Mixie takes a deep breath, smooths her whiskers and steps on board the shuttle. It is the first step on the journey to her new life. Standing at just over one and half meters, she is tall for a Volelian but the other passengers crammed into the shuttle still tower over her. She slings her toolkit roll over her shoulder and squeezes through the crowd to a quiet corner where she can perch, half hidden by a bulkhead and survey the rest of the passengers.
Half are Starfleet crew, half are civilians. All are on the early shuttle to Deep Space Sentinel, the new space station on the other side of the wormhole. A different universe. She marvels at the thought of it, a new everything. New place, new peoples, new technologies... Her thoughts are interrupted by an altercation breaking out farther down the shuttle.
‘Hey, robot boy! Where’s your leg!’ Two burly construction workers, drawn by the lure of fast money to be made on the space station have noticed a Borg in a junior ranking Starfleet uniform. The Borg is doing his best not to draw attention to itself but the workers are already drunk on expectation and spoiling for a fight. A Borg made an easy target. Mixie shudders inside, trying to work out if she’s the highest ranking officer on board. She will have to step in if it gets ugly. She unrolls her toolkit and removes a electronic pulse pen. Not much of a weapon but it would have to do.
‘Whats your name, tin can?’ The two thugs laugh unpleasantly.
‘My name is 101100100011101001’ The hapless Borg replies, trying to placate them.
’Numbers! His name is Numbers!′ One of the thugs heartlessly kicks the Borg’s metal prosthetic leg while the other jabs a finger at the Borg’s Starfleet insignia. ‘What’s a robot doing in Starfleet, your lot nearly wiped us out. You should all be...’ But before he can finish Mixie slips through the crowd and jabs the bully on the buttock with her pulse pen. He howls in rage and swings round to face her.
‘Enough! Pick on someone your own size, you are only picking on him because you know Borg are programmed not to fight back.’
The two construction workers tower over Mixie but for some reason they hold back, a flicker of concern in their eyes.
’That’s right, I’m Starfleet too, Chief Engineer on the station you’re heading to. Your crew bosses report directly to me and I’m guessing you won’t like working on the sanitation drains and waste recycling vats for the next month unless you sit down and shut up, now!′
Much to Mixie’s surprise the two thugs blink and mumble but quietly creep away from her and the Borg. She can feel all eyes in the shuttle staring at her and... no, not at her, behind her and she turns to find herself staring at two, very tall, very menacing security officers. One, a Klingon, is resplendent in her official fighting weaponry, her civilian cloak thrown over one shoulder to reveal intricately patterned mek’leth blades at her hip. Mixie had thought she was a civilian when she boarded the shuttle, wrapped in a cloak and hood, but her insignia shows her to be a Starfleet officer. The other is a Mistral, he is poised, eagle-like, ready to strike with a silver ion-whip coiled in one hand, his eyebrow feathers quivering with fierce concentration. He too, is an officer.
As she stares up at them, a thought occurs to her, clearly the thugs had been intimidated by the two officers but she outranks them, just. ‘Thank you but I seem to have this under control.’ She grins at them and motions for the passenger next to the Borg to move up and she sits down.
The two officers glance at each other, shrug their shoulders and head back to their seats as the the doors close and seal tight and the shuttle starts its journey into the wormhole.
‘So, this your first assignment, Cadet?’ Mixie smiles kindly at the young Borg.
‘Well, you’ll find life on a Space Station very different from the Academy but don’t worry, bullies like those thugs usually don’t last long in deep space, makes them feel really small. Call me Chief, Mam makes me sound old!’
‘So, your name. Is there a shorter version?’
‘182505 is the decimal version.’
‘OK. 182505 it is. Where will you be working, 1820505? Engineering?’ Mixie crosses her fingers, hoping the answer is no as this Borg seems to be particularly unimpressed by her attempts at conservation.
‘It is182505. No extra zero. I will be working in computational space sector mapping.’
‘Good! Good, sounds very exciting. I’m sorry, about your name. I’m not very good with names.’
‘It is OK, they are right. They are just numbers.’
Mixies sighs, clearly this is going to be a long, long shuttle journey.
