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Diagnosis mystery

Posted on Sunday 14 May 2023 @ 21:41 by Commander Seklar & Lieutenant Nir’anyar & Ensign Charlie Cooper

Mission: Where no one has gone before
Location: Main Engineering
Timeline: MD1 1400
2856 words - 5.7 OF Standard Post Measure


Charlie was on duty in engineering. With the one hand she was monitoring the diagnostic on the quantum slipstream drive the computer was running and with the other hand, she was working a PADD with the experimental shuttle specifications on. The slipstream flight had been brief but successful and the sensors had recorded a wealth of information which she was planning to review next.

The computer beeped which drew her attention. She had extended the diagnosis to cover all the propulsion systems and the computer readout was now showing a minor misalignment of the magnetic constrictors. She frowned. Not a major issue... Well not yet. She made a note of it.

Walking through main engineering, Jack was making his way from one station to another double checking the structural integrity grid as well as the suit of sensors he was responsible for. The slipstream jump had put a little more strain on the hull than he'd anticipated it would, but so far nothing had shown any signs of fractures. With the importance of the sensors during this experiment, Jack had focused his staff on making sure the information they were collecting was as clear as possible.

Hearing the beep from a nearby console, Jack wandered over to look over Charlie's shoulder, "Everything alright?"

Having been concentrating on more than one thing at once she had not heard Jack's approach and jumped slightly when he spoke. She turned to face him. "Yeah... yeah.. It's nothing serious. The magnetic constrictors are slightly out of alignment. It's just... unusual. I'm not sure what caused it. It's only shown up on the warp drive diagnosis..." She paused "Sorry, we haven't met before. I'm Ensign Cooper but you can call me Charlie.... Sir!" she suddenly realised she was being rather informal on duty and with an officer."

“Hey hey, none of that, we’re working right now. Jack is fine” Jack said as he thought over what she’d just told him, “hmm, magnetic constrictors, could the slipstream be putting out some kind of interference? It’s a bit strange that it’s only the warp core diagnostic that picked it up”

She shook her head. "According to the sensor log, this didn't show up until sometime after the slipstream flight. If it gets any worse, the plasma stream is going to start heating up. If I didn't know any better, the only way this could have happened is...." She paused and looked around, then lowered her voice "Is if someone deliberately set the constrictors to lose alignment." She locked eyes with him, letting that statement hang in the air for a moment.

"And why would someone do that," Seklar asked as he emerged from his office, catching the last of her statement.

Charlie winced slightly. "Commander... I didn't see you there. I was just finishing the diagnostic the Captain had ordered. "I'm,,, I'm not sure but it's not good. The misalignment is causing the plasma stream to heat up. It's not much at the moment but if we don't correct it..." she tried to think of the worst case scenario and came up with one unescapable fact "It could cause a warp core breach." She took a deep breath and turned to face Seklar. "It would have to be sabotage."

The tall Vulcan approached, looking from Charlie to Jack and back to Charlie. "Show me what you have found," he told her, "and why do you think this is sabotage."

Charlie took a breath. "Commander, the magnetic constrictors have a proven track record. Even after testing on the quantum slipstream drive, they show no sign of malfunction or alteration. The only way to change them is through direct intervention. The sensor logs show nothing, but they could have been altered. Here is the warp core diagnosis and the plasma temperature readings. After launch and during the trip through the slipstream, plasma temperature is consistent. Here, an hour after, the plasma temperature starts to rise, whish indicates the misalignment. We need to correct this Sir. Now, before it gets any worse.

“What purpose would someone have to sabotage a test flight? All the major alpha and beta quadrant powers know once we had this figured out we’d share it with them eventually. Especially with the Romulans in the shape they’re in” Jack wondered out loud, “I recommend we switch to back up power until we have this figured out. We should isolate the warp core and the slipstream drive as well”

Charlie was working her console. "That shouldn't be necessary. The plasma stream hasn't heated up that much above normal if I can get the constrictors realigned..... There." She frowned. "Hmmm, that was easier than I expected."

Anya rounded the corner into main engineering and it was cavernous in scope, it caught her a little by surprise in truth as it was this moment she realised she had not ventured down this far before. She pushed her hands into the pockets of her teal lab coat, approaching the small gathering of engineering officers as she went.
"I'm sorry to interrupt... I seem to be having a slight issue in sickbay. Main computer access seems to be being blocked, the biobed sensors, database access, medical records... Everything we need seems to be offline. Its only affecting main sickbay at the moment but the smaller triage units seem to be showing signs of the same issue developing!"

