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32 - Pompous Circumstance

Two hours of blabbity-blah? REALLY?!?!
After the foolishness of pomp and ceremony and a lot of very big words that mean very little, I was presented with a certificate of completion of my apprenticeship and a license to operate as a Ship Technician. Speaking at the ceremony was the commodore of the fleet whose bacon I apparently saved by getting them back on schedule at Tau, while they had been trying to get me thrown in the brig indefinitely. Funny how quickly they change their tune. That probably goes the other way too.
As one of the graduates, I had the duty of shaking hands with the long line of people who had come to see everyone else. More flowery words and bad breath. I think they'd had a longer time between showers than I ever have, and here I'd gotten all dressed up. Even over their rancorous medley, though, I could still smell the clarion call of the Broth Base, and next in line, last in fact, was its cook, who had been my sole invitation.
Not that all my friends and fellow syndicate members were not wanted there, but I understood their busy schedule, and this minor rite of passage couldn't possibly be worth all that trouble. Even so . . .
"I am honored that you invited me. So does this conclude your business on Taungoo?"
"Not by a long shot," I answered. "Perhaps one day, this will be my home. Meanwhile, I do believe we have customers waiting."
We both smiled, and we walked away from all the hooplah, only to be the best-attired people at the restaurant. Many customers were ecstatic at the notion that tonight was some special event. Business even picked up as word got around. How I managed not to stain the rented clothing, I will never know.
Dinner had never tasted better, and as I got back to my rented room, I began to feel the distance I had travelled. A congratulatory message from my supervisor also carried a warning, though . . .
"I started out just like you, full of myself and eager to get ahead, no matter what. You may think nobody misses all those things that come off of those ships, or that those that should never have left port have done so without incident, but when those things catch up to you, it can be a world of trouble. There won't always be a prestigious exploration fleet waiting on the docks, in need of your service. It's time to grow up."
I sat down and opened the fortune cookie that I had brought from dinner . . .
"Help, I'm trapped in a cookie factory!"