ON: <<Starfleet Academy, Earth, 2323>>
Arthur made his way down the ramp of the shuttle and blinked as the bright sunlight hit his eyes. There was an odor of saltiness to the wind that blew gently across the ground as the young man slowly turned on the spot, trying to take it all in. The various buildings that made up Starfleet Academy were closest, but in the distance, he could see the Golden Gate Bridge and the compound that was part of Starfleet Command.
Sliding the strap of his duffle further up on his shoulder, Arthur started down the stone path that wound its way through the Academy grounds. He ended up bumping a few other people heading the same direction, but they were all doing the same thing…they were all just as amazed to finally be here at Starfleet Academy
Eventually, the group of new cadets reached a large building with the Academy emblem painted on the exterior. As they passed through the double doors into the artificially lit lobby, Arthur felt his eyes adjusting to the new environment. The faint sea breeze was no longer noticeable, now that they had entered the building.
The group began to accumulate, forming a large mass in the middle of the expansive lobby, all of them wondering where they were supposed to go next. Footsteps echoed across the hall and Arthur noticed a dark-haired Vulcan in a cadet uniform approaching them. “Greetings, applicants,” he said in a crisp voice that could be heard, “If you would please make your way into Robert April Hall, we will begin momentarily.”
Arthur felt himself jostled around as the group moved in unison toward the indicated entrance. Once inside the great hall, Arthur managed to break free of the main group and find a place about halfway up to sit. Since he figured people would be passing him to get in, he left his duffle sitting across his lap, strap still over his shoulder in case he should have to move.
It didn’t take long for the hall to fill and the buzz of conversation to rise. Arthur was watching all the others come in, amazed at how many different species were represented. “This seat taken,” a voice asked, causing him to look up.
“Oh, sorry…no,” Arthur said, motioning for the red-haired young man standing there to have a seat.
“Thanks,” he said, plopping down next to Arthur, “Rick Edwards, by the way, my father’s captain of the Antares.”
“Arthur Richardson,” Arthur replied, shaking the offered hand, “My parents are professors at Cambridge.”
“Cool,” Rick said, “Must be neat to have such smart parents.”
“It’s come in handy,” Arthur replied, shifting his duffle slightly. At that moment, the lights in the auditorium dimmed, leaving the center of the stage as the only lit area. A grey-haired man appeared at the podium with the rank and insignia of an admiral. He reached for a glass of water, took a sip, and then cleared his throat. The entire hall was silent, waiting for him to begin.
“Good morning applicants,” he said, “and welcome to Starfleet Academy. When you leave this room, you will be Starfleet Cadets. Those of us here at Starfleet Academy have pledged to provide you with the best training and education we can offer, but even then…some of you won’t be graduating. Look around you. It is likely that the people you see will not be joining you at the graduation ceremony. This does not make them any less important or skilled than the next person, it simply means that Starfleet may not be the life for them. For those of you who do manage to survive until graduation, you will be entering into a tradition two hundred years in the making. At this time, I would like to introduce our guest speaker.”
Arthur noticed a robed figure moving just outside the pool of light, but he couldn’t make out who it was from this distance.
“This man has been serving with distinction for many years,” the admiral continued, “most famous for his service aboard the USS Enterprise, he has continued, time and again, to prove a valuable asset to the Federation. May I present to you, Ambassador Spock.”
The figure moved forward and Arthur could see the familiar image, one that he knew from school lessons since kindergarten. Spock had been the right hand man of Captain Kirk. He had seen things…done things that no other man had done before. There was even the rumor that he had died and Kirk had stolen the Enterprise to bring him back to life.
“Thank you admiral,” Spock said, assuming the podium, “Assembled applicants, I bid you greetings. You are about to embark on a journey of discovery. This journey starts here, together, but soon, you will each be going your own directions, serving aboard various starships, starbases, and outposts throughout the Federation. Each and every one of you is here because you expect to learn something about the universe and, in turn, about yourself. As you embark on this journey, I offer you traditional Vulcan greeting. Live long and prosper.”
Then, just as smoothly, he stepped back and disappeared into the shadows. Thunderous applause erupted from the assembled applicants, Arthur joining right along. To have had the chance to see Ambassador Spock in person, to hear him speak, was something that not a single one of them was about to forget.
“Thank you, ambassador,” the admiral said, having returned to the podium, “Now, as you leave this hall, Starfleet Cadets, you will receive your rooming and class assignments. Any questions can be directed to your academic advisors or your flight leaders. Dismissed.” The room was instantly abuzz with noise as the assembled group began to talk and make their way toward the exits, lights slowly rising to allow them to see.
“Don’t you want to see where you’re going to be living,” Rick asked, looking at Arthur, who was still seated in his chair.
“Wha…oh, right,” Arthur said, getting to his feet and following Rick up the aisle. As he shuffled his way through the crowd, he thought back to what the ambassador had said about getting to know oneself.
Rick Edwards (NPC)