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Growing suspicions

Posted on Tuesday 22 August 2023 @ 21:02 by Commander Seklar & Ensign Charlie Cooper

Mission: Where no one has gone before
Location: Main Engineering, USS Merlin
Timeline: MD 1 1800
1691 words - 3.4 OF Standard Post Measure

Charlie was working hard at her terminal, trying to pick her way through the minefield that was the engineering computer log file. Whatever or Whoever had caused the misalignment of the magnetic constrictors had covered its tracks well. The engineering log wasn't being much help either.. wait! Wait what's that?

She smiled to herself. An authorisation code and a retinal scan had been used to bypass the sensors. Someone had tried to erase the user input. They had been good... but they had not been good enough. She would be able to reconstruct the autherisation code. Almost there..... Got it.

"Computer, display the authorisation used for entry 564-432 Baker."

Her look of triumph changed to a look of shock as the computer now displayed her image and authorisation details.

"What! I didn't do this." She exclaimed, her mind working.

"Did not do what?" Seklar queried, seemingly appearing out of nowhere to peer over her shoulder. "Why are your image and clearance code appearing on your console?"

Charlie cursed under her breath. "Someone disabled the sensors monitoring the magnetic constrictors. Somehow... They used my authorisation code... and retinal scan."

Seklar nudged her away from the console, not quite gently but not forcefully either to see for himself. "How...that data should be restricted access."

Charlie almost considered protesting as he pushed her away from the terminal but then thought better of it. "I Realise that Commander. What I want to know is how they managed to replicate my retinal scan." She took a breath realising this did not look good for her."

"As would I," the chief engineer commented.

Security chief petty officer first class Ben Schaut saw something rather strange and needed answers and walked into main engineering at a quick pace and spotted Selkar. " Commander Selkar, I just spotted Ensign Cooper exiting out of Jefferies tube 23 Alpha, I callled out to her and she llooked me directly in the face and turned and ran away from.... " He stopped mid sentence. as he saw Charlie standing there. " Excuse me Ensign, Why did you run from me and how did you get here before me when you were running the opposite direction? " He inquired.

"Selkar is my father, who I have not heard from in quite some time. I am Seklar," the Vulcan commented dryly, "and Ensign Cooper has been here all along. You cannot possibly have seen her."

The Chief Petty Officer looked dismayed briefly. " I apologize for the slip up on the name sir, but unless your playing with holograms or she's got a twin sister I'm pretty sure I saw her there coming out of Jefferies tube 23 alpha. " He looked confused for a moment. " At least I'm pretty sure I did. I think. " He looked back and forth between the pair for several moments. " I'm going to return to security and check the security footage just to make sure I'm not seeing things. If you'll both excuse me. " He turned and walked to the exit and was gone from sight quickly enough.

Charlie turned to Seklar puzzeled. "Obviously that was not me, so who was it?"

Her thought was cut short by a muffled explosion and an alarm going off. She quickly looked at the panel next to the Chief Engineer, tracing the source of the problem. "An EPS conduit has overloaded in... Jefferies tube 23 alpha. Internal sensors and secondary power relays are off-line. I've shut off the conduit but I can't get any readings on the cause. We'll have to scan using tricorders." She added, as a feeling deep in the pit of her stomach was telling her this was not going to be an accident.

Seklar said nothing for several seconds. As far as he was aware, Charlie had not left engineering. While they had frequently butted heads over things, and he still didn't exactly like her, he couldn't back the accusations just like that. And he wouldn't destroy a talented engineer's future with a false accusation. "You cannot be in two places at once, so one of them is not you. However...I have no reason to believe that you are not you." He paused again. "I will not allow you to head there by yourself, I will accompany you."

Cooper picked up an engineering kit and a tricorder. "By all means commander. The forcefield protecting the Jefferies tube is offline as well so I've had to shut down the plasma flow to the conduit 24 alpha which runs adjacent, otherwise, we could end up with severe radiation poisoning or worse."

"Something we would rather avoid," the chief engineer commented, really impressed with his priorly wayward engineer.

The Comm panel on the consul came on with a frantic voice. "Ops to engineering, we're reading an overload in an EPS conduit and have lost internal sensors and secondary power relays. What's going on down there?"

