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Lt. Ade Sharp frowned, looking at the rough sketches of round gentle arches, stark lines, and the occasional protruding dotted lines that denounced a relay antennae here and there.
Ade growled and crunched up the latest design, tossing it over a shoulder with a grunt of displeasure. The erstwhile Lieutenant may get laughed at for using old fashioned hard textile simulation paper instead of coming up with the initial designs in the holodeck, but there was just something more real and accessible with the feel of a pliable surface and the scrape of pencil or charcoal that appealed to Sharp’s sense of aesthetic. Usually the aggrieved Starship designer got the best ideas when drawing out schematics by hand, the designer blamed it on being an engineer and thus preferring to fondle the guts of a warpcoil then slaving away over computer schematics.
A forehead clunked unhappily onto a paper strewn light table narrowly missing a day old baloney sandwich.
Ade, as one of the best designers that the Federation had to offer, had been stuck with this task all on their lonesome to come up with the initial first working design, the latest ship for Starfleet, and their previous designs had been turned down, no matter how many different approaches and alterations they did. To skimpy, to fancy, to bulky, to small, etc. Ade knew that the higher ups were getting frustrated, wanting something that they could use to promote on the Federation News holos to encourage the latest batch of cadet sign ups. Which, to be honest, happened with every newly commissioned ship that bore even the slightest difference in length or width from its predecessors.
The frustrated designer knew that the warp nacelles would be bigger then previous ships. Being built for both speed and durability, able to hold enough power and 'oomph' for deep space exploration, but still able to make a getaway in case of a Klingon attack.
There was also a saucer section. Some ships had the spherical fronts, like a giant ball stuck on a bunch of tubes, or the boxy short range robot manned ships, or even the large out of date segmented stalks that was the various cargo ships plodding their way through the galaxy with their generations of crew being born, growing old and dyeing within its holds. The saucer shape though had become the standard in design after Enterprise though, so Ade incorporated it into their designs.
The aggrieved Starfleet officer had thought about including a bit of a Vulcan aesthetic, with its more narrow body, pointed tip and ring shaped nacelles in the first concept, but with the Vulcans having finally pulled back on their strangle hold of Earth’s development over the past decades, thanks in part to the efforts of the Enterprise decades ago, Starfleet wanted to continue the tradition of a more neutral ship design.
The human's grim gaze turned towards the various family pictures hanging on the wall. Pictures of the designer and their exuberantly large family during various vacations. Ade softened at the sight and felt a reluctant smile flicker upwards at spying the happy subjects picnicking under the domes of Mars colony, pretending to hold up the leaning tower of Pisa in New Italy with a few Vulcans caught in the background looking stoically concerned by the behavior, Ade’s graduation from Starfleet Academy, even a seven year old Ade watching old 20th century horror films preserved on holos with various cousins, and that time they had dressed up as Dixon Hill during the 1201th DixCon in San Diego on Earth.
Ade sighed, eyeing the awards that sat on a modest trophy shelf next to an impressive collection of motivational holos and Starship models. All were from family which had been so happy and supportive of everything that they did. Celebrating little and large achievements, what few there were, and were so ecstatic when they found out about the commission to design the latest ship for Starfleet.
Speaking of family...
The deep bellow of Papa Roy hollered from the door to the surface world of the family home.
“Ade! Get your arse up here! The family is waiting on you before we can start!”
Ade sighed at the interruption, though supposed that the whole reason that they were here was more to visit the family and celebrate an anniversary of Ade’s parents then wallow over failed ship designs. Ade had a cramped Starfleet issue cubical in the Engineering corps for that.
The ship designer blinked in the harsh rays of the sun shinning through the open window near the entrance to the basement door.
“By Denobula, it lives!” a feminine voice crowed in mock shock.
Ade rolled their eyes and flicked their stepsister’s facial ridges, making the teenager squawk, her eye color changing in affront to her dignity, a puff of air escaping from the sides of her cheeks, causing her blond hair to fluff up.
Ade laughed and sing-songed over their shoulder “I bet I get all the lemur before you do Chendra!”
The two raced towards the table, but stopped their playful rough housing as soon as they dived for their chairs. Chendra’s second prospective husband, Thlo, rolled his eyes and returned to his engrossed conversation with one of Ade’s stepmothers. They seemed to be discussing fungus of all things.
Ade rolled their eyes, much preferring Chendra's first spouse, Shell, who was a marine biologist and at least had some interesting stories of nearly being eaten alive by this or that sea monster.
