A new officer joins his ship.
With apologies to the BBC Light Programme. I proudly present USS Tuttenbeck, the pride of Starfleet and the antithesis of boringly efficient Federation Starships.
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A serious Lieutenant Parbold knocked smartly at the door of the yard superintendents office and entered. Excuse me, Sir. I'm looking for the Tuttenbeck. They said at reception you knew where she was?
Aye lad. You must be the new Comms Officer. W've just finished repairing her, so you'll find her in her usual place on pier thirteen, the corpulent man behind the wooden desk admitted happily.
A small sign on the desk informed Parbold that the happy little man was a Mr Hammit.
Commander Geroff is aboard, Hammit added. I'll take you down shall I. I have to see Geroff anyroads.
I didn't know there was such a big yard here, Parbold commented as they walked down passages towards the furthest corner of the space station. He peered through viewports trying to catch a glimpse of the dock that would hold his new ship.
Why was Tuttenbeck in for repair? Parbold tried. Was she involved in a battle?
Sort of, Hammit admitted again.
We had to scrap the other ship. There she is. The pride of Starfleet! He pointed proudly towards a very old and twisted pylon bearing an equally old and twisted Miranda class destroyer.
But she's a wreck! Parbold exclaimed in horror at the sight.
Taken three months to get her in shape, Hammit confessed. I tell you that ship is the safest ship in the galaxy. See that pylon, it were brand new three months ago. Unbreakable them toffee nosed gits at Starfleet reckoned. Fits everything, automatic, absolutely guaranteed, they said. Taken Tuttenbeck three tries to make it fit.
But the warp generators are on different levels, the saucer is twisted and the launcher is pie-eyed! I doubt it could even fire! Parbold gasped, still unable to take his eyes of of the apparition that was to be his new home. Even if it did the torpedo would go straight through the saucer!
Dunno bout that, Hammit admitted. She ain't had to fire one in fifteen years.
Even in the Dominion War? Parbold demanded.
They didn't dare come near enough. Rendered helpless when they saw the old Tutten coming.
With laughter? Parbold suggested cynically.
He knew somebody at Starfleet had it in for him when he had been posted to this secluded outpost. He had wondered about the pitying looks he had received when he had received the notification, but had simply put it down to the colony being so far from the centre of anywhere. Now he was starting to get a feel at just how badly they wanted him out the way.
Now lad, this is the gangway. Hammit opened a heavy door and gestured for Parbold to enter. After you lad. You can go first. Still not entirely happy with the repairs to the pylon, so we restrict use to one at a time.
Carefully Parbold walked up the tunnel towards what he hoped would be an open airlock as the door behind him clanged shut. The whole frame creaked as he stepped forwards, making him try to hurry but without actually stepping on the floor. The more he hurried the more ominous the creaking.
His nerves were shot by the time he fell out the hatch at the end and suffered a severe bout of relief all over the floor, as the door behind him was slammed shut by an enthusiastic crewman.
Finally he tried to stand upright to find that the strap of the shoulder bag he had been carrying was now caught in the door, the bag on the wrong side.
Oh, hello Lieutenant. Do you know how to work one of these? A mild voice enquired.
Parbold looked around wildly to find a thin bald man in an open jacket and commanders pips addressing him nonchalantly, holding out a child's Rubicks Cube.
the Commander sighed. I can sometimes get one side. Don't worry about that standing to attention lark, we are quite informal here, unless there is an officer about. Isn't that right Chief?
Oh yeah, right, Sir the crewman that had shut the door so promptly agreed. Mr Hammit is at the door, Sir. Should I let him in?
The commander looked through the portal at the frantic little man. I think the tunnel is leaking again, Chief. You had better make a note of it for the yard, he said mildly.
Noted, Sir. And Mr Hammit?
You really shouldn't have been so keen for Starfleet to install this new pylon, Hammit, the commander criticised. You know how unsafe they are. Now what can we do for you?
Hammit red in the face and gasping looked up decidedly peeved. You smashed the old one, Geroff, he panted. Knocked it clean off! But if you could avoid doing anything for a few weeks, me an' the lads would be grateful. We ain't had a holiday for twelve months an' the missus, she wants me to take her to Earth for an oliday like?
Do anything? Geroff asked imperiously. You don't expect us to sit on a leaking pylon for a few months while you and your wife go on holiday? We do what Starfleet demand.
I'll have the pylon repaired immediately. I'll move your ship to another pylon and ship you a crate of brandy! Hammit begged. Just don't do anything involving this colony or yard while I'm away, Please!
I'll see what I can do, Geroff agreed. Chief, give Mr Hammit a breathing mask and flood the tunnel for him.
He turned to the spellbound lieutenant. I suppose I had better brief you, he said with disgust. We'll go to my cabin. Follow me. Chief, make sure Mr Parbold's gear gets to his cabin, intact for once.
What can't you do Lieutenant? Commander Geroff turned on the young Lieutenant as he handed him a tall glass of brandy. Most of the earlier mild manner missing.
I'm a Comms expert, Sir! Parbold expostulated wildly.
So you can't use a radio? Geroff challenged.
No, Sir. I mean. Yes, Sir! I can Sir!
So what have you done to be wished upon us? Geroff demanded.
Must've or you wouldn't be here, Geroff insisted. Look deep down Lieutenant. I have the only Vulcan navigating officer in Starfleet that has to take her shoes and socks off to count to four and the only pilot in existence who does not know left from right. What have you done?
Well there was the Admirals daughter, Parbold admitted. I taught her to dance and he didn't see it like that.