Charlie responded automatically "We're investigating now Ops. Repairs are underway. we'll let you know more when we do, engineering out." She then blanched slightly "Sorry Commander, didn't mean to overstep my authority. It won't happen again."

Seklar said nothing, almost pretending he hadn't heard the young woman's response as he grabbed his own engineering kit, waiting for Charlie to get ready.

Cooper led the way out of engineering, into the network of Jefferies tubes. After crawling down a couple of decks, they finally reached the site of the explosion. There was a great deal of damage and residual heat, the surrounding walls having been scorched black. Charlie was scanning the area, reporting her findings. "I'm picking up traces of an explosive compound and DNA..." She frowned "The DNA is destabilising, breaking down. I'm trying to get an identity scan but these readings are confusing. This was not an accident Sir!"

"That much is obvious," the Vulcan stated calmly as he pulled out his own tricorder. "Send whatever you gained from the DNA scan down to sickbay and security and have them run it through the database. Meanwhile, we will take as many readings as we can before commencing repairs. Keep an eye on the radiation levels, and remember we will be required to report to decon after we are done here."

Charlie continued scanning. "There's a residual molecular signature here. Non-human it's..." Suddenly her tricorder started beeping. "What! Someone is reactivating conduit 24 alpha. We have to get out of here! Now!" As she turned and started crawling toward the hatch at the far and of the tube it started sliding shut.

"Someone is sealing us in!" They reached the hatch just as it closed, the lock clicking on.

"The access code has been wiped," Charlie reported, looking at her tricorder. "We might be able to access the manual override. We've got about 10 minutes before we get a fatal dose of radiation but we don't have to worry about that as we'll both be burnt to a crisp in about 2 minutes!"

"Perhaps we can transport out of here," the Vulcan suggested as he tapped his comm badge. He was met with static noise. "Or not. See if you can remove that access panel, we may need to rewire it " while he was obviously concerned, he did his best not to show it. "Keep an eye on radiation levels, let me know before they reach critical."

Cooper laughed as she pried the cover off the access panel. "As I said, heat from the unshielded conduit is going to kill us before the radiation has a chance to. Hand me the hyper spanner, I'm going to try and overload the locking mechanism."

"Easy does it," Seklar encouraged as he handed her the hyperspanner. He kept his eyes on his tricorder. "I will monitor the temperature unless you prefer to do so." After all he was the more experienced engineer.

Sweat was now dripping from Charlie's forehead as she worked. "Don't you Vulcans ever sweat?" She remarked breathlessly, trying to push through the heat which was rising fast. She gritted her teeth and thought to herself, Just a bit more and.... "Got it!"

There was a click as the locking mechanism disengaged and the hatch opened a few inches. She turned to Seklar and grinned goofily, her eyes becoming unfocused and her speech becoming slower "I think we're going to be ok, now, if you don't mind.... I think I'll pass out now....." and with that, she lost consciousness.

Using his own reserves, Selkar pushed the hatch open and pulled Charlie's unconscious form with him. While perhaps he hadn't been sweating, he wasn't wholly untouched by the intense heat. Pulling the hatch down, he leaned against it, feeling drained. With their combadges fried, he had no way of letting engineering know they were safe.

A young ensign was passing at the end of the corridor when he looked up and Seklar and Cooper on the deck at the Jefferies tube hatch. "My God Sir, are you alright." he came rushing down towards them. "She doesn't look too good, what happened?"

Hearing a commotion from down the hallway, Security crewman Gates went towards the sound and observed the two crew members on the deck and a concerned Ensign offering assistance. He approached to access the scene. " Is everyone alright over here? " He asked in a concerned tone and noticing that one of the injured people was a commander.

"Sir, I think we should take Ensign Cooper here to sickbay and you don't look too good yourself, maybe you should come too?" The ensign volunteered, helping to pick up Cooper off the deck.

Slowly putting himself up to his hands and knees, Seklar nodded. "We were trapped, someone locked us in," he breathed, "we were almost burned alive in there." He gave a feeble wave of a hand. "Please, take Miss Cooper to sickbay.. I will be fine. Vulcans are far more tolerant of heat than Humans." even though he did feel fairly toasted himself.

The ensign frowned at first but did not challenge the chief engineer. “Aye sir. I’ll get ensign Cooper to sickbay. He looked at Gates. “Would you give me a hand please Crewman?”


Occ: shall we wrap this one up here?


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