps be a possibility during this period of mentoring.” Sbahk looked at him and nodded a little before leaning over to better see Britt’nii. He offered the palm of a gloved hand to her – a Vulcan gesture common between family members. She enthusiastically grabbed and squeezed for a moment before settling down in her seat.

“Zo, you both like mathematics, Da?” Checkov said, watching as Sbahk nodded and Britt’nii smiled.

“Sometimes the numbers get all… tickly in my head and I have to write them down right now! It’s a rush to get it all out! Sbahk and me have races against each other in class.” she giggled.

“People say dat mathematics iz boring, but it iz wery exciting sometimes!” Checkov replied, leaning over the isle of the shuttle to maintain the conversation with the Orian girl. Sulu sat next to him, but was paying more attention to what the shuttle pilot was doing than the conversation.

“Fascinating.” Spock said, looking to Sbahk who pulled a PADD from his own bag and began quickly tapping away on it; within moments he handed it somewhat shyly to Spock, who looked at the screen for a moment before suddenly producing a stylus from somewhere and becoming involved with whatever was on the screen; the two Vulcans passing it back and forth between themselves. Kirk could see part of the puzzle coming together with each pass on the screen; evidently it was a Vulcan game.

~

“Aviophobia? But you’re the CMO on a Star Ship? The Flagship!” came the confused voice of Tina Cohen-Chang from further back in the shuttle.

“It’s a long story… but yeah, I’m not actually a fan of space.” The gruff doctor replied, readying a hypospray.

“Who’s that for?” Tina asked, looking around her.

“Me.”

“You shouldn’t really self-medicate with a hypospray, Dr. McCoy. It’s against a lot of regulations…” Artie whispered.

“It’s an antiemetic and an antihistamine; would you rather I threw up on you because nobody else is qualified to give me the shot? I was too busy getting the low-down on you lot to ask Dr. Lopez to do it.” McCoy hissed, pressing the hypo into his own neck and closing his eyes. He dismantled the hypo and packed it away without needing to look at what he was doing.

“Do you want to hold my hand, or something?” the Asian girl whispered, barely audible from where Jim sat with his so-far quiet shadow, “I need someone to hold my hand when I go to the dentist, or otherwise I completely freak out.”

“I’m the same when I go in for surgery – even though they do it twice a year.” Whispered Artie, offering his own hand to the doctor, “And I’ve never even been in the atmosphere before, it’s a little bit scary.”

McCoy muttered something under his breath, discreetly taking both kids’ offered hands in his much larger, clammy ones, hidden down at his sides where it wasn’t noticeable.

“I didn’t know antihistamines worked for motion sickness.” Artie muttered.

“They’re good for things other than allergies.” McCoy replied, his eyes remaining closed as he went on to explain how the drugs worked in this example of use; the conversation managing to distract him from his phobia.

~

“Oh my God, he’s using which teaching materials to teach you Andorian?! I need to hook you up with better ones, because that one is useless! I’ve got copies of others in the comms lab on the Enterprise, and I’ll make sure we correct the awful syntax you’ll have picked up – we’ve a few Andorians on board who we can talk to too.” Uhura said, already reaching for her PADD.

“I got detention from Lieutenant Schue for pointing out that the teaching materials were out of date!” Santana hissed, the points of her elongated canine teeth flashing, her whiskers (fewer in number than her father had, and almost translucent in colour) twitching in annoyance. “Seriously, I don’t think he likes that I speak several languages better than he does – I guess that’s one good thing about growing up as a political refugee and having to move around a lot.”

“Oh, I’m not standing for you getting detention for that… hang on, let me just comm Commodore Sylvester and let her know that you were right, see if we can wipe that from your record. While I’m doing that, you have to tell me where you got that shirt! I love it!”

“One of Kurt’s finds actually – Porcelain could go into fashion if he wasn’t so obsessed with warp cores!” the feline laughed.

“You say obsessed like it’s a bad thing, Santana! And I did good with that top, didn’t I? A little vintage number from thirty years ago hidden in the back of the store.” chipped in the higher-pitched voice of Hummel as he leaned his head onto the back of the seat to look over at the two ladies.

“Aye lassie, nae anythin’ wrong wi’ knowing what’s gooin’ on in th’ field. Obsessed is jus’ an opinion.” Scotty interjected, “Speaking o’ which, did I spy a copy o’ the Journal o’ Theoretical Warp Theory on ye PADD there, Wee Bairn?”

“What’s a ‘bairn’? But yeah, it’s the latest edition, came out at midnight; Dad forwards me the stuff I’m interested in that isn’t beyond me at this point in time; some stuff I just don’t get - yet.”

“He called you a little baby.” Uhura and Lopez said simultaneously – turning to each other and smiling. Quietly they began conversing, ignoring everyone else on the shuttle as Uhura set about finding out just how inaccurate the Andorian lessons had been by quizzing Santana on various nouns. Kurt parked his bottom back on his seat, reaching for the PADD he’d temporarily discarded.

“Wee Bairn, can I have a read o’ it when ye’ve don with it? I’ve nae had chance to get a subscription of me oon; we only have so many subscriptions paid fer by tha Fleet ta go around on tha ship – an’ I let me other engineers have first crack at ‘em.”

“Sure – do you want to read it first and then give me it back? And can you maybe not refer to me as a baby? You can call me Kurt if you like, or even just Hummel?” he said, pulling the PADD from his bag.

“What class are ye in at school?”

“I’ll be a senior in September.”

“Aye, yer a Wee Bairn indeed… now activate tha’ journal an’ let’s have a nosey at tha’ schematic again… I like tha look of tha’ coupling –might nae be as ‘theoretical’ as they’re making oot.”

~

“So, it’s ‘just’ Puck?” Hendorff asked.

“Yeah, it’s the closest thing to my actual name that most people can pronounce – I like it. There’s only Santana that can say my whole name, and she only does when she’s pissed with me.” The reptilian teen shrugged.

“Okay, makes sense… so, what do you actually want to get out of these four weeks – other than what’s on the mission brief?”

“Can we train with you? We’re already learning a couple of styles of hand-to-hand in our own time; and we try and practice when we can.” Sam chipped in.

“Yeah, good to know that you’re both practicing hand-to-hand already, I’ll need to evaluate you both, but I don’t see why you can’t train with the other security crew members. No energy weapons though – I don’t want to think about the risk assessment forms I’d have to fill in to let you use phasers.” Hendorff said, stroking his fingers through his beard as Evans and Puckerman hung on his every word.

“We try and spar when we can, but homework gets in the way all the time.” Sam said, shaking his head.

“Yeah, wait until you get to the Academy – on the Security Track, sparring is homework!” Hendorff said with a grin; three hands met in a tri-fist-bump.

“Awesome – that makes sense! But I don’t get why I need to learn trigonometry when I wanna go into security – I’m not gonna be throwing triangles and circles at a bad ass attacking us!” Puck complained.

“There’s a bit more to it than that, a quick think through some trig can come in handy when planning an assault – for example, what angle do you need to fire the phaser at to stun someone when you’re crawling on the floor? Trig stuff never made much sense to me, until I needed to use it – yeah, it’s more important for other roles, but it comes in handy for stuff you’d probably not consider.”

Sam licked his lips before digging through his pants pockets and huffing in annoyance, “I forgot my chap stick!”

“Dude, you have like six on the go at once! How could you forget?” Puck replied.

“I put them in the bag we had to hand in before school ended – I wanted to make sure there a supply already on board the ship.” Sam said, trying to catch Blaine’s attention without yelling, “Blaine! Hey Blaine! Can I use your chapstick? Blaine!”