Papa Roy took a seat next to his husband, Ade’s Papa Pharn, a distinguished Denobulan with silver and chestnut hair, eyes currently light colored with happiness and smiling wider then his human husband and child could ever hope to be able to do, and taking Papa Roy’s hand in his, the two sharing secretive and heated looks.
Ade noted that only one of Pharn’s wives and other husband had been able to make it today along with 3 of Ade’s step siblings, but that wasn’t unexpected, considering everyone was busy with work back on Denobula or in the deep reaches of space somewhere.
Ade’s grandmother was the last to join the table, carrying a large round platter with a steaming onion and anchovy pizza in its place of honor at the center of the table. Murmurs of approval went up and down the table as the old women smirked with pride.
Pizza had been a long family tradition dating all the way back to the late 20th Century when Ade’s ancestors opened their first Pop and Pop Pizzeria in old San Fransisco. Since then for generations, every time there was a family gathering a pizza sat in the place of honor at the table, and all children were taught from an early age how to make them, as was tradition from the human end of their extensive family.
Talk died down as it always did, being that Denobulans considered talking while eating a waste of time, and their human family members had adopted that tradition, just as the Denobulan family members accepted traditions like Anniversaries, only celebrating when Roy joined Pharn's family.
As they ate in the comfortable silence, Ade’s thoughts inevitably drifted back to the conundrum of ship designs. But for every mental line sketched, a fog of creator’s block would spring up and everything would degenerate into a tumble that looked like a giraffe tied into a Gordian knot with the odd nacelle sticking out of the mess.
Ade’s eyes strayed towards the pizza, which was currently untouched, waiting until the delicacies, such as the Lemur Kidney, had been consumed and appreciated, with its usual side of fava beans and a nice chianti, were finished.
Ade idly noted that grandmother Ivan had even felt festive enough to use old family records to create a pizza box with the old family crest of a slice of pizza crossed with a round bladed pizza cutter. It had been a few years since they had looked at it, always stuck at the drafting table, workaholic that Ade was. The frustrated designer idly noticed that grandmother had left her Starfleet issue combadge on top of the box, resting almost in line with the illustration of the pizza slice.
Ade snorted mentally in amusement. Grandmother prided on being the only Starfleet captain that owned a chain of successful pizzeria’s all over the galaxy. Ade knew that if she had it her way, she would have found some way to cross the Starfleet emblem with her first love.
As Ade continued to stare down at the box, nibbling halfheartedly on a Denobulan sausage, idle thoughts of Ivan, the image of the family crest, the Starfleet combadge, began to change. Suddenly Ade's mind filled with new lines and ideas and memories transmuting into 2 dimensional planes of stark sketches and flat textures. Certain shapes, certain outlines, certain spaces were plucked from the amalgam, and began to merge until a new shape began to appear.
The family froze in various poses of eating when Ade suddenly leaped to their feet, and ran for the nearest open surface, a nearby wall, pulling out a pencil from among its fellows that stuck out from Ade’s hair and began to fervently draw.
Papa Roy groaned, while Papa Pharn sighed, rubbing a spot in the gap of his forehead ridges.
“Ade, really, you know our rules about doing this sort of thing at the dinner table,” the man sighed.
Ade of course didn’t say anything, to busy mumbling something under their breath.
The family eventually went back to their eating, exchanging eye rolls. Some things never changed. Papa Roy bemusedly remembered the various other ship designs he and Pharn would find strewn all over the house in crayon during Ade’s childhood.
By the time that the family had finished and were just about to move into the family den to open presents, Ade stepped back with a deep sigh of satisfaction.
“Ugh,” Chendra exclaimed the first to react wrinkling her nose, “what an ugly ship.”
Roy and Pharn idly swatted their daughter upside the head for her rudeness.
“Don’t be rude Chendra, its not that bad,” Roy said diplomatically.
Ade cocked their head. True, it might looked a bit gangley, but it was just a first draft, and something about the shape oddly appealed to the designer.
“Well I think its brilliant Ade,” Grandmother gushed happily, eyes shining, “That will definitely satisfy those stuff shirts in Starfleet command!”
"Mother, you are one of those stuff shirts in Command," Roy pointed out dryly.
"Exactly!" Ivan huffed, "so I know what I'm talking about."
Chendra rubbed her head grumpily, muttering, “What’s that ugly- er, I mean, what’s the ship supposed to me called anyway? teh NCC Peperoni and Cheese?”
Ade smiled with a touch of pride, taking out their compad and taking a picture of the rough draft, “Discovery.”