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Fanfic: Federation Space

brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
edited September 2018 in Ten Forward
A grav skid skimmed above the ultrafine red dust of Utopia Planetia's boneyard, following the aisle between hundreds of grounded ships and shuttles, coming to a halt between an ancient freighter's stripped skeleton and a row of four nearly identical small ships plus the unfinished skeleton of a fifth. Dust covered them all, but from beneath, on the saucer section of the first four, could be seen their consecutive registry numbers, NX 9847521, NCC 9847522, 3, and 4, and their names, USS Falcon, USS Merlin, USS Kestrel, and USS Hobby. The saucer section of the fifth lacked hull plates where the registry should have been, and its drive section, somewhat more completed than its saucer section, was detached and set behind its saucer.

A tall and a short figure stepped from the truck, both wearing pressure suits in the thin air of Mars. The taller figure walked beneath USS Merlin's hull, patting one of the landing struts as he passed it. The second went to the starboard airlock of the USS Kestrel and accessed the control panel.

The saucer section of these ships merged with the engineering section, the total unit being 33 meters long, 21 meters wide, and a mere 8 meters high. It was only two decks high, though a third deck occupied the forward 240 degree arc around the drive section, the forward end of which was a 6 meter wide by 2 meter high subspace deflector dish below the saucer's nose. The warp nacelles were 3 meter diameter cylinders projecting to either side at the centerline of the saucer on winglets, just outside the curve of the hull. They were almost as long as the saucer section, extending the overall length of the ship to 50 meters and its width to 29 meters.

The tall figure joined the short one when the outer hull plate of the engineering hull beneath the saucer slid open and began to extend its entry ramp.

The helmet communicators crackled in the ever-present ionized dust. "You know the way?" a gravelly bass voice asked.

"I lived on Merlin for two years," came the reply as the pair ascended the ramp to the airlock hatch which had been concealed by the hull plating.

Darkness inside greeted them. Turning on their headlamps illuminated the ultra-fine dust their movements had disturbed. The airlock cycled and the inner hatch opened into a secondary airlock with a pressure door on each wall.

"I'll check Engineering," the gravelly voice said. The shorter figure opened the manual hatch control on the bulkhead opposite the airlock while the tall figure turned to do the same on the hatch beside the primary airlock hatch.

It opened to a ramp which inclined up into darkness. Three meters in and a meter and a half up was a cross passageway that curved forward and aft, with regular pairs of hatches along the outer curve. The tall figure turned forward to a second ramp that rose another meter and a half to an open space. Unfurnished and unfinished, the space was supposed to be a Ship's Logroom and Emergency Battle Dressing Station.

The figure ignored the space, turning to another pressure hatch on the forward bulkhead. It slid open when he pulled the manual lever. The space inside was a finished space, the tiny ship's bridge. The communications console and the navigations console on the starboard side were mirrored by the engineering and helm consoles on the port side. The command console was centered between these four points, with an open space between it and the main view screens.

Behind the captain's chair were the tactical and science stations, and on the aft bulkhead behind them was the Damage Control and Security Display. The tall figure wiped a gloved hand across the tactical panel, disturbing a layer of Mars' red dust. The figure reached beneath the panel and found the catch, then lifted the panel.

Inside the console was somewhat cleaner. The figure tugged at a panel on his suit's breastplate and drew out its com-link cable, which he plugged in to a socket inside the console.

"Computer, activation code Kestrel 1, A, 1, initialize."

A light blinked on inside the console. The computer's voice answered after a short hum.

"1, A, 1, initiation in progress. Verification of user requested."

"Lee, Huang Kai, Lieutenant, USS Merlin."

"Voice authentification confirmed," the computer replied. "Unable to access communication arrays, unable to access navigational arrays, unable to access engineering computer, unable to access internal communications network...."

"Halt," Lieutenant Lee said. "Computer, access last memory file and corroborate: USS Kestrel has been decommissioned for twelve years."

"Unable to confirm current stardate," the computer insisted. "Unable to access Starfleet Data Network."

"Current power reserves are insufficient to power up ship's systems at this time," Lieutenant Lee said. "We will be working on that. Meanwhile, set computer power regulation to extreme power conservation mode and begin a level one diagnostic of the mainframe and data archives."

"That procedure will require 61 hours, 23 minutes, seventeen seconds to complete," the computer said.

"Begin procedure," Lieutenant Lee ordered.

He unplugged the com-link and put it back in its compartment on his suit, then pressed down and latched the panel

He tapped a button on his helmet. "Lee to Sparky, how is it looking down there?"

"You'll be forever getting the dust out, but it looks like everything is here. Give me some dilithium and some antimatter and she'll fly."

"Good enough. Thanks, Chief. Meet you by the airlock."

"Aye," the gravelly voice replied.

Lieutenant Lee looked around the bridge a final time, patted the tactical console, and turned to the open hatch.

***
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Comments

  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    Interesting start!
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Lieutenant Lee wore a neat black uniform that emphasized his height and slim build. Its only adornment was a silver shield on his left breast pocket with the Federation Starfield, over which was the number 57 encircled by fine print that read "United Federation Of Planets Marshall."

    Earth Spacedock hummed with activity, but he ignored it. A group of human school children were being shepherded across the atrium through which Lee was passing, looking about in wonder as their teachers tried to corral them into a replimat.

    Foliage shook in the planter that was at the center of the open space, and a tawny form four times Lee's mass lept from hiding with an ear-splitting roar.

    "Human!" the monster yowled, "I will make you watch as I rip your heart out and eat it!"

    Lee imitated its pose, crouched, arms low to either side, fingers splayed. Lee lacked its eight centimeter long retractible claws and its twelve centimeter long fangs, but he matched the creature's poise and apparent readiness to fight. As the children screamed and ran in all directions, Lee yowled back.

    "I am going to rip those rediculous ears off your head and shove them down your throat!"

    The two leapt toward each other...

    And hugged.

    "I'm not afraid of you!" screamed a high, thin voice. One of the children, a girl, stood behind Lee with balled fists and an angry face. She was quite obviously trembling, but stood her ground.

    The monster released Lee and faced his tiny foe. "Is Not Afraid, I am Chuss, First Law Enforcer to The Patriarch of Beta Lyrae. When you have reached your full growth find me and I will accept your challenge."

    "Wen Ai!" called one of the teachers, "Come here!"

    The girl glared at Chuss a moment longer, then turned to run back to her class.

    "Come on, buddy," Lee said, "Let's clear out of here."

    The odd pair exited beneath a sign that read, 'Quartermaster.' Side by side, the nearly two meter tall marshall was dwarfed by the caitian who was half a meter taller and twice as broad across the shoulders. Like Lee, the figure was dressed in black, but it was only a thigh-length skirt. The furred creature needed no clothing, and his tawny coat was well groomed, enhancing the glossy chocolate-colored spots which ran from between his chocolate-tipped ears to his thick tail, the last third of which was solid glossy brown.

    "He was a caitian!" the excited heroine explained to her classmates as they recovered from their fright. "A Beta Lyran! They don't have a word for hello, so they challenge you to a fight instead!"

    "Watch that one," said Chuss as the pair walked into the passageway. "She will be your matriarch one day."

    "If you don't kill her when she comes to challenge you ten years from now."

    Changing the subject, Lee asked, "Chuss, why are you early? I wasn't expecting you for another week."

    "The Patriarch was getting annoyed by my idleness. There is not much for a Law Enforcer to do on my world, and perhaps I abused his generosity by spending too much time in his hunting park."

    "Too much klingon influence," Lee said. "Everything is an affair of honor, and the criminal usually ends up dead."

    "Or the accuser," the caitian said. "Either way, I have little to do since very few are stupid enough to offend Falsathaar and yet smart enough to escape his wrath."

    "We'll find accomodations for you, unless you wouldn't mind bunking with Tim and me until quarters on the ship are ready."

    "I shall try to remain inoffensive. I have never seen Hong Kong. Is it like this?" He waved a paw, claws retracted, at the station in general. It was very similar to a stubby human hand with the thumb above the wrist joint.

    "This place is more open, with fewer people. You might be more comfortable in Australia where there are forests and fewer humans."

    "Human crowds do not offend me. Such crowds of my people..."

    "Would be a bloody nightmare," Lee finished. "Other caitians, even Ferasans, live in human-like cities. You Beta Lyrans are the most antisocial creatures in the galaxy."

    "We change. Slowly. In my grandfather's day none of our kind would have imagined a human and a Beta Lyran could become brothers. Speaking of brothers, where is Alyssa?"

    "On assignment. I expect her by the end of the month."

    Lee stopped by a door labeled, Fleet Reserve, Material Asset Management, Admiral Franklin.

    "Here we are. Remember, when a human shows his teeth it is not a challenge, it's a smile. Keep your claws retracted if he offers to shake hands."

    "I will not cause you shame, my brother," the caitian replied, mocking Lee's serious tone.

    The door opened and the receptionist nearly panicked when Chuss entered, ducking to avoid the lintel. Lee spoke to him calmly, and the skittish secretary quickly tapped an inquiry on his desk.

    "The admiral will see you now," the receptionist said, pointing to a door clearly labeled, Admiral Franklin.

    As the pair turned away the receptionist fell back in his chair. The admiral, dressed in a gold uniform, was a tall very brown woman with tightly curling white hair. Her only reaction to seeing the very large caitian was to rise from her desk and offer him a seat on the nearby couch.

    "Marshal," she said, "I'm more than a little curious about your intentions. I have to confess I've never met a Federation Marshall before, and I don't understand why you are interested in acquiring a warship. Wouldn't a runabout serve your needs?"

    "We do requisition runabouts from time to time, but they are slow compared to the new technology coming out now." Lee answered.

    "I am assigned to Judicial District 5, well within the Federation borders, and we are seeing technologies from the recent wars in the hands of criminals and criminal organizations. You can imagine how much worse it us out on the border."

    Lee set stood and began to pace. "As you probably know, the Marshall Service has three mandates. To protect the persons of the Federal Court, to capture and transport convicted prisoners, and to intervene in the criminal exploitation of less technologically advanced Federation worlds and cultures through more sophisticated technology. And as you have pointed out, Federation Marshalls are few and far between.

    "In fact, sir, we rely upon Starfleet far too often, especially in the interior worlds and colonies. My long term goal is to give some Marshalls small, fast ships which can help relieve starfleet of its police duties in Federation space, allowing Starfleet to focus outward. Nobody joins Starfleet to chase down tech-leggers and fugitives; they join to become explorers. This pilot project is intended to demonstrate the desireability of designing a series of police cutters."

    "I like the concept, but I'm still unconvinced that you need a warship. Why are runabouts not sufficient for your needs?"

    "Sir, last year we lost Marshall Dillo Thrr and two of her deputies when the prisoner they were transporting by runabout was overtaken and destroyed. With just a bit more speed she'd have gotten away. Prisoners have been transported off of runabouts disabled in various ways by war-surplus technology, and criminals are evading justice in faster and faster vessels. Runabouts are no longer good enough.

    "If we were to rely on Starfleet for our security needs during transport or in pursuit, you would have to dispatch ships, and their crews, virtually every day. I don't want a warship, Admiral. I'd be happy to strip her of weapons before I take custody of Kestrel. What I want is a ship that is tough enough to handle most of the situations we will encounter, and fast enough to run from the rest. At impulse speeds there are no ships faster or more maneuverable than the Falcon class scouts. I believe that with a little work Kestrel can be the fastest warp ship in the Federation."

    "That brings up another point, Marshall. The experimental warp core of the Falcon failed in trials, and the Merlin's implosion chamber was found to be fractured after only two years of service, and that was while restricted to a maximum of warp 6. Starfleet Engineering has deemed the transverse warp core design a failure."

    "Sir, if I may speak freely?"

    "Please do."

    "The Falcon was developed in tandem with another failed design: the Defiant. Both were a response to Wolf 359. Had Commander Sisko not requisitioned Defiant and ironed out her bugs, we would not have the line of escorts derived from the Sau Paulo. Falcon was unfairly tested by a team of Starfleet Engineers who were certain that bigger meant better. But the class was designed around her sensors, not her armor. The Falcons were never intended to be warfighters, they were scouts. Small, fast, cheap to build, and expendable. It was no surprise to learn they were no match for Soverign class challenges.

    "There was another issue along those lines. The construction engineer did not believe the design engineer's power output equations. The implosion chamber specifications were downgraded by the construction engineer to match standard warp core specifications. The design of the transverse injection warp core allows more than double the output of standard injector layouts in half the volume, but that requires four times the shielding.

    "The Chief of Merlin had the calculations prepared for Merlin's next maintenance cycle, but she was decommissioned. I plan to perform those upgrades to Kestrel before her warp reactor is brought on line."

    "You seem to have done your homework, Marshall. I'm not intimately familiar with the Falcon class, but I am prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. Am I right in guessing you already have your crew picked out?"

    "I won't be robbing Starfleet of talent, if that's what you mean. My deputy Alyssa Clair, formerly Lieutenant Junior Grade of the USS Andropov will be my first officer and communications and computer officer, Law Enforcer Chuss will be on helm and navigation, and Specialist Deputy Dr. Turaj Sar will be my medic. I have an engineer in mind, but I haven't asked him yet."

    "A five-man crew?"

    "I'm not going outside of Judicial District 5, sir, and I don't plan any long patrols. The Falcon class only has twenty-six berths."

    "All right, Marshall. You've convinced me that you know what you're doing. I can't allow you to leave the shipyard without meeting all the qualifications we would expect of any Starfleet vessel. When you leave spacedock you will have a target painted on you. Some pirate or former Tal Shiar captain would love to catch a defenseless Starfleet vessel they can add to their list of kills."

    "I understand, sir."

    "There is one qualification you can take care of today. You were what we call a late bloomer. You weren't on the command track when you attended the academy. It wasn't until six months before you transferred to the reserves that you became a command candidate. You never completed the Command Assessment Battery of Tests. I've made arrangements with Commander Baatt at Starfleet Academy to complete your test cycle. You can schedule testing time with her. And take your pilot, he'll need a Helmsman qualification."

    "I am rated first order combat pilot," Chuss growled.

    "Good! Then you will have no trouble with Starfleet's qualifications," she said as she rose and ushered the pair out of her office.

    ***
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Admiral Franklin lead the Bolean commander into the briefing room. A trill admiral and a human admiral were already there, seated behind the conference table.

