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Old March 19 2013, 10:15 AM   #3
Zefram_Cochrane
First Faster Than Light
 
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Re: Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead #6: "A Great Perhaps"

Act Two

Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis walked along the corridor shoulder-to-shoulder with Petra as they approached the primary engineering lab. The doors parted to reveal a quartet of enlisted members, all wearing the same mustard yellow colors as Ariel and Petra; three humans and a Tellarite.

"Hello, everyone," began Ariel. She waved off their sudden stance to attention. "I apologize for inviting you late to the party, but we're going to need your collective analysis on the current situation using the sensor data we've gathered so far with the shuttles out there. While the senior staff is tasked with the search and rescue of Ensign O'Day, the decision has been made to call in the A-Team on this one."

The oldest human wore the rank insignia of a chief petty officer on his collar as well as an amused smile. "It's about time, Commander," he chuckled. "Right, Lieutenant?"

Lieutenant (jg) Harold Vestry was at least fifteen years younger than Chief Wendell Brown. Though he obviously shared in his amusement, it was brief. "Anything we can do to help, sir," Vestry said plainly, "though, I will probably ask why Crewman McComas is here?"

The youngest human turned her head in askance toward Vestry before looking at Petra. "Lieutenant Bartlet ordered me to report here for duty."

Petra explained quickly, "The crewman is striking for our division, Lieutenant Vestry. Senior Chief Tallan has already vouched for her and this is part of her training, so you'll please indulge me."

Vestry snapped back to attention as though he were an Academy midshipman again. "Of course, sir."

The Tellarite, Operations Specialist Second Class Skav snorted. "Just what we need, another sniveling human mewling for attention around here."

Ariel did nothing to hide her smile when Skav spoke. Most everyone forgave Skav's employment of what Tellarites called "civil conversation." Though it was "civil" to them, it was nothing short of abrasive, rude, and condescending to most other species. Clearly, McComas had not had too much experience with Skav or any other members of his race, for she shot an angry glance toward him before returning her attention toward the two senior officers.

"Now that we're all friends, surely we can move forward with this pressing matter?" asked Petra. Her tone grew an edge as her frustration seeped through. "Mister Vestry, you're obviously point."

"Yes, sir," said the lieutenant. He turned his head, "Chief Brown, Skav, start compiling the data gathered and segment it for proper analysis in two hours." The chief moved off with Skav to the lab computer and got to work without saying anything in acknowledgement.

"I don't suppose I could seek Senior Chief Tallan's assistance, sirs?" asked Vestry. "His expertise would be missed."

Ariel responded, "I'm afraid the Senior Chief is presently assigned to the SAR mission underway."

"Utilize the crewman's expertise for now," ordered Petra as she made her way toward the exit. She paused and added, "I would prefer that you use the crewman to stand in for the Senior Chief until his return but let me know if you require any further resources."

Vestry shared a brief look with McComas, then nodded to Petra. "Aye, sir."

=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=

Greg entered in the new search pattern as they approached the coordinates specified by Abbie, who continued to work within the access panel but switched out her tools for a PADD. She set up a second display to directly access the control computer for the shuttle's new sensor configuration and monitored it closely.

Tallan watched as the lieutenant's fingers flew over the PADD's inputs. "Ever consider a career in engineering, Lieutenant Atherton?"

She did not respond right away, instead completing her task and then compiling the new interface with a decisive tap of her right index finger against the screen. "I always thought of engineering as a science, Senior. I just went macro rather than specialize." She gave him a quick grin when he snorted in reply.

"We're in position," Greg noted. "Ready whenever you are."

Abbie tapped the PADD once more and replied, "Scanning now."

Tallan immediately turned his attention to the output on the co-pilot's console. The sensor's proximity alarm began to sound not along after the first pass was completed. "Excellent job, Lieutenant. We've got much better resolution."

Abbie moved into the cockpit and asked, "What are we seeing?"

"I'm seeing some overlapping debris fields." He pointed out the new readings from the sensors on his console, while Abbie leaned in over his shoulder within the cockpit.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but this field over here is showing non-Starfleet hull materials," Abbie pointed her finger as she spoke. "Which would mean that we need to move over to this side of the field."

Greg tapped in new commands into the shuttle's helm and displayed his new course on the console. The line traced around the edges of the trilithium field to prevent the shuttle from coming into contact "Repositioning now. ETA: twelve minutes at full impulse power." Again, he did not wait for an order; Garrovick surged forward toward the indicated destination.

=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=

Less than two hours from Harold Vestry's order to Chief Brown and Petty Officer Skav, the data retrieved from Farragut's contingent of shuttles appeared in a highly organized format on the lab's master display.

