Cdr Jarrod would know that it was impossible to read five years' worth of mission logs in twenty-four hours, even without a duty shift, sleeping or eating, so there was no point in getting my knickers in a twist about it. I also debated whether or not the object of the exercise was not the reading of the logs, but rather, how I dealt with the task... and then I wondered if I wasn't perhaps getting ahead of myself and jumping to conclusions.
I've got this stupid idea in my head that I'm being lined up for Starfleet but that is crazy beyond belief. They have a barrage of entrance examinations I simply wouldn't pass. Having been a foster child, in and out of various care facilities, I haven't had a stable education that has taught me much beyond the three R's. I know nothing about engineering, alien culture or history, calculus, temporal mechanics, blah, blah, blah, so that is most certainly not on the cards... but... oh, I don't know. It just doesn't feel... I can't even put it into words.
Anyway, I went back to Cdr Jarrod as requested and she asked me my opinion of the logs. Right, I thought. What the hell. Let's get some answers.
"Well, obviously I've not had time to read them all, but they are very interesting. Admiral Kirk was a most charismatic and resourceful captain, but then, so was Archer and Pike."
"Indeed, they were. Every Captain has given something to Starfleet that no other can give. Each of them had their own way of doing things and what worked for one man, may not work for another."
"But you could say that for any crewman, surely?"
A broad smile broke out on the Commander's face.
"My point exactly."
That flummoxed me. I didn't quite know what to say next, so I stood there like a right lemon for a while and I asked myself, what is this about? But, no sooner had the words formed in my brain than they tumbled out of my mouth!
"Tell me, Crewman. Do you not have a sense of adventure?"
"Of course I do. Otherwise I wouldn't be on a starship sailing across the galaxies." A little voice in my head was telling me to be more respectful but, as usual, there was a second little voice telling me to say it like it is. The second voice is usually the louder one.
"Yes, but wouldn't you prefer to be in the thick of it? Wouldn't you like to be included on the away missions—see these things first hand rather than just the odd tourist attraction when you've got a bit of R & R?"
"Commander. You obviously have an agenda here. Would you like to share it with me please?"
The Commander laughed heartily and threw herself back in her chair.
"My god, woman!" she exclaimed. "And still you can't see it!"
"You may be a crewman by title, but a crewman doesn't challenge a commander..."
"No, no, no! What I'm saying is you're not talking to me like a crewman; you're talking to me like an officer or an ensign. You are bold enough to say what's on your mind."
I laughed then and the Commander frowned at me.
"My tutors at school called it impudence," I explained.
"I call it promise!"
"But this is daft. What exactly are you suggesting? That I go to the Academy? I'd never pass the entrance exam!"
"Only because you haven't had the education, not because you haven't got the acumen."
My mouth opened to say something and then snapped shut. The Commander laughed again.
"There's more than one way to skin a cat. There's more than one way to become an Officer. Are you interested?"
I stared blankly at her, my mind buzzing with questions.
"Why me?" I finally asked. "I mean, surely I'm not the first crewman of this ilk you've found."
"No, you're not," and she leant across the desk towards me. "But they aren't crewmen anymore." She then leant back in her chair, swivelled it around and stared at the ceiling, obviously reminiscing, "Some are officers and some didn't make it all. They couldn't hack it." She turned to face me again. "The point is that academics don't always have the... oomph that its takes to make a good officer. Sure, they've got the brains but do they have the people skills, the enquiring mind that works at tangents instead of dead straight lines? No. That's why Starfleet has to have a second entry method into Starfleet."
"What? Like a scholarship program?"
"Yes, if you like."
"I've never heard of it."
"Your knowledge of Starfleet is hardly encyclopaedic."
I couldn't argue with that.
"So. Are you interested or not?"
"What does this involve?"
"I asked if you were interested or not."
"And I asked what it involved."
She laughed again.
"It doesn't work that way, Crewman. Are you interested or not?"
I smiled. Of course I bloody was!