“Hey, it’s cool, use this – it’s something my Granny has used for decades and I replicate it all the time – it’s also good for split knuckles too.” Hendorff said, pulling a tiny tub from his pocket and offering it to Sam, who took the lid off and tentatively dipped a finger into the clear, odourless goo before spreading it over his lips.

~

“You know, I think everyone is going to be okay – I was worried. None of us had any idea where we’d be or what we’d even be doing. This is going to be amazing.” Breathed the teen sat next to Kirk, finally relaxing and crossing one ankle over his knee.

“Yeah, I think so too. I didn’t know what to expect either. I told Sylvester that I’d only accept the best and she gave me an evil grin and a wink...” The Captain said, relaxing back into his seat as the shuttle climbed through Earth’s atmosphere, one ear on the conversations going on around him.

“Sylvester does that to everyone she likes… I’m Blaine Anderson.” Said the teen, offering his hand to shake, it was met by the Captain’s firm, but non-competitive grip.

“Jim Kirk, pleased to meet you… are you not wearing socks? How can you even do that?”

Chapter Text

“Okay, welcome to the USS Enterprise; I mean this without offence – but I want you CWMHS people out of the way until we’re ready to leave Space Dock.” Kirk began as they exited the shuttle, “I’m gonna introduce you to the Quartermaster so you can get your uniforms; and then my Yeomen is going to take you to where you’re going to be sleeping so that you can get set up – maybe you catch up on some sleep before the hard work begins, it’s way too early. Bridge officers, please report to my Ready Room; I’ll catch you up as soon as I can.”

The senior officers quietly slipped away, leaving Kirk with the nine teenagers. “Okay, Quartermaster Wilson is an amazing guy; he says he’s got your uniforms ready and waiting for you – but he apologises in advance and would like to point out he didn’t pick the colour.”

“Do we call you Captain now?” Chirped Britt’nii.

“Yeah, you need to use ranks now, the same goes for everyone else while they’re on duty – if you can’t make out the rank, ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ will do. In the event of a gender-neutral or gender-undeterminable crewmember, use ‘Sir’ – they’ll correct you if needs be.” Kirk said, hoping the Kids would ask questions as he didn’t quite know what to fill the silence with.

“Admiral Pike said we’d be making logs. I’ve not done logs before – what will we have to do?” asked Puck, frowning.

“I’ve looked at the assignment, you’ll essentially be making daily personal logs; but also having a bit of practice at a formal log too. Basically, you just talk about your day and let the computer record it for you.” Kirk replied, “Get used to making logs – you’ll have to do it a lot.”

“Mr. Captain! Mr. Captain!” Britt’nii called, rushing up to stand next to Kirk and taking his hand while skipping along excitedly “I’ve got an idea! Can I do it?”

“That depends. What’s your idea?” he replied, he’d been pre-warned that the Orian’s ideas could be anywhere in the spectrum between ‘insane’ and ‘incredible’, most of them leaning towards the crazier side of things. Kirk couldn’t remember the last time he’d held someone’s hand – it was quite an alien sensation, and he hoped Britt’nii didn’t notice his little flinch as she skipped along next to him.

“How about an award for awesomeness? Can I make an algorithm that will listen to the logs and then at the end of the four weeks it can give your crew a score of how cool you are? We’re gonna be talking about you a lot, I think.” She said, calming a little as she thought.

“If you’d like to take that as a project, sure… you know, I think there might be some functionality in the universal translator that you might be able to adapt; we’ll have a look at it… and we’re here – I’m going to leave you to get your kit. I’ll send someone to come and find you all at your assigned quarters before we leave Space Dock.”

“Aye, Captain.” They chorused, saluting and turning to the older human male Quartermaster and following him.

~

Jim entered his ready room and sat down with a small sigh, “Thanks to the usual suspects for coming, and Gaila too; I know we’ve all got things to do before we get underway, I know your time is precious before we launch. The mission itself, not USS Internship, the proper mission, is very clear – we’re dropping off some new tech at the Mars colony and then we’re going to put the new engines and systems through their paces out in open space just off Saturn and then take it from there if their performance is up to scratch; if not, we repair and test until we’re happy.” The Captain paused, collecting his thoughts, “I just wanted to let you know about a couple of the Kids… Bones, do you wanna take it from here?”

“Sure Jim, to put it gently, some of these kids are a bit fragile and vulnerable… I’m gonna start with Britt’nii, she’s pretty special, as you have probably worked out; she’s not exactly within the normal expected parameters for an Orian teenage girl.”

*****

“What happened?” Gaila asked, leaning forwards in her chair to get closer to the Doctor.

“The Pierce Children’s Foundation were called in after nine Orian children and teenagers were found being trafficked after a raid on a freight ship – none of them were in good shape, Birtt’nii was the only one to survive after being rescued, the others were in such a mess that they didn’t make it.” McCoy replied, his hands clenched into fists on top of the table.

“How old was she when they found her?” Gaila whispered, shuddering at the memory of the filthy cage that she’d been transported in after being kidnapped on her homeworld, and the misery of the time that followed before she was rescued.

“Six, perhaps seven – they had to work out her age based upon her telomeres; she was malnourished and barely functioning and could only just manage to tell them her name… some back-street ‘doctor’ – and I use the term ‘doctor’ loosely – had tried to implant pheromone enhancers into all of them.”

Gaila gasped, her hands covering her mouth as if she was going to be sick; she took several deep breaths through her nose and leaned into Nyota’s offered embrace.

“Doc, wha’ does tha’ mean? I’m guessing it’s nay good?” Scotty asked.

“Orian pheromones are potent enough on their own, Gaila and the other Orian ladies serving on board the Enterprise use inhibitors to tone them down – otherwise the male population of the ship would become over-aroused fools…” McCoy began, but was cut off by a pale-faced Gaila.

“In the pleasure slave trade, the owners try to amplify the pheromones to make their slaves irresistible… but that they did it to a child! Oh Goddess! The bastards!! She was just a baby! Her pheromones wouldn’t have even kicked in at that point!”

“They were transporting them for paedophilia?” Sulu whispered, devastated at the thought; Scotty and Kirk were gaping in stunned surprise.

“There are monsters who’ll part with a lot of credits for that.” Gaila breathed, running her hand through her hair and tugging at it.

“Len, what happened to Britt’nii? Did they…? Was she…?” Nyota asked, gently rubbing circles on Gaila’s back, unable to finish her sentence.

“According to her medical notes… yeah… It was bad… I really don’t want to think it, let alone say anything further.” McCoy snapped, biting the inside of his lip to stem a rant – he’d find something constructive to re-direct his anger into later, probably one of the punching bags in the gym after his shift.

A string of angry Russian was spat from the other end of the table, and the typically cherub-like Chekov looked suddenly murderous; McCoy didn’t understand a word of what had been said, but whatever it was, he agreed with the youngest officer whole heartedly – the Navigator was probably only reiterating what he himself had said on the school bus when Lopez had been going through the kids’ files.

“Doctor McCoy, what is the significance of the damage caused by pheromone enhancers? I was under the impression that once removed they did not continue to cause harm.” Spock asked quietly.

“In most cases, the enhancer the slavers favour is a little device put under the skin that has a timed release of hormone to encourage the pheromones… but the enhancer they tried to use on the kids on the ship was experimental and was a neural graft directly into the brain trying to trigger their production early… and they mangled the procedure, and her brain to boot.

