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"A Crewman's Perspective"

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

Crewman Jonathan Li was the very definition of unremarkable.

Jon was named for President and Admiral Jonathan Archer, the commanding officer of the NX-01 Enterprise who saved Earth from the Xindi superweapon and made first contact with countless civilizations on behalf of humanity, among them key members of the Federation he helped shape. Naturally, Jon’s parents had hoped that he, like his namesake, would rise to greatness.

For some time in his youth, he subscribed to this fantasy, aspiring to become a legend like James T. Kirk. Throughout elementary school, when the other children were discussing the latest holo-adventures, Jon was reading the accounts of the USS Voyager’s seven-year journey in the Delta Quadrant. He paid close attention to his secondary school history classes, learning what happened in every engagement of the Dominion War. Whenever a critical decision arose, he always asked himself: What would Jean-Luc Picard do?

And then, his dreams were shattered when he applied to Starfleet Academy and failed the entrance exam.

Jon was by no means unintelligent. He had won the poetry award at his school in his 9th year and came within the top 25 percent on Beta Ursae Minor II in mathematics testing. Unfortunately, whether by some fluke on his end or the misfortune of having a strict evaluator, he was denied entry into the Academy and never had the will to try again. Jon signed up as an enlisted member of Starfleet, underwent a brief training program, and became a turbolift technician on board the USS Endeavour.

He tried his best, he really had. Jon lived every aspect of his life by the ideals of Starfleet, but he simply never had a chance to shine. Besides breaking up a few arguments between his childhood friends, there was no opportunity. It is not easy to stand out in the utopia that was the core worlds of the United Federation of Planets, where everyone is an upstanding citizen.

That is why when Jon gets the call, he wastes no time leaping to action. It all happens quickly- one moment he is walking down the hall and the next power is gone. Lights, gravity, everything just shut off, leaving him to float helplessly into the air. Jon can hear the voices of other personnel around him, some confused, others afraid, but he cannot see anything at all. When his combadge chirps, he thought for a moment that it is someone else’s.

Then someone addresses him, “Bridge to Crewman Li.”

Jon’s hand instantly shoots to his chest, tapping the insignia attached there that doubles as a communication device, “Li here.”

“The ship’s lost power as you’ve no doubt noticed,” the officer on the other end states. “We’re working to bring everything back online, but the Captain’s stuck in Turbolift One. If you could-”

“I’m on it!” Jon blurts out enthusiastically before stopping himself, suddenly terrified that he has cut off a superior.

Fortunately, the officer doesn’t seem to mind, “You’re on Deck 14. There should be emergency power reserves in some of the engineering labs, separate from ship systems. They should be able to power a lift long enough to get the Captain out.”

“Understood,” Jon replies, conscious of being formal this time.

As the comm cut off, one of the others beside Jon shouts something he doesn’t quite catch, but her meaning becomes clear as a flashlight clicks on and drifts across to him in the almost gravityless environment. He takes the light and thanks her before kicking off the floor and shooting down the hallway. Jon is going to free the Captain. For once, he has a chance to do something significant.

When the Borg boarded the Endeavour, Jon was safely sealed inside a room with other enlisted while the trained security personnel defended their position. The Azedi attack before that only resulted in extra work when he had to perform repairs and lift shaft integrity checks in the aftermath. Jon does not know what peril the ship was in today, but this is without a doubt his moment to shine. The Captain, trapped in a turbolift! What else can it be, but the prime opportunity for him to prove his worth?

Pushing off the walls, ceiling, floor, Jon zips through the deck on his mission. The doors to the first lab he reaches have already been opened by the personnel inside. A quick question confirms that there are no emergency power sources here, and he moves next door. This one is shut, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is inside. He pulls the manual override and enters.

Various pieces of tools and equipment float around him. Jon assumes they are nothing dangerous, as such objects will not have been left out in the open like this. He still does his best to avoid them though, occasionally even performing a roll just for the sake of it. Bits and pieces eventually end up bumping into him, though he barely notices the small impacts, let alone are hurt by any. This isn’t some agility training holo-simulation after all. He soon forgets about them altogether, focusing on his task.

The search proves difficult, mostly due to the disorientating nature of the environment around him. As Jon looks through the lab, his mind begins to wonder. Once he gives power to the turbolift, perhaps he can send the lift down to Deck 14. The Captain will exit and they will run into one another. He will ask Jon about the situation, and Jon will tell him about his efforts freeing him from the turbolift. Then perhaps the Captain will commend him, recognize his efforts, maybe even promote him to Petty Officer…

Jon locates what he is looking for in a storage compartment. Hauling it back down the hall is easy as the lack of weight makes it completely effortless. Once again he kicks off from wall to wall, pushing the piece of equipment along, occasionally saying an ‘excuse me’ to any still remaining in the hall. They instantly part ways for Jon; he is on a Starfleet ship and everyone always moves aside if he says ‘excuse me,’ but this is different. They aren’t making room for him out of courtesy- they are doing it out of duty.

Jon soon reaches Turbolift One and begins connecting the reserve power storage to its systems. The task is not particularly hard, certainly easier than actually having to repair a lift or shaft. There is, however, a special sense of importance this time. Crewmembers can afford to use a different lift or even the Jefferies tubes if maintenance is being done. But this is the Captain and he is trapped.

He finds himself working faster and more intently than usual, though he can’t help his mind from playing out scenarios of what can transpire next. Jon decides that sending the Captain down here is a terrible idea; he will certainly be needed on the bridge during a time like this. He might still have a chance at recognition though, if he calls in at the exact moment the Captain arrives on the bridge.

“Crewman Li to bridge. Turbolift One has power again. The Captain should be on his way up anytime now.”

“He’s already here,” the Captain will reply. “Good work, Crewman, and thank you.”

“Just doing my duty, sir,” he will say humbly, as a good Starfleet member should.

“You do it well. I’ll keep your name on my list for commendation.”

The small console outside the turbolift door comes to life as the power kicks back in. Jon clenches his fists in a silent ‘Yes!’ and pushes himself over to the interface. He notices that the lift is actually moving down, without his guidance. It must be following the last command it was given before the power went out! Can it be that the Captain is on his way to Deck 14? Is this Jon’s lucky day?

His musings are cut short as the lift passes Deck 8. The machine flashes a low power warning- this is all it can give. Working rapidly, Jon taps on the console, overriding the lift’s last command with his maintenance authorization. The Captain is headed for Deck 11, but the turbolift is already slowing down and won’t get there before the power cut again. Jon thinks fast and sets it to open at Deck 10. He watches as the lift reaches its destination and the console readout affirms that the door has opened. A few seconds later, the emergency reserve flickers out, and the lift console along with it.

Jon breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes his posture, allowing himself to just float. The Captain is free. He will likely never know who is responsible for releasing him, but it doesn’t matter. Jon feels...accomplished, perhaps for the first time in a long time. He lets his mind wander again, thinking of all the heroic deeds that the Captain might go on to perform, which may or may not occur had he met an untimely fate in the maw of Turbolift One. But he understands the truth now.

The universe is not like his fantasies. The Captain’s situation is not a life-or-death one. And Jon is certainly not a hero. Not everyone can be a legend, but Starfleet doesn’t function on the actions of a few significant figures. All people contribute in creating the wondrous society that is the Federation. Jon accepts that now. He is glad to have played a part, no matter how small.

Crewman Jonathan Li is a member of Starfleet. And he is proud to serve.

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