Day 1, Minute 1, Second 1
Episode 8: A Greater Power
Location: Bridge of the USS Nogura
Timeline: Day 178 at 0045
The comm chime went off...again.
Over the span of an hour, it had gone off half a dozen times, blinking once with only half a trill of its alert tone, before going dead. Never even data on the screen to make a guess at what was happening, just the Starfleet delta beginning to unfurl followed by the blinking 'Incoming Message'. And then it would die, cut off at the source before the message header could fill out.
At least Marley had had the common decency to come wearing chains and actually deliver a message. But this time the chiming continued, the message header filled out, and an actual destination, not a broken checksum appeared on the screen. 'Subspace Relay. From USS Lexington (TOB), to USS Nogura (COO)'.
Laki had been hard at work dealing with the crew shifts and the other departmental needs. He had heard that Commander Zar had been pulled from duty, perhaps the stress of what happened was getting to him. He silently hoped that his department head was okay, and just as he was about to sign some more crew quarter updates he received an incoming transmission from the USS Lexington as he pressed the button to accept the incoming communique.
The screen fizzed for a moment and then became quite clear, revealing a face of scales, teeth, and a 'Go Thunderlizards!' woollen cap punctured by a number of tan coloured chitinous spines. The golden eyes that looked out of the screen narrowed, their knife cut slits widening a little as the figure in a gold engineer's undershirt peered out of the screen.
"You're not Bolian..." he said, a frown bunching up a few scales on his forehead. "Starfleet records show a Bolian as the Chief Operations Officer of the USS Nogura."
Laki was slightly taken back as his eyes enlarged as seeing a giant lizard on the screen. He had witnessed some strange things in his career but he had never seen a species like this before, and instantly as his eyes widened he remembered his training and quickly returned to normal. "That is correct a Bolian Lieutenant Commander Zar is the Chief Operations Officer of the Nogura. However Commander Zar is not available at the moment, but I am his Asst. Chief Operations Officer Lieutenant Udri...how ummm can I be of assistance?"
The lizard on the screen looked taken aback for a moment, looking off the screen at something he had scrawled there on a padd or something. A flickering tongue whispered out from between some very needle-like teeth. A lot of needle-like teeth, come to think of it.
"I don't know if you can," he said with genuine regret in his voice. He then reached towards the screen and the commlink disengaged with its unhappy little 'bing'. Then a few seconds later the screen lit up again with the blinking, and the chiming, and the flashing of a subspace relay from the Transitory Officers Berth of the USS Lexington to the Chief Operations Officer of the USS Nogura.
Laki stared at the screen with his mouth gaped wide open as he had been just disconnected on. This was the most strangest of call that he had received, he was going to see if he could have the comm channel pulled when the comm line rang again. Taking a deep breath and forcing his mouth closed with his hand, he answered the line and their was lizard man looking dead at him again.
"No-no-no, I must be put through to Chief Zar, it is of the utmost urgency!" the lizard enthused. "I am Lieutenant Hask Ral'kesh Rassak, and I have been assigned to the USS Nogura as your new chief of engineering. And I have been tapping into the maintenance feed from the TOB on the USS Lexington, and I have seen worrying diagnostic reports! Systems operating beyond their specifications that could lead to disaster for the ship!"
Hask waited for a moment before adding. "And the crew, of course, of which you are a part and I too shall soon be a part thereof. It is most troubling."
"Ah, well Lieutenant Rasssssk," he said trying to be polite. "Commander Zar is not available but however I can help," he said as he started processing everything the lizard said. Boy his teeth were sharp at least they looked like it, and he wondered if he might be related to the pet iguana he kept in his quarters. "What do you mean worrying diagnostic reports? All systems are reading green across the board, and are operating at peak efficiency?"
"Ras-sack," the reptoid said, Holding up one finger of each hand. "Ras...sack. Rassak. I understand that pronouncing a name with vowels spoken on an inhale and a exhale can be troubling to most bipedal mammals, but I really must insist on proper pronunciation. And as for the worrying diagnostic reports, huum...one moment."
The screen darkened again, only for the work terminal on the desk to light up with the reflected glow of the continuing conversation now happen on the other side of the room.
"I've been tapping into the engineering diagnostic stream the Nogura is generating, and both the tertiary and secondary cooling vanes for the aft port fusion reactor are showing micron level tarnishing effects on their heat sinks. That's increasing their surface area by 2.4% of nominal levels! I...I can't quite seem to see you at your work station," Hasks voice spoke up. "I assure you these are pressing concerns, and if you cannot deem them worthy of your time and effort I would appreciate you getting me Chief Zar!"
Laki felt like he was dealing with a preschooler at this point in time, not only was he being corrected on how he pronounces a name; but he also despises the fact that this..engineering officer kept putting him on hold and taking him off of hold. "I am at my operations station lieutenant," he said as he stepped away and allowing the bridge of the Nogura to open up before him. He slowly maneuvered back into position to the reptile could see him. "I assure you I can monitor all engineering and operations from this terminal," he added as he pulled up the information that the lieutenant was talking about.