    "Hello, gentlemen," Franklin said as the admirals stood. "Admiral Qare, Admiral Than-Hoc, allow me to introduce Commander Baatt of Starfleet Academy. I contacted her to certify the qualifications of our prospective new captain, and I believe she would like to discuss the results of today's test."

    "We have a few minutes before our scheduled call," Admiral Qare said. "Any objections, Bill?"

    "None. Please, have a seat, Lissa, Commander."

    "Looks like you have the floor, Commander." Admiral Franklin walked around the table to join the other admirals while Baatt put a P.A.D.D. on the table and tapped in a few commands.

    "Thank you for your time, gentlemen. I will try to be succinct. Today's testing was a variant of the No-Win Scenario. A ship in distress used as bait to lure a ship into range of the attackers, in this case a trio of Orion Corvettes. It began in the usual manner, but..."

    She tapped her P.A.D.D. and the table hologram projector illuminated the space above with a small white flattened ovoid with long legs. Nearby was a larger freighter tumbling slowly and venting gas. Three compact streamlined vessels decloaked in a triangle around the tiny white ship which almost instantly engaged its warp drive.

    It dropped out of warp and spun in place behind one of the three pirate vessels, firing a pair of beam weapons and launching a torpedo into its drive vents. The little ship engaged its impulse drive and shot forward, curving as it approached the pirate vessel, avoiding impact by a few meters as the tiny ship shot past the corsair, apparently aiming itself at another of the three ships while its phasers fired at the ship behind it.

    Finally a beam from a corsair struck the port nacelle, causing it to vent drive plasma, but the vessel charged down the corsair in front of it, erraticlly dodging beams from three vessels. It dumped its excess drive plasma intentionally then, into the path of the corsair. It was a tactic that might have inconvenienced the larger vessel had it not been for the other two pirates. The beams which were aimed at the nimble ship sliced into the toxic cloud and a fusion explosion followed as the tiny ship flew free.

    Then it turned around and came back.

    The corsairs played their phasers in tightening spirals, trying to contain the tiny ship as torpedoes fired from the corsairs. A well timed twist and turn got the ship out of the path of the torpedoes, but a phaser scored a deep gouge along the dorsal surface of the hull, and one of the torpedoes turned to follow the tiny ship.

    A second phaser impacted the lower edge of its deflector dish as the tiny ship, now maneuvering sluggisly, turned to fire a torpedo toward the attackers. Another beam sliced into the starboard warp nacelle, and a fourth hit the starboard edge of the saucer. It was apparent the tiny white ship was doomed, but it had one last gambit. The nose of the saucer flipped up like a coin launched from a thumb, but the ruined engineering section remained in place, still hurtling toward the two corsairs. The lower half of the ship, from the deflector dish to the nacelles, was open to the stars, the damaged machinery inside spewing electroplasma along its length.

    It went to warp.

    A trail of plasma jetted from both damaged nacelles, leaving a glowing streak in its wake. Seconds later it impacted one of the corsairs and the tiny warp reactor breached. Secondary explosions propagated along the length of the wound caused by the engineering section of the tiny ship, then a second, much larger warp core breach occurred.

    The second breach created an expanding sphere which engulfed the remaining corsair, and moments later it too exploded as its engines sucked in nuclear fire.

    The tiny flattened egg continued to tumble away, flipping end over end as the hologram went dark.

    "A tie?" asked Admiral Than-Hoc. "I wish I had done so well in my Kobiyashi Maru."

    "I am unconvinced of the value of the No-Win Scenario," said Admiral Qare. "I presume the candidate passed?"

    "Admirals," said the Bolean commander, "I believe this test has demonstrated a suicidal tendency of the candidate. I refer you to timestamp 16:04:23," the hologram popped up again to the first hit on the port warp nacelle.

    "At this point there was no risk of a warp breach. The vessel could have gone to warp. The Lieutenant Commander ordered B Deck evacuated by everyone but the chief engineer, whom he ordered to prepare to vent warp plasma."

    The hologram paused at the venting of the plasma. "Next, we go to timestamp 17:42:03."

    The image shifted to the charge on the corsair, just as the starboard nacelle was hit. "At this point insufficient warp plasma had been generated to cause a warp breach, yet he ordered the drive section ejected. The standard ejection program instructs the drive section to go to warp to get the incipient warp breach as far from the saucer section as possible. It breached within four kilometers, and the corsair's reactor breach sterilized the unshielded saucer section."

    The commander backed the hologram up to the point prior to the saucer separation. "But this is what concerns me most."

    The point of view zoomed in, right through the ceiling of the bridge. The black uniform of the candidate stood out anong the cadets on the bridge. It resumed playing, this time with sound.

    "Do you see it Chuss?"

    The large caitian answered with a growl. The candidate smiled.

    "Pause!" the commander said. "There, do you see it gentlemen?"

    "Perhaps you should tell us what you see, Commander," said Admiral Qare.

    "The candidate is amused by this. He knows he is ordering his own death and the death of hundreds more, and he finds it funny."

    "Hardly. Very few people die in holosimulations these days, Commander," said Admiral Franklin.

    "Sir, the simulations are designed to be as realistic as possible. The candidates know it's a simulation, but subconscious reactions to the events are very real."

    "For cadets. How effective is your analysis on a combat veteran who has twelve years experience risking his life?"

    "Our profiles are validated by experts in combat stress," the commander replied.

    "Did the candidate know how many survivors were on the freighter?" asked Admiral Than-Hoc.

    "Yes sir, he scanned it prior to the attack."

    "How many survived?"

    "That was the candidate's first question in the after-action debriefing. I didn't know then."

    "How many?"

    "All of them."

    "So, he sacrificed twenty cadets, himself, his pilot, and half his ship?" asked Than-Hoc. "How many did he save?"

    "Three hundred twenty two." The commander rushed to say, "He didn't save them, he just didn't kill them in his reckless attack."

    "Anything else to add, Commander?"

    "No sirs. The complete profile will be made available on the report."

    "Thank you for sharing your concerns, Commander." Admiral Qare stood and tapped the tabletop display, opening the conference room door for her. When it closed behind her he sat and looked at the admirals on either side. "Your concerns?"

    "I think the Marshall was having fun," said Than-Hoc. "It was just a game, and he knew it. There's a reason we test candidates young, before they are too old to take it seriously. As far as I'm concerned, he passed."

    "Lissa?"

    "Oh, he passed. My concern is on something he said before I sent him to test." She sat back and turned to her peers. "It seems we had a problem with our engineering evaluation process a decade ago. It was, and is, biased toward larger hulls."

    "How did he come to this conclusion?"

    "He was tactical officer, and eventually first officer, of Hull 2 of the Falcon class. He's a plankowner."

    "I've known young officers to become attached to their ships," Qare said.

    "I did some checking, and his story holds up. Falcon was victim of re-engineering in the shipyard by the shipyard staff, over the objections of the Theoretical Propulsion Unit, I might add. She was also subjected to the same standards as the Ambassador class in her space trials. The bias was acknowledged at the time and excused as being necessary because of the threat levels of the day."

    "Sounds like a valid critique," Admiral Than-Hoc said.

    "We don't test shuttles to the same standards we test cruisers. I'd like to give him a chance to prove the class. Worst case, we waste a month of shipyard time. Best case, we end up with compact engines capable of doubling the power available to shuttles and runabouts."

    "Allright," said Qare. "What about crew? Is he serious about a five-man crew?"

    "I admit to reservations on that score, but I have a couple of officers who are being under-utilized. If we..."

    Admiral Franklin was interrupted by a voice on the intercom. "Admiral, pardon thd interruption, bug that call you were expecting has come in. It's a holographic comm signal."

    "Put it on the conference room holocom, Ensign," Admiral Qare said.

    The empty space at the end of the conference table suddenly filled with a spare, almost gaunt human wearing black robes with white ruffles at the cuffs of the sleeves and at the neck. The image also wore a powdered wig which was six hundred years out of style, as were the square silver buckles on his polished shoes.

    "Admirals," the holographic visitor said.

    "Your honor, thank you for meeting with us. We have some concerns about the project proposal Marshall Lee has presented."

    "Concerns? But not objections? Then let us see if we can reach some accord which will alleviate your concerns." The hologram drew a chair into the projection and sat. "Where shall we begin?"

    ***
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Lieutenant Lesedi Mirra waited in line at the Phobos transporter terminal carrying a duffel over her shoulder. A large powered trunk followed her, floating on its antigrav pods. The line had stopped moving when an Andorian wearing a red Starfleet uniform began to argue with the transporter technician. The Andorian's anger was apparently escallating, and all around the terminal heads were turning.

    "I have my orders!" The tall blue woman's voice could be heard through the terminal. "I will not be late for the first day of my assignment!"

    Lieutenant Mirra buffed her brand new Lieutenant pips and stepped out of the line, her baggage dutifully following.

    "Crewman!" she snapped in her voice of authority, "May I see your orders?"

    The Andorian was half a meter taller than the lieutenant, and her pale blue skin contrasted with the lieutenant's dark olive. The Andorian's antennae writhed in agitation, spread wide, but now their open ends were focused on Mirra.

    Mirra waited. Then the Andorian thrust her P.A.D.D. toward her. Thalys Voght, Torpedoman 1st Class, is hereby ordered to report to the Duty Officer of the USS Kestrel on or before 0700, Stardate...

    "Crewman Thalis, I'm Lieutenant Mirra. I am assigned to be your Tactical Officer on the Kestrel. Consider yourself to have reported in."

    Mirra turned to the very relieved transporter operator. "What is the problem here?"

    "Captain," the civilian technician said, "I cannot verify the habitability of the recieving location. All I get is an automated response. I can't be responsible for beaming anyone into a space that might have Mars standard atmosphere."

    "I see." She handed the P.A.D.D. back to the Andorian.

    "Crewman, I'll take care of this," she said to the Andorian. Raising her voice she called to the crowd, "All personnel assigned to the USS Kestrel, muster here!"

    She tapped the control panel on her trunk and it lowered to the floor then began to open. Inside were two armored helmets, an armored breastplate, sleeves, and leggings. The lieutenant kicked off her boots and stepped into the case, inserting her feet into a pair of holes in a silver cloth, which she pulled up her legs. The silver cloth was a pressure suit liner, designed to retain atmospheric levels of pressure on her body in case the outer armored shell was breached. She shrugged into the jumpsuit-like garment and zipped it as a half-dozen Starfleet crewmen gathered around.

    "I'm going to see what the holdup is," she announced. "Crewman Voght, did I pronounce your name properly? Crewman Voght will check you in, nobody is late."

    "I am Ben," said a very large Pakled wearing a red uniform, and holding out a P.A.D.D.

    "Glad to meet you," she said as she donned the breastplate of her suit. A short, somewhat chubby woman dressed in a blue uniform helped her straighten the liner's turtleneck and attach it to the collar of the breastplate as it tightened to her torso.

    Lieutenant Mirra picked up the helmet with a transparent faceplate and tapped the control panel of the case. It closed itself while Mirra turned to the crewmen.

    "I'll call as soon as I know what's going on. If anyone else assigned to Kestrel shows up, keep them here until I call."

    She stepped onto the transporter pad and said to the operator, who by this time had been joined by his supervisor, "I am prepared for vacuum, please transport me to the Kestrel."

    She donned her helm and powered up her suit. What appeared to be diamond-patterned stitching on the liner cinched, her faceplate briefly fogged then cleared, and the voice of the computer embedded in her suit said, "Pressure test complete, atmospheric recycler functioning at full capacity, oxygen reserve tank full."

    The transporter technician turned to his supervisor, who nodded. He activated the controls.

    She materialized in a small transporter room which was empty. Ahead of her was a console and a pressure hatch. Every surface in the compartment was covered in a thin film of red dust, disturbed by footprints on the deck and the surface of the console. Beside the door the compartment's control pad was illuminated. It showed Earth Standard atmosphere, which she verified with her suit's sensor display. She toggled it and it read the same on the other side of the closed hatch.

    Removing her helmet, she scrunched her nose as the metallic smell of Mars dust invaded her nostrils, but the air was safe to breathe, and pollen free. She tapped the comm panel on the transporter control console.

    "Lieutenant Mirra to the Officer Of The Day, please respond."

    "Lieutenant," a male voice answered. "Come up to the bridge. You're in Transporter 2, right? Go out the door, second hatch on the right, up the ramp, and up again, first door on your right."

    "Aye," she answered.

    She exited the Transporter room into a small compartment labeled Starboard Quarterdeck. To her right was a door marked Airlock 2, with a second, open, door beyond it. Ahead was a door labled Science Labs 1-3. To her left was a door labeled Secondary Hull/Engineering. All of the doors were pressure hatches, and the airlock control panel confirmed the Quarterdeck was also a secondary airlock.

    At the top of the ramp a curved passageway, narrow by Starfleet standards was illuminated at night-shift level. It too was streaked with the pervasive dust. At the top of the second ramp a door labeled Bridge opened to her touch on its control panel. Inside was chaos.

    Every panel on the bridge appeared to be open, with optronic and E.P.S. circuitry exposed and in some cases pulled from their cabinets. The lower half of a furred alien lay on a deckplate with a relatively short, thick tail twitching. Its upper half was inside the floor space with several removed deck plates haphazardly stacked to one side. A human in a white engineering jumpsuit was beneath the port command console, one foot on the captain's chair, with an E.P.S. test unit in hand.

    "..circuit three, moving to circuit four."

    "Moving to circuit four, aye," a coarse bass voice said over the intercom.

    "Excuse me, I'm looking for the Officer Of The Day."

    The alien looked up from his hole: a male caitian. A very large male caitian.

    The human bumped his head as he bent to look up at Mirra. "Hey, I lost track of time. Sorry I wasn't there to welcome you aboard."

    He attached the test lead to another circuit and said, "Ready on circuit four."

    "Testing four," the rough voice answered.

    "We've been pulling an all nighter, confirming circuits prior to lightoff. I presume you are qualified on life support maintenance?"

    "I was qualified Junior Officer Space Warfare Systems on the USS Decker. I am supposed to check in with the Officer Of The Day."

    "That's me." The test unit chirped and he examined it. "Okay, we have confirmation on circut four, moving to circuig five."

    "Moving to circuit five, aye," the comm circuit replied.

    "We're a little short handed right now, and we haven't completed the environmental systems diagnostics..." he paused to reset the test unit. ""Ready on circuit five," he said. "We need to complete that by the end of today. Think you can handle it?"

    "The whole ship?"

