It's the Little Things pt1
Episode 5: Escalation
1524 words - 3 OF Standard Post Measure
The general Refit being mostly complete, Sybil finally spotted the Chief engineer working on a ticket she had submitted about the shield array commands. She jogged to catch up to where she saw him looking into the control junction outside the bridge.
"Lt. Cross," She called as she closed the distance. "Sorry, I know we haven't really had the chance to talk. I'm Sibyl Danzer, from Tactical. You're here about my work order, right?" She asked hopefully.
"I sure am Lieutenant..." Mark barely acknowledged the presence next to him, head down in his work, and one arm wedged some way inside of a panel. "One of many...the whole ship seems to be coming apart piece-by-piece. Slow response from the shield array, right?"
"Yes, there seemed to be a delay during a department drill. I wasn't sure if it was the system itself or a slight error of timing in the drill settings feeding back from the computer relay. I didn't program the delay, in any case, so it's in the system somewhere."
"I don't think...it's a timing issue..." he thought aloud as he was continuing to work through the problem in his head. "That would be pretty easy to detect. Besides, it seems like all these issues we have cropping up are systems-related. The whole thing's giving me a headache..."
"Can I help with that? Hold a meter? Get you a coffee?" Sibyl offered. "With the recent refit, it seems like there's a plethora of these little bugs to work out of the system. I don't have anything pressing at the moment, if you need an extra pair of hands."
"A coffee is always welcome, you don't have to ask to bring me one of those!" Mark chuckled softly as he worked his hands out from within the machinery. "Tell you what though, you can definitely help me. Let's see if we can replicate the error so I can see it first-hand, work it back from there." Packing everything back up in his kit, the normal surgical precision in how it was laid out long gone, as was the scale of the work list. With a bold stride he headed for the turbolift.
Decisiveness. Now that was a quality Sibyl admired. As she followed Lt cross, her mind drifted back a little, to working with Yettle, the Bolian mecahic on her fathers ship. Yettle was something of an ambling talker, but kept busy working. She would follow him around as a kid and he trained her how to hand him things. She'd gleaned a lot from him before he'd moved back home. It made her smile. "It's a really good idea, looking for the source rather than getting mucked up in the details. If it is related, at all. I can initiate the training protocol I used from any station, if you want to run a diagnostic from Engineering."
"That's a terrible idea..." Mark chuckled as he went along with it, calling out for Main Engineering anyway. "All these malfunctions have gotten everybody in a spin, guaranteed Main Engineering is where I'm going to get disturbed the most, just you wait and see. I'm gonna need the extra pair of hands to bat them away from me with a long stick or something!" he smiled warmly at her, to try and show he was joking. His humor was tough to get to grips with straight away, or so he'd been told.
It was all going so well, until the sound of the lift powering down rung out into the small space, followed by silence. "Uhhh oh..."
Sibyl said nothing for a moment. Often times glitches cleared themselves after a beat. But when the lighting switch to battery and the emergency break locked into place with a clank, she cleared her throat. "What are we thinking? Another bug?"
"Most likely another bug...hang on..." Mark moved to the lift controls, each punch of the button letting off that almost fizzy static noise that revealed it wasn't going to play ball. Slinging his kit off his shoulder, he grabbed his tricorder, seeing if he could diagnose the problem that way.
Sibyl touched her communicator, expecting someone could be sent to just crank the door open from the outside onto whatever deck they were alongside at the time. But it made a dull sound. She pulled out her tricorder. "Seems like all signal transmissions are locked out of the lift due to a containment safety protocol. I think the lift malfunction must be related to security lock down systems meant for containment of intruders or escapees."
"Is that so huh?" Hearing about everything he needed to know, Mark stepped back to the edge of the turbolift, sliding himself down to the floor and grabbing a seat.
"If it lights up on a Security readout, someone should come by. Sooner or later. Right?"
"Of course they will!" He offered up reassuringly. "Of course response time is determined by the size of the current work order, the availability of engineers, and the ability of the person coordinating those efforts to work efficiently. Which...is me...and I'm now unreachable..." He laughed. "Grab a seat Sibyl, we might be here a while!"
Reflexively she crossed her arms, pacing the width of the lift twice. "I can't hang around here. I have to run a performance review on our last drill and stage another drill to run on the next shift." Even as she said it she knew it was irrational. Why would the chief engineer sit on the floor if there was anything he could do about it? "You're serious."
"Pretty serious..." Mark shrugged as he stretched out his legs, the first opportunity he'd had to take a load off since he'd gotten on board, or so it felt like. "I mean look...we can't brute force our way through any panels or doors, security lockdowns mean forcefields, and if someone with an engineering kit and good knowledge of the systems could get themselves out before the security team arrived? It kind of defeats the purpose."
Sibyl leaned against the wall. "Targ Barf," she sighed.
"At least you've got the best company aboard the whole vessel, that's a silver lining for you." Mark chuckled, unsure if this was really the best time to be joking around after he'd just been the bearer of bad news. "Wanna play twenty questions?"
Not enthused, she shook her head and unzipped the top of her duty jacket to get to her liner pocket. "I always keep a deck of cards, at least." She slid them out of the beat up case and started shuffling while still standing. The cards were ratty and well worn, the backs of them printed with a commercial logo of an ale manufacturer out of Tera Nova. After a few shuffles she lowered herself to sit cross-legged on the floor. "Rummy? Poker? Spite and Malice? Black Jack?" Sibyl smirked. "Go fish?"
"Now THAT is an idea I can get behind!" He laughed as he saw the state of the cards. After all, with replicators on near every deck, they'd be very easy to replace with something shiny, crisp, and new in seconds. Then again, that would take away all the magic, and he could bet those cards had plenty of stories to tell. Maybe this would be another one to add to the collection. "Dealer's choice!"
"Some Spite and Malice then." She set up the cards between them, dealing five cards to each and splitting the remaining deck in half. "Have you played this before? Kind of like solitaire for two?"
"I've played solitaire before, not Spite and Malice..." Mark racked his brains for a second as he tried to figure out how it might work in his head. "I'm guessing by the name we're not exactly working together on this?"
She set up three cards in the middle "Use the center cards just like solitare to get rid of all your cards. you can use up to four spaces in front of you just like open solitaire spaces, but I can't use yours, you can't use mine. Once you play a card to one of your own spaces instead of the center, it ends the turn. Or your turn is over when you can't make any new moves from your hand. If you play all of the cards in your hand you draw five more and keep going. First one to finish their draw pile wins."
"Okay...gotcha..." Mark glanced down at how everything was set up, trying to get his head around the concept. He loved card games, poker in particular, and he figured after a couple of rounds he'd well and truly have it down. "I think I'll be able to get used to this." He scooped up his first five cards into his hand, taking a moment to figure out if he had any early moves to make. "How do we decide who goes first?"
"Who ever needs to take a shower the most," she snarked, giving him the first turn. The mal-odor of Mark's hard work was already permeating the confined space.