“To quote what Dr. Lopez said, ‘she’s a mathematical genius who can’t manage to tie her own shoelaces’. The brain damage is permanent and the only reason she manages to function at all is that her brain was so young and still developing – it managed to re-route most of the butchered pathways remarkably quickly as she grew; the other kids died from infections and other complications after they were rescued. Britt’nii was taken in by the Federation, and was offered a place at the Fleet Schools after she recovered. She’s pretty much grown up with the other kids. Sylvester is named as her next of kin, followed closely by the Hummels.”

“Doctor, do you have any recommendations for how we proceed to act around Britt’nii?” Spock questioned.

“Just be normal, but gentle, and accept that it might take a few attempts for information to cut through. Don’t call her stupid – because she isn’t, her mind is just very unique, and is literally not wired up like everyone else. Sylvester warns that she likes to make physical contact with people she trusts, so try not to reprimand her harshly if she touches you. Spock, in particular, I don’t think it registers that it isn’t really culturally acceptable for touch telepaths to be randomly grabbed. Apparently Sbahk has long-since given up on getting her to stop touching him.”

“Anything else we need to know?” Jim asked.

“Well, by all accounts, the other kids are really protective of her; anyone upsets Britt’nii, and they find themselves facing down the whole posse. They’re a tight bunch – you mess with one, you mess with them all.”

“I don’t want to sound offensive, but if she can’t tie her shoes and has brain damage then is she really suitable for the flagship?” Sulu said, wincing, it sounded particularly harsh when he spoke his concerns aloud.

“Others are thinking it; you’ve just had the guts to voice it, Sulu – I’ve told you guys enough times to tell me what you’re really thinking when we’re in here, so no-harm-no-foul.” Kirk said, pausing for a moment, “I think it’s because she’ll never pass the psyc. evaluations to serve on a ship in the future, this is pretty much her only chance, isn’t it, Bones?”

“Sorry Jim, no medic in the Fleet would ever clear her to serve in space. However, I think Sylvester is trying to organise something so that she can stay at the Academy after she graduates there – something in the Math or Physics Department.” McCoy sighed deeply and shook his head at Gaila’s hopeful expression. Gaila nodded in response before speaking.

“Star Fleet will look after her – they won’t abandon her. I was older when they rescued me out of ‘the trade’ and they never let me down… I’ll keep watch over her while she’s here, if you like.” Gaila said firmly, giving herself a shake and pulling herself together.

“Gaila, she’s frightened of other Orians, and hasn’t decided if she wants to meet you or the others; and now I know her circumstances, I don’t really blame her rationale. Uhura mentioned that you gave her some dancing tips at the Academy – Britt’nii said she likes dancing, so that might be a way in for you – but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out.” Jim warned gently.

“Poor little sweetling! I’m not surprised she doesn’t want anything to do with us! If she approaches us, then we’ll take her in as a sister – if she doesn’t even want to be in the same room, then we’ll respect that too. All three of us on the Enterprise were rescued; we all know what it’s like… who else do we need to look after more?” Gaila prompted, changing the topic.

*****

“Okay, I’m really worried about Sbahk; he hasn’t spoken a single word, not a peep, since the destruction of Vulcan; he’s also prone to panic attacks and keeps refusing to eat. He’s on some pretty-hefty anti-depressants, and they’re part sedative for the anxiety so he tends to curl up and sleep for a good solid ten hours after a dose.” McCoy said, flicking though the PADD in front of him, sending a brief note over to the First Officer.

“Would it not be more suitable for him to be under the care of a Mind Healer on New Vulcan?” Spock questioned, quickly absorbing the information he’d just been sent.

“They tried that, and he went from bad to worse – he needed to be tube fed after shutting down when he arrived on the Colony. The Mind Healers advised that sending him back to Earth, back to the company of his friends at CWMHS would be the best thing for him. His Father was a civilian subject-matter-expert contracted to Star Fleet, but was serving on USS Hood because there wasn’t anyone else qualified at the Academy to operate the freshly-upgraded weapons system that had been recently installed on that ship – a ship that Nero destroyed. They haven’t located any other surviving members of his Family. The Mind Healers came to the conclusion that his friends have essentially become a replacement for his lost clan, and they’re helping him to recover. They’re not too certain, but they think he has weak telepathic bonds of-some-type to all of them.”

“I have adopted alternative meditative techniques since the destruction of Vulcan; I will offer to teach them to Sbakh, should he so wish to learn them.” Spock said, taking a measured breath before exhaling deeply.

“Thanks Spock, keep an eye on him, won’t you? You understand better than anyone on here what he’s going through.” McCoy said. “He’s another one that might never serve on a ship; it all depends on how, and if, he comes through the other side of the depression. And if he ever speaks again.”

“Indeed, the common ground Sbahk and I share something that Britt’nii alluded to during the shuttle ride – I will endeavour to offer whatever support I am able to provide. I am not personally fond of the anti-depressant medication, but it is illogical to not ingest the pharmaceuticals prescribed to assist in my wellbeing. I have read the message you sent me earlier; I find it concerning that Sbahk is taking a dosage four-times stronger than the one I take myself.”

“Like I said, complete shut-down; he was catatonic within twenty minutes of arrival at New Vulcan. They can’t give him a higher dose without causing damage to other organs. They also make him nauseous, which doesn’t help the not-eating side of things.” McCoy replied, carefully not making any reference to Spock’s medication – it wasn’t anyone else’s business; even though it was well known that most of the surviving Vulcans were on varying doses to attempt to help them cope with the mental instability brought on by the destruction of their world.

“It had occurred to me that I have little experience with assisting in the care of an adolescent Vulcan. Perhaps it would benefit if I spoke to my Father and sought his advice for assisting with Sbahk? I find myself illogically desiring to converse with my Mother on the matter.” Spock mused.

“She were yer Mum, Lad, she’d know what ta do wi’ a teenage Vulcan – makes sense ta me that ye’d wanna have a chat wi’ ‘er.” Scotty said gently, with a weak smile. Spock nodded in thanks at the comment. In his chair, Checkov paled and trembled slightly; Spock didn’t blame the Russian for the loss of his Mother, but it didn’t stop Pavel from blaming himself.

“Ask your Father if you think he’ll have some pointers. At this point, anything that might help him is a bonus – I’ve never seen Vulcan brain scan readings as bad as his – and I had all of the Vulcan High Council under my scanners after the Nerada Incident while we were limping back to Earth.” McCoy said.

“I shall contact New Vulcan once we are underway and ask my Father for advice.”

“I donnae mean to lower the tone, but don’t ye need every Vulcan you can lay yer hands on to, erm, make baby Vulcans? Shouldn’t ye and the Vulcan lad both be on New Vulcan doing jus’ that?” Scotty said, blushing.

“Vulcan males are not sexually mature at this young age, Sbakh is not developed enough at this stage to produce viable gametes.” Spock replied, others around the room attempted to not look uncomfortable at the conversation topic, “After much consideration I determined that it was logical to maintain my commission in Star Fleet as I could serve a more prosperous purpose through maintaining my position rather than through reproduction.”

“And moving on from that topic; Bones, Spock, what do we need to do for Sbakh?”

“Do not make any skin-on-skin contact; his touch-telepathic abilities will be much compromised.” Spock commented.

“He wears gloves, some sort of nano-fibre fabric recommended by the Vulcan Mind Healers; and I don’t think it’s likely that anyone is going to grab his face, so things should be okay on that front. However, if everyone can make sure he eats, I’d appreciate it. I don’t really care what he’s eating, as long as he’s getting calories down him. I will put the feeding tube back in if I need to, but I really don’t want to have to do that.” The Doctor answered, “You’ll also need to give him time to communicate by typing on his PADD; even though he’s apparently become a lot more expressive with his body language since losing his voice.”