    "It's a small ship."

    "I'll get started, sir." Mirra paused as a circuit in the command console sizzled.

    "Halt!" the engineer said, almost simultaneously as the voice on the comm system said, "Circuit failure!"

    "I grabbed the wrong conduit," he said. "Grab a mug of grog while I replace the I/O board."

    "You're making my job harder, Lee!" growled the voice on the intercom.

    "Mine too," the man addressed as Lee said as he slid from beneath the console.

    "Do you mind if I ask about our captain? What's he like? I'm told he's not regular Starfleet."

    "He's a lot like me," Lee said, extending a hand to Mirra. "Lieutenant Commander Lee, Starfleet Reserve. P.C.O. of the USS Kestrel."

    "Aaah," Mirra said. Blushing brought out the green in her olive complexion. "I'm Lieutenant Mirra, your Tactical Officer. Reporting for duty, sir."

    "Welcome aboard, Lieutenant. The fellow with his head in the floor is Chuss, our helmsman, and the voice on the intercom is Sparky. He works for Utopia Planetia Reserve Fleet, but he's giving us a hand getting this old girl running. That's all of us, for now. Starfleet is sending a few more crew to help us out."

    "Speaking of which, there are half-a-dozen crewmen on Phobos waiting for clearance to transport aboard."

    "Mind taking card of that? I'm sorry I lost track of time, but we've been burning the candle at both ends lately."

    "Will do, sir."

    "Oh, one more thing," said Lee. "Computer, verify and authenticate Lieutenant Mirra for the record. She is assigned as Tactical Officer, Billet O5. Issue security codes on my authorization." He looked around the bridge. "I think the Defense Console is your best bet."

    "Aye Captain," she said.

    ***
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    The Tellarite scratched his beard and slid back in the oversized chair.

    "They sent you a tinker and a kid. Not bad sorts, but neither one has what it takes to run an engine room."

    "I'm hoping you can bring them along, Sparky. They have a month to get ready. Keep in mind, we're never going to be very far from a starbase, so as long as they can handle general maintenance we'll be fine."

    Marshall Lee was trying on a red starfleet tunic with lieutenant commander pips on the collar, tugging where the stiff material bound under his arms. As an afterthought he pinned his Marshall badge in its accustomed place and examined his appearance in the mirror image displayed on his wall.

    "I still say you need a real chief engineer," the Tellarite grumbled.

    "I have a guy in mind, but all the good ones are out on starships somewhere, or retired to Risa. I might have to go with a kid and a tinker."

    "I'll do what I can. Dust mitigation will be an issue for a while, but I plan to use it to get them familiar with the ship. We're going to open every service panel on the ship."

    "Sounds good. Be sure to coordinate with every department so their people get in on the fun."

    "Departments. Humph. One computer tech does not make a department..."

    The door annunciator chimed, interrupting the Tellarite's rant. "Enter," called Lee.

    The door slid aside and Lieutenant Mirra entered. Her uniform was immaculate, but there was something else: a poise she posessed.

    "You walk like Chuss," Lee said.

    "Sir?" The lieutenant looked confused.

    "Now that you mention it," said the Tellarite. "She kind of owns her space."

    The lieutenant looked between the two, waiting for the punch line.

    "I like it," said Lee. "I need an officer who can command. I didn't want a crew, but Starfleet gave me one anyway. As the senior Starfleet officer, I'll be relying on you to maintain Starfleet discipline, keep up with qualifications and crew proficiencies, and most of all, to keep up with Starfleet paperwork."

    "Sir, shouldn't your First Officer do that?"

    "Yes, but I'm between a rock and a hard place. I'm a Federation Marshall, and my work requires all of my attention. Then I find out today that person I had in mind for the First Officer post won't be able to join us. So I asked a favor of Admiral Franklin. She agrees with me that I already have the officer I need."

    "Me," she said.

    "You are free to turn down the job. I wouldn't hold it against you if you did. It's a big job for a newly minted Lieutenant. But I'm authorized to dangle some bait." He paused to sort through a stack of P.A.D.D.s on his desk. "This assignment is a one-year posting. At the end of the assignment you will qualify for frocking as a Lieutenant Commander, two years ahead of your time-in-grade requirement. You will be offered a Department Head position on a capital ship, and you will have completed an Executive Officer requirement for points toward your Command Qualification. You will be on the list of Command Candidates before you are twenty-six."

    "Careful, Lieutenant," said the Tellarite. "I smell a trap."

    She grinned at the only member of the crew who was shorter than herself. "All I smell is Mars dust."

    "Captian," she continued, "I am committed to the success of this mission. I will serve to the best of my ability in whatever capacity you deem necessary.

    "Good," he said. "Then there is another issue I need you to work on: I realize you just completed Advanced Tactical Training, but I need you to go back to school. Command College this time. You'll need Starship Administration qualifications before you can be posted as Number One."

    "Oh, one more thing. I don't like being called Captain. It's a rank I never earned. I'm Lee, or Marshall."

    "Aye, Skipper," she said with a smile.

    "Skipper?" asked the Tellarite.

    "It's a title used by small boat commanders," said Lee. "A skiff, a small boat, is commanded by a Skiffer, or Skipper."

    "Good to know that, Skipper," the Tellarite said. "It's time I headed to the party."

    "Us too," said Lee.

    The three exited the stateroom and went up the port ramp to A deck. The hatch on the aft end of the still empty logroom was open and crewmen were gathered in groups of three or four, getting to know one another. Most of them were young, in their early twenties. The Pakled and the Andorian stood apart, the Pakled nodding as the Andorian spoke. Chuss sat on a couch with a plump woman in a blue uniform, apparently telling her a story in his native language.

    An older crewman, a human, called, "Captain on deck!" as they entered, and the crew came to attention.

    "As you were, as you were," Lee said. "First, I want to thank everyone here for the job you did today getting the environmental systems certified. Dust mitigation is going to be an ongoing issue for a while, but you've made a fantastic start." He patted the Tellarite, who was half his height, on the back. "Chief Garadda will establish protocols for performing and logging dust mitigation, but assume every panel, every compartment you open will require cleaning, even if you've cleaned it before. Mars dust is ultra-fine, and it gets into everything.

    "Next, I want to announce that Lieutenant Mirra has been posted as the ship's First Officer. I know she will make us all proud because each of you has demonstrated how willing you are to help her.

    "The next month is going to be rough. We have a lot to do before we can raise ship, and when we do, our time in the spacedock will be limited. Space trials will follow, so everything we do between now and then will incorporate training and drilling with that in mind. On that note, I want to encourage individual inniative. If you have an idea that might help us reach our goals, bring it up. You are all specialists in your respective fields. I'm going to rely heavily on what you know.

    "Finally, feel free to make your quarters your home. There are six officer's staterooms and ten crew quarters, so everyone should be able to have a space of her own, unless you want to double up. The Lieutenant has final say in such matters, of course.

    "Tonight I want to take the opportunity for us to get to know each other and have a little fun, but tomorrow we will have to get to work. So, let the party begin!"

    Mirra was not a social butterfly, and she envied the ease with which the Skipper moved from group to group. She was listening to the Caitian tell a Hero's Tale in his native tongue while she watched her Skipper. A group of crewmen were gathered around the helmsman as he yowled and spit, their translator earpieces converting the poem from the noise Mirra was hearing into intelligible language.

    The Andorian and the Pakled crewmen had been standing together beneath the transparent aft bulkhead, not migrating from group to group as the others had. Mirra had spoken to the pair earlier, but the Pakled had only nodded once or twice, and the Andorian had been rather curt. She had left the pair to speak to the other crewmen, and they had resumed their huddle. The Skipper appeared to be engaging Crewman Voght, and Crewman Bengogg was smiling and nodding. She pretended to step closer to the window so she could eavesdrop on them.

    "...not intending to fight anything. With one torpedo launcher and two phaser arrays, we really..."

    "Fourteen," interrupted the Pakled.

    "Fourteen?" The Pakled was smiling and nodding.

    "There are two phaser arrays," the Skipper said.

    "Two phaser capacitors, four phaser power conduits, fourteen phaser emitters."

    "Oh, I see," Skipper said. "Still, that results in two phasers firing at any one time."

    "All computer." The Pakled continued, "Fire one, fire fourteen. Same, same. Computer make."

    "Are you saying we could reprogram the computer to fire each emmiter segment individually?" asked the Andorian.

    "Yes," the Pakled said as he shook his head no.

    "I'm not sure we could regulate the plasma flow from the phaser capacitors. They are designed to discharge very quickly."

    The Pakled smiled and shook his head yes. "Need more capacitors."

    Mirra closed her eyes and imagined the phaser system. The warp reactor fed plasma to a pair of warp plasma converters, which in turn fed a phaser capacitor bank located on the forward bulkhead on either side of Engineering. The pair of auxiliary power reactors also fed power to the capacitor on their respective sides of the ship. From each capacitor bank there was a crossover conduit which allowed the port unit to power the starboard phaser conduits and vice versa, and from each capacitor a dorsal and a ventral conduit ran around the hull, feeding the eight phaser emitters on the dorsal and six emitters on the ventral curve of the hull with a crossover conduit tying the dorsal ring and the ventral ring into a loop.

    Two capacitors, four conduits, fourteen emmitters, all regulated by computer control. If each array had its own capacitor, the distribution system could fire each emmitter segment individually.

    "Excuse me, Skipper," she interrupted. "I think I see what Crewman Ben is saying. It would require reprogramming, but it would work. The only trouble is that we would need fourteen phaser capacitors."

    "Fourteen phaser capacitors, Type 4." The Pakled was pointing out of the window at row after row of old, damaged, and obsolete shuttlecraft."
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    My apologies for typos. I try to edit before I post, but I miss a few, and I am deathly afraid of the Edit Monster so I haven't gone back to correct them after I post. This is a rough draft in need of a rewrite, and I missed several details, like the armored boots being part of Lt.Mirra's suit liner, and Marshall Lee's admiring her suit, revealing that hers is custom made armor of her own design.

    If at any point there is an issue you find confusing or unclear, please point it out. I want to improve my writing, so feedback is helpful. It's easy for me to read what I intended to say rather than what I actually wrote, so a fresh perspective will help me in my future attempts.

    Don't worry about my feelings. If my story sucks, that's a valid critique. It might help me more if you explain how it sucks, but you won't hurt my feelings because I don't bring them to the internet.

    I hope you guys have as much fun reading as I am having writing. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    edited September 2018
    There was only one person on the bridge when Lieutenant Mirra entered: Computer Technician Second Class Masha Aktay. Mirra had fallen asleep the previous evening reading personnel files in an attempt to be prepared to deal with her new responsibilities. Crewman Aktay appeared plump, but passed all of her annual physical requirements. She was a year older than Mirra, and her hobbies included holography and alien poetry. Apparently the crewman combined the two by recording live performances by non-human artists in their native languages. She was also apparently something of a linguist.

    She was vacuuming the insides of the upper consoles, and Mirra noted that almost half of them had been closed, indicating her progress in restoring order to the bridge. She turned off the vacuum as Mirra approached.

    "Lieutenant," she said. The crewman was wearing what appeared to be old fashioned spectacles; gold wire frames supporting a pair of crystal lenses, perched on the bridge of her nose.

    "Crewman Aktay," Mirra answered. "Your personnel file didn't say anything about your needing vision correction."

    She removed the glasses then tapped a P.A.D.D.-like device on her hip.

    "Vision enhancement, Lieutenant. I have them set for chromatic polarization. It makes the dust stand out."

    "I see, very innovative." Mirra looked around the bridge. "How do you like it up here?"

    "It's not bad, sir. Lots of pepole comming and going."

    "I'm considering you for the Communications station. I was going to station you on Damage Control for your Red Alert station, but we're short handed, and we're all going to need to wear two hats."

    "I'm not Comm qualified, sir."

    "I think you can be. At least, by the time we get to spacedock."

    "What do I have to do? To qualify, I mean."

    "The qualification program is already loaded to your profile. It's set up to notify me when it's time for your practicals so I can schedule them."

    "I'll start studying after evening chow."

    "Very good. Speaking of qualifications, we lack depth in our roster. After you qualify on Comm, if there are any other qualifications outside of your specialty that interest you, I'll do everything I can to help you."

    Crewman Aktay looked around the bridge. "Is there a dust mitigation qualification?"

    "I think you've earned that one already. Carry on, crewman."

    The lieutenant left the bridge and went down the Starboard ramp. She paused to look for dust as she went forward along the curved passageway. The outboard curve was lined with pressure hatches into the crew quarters, not partition doors as would be found on larger starships. Each compartment on Kestrel was capable of maintaining environmental integrity if the adjacent compartment was breached, right down to individual environmental controls in each stateroom.

    The inner bulkhead was lined with stowage lockers and access panels. She opened one at random; its racks were empty, but clean. She blew on a shelf, but only a very fine accumulation of the pervasive dust was disturbed. Mars dust was very fine, and everywhere. Getting rid of it would be an ongoing challenge.

    The only hatch on her left side was almost at the end of the passageway. It was open, leading to a ramp which went aft, following the passageway's curve to the Mess Deck. Another ramp mirrored it on the port side, allowing the Mess Deck to be used as a cross passageway.

    Ahead was a hatch at the end of the passageway labled Starboard Weapons Control. She tapped it and saw her Pakled phaser tecnician and her Andorian torpedo technician huddled over the same display, the Pakled overflowing the chair and the Andorian leaning over his shoulder. They both turned to her as the hatch opened.

    "I see you're working on the phaser upgrades. Good. The Skipper wants the design proposal as soon as you have it ready. You really impressed him, Crewman Ben. He said, 'I was tactical officer on the Merlin for two years and didn't see it. He has been onboard less than a day and gave us a third more firepower.'"

    "We will be strong," the crewman replied.

    "There's another issue I want to discuss, crewman Voght," Mirra said. "Two, in fact."

    "My disciplinary record." It was a statement, not a question.

    "Well, yes, but first I want to ask you why you've never qualified as Space Warfare Specialist. You have most of the proficiencies. All you need is time at various watch stations to meet your quals, and you'll be ready to test."

    "That ties in to my disciplinary record. It's hard to get assigned to watches when your officers consider you a disruptive influence."

    "Why are you a disruptive influence? Your skills show you to be a very capable crewman. You should be a chief petty officer by now. This is, what, your third time making it back to crewman first class?"

    "I have a temper."

    "You can do better than that, Voght. Why can't you control your temper?"

