Together, Anya and Le'Anna walked down to the mess hall for dinner. Before long, it was time for bed. After today's new adventure, Anya quickly fell asleep. The next day, at o five hundred hours, Anya's alarm clock went off. Anya mentally cursed whatever being that had decided that such an ungodly hour in the morning was a good time to get up at. Anya picked up her schedule for the day and examined it.
0600-meet in room E112 for warp engine mechanics class
0830-meet in room B243 for quantum theory class
1015-meet in gym 3 for physical training
1300-practical applications of spacial theory room F22
1500-1700- time for assignments
Anya groaned. It seemed like today would be busy, best to make the most out of the morning.
Anya was disappointed even more when she found out how much work was required for each class. She was expected to do so many problems that Anya seriously doubted that she could do them all in two hours, especially since she had no idea what most of them were talking about. For each class, Anya got a data pad, which turned out to be the ship's version of a textbook. There was so much work that needed to be done. All Anya could think was 'Thank God for college cramming.' Using her hard earned college skills, she skimmed her texts, but was barely able to finish her assignments in the time allotted. After dinner, Anya found out that R&R consisted of some sort of activity, whether it be playing a game of some sort or if it was a holomovie. The next day went pretty much the same as the first day, but with different classes. Soon, Anya fell into a routine. She realized that although her knowledge of space and spacial technologies was limited, so were all the other trainees. As time went on, Anya started to forget that she had once had a life outside the starship. Anya became so good at her work for her classes that soon other people were coming to Anya for help. Anya even began to forget that a mere month ago, she had known nothing about calculating the spacial location of the ship after a jump.
All Anya's notes that she had taken since that first day of class were stored on a single data pad. This is much better than spiral notebooks, she thought. As time passed, things aboard the ship got more competitive. All the new crewmembers were vying to be on their teachers' good sides so that they would be chosen for bridge crew.
It was said that gossip could spread throughout a ship faster than the speed of light. At times, thought Anya, it seems like everyone here spends more time gossiping than they do working. People gossiped about any and every subject under the sun. Sometimes, it seemed like it was the gossip, not the actions of the crew that kept the ship running. Lately, the major topic of gossip was who would be picked for the bridge crew. Among the new crew members, there was a pot, with the bets on who was most likely to be chosen. Anya was surprised to find out that her name was one of the ones at the top of the list of who was most likely going to make it.
Finally, the big day approached. The list of who made bridge would be posted in the morning, at 0800 hours, in the mess.
Anya couldn't wait to see if she had actually made it. She was so anxious that she woke up at 0400 and couldn't fall back asleep. Anya tried to read some of the latest novel that she had picked up from the ship's library database, but after an hour, she was still on the same page that she had started on. Anya decided that she might as well just go down to the mess and have some coffee, or something, maybe a pastry.
To Anya's surprise, when she walked into the mess, there were already several other trainees sitting in the mess hall. Anya grabbed a cup of high-caf coffee and a chocolate filled pastry of some sort. Anya then moved to sit next to Alexander, who sat next to her in several of her classes. Anya often found herself helping Alex and a few of his friends with their Poly-spatial Theory homework. The two of them started discussing who they had picked as the favorites for the Bridge crew. Anya had put a day's wages into the betting pot for Kayla, Andrew, Max, and Liam to fill the four positions. To her surprise, Alex had picked Anya, Kayla, Liam, and Max for the pot. What made Alex chose Anya? She was an outsider, a nobody. She hadn't even known anything about space travel, until she appeared aboard this ship. How could she possibly be a favorite for being chosen for bridge crew?
Kevin and Andrea walked into the room and they both joined in the discussion. "I think that Kayla has the best chance for being picked because she is such a suck up. All the teachers love her. Why they can't see past her goody two shoes act, I'll never know. Some days, I swear that she could get away with anything."
"Yes, I know what you mean." said Kevin. "Just the other day, she walked into Stellar Navigation, ten minutes late, using the excuse that the turbolift broke down and she had to walk through the Jeffory's tubes to get to class. As if. Later that day, I heard her talking to her little friend, Jenny about how she couldn't find the right bottle of hairspray and that was why she was late."
"She is such a worthless snob. Some days, I just feel like shoving her out an airlock." "Did you hear the rumor that she cheated on the Command Competency exam?" The discussion continued. Anya got up to refill her coffee mug. By the time she got back, the conversation had moved on to who was the better team for galactic shuffleball. Not being much of a sports person, Anya picked up the daily news datapad and started reading it, or at least, acting like she was reading it. Her thoughts were all over the place. She had read the same sentence in the article about the trash problem on Sega prime three times. Finally, Anya set down the news pad and let her thoughts wander. This is it. Anya thought, the moment that tells me whether or not I made it. The rest of my stay on this ship is determined by this one little slip of paper. Will I be stuck in engineering forever, or will I get a chance to learn how to command a vessel like this? What would it be like to actually be in command of a vessel like this…
So lost in her own thoughts, Anya missed the hush that fell over the crowd now gathered in the mess hall. An elbow in the side jolted Anya back to reality. "This is it!" whispered Alex. Anya glanced upward just in time to see Ensign Kalè stand up in front of everyone and start to speak.
