Sorry for the little posts. I've been busy of late and trying to write and keep up on reading is a bit daunting.
Ensign Dulak reached into the insulated standard federation packing crate and pulled out another part. Looking it over, he placed it onto the deck next to several others. Lieutenant Junior Grade T’Noor looked up from the PADD she was studying intently and addressed the Cardassian, “Ensign, are you certain you can assemble this device without schematics? It appears quite complex.”
As Dulak smiled his eyes widened in his gray face to show more of the whites surrounding the pupil than normal. While some friends at Starfleet Academy confided in him that the gesture was somewhat disconcerting, he found it a hard habit to break. “I assure you Lieutenant, it will be no trouble. My practicum at Starfleet involved a range of portable computer devices, archaic technology, and exo-technology. This device was designed to be easy to assemble after minimal training in less than optimal field conditions.”
T’Noor thought for a second before replying, “Very well Ensign, you may proceed.”
Dulak replied “Yes Sir,” before walking over to the same open crate and continued removing pieces. Looking over his shoulder at T’Noor, he suggested, “Perhaps you could help Lieutenants Brak and Tara in their inventory?”
T’Noor raised one eyebrow. She had not even thought of physically inventorying the crates when the PADD she held provided a perfectly adequate accounting of their supplies. As for the Trill and the Orion, T’Noor understood that if their first thought was to rummage through things, then they probably needed to see and touch what was in the crates to learn what was in them. It was a trivial task, but they would have to learn to work closely together in order to successfully salvage the Shepard. Perhaps doing a physical inventory would provide some of the ‘bonding’ that emotional species often felt they needed to work well together.
Walking over to Brak and Tara, T’Noor asked neutrally, “Do you require assistance?” Tara, a looked up from the crate she and Arjal Brak were inventorying and laughed in the quiet and reserved way T’Noor had grown used to during their last posting to science station Crenshaw. The laugh had a musical quality to it that T’Noor found not unpleasant, but that most males found apparently hypnotic.
Arjal Brak had seemingly not heard the laugh before. As Tara laughed he looked from T’Noor to Tara with the same look of longing T’Noor had seen in the dining facility on the science station. When the laugh stopped, it took Arjal a few seconds of blinking to regain his composure. He had no clue what had happened to him, but knew that he liked hearing Tara laugh.
T’Noor realized laconically that she needn’t have been concerned with ‘bonding’ between her two crewmates. Hopefully she would not have to take steps to prevent Arjal from following Tara around like a newborn Selat, the somewhat misunderstood animal some Vulcan children kept as pets. From her prior experience, T’Noor knew that Tara would only encourage Arjal further if she liked him. However, from the smile Tara showed at Arjal’s confusion, she was definitely headed in that direction.
“We would be glad for your help!” Tara replied cheerfully.
T’Noor looked over the crate for an id label, which she scanned into the PADD. As the readout appeared she read off the items. “Five Mark II plasma welders; two cases power cells, twenty each; six plasma welder protective suits…”
A warbling siren sounded suddenly, startling the three as a series of red lights began blinking in sequence along the light panel inset along the port and starboard bulkheads. The voice that came over the ships intercom clarified the alarm and lights. “Red Alert! Red Alert! All hands to stations. Secure all interior doors.”
Tara began to bolt out of the cargo area, but was stopped short when T’Noor grabbed her arm. “Stand fast Lieutenant. Not only do we not know where to go, we haven’t even been assigned temporary duty stations onboard. If our presence is required somewhere, I believe someone will arrive as our escort. In the meantime, we should secure any loose items here.”
Tara looked at Arjal and managed to roll her eyes just enough so only he noticed. “Do you mean put everything back?” Tara asked, resigned to the answer she knew was coming.
T’Noor, deadpan, answered the question. “Yes, that is what I said.”
Dulak merely smiled and began restowing the various pieces of the portable holo-station generator.
Chief Marconi looked up, expectantly, as red alert sounded. The Second Class in charge looked at him and shook his head. “Don’t worry Chief, we never do that formal red alert thing unless it’s for the benefit
of someone new. If there was any real problem, Chief Prak would have already called down here to make sure the engines were ‘ready to rumble,’ as he puts it.