"2.4 percent of nominal levels is still within the operational parameters of the fusion reactor output. Besides the fusion reactors had to be increased to a power level of 103.568 percent in order to give additional power that we use to send to other ships systems. Also the micron tarnishing effects do dissipate lieutenant when the impulse engines are not being used however," said Laki as he pulled up the figures. "The 2.4 increase will still allow the fusion reactors to be functional for another twenty to thirty years unless Starfleet engineering comes out with a more efficient design."
"They have already come up with the most efficient design when it is used in a proper way. I have gone over the design spec's for that model of fusion reactor, and it is clearly stated for a maximum operational mode of 80-90%. But moving it into an operational mode dynamic where it runs past 100% of capacity, not only are the heating vanes tarnishing and thus losing their efficiency, but you are also shortening the operational life spans of all material components!" Hask said, hissing a little angrily. "Do you know how much heat is required to turn a superconducting magnet into a regular magnet? Clearly, this is not known to you, or you would not be so flippant when discussing the operation of a fusion reactor. Why a failed magnet in the torus of a fusion reactor tokamak could lead to an uncontrolled fusion excursion event!"
Hask looked off-screen, frowning again.
"And you say Commander Zar is unavailable? Is he in surgery? Or the brig?" he asked.
Laki closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose, gently rubbing his ridges back and forth to ease the stress. If this officer was going to be the Nogura's new Chief Engineer then they would have some serious problems going forward. He could see the arguments between operations and engineering growing out of control. "Lieutenant Rassakk, I assure you sir that when the ship does go into reduced power mode for Gamma and Delta shifts that the reactor gets the rest that it needs. The reactor is only operational at 103 percent for only 12 hours, and we find that in those twelve hours it is fine," he said as he took a brief pause.
"As far as Commander Zar goes he is currently not on duty sir, and as the ranking officer in charge I lead the Operations Department while he is away and not able to tend to his duties. Also sir due to the Starfleet medical code under the authorization of the HIPPA code I cannot release a person's information without their consent; and I assure you Commander Zar would not consent to his....private affairs sir."
Something resembling a high pitched constrained growl, or high pitch warble seemed to grow at the back of Hask's throat.
"Very well Lieutenant Junior Grade Laki. Then we will move onto line item two," Hask said, looking off-screen again and nodding. "Atomic spallation effects from the particle wash given off by the warp core. When was the last time the Nogura was swept for the neutrino build up? I've checked the logs, but I can't see the mentioning of such a subnuclear cleaning taking place. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how important keeping such a build-up to a minimum is important for the continued good operation of the ships inertial compensators. Given those devices are the only thing keeping the crew from turning to jelly and/or paste when the helm answers 'full impulse'."
"I agree with you on that Lieutenant Hask, I have only been aboard the Nogura for a short while along with Commander Zar and the entire operations staff; however the former Chief Engineer should have made sure of it that it was done while we were docked at Starbase," he said as he quickly moved his fingers over the console as well. "I am looking for those log activities as well but they are not popping up quick enough. I promise that I will have one of my technicians to personally pull those files and go through them with a fine tooth comb. What OTHER line items will be discussing before you make your....delayed arrival on the Nogura?"
Hask tapped a command on his keypad, and a text file appeared on the operations work terminal. The fact the machine did not let out a strained 'OOF! as the text file began to upload multiple pages, in multiple files, was a testament to the fine folks at the Gamma Quadrant shipyards.
"I have sorted them by severity and need, whilst also cross-referencing blatant infractions that I will be personally overseeing once I am aboard and have spoken with JAG council," Hask smiled happily. Maybe the thought of militant paperwork, slogging through a trench of memories and bard wire meeting minutes was the little reptiles 'happy place'. Maybe it was just Hell. Or maybe it was just a word. "Subspace buckling on four of the nineteen forward retention pins holding the number 45 hull plate in place? Not to mention particle desegregation on the main defector array's pattern analyser I-"
He held up a clawed hand.
"I'm sorry, I only just noticed it is nearly 0100 hours for you on the Nogura," Hask said warmly. "The Lexington is still on Benzar time after their diplomatic mission there. You must think me quite the rude soul for blathering on like this at such late hour. So to that end, I will focus my attention on file headers Able 1 through Casper 19, which I think you will agree are the more notable and worrying cases of material negligence."
Laki rolled his eyes and just shook his head at the lieutenant who was going to be their new CEO. He literally pulled out a slide show presentation, he hadn't seen that done since he last report on proper warp core and fusion reactor maintenance and proper control. He wondered if the lieutenant served under Professor Bocha, that would explain a lot if he did; that old man was strictly by the book kind of engineer. It was a good thing he learned that everything does not go by the book or can be applied by the book.
"Yes it is a bit late Lieutenant Rassak, however I can make sure that if you want to continue speaking with someone I can give you Ensign Bahr. He is very much in agreement with your form of practice, just out of the academy and we raved about Professor Bocha's lectures on normal applied functions for standard starship engineering practices?"
