Written for the recent b7friday topic of work, 430 words set sometime before season 3.
Tarrant looked at the grey knobbly thing optimistically described by the canteen staff as a dumpling, squatting in a pool of greasy stew. He sighed and put his head in his hands. "Not exactly what they crack it up to be, is it?"
"What, the food?" Muller said through a mouthful of it.
"Space Fleet in general. Join up, see the galaxy, excitement, dashing heroics, you know the sort of thing. In reality it's boring patrols commanded by meatheads like Jarvik who have to move their lips when they read the order of the day."
"What was that, Tarrant?" Jarvik said from unnervingly close behind him. "Did I hear my name?"
Tarrant turned slowly and looked up at him. "Yes."
"Yes, what? And salute when you say it."
Tarrant considered the properties of his dumpling when converted to a projectile, and the fact that canteen food was in general better suited to impromptu weaponry than a source of nourishment. "I object," he said, "to having to salute a so-called superior officer who would be better employed lifting heavy objects on a construction site."
Jarvik stared at him. You could almost see the little cogs whirring. "Mmmph," he said finally and walked off.
Muller stared after him, his mouth open. "Just what was all that about?"
"No idea,' Tarrant stabbed his fork into his dumpling and let it go. It remained depressingly upright. "Not a food fight anyway. Suppose I'll have to eat this."
Jarvik sat down in his office and looked at the small pile of computer-generated orders with their wormy little black words. Tarrant had a point. Apart from the occasional skirmish with pirates or insurgents, life in Space Fleet did not provide much in the way of job satisfaction. You trained hopeless recruits only to be given yet another lot. Wasn't much you could point at and say, "See? I did that." But putting up a building? That was something solid, something real, and something real men had done right through the ages. Not sodding paperwork and orders spat out by a computer. He picked up the printouts, crunched them up, dropped them in the bin, and walked straight round to see the commander.
"Sir." He came to attention. "I'm resigning my commission. Request a transfer to the labour grades, sir."
And out there under the sun, with his muscles rippling under his sweating, tanned skin (which he admired several times a day), he was happy. Not much thinking involved and at the end of each day, he could see what he'd done. What more could a man want?