Delando Rumbutter checked his pocket communicator again. He'd gotten an interesting tip from his inside contact on the Millenium Falcon and was checking his Sparkle and Spacebook accounts feverishly to insure no one else had already scooped the story. The tip indicated PhilipKeith Mensley, the up-and-coming infantry Guardsman (Guardsmen?) serving on the Falcon had shown up from his offseason furlough significantly out of shape. That was newsworthy because, in some circles, Mensley was expected to be promoted to a front-line Guardsman for the upcoming campaign.
PhilipKeith Mensley was from the double sun planet Toledum, in the same remote midwestern star system from which Replogle and Huynh hailed. He'd rocketed to duty on the Millenium Falcon last year, despite not even being drafted from the academy. He was a "first sun," the first born of original Toledum parents. Firstborn sons on Toledum were usually born with two separate and distinct brains; hence, most "first suns" received double first names. Philip tested substantially normal in all respects on his omni-directional electro-encephalagraphic scans, but Keith showed an abberational lapse in his medial enteric synapse, resulting in a partial failure of his enteric nervous system and, perhaps, fueling his apparent addiction to Twinklies, a sugar-filled treat that was banned in sixteen galaxies and panned by every medical officer in Starfleet. Spero Karras, the ships physician, was reportedly treating him for the condition, but it appeared Mensley might have fallen off the space barge. Rumbutter wanted to confirm the tip, but as a lead reporter for the Galactic Journal/Planet specializing in reports on the huge Starfleet ship Millenium Falcon (dubbed the "Big MF" by friend and foe alike) he couldn't afford to lose this potential scoop. It looked like Mensley was now the biggest MF on the Big MF. He prepared a Spark on his communicator and pushed send.
* * *
Spero Karras pushed on the entry button at the entrance to Admiral Smith's quarters. A holographic image of the Admiral appeared in front of the portal. "Oh, hi Doc. What can I do for you?"
"I've got a bit of bad news, Smitty. Can I come in?"
The bulkhead portal irised open and Karras stepped into the Admiral's entry room, which had been converted to an office. Personnel and ship's roster information littered the Admiral's large desk. The Admiral appeared from the portal to his small personal galley. "What's up, Doc?"
Karras offered a slight smile at the familiar phrase and said, "It's Mensley, Admiral. Rumbutter just sparked that PhilipKeith fell off the barge and is pushing 380."
"Damn that Delando," fumed the Admiral, "sometimes I want to break his communicator. They need to close his Sparkle account. He's getting as bad as Roddy."
"Well," said Doc, "that may be a bit harsh. But Mensley hasn't checked in with me yet. Have you seen him?"
"Yes." Admiral Smith paced the small office, obviously concerned. PhilipKeith may not have been 380, but he'd been pretty large when he met with the Admiral, and he'd used a small compact transporter several times to provide fresh (if one could actually use that term) Twinklies, which he'd promptly popped into his (their?) mouth. Once, Philip had said, "stop eating those," to which Keith replied (right after stuffing another Twinklie into their mouth), "Mfphthp."
It wasn't so much that one needed to worry about bulk in space, but Mensley could be a front-line infantryman. He (they?) wouldn't do Starfleet much good if they (he?) couldn't handle the heat and gravity of, for instance, the boggy planet Etoufee in the Creole galaxy during the opening of the upcoming campaign. Or worse yet, if he (they?) couldn't fit through the airlock for transport. Smitty sighed. "Keep this down planet, Doc. Let's see if we can get things under control before this goes public. Dammit, I had big plans for them."
Doc Karras permitted himself a small smile. "It appears he's single-mindedly trying to fulfill them."