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Part of USS Luna: Contests

Science Your Way Through It

USS Thames
2398 - October
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—- USS Thames, Captain’s Ready Room —-

 

I felt nervous as I entered the Captain’s Ready Room on the USS Thames. I’d just been promoted and transferred to the ship a few months ago and hadn’t interacted with the Captain beyond the initial welcome to the ship. The old Excelsior-class ships could have over a thousand crew members, and so if you did not get regular bridge duty it was hard to make an impression. So it was very easy to believe that I’d somehow screwed something up, and that’s why I was being called in to be yelled at.

Captain Rogerfield was one of those Captain’s who I’d met a few times in my career who saw themselves as a continuation of Earth’s maritime history. He had things like sextants in his office and maps of ancient Earth saying things like ‘Here There Be Dragons’. With him was First Officer Commander McAvoy who was more familiar to me, if only because he was a tremendous flirt and had targeted me a few times.

As I entered the Ready Room Rogerfield waved me over, gesturing to the open seat across from him at his desk and next to McAvoy. I sat down as instructed and said, “You requested to see me sir.”

”Lieutenant you’re in Strategic Operations aren’t you?” the captain asked. 

“Yes sir,” I said.

He made a noise, “I don’t much care for Strategic Operations. I don’t need someone on board telling me that the Borg is bad and the Feregni can’t be trusted, you understand.”

I nodded, “Well the Ferengi have joined the Federation. But yes I see what you mean.”

”Big ears joined the Federation,” McAvoy laughed, “Big whoop.”

”The point is I have another job for you. We have a science team that’s not making any progress and I need someone to kick them in the butt to get going,” Rogerfield said.

”Plus talking to girls makes them nervous,” McAvoy said.

“I‘m not a girl. Sir,” I said trying not to sound too annoyed.

”Point is you might have more luck making them get done and move onto something else, so I want you to try,” Rogerfield said, “I’m sure it won’t hurt that you’re a pretty lass. Flies with honey and all that.”

These days I can tell a bit better when someone is acting dismissively of me, but English being translated in my head to Spanish made it a bit trickier and I was a bit naive back then. I was not about to start an argument with my captain and so I nodded and smiled, as if me being ‘a pretty lass’ made me perfect for the job of motivating a delinquent science team. These days I might have made a fuss, but sometimes attitudes about gender can sometimes be deeply ingrained even if we tell ourselves that we’re better than that. Regardless of that I got the information and ignored McAvoy’s comment as I left and the door slid shut which was something along the lines of ‘I hate to see her coming but I love to see her leave’ which looking back at it probably pertained to my butt.

 

—- USS Thames, Engineering —-

 

The science team was made up of two humans, and a Vulcan. They were, as promised, all male. 

“So you’re our nanny,” a Lieutenant Junior Grade Vallday said, as he plugged something into a conduit. They were set up in engineering, as this had something to do with getting additional speed from the warp engines. 

“Call me Mary Poppins,” I said, trying to show I was not a stick in the mud. I was pretty sure the humans at least would get the references to the old films from before the Eugenics War. If they did they made no comment so I asked, “What are you working on?”

”We are trying to change the pigmentation of an unborn poultry embryo by applying uniform heat to the whole of it,” one of the humans said and sniggered.

I realized I should be using the universal translator on Federation standard as well as other languages since that made not sense to me. I must have looked lost as the Vulcan, an Ensign Tvam sighed and said, “He has described the act of frying an egg.”

I nodded, “But you’re not going to do that right.”

”That is correct we are attempting to boost the warp drive output to maintain a warp nine vector which is currently beyond the Excelsior-class’s capabilities,” Tvam said.

”Well I’m here in case you need help, or getting anything. I used to be in Operations, I know all the tricks to get things,” I promised. Three sets of skeptical eyes looked at me in my red uniform and two sets of eyes (the human ones) rolled. They must have figured that if I did not even understand a nerdy scientific way of frying an egg warp mechanics was beyond me. I was inclined to agree with them, but I knew that in command you needed to administer all departments not just the ones you understood perfectly. I did not know Captain Rogerfield’s background but unless he was an engineer I doubted he knew much about warp mechanics either.

“No offense Lieutenant, but you wouldn’t understand and it would take too long to explain it to you,” Ensign Vallday said.

I nodded, “Well no offense Ensign but your project is behind schedule and either I have results to report to the captain, or I get to reassign you all to new projects.”

Vallday was older for an ensign. I’d looked into his record before coming down and he’d been passed up for promotion four times, so he did not like someone younger from another non-science department coming around and telling him his business. I imagine that played into what happened next.

He plugged the device the team was working on into another conduit and activated it. Tvam seemed startled, as much as Vulcans get startled.

”It is not ready for testing,” the Vulcan said, “we have additional simulations.”

”Lieutenant said ‘get off your butts’, so we do a trial run,” Vallday said.

”I did not say ignore safety protocols, shut it down,” I said.

Ignoring me he increased the output on the device, which was feeding into the engine. Suddenly the ship went to warp. The USS Thames lurched and we were thrown to the ground.

Getting to his feet Tvam looked at the readings, “We are at warp eight. Warp eight point five. Warp nine. Warp nine point five.”

The ship audibly groaned, “Shut it off, we can’t take this much speed.”

Vallday got to his feet and toyed with the device, “I can’t. It’s locked on.”

”Emergency shut down then,” I said.

”I bypassed emergency controls, they’re offline,” Vallday said.

The ship shuttered.

”Warp nine point nine,” Tvam said.

”Eject the warp core then,” I yelled.

”I can’t I shut off all the safeties,” Vallday said.

At that point it did not take a warp technologist to know that the USS Thames was not able to handle warp nine point nine for long. Certainly not suddenly jumping to warp and the way things were shaking it was clear that the ship was not long for this word if we could not shut it down. Thinking quick I ran to the nearest armory and returned with a hand phaser, which I put of the lowest setting and targeted the dilithium chamber and warp core.

Firing I increased the power until cracks appeared in the glass casing. Suddenly the computer intoned, “Warp core breach detected, ejecting warp core.”

There was a second lurch as the ship dropped out of warp suddenly, and the core went falling through the floor, ejected by the computer’s safeties which thankfully Vallday had not disabled. The fell as the ship seemed to lurch and spin as it suddenly and violently dropped out of warp. I felt my head hit something hard and everything went black.

 

—- USS Thames, Sickbay —-

 

I woke up in the medical bay with Captain Rogerfield standing over me, “Ah so you live.”

”Yes sir,” I said groggy.

”Well I was going to court martial you but the science team explained that your actions saved the ship,” he said, “but don’t make a habit of shooting the warp core. The USS Oakland is on its way with a new warp core for us.”

”Glad to hear it sir,” I said.

”Look maybe I wasn’t fair to you, Lieutenant, when we last spoke. It seems like you saved us all, and you’re a damn fine officer. I shouldn’t let anything get in the way of that,” he said, “I’ve spoken with Commander McAvoy and he agrees. He’ll be mentoring you going forward, and good work. I’ve had a long and stern conversation with the science team about safety protocols as well.”

I was skeptical that I would learn much from McAvoy but having the favor of the captain and XO seemed like a career boost so I just nodded. Sometimes it was just easier to lay in sickbay and rest than to worry about how exhausting senior officers could be. It was not the last run in I had with them, or with the science team, but at least on that occasion I’d managed to survive.