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Piece Of Cake

Posted on Oct 26, 2018 @ 12:23am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Oct 26, 2018 @ 9:47pm

Mission: The Uncertainty Principle

= Piece of Cake =

(cont'd from “The Ghost of Starship's Future”)


SCENE: Bridge
STARDATE: [2.18] 1026.0119

Jake Crichton wasn’t too badly hurt, all things considered. Not everyone had come through so well, though there had fortunately been no deaths: Lt. Proctor had what seemed to be a badly fractured arm, and the on-duty science officer, Ensign Trimble, was still unconscious and showing signs of what looked like a serious head injury. Part of Kane’s expedition to Sickbay had been to send medical teams to the bridge, but the Captain had left nearly 30 minutes ago and there was still no sign of anyone from Sickbay, nor any sort of communication from the rest of the ship. That was a bad sign; on the bridge, most of the major systems were down, and other than the fact that the PHOENIX was badly damaged after Dr. Eden’s experiment, Jake had no way of knowing just had bad their situation was.

While Kane was heading to Sickbay and attempting to make some kind of contact with the rest of the ship, Jake’s task on the bridge was finding a way to get control of the PHOENIX once again. He was relieved to have the assistance of Lt. Byte in this regard, as well as their new Vulcan officer, Lt. Sotaar.

“So,” Jake said, dabbing at a shallow cut running along his forehead with a finger. “The ship’s systems might be down, but Mr. Byte, may I assume that your systems are working normally?”

The android cocked its head to one side for a moment in what looked like the quizzical gesture. Then it straightened its head again and turned its cornflower blue eyes to Jake.

{{My internal diagnostic shows I am running at optimum efficiency,}} Byte said.

“Good man,” Jake said.

{{Not technically accurate, sir. Though my outward appearance is superficially male, I do not in fact have--}}

“Figure of speech,” Jake held up a hand, momentarily regretting borrowing that turn of phrase from Kane. “May I also assume that you were monitoring the ship’s progress as well as incoming reports from Engineering during Dr. Eden’s experiment?”

{{You may, sir,}} said Byte.

“Good,” Jake nodded. “That means we can establish a timeline of events, which might help us figure out what happened. Please proceed, lieutenant.”

{{Experiment was scheduled to begin at 0900, but Dr. Eden did not arrive in Main Engineering,}} Byte said. {{Lt. Yu was sent to Dr. Eden’s quarters and escorted her to the engine room. The experiment officially begins at 0930.}}

“So far, so good,” Jake said, pacing back and forth while Byte went over the timeline.

{{No measurable effects from Dr. Eden’s modifications for the first four minutes of the experiment. Throughout this time, Dr. Eden continues to increase power to the PHOENIX’s main deflector dish. At 0934 hours, Dr. Eden requests additional power, approaching the upper level of the PHOENIX’s safety threshold.}}

Jake remembered this part, and grimaced. “And I agreed to give it to her.”

{{You asked for Commander Malin-Argo’s recommendation,}} Byte pointed out. {{He agrees that risk to the ship would be acceptable. Power to the main deflector is increased to 97%, and eighteen seconds later, sensors register the nascent formation of a subspace effect of the type described in Dr. Eden’s theory. Commander Jacob Crichton orders the PHOENIX to enter the rift. Two point oh oh three seconds later, the PHOENIX sustains unexplained system failure and kinetic damage consistent with a high speed impact.}}

“I find it highly unlikely your conn officer would have failed to notice an incoming object large enough to damage the ship this way,” Sotaar observed. “This area of space is remote and lightly trafficked.”

“I agree,” Jake said. He looked at Byte. “Any chance long range scans could have missed something? Like a rogue comet?”

{{I could not rule it out entirely,}} Byte said. {{Based on the information we have available, I would rate it as highly unlikely. The Wolf 1061 system was carefully screened as the site for this experiment. Any such failure would not just be with the PHOENIX’s sensors, but with those of the monitoring stations and science vessels Starfleet used during the selection process.}}

“Perhaps it was a cloaked vessel,” Sotaar offered. “Your recent experience with the Klingons suggests they may have plans of which we are not aware.”

“I doubt that,” Jake said. “Is’toQ was out to steal food, not scientific research that’s still of pretty dubious value.”

“The Romulans possess cloaking devices,” Sotaar observed.

{{A cloaked ship is also unlikely,}} Byte put in. {{Any such vessel would have had to have been between the PHOENIX and the rift, which would place it in the direct path of the energy surge from the main deflector.}}

“So,” Jake said, looking at Sotaar. “It seems logical to assume that whatever it is we hit, it must have come *out* of the rift.”

Sotaar quirked an eyebrow at him. “It would seem so, sir.”