"Problem number one," began Vestry, "is to determine the most probable cause of the explosion. We need to work the problem backward, so let's begin with the analysis of the debris field and the patterns we're seeing.

"Problem number two is whether this was sabotage or chance."

Brown, Skav, and McComas each regarded the display's information. Skav's skill at processing raw data seemed to be unmatched aboard the ship, so far. He devised a system to quickly review and determine the relevant information to pare down their workset to maximize their efficiency. But, McComas decided that the Tellarite would not likely accept a compliment from her.

"Some new information is being delivered," Skav said. "Garrrovick is showing the debris fields with higher resolution than the other reports. I'm putting them up on the main display, now."

When the screen shifted, McComas left the trio to sit in at the nearest lab station. The raw information from Garrovick duplicated on the smaller screen in front of her, but she began to filter the data to look for specific markers.

Chief Brown commented, "Metallurgy suggests that the debris in the lower part of the scan field is our shuttle. Lieutenant Atherton has already marked off that section for their search, and she noted that the larger field is our civilian freighter."

McComas continued to work, using Abbie's notations on the uploaded data as a guide. "Computer," she began, "using the most recent information, extrapolate the debris marked off by Lieutenant Atherton against the rest of the datasets and cross-reference into a result list."

"Working," replied the computer. "Please stand by."
As she spoke, the other three moved their attention to her station. Vestry strode in behind McComas and peered down at the display. "You're narrowing it down further for us," he said.

"The search became more difficult when the shuttle broke up within the field, creating additional variables to contend with," replied McComas. "We have to make sure that we're not wasting time in analyzing the wrong field."

"Task completed," announced the computer. The new index of results appeared as the computer spoke.

McComas immediately siphoned the information into a new project, and ran through the list. "There's a lot of data here."

Vestry asked, "Can you split that up into four chunks?"

McComas nodded and did so in lieu of a verbal reply.

He addressed the other two. "Let's each of us take a data chunk and review it. Shout if you need anything."

=/\= =/\= =/\= =/\= =/\=

The console on the shuttle began to blur before Greg's eyes. He closed them tightly, then opened them to try and assuage the fatigue he felt creeping over him in the most recent hours of fruitless searching. "Keep an eye on the helm for me, Senior," Greg said to Tallan.

"I have the helm, Lieutenant," the Andorian replied.

Greg cleared his throat and rose from the console to order a raktajino from the replicator and then took a long quaff from the mug in spite of the heat.

From her seat in the passenger compartment, Abbie looked up from the sensor readouts on her PADD to glare at Greg. "That's your sixth mug."

Greg took a labored breath and replied tersely, "I'm glad you're keeping count."

"There aren't many benefits after the third cup. And one huge disadvantage."

He ignored her at first, choosing to drink further. Greg sat down behind the helm once more and placed the mug on the small ledge on the starboard bulkhead next to his seat. He nodded toward her, "Anything on the sensors, yet?"

"I would have said so if there were," Abbie replied, glancing at the Senior Chief and then the chronometer. "Greg..." she began, only to be interrupted by the chime of an incoming transmission. She activated the viewscreen and gazed back at the image of Commander Kincaid.

"Report, Lieutenant?" he began without ceremony.

"Nothing new, sir. We're still going through the search grid."

"You've been out there for sixteen hours. I'm sending Babbage out to your current position to take over that search grid. Give them your findings up to now and come back to Farragut. Garrovick needs a change of crew."

Greg keyed in a break-in to the communication from his console and addressed Kincaid directly. "Sir, with all due respect, I think too much time is wasted in rotating out the crew. We should remain on station and continue the search until we find Tommy." Kincaid opened his mouth to reply, but Greg continued before the executive officer could say a word. "None of us are tired and we're willing to continue."

The helmsman looked up at Tallan and then at Abbie. "Right?"

Abbie shook her head, returning the transmission to her own console. "Acknowledged, sir. I'll handle the lieutenant. Garrovick out." She gave the Senior Chief a meaningful look as she cut the transmission, as if daring him to disagree.

Tallan raised his hands in surrender, saying nothing to either officer before returning to tend to the co-pilot's console.
Greg, on the other hand, visibly fumed at Abbie. "He's still out there, damn it!"

Turning her seat to face the pilot, she began quickly, "Greg, we can barely see straight. We stopped doing any good about an hour ago. We need clear-headed people out here if we're going to find him. Plot a course for the ship, or I'll lock you out of the computer. Now."

Greg felt the sting of her words and the finality of the situation at once, causing his throat to constrict slightly. Not wanting to look at her any longer, he turned back around to touch his console and entered in the course back to Farragut. Through clenched teeth, he replied, "Aye, sir."
__________________
Michael D. Garcia
Head Writer, Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead (United Trek)

Visit my writing blog or my fanfic profile at Ad Astra.
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