Engine Room, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
En Route to Armada, Argaya Sector
Elak ko’Parr th’Shaan stood on the balcony that overlooked the main floor of the Engine Room, his eyes closed, ears and antennae perked. He had learned long ago that the warp core on the Silverfin
had distinctive vibrations, whether everything was running smooth, underperforming, or being taxed beyond her limits. Whenever too much was being asked of his engines, he would always pause and listen whenever the opportunity arose—just to make sure things were as they should be. For now the core was purring like a Cercassian kitten, but he knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
“Everything alright, Lieutenant?” Chief Pazai asked.
He opened his eyes and glanced round at the Denobulan diagnostics specialist. She was one of the few who knew of his ritual and although she preferred a more technical approach, she would always run whatever check he wanted on the system—just to be on the safe side.
Chuckling sheepishly, he scratched the back of his head and looked back at the pulsing core. “Yeah, everything seems fine so far.”
“Just to be sure, I’ve scheduled periodic diagnostic scans to be carried out on each shift.”
He looked back at her. “Thanks Chief. Hopefully we’re just being overly cautious.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more, Lieutenant, though a healthy dose of paranoia is good for one’s constitution.”
“I’ll need to remember that,” he said, studying the core for a moment longer, before turning back to the MSD she stood at. “How’s everything else looking?”
“The impulse and environmental crews have reported in that everything is running smoothly. The last diagnostics of computer, communication and sensor systems check out. Shields and weapons at full readiness,” Pazai ran through the ship systems and he was pleased to hear everything was at optimum efficiency.
He glanced over the display and then noticed a little orange dot where there shouldn’t be. Stepping closer, he tapped on it. “What’s this?”
“A glitch in EPS juncture gamma-eighteen-K. It’s still within spec, just running a little slower than usual.”
Th’Shaan stroked his chin as he looked at it. Gamma-18-K was linked to the power transfer grid, notably the section of the grid that cross-connected secondary and emergency power. Looking at the readouts, it was still well within the engineering regulations for Albacore-Class ships, though he had his own set of standards and it didn’t quite measure up. Considering what they were about to face, he wanted every system at one-hundred percent.
“It’s a quick swap out, an hour tops,” he muttered, more to himself than Pazai. “I’ll go deal with it.” Over the railings he yelled, “Blackwolf!”
“Yeah?” came the instant reply.
“Grab your kit, an EPS juncture tap and handful of J20 chips.”
“You got it.”
Smiling to himself he looked back at Pazai. “Engineering is yours, Chief. I’ll be on the comm if anything crops up.”
“Sure thing, Lieutenant.”
His staff had long since come to terms with his high standards—many of them had served under Amorin when he’d been the Chief Engineer—so it wasn’t a surprise for him to go off and do whatever work needed to be done himself. Th’Shaan was generally pretty easy going, having a good relationship with each and every engineer and specialist under his command, and was always willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when it came to their area of specialty, that was so long as they pulled their weight when the time came—which they always did.
Leaving the upper level, he slid down the ladder and found Claudia Blackwolf prepped and ready. She handed him a repair kit, on which “th’Shaan” had been engraved on the handle (something Amorin had done on th’Shaan’s third day onboard the Silverfin
). He’d chosen the young crewman as she was knew EPS systems like no one else he had met, so she would most likely pick up on whatever the problem was before he’d even set the panel on the deck plating.
Leading the way through deck seven, he explained the glitch he’d noticed, to which she’d simply replied, “Hmm,” as she mused over the possible causes and remedies. Reaching the appropriate Jefferies tube access, he opened it up and climbed inside, Blackwolf close behind him. They progressed at a steady pace, climbing and crawling in silence—which th’Shaan had noticed since the ship had altered course—until they reached the juncture box and came to a stop.
As th’Shaan pulled the tricorder from his belt and ran a quick scan, Blackwolf opened up her kit and took out the sonic screwdriver they’d need to open up the metal casing. His scans showed no energy surges or radiation leaks, so flipped the scanner closed and set it on the grating next to him, before holding out a hand for the tool. Blackwolf handed it to him and in under a minute he had the panel off and was setting it on the deck. When he turned back to hand the tool to the crewman he found her sitting, staring at the open EPS tap but not seeing it. He could tell that her mind was light-years away.
“Claudia, you alright?” he asked softly, his voice still echoing though the tube.
She blinked and looked at him, unaware that she’d spaced out. “Huh?”
“Are you okay? Usually by now you’ve located the problem and are half buried inside the panel getting it sorted.”