"First off, I would like to congratulate all of you for your hard work and dedication to this crew and this vessel. I don't think that I have ever seen a finer batch of cadets than the ones that we have here, now. Since all of you have shown such exemplary skill and dedication, this year, an exception has been made. Although we can't take all of you for command training, we have made space for one extra person. This year, five of you will be joining the elite ranks of commanders, instead of the typical four." At this, whispers broke out throughout the room. Everyone was in shock. Ensign Kalè held up her hand to quiet down the crowd. When they had once again fallen silent, she continued to speak.
"I also wish to say to all the rest of you, don't be discouraged. There are still many wonderful opportunities aboard this ship and we don't want to loose you. I still wish that we could take more of you into command training, but that is not feasible. I would also like to say that deciding the top students this year has been harder than ever before." Ensign Kalè paused and glanced up at the expectant crowd.
"Now, the moment that I feel that you have all been waiting for. These five people have shown exemplary skills in all areas and have earned the right to be trained as commanders. They are Max Mathews, Liam Porter, Sarah Williams, and Nathan Hale. Before I announce our last candidate, I would like to say something about her. Never before have I seen anyone that displays the dedication that she does. I personally feel that she will make a great captain some day. All the teachers unanimously picked her as their top choice." At this point, Anya felt crestfallen. She knew that the last person must be Kayla. There was no chance left for her. Anya wished that she could just leave. Ensign Kalè was still speaking. "She also achieved the highest marks that I have ever seen on the Command Competency exam. At this point, I would like to announce our last cadet, Anya Stevens."
"What?" asked Anya in shock.
"WHAT!?!" Exclaimed Kayla. "Excuse me, there must be some sort of mistake. There is no way that she did better than me. All the teachers love me. You must have read a name from the wrong list. I KNOW as a fact that I did great on the Command Competency test."
At this Ensign Kalè raised an eyebrow. "How can you know how you did? No one can know for certain. Their scores are never revealed."
"But… But I had all the answers. How could I be wrong?" At this, a collective gasp went through the crowd. Kayla had cheated on her competency test. Ensign Kalè walked toward Anya and shook her hand. "Congratulations. I expect to see great things from you."
Anya's friends crowded around her, everyone struggled to pat her on the back. "And you told me that you did bad on the competency exam." said Le'Anna. " I did do bad, or at least I thought that I did. There's no way that I got more than an eighty percent on it."
"An eighty? Anything over a fifty percent is usually considered high. My neighbor held the old record for the test, and he had only a sixty nine percent. No wonder he said that you were the best candidate for training. Not only do you have the best grade in every class that you take, you have bested the longstanding record top score on the Command Competency Test by a long shot. Congratulations. Now, let's celebrate."
Maria grabbed a bottle of Synthale and poured glasses for everyone. "To Anya." She toasted. "May your command be filled with adventure…"
Kevin butted in "But may you never crash the ship."
Everyone chimed in, "To Anya."
"Now let's get this party started!" Kevin went over to the control console in the mess and pressed a few buttons. Music started blasting through the intercom system. Who would have guessed that space cadets knew how to throw such a great party on such short notice? The party lasted for a couple of hours, but unfortunately couldn't last forever. Everyone had duties to return to and Anya had to get her new quarters. As Anya was packing up her stuff, some of her friends stopped by with some last words of advice.
"Remember, if you ever need some help making those command decisions, don't hesitate to comm. me." said Alex.
"Don't let your head get too big working up there."
"Don't worry, I won't Kevin.
"Remember, even when you're sitting in that chair up there, we'll still be your friends."
Anya left for her new quarters. When she entered, she was shocked. They were much bigger than she had originally anticipated. She had her own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, study, and an extra large living room. It had been ages since she had had this much space purely to herself. Come to think of it, Anya didn't think that she had ever had this much space.
Anya had just finished unpacking when she heard someone at the door. She opened it and was surprised to see Lieutenant Commander Slivka at the door. Next to him was another man carrying a box of new uniforms for her, designating Anya as a bridge officer.
Lieutenant Commander Slivka spoke up. "I just came to personally congratulate you. You have proven that you are one of the best serving onboard this ship and I hope that you continue to uphold your standard of excellence.