– IV –
“How come civilian engineers always think they are the gods’ gift to the universe?” said Lieutenant Jin Gedar as he entered main engineering, clearly in a foul mood.
Crewman Christina McPhee chuckled at that. “Must be your charming personality.”
“Yeah,” he said. “That and the fact that they haven’t got a single original thought in those big useless brains of theirs.”
The young woman offered a surprised look. “I thought Rosenthal’s transphasic shield design is pretty damn clever.”
“It’s nothing short than ingenious.”
McPhee apparently didn’t know how to respond to that.
“I bet the Orions or the Ferengi would have paid through their nose to get their hands on that,” the lieutenant continued. “That would have been one hell of a payday.”
Crewman Telrik turned from his workstation. “As there is no monetary economy within the Federation, it would be illogical to seek any kind of financial compensation for the shield design.”
Gedar smirked at that. “Telrik, my friend, your imagination is far too limited. There is more out there than the Federation and riches you can’t hardly fathom with that far too logical mind of yours.”
The Vulcan raised an eyebrow in response.
The lieutenant turned at hearing his name being barked sharply across main engineering to see the only other crewmember currently on duty during the late shift. He sighed heavily. “Sirna.”
“Enough with these pointless observations,” he said as he walked over to the trio. “There is much work to be done.”
“Really? Like what? It’s the middle of the night and we’re all exhausted from running double shifts to work on that blasted sensor array. Maybe we should take it easy for a few hours, what’d you think?”
The Zakdorn quickly shook his head. “Your lack of dedication to duty is both appalling and concerning, Lieutenant. I have half a mind to report your attitude to Lieutenant Hopkins.”
“What? Again?” he said and flashed McPhee a quick smile, showing just how concerned he was by being snitched on by Kolrami.
The other man ignored the statement. “There is quite a bit of routine maintenance work which we can carry out during this shift so that it will not interfere with construction efforts.”
Gedar crossed his arms. “You go and knock yourself out. I’ll stay here and hold the fort.”
“I wish I could say I was surprised about your attitude, Lieutenant,” he said and turned to the two crewmen. “Telrik, McPhee, I want you two to go and investigate the plasma injectors in the starboard warp nacelle. They could use an overhaul.”
The two noncoms acknowledged, grabbed a toolkit each and headed for the exit.
“You work these guys too hard,” said Gedar after watching them leave.
Kolrami had already stepped up to another workstation. “An assistant chief engineer would understand the value of getting the most out of his people.”
“Or he would understand when to allow for some downtime to keep the minds fresh and the bodies relaxed.”
The Zakdorn was working on his station. “If you ever get the chance to become the ACE you may test that theory but I find that unlikely.”
Gedar smirked. “Not as unlikely as you may think.”
“I don’t like the modulation output of the main deflector array. I think I will go and run a local diagnostic on the deflector,” he said and then reached for a toolkit himself.
“What and leave me all here by myself?”
Kolrami was already on his way to the exit. “An assistant chief engineer would have little difficulties taking charge of engineering on his own. Try not to break anything important while I’m gone,” he said and stepped through the double doors which had obediently parted for his departure.
Gedar stood like frozen as the computer beeped loudly. “End of simulation. No further data exists beyond time index 02330:43.”
“Computer, re-run simulation.”
“Computer, belay that order,” said Nora Laas who stood to the side with Alex Clancy after they had watched the holodeck simulation of the night of Gedar’s murder play out in front of them for the third time in a row. “We’ve seen enough. There is nothing here.”
“I’m not so sure,” said Clancy as he walked around Gedar to consider the man carefully. “I think we’re missing something.”
Nora sighed. “The only thing this simulation confirms is that Gedar was left alone in engineering before he was killed. That and that Kolrami clearly didn’t like him very much. We already knew all that.”
But Clancy didn’t respond.
“Lieutenant,” she said sharply. “We’re wasting our time here.”
The counselor turned to look at the security officer. “It’s back to lieutenant, then, is it?”
“That is your rank, is it not?”
He nodded. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”
“There is nothing to talk about.”
“You kissed me.”
“I made a mistake.”
“Hell of a mistake.”
“Lieutenant, I would prefer if you drop this matter before I …,” she didn’t finish the sentence.
He took a step towards her. “Before you do what?”
Nora locked eyes with the man. “Before I do something else I regret.”
Her hard eyes left little doubt that she was dead serious and Clancy clearly decided it was better not to test her on this and nodded, raising his hands defensively. “Okay, I’ll drop it. As a counselor I do think that there is something more to be discussed about what happened but I honor your decision not wishing to face it. That and self-preservation.”
She rolled her eyes. “Focus on the case, Counselor
He spread out his hands to emphasize the simulated main engineering in which they stood. “I thought I was trying to do just that.”
She sighed. “Our focus should be Yunta. I can’t see any evidence here that could connect her to Gedar’s murder.”
“You said it yourself, you don’t want her to be the killer. Maybe we can find something here that could exonerate her,” he said. “Let’s run it one more time. Humor me.”
She sighed heavily. “One more time.”
Clancy looked towards the ceiling. “Computer, re-run simulation from beginning.”
The computer beeped and reset the program. Once again Jin Gedar entered main engineering in a bad mood, just as was to be expected after having come out of a meeting with Hopkins, Rosenthal and Concord and which he had been kicked out of. He joked with McPhee and Telrik about the engineers and the worth of their designs to the Orions and then egged on Kolrami about the vacant assistant chief engineer spot which they were both apparently in the running for.
“Computer, freeze program,” said Clancy just after the other two crewmen had left and leaving only Gedar and Kolrami in the room. “I can’t help but find it odd that he would leave Gedar all alone in engineering,” said the counselor.
Nora shrugged. “You heard him say it. He doesn’t believe in complacency just because it’s a night shift. I happen to agree with his work ethic.”
“I have no doubt that you do.”
Her stern look wiped that smirk right off his face. “But he also didn’t believe Gedar to be a very capable engineer. Fair enough, that evaluation may have been colored by his own preconceptions but still, if he doesn’t trust him, why leave him alone in engineering?”
“He didn’t plan on it,” she said.
Clancy considered a padd his was holding. “He did plan on overhauling the plasma injectors. In fact he made a note in his log earlier that day about it.”
“Computer, continue program,” said Nora.
Gedar leaned casually against a support beam as he looked at Kolrami’s back while he was working on a computer station. “Not as unlikely as you may think.”
“I don’t like the modulation output of the main deflector array. I think I will go and run a local diagnostic on the deflector.”
“Freeze program,” Nora said and the two simulated officers stopped in their tracks. “There. That wasn’t planned. Something came up and he needed that looked into. He clearly didn’t trust Gedar to do it so he went himself.”
Clancy walked towards the frozen Zakdorn. “Yes, it would certainly appear that way, wouldn’t it?”
“Stop testing my patience, please.”
The counselor ignored her tasty tone as he studied first the engineer working on the console and then the console itself. “These displays are supposed to show exactly what they would have seen at the time, correct?”
“That’s right. Why?”
“Well, I cannot claim to have extensive technical skills but I can tell that this display is configured to monitor the warp core chamber and not the main deflector,” he said and turned to Nora.
She offered nothing but a surprised look in response.