“We’ll take care of him.” Nyota said, nodding at Spock once before returning her attention back to everyone else.

McCoy once again consulted his data, “Abrhams can’t do any heavy-lifting, he had spinal surgery a few months back – things look really good, but he needs to take care.”

“He’s in medical with you, so you can keep an eye on him. His wheelchair is on board, just in case he needs it. He’s a good kid; I met him quite a few times when I visited Pike in the hospital; it was a bit unconventional, but the doctors at Star Fleet Medical decided to let them share a room; Pike was improving faster in Artie’s company than in a private room.”

“Pike’s doing damned well, all things considered, Jim. And if a bit of company was helping, then putting them together was a good move; I got the impression that Abrhams wouldn’t do as well in the paediatric ward, too grown-up for the environment.” McCoy chipped.

“You know, I think I might have helped out getting that B-minus literature grade actually. Ugh, that poem was heavy reading! Pike, Artie and I just made plausible crap up, and then managed to force the words of the poem to fit what we’d come up with!” Jim said, briefly pausing to grin before sobering and taking a breath.

“Okay, the previously mentioned kids are the biggest concerns, but there are two others to be aware of: Hummel and Anderson.” Kirk said, watching as McCoy suddenly looked baffled.

“Why? Nobody’s told me anything about them. I’ll have Lopez’s head – whiskers and all – if he missed something out that I need to know.” The CMO began quickly tapping on his PADD, sifting through the notes on the two boys.

“Relax Bones, this is just a precaution. The physical injuries are long-healed up.” Jim began, meeting every pair of eyes in the room before he continued, “You may or may not be aware that the Principal of CWMHS was removed; the reason for his removal was because he failed to protect the welfare of several students – Hummel and Anderson took the brunt of what went wrong with his leadership.”

A series of mumbles from McCoy drew everyone’s attention briefly.

“What happened?” Sulu asked, his eyes flicking between Kirk and McCoy; it wasn’t unusual for Kirk to say ‘It’s all good’ while the Doctor was simultaneously saying ‘Damnit Jim!’ and reaching for an emergency medical kit.

“There was constant bullying that wasn’t dealt with properly, but the last straw was when the pair were attacked by their peers at a school dance – both were hospitalised in their Freshman year.” Kirk continued.

“What made zhem a target? Bullies will onzly zingle out people who are different.” Chekov said, speaking from personal experience; being a child prodigy certainly hadn’t been easy prior to his arrival at Star Fleet - and even then he’d faced many challenges.

“You’d think it wouldn’t matter in this century, I mean, there are so many combinations of relationships… but Anderson and Hummel are both homosexual, and they decided to be each other’s date to a Sadie Hawkins Dance, as friends. A group of ignorant assholes kicked the crap out of them, and all they did was dance together, twice. They didn’t even hold hands.” Kirk spat.

“I remember this from the CWMHS and Academy combined News Bulletin; I’m pleased to say that the little punks were locked up for it; and they’ve been blacklisted from Star Fleet and all Federation Government Organisations in the future.” Hendorff said.

“Good God! Did teenagers at a dance really manage to do all that damage?” McCoy was stunned as he continued to flick through the medical notes.

“I think there were six of them – all of them big guys at that.” Hendorff answered, trying to remember anything else.

“Sylvester was the one to find the boys and raise the alarm – she’s got a bit of a soft spot for the pair of them – well as soft as is possible for her. She thinks it’s hilarious that the two boys who went to the dance as friends are boyfriends a year later – it just shows their resilience and strength.”

“I get what yer not sayin’ Cap’n,” Scotty said, “I donnae think any of my engineers will have a problem wi’ the Wee Bairn being gay – as long as he knows which end of a screwdriver is which, I couldnae care less. I’ve me fair share of crew flying the rainbow flag down with the engines as it is… but if anyone does have an issue, then I know o’ a nice cold spot we can maroon ‘em on for a year o’ two.”

“Thanks Scotty… the same goes for any crew member hassling or messing with any of the Kids – you spot shit heading their way, and you report it. I’m not gonna have ignorant assholes on my ship. I think most of us would have given our right arms for a chance to do what they’re doing – and I don’t wanna spoil it for them. Its cheesy, but these kids are the future of Star Fleet.” Kirk said.

“Before we abandon any assholes on Delta Vega, send ‘em my way – Security can use them for target practice.” Hendorff said, cracking his knuckles loudly, “My little sister was bullied through school and it took years of therapy to get her self-esteem back. She’s training to be a child psychiatrist so she can help other kids in the same situation; I’m so proud of her.”

“Thanks – I’ll magically have a problem with my memory of what you’ve just said should the need arise I don’t know anything about target practice, even though I’ll gladly take point during it… okay, we have a ship to prepare, please report to your posts.”

“Aye Captain.” They all responded, standing as Kirk did and leaving the room.

Chapter Text

“Okay everyone, your new uniforms are all ready to go – they’re all on the desk in there with your name on them. You’ve also been provided with a laundry bag. We don’t distinguish between delicate and normal washes in those bags – it all gets cleaned together. You can change in here – ladies to the right locker room, gentlemen to the left.” The Quartermaster said, an older human male in his late fifties (actually the most senior-in-age crewmember) who managed the supplies of the ship.

“Ugh! They’re green.” Puck said, picking up one of the uniform tunic-like shirts that sat behind the little sign with his name on it.

“Have you got a problem with green?” Britt’nii grumbled, bristling.

“Only when it looks like puke.” The reptilian responded, turning to watch the disgusted face of the fashion-savvy Kurt as he examined the uniform.

“Sorry kids, I assure you this wasn’t my choice! The green tunic or dress is actually another option for Captains to wear – it isn’t that popular to tell the truth so we’re re-cycling them for you.” The Quartermaster said. “You’ve all got a belt with the appropriate colour and department logo on it too.”

“I’m not surprised it isn’t popular, sir, no offence meant.” Blaine said, picking up his bundle and becoming the first of the group to enter the changing room; shortly the other boys followed his lead and vanished, leaving the girls behind as they gathered up their kit.

“Sir, are there spankies for under this dress? Like we have for our cheer uniforms? It’ll mean it won’t matter if we manage to flash someone.” Britt’nii said holding a dress up to her body and measuring it against the garment she was already wearing – whose hemline was a good ten centimetres longer than the puke-green one.

“Well, I get what you’re saying… I tell you what, I’ll replicate you some shorts to wear under the dresses. A few of the other women on board wear something similar.” The Quartermaster offered, already pulling the young ladies’ measurements up on his PADD and sending the data to the replicator.

“What about my tail? I can’t wear a dress without giving everyone a show.” Santana said, her tail writhing behind her as if to punctuate the point. All of her clothing had been expertly tailored by Kurt and Tina to support the additional appendage; they were both handy with a needle and thread.

“I’ve done you something different; I’ve already produced you some shorts for modesty that have a hole for your tail, and the dress has a split up the back – if it doesn’t work for you, let me know and we can work something else out.” The replicator chimed, and he handed several pairs of shorts (in the same awful fabric) to Britt’nii and Tina; the three girls examined them before moving towards their designated changing room.

~

“Blaine, dude, we look stupid.” Puck said after pulling on the standard black undershirt, green top, green pants of the same colour and black boots, tucking the leg of the pants in; the veins in his head crest became a deeper shade of blue as blood pumped to it in embarrassment. Sbakh was examining his reflection, both eyebrows folded down in displeasure, with deft fingers, he fastened the command-gold elastic belt around his waist, the buckle was the shape of the command track insignia.