    "Isn't that in my psych profile?"

    "I'm not a counsellor. I don't have access to your psychological profile."

    "All right, Lieutenant. In a nutshell, I'm not from a rich family. I'm a product of Adnyondor City Public School 1129. It's in a poor section of the city where you learn to fight young, and you learn to fight hard, or you get beat up. A lot. I got tired of getting beat up."

    "There are constructive ways of handling your temper. Better ways than punching ensigns, anyway."

    "He was an idiot."

    "Maybe. But that's not your call. The next time you get the urge to hit an officer, come talk to me. In fact, I want you to meet me tomorrow at 0500 for my morning workout. I have a section of the cargo deck in mind, just aft of Deflector Control," Lieutenant Mirra said. Then she smiled and added, "I need a sparring partner."

    The Andorian stoood straighter, her antennae waving, trying to sense the Lieutenant. "I'll be there. Just remember, you asked for it."

    The lieutenant smiled. "I did."

    Exiting the Weapons compartment she went up the ramp to the mess deck. The aft bulkhead was the ship's galley, set up like a replimat. The crew could select their own meals, with the computer tracking their nutritional requirements. One could eat nothing but ice cream and still remain healthy. There was also a replicator in each of the crew's quarters, so no one had to actually come to the mess deck to eat. Forward of the cross passageway a wide, shallow ramp lead to the open space beneath the skylight which was currently covered with red dust. Two booths on either side and four tables in the open floor created a gathering space for the crew. Beneath this deck was the ship's main deflector. It's bulk was what required this mezzanine deck to be raised to almost the level of the bridge, which was located aft of it.

    Crewman Brock, their medic was in one of the booths reading a tablet. He appeared not to notice Mirra as she passed through. Down the other ramp and aft she encountered a ladder set in a ceiling access panel. She saw light and muffled voices in the overhead crawl space. As she climbed she heard a voice.

    "...need to be certain it's secured. Outside the inertial compensation fields you can get some crazy G forces on even a one mil plasma conduit. Next thing you know it breaks free and acts like a cutting torch inside your hull."

    "I'm only a couple of centimeters out."

    "Chief will get you for every millimeter," said Mirra, poking her head through the access panel. The two engineers were running a power conduit into the overhead of one of the crew quarters.

    "What's going on here?" Mirra asked.

    "Just a bit of an upgrade to my quarters, Lieutenant. The Skipper said we could make them our home."

    "I didn't see a work order for this. What, exactly, are you modifying?"

    "It's for a holoprojector. With the holopaint already on the walls, all I need is a field projector and a 3D holographic imager to turn my room into a holodeck."

    "Crewman Sibley, did the Chief authorise a tap into the ship's power system?" Mirra asked.

    The younger engineer said, "Yes sir."

    "I'll be looking for the work request, and the power tap testing report."

    "Uh, yes sir," Crewman Sibley said.

    "Crewman Ladner," she said to the older crewman, "I'm changing your Red Alert station. You'll be on damage control. The Skipper says we'll be getting a Chief Engineer soon, and he'll be stationed in the engine room."

    "Aye, sir," the senior crewman said. "Damage Control is just my thing."

    "You'll have Crewman Brock on your team. He'll need training, he doesn't have DC qualifications."

    "We'll bring him right along, Lieutenant."

    "Good to hear. And remember that I want to see the paperwork for these upgrades on my desk tomorrow morning."

    "Aye, sir," they said.

    She dropped back into the corridor and continued aft. At the paired ramps she stopped and touched an annunciator on the Skipper's door. It slid open. Inside the Skipper was standing up from his desk.

    "Skipper," she said, "I have the crew assignments you wanted. I think I have everything covered. We need more depth at damage control, but I don't see how we can do that without more crew."

    "We'll have to make do," Lee said.

    "Sir, I still think we need a deflector tech. I can run the deflector systems from Tactical, but you have to maintain them, and this ship has a forward subspace navigation deflector, an aft gravitic deflector, and six defense deflectors. They all need tuning on a regular maintenance cycle."

    "I hope we won't need the combat deflectors, but your point is taken. I'll see what I can do."

    "Anything else before I shove off to The Academy?"

    "I think we're good here. How is Admin 403?"

    "Dry. The proctor seems to believe that speaking in a monotone about forms and procedures will help me learn."

    "I had the same course, but I wasn't working twelve hour days at the time. Are you getting enough rest?"

    "Six hours a night," Mirra said with a sigh.

    "I want you to cut back to four hours duty here, focus on your classes. Take some time to visit your family. You're from South Africa, aren't you?"

    "Capetown, yes sir."

    "If you want, I can afford to let you miss a few days this week. Your test cycle begins next week, right?"

    "I'm all right, sir. The course isn't hard, so much as it is tedious."

    "The exams are worse. I felt like my brain was mush after Phase 4 of the finals." Lee stretched. "I almost feel like that now. Getting the reactor upgrades approved is like pulling shark teeth."

    "I saw The Chief installing armor plating yesterday with imbedded structural integrity nodes. I don't think he's waiting for approval."

    "He isn't. There will be force field projectors in the next layer. It's a drain on power output, but at full power we should make Warp 8.3 even without the variable warp field geometry."

    "Has Chief nailed down the harmonics issue yet?"

    "Simulations are showing some issues, but we're trying to find the engine's designer. Maybe the Doctor had it figured out, and we can eliminate the issue before we fire it up."

    "All right. On another note, were you aware Crewman Sibley is turning his quarters into a holodeck? He says it was approved, but I haven't seen the paperwork yet."

    "I wouldn't look too hard at the timestamps on those approvals, Number One. But as long as his regular work is getting done and his toys don't interfere with ship's systems, I don't object."

    "Good enough, but I might make an issue of it just to be certain everyone realizes how important documentation is."

    "Your perrogative as First Officer. You have my full support."

    "I need to get going if I don't want to be late. I'll see you in the morning, sir."

    "I'll be here. Good night."

    Mirra exited The Skipper's stateroom and took the ramp down. The hatch to Transporter Room 1 was open, and inside she saw the deck plates of the transporter stacked beside the console. Crewman Morgan was doing something down in the sub-floor.

    "Oh, hi, Lieutenant," said the crewman.

    "What's this?" asked Mirra. "I thought this transporter passed its diagnostic?"

    "It did. I dropped my plasma circuit tester, and it fell down between the power couplings and the Heisenberg Compensator."

    "Ah. It can't stay there."

    "Yessir." Then the crewman did a doubletake. "It's time, isn't it?"

    "That it is. I presume Transporter 2 is operational?"

    "Yes sir," Crewman Morgan said as he crawled out of the subfloor. "Computer, warn entrants to Transporter Room 1 to use caution due to open deck plating."

    "Safety warning confirmed," the computer responded.

    The pair exited the transporter room. They turned to starboard and entered the Secondary Hull. It was a room running the length of the ship from the deflector dish to the forward bulkhead of Main Engineering. The massive 20cm plasma conduit which powered the forward deflector divided it in half, just low enough that they had to duck to get under it.

    "Oh, I invited crewman Voght to join me for my morning workout. I know you have your plate full being ship's Master At Arms and Transporter Operator. Would you mind being the ship's physical fitness coach as well?"

    "I work out in the morning anyway. It shouldn't be a problem."

    "She's a hothead, even for an Andorian."

    "I was assigned to the Federation Embassy on Andor," he said. "I think I can handle her."

    "All right," Mirra said. "I need a sparring partner who won't get his feelings hurt if I give him a bloody nose."

    "Spar with the caitian."

    "Might get my feelings hurt if I did that!" she said as she stepped onto the transporter pad.

    "Coming back at 2100 hours?"

    "Give or take a few minutes. See you then."

    "Phobos Station acknowledges, have a good evening, Commander."

    The crewman energized and Lieutenant Mirra dematerialized.

    ***
    Post edited by brian334 on
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,024 Arc User
    Oh, something I've found useful in my writing - you can write the story section in a word processor (I use OpenOffice, because it's free and has a fully-featured Word-equivalent program), then copy/paste into the forum after you've done your editing. Then the Edit Monster becomes much less threatening, unless you don't notice that you've left a part of the story out until after you "publish" it here.

    Er, not that I've ever done that, of course, he said, sweating nervously.
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
    Get the Forums Enhancement Extension!
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Admiral Franklin materialized in Transporter Room 1 and Crewman Morgan piped her aboard using an authentic replica of a bosun's call.

    "Welcome aboard, Admiral," Lieutenant Commander Lee said.

    "Thank you Commander. And thank you for the honors. You look good in Command Dress."

    "Thank you Admiral. The ship is yours. If you would like, Lieutenant Mirra can show you to your quarters and you can settle in before we raise ship. Otherwise, we are at your disposal."

    "First I want to see these engine modifications. I understand you contacted the design engineer?"

    "Yes sir, and she was very helpful, but the real breakthrough was made by my Chief Engineer. If you'll come this way, please."

    "Your Chief Engineer?" the admiral inquired as Lieutenant Mirra took custody of the admiral's duffel bag.

    "He's a drummer," said Lee with a grin. "But I don't want to steal his thunder. He has a presentation that he's worked pretty hard on."

    "With your permission, Admiral, I'll take your bag to your quarters," said Mirra.

    "Please do. How are you liking your assignment so far?"

    "It's not the usual course to the center seat, sir, but I wouldn't trade last month for anything. I can't wait to see what comes next. I'm sure you'll be pleased with what our Skipper has accomplished."

    "A captain is only as good as his officers, Lieutenant. I'm sure you've contributed to his accomplishments."

    "Thank you, sir."

    "Carry on, Lieutenant. This way, Admiral. This ship is a bit more cramped than your usual Starfleet vessel," Lee said as he lead the admiral into the quarterdeck.

    The deck was painted in Federation Blue with the white starfield of the Federation, but the room was otherwise unadorned.

    "The crew did this in honor of your arrival. The paint is dry now. Ahead is sickbay, to our left, access to crew quarters, and to our right the engineering section." Lee tapped the door control to his right, and it opened to a cargo deck divided by a large plasma conduit at head-height, running the length of the long, narrow compartment. The deck was strewn with what appeared to be salvaged equipment of various kinds, secured with tie-down straps or concealed beneath canvas. "This is the cargo deck, but our engineers have been using it as a workshop."

    "I hope none of this is necessary equipment," Admiral Franklin said, frowning at the surplus gear.

    "My chief wanted what he called 'critical spare parts,' so we got permission from the quartermaster of the bonetard to salvage them off of Kestrel's sister ships. We aren't likely to haul cargo in the next year, so aside from a section the crew uses as a gymnasium, this is void space. And these parts are unlikely to be found as a replicator pattern anywhere but Utopia Planetia."

    "I think all Chiefs are part packrat," the Admiral said.

    Lee lead her aft, down the aisle along the bulkhead which was free of salvaged parts. The door marked Engine Room opened as they approached. To their left was a transparent door which opened into thd Engineering Control Room. Three of its four walls were lined with consoles, above which was a window which gave a view of the lower half of the warp reactor and the auxiliary gear that supported its operation.

    "Admiral on deck!" said a tall, thin crewman in an engineer's jumper. The only other occupant of the room was a seated Tellarite, whose only response was to swivel his chair and say, "Admiral! Welcome aboard!"

    "I see that you've found that cushy job you've always wanted, Chief," Admiral Franklin said.

    "Cushy? This Marshall pushes me like a pergium mine foreman."

    "How did you let him talk you into the job?"

    "I couldn't let him leave with a pair of kids in charge of my engine. They'd be getting towed home within a week. Besides," he said with a grin, "He offered me a badge!" He drew a gold badge with the Federation Starfield over which was the number 574. A banner along the top read, 'United Federation Of Planets,' and beneath the number it read 'Deputy Marshal.'

    "What's this about modifications to my engines?" the admiral asked.

    "Ladner!" th Telkarite barked, "You are supposed to be monitoring the deuterium intake, not ogling admirals!"

    "Sorry, Admiral, kids are easily distracted. Pull up a chair and I'll show you."

    He indicated he other chair beside his. Both were secured to the deck, and there wasn't a third.

    "You're familiar with how an antimatter reaction chamber works, of course. An atom of deuterium and an atom of antideuterium are injected at relativistic velocities, and when they collide they convert to photons and antiphotons which form a pressure wave which expands and simultaneously contracts. Then the photons hit the containment field and interact with the plasma generator while the antiprotons hit their maximum compression radius and expand back out into the rebounding photons, creating a second anhiallation event that turns both photons and antiphotons into more exotic energy waves that feed into the electroplasma generated by the photons, pushing the energy state of the pkasma up several magnitudes. The usual metaphor is a drop of water, which gives the kids a mental picture for the event, which is right, but just wrong enough to be confusing. Essentially, the energy waves that propogate through the plasma are what makes it warp plasma."

    "Warp Theory 101," the admiral said.

    "What happens when you drop two drops in rapid succession?" asked the Tellarite. "Waveform distortion. Suddenly your photon waves and antiphoton waves aren't meeting at the halfway mark, and your antiproton implosions are getting deformed by the second implosion. Ordinary warp reactors can't physically operate fast enough to do this. Lightspeed dictates the maximum injection rate. Our transverse reactor has four injectors rather than two. We can inject simultaneously if we want to, but waveform distortions occur, and all kinds of things go wrong: incomplete reactions, assymetrical pressure waves, it's even possible to create microsingularities this way. This sets up harmonic distortions and stresses on the reactor containment shell."

    "I'll have to see the math on that before I'm convinced. The Marshall said you had a fix, and it involves drums?"

    "Yes to both. By creating two epicenters the reactions remain separate, even though they cross each other. There is some defofmation of the wavefronts, but not as much, and it's not additive except where the waves cross. Even better, if we use an asynchronous firing pattern, we can control the wavefront deformation, effectively creating a warp vortex. A drummer combines rythm and arrythmic patterns to create a steady beat. The overall pattern forces the reaction to self-regulate and dampen the harmonic distortions which arise."

    "You've worked out the math on this? It's an order of magnitude above my head," the admiral said.

    "Not me. Our Pakled crewmate, Bengogg."

    "The Academy washout? Isn't he a weapons tech?"

    Lee spoke up. "Admiral, he's proven to be a brilliant mathematician. His language skills are going to be a barrier to his advancement in Starfleet, but he is the smartest person on this ship, present company included. Wait until you see what he's done to our phasers."