He caught you in bed? Geroff suggested, relaxing a little. Let me tell you a few things about this posting. First, half of Starfleet doesn't know we exist, the other half denies we do, anybody that's left doesn't believe we can. The downside is that it means you will never escape on your feet. Your predecessor got out by trying to jump out the airlock. The upside, if you can adapt, is that you will find it the easiest and safest posting in the fleet. We aren't sent out much so annoying details like Where are we? or warp factors aren't a problem and there is plenty of time for other interests like getting drunk.
How long have you been here, Sir? Parbold stammered.
Ten years. Regretted the first two, but not since, Geroff admitted, lifting his glass at the Lieutenant and winking.
If you need anything see Chief Bosun Catchen. He knows where to get it, he added.
Parbolds new cabin was more distressing than the rest of the ship.
Somebody with the artistic expertise of a deranged gorilla on speed had attempted to decorate the cabin. Great splodges of white, blue and yellow paint fairly dripped off the walls; onto the bed and any other furniture as well by the look of it. The floor also bowed upwards towards the edges, it matched the interesting bulge in the outer wall.
He sat glumly in a chair to consider his fortune and fell off. The close examination his prone position allowed found the reason. Somebody had trimmed an inch off the front two legs to allow it to match the curvature of the floor. He assumed it was the same helpful person that had done the same to the table to allow it to sit straight.
It was a pity, he thought, that they hadn't done the same to the bed which also sloped towards the centre of the room.
A touch of brilliance had him roll up the paint encrusted blanket and thrust it under the edge of the mattress.
It didn't work.
As he sank onto the mattress in despair, the paint hardened blanket acted as a roller, sliding Parbold and mattress gently into the centre of the floor.
He lay back, at least here he couldn't slide any further. Then his kit bag slid off of the dresser where it had been placed by somebody and landed on top of him.
Parbold wanted to go home.
He emerged from his cabin some hours later in desperate need for a coffee and finding that the replicator, whilst able to produce coffee, was singularly unable to provide a cup to catch it in. He felt a great deal of compassion for his predecessor, going mad was about the only logical and preferable alternative to serving on this ship.
He staggered drunkenly down the corridors towards what he hoped would be a turbo-lift and the wardroom. He was also sure that corridors in a Miranda weren't designed to undulate and twist, but it wasn't as bad as his room.
He found Chief Catchen with a second crewman prodding at the Turbo Lift door, an open access panel beside it. Prod the one by the blacken, he was offering helpfully as the crewman poured over the terminals inside.
There was a flash and a brief scream as the crewman did as he was told.
Well that ones live as well, the Chief admitted. Must be one of them six that's dead or the door would open!
Why not use a tri-corder? Parbold asked.
Sorry, Sir! Chief Bosun Catchen announced straightening up smartly. They would be the little boxes with little lights nd things, Sir?
Parbold nodded warily.
Ain't got none, Sir, the Chief admitted. I did a deal with the woodyard, Sir. They wanted some fairy lights.
Parbold asked fearfully.
Overalls from the tailor. They needed them to get some beer from the pub, Sir, the Chief explained unhelpfully.
So to get overalls you traded the most useful instrument on the ship?
No Sir! The Chief protested. To get wood, Sir.
What does a Starship need wood for? Parbold demanded.
Your table for one, the Chief admitted. But mainly so I could get replicator parts.
Why not use Starfleet spares? Asked the bewildered Parbold.
Ain't got none, Sir. I traded them.
Please don't tell me, Parbold begged. You traded them for a supply of beer to buy overalls which were swapped for fairy lights from the woodyard?
Actually it was the scrapyard, Sir. But you are catching on, the Chief admitted helpfully. This ain't Starfleet, Sir!
So I see, Parbold admitted. There are a few problems in my quarters, is there any chance of getting them fixed?
I'll see to it as soon as we've got the lift working, Sir. Now you'll be wanting the wardroom, Sir. Third junction in the corridor, turn left and follow the passage down. It's a bit dark cos there's no lights. Wardroom is the third passage on the right, Sir. You only need the lift to get to Engineering and the Bridge, Sir.
Promising officer that un. Lieutenant Parboiled Chief Catchen admitted to his frizzled protégée as he crawled out the access hatch. Already gettin' the ang of things.
Parbold was met by a wan grins and Commander Geroff as he entered the wardroom.
Ah, Lieutenant. There you are. Meet the officers of the Tuttenbeck, Geroff announced happily. First is Lieutenant T'Rizz our Navigator. Beautiful and as thick as two short planks.
Parbold would happily agree to the first, T'Rizz was very attractive, slim and well endowed, topped by short black hair. She grinned at him.
Lieutenant Corbett. Pilot and resident expert on nothing useful, Geroff continued. Thinks he's a ladies man, he continued in a whisper, gesticulating towards the Lieutenant. Trouble is so do they. With that pockmarked face, I keep thinking dartboard.
And finally the Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Gorsh.
Parbold looked the Klingon Engineer up and down very carefully. Looking for the bolt that held his head in place. Wherever it was it needed tightening, his over sized head wobbled frighteningly on narrow shoulders.
That is all the crew? Parbold asked dumbfounded. Surely there is supposed to be thirty officers?
We are short handed, Geroff admitted. But I'm told we do have nearly sixty crewmen on the lower decks and the chief is quite good. Now what can I get you. I don't recommend the local firewater until you've had at least one bottle of brandy.
And the only way to make the ship look good is to drink two bottles, Corbett called, T'rizz belched an agreement.
There was one good thing about a bottle of brandy, Parbold decided some hours later as he poured himself into his mattress on the floor. It made the floors of the corridor look straight. Perhaps two would straighten his room?