“There’s a hand-sized, Fleet logo sewn on the back with USS Internship across the shoulders. Sylvester really went to town on this.” Sam said, standing behind the Vulcan and waiting for his turn in the full-length mirror, the others made do with the smaller ones.

“Yeah, we really do look stupid.” Blaine replied, turning to see just how silly he looked from all angles, “But awful clothing seems a small price to pay for the opportunity to be here.”

“Those were the most diplomatic words ever instead of saying suck it up… You know, I think this is the colour you’d get if you mixed the gold, red and blue together.” Puck said, bundling his previous clothes up.

“Fold them so that they won’t need to be ironed, Puck!” Kurt snipped, taking the bundle from his friend and quickly folding the jeans and t-shirt, his own favourite skinny jeans and cashmere sweater were already carefully packed away. “Whoever came up with this colour needs to get their eyes tested.”

“Do these pants make me look fat?” Sam asked, pinching at his waistline as he clipped together his own red belt.

“No! Don’t start down that route again! There is absolutely nothing wrong with your body. If I wasn’t with Blaine I’d be all over you.” Kurt said, Blaine winking at him and smiling as the future engineer managed to quickly identify Sam’s dysmorphic tendencies and attempt to stem them.

“Sam, you’ve like next to no body fat and amazing abs – you make the rest of us green with envy.” Blaine chipped in, folding his own mustard jeans and white polo; he gently placed the bow tie on top of the pile. “I don’t like these socks, they feel awful.”

“That’s because you’re a freak who doesn’t wear socks, honey, but these boots will cause enough blisters with the socks – it’d be worse without.” Kurt said, running a comb through his hair to tease it back into its previous state of perfection, looking at the rest of his pile, “Oh God, I have matching vomit cover-alls too!”

“Do you think we’ll even get to do anything useful? We’re not qualified to be here. I don’t know if what Hendorff said about training with him is even allowed. We’re really only here to observe.” Puck said, turning to Blaine.

“Well, I think that the Captain and the Command Crew are pretty young themselves, they’ll probably let us have a go at more stuff than older Fleet Staff will… but we’ll obviously be pretty restricted. I think that Kurt has coveralls is a sign that he’s gonna be getting his hands dirty, the rest of us might do too.” Blaine answered, hoping he was right.

“Tina and I have been told that we’re pretty much gonna be Candy Stripers – we’ll basically get the jobs the nurses and techs don’t want to do, it’ll be no different than Saturdays at the Academy Clinic, well, if you don’t count being on the flagship anyway… I foresee a lot of scrubbing equipment and inventory for these four weeks.” Artie said, struggling with the clasp of his blue waist-attire before managing to get it to stay locked.

“Guys, we can do this – whatever they throw at us, we will take it and then do it to the best of our ability so that they can’t complain about us.” Blaine said, motioning for the others to form a circle, he placed his hand in the middle, “Who’s with me? We’re gonna own this.”

Five other hands piled on top of Blaine’s in agreement before they stood tall and left the changing room.

~

“Oh. My. God. We. Look. Awful.” Tina moaned, her voice rising in pitch as she spoke each horrified word.

“This colour clashes with my skin.” Britt’nii said, trying to tug a brush through her red-blonde curls and getting into a tangle. Without being asked, Santana went over to help and quickly had the Orian’s hair contained in a French braid – one of the few permitted styles for women in the fleet – her own species-traditional high pigtails would have to go to meet regulations.

“At least your short-covered ass isn’t on show through the back of your dress.” Santana grumbled, turning around and scowling once her green friend’s hair was tied off at the end.

“I think I might be able to work with this – if there’s some left-over fabric Kurt and I should be able to do like we always do with all your pants. Keep your tail still while I work with this.” Tina said, kneeling down behind the feline and tugging the split closed. From somewhere she tugged several safety pins (Santana had long since given up asking how Tina and Kurt were able to rescue a wardrobe malfunction at a moment’s notice), and began to give her friend a bit more modesty. Santana quickly pulled her hair out of the pigtails and into a high pony while Tina worked.

“I can’t clip the belt together.” Britt’nii said, repeatedly trying and failing with the clasp of her belt.

“Come here, Britt’nii, I’ll do it. But the belts aren’t really achieving anything – we don’t have pants to hold up, or belt-loops to pass it through. Ugh, the colour of the dress is reflecting on my skin and makes me look jaundiced.” Tina commented, still kneeling down and quickly clipping the Orian’s belt together.

“Isn’t Jaundiced when your heart stops working?” Britt’nii asked.

“No sweetie, it’s the liver. If your heart stops working, well for mono-cardiacs, you’re dead.” Tina gently corrected, accepting a green hand to help her stand.

“See if Porcelain will leave the engines alone long enough to alter our dresses, with a bit of tailoring they’ll look better.” Santana said, reaching to gather her civilian outfit; gently folding the shirt Uhura liked and the carefully-amended jeans.

The Orian grinned and turned to the other girls, linking her pinky finger with Santana’s tail, “Okay, we are amazing, and awesome and attractive and alluring and appealing and astounding…”

“Britt, you’ve been reading the dictionary at bedtime again, haven’t you?” Santana cut her off, smiling.

“Yeah, but only letter A.” Britt’nii replied.

“Come on; let’s get this show on the road.” Santana said, leading the other girls out of the changing room.

“There aren’t any roads in space, ‘Tana.” Britt’nii replied, confused.

Outside the changing room, the boys and girls took one look at each other before busting out in laughter; the Quartermaster couldn’t help but join them. The teens looked absolutely outrageous. Each of them carried the pillow-case sized mesh laundry bag with all of their other clothing in it.

“Right, we’re just waiting for the Yeoman to arrive, and then she’ll take you to where you’ll be staying for the next four weeks.” He said, wiping tears of laughter on a handkerchief before asking them to line up so that he could take pictures on his PADD.

Chapter Text

After calming down after their reaction to each other’s new wardrobe (and after posing and pulling silly faces for several photographs taken by the Quartermaster); the teenagers were collected by a yeomen and escorted through the ship. Around them, the last of the other crewmembers were arriving; they were quickly stowing their possessions in their quarters before reporting to their posts.

“I’m the Captain’s Yeoman, Janice Rand. As the assignment of quarters had already taken place before USS Internship was decided upon, we decided to do something different; if we had assigned you to the empty bunks, you’d have been scattered all over the ship. The Captain has designated the use of rec. room Six for your use – it’s the smallest of the rec. rooms, but it looks like it’ll make a pretty good dormitory for you.” She said, leading the teens to the turbo lift and then through the ship to their destination.

“That’s really thoughtful, thank you Ma’am.” Blaine replied politely, the usual spokesperson for the group in new situations – mainly because he had patience, charm and tact in spades.

“And we’re here – the door is keyed already to only recognise: yourselves, the officers you are shadowing, the Quartermaster, myself and all of the Medical team. It means that you do get some semblance of privacy; like any other member of the crew in their quarters… and we’re here.”

Activating the door panel, Rand stepped aside to let the teenagers proceed before her, following them up at the rear. The room was at the very edge of part of the saucer section of the ship, and had five windows – currently looking out at Space Dock. The room overall was wedge-shaped, the wall with the door being the narrowest point, fanning out into an arc at the windows. Even though it was the smallest of the rec. rooms; it would be more than large enough for the teens to use; it also had its own restroom with a sonic shower and replicator station. It was a room that could quickly be converted into quarters for non-fleet passengers (such as dignitaries or refugees) if the guest quarters were all full.