“Right,” Jake said. “We hadn’t built up much speed yet, so whatever it was must have come out of that rift like a bat out of hell. Mr. Byte, based on what we can assess of the collision, can you extrapolate the likely damage to the rest of the ship?”

{{It is likely the ship has suffered loss of power across multiple decks, as well as multiple hull breaches.}}

“No hull breaches.”

Jake turned, and was surprised to see Jasmine Yu, hauling herself up out from the maintenance access hatch and onto the bridge. She looked beat as well, but Jake was glad to see her.

“Lieutenant!” he said. “I’m happy you could join us!”

“Happy to be here, sir,” Yu nodded. “Well, relatively speaking, anyway.”

“Did you say ‘no hull breaches’, lieutenant?” Sotaar asked.

Yu nodded. “None that I’ve seen, anyway. The ship is badly damaged, but she seems intact.”

“How is that possible?” Sotaar asked.

{{A high speed impact with our shields lowered would have caused significant structural damage,}} Byte said.

“I can’t speak to that, sir,” Yu said. “What I can say is that there’s something wrong with the warp core. Before I left Main Engineering, Commander Malin-Argo said it was still cycling up, and they couldn’t find a way to shut it down.”

Jake’s let out a shaky breath. If that was true, it meant their problems were much more serious than he thought; the PHOENIX could well be on its way to a warp core meltdown.

“Malin-Argo’s still standing,” Jake said. “That’s something, at least. Our priority needs to be getting communications restored. Once we have a line to Main Engineering, we can at least start trying to coordinate our efforts to deactivate the warp core.”

“Comms are down across the ship,” Yu said. “I’ve been from Main Engineering, to Sickbay, to here. Nobody’s in touch with anyone so far.”

“The lieutenant’s presence here suggests a direct route to Main Engineering,” Sotarr said. “Perhaps we should relocate.”

Jake looked around. “I don’t think everyone here could make the trip. And we don’t have enough systems online to reroute primary functions to Main Engineering in any case.”

“So what do we do?” Jasmine asked.

“We need a way to talk to the engine room in something approaching real time,” Jake frowned. “And here I am, fresh out of carrier pigeons. Mr. Byte, can you give me a rundown on the systems that *are* still online?”

Byte nodded, another somewhat disconcertingly human gesture. {{Environmental controls thankfully remain in effect. Fire suppressant systems, cargo and hangar bay door contorls, replicator functionality, waste reclamation--}}

“Hold up,” Jake said. “Replicators are still online?”

Byte turned to his console to confirm, then looked back at Jake. {{We have reported outages on decks 4, 7, 22, 23, 24, 28--}}

“Are they working on decks 35 through 37?” Jake interrupted.

“The main engineering decks?” Yu asked. “Sir, what difference would that make?”

{{Replicators are working on decks 35 through 37,}} Byte said, looking back at Jake. {{Though I would repeat the lieutenant’s inquiry. It is not clear how replicators will allow us to communicate with the lower decks from the bridge.}}

“Replicators are tied into the same ODN networks that shipboard communicators are,” Jake said. “The replicator hears and interprets your order, in context, and sends it through the same computer subprocessors to make sense of what you’ve said. The routing is different, sure, but the core functionality is the same.”

“You’re suggesting repurposing the replicators as communicators,” Sotaar said.

“Replicate that man a cigar,” said Jake..

“But replicators don’t talk back,” Yu said. “At least, not anymore so than the main computer already does. You can talk to one, sure, but it’s not built for incoming transmissions. It can’t broadcast return messages.”

“Not yet, no,” Jake said. “But the hardware already exists. The main computer already talks, both through the replicator console and on speakers layered throughout the ship. It’s just a question of modifying what inputs those speakers will recognize.”

{{That leaves us with our original problem, sir,}} Byte said. {{Unless we send someone to Main Engineering, we have no way of advising them of the necessary modification.}}

“I know I just go here,” Yu said, sounding tired. “But I guess if somebody needs to leg it all the way back down there--”

“No need, Lieutenant,” Jake said. “We don’t have that kind of time anyway.”

“Well, with respect sir, what exactly is our plan then?” Jasmine asked.

“Our plan is to get creative,” Jake grinned.


SCENE: Main Engineering

“Phase adjustment coils not responding,” John Maynell reported from his workstation. “The warp core is continuing its acceleration cycle.”

Malin-Argo grimaced. “This doesn’t make any sense. Every relevant system has been disengaged. Even with the presumed damage to the ship, there’s no reason the warp core should be behaving this way.”

“Another dig at my modifications, I trust,” Dr. Eden said, scowling up at the Grazerite from her post near the Master Systems Display. “I tell you again, whatever is wrong with your ship, it’s nothing at all to do with me.”