Of all the obscure and barbaric forms of entertainment, Marconi was initially taken aback that the tug Captain knew a phrase that came as close to representing twentieth century Earth boxing as anything else. Then he remembered that Chief Prak was a Tellarite. Nothing a Tellarite chose to call ‘entertainment’ surprised Marconi. He’d known too many Tellarites. Chuckling both at Chief Prak’s sense of humor and the fate he figured was in store for the rest of his fellow passengers, Chief Marconi resumed going over the engine systems and learning as best as he could how the tug’s engine room operated.
Stopping when he didn’t understand a particular bypass, he called over the Second Class, Thompson by his nametag, and asked, “Why do you have this relay jumpered?” While he seemed bored with the question, at least the Petty Officer seemed to like being asked about his expertise with the warp and impulse systems. “That one, Chief, is because the secondary impulse induction coil kept overloading and tripping the relay. The coil was within specs and the relay was tripping at only twenty-eight thousand mega-joules. I’ve got a replacement on order, but Chief Prak got tired of only being able to go one quarter impulse.”
Marconi frowned and asked, “Spare parts hard to come by?” Thompson laughed, “Hard to come by would be generous since about a year into the Dominion war.”
Chief Marconi decided to save some time, “Any other safeties bypassed?”
Thompson thought for a moment, “No, but the whole hull contact sensor system is down, and the food replicators are only serving neutro-gel. We’ve got some other problems that could use some work, but unless you want to enjoy the absolute zero of taste and texture for three weeks, I’d suggest prioritizing the replicators. Besides, there’s at least one bottle of Romulan ale in it if you get them working.”
Never one to pass up on a lucrative opportunity Chief Marconi realized his leverage, “Romulan ale? I’ve got three cases of the stuff I can’t get rid of in storage ever since the end of the war when they lifted the embargo. Now if you could get me some Orion Whiskey?”
Thompson shook his head, “Hey, we’re just a little ole warp tug, not a crew of Ferrengi ‘merchants.’ You’d have to defer getting paid until we both end up back at the starbase.”
Marconi continued wheedling, “Well, in that case, I’ll take that Romulan ale... as a down payment! Now, where are those replicators?”
Lieutenant Commander Ridgeway slowed to a walk and apprehensively approached the doorway to the bridge. Lieutenant Townsend and Master Chief Arthrun followed him closely. Interestingly, out of the three, only the senior enlisted Andorian was not breathing hard from the obstacle-course-like run from the lower decks.
Ridgeway pushed a button on the access panel, but instead of the door opening, the panel just buzzed annoyingly at him. Ridgeway resorted to the age-old custom of knocking on the door. It slid open quickly, revealing Chief Prak and several crewmembers Ridgeway did not recognize.
“What’s going on Chief?” Ridgeway asked, unable to ascertain anything from looking at the unremarkable star-field on the main view screens.
Chief Prak turned and strode quickly to Ridgeway and his trailing crew. “I’m sorry you got worried, but we received an immanent power loss message from Star base two-fourteen’s outer nav marker. The initial tone is just like a standard distress call, and Davis here put us at alert before verifying the signal. Unfortunately, one of our duties is to replace the power cells on the nav markers when they go out. This one must have been much closer to failure before sending the maintenance call, because it’s now gone silent. We’ll have to find it visually. Once they loose power they are too small for our limited sensors to locate.”
“I’ve got the coordinates plotted, but I need someone with sharp eyes to go up to the forward observation bubble with some oculars and spot for me. Any volunteers? Chief Prak asked, sounding unusually pleasant, while he smiled right at Ridgeway.”
Looking towards the center console, he barked, “Secure from Red Alert, set the special recovery detail.” Someone, Ridgeway thought it was Davis, said “Aye Chief.” The red flashing lights and warbling alarm stopped, and the word was passed over the intercom, “Now secure from Red Alert, set the special recovery detail.”
Ridgeway, failing to notice the rather large grin on Master Chief Arthrun’s face, held out his hand to Chief Prak. “Alright Chief, give me the oculars and show me how to get to the observation bubble. I would be more than willing to help out.”