Most of the usual furniture that occupied the room, (comfortable chairs, low tables, communal shelving filled with various PADDs of reading material and board games) had been removed, to be replaced with mattresses arranged on the floor around the edge. The two largest couches had been left behind as they were bolted to the deck; they were stacked high with standard sleeping bags, blankets, towels and extra pillows. There was a selection of framed Fleet-issue posters on the wall and a large screen that could show anything from the ship’s status to movies stored on the Ship’s Computer.

“You can’t count – there are nine of us.” Britt’nii said, standing in the middle of the room and turning around slowly.

“There are indeed nine of you…” Rand answered, not quite sure where this was going; she’d already been briefed to speak carefully around the Orian teen girl.

“Then why are there fifteen mattresses on the floor?” Britt’nii replied.

“Oh, every vessel taking part in USS Internship has been instructed that none of you are to be left unsupervised. You’ll have some of your mentors joining you; they’re going to take turns.” The Yeoman clarified.

“Just like at a sleepover?” Britt’nii asked, now bouncing on her toes in excitement.

“You know, those were the words that quite a few of the Senior Officers used.” Janice replied with a grin, a certain CMO and Chief Engineer had required appeasement in the form of a bottle of good bourbon and single malt Scottish whiskey, respectively, to agree to the idea.

“No ghost stories, Brit-Brit, you know you can’t sleep after scary stories.” Blaine chipped in; and judging by the crestfallen expressions of Sam and Puck, he’d halted their plans for the evening.

“There are panels in the right hand wall, behind there you’ll find rails you can hang your clothes on – the bags you provided are already stored in there waiting for you; all of your bags were scanned and some were searched as a result of the scans – as is custom for all crew; please be assured that nothing was tampered with, and all of your possessions were treated with respect.” Rand continued, walking over to the wall in question and activating the storage compartment doors.

“I don’t think any of us have anything to hide, Ma’am… though I did sneak a pack of redvines in.” Blaine commented.

“None of you kids raised any serious alarms – though the dozen Chap Sticks someone packed did flash up on the sensors; and someone has a teddy bear that looked a little suspicious on the x-ray.”

“Leave Daisy-Bear out of this.” Tina muttered, her arms folded over her chest defensively, Santana gave an amused snort.

“I go through Chap Sticks a lot, Ma’am.” Sam blushed.

“Do you really need twelve?” she said, smiling.

“I lose them too – I don’t think I’ve ever managed to finish one right to the end.” He replied, thinking.

“Okay, please make yourselves at home – get your possessions stowed away. You all need to collect a towel, a pillow, a sleeping bag and a blanket – more blankets can be made available if you find you get cold. You all are expected to wear appropriate pyjamas at night for the duration of your stay; no sleeping naked please. We also expect your beds to be left neatly every morning; and all clothing to be either on your backs, hung up or in the laundry.”

“Yeoman, can we have clothes on the front too?” Britt’nii asked, feeding a coat hanger through one of her spare puke-green dresses and hooking it onto the rail in her section of the storage space.

“It’s just a phrase Brit-Brit, it’s okay.” Tina reassured her, shrugging at the Yeoman’s puzzled expression.

“So, once you’re unpacked, I recommend you make your beds and catch up on some sleep – it’s really early and you’re probably not going to be called for until we’re well underway – probably around 10:00 hours.” Rand said; surprised that the kids weren’t really talking very much and were getting on with what she’d asked. There were just a few whispers between them as they finished hanging up their garments. Even though they were from a school offering ‘Fleet prep, Rand had expected them to be a bit more kid-like than they were actually being. The Yeoman had to admit that she was quite impressed with their collective behaviour – she could name several crew members that didn’t demonstrate the same level of maturity, some of them Bridge Officers that should know better by now.

“I think if we all work right to left, picking up what we need – everyone grab one of everything from the couches and pick a mattress.” Blaine said, and without question the others followed his words and example; efficiently collecting the items they needed and assigning themselves somewhere to sleep.

“Ma’am, will someone wake us up before the ship leaves space dock? I want to be awake for the engines warming up, please.” Kurt said, choosing a mattress towards the left-hand edge of the window, next to Blaine.

“Of course, I’m going to be right here with you until your mentors call for you; I’ll wake you up as we leave Space Dock.” Rand answered.

“Do I have to put my jammies on now, if I’m having a nap, Ma’am?” the Orian girl asked, her speech trailing off into a jaw-popping yawn.

“It isn’t going to be a long sleep, sweetie, you’ll be ok in your clothes – but take your boots off.” Santana replied before the Yeoman could say the same thing.

Rand sat on one of the couches now that it was free of kit and watched as the teens slowly made themselves comfortable: Tina, Britt’nii, Kurt and Blaine deciding to sleep, Sbahk settled in to meditate, the others choosing to laze about a little and whisper between themselves. The Yeoman reached for her PADD to send a quick Status Report to the command crew, copying in Yeoman Jaxxon; once that was done, she began to deal with all the other work coming her way.

Chapter Text

“Scott ta Yeoman Rand, are ye there?” came the voice of the Chief Engineer through the comm on the wall two hours later; all of the kids were now dozing, the previous excitement fizzling out and leaving them tired.

“Rand Receiving, go ahead Sir.”

“Is the Wee Bairn there?”

“Pardon, Sir?” Rand replied, no idea who Commander Scott was referring to.

“Sorry Yeoman, I mean Hummel – is he there?”

“Yes, Sir. They’re all asleep actually. Do you want me to wake Hummel up?”

“Aye, tell him to put his overalls on too – health-and-safety say he needs an extra layer, it’ll be bubble-wrap next.”

“Would you like me to escort him to engineering, Sir?”

“Nay, I’ll come get ‘im meself in a few minutes.”

“Yes, Sir. Rand out.”

Moving with a stealthy quiet towards the edge of the room, Rand looked over each of the teens, all of them dead to the world and peacefully sleeping. Bending down next to Hummel, she gently shook his shoulders to wake him.

“Wha? We movin’?” he yawned “Gaga, I need coffee”.

Rand checked the chrono on her PADD before shaking her head, “We’re not due to depart Space Dock for another forty minutes; however, Commander Scott has requested you put your coveralls on – he’s coming to collect you. You’re probably going to have to wait for coffee.”

“Oh wow. I’ll get ready. Ma’am, do I have time to brush my teeth and stuff? I want to make a good impression for whoever else I’m gonna meet.” Kurt replied softly, wriggling out of his sleeping bag and smoothing it neatly into place before walking over to his section of the storage compartment on the wall.

“It’s a five-or-six minute trip from engineering to here. There’s time for a quick freshen-up” she replied, watching as Hummel wiggled into the coverall and grabbed his toiletry bag.

“I’ll help you get everyone else up, Ma’am. If one department is requesting us, then it’s highly likely that the others will do too.” Blaine replied, rubbing his eyes and sitting up.

“That’s great, thanks… you know, nobody said what we should call you guys.” Rand said, booting up the assignment on the PADD and double-checking that she hadn’t missed something.

“Lots of people call us Fleet Brats, Ma’am.” Sam chipped in, he was a light sleeper and had woken as Kurt passed his bed. He rose and began helping Blaine to poke and shake his peers awake. Tina smacked Blaine with her well-loved and threadbare-in-places teddy before opening her eyes and groaning.

“Samuel, I had been informed that to refer to us using such terminology is typically an insult.” chimed a synthetic voice that was more commonly associated with the Universal Translator.

