Nick stood staring at the ship that was his to command through the curved viewports of Starbase 92. It was a day he’d thought about for years: Staring through the viewport, the sleek lines of his new command, gleaming in the starlight, perfect and beautiful, and ready for adventure. The reality of it was … painful.
The Asger had seen much, much better days. The hull was pock marked and streaked with debris hits and phaser burns. Hull plating had been patched rather than replaced in a lot of places, and it just had a general air of old about it. He knew the ship was supposed to be a dumping ground for people like him, people with black marks on their records and careers… most of these people had earned it, they’d done the things they were accused of. It pricked at his pride over and over that he’d been setup. He was here because of lies. Lies of people he’d trusted, people who’d said they were his friend and then betrayed him. His career was this… trash pile. Because of them.
He set his jaw and took a deep breath, heading toward the egress hatch. It couldn’t be that bad on the inside.
Well, maybe it could.
The acrid smell of coolant and lubricant hit his nose first, causing him to involuntarily sniff to try and get rid of the unpleasant scent, but it didn’t work. The walls were dinged and scraped, the carpet on the deck plating was worn with stains in places, even some areas along the edges of the deck plating that were rolled up and showed the adhesive bottom. The lights seemed to work consistently, which surprised him at this point.
The crew that was left mulled about lazily, going about mundane tasks wordlessly, barely acknowledging his presence if they acknowledged it at all. With a low grumble he made his way further into the ship. This was getting worse and worse…
“Oy! You must be the new captain, eh?” A voice from behind him said, pleasantly.
Nick turned back and found a diminutive man behind him, approaching with a data PADD and a smile. He was an older man, with smile lines around his eyes, and wispy gray hair. Nick couldn’t tell what department the man was from as his uniform top was rolled down around his waist. The man was covered in grease and grime from a lot of hard work aboard the ship from the looks of it.
“I am, yeah,” Nick said, a prick of embarrassment as he admitted that, not the pride he’d always hoped for.
“Ah, good,” The man said, smiling. “I’ll brief you on ship’s systems as I show you to the bridge,” He said, brightly.
Nick fell into step next to him as he headed on down the hallway, hoisting his duffle from one shoulder to the other, “Don’t know that I need it. She’s a mess,” He said, flatly.
“Oh… heh… he, sir,” The man replied with a grin.
“Aye, the Asger… not really a lady, eh? He’s an old man, is what he is. The Old Man is what most of us call him,” He explained with a smile. “And he’s in better shape than you might think,” He replied. “Dilithium Crystals are in good shape, reacting accordingly. Reaction chamber is looking good and won’t need to be replaced for another couple of cycles. Air scrubbers and waste elimination systems are working at effective capacity. Power couplers are looking okay, but most of them are refurbished… so keep an eye on those,” He said, running through the data on the PaDD in his hand. “We’ve double bolted some of the loose deck plating around the ship down, so that should be safer now. The biogel packs on decks five and nine are a year past their optimal refit date, but we’ve got another little bit of time before they’re actually past due, so you should be okay there,” He said.
“What about the–” Nick cut short and screwed up his face. “What the *hell* is *that*?!”
The man next to him stopped too, and made a face, “Oh… Lord, have mercy, forgot about that. That’s the smell of rotten Skilt eggs… they were a gift for a diplomatic envoy and … well, it didn’t go well. The uh… the eggs soaked into the carpet and went rotten. Science assures me the smell will be gone in a few more days,” He explained, forcing a smile. “We’ll uh… we’ll just take the other corridor,” He said nodding down a side hallway.
Nick quickly followed him, happy to escape the nauseating stench. Once his eyes stopped watering, he attempted his question again, “What about the navigational systems?”
“Ah, nav systems are great. Star maps are a little out of date, so it might do to have your Ops chief download the latest maps from Starfleet’s central computers, but other than that, spot on. Nothing too bad. Weapons are in okay shape, shield generators are on point. Transporters are looking great across the board,” He said, the balked, “OH… no… Don’t use transporter room 4… The details are in the logs, but… It was pretty gruesome…”
“Don’t use Transporter Room 4… got it,” Nick replied, wide eyed.
“Yeah… Uhm… Shuttles are in great shape, though. Whoever the deck chief was before, he did a damn fine job keeping them in good running order,” He said.
As they stepped onto the bridge, the man called out, “Captain on deck!”
Nick watched as the crew members there, stood and looked at him… but definitely didn’t snap to attention like he expected. He sighed and said, “Close enough, I guess… as you were.”
The crew went back to whatever tasks they’d been previously occupied with and the older man lead the way into the ready room. Nick threw his duffle on the desk and frowned deeply as one leg on the desk cracked off, causing an entire corner of the desk to drop down. Nick sighed heavily and rubbed his temples.
“I’ll… get that fixed, Commander,” The man replied, still trying to sound bright.
“Thanks… I take it your my Chief Engineer?” Nick asked, turning back to face the man.
“Oh, no sir. Chief Malcom Bridges, at your service. I’m from the deck crew on the station,” He explained, offering his hand to shake. “Your CEO was reassigned, so I wanted to make sure I had The Old Man in the best shape I could before you took off.”
Nick shook the man’s hand and nodded, “Well, I appreciate that,” He explained.
“Of course… I’ve got a few more things to do before I head out, so I’ll go ahead to get on that, if that’s okay with you?” Bridges asked.
“Sure, go ahead,” Nick replied, looking around the ready room and sighing.
“Sir… Maybe it’s out of line, but could I offer a word of advice?” Bridges said, pausing to look back before he left.
“Can’t hurt,” Nick replied with a wry chuckle.
Malcom grinned, “Sir, The Old Man… he’s beat up and busted. Been through hell and back. But his heart… it’s still there. There’s not a bulkhead or tritanium support that doesn’t remember the good ole days. The days of being pristine and important. You trust him… give him your best… he’ll serve you well, make you proud. Feel like that’s you, too. Been through it, but you’ve got the heart. Your crew will be the same way, too. You trust ’em, show ’em they can trust you… you’ll do good. Don’t see their records, look at the people. Give them a chance, and you’ll be surprised what you can do. No one wants to be forgotten, looked down on. Remind them what they can be… And remind yourself, too, and you’ll show you’re more than the outside,” He said, earnestly, patting the bulkhead next to him, “Just like The Old Man,” He said, with a smile.
Nick grinned a bit and nodded, “I’ll try and remember that, Malcom.”
“Good,” Malcom replied with a big grin. “Good luck, Commander,” He said with a wave as he departed.
“Yeah, thanks!” Nick called after him. He sighed and looked around as the ready room again door closed behind the older man, “I’m gonna need it…”