    "Commander, you seem to have a nasty habit of picking up every ball we've dropped. It's a shame you left Starfleet." She stood and said, "I have people to do my math for me these days. I'll let them figure it out. Meanwhile, show md the modifications you've made to the warp core.

    ***"
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    Oh, something I've found useful in my writing - you can write the story section in a word processor (I use OpenOffice, because it's free and has a fully-featured Word-equivalent program), then copy/paste into the forum after you've done your editing. Then the Edit Monster becomes much less threatening, unless you don't notice that you've left a part of the story out until after you "publish" it here.

    Er, not that I've ever done that, of course, he said, sweating nervously.

    There's some free converters to bbcode to throw things like italics in as well, I use them (and then have to edit my spacing, but that's more visibly easy to fix)

    On the story - still in setup, but interesting (the warp reactor explanation is a bit different than normal canon, to note, but should be interesting to explore). Mars dust isn't as bad as moon dust but they're going to need some vacs.

    The crew looks to be getting some personalities established and having to up the game for internal policing sounds like it could go to some interesting places.
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

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  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    The deuterium containment vessel lifted on its grav skid and was slowly driven away as boneyard workers dismantled the flexable conduit assembly which had fed electroplasma from the portable reactor to the tiny, dust-shrouded ship. The dust around the tiny ship was churned up, exposing stark black and blinding white striations which elsewhere were concealed by a smooth blanket of red. Several locations on the dorsal surface of the tiny ship had similarly been disturbed, showing a pinkish-white hull beneath.

    With their flexible conduits and manifolds disassembled and loaded, the pressure-suited workers boarded their skid and towed the portable generator from between the ship's nacelles, slowly picked its way between the grounded vessels to the open aisle that ran straight toward the domed administration center.

    As the generator trundled away the tiny ship began to vibrate and a red cloud formed around and beneath it. The ship rose out of the cloud, shedding its red blanket as it gained altitude, leaving a red trail that quickly thinned when the ship began to move forward. The dark violet deflector dish lost its red tinge, turning bright blue, and as the trailing dust cloud diminished to a pink fog the bronze metallic aft-facing deflector dish shed its red coating.

    By the time the tiny ship had reached the ultra-thin upper atmosphere of Mars only a residual pink showed at the joints of the hull plating. Its navigation and running lights illuminated the shadows where Sol's light and the reflected light of Mars did not shine. Phobos rose round and full behind Mars as the tiny ship continued to accelerate out of the Martian atmosphere. The lights of Lowell City appeared on the shadowed side of Mars, joined by strings of lights to other, smaller, communities in a web of light which had vast empty spaces of stark black between them.

    Phobos quickly grew then faded behind the ship, transitioning between all its phases in minutes until only a tiny white crescent could be seen just above the haze of Mars' upper atmosphere. Ahead of the ship white dots grew into skeletal shapes. Images of the claws and rib-cages of giants could be imagined, but the scale was massive. Giants among giants.

    The structures resolved into space-docks: giant shipyard facilities which built and maintained the dreadnaughts and heavy cruisers of Starfleet. Several of these massive vessels were enclosed by the structures which made the ships appear tiny by comparison. At this scale the tiny ship which still retained a bit of pink stain of the Martian dust was a mote. Even the trio of shipyard tugs which met it outmassed it.

    The red glow of its pair of impulse engines, located on the rear edge of the egg-shaped saucer between the relatively oversized warp nacelles, faded and blue field effects from the tractor beams of the tugs played on the hull, slowly guiding the little ship to a berth beside a much larger vessel.

    When the ship was finally docked the tugs moved on to other duties and a cloud of tiny worker bee vessels detached from the ribs of the space dock to swarm the vessel. While some attacked the hull, especially concentrating on the cowling of the warp nacelles, others concentrated on the saucer and the two deflectors. One pair hauled a docking ramp to the lower port side of the saucer, connecting the tiny ship to the spacedock. Around the hull, almost concealed by the glare of the shipyard lights, the navigation lighting of the ship blinked off.

    ***

    Morning workouts had become an unexpected success on the Kestrel. What began with three participants grew to four when Crewman Aktay joined them, adding yoga to their more active regimen. Then Crewman Sibley joined expressing an interest in martial arts training. He had no skills, but he was eager. In ones and twos the rest of the small crew had appeared at least once or twice, excluding the Skipper and the helmsman.

    It was an even bigger hit with the shipyard workers who showed up to watch. But their interest wasn't in improving their health; they came to see the fights.

    Lieutenant Mirra and Crewman Voght sparred under the close supervision of Crewman Mason, wearing pads and headgear. He was very quick to intervene when the sparring partners became too aggressive, and he was quick to intervene to point out their mistakes. The shipyard workers were cheering them on as Mirra ducked beneath a roundhouse kick and sprang in to hammer the Andorian's midriff. The Andorian drove her back with elbows and knees which, even when blocked, were powerful, painful blows.

    With a long step back Mirra unleashed a powerful roundhouse kick to the Andorian's midriff that almost folded her in half, but she recovered and hammered Mirra with a flurry of haymaker blows which Mirra was forced to block with her forearms.

    "Break!" Mason shouted as he stepped between the pair.

    A line of blood trailed from Mirra's eye. Mason waved over Crewman Brock to scan the wound.

    "Superficial," he said. Dermal regenerator humming, he continued, "No sparring tomorrow. Come see me to insure there is no vascular damage before you gear up for full contact."

    "Check Thalys. Left ribs. The Lieutenant has a mean left foot." Crewman Mason was helping her remove the torso padding which had failed to protect her from the roundhouse, and the Andorian winced as she reached up to pull it over her head.

    "Good eye, mate," Crewman Brock said as he scanned her torso. "Two ribs with hairline fractures. You're out for two weeks, more if you don't take your daily osteo-remodeling treatments. I need to get you to the biobed for your first treatment. Sooner is better."

    "All right, you heard Doc." Crewman Mason said. "But before you go, I want you to try that hammer technique on me."

    "Don't worry, Doc, I won't hit her." The ship's Master At Arms squared up in a stance Crewman Voght had learned to respect. "Ready," he said softly.

    Wincing as she started, the Andorian stepped in and began a series of strikes, swinging wide, elbows stiff, clenched fists easily deflected by Crewman Mason's forearms. He reached up and grabbed her antennae, one in each hand, and squeezed.

    "Aaaaah! You dirty tlashi!" she screamed as he released her. "That's not fair!" She staggered to the bulkhead and supported herself with a hand while she recovered her equilibrium.

    "I'm not teaching you to fight fair, I'm teaching you to win," he replied. "On the schoolyards of Andor there are unwritten rules that shame a fighter for that. 'Fighting dirty,' you called it. Never expect a fighter to follow your rules. Human males have a similar stigma about hitting another guy in the balls, but it can be a quick way to win a fight. You learn early to protect your balls on Earth. On Andor you need to protect your antenna."

    The Andorian recovered her composure and stood up, gingerly massaging her antennae.

    "Time to hit the showers, you two."

    "Commander on deck!" Called Crewman Aktay as she noticed Lee. How long he had been there she could not say, but it was onvious he had been watching for some minutes.

    "As you were. Lieutenant, Crewman, you both have an appointment in Sick Bay."

    He turned to the shipyard workers. "Show's over folks. And I mean over. If anyone is here tomorrow without a work order to be here, and without tools in hand, you will be reported to your supervisors. We're here to get a job done, not to entertain you."

    One or two of the workers looked like they were about to object, but Lee's demeanor discouraged that, and the shipyard workers shuffled off, quietly grumbling.

    "Skipper, I take full responsibility for..."

    Lee held up a hand and waited for the hatch to close behind the last worker.

    "None of you did anything wrong. I just don't want a gambling concession in my cargo hold. Now you two have an appointment in sick bay, and I don't want your extracurricular activities to interfere with your duties. The rest of you, go on with your morning workouts. Crewman Mason, can I have a moment of your time?"

    The combatants and their medic followed the shipyard workers to the quarterdeck hatch.

    "Sir?" the crewman said as he stepped aside with the Skipper.

    "I understand you hold degrees in several martial arts forms, but I'm more interested in your energy weapons qualifications."

    "Sir?"

    "Most of the crew will never reach your degree of proficiency in unarmed combat. It requires a lifetime of training. I have no objection to your continuing what you're doing here, but I don't expect my crew to become martial arts experts overnight."

    He paused to watch Crewman Aktay perform a stretching exercise which would have left him a cripple.

    "What you can teach them is phaser proficiency." he continued. "Only a few of the crew have more than basic familiarity training, and I believe only you are a qualified marksman, excluding myself and the Lieutenant, of course."

    "Non-security enlisted personnel don't typically receive weapons training, sir."

    "True, but one of the purposes of this ship is prisoner transport. I want the crew to be prepared for and able to quickly respond to a prisoner loose on the ship. After we get finished with space trials I'd like that to be your priority. While we're in spacedock you could start to acquire the equipment we need. Let me know if you need approvals."

    "Aye, sir," Crewman Mason said. "Sir, if I may, why don't you attend our daily workout?"

    "Because I work out with Deputy Chuss."

    "Ah," said the crewman. He was still staring as the Skipper left the cargo bay.
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    Oh, something I've found useful in my writing - you can write the story section in a word processor (I use OpenOffice, because it's free and has a fully-featured Word-equivalent program), then copy/paste into the forum after you've done your editing. Then the Edit Monster becomes much less threatening, unless you don't notice that you've left a part of the story out until after you "publish" it here.

    Er, not that I've ever done that, of course, he said, sweating nervously.

    There's some free converters to bbcode to throw things like italics in as well, I use them (and then have to edit my spacing, but that's more visibly easy to fix)

    On the story - still in setup, but interesting (the warp reactor explanation is a bit different than normal canon, to note, but should be interesting to explore). Mars dust isn't as bad as moon dust but they're going to need some vacs.

    The crew looks to be getting some personalities established and having to up the game for internal policing sounds like it could go to some interesting places.

    Thanks for your reply. Chapter 1 is coming to a head soon, space trials are only a week away!

    I've never been happy with Star Trek's misinterpretation of plasma. As Spock said in The Undiscovered Country, it's just hot gas. How can hot gas create a warp field? But if you shatter photons rather than convert them to waste heat and electrons, you get non-physical constituent components which can only exist at lightspeed. These must then be defined as energy patterns because they aren't physical objects. Now you get some exotic energy patterns flowing through your electroplasma, and who knows what you can do with it?

    Thus, my own misinterpretation of how warp plasma works.

    Also, everywhere the spell-checker corrected antiphoton to antiproton is a typo. Antiphoton is the word I wanted to use.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,024 Arc User
    Plasma isn't just hot gas, though - it's a different state of matter, and also highly ionized. Calling plasma "hot gas" is like calling ice "solid water", and expecting them to act the same will prove disappointing.
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Dr. Sar was not happy. He had complained about the biobed being a decade old. He had complained about the tiny surgical alcove. He had complained about the tiny office and the antiquated diagnostic equipment. His biggest complaint was that he was a forensic pathologist, not a cruise ship medic, and where was he supposed to put a laboratory?

    "That's why you're here, Turaj," Lee said in conciliatory tones. "I need you to design a portable forensics laboratory. What you do here will dictate what future forensics specialists will have to work with on our new police cutters. If you need more space, we can find it. But, look, do we really need a surgery? You could turn that area into an autopsy lab. You should be able to treat hangnails and space sickness with that old biobed, but if you really need one we can get His Honor to approve the expenditure for a new one.

    "Your job here is to build the lab you need, and if this junk won't do, we'll airlock it all and start over."

    "Well. It's not all junk," the doctor conceded.

    "This is a one year project. They want you back at Memory Alpha teaching, and I want you there to train up the best generation of forensics analysts so we field agents aren't out here stumbling in the dark. Right now, by the time we get evidence to the lab hot cases go cold. We need this to work, and for that we need you to show us how to make it work. You have the opportunity herd to make your mark on the future of forensic science."

    "All right, all right," Dr. Sar said. "I guess some of the equipment will serve. But I'll need an alpha-wave scanner, and a holographic imager at the least."

    "I'll have my holographic engineer meet with you as soon as his duties allow," Lee said.

    "You have a holodeck engineer?"

    "He's designed and built six holodecks so far. We'll see what he can do for you."

    "Sir," interrupted Crewman Brock, "with holoprojectors and a replicator we could create facsimilies of most of this equipment at need. We'd have to maintain emergency gear in case of loss of power, but we have the surgical set in Battle Dressing Station #1 already..."

    He paused when he saw the expression on Dr. Sar's face. "Excuse me sir."

    "No need to be sorry," the Skipper said. "I want you to speak up when you have an idea."

    "Not sure I'd trust a holoscalpel."

    "That's the kind of thing you could judge better than I, and that's exactly why I need you here," Lee said.

    "All right, all right. All this foolishness so you can go touring the galaxy," Dr. Sar complained. "Might as well make the best of this assignment."

    "Okay, Brock," the doctor said, "Let's get started on the inventory. You don't know what you can throw away unless you know what you have."

    Lee faded from the room then and it was more than a few minutes before Dr. Sar noticed.

    ***

  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    Plasma isn't just hot gas, though - it's a different state of matter, and also highly ionized. Calling plasma "hot gas" is like calling ice "solid water", and expecting them to act the same will prove disappointing.

    Agreed.

    A better analogy might have been copper wire and electricity. There's nothing special about copper wire, but it allows electron flow which creates electromagnetic fields which can do work in magnetic field generator coils..

    Of all the special things about plasma, none of them involve faster than light movement. Something else is required. My space-magic explanation is that that something else comes from cracking photons and harnessing the energy contained in them which can only exist at or above lightspeed. The electroplasma is then the copper wire which conducts this energy to do its work in the warp field generator coils.

    And if my pseudoscience bothers you guys, I might have to cut it. Warp theory is poorly constructed but it's out there in the Trekverse.
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    edited September 2018
    brian334 wrote: »
    jonsills wrote: »
    Oh, something I've found useful in my writing - you can write the story section in a word processor (I use OpenOffice, because it's free and has a fully-featured Word-equivalent program), then copy/paste into the forum after you've done your editing. Then the Edit Monster becomes much less threatening, unless you don't notice that you've left a part of the story out until after you "publish" it here.

    Er, not that I've ever done that, of course, he said, sweating nervously.

    There's some free converters to bbcode to throw things like italics in as well, I use them (and then have to edit my spacing, but that's more visibly easy to fix)

    On the story - still in setup, but interesting (the warp reactor explanation is a bit different than normal canon, to note, but should be interesting to explore). Mars dust isn't as bad as moon dust but they're going to need some vacs.