Rand looked over her shoulder at the Vulcan teen tapping on his PADD. “I think calling you ‘Fleet Brats’ is very unprofessional; typically it is something of a slur.” She agreed.

“We took the insult and turned it on its head, ma’am – those of us at CWMHS tend to wear the term ‘Fleet Brat’ as something of a badge of honour – well those of us actually going into the ‘Fleet do at least. Kurt replied, returning from the bathroom and stowing his toiletries away again.

“We even got it printed on tee-shirts last year.” Sam piped up with a grin.

“How about just ‘interns’? It’s what we are.” Artie supplied, crying out softly in discomfort as he tried to sit up.

“Artie! Stay still! Give me a minute to help you.” Tina said, responding to the pained sound instantly and rushing over to help her friend.

“Do you need help, Intern Chang, Intern Abrhams?” Rand asked, testing the terminology.

“I don’t think so Ma’am – Artie just needs to remember that he has to take care with sudden spinal articulation at the moment.” Tina replied, helping him to slowly sit up and then stand.

“That’s doctor-talk for no gymnastics or yoga for you, Artie.” Britt’nii muttered, yawning and clambering out of her sleeping bag.

“Bridge to Rand.” Chirped Uhura’s voice through the comm.

“Rand here, go ahead.”

“Can you bring our guests up to the bridge?”

“Of course, we’ll be there momentarily - except Hummel, Commander Scott is on his way to collect him… correction, he’s here now.” The door swooshed open to reveal the Scotsman grinning. Rand answered his smile with a friendly wave.

“Great, Bridge out.”

“Come on interns, get yourselves together – you’ve been requested on the bridge.” Rand said, watching as the teenagers went from sleepy to completely alert within the space of the sentence.

“Nay you Wee Bairn, me and ye are gonna go where tha real magic happens – there’s nay anything as good as firing up tha engines to warp speed at tha beginning of a mission!” Commander Scott said, bouncing on his heels. He paused, looking Kurt up and down. “Wha’ in tha name of all things sacred are ye wearing?!” he exclaimed.

“A vomit-green, two-sizes-too-big coverall with matching puke-coloured utility belt, sir.” Kurt replied with a grimace.

“Ye look like an under-ripe banana laddie… well, at least wha yer wearing is so loud that we’ll hear ye coming doon in engineering, never mind seeing yer. Ye have any tools in tha belt o’ yers?” the Chief Engineer asked.

“No, I didn’t bring my own tool box – even though Dad got me a really good set a few years ago.” Kurt said, grinning at Blaine, who chuckled softly and winked.

“There’s a story there, tell me on the way, eh? Come on, we’ve a warp core ta activate. See ye all soon… erm, what are we calling ‘em, Yeoman?”

“We decided to call them ‘interns’.” She responded, watching as they finalised straightening their uniforms and tidying their sleeping areas.

“Aye, makes sense. Righy-o, see tha rest of yer soon, assuming we donnae keep the Wee Bairn doon in engineering.”

“By Kurtie! By other person!” Britt’nii called out, the main group turning left at the door with Kurt and Commander Scott turning right.

“So, wanna explain tha in-joke aboot the tool belt, Wee Bairn? Is tha other lad any good wi’a spanner? Tis always a good thing ta know people handy with a spanner – fer example, the Cap’n is nay too shabby in engineering ‘imself, and Checkov is proving more than promising – I’d think the lad were after me job, but he’s more interested in making sure tha ship ends up getting from A to B wi’oot goin’ via the rest o’ tha alphabet first… and donnay let anyone know I said this, but the good doctor is pretty nifty with a screwdriver when it comes to fixing a biobed – must be a surgeon thing, methinks.” the officer said once they’d reached the turbolift and the doors had closed.

“Blaine’s ok with a wrench, but not exactly a fan… it’s a long story, but to cut it short: Dad was planet-side for a while – just before we all started High School, the Yorktown was in for a full re-fit and they’d pulled her into space dock. We were living in one of the little houses on the Academy grounds; next door to the Andersons actually, we shared a yard; still do.” Kurt paused for a moment as other crewmen entered and left the turbolift.

“One day a truck came by and dropped off a wrecked shuttle-craft; I don’t know what had happened to it, but it was in really bad shape – it was mostly scrap held together with the odd bit that still worked. Commodore Anderson was stood on the front lawn telling Blaine how they were going to spend the summer restoring the shuttle craft as part of some Father-Son bonding exercise. My Dad, who was bored of unpacking the house, went out to have a look at it, finally introducing himself to our new neighbours; I stayed inside, unpacking the last of our things from the crates.”

“Is Anderson’s Dad an engineer? I donnay recognise tha name – though I donnay claim to know the name o’ every engineer in tha fleet – jus’ tha really good ones.” the older man said with a wink.

“Blaine’s Dad’s a Commodore and is in Star Fleet Legal, he’s not too bad with mechanical stuff, but he’d seriously bitten off more than he could chew... anyway, Blaine’s Dad was going on about how it was such a ‘manly’ thing to do and real ‘male bonding’ to re-build something like a shuttle – and my Dad pointed out it was a pretty big project to take on and asked if he could help, and if I could help too… A comm came in and the Commodore had to take it, leaving Blaine alone with my Dad.

Blaine was pretty much convinced that they were only restoring the shuttle because he’d just come out of the closet and thought his Dad was trying to ‘turn him straight’. My Dad couldn’t stop laughing at that, and called me down from where I was unpacking my room to meet Blaine and Commodore Anderson, explaining that I wanted to go into engineering and was already pretty proficient…”

“Well, wha’ a bloody stupid reason to restore a shuttle tha’ were!” Commander Scott laughed, gesturing for Kurt to follow him out of the turbolift.

“Yeah, you should have seen the look Commodore Anderson’s face when we were introduced! Admittedly, I was wearing a t-shirt that Dad got me during the Pride Parade the month before with ‘Likes Boys’ printed in big letters on the front... so, that’s where my own toolkit originates from; Dad needed his tools for the Yorktown re-fit; so he got me my own set; he even had my name engraved on them too; he said he’ll get my Service Number added to the engraving when I graduate from the Academy too.”

“Tha’s a wonderful graduation gift idea! Tools get borrowed in a crisis, laddie, and they donnay always come back to ye… So, tell me Wee Bairn, did she fly again?” Mr. Scott asked, stepping behind Kurt, his hand on the teen’s shoulders steering him over walkways and around equipment to the heart of engineering, nodding politely at other engineers as they passed them by.

“Oh yeah she flies like a dream now – but it took eighteen months of hard work, not just the summer like Blaine’s Dad thought it would be. A few off-duty engineers from the Yorktown refit used to come over on Saturdays twice a month, we’d have a barbeque and beer and we’d all work on something specific together; Blaine’s Mom makes an amazing potato salad. It’s how Dad met Carol actually – he managed to burn himself pretty badly flipping burgers and ended up at the Academy Clinic while she was on duty while planetside.”

“Wha’ happened to the shuttle craft?”

“She’d officially been decommissioned by the Fleet, so school use her for transporting the sports teams to the away games and for field trips. We called her ’Renaissance; Uncle Chris poured a bottle of champagne over her – we wouldn’t let him smash it against the hull we’d spent months beating the kinks out of.” Kurt said with pride.

“Too right, no point putting dents in all yer hard work! Yer Dad mentioned tha’ ye know yer way around a shuttle – shame tha ones on board have nay seen any use at all; no need ta work on ‘em… what made ye come up with the name Renaissance, then? Mind yer head.”

