Engine Room, S.S. Blackbird
Adrift, Tregor Sector
Almost an hour and a half had passed since Syva’s return. It had only been six minutes after she got back to the engine room that she had alerted th’Shaan of another attempt to get into the Stallion. Whoever it was had only tried once, then after seeing the code had been changed, didn’t try again and nothing more was said to them about the ‘problems’ with the warp core. Seeing what they had done to ensure the security of the shuttle, the Blackbird
crew must’ve known they’d been made—even the calls from Baxter stopped coming.
The work progressed smoothly. Th’Shaan had to admit that Daniels was a thorough engineer, though he did note that she was a little over-reliant on the computer to run all the checks for her. Being in the Border Service meant that he was used to a computer that was a couple generations removed than more modern units, so the level of automation was less which meant having to do more hands on work and checks. Seeing that, he’d taken it upon himself to start looking at everything with his own eyes.
He’d found the fault in an EPS node. Several isolinear chips had been fused (either from the excess demand place on them or from some kind of energy discharge), resulting in a disruption to the nodes diagnostics unit and glitches in the power distribution network. These glitches would have gotten worse over time, frying more circuits and making the problem worse as more and more was demands from them. With the damage to the unit designed to check it, the scans showed that it was working within its acceptable range, and the unit wouldn’t be properly checked until the ship was in for a routine check up at a station.
After he’d found the problem he’d alerted Daniels, who hadn’t liked the fact that he’d usurped her approach to things and found the problem by physically looking for it. He had done all he could to reassure her that it could have happened to anyone, but she hadn’t been interested in listening. Instead she had informed Baxter, informed him that the power grid would need to be rerouted to the backup before the problem could be fixed. That hadn’t made the Captain any happier by the sounds of things, but he’d agreed to the plan, so long as the work was done as quickly as possible. Fortunately, there were sufficient chips onboard the Blackbird
to swap out for the damaged ones, once they were properly formatted and the programmed.
Daniels and Syva were working with the chips, leaving th’Shaan and Hank to get the node ready. They were in the Jefferies tube alcove on the opposite side of the room from the ship’s engineer, affording them some privacy and able to watch for her approach.
“Ah would’ve thought they’d be happy with an explanation,” Hank murmured in his Texan drawl.
“You and me both, Hank. But it looks like they can’t cope with any disruption with their forcefield network. That worries me.”
“How so L.T.?”
“Their forcefields use the kind of power needed for triple redundancies, so there will be a backup for the backup if needed. I’ve only ever seen that kind of set up in medical isolation bays, where they’re working with viruses and other contaminates; situations where the crew need to be safeguarded from infection.”
Hank glanced over at Daniels, who was still focused on the computer. “Do yer think that’s what they’re up to?”
“I don’t know. I would hope if that were the case then they would have told us before we came onboard.”
“That’d be common decency.”
“Can you do me a favour once we get back to Freedom?” he asked the Quartermaster, who nodded. “Can you check to see if they’ve stopped by the station for any supplies or repairs?”
“Sure thing. Ah can check with Lieutenant Acker on 200 as well, give her a heads up that they’ll be needin’ some repairs.”
Just then Daniels picked up the chips and headed towards them, whilst Syva remained at the console, finishing off the command protocols to reroute the energy flow. When the engineer reached them, they had the panel open, isolated which circuits needed replacing and were ready to get them swapped out for the new chips.
“Let’s get this done,” she said simply.
* * * * *
From start to finish, it had taken them just under twenty minutes to swap over the chips, run a thorough diagnostic and then close up the panel. After routing power but through the mains, everything returned to normal. The lighting rose to its normal levels, the impulse engines and warp drive were restored and all the previous hiccups were gone.
Hank would have felt some measure of accomplishment for their success in such a short space of time, but the crew of the Blackbird
made it hard to feel relaxed. As soon as the work was completed and everything checked out, Captain Baxter appeared in the engine room just as they were finishing packing up their tools and equipment.
“We’re getting normal readings on the bridge,” he told Daniels. “Any more problems?”
“None down here, Captain.”
“Good,” Baxter replied, before turning to th’Shaan. “Thank you for your help, Lieutenant. Sorry to have kept you. I will show your team back to the docking port.”
“We’re glad to have been of help,” th’Shaan replied politely. “We could escort you to Star Station Freedom, where you—”
“That won’t be necessary. We’ll keep an eye on things from here.”
“Are you sure? We’re heading there now, it wouldn’t be a problem.”