    The crew looks to be getting some personalities established and having to up the game for internal policing sounds like it could go to some interesting places.

    Thanks for your reply. Chapter 1 is coming to a head soon, space trials are only a week away!

    I've never been happy with Star Trek's misinterpretation of plasma. As Spock said in The Undiscovered Country, it's just hot gas. How can hot gas create a warp field? But if you shatter photons rather than convert them to waste heat and electrons, you get non-physical constituent components which can only exist at lightspeed. These must then be defined as energy patterns because they aren't physical objects. Now you get some exotic energy patterns flowing through your electroplasma, and who knows what you can do with it?

    Thus, my own misinterpretation of how warp plasma works.

    Also, everywhere the spell-checker corrected antiphoton to antiproton is a typo. Antiphoton is the word I wanted to use.

    I see where you're coming from on this, but some of it is the warp system and 'warp power' is usually referred to as a unit when it's a system of three major components - the warp core/reactor, the electro-plasma network, and the warp engines

    <technobabble>

    TNG tech manual is the gold standard here for technobabble. Plasma is generated via a matter/antimatter interaction in the intermix chamber of a warp core. Dilithium serves as an effective moderating agent (matter/antimatter interactions are relatively 'slow' and somewhat random in real life) because of Space Magic - dilithium is the only known naturally occurring substance that can be made porous to antihydrogen (it takes some work with electromagnetic fields, because technobabble). This is why dilithium is such a vital strategic resource for the major powers.

    The electro-plasma network then takes that plasma to various ship systems and some sort of power converter or energizer process turns it into energy as needed. The big red glowing conduits out of the Ent-D's warp core are the most commonly visible piece of this.

    So why distribute the plasma this way instead of electricity directly? Comes to your question on warp plasma.

    Warp plasma isn't anything particularly special besides being particuarlly energetic. Warp plasma is plasma in the warp engines - it in itself doesn't do anything. But the warp plasma acts as the energizer for the warp coils in the warp engines - which generate a subspace field when enough energy is pushed through them (sort of like if you put an electric current through coils of wire, you get a magnet, to use a close-enough analogy), and lets the ship go FTL as a result.

    Two interesting sub-pieces of this. Several other pieces of equipment use subspace field generators - notably the computer core to get around a problem that happens in real life - the speed of life is affecting how fast calculations can be done. The TNG tech manual also indicates the impulse engine uses a smaller subspace coil to make what is effectively a fusion rocket much more potent.

    The other piece is antimatter is not an efficient energy generation mechanism compared to alternatives Starfleet has available! Creating antimatter is not a perfect process, and energy is lost whenever making it. But antimatter is a very effective power (energy/time) system compared to fusion. Warp drive requires a lot of kick.

    </technobabble>
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

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  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    I don't believe I have violated any of that technobabble; I have just described what gives warp plasma more kick than regular electroplasma. Of course, the gas mix that warp plasma is generated from will be exotic, but by itself it's still just hot gas. Hot, ionized, exotic gas.

    There is another system that manipulates subspace: the grav plating and inertial compensators that keep everyone from being squished into jelly on the rear bulkhead of the compartment when the impuse engines fire up.

    And the communicators. And I grow pedantic. My apologies. Time for more story.

  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Mirra was alone on the bridge. Illuminated at nightwatch levels, the controls and monitors provided most of the light, and their shifting patterns gave the ship a semblance of life, a metaphorical heartbeat. Watching them was almost hypnotic.

    She sighed and stood up. Falling asleep on watch was the last thing she needed. After yesterday's fiasco, she wasn't so certain all of the last month's effort was going to pay off, for her, at least.

    She had had to intervene when a shipyard engineer 'had to rebalance the injector firing sequence' during warp power trials.

    She had physically removed a Starfleet Captain from the Engineering Control Room seconds before Sparky exploded, and he had successfully been able to shut down the warp reactor before harmonic amplification could damage the containment vessel. But that wasn't the worst part.

    After laying hands on a superior officer and shoving him through the hatch into the cargo room, she had raised her voice.

    "Shut up! I said shut up! If you don't know what you are doing, stay the Hell away from my engines! In case you didn't know, that's not a standard warp core back there, and your ignorance could have gotten us all killed! If you are still on this ship in two minutes, I'm going to throw you off!"

    The indignant captain had sputtered about formal charges as she escorted him to the airlock. But that wasn't the worst part.

    Admiral Franklin had been on the quarterdeck to witness a very new, and very angry, young lieutenant hustle a captain with thirty-five years of experience off the ship. But that wasn't the worst part.

    Her career in Starfleet was over. No matter her otherwise unblemished record. No matter her scholastic excellence, no matter her list of achievements and commendations. One act in the heat of a very dangerous moment had torpedoed her future. She was under arrest, confined to quarters and her duty station until the disciplinary process ran its course. But that wasn't the worst part.

    The worst part was the smile on the face of Crewman Voght.

    The communicator chimed. "Go ahead," she said.

    "0300 and all's well," drawled Crewman Ladner from his post in Engineering.

    "Acknowledged," she replied.

    "Lieutenant, I know crewmen aren't supposed to talk about officer stuff, but I want to say thanks. That idiot..."

    "Stop right there, Crewman. Starfleet has regulations, and I broke a few dozen of them yesterday. You don't want to join me on disciplinary report, do you?"

    "If it would help, yes ma'am. The whole crew would."

    "Thanks for the sentiment, Ladner, but you need to support the Skipper and whomever replaces me."

    "That bad, Lieutenant?"

    "That bad."

    "For what it's worth, you make a heck of a good XO. Good luck."

    "Thank you."

    She toggled the intercom, then asked, "Computer, what is the local time in Capetown, South Africa, Earth?"

    "Local time is 0757 and twenty three seconds."

    She sat back down at the command console and tapped in a communication code. It was acknowledged quickly, and the main display resolved on the image of a very old Orion dressed in a conservative business suit, complete with a currently fashionable blue necktie and matching handkerchief in his breast pocket.

    "Princess!" he said with a smile. "You look good in the center seat! Have you been made Captain already?"

    "No, Umkhulu. In fact, I'm about to be cashiered. I got into a fight with a senior officer."

    "Did you win?"

    "That's not the point, Umkhulu. Starfleet doesn't tolerate physical violence between officers."

    "I have known Starfleet Officers who could benefit from a little violence. But I see you don't want to talk about it."

    "I don't, really. Where's Dad?"

    "Your father is on safari with a tour group. The Big Five."

    "Do you think he could use another guide?"

    "I don't know, Princess, but if not I could always use another Captain."

    She smiled. "Such a job would bore me to death, Umkhulu. Cruise ships run on autopilot, and the Captain's only job is holding a white uniform with lots of gold braid off the floor."

    "Your cousin Katha does a very good job of that. It's a shame you inherited so much of your mother. It takes you so far away from me."

    "I love you, Umkhulu, but..."

    "I know, I know. You are young and the galaxy is wide." The Orion paused, looking beyond her. "Handsome fellow. Is he your paramour?"

    She turned to look, then jumped to attention. "Sir!"

    "As you were, Lieutenant. A personal call?"

    "Yes sir. May I introduce Tanaym Mirra, my grandfather. Umkhulu, this is my captain, Federation Marshall Huang Lee."

    "A pleasure to meet you, sir. Are you the Tanaym Mirra of Beryl Cruise Line? The one with the cat's eye logo?"

    "One and the same, Captain. My granddaughter says she is giving you trouble."

    "Nothing we can't handle, sir. If you will excuse me, I have to make my morning rounds and get ready for today's exercises."

    "Good day to you, Captain."

    "Captain, I..."

    "Carry on, Lieutenant, we'll talk after morning muster."

    "Aye, sir."

    Lee left the bridge and went forward along the port passageway. The hatch to the Port Weapons Control Room was open, and three people were inside with a partially disassembled photon torpedo casing between them. This one was pink.

    Black casings were antimatter torpedoes, the standard explosive that made a photon torpedo work. Silver casings were for quantum torpedoes. Red casings were for torpedo tube launched probes.

    "What's the pink casing for?" he asked, and three heads popped up, a human, a Pakled, and an Andorian.

    "It's a screamer, sir," said the Andorian as the trio came to their feet.

    "Ah," the Skipper said. The Screamer had been the Andorian's answer to her crewmate's upgrades to the phaser system. It used the navigational deflector from the same shuttlecraft they had robbed of phaser capacitors and a holographic image generator Crewman Sibley had supplied to create a decoy. Simulations showed it could withstand several hits from a Type 1 phaser before the deflector collapsed: more if a power transfer beam could be maintained on it.

    "Why are you working on it at oh-three hundred?" Lee asked.

    "The Lieutenant wants to use them in today's combat trials, sir, and we only had the prototype."

    "All right, but I don't want you so tired you fall asleep during today's exercise."

    "Aye, sir. We're annealing the power circuit splices. Won't take half an hour to finish," Crewman Sibley said.

    "Sibley, you're an engineer, a holodeck designer, and now I find you head-first in a torpedo casing?"

    "I couldn't sleep, sir. Nervous about today's trials."

    "Finish up here and get some rest. All of you."

    "Aye, sir," they said.

    The truth was that insomnia had its claws in Lee. The trials were nerve-wracking enough, but yesterday's power tests had been a fiasco. The six-hour run had gone into ten hours after the interference of that idiot captain. Mirra's reaction was tame compared to what he would have done, and Sparky's temper didn't help matters in the second run. Calling the shipyard test crew a 'bleeding lot of Irdan rock mites' definitely didn't soothe flaring tempers, and Lee had had to spend another two hours after the trials dealing with shipyard personnel who wanted to fail the warp core 'due to anomalous operation guidelines imposed by the ship's Chief Engineer.'

    Chuss was in the replimat with what looked like a raw beef roast on a plate. The mezzanine deck, called "The Skylight Lounge" by the crew, was one of the few places on the ship he could stand without his ears brushing the overhead.

    Without preamble, Chuss said, "Did any of those idiots even read the design specifications of the engines?"

    "Apparently not. They get in a rut, doing the same thing over and over, and warp engine design hasn't really changed all that much since the time of Dr. Cochrane. Engineers are generally slow to accept new ideas."

    "It's a good thing I wasn't there because there would have been blood on the deckplates."

    "There almost was." Lee paused and looked up. "My brother, we are going to have to be very careful today. Starfleet likes to see discipline, and any breach of protocols today might result in their cancelling this project."

    "Do not worry, Huang. I will not disappoint you."

    "You never have."

    Chuss, whose senses were as keen as any alien, did not hear the Andorian slip back down the ramp and head towards the Weapons Control Room.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,024 Arc User
    edited September 2018
    ((REDACTED - let's see where this is going before I stick my oar in.))
    Post edited by jonsills on
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    The USS Kestrel approached the Jupiter Test Range at Warp 2, dropping out of warp near the range boundary marker bouy.

    The Vulcan test proctor stood by the captain's port side control console at parade rest, appearing as relaxed as any Vulcan could.

    "We've reached the assigned coordinates." Lee said, "Any orders, Admiral?"

    "Proceed into the test range, at your discretion," the admiral said.

    "All right," Lee said. "Helm, one half impulse, Tactical, what do our scanners show?"

    ""Nothing interesting," Mirra said. There are some rocks that shouldn't be there, sir. Apparently Jupiter has caught some new asteroids, but they are on an odd trajectory."

    "Starfleet likes odd asteroids. Helm, can you drop us out of warp about twenty kilometers on the far side of those rocks?"

    "Aye, sir. Course laid in."

    "Engage." As the ship went to warp Lee said, "Get some good scans of the far side as soon as we drop out of warp."

    A second later the ship dropped out of warp, and a half-second later Lieutenant Mirra said, "Got him. H class freighter, sir. It's launching a fighter. Looks like a Starling class fighter."

    "Hail them. Lieutenant, give me a tactical analysis of those vessels."

    The crewman at the Comm station fumbled at her controls, drawing the admiral's attention.

    "Tactical analysis on your screen. Some H-class freighters were converted to carriers in the outer sdctors, but they aren't a threat. Starlings are maneuverable, but we can outrun them. Both classes are over a hundred years out of date."

    "Thank you Tactical. Keep an eye open for tricks. Those ships have had a hundred years to get upgrades too."

    "Aye, sir," Mirra said as she stepped to the Comm console. She whispered to the crewman, then returned to her post and continued scanning the region.

    "I have them, sir."

    "On main viewer," Lee said.

    "Captain, I'm Marshall Lee... Lieutenant Commander Lee of the starship Kestrel. May I ask what you are doing here apparently equipped for a fight?"

    The Benzite captain replied, "I'm Captian Marast of the Sharian Historical Reenactment Society. My apologies for alarming you, Lieutenant Commander Lee. We are reenacting the Battle Of The Refaenar Trojans, and my scans mistook you for our opponent."

    "I see," Lee said. "I shall leave you to your games, good luck, Captain."

    "Helm, hard about and put some distance between us. Pick your course, but stay inside the test range. Three-quarter impulse."

    "Aye, Skipper."

    The Kestrel turned toward Jupiter as its impulse engine powered up.

    "Any thoughts?" Lee asked.

    "Your warp jump caught them by surprise. Their ambush was not prepared," said the helmsman.

    "They continued to launch two more fighters," said Mirra. "Scans show two more still on board, with a capacity of seven."

    "Where are the other two?" asked Chuss.

    "Sir," said Mirra, "Database has no Sharian Historical Reenactment Society on file."

    "Okay, log the encounter and transmit it to Starfleet Command, with your sensor scans attached."

    "Aye, Skipper," Mirra said. "Transmission ready, Crewman Aktay."

    "Aye, sir." It took the crewman a moment, then she said, "Transmission sent."

    "Sir, I'm getting a coded transmission," Crewman Aktay said, "Audio only, it's... ah, here it is."

    "Let's hear it, crewman," Lee said.

    The audio system crackled then cleared. "...under attack by cartel enforcers, I require extraction. Repeat, Io Observatory is under attack by cartel enforcers. I require extraction. The data in my custody is enough to bring down the top echelon of the cartel. Mercenary troops managed to beam onto the Jovian Observatory on Io before I could get the station shields online. I only have a few minutes before they find me. I require extraction."

    "That's it, sir," crewman Aktay said.

    "Lay in a course to Io, helm," Lee said. "Tactical options? Anyone?"