Kurt ducked beneath the low-hanging pipe before answering, “Well, we wanted something that meant ‘re-born’, so we put it into the thesaurus and Renaissance sounded the coolest.”

“Aye, sounds good ta me. Righty-o, ‘ere we are. Kurt Hummel, I’d like ye ta meet tha USS Enterprise. Milady, this Wee Bairn is gonna be ‘ere for a wee while helping us ta wait on ye hand and foot.”

Kurt, not remotely phased by how the Scotsman was acting (and ignoring the sceptical stares of the other engineers that had gathered around him), calmly walked forwards and placed his right hand on the closest part he could reach, stroking gently like you would with a pet. “Hi, it’s a pleasure to meet such a distinguished lady as yourself, ma’am. I’m Kurt, but Commander Scott keeps calling me Wee Bairn.”

A cheer went up followed by laughter and a round of applause, the Chief Engineer nodded once in appreciation “Aye Wee Bairn, methinks ye’ll fit in ‘ere just fine. Come on, time to tickle her in all the right places and warm her up.”

Chapter Text

“ButtonsButtonsButtonsButtonsButtonsButtonsButtonsButtons!” chirruped Britt’nii as the turbolift door opened onto the bridge; she was held from behind in Puck’s tight embrace while she calmed down a little bit.

“Please don’t touch the buttons.” Sulu whimpered from where he sat at his console, looking to the Captain with pleading eyes.

“Buttons!” she squeaked, just before Puck pinned her to him with one arm and gently covered her mouth with one hand, biting the inside of his mouth to prevent himself from laughing.

“Come on Brit-Brit, calm down yeah? If you don’t behave they’ll have to send you home; and we’d all be sad if that happened.” Blaine chided softly, moving over to her and rubbing her shoulder in a soothing manner.

“dwanmagrehme llbeygrdbln.” She mumbled from behind Puck’s hand.

“Say that again?” the reptilian teen said, releasing her mouth.

“I don’t wanna go home, I’ll be good… but there are so many buttons, and they’re all so shiny and pretty.” The Orian said, taking a deep breath and linking her pinky finger with the tip of Santana’s tail when it wiggled next to her hand.

“Promise me, that you won’t touch anything, Brit-Brit. Not one single button – not unless one of the officers says it’s ok first. Puck’s going to keep hold of you until you promise.” Blaine said, his words firm but not spoken harshly. It took a few moments, but the Orian relaxed and calmed down.

“I promise. No buttons.” She whispered, looking sad.

“We’re not mad at you Britt’nii, just make sure not to touch any of the consoles, yeah?” Kirk said, standing from his chair and moving over to the group. “Scotty’s already claimed Hummel, and you already know everyone here. Sam and Puck – you two can stay up here for launch and then the Security Team are going to collect you once we’re moving – everyone else, go and stand with your mentors please.” Without a comment, the teens did as they’d been told.

“Okay, welcome to the Bridge of the USS Enterprise, unless specifically given permission to do so: do not touch anything. Everyone with me on that?”

“Yes Captain.” They chorused.

“Okay, we have a few minutes to wait, the Yorktown was cleared to launch first, so we’re going to let them go – get to know your mentor or mentee a bit more while we wait for Space Dock to give us the go-ahead.”

“Yes Captain.”

“Anderson, take a seat, but don’t get too comfy – you’re going to have to let me have it back when Dock Control comms.” Kirk said, gesturing to The Captain’s Chair. Blaine gaped like a fish at the Captain, his eyes as wide as saucers in shock.

“Jim, did you break one of them already?” McCoy chuckled from where he sat at the console, Tina and Artie standing behind him.

“Blaine? Are you in there?” Kirk asked, waving his hand in front of the teen’s face.

“You’re letting me sit in The Chair, Captain?” Blaine whispered, still shocked.

“Yep, for about five minutes – so hurry up and park your ass down before Space Dock comms. Do I need to make it an order?” Kirk said with a grin.

“No Sir, I… can I get a picture please? My Dad isn’t going to believe this if I don’t have some evidence.” Blaine whispered, approaching the chair and gingerly sitting down at the very edge of it.

“Yeah, we can get it from the security footage… but only when you’re actually sat properly, not hanging off the edge like a canary on a perch.” With a little reluctance, Blaine settled himself properly.

“Oh. My. God.” Blaine whispered, gently running his fingers over the locked-by-the-Captain consoles on the arms of The Chair after getting a nod that it was safe to do so.

“Yeah, how does it feel?” Kirk asked, standing behind The Chair and looking down over it at Blaine.

“Kinda scary, if I’m being honest, Captain.” Blaine replied.

“Yeah. Lesson one: anyone who sits in The Chair and says they aren’t scared is lying to you.” Kirk said softly, squeezing one of Blaine’s shoulders in reassurance as the younger man nodded nervously.

~

“So, Candy Stripers… God I remember those days: all the stuff nobody else at the hospital wanted to do three nights a week after school and on Saturdays too. The place I was at was a small-town hospital; and it seemed to me that most of the Doctors had amnesia when it came to recalling what it was like to be standing at the bottom of the ladder not even able to reach the first rungs.” McCoy said, not turning to look at Tina and Artie as he watched his console.

“Wait a minute…” Tina said, giving the CMO a strange look, “… you said that you remember what it was like; but that most Doctors didn’t…”

“And as the Flagship CMO, you’re not exactly falling into the category of ‘most Doctors’ are you, Sir?” Artie continued, catching Tina’s eye, daring to look hopeful.

“Dr. McCoy, does that mean…?” Tina trailed off, twitching with silent excitement.

“Maybe there’s hope for Star Fleet Medical after all. We can’t exactly let you lose on real patients, but I think a holo-simulation or five might be on the cards if you make a real good effort with the crap jobs we all love-to-hate in Med Bay.”

“Yes Sir!” they said together, grinning widely before the Doctor gave them a playful scowl that cooled them off.

~

“Sorry, the ear piece isn’t suitable for your physiology, Santana.” Uhura apologised after fiddling with the equipment and being unable to make it stay in the Catian’s ear properly.

“It’s fine, I can hear most of it and watch the screens with this one.” The feline shrugged, her tail swishing in mild annoyance. The message from the engineering deck caused the two linguists to grin.

“Go on, report the status” Uhura whispered.

“What do I say?” Santana breathed back, not wanting to raise her voice

“Well, not what Commander Scott said, it isn’t appropriate for the Bridge; just tell the Captain that Engineering reports ready.”

“Engineering is Reporting Ready, Captain.” Santana said confidentially, earning a smile from Uhura.

“Thank you very much, Lopez – just the right level of bossyness without being rude to be a communications officer.” Kirk winked and Uhura rolled her eyes as all the teenagers giggled.

Kirk was pleased to see Spock patiently explaining the various screens that demonstrated the ship’s status.

“Ooooh, it’s Graph Porn.” Britt’nii said, wide eyed and amazed. Spock blinked four times; rather than commenting, the First Officer simply continued with his explanation, a slight green tinge to his cheeks. Across the bridge, McCoy was chuckling quietly.

“Sulu, how are we looking?”

“The Yorktown has cleared Spacedock. Dock Control reports ready. Course laid in.” Smoothly, the helmsman’s fingers danced over the controls to ready the ship.

“Interns, have you all got good a good view?” Kirk asked, turning to where the other teenagers stood, speechless, they nodded.

“Anderson, out of my seat,” As Kirk sat down, he unlocked the armrest panels and took an almost unnoticeable deep breath. “Sulu, Punch it.”