“We don’t need any more of your help. Now if you’ll come with me.”
There was a moment of silence as the two men faced off against each other, neither one willing to back down. Hank looked from one to the other; Baxter’s face was set hard whilst th’Shaan’s antennae were tightly curled against his skull. Watching the young Andorian, he had to admit the powerfully built man could be very intimidating man when he wanted to be.
However, it was th’Shaan who was the first to back down, knowing that they wouldn’t get anything more from the crew of the science ship and that antagonising them would be even less productive. He nodded at the two non-coms and picked up two toolkits, whilst Syva get the power cell and Hank took what was left.
Bidding Daniels a polite farewell, they stepped back out into the corridor and headed forward in silence. Once again, no one else on the crew was to be seen. Following their conversation earlier, Hank eyed up a few of the labs they passed, but aside from a name on the door there was nothing to say about what went on behind the closed hatch. As they neared the docking port, he noticed Rah-Deihavar waiting for them, arms crossed and a scowl on his face.
Upon reaching the Stallion, Syva entered her security code and led the way inside, Hank following after her and th’Shaan at the rear. Before he entered, he turned back to Baxter.
“If you need any more help, we’ll be in comm range for a few hours.”
“Thank you,” was the curt reply.
Th’Shaan stepped aboard and closed the hatch. Setting down the cases, he looked at the two non-coms. “We’d better get going then.”
* * * * *
Torpedo Control, U.S.S. Silverfin
Docking Berth 3, Star Station Freedom
Stardate: 55267.5 (April 8th, 2378)
The detour to help the Blackbird
had added another three and a half hours to their travel time, so they hadn’t reached Freedom until almost 1500 hours the day before. After decoupling from the science ship, they’d continued on course for the Star Station, monitoring the Blackbird
as they’d left the scene. The civilian ship had set off at warp one, their course taking them back towards the normal shipping lanes, though in the opposite direction from Starbase 200. They had tracked them until the ship dropped out of their sensor range.
The entire experience had left th’Shaan uneasy. He’d made a full report to the Captain, who likewise shared his confusion about the ship and her crew, but with nothing else to go on, they couldn’t start prying. So he had focused on the work that needed to be done.
He was surprised to arrive at torpedo control to fine the two old launchers removed, the new control software was installed and being connected with the main tactical command interface, and his team were standing by to get the quantum launchers installed—all the work of Ensign Jose Tyler. He’d praised the younger man for his work, as they were set and ready to get the new launchers installed and get back out on patrol quickly. The work would take almost two days, so he had told Leijten that everything would completed by 1200 hours tomorrow and since he never padded his estimates, the job would be done and ready to go by then.
One launcher was already in place and being connected up whilst the second was still sitting in the hangar, it was due to be moved into place shortly. He was working with Tyler in connecting up the circuit pathways, trying to get the brand new technology integrated into the older systems the Silverfin
used. It was always tricky, but he liked the challenge, as it often meant they needed to develop a whole new way to make them work. Tyler was proving up to the task, whilst the young Ensign had a lot of sheer muscle to throw at the heavy lifting and carrying that was needed.
His combadge, which was still pinned to his jacket draped over a railing, chirped. Pushing out from under the launcher, leaving Tyler to work, he picked the badge off his uniform and tapped it. “Th’Shaan here, go ahead.”
“Howdee L.T. How’re things goin’ with those new launchers?”
Hank asked over the comlink.
“All good so far, Hank. What can I do for you?”
“Ah was lookin’ over our records, as yer asked me too. There’s no sign of the
Blackbird ever dockin’ here for repairs or supplies. Ah also checked with Starbase 200, and they’ve got nothin’ either. Looks like they’re keepin’ a low profile out here.”
“Yup. I looked for any and all Aerie-Class ships, just in case they used another name. Aside from the
H’krii and the
K’Shod there’ve been no others in the last two years.”
“Damn,” he cursed, the same annoyance he’d felt onboard the ship returning. “Thanks for your help, Hank. It was a long shot, but worth a try.”
“Acker said she’ll keep an eye out for them and so will ah. A ship like that has to gettin’ support from somewhere nearby.”
“Appreciated. I’ll catch you later, Hank.”
“Sure thing. Mitchell out.”
The channel closed, leaving Elak th’Shaan as confused and irritated. But he couldn’t dwell on it now, he needed to get the launchers installed, then there were all the status reports from when he’d been away to review, as well as venting the impulse manifolds. There was a lot to be done and of course not enough time to get it done to his satisfaction.
* * * * *