    "I am betting the 'opponent' of the converted freighter will be waiting for us there," said Mirra.

    "Io is very flat for a moon. I can skim the surface; there isn't much atmosphere," said Chuss.

    "Where is the first freighter?" asked Crewman Sibley.

    "All right," Lee said. "Comm, pinpoint that transmission source, then send a tight beam comm signal when we get within fifty kilometers. Don't wait for an order, just do it. Use the same code.

    "Number One, coordinate with Transporter Room 2. Lock down that signal fast and give the transporter the coordinates.

    "Commander to Crewman Mason, get to Transporter Room 2, prepare to receive a Code 3 guest. Repeat, Code 3 guest. Dr. Sar, I want you in Transporter Room 2, armed and prepared to handle a hostile boarder.

    "Commander to Damage Control Team. Arm yourselves, but remain on station until called."

    "Master-at-arms confirms," Crewman Aktay said. "Dr. Sar confirms."

    "Damage Control reporting armed and ready," Mirra said.

    "Helm, you have a course set?"

    "Aye, Skipper. Io Observatory locked in."

    "Maximum impulse," said Lee. "This is an extraction, so get us inside of 10 kilometers and keep us there. The moment our guest is aboard, make your best course out of Io's gravity well."

    "Aye, Skipper."

    "Am I forgetting anything?" asked Lee.

    "You didn't say Red Alert, sir," said Crewman Sibley.

    "So I didn't. Red Alert."

    The sirens screamed and the annunciator panels flashed red.

    "Anything else?"

    "Should I record and send this to Starfleet Headquarters?" asked Crewman Aktay.

    "Affirmative, comm."

    Jupiter grew large, then huge. By the time it filled the screen, tiny Io was a yellow dot. Io grew rapidly until it too filled the screen, obstructing the view of Jupiter behind it.

    "I have something on sensors. It might be a ship hiding inside Io's radiation belt."

    "Assume it is, Lieutenant. Give it to Helm. Chuss, don't go that way when you break orbit."

    "A warp signal on sensors," Mirra said. "It's being scrambled by Jupiter's background noise."

    "The first freighter," Lee said. "Crewman Sibley called it."

    "Here we go," Chuss said.

    The Kestrel shot into what served as Io's atmosphere, traces of volcanic gas vented from a volatile crust under massive tidal stress from it's giant primary and the multitude of moons and moonlets in Jupiter's gravitic grasp. Io Observatory might have been mistaken for a starship saucer section floating on an antigrav cushion a kilometer above the cracked, tumbled surface of the moon.

    Kestrel turned, scoring an arc through the gasses and leaving a yellow contrail behind.

    "Comm signal response, sir! What do I say?"

    "I have it," Mirra said. "Transport in progress. Four fighters on the horizon, incoming. You have it on helm monitors."

    "I see them. Look up for me, will you?" The caitian's focus was on his controls, adjusting the ship's course second by second.

    "You were right," Mirra said. There is a freighter up there. It's on your screen. Transport complete."

    "The fighter straight ahead is the weak spot. That's your course." Lee turned to the Engineering station. "Reinforce the forward shield."

    "Permission to fire on primary target," said Mirra.

    "Only if it fires on us," said Lee. "Prioritize defense."

    "Aye sir."

    "Phaser range in ten seconds," Chuss said. "Eight..."

    "It fired a torpedo, low yield plasma."

    "Open fire, Comm, put me on system-wide broadcast."

    "Aye, sir..."

    "Torpedo destroyed. The fighter is using a plasma beam."

    Mirra was focused on her console and didn't see the admiral watching the comm station.

    "Channel open, sir," crewman Aktay said.

    Lee said, "Attention all craft in vicinity of Io, this is the Starfleet vessel USS Kestrel. We are under attack by hostile forces. All vessels are advised to leave the vicinity of Io or risk being caught in the crossfire. All hostile vessels are advised to stand down immediately."

    He turned to the comm station, "End transmission and transmit logs to Starfleet."

    "Aye, sir."

    "Fighter disabled, sir," said Mirra.

    "Ignore the ones behind us, find the fighters in orbit," said Lee.

    "I have them. Three fighters at 190 mark 103, on your screen, helm. The freighter just launched a fourth. They are moving to intercept."

    "Where's the other freighter?" asked Lee.

    "Still looking..." said Mirra. "Got it. 080 mark 060, five fighters deployed and moving to intercept."

    "If they fire torpedoes, target the torpedoes, but leave the fighters alone. Let's see if we can outrun them. Helm, evasive patterns if they target us with beams."

    "Evasive maneuvers aye. Looks like they will intercept on this heading. Shall I choose another course?"

    "What surprises do they have if we do?" Lee asked.

    "Unknown," the helmsman replied.

    "We're being targetted," Mirra said. "Still on intercept course. 20 klicks... 17 klicks..."

    "Get ready to give them a light show, Lieutenant. Firing pattern Bengogg 1."

    "Aye, sir," she answered. "They have fired torpedoes!"

    "Fire!" Lee said. "Evasive maneuvers on this course."

    Multiple lances of phaser fire from the dorsal phaser array intersected the onrushing torpedoes, destroying three of the five in the first pulse. A second pulse destroyed the other two.

    "Hostile targets now bearing 180 mark 180," said Mirra.

    "Can they catch us?" asked Lee.

    "Aft shield holding," said Crewman Sibley.

    "We're pulling ahead, Skipper," said the caitian.

    "Crewman Mason calling from the the Detention Deck, sir," Crewman Aktay said.

    "Just a minute, Aktay. Chuss, gradually cut speed, I want to keep them just out of phaser range. Lieutenant, it's time for the Screamer."

    "Sir! Ship dead ahead. I'm getting Klingon signatures." Mirra was dividing her attention between the tactical and the science console

    "Even better. Comm, hail that ship."

    "No reply, sir. I think..." she grabbed her earpiece and flung it with a pained expression on her face. "It's jamming us!"

    Lee smiled as the Vulcan admiral turned to him. "First day on comm. She's coming along fine."

    "Screamer ready," Mirra said.

    "Okay, Sibley, this is your show. Keep that power beam on the screamer."

    "What is a ''screamer" if I may inquire?" the Vulcan admiral asked.

    "Target the Klingon ship and fire!" Lee said.

    "Screamer away," Mirra said.

    "A screamer is a decoy with a sense of humor," said Lee. "Shut down active sensors, shut down comm. Keep that power beam focused, Sibley!"

    The crewman was concentrating on his display, adjusting, adjusting. In the main viewer the screamer was pulling ahead, and appeared to be a Falcon class ship, still on a collision course with the Klingon Bird Of Prey.

    "Helm, change course, 090 by 347. Lieutenant, mask all energy signatures, Helm, drop to one quarter impulse.

    "I think the fighters fired torpedoes," said Mirra, "But I couldn't get a good reading through the screamer's interference."

    "More noise to distract them," Lee said. "Maintain that power beam, Sibley. You're doing fine. Lieutenant, see what you can get on optical."

    The viewer switched to aft, showing the port nacelle. Then it zoomed in on a tiny spot which became the holographic image of the Kestrel. A half dozen plasma torpedoes were about to slam into it's stern and the klingon ship was pulsing its forward beam weapons as the image jittered and vanished.

    "I lost the target," Sibley said, unable to keep disappointment out of his voice.

    "You did fine, crewman," said Lee as three of the plasma torpedoes impacted the Klingon ship. Being dummy torpedoes, they simply discharged in a pyrotechnic display.

    "Helm, do you have a course to Utopia Planetia Shipyard?"

    "Course laid in, Skipper."

    "Admiral, any further orders?"

    "None."

    "Helm, Warp 2,. Engage."

    The Kestrel went to warp.

    Crewman Aktay called out, "Sir, the Master At Arms is calling from the Detention Deck. He seems anxious."

    "Put him through."

    "Skipper, our guest is unhappy with the accomodations. She insists we should go to the bridge."

    "Give her a shaved ice, oyster flavor, and tell her I'll be down to speak to her soon."

    "Shaved ice?" asked crewman Mason.

    "Oyster flavor. Anything else, Crewman?"

    "No sir."

    "Comm," Lee said, "Send all logs of this encounter to Starfleet. Lieutenant Mirra will attach a summary report to send with it."

    "Aye, sir."

    Lee turned to the Vulcan, "Admiral, do you have any questions or comments?"

    "I do. First, the Screamer was interesting. I would like to see the specifications on that."

    "It's on file at the Armory, sir. The Office Of The Quartermaster, Utopia Planetia Arsenal approved the design. I'm rather proud of my weapons technicians for that one. Shuttlecraft have been used that way before, but I think that's the first use of a decoy torpedo."

    "Indeed. Then may I enquire about your innovative use of the phasers? I was unaware that this ship was capable of more than two simultaneous phaser discharges."

    "A design modification by my weapons technicians. Also on file at Utopia Planetia, Office Of Starship Engineering. Each individual emitter has a Type IV phaser capacitor installed in parallel with the primary phaser capacitor. They lack the output of the Type II capacitors in the original design, but for point defense they are superb."

    "As was demonstrated. Then I have one more question: with these capabilities you could have easily dispatched your primary and secondary targets. Why did you leave them relatively unharmed? This was a combat trial."

    "Admiral, I have no intention of engaging in ship to ship combat. That's Starfleet's job. My job is to apprehend and transport convicted prisoners and to investigate suspected exploitation of technologically undeveloped Federation member worlds. In any situation involving starship combat my goal will be to evade and escape. The very reason I selected this ship was its agility and speed."

    "And yet you have considerably enhanced the tactical systems of this vessel."

    "In anticipation of these trials, sir."

    "Commander, this has certainly been an interesting experience."

    "Then if you don't mind, I have an old friend to interrogate."

    "An old friend?"

    "Deputy Marshall Gri Seifir. I recognized her voice when she called for extraction."

    ***
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    ((REDACTED - let's see where this is going before I stick my oar in.))

    Paddle away, I can take it!

    Wait, no, that came out wrong. Let's say your critique is valued.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,024 Arc User
    It had to do with the absolute authority of the commander of a ship, even in drydock. I have an odd feeling, though, that you're already aware of this, and that the lieutenant will find her fears - a tad overblown.
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    It had to do with the absolute authority of the commander of a ship, even in drydock. I have an odd feeling, though, that you're already aware of this, and that the lieutenant will find her fears - a tad overblown.

    Understandable though the fears are, I'm not sure formal charges would go well when a board of inquiry shows how close it came to a disaster adverted by quick action.
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    The sign read Power Test Division, Captain Rhame. It had said the same thing the last time Lee looked at it. And the hundred times before that.

    He sat in the outer office where a half dozen engineers worked dilligently at their consoles. They were very busy. Too busy to look at him. On shelves along the walls of the office were bits of machinery: obsolete dilithium articulation frames, burned out injector nozzles, a section of EPS conduit with a blowout. Souveniers that only engineers could truly appreciate.

    Lee had been cooling his heels in the outer office waiting for almost twenty minutes. It was very clearly a power play by the captain. Petty revenge for the insult to his person.three days ago. The insult had been made worse by some commedian who had passed around a video file of Lieutenant Mirra sparring with Crewman Voght, the captain's face superimposed on the Andorian. He could understand the captain's ire even as he detested the pettiness of the captain's current conduct.

    Lee looked up as the captain's door finally opened. A lieutenant in the doorway said, "The Captain will see you now."

    The captain's office was as cluttered with junk as the outer office, and plaques and awards decorated the wall behind his desk.

    "What can I do for you, Lieutenant Commander?"

    The emphasis on Lee's rank was another power play. The captain was emphasizing his superiority.

    Looking at the lieutenant who had taken a seat on one side of the desk, Lee said "Sir, it might be better if this conversation was private."

    "Nonsense, Lieutenant Commander. I am a very busy person, and my aide and I have work to do. Now can we dispense with this foolishness so we can all get back to what we're supposed to be doing?"

    There was an empty chair in front of the desk, but the captain had not invited him to sit. Lee looked between the two, then said, "As you wish."

    "Captain, I want you to drop the charges against Lieutenant Mirra. In exchange I will post a formal reprimand to her record and place her on Restriction for sixty days."

    "Lieutenant Commander," the captain's voice was openly contemptuous, "You can't be serious. Your subordinate manhandled and personally insulted a superior officer!"

    "We've all acted without thinking in the heat of the moment. I ask you to please reconsider. It would be a shame to see an officer's career end this way."

    "Lieutenant Commander, you are wasting your breath. Starfleet doesn't need officers who can't control themselves or show the least bit of respect for superior officers. I am going to press these charges, and your lieutenant will be dishonorably discharged from the service.

    "Now, if there is nothing else, I have work to do."

    Lee had taken a P.A.D.D. from his hip pocket and was slowly tapping it in his palm as the captain's rant concluded. His face was empty of all expression, his stance very still. His only movement was the flick of his wrist as he tapped the P.A.D.D. and his almost black brown eyes bored into the captain's, as steady as an antimatter injector. He allowed the silence to grow until the captain shifted in his chair and glanced away from Lee's gaze.

    "I wasn't talking about Lieutenant Mirra's career."

    He let that hang for a moment.

    When the captain opened his mouth to speak he tossed the P.A.D.D. on the captain's desk. Its clatter was an explosion of sound in the silence.

    "This morning I filed charges with the Judge Advocate General. Reckless Endangerment of sixty-three starship crew personnel, one hundred twenty-six shipyard personnel, two starships and Space Dock Rappanmorthy. To support this I have filed charges of incompetence."

    "This is outrageous!" said the captain rising to his feet. A Bengal tiger would have been more cautious when Lee subtly shifted his body weight to his toes. The captain saw it and fell back in his chair.

    "Captain," said Lee, "You clearly didn't bother to study the reactor specifications we provided which were certified by the reactor's design engineer and by Starfleet Propulsion Engineering Group. You manipulated the controls of a warp reactor for which you were not certified or even trained to operate, and you jeopardized the lives of almost two hundred people, including yourself, because you hold your own ignorance in such high esteem that it never even occurred to you to ask my engineer a simple question: why did he program the injector firing sequence that way?

    "You might survive the inquiry with your rank intact, but you will never be allowed within one hundred meters of a warp core for the rest of your life."

    "Now, I am a Federation Marshall. If you proceed with your charges Lieutenant Mirra will probably lose her commission. I will then offer her a position as a Deputy Marshall and put her right back where she is now. She might even obtain her own starship command faster that way. She has nothing to lose. Are you willing to throw away your career because she hurt your feelings?