Commander Edgar Lancelot Pierce stands patiently at the security gates for the next shuttle due from the alternate universe. On board is a very important person who would be crucial to the functioning of the station, not to mention the obvious diplomatic importance. He adjusts the collar on his uniform and squares his shoulders, catching sight of the grizzled grey at his temples in a nearby reflection and sighs, this command post on DS Sentinel had come late in his career. Footsteps behind him remind him of the time and he turns to find the station’s chief medical officer, Dr. David ‘Darwin’ Jones and Pierce’s second-in-command protocol officer, a Romulan named Swayla T’Vayne.
‘Good Morning Commander, I have your welcome speech here, you had left it in on your desk.’
‘Thank you Swayla, I was hoping to make this a little less formal, it being before breakfast.’
‘But Commander, this is of the utmost diplomatic importance, plus we have the guard of honour to welcome as well.’
‘Ah, yes. Remind me of their names again?’ Inwardly Pierce groans at the thought of a round of protracted diplomatic greetings and all before breakfast.
’We have Peator, pronounced ‘Petor’, a Mistral of high rank. One of the few who have mastered all twelve of their sacred martial arts and Worwynd, pronounced ‘Waarrind’, a Klingon, apparently a high ranking one, she’s a decorated warrior.′
Paice glances at Swayla wondering if the slight sour tone in her voice is a tinge of jealousy or something deeper, a hint of the past hatred between the Klingon and Romulan cultures. Swayla was openly ambitious and he knew she saw being posted out here in the unknown ends of the universe as beneath her abilities.
‘Well, before you two get carried away with your speeches, there is a certain amount of medical checks to run on the new arrivals and there’s another outbreak of space flu in the civilian plaza so everyone is going to have to have a flu jab, including you two.’ Jones retrieves a injectapen from his pocket and before either can argue, inoculates them each in the arm just as the docking sirens sound and the shuttle arrives at Deep Space Sentinel.
Mixie is delighted to see they have all but rolled the red carpet out for her, she recognises teh human Commander Pierce, his second-in-command, the Romulan T’Vayne and the human medical officer Jones all waiting at the gates. As she hurries to meet them, she is swiftly outpaced by the two security guards from the shuttle, both flanking the Borg, 182505. As they head straight for the welcoming party, it occurs to Mixie the formal welcome is for them and not for her and she falters, unsure as to what to do, now clearly stuck in the middle of a diplomatic party that she actually isn’t part of.
By the time she reaches the gate, painfully aware she should have exited at the Starfleet crew gates on the opposite side of the docking bay, she is in time to hear the Commander’s welcoming speech.
‘Welcome to Deep Space Sentinel, it is a great honour to have the esteemed designer of the station here, we greet you 1011001001..11...’ But it is no good, the Commander, trips up over the Borg’s name. ‘I’m sorry, your name is very long...’
The Borg sighs and shakes his head. ‘Just call me numbers, every one else does.’
‘Numbers? Like a nickname? Very good... Numbers is it is. Welcome. And welcome to Peator, Mistral Master and Wor..Waarrind, warrior..um...’ Pierce is interrupted by his stomach growling. ‘And...who are you?’ he notices Mixie loitering nearby and Swayla doing her best to try and shoo her away.
‘I’m the new Chief Engineer, Mixie.. of Volelia, but I think I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time.. as usual.’ Mixie is about to scurry through the gates when Dr. Jones stops her.
‘Wait a minute, everyone gets a jab today. Space flu outbreak. No exceptions, whoever you are or wherever you are from.’ And with that he jabs her in the arm with the injectapen.
‘Ouch!’ Mixie rubs her arm thinking the doctor enjoyed that a little too much.
‘Watch out good doctor, this little one might jab you back!’ laughs Peator as he extends an arm for his inoculation. Worwynd chuckles loudly at his joke.
Mixie smooths her whiskers, draws herself up to her full height, shoves Swayla out of her way and salutes the Commander formally. ‘Commander, I shall be in Engineering if you need me.’ And with that, scurries off in what she hopes is the right direction.
‘Well! This is not protocol at all!’ Swayla fumes. ‘We still have not had the formal rendition of the Sentinel Song..’
‘I think, Swayla,’ says Pierce, cutting her short.‘This ceremony is over. Our guest would like to be shown to their quarters and we could all do without hearing that infernal song, again! If you would all be so kind as to follow my second-in-command, she will show you the way.’
As watches them go his stomach rumbles again, so loudly Jones hears it. ‘I prescribe some breakfast for that particular ailment.’
‘Finally! Well, I think that went...’
‘I was going to say well..’
‘OK, maybe a few glitches...’ The two men laugh and head for the exit and hopefully, breakfast.