“That remains to be seen,” Malin-Argo said, sparing her a glance. “For now, if we don’t find a way to deactivate the warp core, it wont’ make any difference who is at fault for our situation.”

“You keep saying that,” Dr. Eden hissed. “And each time, your eyes cut towards me. You’ve already made your mind up about who is to blame!”

“Doctor,” Eve Dalziel cautioned. “We don’t have time for this.”

“Well it’s true!” Dr. Eden said. “I don’t know what is happening, but I know it’s got nothing to do with my experiment! I tell you, I’ve run simulations a hundred times, and nothing like this has ever--”

“Welcome t’ the real world, doc,” Kass Thytos sniffed. “It’s a messy place.”

“Sorry, sir,” John Maynell interrupted, looking at Malin-Argo. “I’m reading a power fluctuation to the replicator systems on this deck.”

“There are power fluctiations all over the ship, ensign,” Malin-Argo said, not even sparing a glance in Maynell’s direction. “The replicators are not a primary system.”

“I understand that, sir,” Maynell said. “But this fluctuation is limited to the Chief Engineer’s office only, not to any of the other replicator stations across this deck.”

Asta Elgin looked up. “Jake’s old office.”

Malin-Argo looked annoyed. “*My* office, ensign.”

“Is that normal?” Eve Dalziel asked. “Power issues limited to a single terminal?”

“It’s unusual, but not unheard of,” Malin-Argo said. “And given the situation with the warp core, it’s not a priority. The replicator system is not likely to overload and destroy the entire ship, counselor.”

“Quite right,” Dr. Eden snorted. Malin-Argo shot an angry look in her direction, momentarily annoyed that she was on his side for a change.

“We don’t know the situation on the bridge,” Eve pointed out. “Maybe someone up there is trying to get ahold of us.”

“Through the replicator system?” Dr. Eden said. “Don’t be preposterous.”

Eve didn’t look at Dr. Eden, or even at Malin-Argo. Her gaze was focused on Maynell, one of the young engineers who had cut his teeth serving under Jake Crichton. Eve was far from an expert on starship engineering, but she knew Jake well enough after several years to recognize what might be his handiwork.

“Is it possible?” Eve asked.

Maynell spared Malin-Argo a guilty glance, then looked back at Eve. “From an engineering standpoint, I wouldn’t rule anything out. Not where Commander Crichton is concerned.”

Eve turned to Malin-Argo. The Grazerite glanced at her, his attention divided between her and the Master System’s Display.

“Well?” Eve asked.

“It is… unusual,” Malin-Argo admitted. “It may bear checking out. Ensign Maynell, report to the CEO’s office and run a diagnostic on the replicator station. Report back here as soon as you’re finished. We need you at your regular station, mister.”

“Aye sir,” Maynell nodded.

“I’m coming too,” Eve said, falling into step behind him.

“And me,” Kass said. “‘Ain’t much use out here anyhow.

The three officers crossed Main Engineering and stepped through the doors into the Chief Engineer’s Office. Along the opposite wall, they saw the replicator station, which had conjured up so many late-night cups of coffee for the PHOENIX’s former Chief Engineer, Jake Crichton. Sitting in the materialization bay was a long, white object.

Maynell stepped up, waving his tricorder over the console. “Readings are normal. Looks like someone remotely tapped into the station.”

“Is that… a cake?” Eve asked.

The three officers stepped up to the replicator. Eve was correct; laying in the replicator’s manifestation bay was a large sheet cake, covered in fondant. Words were scrawled along its flat, white surface were word, written in pink frosting:





“I’m reading a pending order in the system,” Maynell said.

Eve smiled as she reached for the sheet cake, pulling it out of the manifestation bay to make room for the next order.

“As bad as things are,” she observed. “At least we have cake.”


NRPG: Communications between the bridge and main engineering are (or at least are on their way to being) restored! I don’t expect them to keep communicating with sheet cake (though I admit I really enjoy that idea), but we’re at least on our way to setting the ship to rights again. We still have a handful of mysteries to figure out: what did the PHOENIX crash into, leaving no signs of debris or any other starships in the surrounding space (per Jerome’s “Sight To The Blind” post)? Did it come out of the rift? Does Dr. Eden know more than she’s telling? What’s causing the warp core to cycle up to a meltdown?

That brings us into round two of our time-hop posts! Let me know your availability and Jerome and I will figure out who will be next on deck. It will work the same way as before, with roughly the same expected turnaround time per post. Judging from our previous missions, we’re around one-third of the way through this mission, so I’m anticipating at least two more rounds of time-hops (including this one). I would like to wrap this mission before the end of December, but I think we’re still in pretty good shape in that regard. Let me know when you think you have a week or so to post and Jerome and I will try to figure out a good order for the next round.

Shawn Putnam


Jake Crichton

Executive Officer



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