14 The Wonky Vibe
The quantum boom shuddered through the USS Perseus, and shook the bones of the Chief Master-At-Arms.
While the crew stared rapt at the screen, Grif shifted his attention from the dazzling spectacle on the main viewer to the tactical station. Lieutenant Commander Bessek, the Ktarian Second Officer, had moved to the Ops station to check a reading with the Boslic Lieutenant Commander Tiroj. Grif took the moment to check out the Tac station on the right of the Master Systems Display.
As he expected, all systems were green and operating at optimal efficiency. He wondered if Perseus had had all her arms loaded in time for the trial run. He brought up the manifest; a moment later, when he still had access to the station, he somewhat casually brought up other lists of security and ship reports.
Scanning the scrolling files, one report caught his eye. He opened it.
He sent the data to the engineering station to the left of the MSD. Sublieutenant Vexa glanced at him over her shoulder. He closed his files.
“Sublieutenant, I have a small question.” Grif joined her side.
Vexa continued her scan of the chronotons returning quantum matrix data through the sensors, now automatically feeding navigational inputs into the helm. This system, developed by Dr. Brahms' team under the auspices of the Theoretical Propulsion Group, eliminated the phase variance problem that had plagued Voyager's previous trials of quantum slipstream, effectively bypassing the fourth dimension of time altogether. By pulsing the slipstream with chronotons it was possible to generate the real time phase corrections necessary to maintain a stable quantum matrix. This theoretical breakthrough, and the application of chronophasic emission technology, would redefine starship travel in ways that were anybody's guess.
Vexa punched up his diagnostic graphic on her main screen. “If you are referring to the misalignment of the cargo isofields, Chief, you should know it's a routine maintenance problem. Field emitters occasionally require recalibration with continued use.”
“Ok, I understand that. But the maintenance report has them being calibrated a few days ago. What could have caused them to misalign like that in a short period?”
“Many things. A kinetic wave analysis should provide more information.” She brought up the program and ran the data. A rotating three-dimensional wave schematic appeared on her display. “The patterns fluctuate from the inchoate to the incoherent. Intriguing. This isn't an intolerance. It appears as if a secondary waveform interference has altered the field.” She tapped a few commands, and a new waveform lay embedded within the first.
“What could do that?”
“An energy pocket. Ionized nebular matter. An inverted inertial dampening spike. Iogenic magnetic flux, anionic or bioelectric field -”
“That's not logical.”
She raised her brow to him.
“I mean it doesn't make much sense. There aren't any “energy pockets” on the ship's manifest. Could it be anything else? Maybe something happened during the lockdown?”
She looked at him. “Holograms.” She resumed her analysis. “A magnetic containment field could be conceivably configured in such a way as to generate these differential wave patterns. It may take some time to reverse-engineer a form that would create this result.”
“Are there any records of security holograms that were around this system in the past few days?”
“Perhaps you are better suited to answering that question than I. Logically, if we were to pursue this matter, I should search for any other isofield system anomalies and cross-check them with the ship's lading manifest to find any commonalities.”
Grif scanned the bridge crew. The Tac officer was still engaged at Ops. The others were absorbed in the performance of the chronoton phase emitters and the integrity of the quantum matrix. As was Vexa, before he'd interrupted her with this minor curiosity. “I'm going to go check it out. Forget I said anything, you've got more important things to take care of. Thanks, Sublieutenant.” He headed for the turbolift.
“Puzzling.” She watched him depart and returned to her multiple readouts.
Grif made his way down to the cargo bay; nobody was around so he went right to work and activated the workstation. Using his dock security codes, he checked and double-checked the lading transport and containment records; but it wasn't difficult to ascertain that there had been no record of transport between the cargo bay's last scheduled calibration and its record of misalignment, entered today by one Ensign Nuno Salazar.
“Computer, run a security diagnostic on this station, authorization Grifahni DM gamma-seven-three. Have any transport records on this workstation been altered?”
The computer signaled a failed process. “Negative. All records conform to original input parameters.”
“Check backup systems.”
“That process was checked with the original diagnostic.”
“Well check them again
“Working. Negative. All records of backup systems conform to the original input parameters of primary systems.”
“What about the pattern buffers? Just do it, computer.”
“Pattern buffers conform to the original input parameters of primary systems.”
Grif ran his calloused fingers through his tangled prickly brush of hair. He wasn't about to give up yet. There were other ways they did things in Fleet Yard Security that weren't exactly known in ship operations. “Computer. Security authorization Hanara Viper nought gamma twelve. Link with Mars Joint Security at Utopia Planitia. I want a level one comparative analysis of this workstation with running alpha security systems record of mobile platform Sphinx Moth Thirteen, series one through eight. Display any disparities or anomalies.”
“Working. That analysis will take approximately eighty-three minutes to complete.”
“Disregard anomalies from known cosmic interferences and communications chatter.”
“Working. Two unregistered transports have been found.”
Grif's heart beat and his tension level shot up three notches when he read the records of the transports. One, a container of standard plasma coupling replacement parts – in a container big enough, he noted, for a fusion generator.
The other transport was bigger. Big enough for standalone equipment – or even a person.
He deactivated the workstation.
Chief Master-At-Arms Grifahni Jace shouldered his way through the celebrating work crew and found the junction to the cargo storage area he was searching for. He entered the maze of containers and scanned the ID plates for his matches.
His stress level shot up another notch. They aren't here.
He went to main engineering, to the nearest available workstation. Seven of Nine occupied the buzzing attention of the engineering crew with her meticulous standards of station-keeping. Grif settled into the chair. “Computer, show me the holoemitter grid. Authorization Grifahni DM gamma-seven-three. Run a level one security diagnostic on the entire grid.” This is how I'd get a fusion generator on board
, he thought. Transport it directly into a holofield of whatever it's supposed to look like – such as plasma coupling replacements. Then erase the record altogether so nobody comes looking for those parts.
He sent the cargo schematics and copies of the two erased transports to Vexa's engineering workstation on the bridge, with the annotation: Wonder if entering the shapes in tandem would match the waveform analysis -
His engineering workstation com channel chirps.
He punches a key, and Sublieutenant Vexa appears on his readout display. Behind her, on the main viewer, he sees the blue quantum field collapsing. They are in Alpha Centauri Sector. Voyager awaits in orbit of a Federation space station, and Admiral Janeway appears onscreen to congratulate the valiant crew of the U.S.S. Perseus. Everyone is celebrating and overjoyed. Engineering erupts in cheers.
A red indicator light flashes on his diagnostic panel, beside Vexa's face.
“Chief Grifahni. I have a small question.”