“Sorry Lieutenant. I was just thinking about the Captain’s announcement, about what we’re being sent out to deal with this time.” She paused for a moment, thinking again. “It sounds big, I mean like really
He couldn’t help but nod and agree with the young woman, though he had been trying not to think about what was ahead of them, instead he wanted to give his all to prepping the ship—which was part of the reason he’d decided to tackle such a small problem himself.
“Is it as bad as people are saying?”
“What are they saying?”
“You know how things like this go, th’Shaan. I’ve heard everything from a fleet of exploding or plague-infested ships, to a secret pact between the Kazon and the Talarians, to the vanguard of an invasion force. People are letting their imaginations run riot.”
He chuckled humourlessly. Having been on the Silverfin
for six years, he knew how scuttlebutt started and spread, how there were those who made it so fantastic and unreal that others believed that it had to be true. He also knew—as did most others—that ninety-nine percent of the time it was just nonsense made up to prepare themselves for the worst case scenario. However there was always that one percent that would come back and bite them in the ass.
Looking her straight in the eye, he told her honestly, “We don’t know what’s out there, or just what we’ll face. All we can do is prepare for the worst—”
“And hope for the best,” she finished for him (a human saying he’d heard in his first week at the Academy and had become his personal mission statement). She smiled to herself. “I should know better.”
“If you weren’t nervous, Claudia, I’d think there was something wrong with you—even Syva seems a little overly-cautious.”
She whistled is surprise, which reverberated throughout the metal tube they sat in. “If the Master Chief is feeling it, then things must be bad.”
“So let’s make sure everything is shipshape, then that way all we have to focus on is external forces and whatever they decide to do.”
Her response was to open up her tricorder and start to crawl into the open panel, looking for the minor irregularity. Th’Shaan opened up his toolkit took out his hyperspanner and micro-callipers, and waited for her to hold out her hand.
* * * * *
Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
Neutral Space, Argaya Sector
Daggin liked the bridge of the Ocampan ship, its flawless finished shimmered in the light, whilst its layout felt organic, with the design of the consoles flowing into one another. It had also proven remarkably easy for those onboard to operate, the ancient Ocampan it was written in easily translated into modern script, whilst the interface panels themselves responded with the lightest of touches in an almost symbiotic manner—he couldn’t say with certainty but it felt to him as though they responded on an almost psychic level. Due to how easy the ship was to operate, Ocampa from both the station and the city were able to work the controls, which had gone a long way to help the two sides integrate.
He smiled to himself, thinking how that was just what Kes would’ve wanted. Not for the first time he couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to his old friend. He had seen with his own eyes how using her advanced abilities took their toll on her, so after sending so many across the galaxy what would that have done to her? Would she have survived it? Or was it a step too far and she had died giving the Ocampa a new start? He doubt he would ever know the truth, but could only hope that wherever she was, whatever had happened to her, she had found some measure of peace.
Blinking back tears, he kept his emotional guard up, not wanting those near him to sense his grief—some were already mourning friends and family who had opted to remain on the homeworld, he didn’t need to add to it. He would deal with his feelings after the convoy was safe and he had some privacy, until then however he needed to focus on the present and future of his people.
Daggin felt an unfamiliar and unpleasant prickle on the back of his neck, as though cold fingers were just millimetres from his skin. Before he could focus on the sensation to identify it Tula, the woman at the sensor console, turned towards him.
“Daggin, our sensors have just detected something coming into range.”
He moved closer to the station and looked at the display, which showed a single dot on the edge of the screen. By no means an expert, it was clear to him that the object was moving towards them; it was a ship.
Jeneth at communications next to Tula looked at them. “The other ships are signalling, they’ve spotted a ship and are asking for instructions.”
Slowly everyone on the bridge turned to look at him expectantly. He had known that they would eventually be noticed, he’d just hoped they’d had more time. In a foreign region of space they had no way of knowing just who it was, or if they would be friendly or not.
“When will they reach us?” he asked, trying to keep his voice steady and calm.
“Forty-five hours, present speed.”
“Continue to monitor their progress. Put the convoy on alert and call together all the representatives, we’ll need to decide how to proceed.”
Tula and Jeneth confirmed and set to work, whilst the others looked among themselves and back at him—all of them with questions on their worried faces. He beat a hasty retreat, not wanting to be left alone to make such an important decision, as it wasn’t his alone to make. This would be their first contact with the natives of this new and unknown region, they had to decide how to proceed, as well as fortify themselves to take action if it proved to be a hostile encounter—not something his people had ever had to do before.
Kes, I could’ve used your guidance now.
* * * * *