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Cal Me Mike - Chapter One
#1
Grand Subitor di'k'vres Brekath, fourth son of the third house of Gorth, fifth son of the seventh house of Sarkan, holder of a seventh portion of the third estate, holder of the lesser region of Sarunet Delta, nineteenth brother to the heir of the holdings of Melkath, twenty-ninth in line to the throne of the third realm of Kerbal, sat on the edge of his bunk.

His name was not endless, but close enough that it had only taken one attempt at reciting all the honorifics before the Starfleet recruitment counselor had informed him that moving forward he would be called - and expected to respond to - Brekath, or, at the pleasure of his superiors, Ensign Brekath.

It wasn't proper, and truth be told, it was more than a bit insulting for a member of such an esteemed family to be reduced to only one name and only one title - and more often than not, just the name.

Brekath, however, was not in a position where he could argue the point. While he held an honored title, the title was all he had. The twenty-ninth in line to the throne was not likely to ever inherit anything else of worth: inheritance laws and customs dictated that equal shares went to the first son and first daughter of the house - and to them only - ensuring that the family estates would not end up so subdivided as to become meaningless, ignoring the fact that those cultural dictates held that the larger the family, the greater the reputation of the house.

Of course a family's resources - even those of a great house like Gorth - could only stretch so far - and with no hope of an estate, and therefore no hope of being able to entice a mate to join him, Brekath had chosen to leave the household and seek his future elsewhere.

Finding one's future, however, usually required some modicum of training, intelligence, or luck - none of which Brekath had.

What he did have, however, was a degree of strength that was disproportionate to his body size, a combination that, along with his other attributes - or more accurately, his lack thereof - the Starfleet recruitment office had found particularly attractive.

"Inconspicuous, unpreposessing, surprisingly strong, and stupid," he murmured to himself - then turned back to Brekath. "You'll make a find Security officer," he had declared, then gave Brekath a sober look. "Do you understand what I'm saying?" he asked, somewhat unsure if Kerbali was capable of even basic comprehension.

Brekath understood well enough. Food, shelter, clothing - Starfleet would give them all to him - and all he had to do was follow orders. It seemed a fair trade for the loss of his title, and perhaps even a chance at a future.

If, he added, he survived the next few months.

Starfleet never expected an ensign's first ship assignment to be anything more than a brief field assessment of their skills and training, with more appropriate assignments provided on their return to Earth Spacedock. As a result, the cadets were quartered solely based on alphabetical order and gender, rather than worrying about any possible long-term conflicts. Unless there was an issue of gross biological incompatibility, reassignments would not be made, further testing a rookie's ability to cope with unfamiliar and challenging circumstances.

Thus it was that Brekath found him assigned to his first berth on the Federation starship U.S.S. Hofmann, currently in orbit around Andor, and serving - albeit it very indirectly - beneath Captain Sh'marois, and quartered - very directly - with Ensign Loudon Breske.

The two were not compatible. Where Brekath was not gifted in any notable way, with no career plans whatsoever, Loudon was the opposite. Brilliant, a rising star in more than one scientific field, with a carefully planned path toward being a ship's science officer and executive office within five years.

Brekath had no plans that exceeded the next day.

And where Brekath tended toward being quiet and reserved - "all the better for getting you into position unannounced", his instructors decreed - Breske was loud, boastful, and always talking about his achievements, his skills, the praise lauded upon him by his superiors and his friends.

While it was unlikely that two people could be more diametrically opposed, it was, Brekath realized, possible.

It was, therefore, exceedingly lucky that the two rarely had to interact. Brekath, as a new security officer, had been assigned to a long, overnight duty shift, with his duties taking him out of the shared quarters just as Breske came in from his shift, returning as the human headed out for his more prominent assignments during normal day shifts.

Aside from the occasional rude comment, however, Breske rarely bothered Brekath. His plan was too carefully designed, too long in development to waste time or effort on belittling his roommate. That said, however, he had no compunctions about treating the former royal prince as a housekeeper. Used dishes were left strewn about rather than being taken back to the replicator, padds and study materials left across what was supposedly a shared work desk, and his laundry left wherever it fell.