Gregor strode into engineering with a serious expression upon his face and walking at a good clip until he noticed the doctor standing there as well. " Is there some type of medical emergency here in Engineering? " He asked as he looked around, seeing if he could spot the issue. " If there is I can come back in awhile. " He stated as his expression went from stern to concerned within a matter of moments.

"No, I'm just here seeking some help with the Medical systems!" Anya pitched in before any of the engineers could.

Gregor blinked a few times as he looked to Anya. " Your having trouble to? ' He asked. " We're having trouble accessing some of our security files. Some are easy to access, while others come up in gibberish. " He turned to look at the Engineers that were close by. " Does engineering have some of the systems offline or running diagnostics on the affected systems? " He inquired.

Glancing from the new arrivals to Charlie, Seklar stepped closer to the young woman. "Extend your diagnostics," he told her, do you see signs of tampering there as well?"

Gregor's eye's narrowed. " If there are any signs of tampering I want to know immediately. Do you have any reason to suspect such at this point? Or do you have a problem child in your ranks that you suspect would do something like that? " He asked.

"Problem child, yes," Seklar quipped, "but sabotage? No, not if said child has any hope of remaining in my engineering."

Mathias walked in at that moment, hearing the echoes of possible sabotage and also what seemed to be a personnel problem. "Any personnel problems should be directed to me, as I am the Executive Officer of this ship." Mathias stated rather firmly, and glancing at Seklar. "And that includes possible problems in any department."

Mathias nodded towards Jack and the others. "I had been noticing some power fluctuations, which concerned me, hence my coming down here. You can take a man out of Operations but you can't take away the habits of having been in that field."

"There are no personnel problems that I cannot handle internally," Seklar answered calmly, "it would not look good on me and my leadership qualities if I were to escalate every single issue up to the XO." He nodded to Charlie. "Ensign Cooper discovered something that was out of the ordinary and is now tasked with investigating a possible link to outages across the ship."

"Commander Seklar, a word to the side." Mathias stated, his tone brokering no arguments or protest of any kind, moving away from the rest of the group. He had a few words to say to Seklar, but it would be in relative privacy.

Considered young by Vulcan standards, the chief engineer still brought a wealth of experience having served years as both chief engineer and first officer himself, as well as a few years as security chief. He gave the XO a curt nod and followed, crossing his arms over his chest as he waited for whatever the XO had to say.

Mathias looked at Seklar, "If you are worried about how you look in leadership ability, Commander, it would be better to not refer to anyone as a problem child. Not when lower ranks are present. I do not know who you would think as such, but rest assured, that doesn't put you in a good light. "

The Vulcan's light eyes flashed briefly but very visibly as he gritted his teeth. "You asked, I answered. sir."

Mathias narrowed his eyes at the tone Seklar had given.

Anya watched from the corner of her eye as the two more senior officers spoke in whispers. Thankfully Benzite hearing was above average when compared to Human hearing and the dialogue they exchanged was a possible sign of more conflict within the crew. She made a mental note to speak to McPhee in private.

Charlie continued to work the console. Whereas the cause of the constrictor issue was going to be difficult to track down, something strange immediately caught her attention. "There seems to be some anomalous programming sequence in the main computer, set to cause disruptions in the LCARS network. Currently, it seems to be affecting sickbay and tactical systems but there are signs it could infiltrate other systems. Not sure why the computer didn't alert us to.... Oh, Someone has bypassed the security routine. I don't recognise the programming but someone has definitely placed this program in the system deliberately."

Turning his head, expression still tight, Seklar gave her a nod. "See if you can isolate and contain it. If not, block access to unaffected areas, then shut down and reboot the affected systems," he ordered. His tone had changed, containing a small -very small- hint of praise and pride.

This caught McPhee's attention, breaking off from the 'discussion' between him and Seklar.

Charlie frowned as she worked. "It's a slippery weasel. It's not going to be...." Her voice trailed off as the readout changed and her expression changed to one of confusion. "It's gone! It looks like the program has erased itself from the system. It could be because I was poking around, I'm not sure. There's no trace of it. I don't like it, that was too easy. I was expecting more of a fight."

Walking away from the XO, Seklar rejoined his team. "Keep an eye on changes," he told her. "Do you know how to put a tracer onto an anomalous reading?" Seklar quickly checked the junior's reading and nodded in agreement. "Next time you will catch it," he said encouragingly, "do not be disappointed that you did not the first time. You caught the anomalous reading and that is something."