    "I've left instructions with the JAG that my charges are to be dismissed if and when you do the same."

    Lee turned and headed to the door, but paused as it opened. "If I were you, I'd stay clear of the Kestrel. You may not appreciate this, but Lieutenant Mirra saved you from even worse indignities to your person. Tellarites are known to have tempers."

    Heads turned in the outer office as Lee made his way to the turbolift.

    ***

    Admiral Franklin was piped onto the port quarterdeck by Crewman Mason. In the airlock behind him was an ensign in a gold uniform who was carrying a large duffel and two satchels.

    "Welcome aboard, Admiral," said Lee.

    After a quick handshake the admiral stood aside to allow the ensign through the airlock hatch. His satchel snagged on the edge of the hatch and he bumped into the admiral when it came free with a jerk.

    "Sorry, Admiral, sir." he said. He set his satchel on the deck and pulled a P.A.D.D. from its pocket. "Ensign Sean Tanaka, reporting for duty, sir."

    Lee took the P.A.D.D. and glanced at it. An academy graduate with two months of duty at Utopia Planetia Communications Center, no commendations, no reprimands. Human male, a colonial from Verdun. It was a short record. Colonials tended to look a certain way, their features a blend of humanity: brown skin, brown eyes, average height and build. Tanaka had that look, except for his eyes, which were hazel green.

    "Welcome aboard, Ensign."

    "Master At Arms," Lee said, turning to Mason, "Please escort the ensign to the XO for assignment and billeting."

    "Aye, sir." The crewman toggled the airlock controls, locking the outer and inner hatches. "I'll take that, sir," he said to the ensign as he collected the ensign's gear. "If you will follow me." The crewman turned up the ramp, easily handling the load that had caused the ensign so much difficulty.

    "They look so young," Lee said. "Admiral, the ship is yours. I'm glad you could attend our little bon voyage party. Would you like to freshen up a bit first? Or is that second crewman right behind you?"

    "Actually, I have the crewman right here." The admiral tapped her valise. "An Artificial Intelligence I have been calling Friday. Her specialty is administration. She's going to take on the paperwork you've been dealing with."

    "An artificial intelligence? Like the EMH series?" Lee gestured toward the ramp and the admiral turned to ascend to the crew deck.

    "Friday isn't a hologram, though she is sophisticated enough to animate one if she wanted to. And she's not a simulated personality such as are used by computers. She is a Legal Entity with the Starfleet rank of cadet. Your computer has three ports for Emergency Holograms, but your ship isn't equipped with the necessary hologram projectors, so none were dver installed."

    "You might be surprised, sir," Lee said as he opened the hatch to his office/quarters. "The staterooms were already designed with holopaint, and Crewman Sibley has been converting them to holodecks in his spare time. Deputy Chuss has one installed in his quarters and it's made our usual morning workouts a lot more interesting."

    "I can't believe you work out with a caitian. I hope you don't work out like your first officer. Their strength and reflexes..."

    "He keeps his claws sheathed. Usually. And, of course, I wear armor."

    "Naturally. I have only met one Federation Marshall, but if the rest of your corps is anything like you, the Judiciary Branch is well served."

    "We tend to specialize, sir. Is that it?" Lee examined the module in the admiral's valise. "Seems small for a person."

    "That module has about ten times the processing power of your brain, and a perfect memory with perfect recall. What she lacks is experience. Trial and error is still the only way we know to acquire social skills."

    "If she can cut my paperwork load, I'm going to appreciate her."

    "You should get her installed as soon as practical. I may be anthropomorphising, but she's used to having a whole computer to run around in."

    "Yes sir," Lee said. "Computer, instruct Crewman Aktay to report to my office." The computer chirped in response.

    "These quarters are quite spacious for such a small ship," the admiral said. "The quarters you provided me have a bed beneath the windows, but yours is empty."

    "It's not empty," said Lee, taking the four steps up to the deck above the pair of escape pods equipped in every stateroom. "Computer, Balcony."

    The lights of a city built into the folds of mountains replaced the view of the spacedock. The frames of the windows vanished, replaced with a red handrail. Black spaces below were more sparsely illuminated with moving lights, boats on twisted black waterways. Faint stars blinked through clouds which glowed from the reflected lights of the city.

    "Impressive. Your holoengineer is to be commended."

    "This is standard equipment; Sibley hasn't modified this stateroom. The class was designed to perform long range patrols, and this was intended to mitigate cabin fever. Humans, and some other species, need at least the illusion of space to remain sane."

    "This is your home? It looks like Earth."

    "Present time Hong Kong, as seen from my fiance's balcony. Former fiance."

    "Oh. My condolences, Marshall."

    The door chimed. "Enter," said Lee.

    "Crewman Aktay, reporting as ordered, sir." She was in a science division crewman's dress uniform, obviously in preparation for the party.

    "Aktay, there is a computer module on my desk there designed for one of our EMH slots in the main computer. It needs to be installed." Turning to the admiral he asked, "Any special instructions?"

    "It's a standard module. Her name is Friday. She might have a few questions once she comes on line."

    "Aye sir." She removed the module and its portable power supply from the valise and retreated from the room.

    "Now, let's see about this party. You know, I wish I had thought to turn my briefing room into a bar."

    "It was supposed to be a shuttle docking port. The joke at the time was, why put a shuttle on a shuttle?"

    The pair exited the stateroom, headed up toward the sound of drums and a happy crew.

    ***
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    It had to do with the absolute authority of the commander of a ship, even in drydock. I have an odd feeling, though, that you're already aware of this, and that the lieutenant will find her fears - a tad overblown.
    Understandable though the fears are, I'm not sure formal charges would go well when a board of inquiry shows how close it came to a disaster adverted by quick action.

    I hope I have addressed these issues. Full disclosure, I was writing the previous post and didn't see yours until I had it finished.

    This is the end of Chapter 1. Episode 1 if you prefer. Work requires me to relocate for a while, and I am not yet certain of my internet options where I'm going, so there may be a hiatus which I hope will be short. I certainly have some things in mind, and I will continue to write even if I cannot immediately post what I come up with.

    Meanwhile, critiques and analysis is appreciated. You can't hurt my feelings; I asked for it!

    Example: now that you know why I made a big deal of the technobabble about warp core physics, I would be interested in comments intended to help me better conform my technobabble to established lore.

    But anything from style to tone to whatever strikes your fancy is fair game. I have a story in my head I could never sell, so I hope to use it to learn better storytelling skills.

    As always, I hope you have fun reading.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,024 Arc User
    Okay, now I unredact:

    Not only was the lieutenant in the right, the captain was lucky that all she did was eject him from her ship rather than clap him in irons for endangering everyone in the entire spacedock by engaging in activities for which he was not qualified, certified, or cleared. Even in drydock, the person in command of the ship is absolute ruler of everything within the hull; as the marshal, the ship's CO, was absent, his first officer filled that role.

    The captain should have been presented with the option of withdrawing his charges, or having a court of inquiry not merely clear the lieutenant of all wrongdoing but in fact prefer charges against the captain instead - charges which, if he were lucky, would result in his merely being reassigned to a ground station, probably somewhere absolutely safe like Vulcan (where his emotional protestations would be genteelly ignored), and never considered for promotion again. The end result would have been the same as in your story, of course.

    My basis for this actually comes from a 1988 incident at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, which happened to play host to the headquarters of Strategic Air Command (SAC). The HQ squadron commander, a colonel, was found to have been sexually harassing female enlisted personnel under his command, with the assistance of his first sergeant. Gen. Chain, the CINCSAC at the time, offered the colonel a deal - he could face a court martial, or he could accept reduction of one rank in grade (to LtCol) and reassignment as deputy commander of Thule AFB, Greenland. And of course every time he went before the promotions board for the rest of his career, he would be denied. (The first sergeant, who had 22 years in, was, ah, encouraged to resign - you can resign at 20 years, but you don't get the full pension until 26, so...)

    Meanwhile, all of the Article 15 non-judicial punishments assessed to female personnel during his time in command were reviewed, and many of them reversed (typically, he would place attractive female enlisted on the weight program, and insist that he or his first sergeant be the one to check progress - both by weighing her and by "deriving her BMI" by measuring the chest immediately below the TRIBBLE). He ruined his career by bringing unjustified charges against junior personnel for his own personal pleasure. The military views such things... poorly.
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  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    Assuming they ere both guilty, both the colonel and the first sergeant should have been broken and cashiered. Their actions conflicted with core principles of military service. They both should have spent time in Kansas making little rocks out of big ones before they were booted without pensions.

    That said, I understand the desire to resolve the situation in a manner which doesn't drag the service through the mud. My experience in the military was one of mutual respect, and I have a high regard for the military and those in it. I would hate to see the media treat what I consider an anomaly as if it were common.

    Fun fact: I was an attitude problem. Admin sighed with relief the day they typed up my DD-214s.

    But the Marshall wanted to keep Mirra's record clean. The charges, even if she was exonerated, would be there throughout her career.

    On the other hand, he tanked the captain's career. His charges coupled with shipyard gossip will color every promotion board and every potential transfer. The Old Boy's network is certain to make his career a dead end of shuffling papers. And the best part of it is, once Lee brought up his complaints to JAG, he took the formal reprimand offer off the table. The captain's obstinance has resulted in Mirra getting away scott-free.
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    I like the solution presented in story but....
    brian334 wrote: »

    That said, I understand the desire to resolve the situation in a manner which doesn't drag the service through the mud. My experience in the military was one of mutual respect, and I have a high regard for the military and those in it. I would hate to see the media treat what I consider an anomaly as if it were common.

    So a bunch of people get harrassed and a quiet end instead so the service looks good? That's a sterling example to let others know they can get away with it. Explains some of the current statistics.
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  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    I like the solution presented in story but....
    brian334 wrote: »

    That said, I understand the desire to resolve the situation in a manner which doesn't drag the service through the mud. My experience in the military was one of mutual respect, and I have a high regard for the military and those in it. I would hate to see the media treat what I consider an anomaly as if it were common.

    So a bunch of people get harassed and a quiet end instead so the service looks good? That's a sterling example to let others know they can get away with it. Explains some of the current statistics.

    The issue jonsills reported is an anomaly, not the norm by anything I experienced while in service. But the media would have reported it as if it were the universal experience of female service members. Obviously, having never been a female member of the uniformed services, I am not in a position to know how common harassment was for women in uniform in 1980, but my guess would be that it was lower than in civilian life.

    Why?

    Core values. By example and by training, the services set a high value on respect, both up and down the chain of command. Disrespect is intolerable. There are other core values which are as important, but none more important than respect.

    As I said, those criminals should have been broken and sent to Ft. Leavenworth, but in order to do this it would have become a media circus which painted everyone in uniform as a sex offender. There is another core value in play here: to do nothing to bring dishonor to the service.

    I would have let the media have its day, but I understand why a career officer of a generation previous to my own would choose the course he did. 1980 and 2018 are very different times. Today there would be a different outcome, and that is ultimately a good thing.
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 1,920 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Season 1, Episode 2

    The Pakled crewman fired the target-phaser without aiming. And hit. And hit again, and again, and again. He didn't miss stationary targets up to the simulated range of thirty meters, and as he struck ten targets the holotarget generator automatically escalated to the next level. At level 3 the targets began to move, and he hit them. It was not until level seven that he began to miss targets, and then only when they appeared to the side or behind him. He simply never saw them, and unless their motion bought them into his line of sight he remained unaware until the target timed out.

    "His peripheral vision is limited," said Crewman Mason. He can hit anything he sees, at any level, but he just can't see more than forty-five degrees from straight ahead. But that's not the real issue. The real issue is getting him to take the training seriously. I don't think he understands this is more than just a game. He shoots at spare parts, the other crewmen in the gymnasium area, even me. I'm not so sure giving him a real phaser is a good idea."

    Lieutenant Mirra looked around the forward end of the cargo hold. The port side aft of the Deflector Control access hatch was being used by a handful of the crew as their gym. Mirra had scavenged some exercise gear, but it was mostly open deck space. The starboard side aft of the Main Senors Control access hatch had been cleared for use as a phaser target range, the Deflector power conduit dividing the two areas at head height with support stanchions every two and a half meters along the length of the cargo bay.

    "I understand, and I agree. In many ways Crewman Bengogg is an exceptional crewman, but there is a communications barrier. And to make matters worse, Crewman Voght goes Andorian Alpha Female whenever she perceives any criticism of her Beta Male."

    "I try to schedule Ben's sessions for when she's on watch," Mason admitted.

    "I've put in a request for information with the Federation Mission to the Pakled Homeworld. Maybe they have a better idea on how to communicate with..."

    She was interrupted by the alert signal and the computer voice saying, "This is a drill, this is a drill: Security Code 1,4. Repeat, Security Code 1,4."

    "Dangerous prisoner escape!" shouted Crewman Mason. "Security Stations! Move it!"

    Mirra was the third one to reach the port side hatch to the quarterdeck. With the starboard side locked out during prisoner transport, everyone had to file through the same hatch. She heard the starboard hatch open and turned to see a small, black-robed person dash out.

    Crewman Bengogg reached out and snatched her by the back of the neck, then lifted her from the ground.

    "You are small," he said as the tiny alien struggled in his grip.

    "Don't hurt her!" said Mason as he lifted her by the hips. "Put her down!"

    Deputy Chuss bounded into the Starboard Quarterdeck as the alien's feet hit the deck. He ducked through the Cargo Bay hatch.

    "Less than two minutes, Gri," the caitian said. "Going for the worker bees?"

    "I'd have been in one if you hadn't pulled that disappearing transporter trick," the alien chimed. "How did you do that?"

    "All hands stand down from Security Alert Stations," Commander Lee announced from the intercom. "Resume normal watch rotation. We will disembark our guest when we reach Starbase 77 at about 0900 hours. There will be no further security drills until our business there is concluded. On behalf of the crew of the USS Kestrel, I want to thank Deputy Siefir for her invaluable assistance in getting our brig and our crew ready for our mission. That is all."

    The public address chimed signalling the communication had been terminated.

    "How is your neck?" asked Mason.

    "I'm okay," the tiny deputy said. "Just sore." She turned and looked up at the bulk of the Pakled crewman. "You are very strong," she chimed.

    Ben tilted his head back and opened his mouth in an expression the crew had learned to interpret as a laugh.

    ***
    ***
    Post edited by brian334 on
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