More often than not, Brekath would put the clothes in the refresher without comment - not out of any sense of responsibility or friendship, but because Breske had developed a tendency to appropriate parts of Brekath's uniform when his own were dirty. Boots, trousers, jackets... the only clothes of Brekath's that were safe from being taken were Brekath's tunics, their brilliant red color providing themselves the safety that they did not always afford the wearer.

Even that wouldn't have bothered Brekath if Breske would have simply taken a moment to put the clothes in the refresher.

He didn't. He left his clothes - and Brekath's - wherever they fell - on the floor, by his bedside, at the desk, and more often than not piled in the shared bathroom, intertwined with wet towels and used gym gear.

Which was undoubtedly how he would find the lav as soon as Breske left it.

As if on cue, the door slid open with a faint 'whoosh', a billow of steam, and the faint smell of something herbal - and something stale.

"Brekath," Breske murmured, the greeting neither pleasant nor unpleasant, nothing more than an offhand comment to someone whose name he knew - but little more.

"Breske," Brekath replied. He would have added a further, "Are you done in there? I need to take a shower. We were doing drills all not in Engineering, and I'm filthy and I stink," but Breske's preoccupation wouldn't have left the words pass through to his mind, so he left it where it was.

To his surprise, however, Breske began to offer up some conversation. "Shame you weren't on the away team," he began.

Brekath sighed, instantly realizing that Breske was not trying to start a conversation, but rather another opportunity for his roommate to boast about his experiences.

"It was incredible," Breske continued, never bothering to make eye contact with the Kerbali. "The mycellial network islands are amazing. Plant and animal life that look somewhat like ours, but exists in a different.. well, a different dimension, I suppose you would say..."

There was a slight hint of disparagement in his use of the pronoun, as if Brekath needed a further reminder that his roommate was not his intellectual equal.

"...and it's all supported though the mycellial fluid! I," he emphasized the pronoun proudly, "had to retrieve multiple samples - they had me neck deep in the stuff. It was a odd sensation - wet, but also... tingling. Captain Sh'marois assured me there was no danger, of course - she wasn't about to send me in harm's way," he added, then took his padd from the desk.

"Have to run - we have an away team debriefing at oh nine hundred, and I'm presenting the science teams findings," he added proudly as he strode to the door - then stopped.

"Oh, by the way, the refresher's not working. Not sure how you're going to dry your pants. Maybe you can call maintenance," he added.

"My pants?" Brekath echoed.

"I wasn't going to wear mine on an away mission where I'd be collect sample of dirt and water! Let's be honest Brek: no one cares if a security officer's clothes aren't perfect. For a science officer though, well... appearances matter. I didn't want mine getting ruined on the mission," he remarked, thenĀ  left their quarters without further comment.

"It was an away team," Brekath muttered under his breath as the door slid shut, "not a mission."

Not that it really mattered, he admitted. It was just another one of Breske boasts - but the reality was that, regardless of whether it was an away team or a true mission, it was more action than Brekath was likely to see in his tour on the Hoffman.

With a sigh of a royal prince resigned to his fate, he rose to his feet and moved to the bathroom.

A pile of sodden clothes and towels covered the floor; grabbing a few, he reflexively placed them in the refresher - but, as Breske had said, the machine promptly refused to initiate the cleaning cycle.

"Unidentified organic material detected. Refreshing not possible. Please use replicator to dematerialize the garment in compliance with standard decontamination protocols," the message informed him.

Brekath frowned at the warning. Surely whatever organic residue that Breske had picked up on the mycellial island would have been broken down when he transported back to the Hofmann... but that would have broken down the samples they had collected as well, he realized. No, they must have used a shuttle. Of course, the captain must have decided that there was no real risk to bringing back traces of the material, but clearly the refresher had not been made aware of that decision.

He sighed, trying to decide if he wanted to waste his minimal replicator credits on replacing the wet pants - then shook his head.

The pants were wet - but not particularly dirty, and certainly not ruined. He straightened out the pants, then carefully arranged them on the back of a chair. He had almost twelve hours before his next duty shift - more then enough time to dry them.

As for the rest... Let Breske figure it out, he decided. After all, he was the up and coming science genius.

Exhausted from his long hours, he shut the bathroom door, leaving the remaining clothes for his roommate, turned off the room lights and made his way to his bed.
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