"I have one of his signed monographs" Hask said, a note of genuine excitement in his voice. "But I would not want to leave you without a better understanding of how the best practise policy can be applied to starship power utilisation requirements. I can well see that I have much work to do when I arrive, and I see this opportunity as a way of starting that work whilst we are still light-years distant."
"Oh no lieutenant, now that I know you had Professor Bocha I have a clear understanding of where you are coming from," he stated as he gave a look of satisfaction on his face. "The one thing I remember from the professor was that he quizzed us over and over again of the normal practices that Starfleet engineers must employ while on deep space assignments; especially when they would be away from a Starbase or a dry-dock for a while. I remember how he would talk endlessly on hours about the procedures that Captain Montgomery Scott drummed up for current engineering practices. Or how Lieutenant Commander Stavitz discovered the efficient and safe way of not only rebooting a warp core but also making sure that the injectors, the coils and the nacelles were clear free of all particles before starting them back up." replied Laki as he started to try his best to drive home his understand theories and practices from that old gas bag professor.
"Did you manage to also attend his bi yearly lecture? He would explain the effects of subspace applying stress modifications on the hull of a starship; and the proper way to re-calibrate the Structural Integrity Field to how to negate those stress modifications. I am impressed at how he would also talk about properly aligning the subspace deflector dish to the correct warp field frequency so that one system was not overcompensating for the other; which would cause gaps in the performance enhancement subsystems installed on the warp core? If you didn't you missed a sleeping...I mean a vigorous treat."
Hask's woolly hat had risen slightly as more of the bards atop his head a perked up, warming to the conversation.
'Alas I could not attend last years lecture, as I was stationed on Andoria," Hask said, saying the word the way you might speak of something found on the bottom of a shoe. "Had I been freer in my ability to travel I would have done so, but the geothermal energy taps Starfleet is designed for its long-range Class L outpost programs demanded my attention more than my academic curiosities. I still sometimes feel a shiver, just thinking about that inhospitable ice ball. A miracle of life to find firm footing there for one of the founding species of the Federation no doubt."
He let out a sigh and then clapped his hands together.
"But where were we? Oh yes, file Alpha 1! As I said the 90 files I will speak to you of from the Alpha to Casper series are the most outlandish abuses, merely the tip of an iceberg. Why if I were to begin to discuss all of the factory settings that have been mishandled I do not think we would be finished before I arrived," Hask stopped short, looking around. "One moment. I must prepare something to ward off the chill coming from the atmosphere handling vent. A tea yes...a tea. I shall return in a moment, do not leave your terminal."
And with that Hask zipped away from the screen, revealing...well a wall. But perhaps a chance to escape? Take a hammer to the Nogura's communications array and beg temporary insanity to the CO?
Laki saw the quick brief pause in the long conversation, he looked around and found no one. He began to sweat and was nervous, how long would it take for the lizard to get his drink and return; hopefully the cold air that he was complaining about would slow down his movements; and just as he began to truly get nervous Ensign Bahr stepped onto the bridge. Crying a soft wonderful joyous cry to the Prophets he quickly stood up from his chair and grabbed the young ensign and sat him down in front of the screen.
"Ummm sir, I haven't reported in..." he was trying to say before he was quickly cut off.
"Don't worry I'll sign you in myself, I have been..." said Laki thinking of a valid excuse to get away from the lizard man. "waiting to use the restroom. Do you know anything about Professor Bocha?" he said and the obvious look on Bahr's face indicated that knew who he was talking about.
"You mean that pompous ass that says that everything must be regulated and operational according to the design specifications of all equipment issued out by Starfleet to a Federation starship or even a base," he said with a strong dislike on his face, if Laki didn't know better; he would have sworn that the young ensign would have swallowed lemon juice with an cod liver oil chaser.
"Yes the very one, our new Chief Engineer is fond of him and you will be taking my place," Laki said as he was in a near panic mode
"The hell I will, I am not sitting down with someone that believes the same way as that stuck up ass hole professor."
"Oh yes you will ensign, and you will sit here and like it while I.....go to the bathroom and then my lunch break...and my two fifteen minute breaks on top of that," and as quickly as he said that he left the room. "Also enjoy the 90 point slide presentation."
"A slide presentation!!!" said the young ensign.
"And I'm back! Vulcan sand stone tea, very good for the lungs," the comm's panel before Ensign Bahr informed him. "Now, File Alpha one. As you can see from the header file, this focuses primarily on the laser ignition system from the warp core. It also connects with files Baker 4 and Casper 28, but we will get to those in time. As you can see the array of laser ignitors used in the primary fusion chamber are set to a 3-4-3 latency period, whereas anyone with even a layman's appreciation of magnetohydrodynamics knows a pulse variance of 3-6-3 is required for a more efficient power generation model. Anything else, I am sure you will agree, would be an utter waste of time."
Bahr sighed as he listened to the lieutenant go on about his slides, and mentally he blocked out the lizards talking thinking about the revenge that he was going to plot against Laki. This was war from here on out, he was thinking of a plant to see if he could entrap Laki with lieutenant lizard in a face to face encounter. An evil grin appeared on his face as his thoughts turned to evil diabolical planning.