Mathias walked over to listen to what was going on, listening quietly. He glanced over towards Anya having had noticed her attention being upon him and Seklar whilst they briefly conversed.

He paused to let Ensign Matilda Bronsky pass by as she was huffing after running to get to engineering. "I just got back from cleaning up a mess when a replicator decided to have a hissy fit. Several people have been reporting other issues as well." she paused noting the other department heads being there.

Gregor pulled out his security tricorder and began walking around slowly checking for any security threats. He was looking for any signs of transmitting devices or odd electrical devices of alien or foreign design, and of course for any type of explosive devices.

"Is there anything I can do to help with this?" Anya asked, feeling more than a little out of her comfort zone.

Standing off to one side, Jack was thinking over the problem and finally decided to add his opinion to it, “Commander Seklar might have the right idea. If we section off each subsystem with new firewalls, purge the systems and restore them from archived memory backups. Then once that’s done we check again for the virus system by system and only once that is done, we lift the new firewalls” Jack explained, looking to both Seklar and Mathis, “we’d need to come to a full stop, preferably in orbit of a planetary body, and shut each system down as we do the purge. Life support should be our first port of call”

"It's risky Sir, but it's worth a try," Charlie commented while she was still working at her panel. "Oh, it looks like the replicators are unrelated, there's a faulty ODN relay on deck 12 that needs replacing."

Mathias took a look at the work that was being discussed, there was enough people to look at the problem. Jack and Gregor were on the job. "Keep me posted as to what else you have found." giving Seklar a rather pointed look. He knew all about Seklar's so called experience background, it didn't matter to Mathias not one whit. Right now there were too many chiefs in the area. With that Mathias turned and left engineering.

"Understood," the Vulcan answered, ignoring the look as he returned his attention to his engineers. "Any luck tracing that malfunction again?" Surely there had to be a trace of some kind, things didn't just disappear.

Charlie shook her head. "It's like it was never even there. Now that is some advanced level programming. It's going to take some time to see if it left any trace on the affected systems."

Gregor looked to the Vulcan Commander. " Please let me know if there are any changes in the situation. If you find anything I'm going to haver to investigate as this may involve the safety of the ship. So please let me know if you find anything of interest at all. If it's something minor just send it to my PaDD. If it's more then that contact me directly. I shall leave currently as I have some other items to look into . " With that said Gregor turned and depart the engineering section to begin his own work.

“Hmm, a program that does its job and the self destructs without leaving a trace. Almost sounds like an Intelligent job” Jack commented, looking to Seklar, “I still don’t get it, if this is sabotage, why haven’t we been attacked yet? Continuing with the assumption, their virus did its job. Why give us time to recover?”

"Fear is a powerful motivator lieutenant. Their intent is likely to cause that, and chaos so we will focus on one thing." He glanced back at Charlie. "Are you up for a special project?"

Charlie's head popped up from the terminal surprised. "Sir?"

"Find a way to track that virus and contain it, using the data you already gathered. Are you up for such a challenge?"

Charlie nodded. "It won't be easy but they must have left some footprints somewhere. I'll do my best.... Sir."

"I have no doubt you will," Seklar encouraged, "record every step you take, so we can reproduce the correct steps later in case you find something."

"I'll take that as a no!" Anya added rather pointedly as each of the Engineers and Security Officers seemingly ignored her and continued on talking in engineering language, something she now knew would need to be added to her repertoire of skills as the ships second officer.

Charlie looked up briefly, uncomfortable, not wanting to step outside the chain of command. "If you'll excuse me sirs, I've got work to do."

"Indeed," was all the chief engineer commented, "I will be in the office if anyone has need of me."

Mathias had stepped outside of engineering and remembered hearing Anya's question early on, he stepped back inside and walked over to Anya, "Right now it seems that there needs to be more thought put into what could be done. Perhaps a break from this will help to figure something out" to Anya "And the same for the Security as well. " taking a look at Gregor as well. "Shall we?" gesturing towards the door. "It will take some musings away from this particular situation in order to get another insight." he also looked at Jack. "Its always a good practice to do this."


●●● Commander Seklar
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Merlin

○●● Lieutenant Commander Mathias McPhee
Executive Officer
USS Merlin

●● Lieutenant Gregor Morgan
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Merlin

○● Lieutenant JG Johnathan 'Jack' MacGyver
Chief Operations Officer
USS Merlin

●● Lieutenant Nir’anyar
Chief Medical Officer
USS Merlin


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