There it was again, that flicker of lights. A dimming, a quick flash, then they steadied out and were the typical and regulation steady 1600 lumens. “And it’s just this one lab?” Velan asked of PO Tormlin. He’d only come up because the PO had called back to Engineering for assistance on a service ticket and frankly there wasn’t much to do for a Chief Engineer but stay out of the way of his specialist at the moment.
“Yes sir,” the young man said. “I’ve checked all adjacent cabins on the same life support circuit and no one else is having issues. Though the storage room next door is a few degrees warmer and I swear the lab across the hall is…heavier?”
“You mean more than a standard one G?” Velan asked, still staring at the lighting strips, waiting for them to flicker once more, which they politely did. Exactly the same as before. Same dimming, quick flash, then back to regulation.
“Uh, well…yes Sir. But not by much. I figure one point two, but I didn’t check properly Sir, I was just checking for lighting.” The PO, Velan knew from reading the man’s file the day before, was on his first ever deep space cruise. And a hell of a trip it was so far.
“Perhaps Petty Officer, you could verify that for me, hmm?” he asked, stroking his beard and watching another flicker, smiling. A mystery, he so loved a mystery. “And then you and I are going to find out what the problem is, yes?”
Four hours later however and not only had the problem not been resolved, but a slew of minor technical problems had started to crop up across the ship such that Velan had to abandon his personal mystery and return to Engineering. Lieutenant Maxwell and a selection of the finest trouble shooters from across Engineering had been assembled to look into the problems cropping up. Lights were flickering, grav plating was pushing up against the soft-locks, life support was fluctuating in select cabins across the ship, temperatures varying five degrees either side of baseline.
“Frankly Chief,” Maxwell said as he once more brought up the list of problems across the ship on the pool table’s surface, “this isn’t a hardware fault. We’ve scanned the actual circuits in all locations and found no faults. As soon as we take them off the global controls everything stays nice and steady.”
“Except for the supply closet on deck five, section twelve. There is an actual fault there,” one of the ratings offered. “We’re going to have to rip out a few runs to get at a faulty power regulator, but we should get it sorted by morning.”
“See that you do,” Velan added while perusing the list of errors. It had grown in the last few hours and he just knew it would continue to do so. “I want the brig isolated onto its own circuit. And take a few portable power packs. Enough to run the forcefields for a week without ship power. Hook them up and then set up an override. The smallest fluctuation and switch the entire brig over the power packs and hard isolate it from the rest of the ship.”
“Expecting trouble?” Maxwell asked.
“Unknown minor malfunctions that keep spreading. Likely a software issue…yah, I’m expecting trouble and I don’t think I relish the idea of Vaadwuur running around the ship if I can help it.” One last stroke of his chin, a gentle tug on his beard, the pain an attempt to jumpstart his brain. “I best go own up to the Captain about this.”
“Coffee, large, dash of milk and as much sugar as the Doc will let me,” Tikva asked of the replicator as she stood there in front of the electronic minion while reading from a padd. She’d found herself pacing while reading reports and memos and communiques but had momentarily stopped when thirst had beckoned.
“Q…q…q…query not recognised…ed..ed..ed..” the replicator responded before a shorting sound could be heard, then the whining down of electronics no longer powered, confirmed by the lights just blinking out within the confines of the replicator.
“Ugh…seriously?” she groaned, looking to the ceiling, then stomped back to her desk to set the padd down. The desire for coffee was there now and come hell or high water she was going to get it. The saving grace of this particular trial being that journey’s end was just in the bridge conference room, where her feet were taking her now and then soon enough back along the same route.
Seeing as she’d have to cross the bridge to get back to her ready room, a quick detour to investigate why two of her bridge officers were all huddled at the MSD at the back of the bridge was called for. “Hope nobody has broken my ship,” she said with mirth in her tone, surprising the youngest of the two, the gamma shift ops officer Michaels.
“Not intentionally,” Mac replied, not even turning away from the MSD which Tikva could see now had a rash of red all over it. “But we’re getting reports of odd malfunctions across the ship. Lights, gravity, temperature controls all being out of sorts.”
“Are we looking at a serious issue or not?” she asked, punctuated with a sip of her coffee, which seemed off, warranting another experimental sip, a sniff and then holding it out for Mac. “Does this smell right to you?”
To his credit, the XO dealt with the immediate and more serious problem – the coffee. His own sniff drew a concerned look on his face as he looked to her. “Just how much sugar is in there?”
“Forget the sugar. The coffee, does it smell right?”
He nodded, then sniffed again before answering. “Does smell off. That an Earth blend or some other blend?”
“Same blend as I always have. Great, well, my replicator is broken and the conference room one can’t make a cup of coffee.” That of course didn’t stop Tivka from another sip. It wasn’t bad, just different and upon reflection likely as Max suspect – a different blend. “Now, problems. Serious or not?”
“Well, we don’t think they’re serious but, oh, Lieutenant Velan, how good of you to join us,” Mac said over Tikva’s shoulder as Velan exited the turbolift. “We were just discussing some reports we’ve been getting across the ship. Do you have any insight into these malfunctions?”
“I think we’ve got a temperamental life support control system,” the Efrosian said as she approached, taking note of the MSD, eyes focusing on a few points momentarily. “I’d recommend all life support be switched to local controls, that should sort out the temperature and lights.”
“And the gravity?” Tikva asked while once more staring at the coffee as if sheer willpower could make it how she wanted it to be.
“Got a team going deck by deck readjusting the hardware locks for a standard G. Won’t be able to control boarders with deck plating, but at least we won’t all get flattened ourselves.” He saw the looks over those around him and smiled. “Bridge is controlled by the controller on deck two. A team is already on it.”
“Well, that’s a relief. Ra, level 1 diagnostic of the controller possible if everything switches to local control?” Mac asked.
“I…well…it’s life support sir. I’d like an hour before we do something like that so I can stand up another controller first. Downstream systems don’t seem to be problem, it’s commands they’re receiving from the life support controller that’s the problem.”
“Actually,” came the rare voice of Michaels as she stepped aside to present a screen beside the MSD for all inspect, “I don’t think it’s the life support control.”
Tikva noted she’d likely need to speak with Ra-tesh’mi later, but didn’t fault him to much for gently nudged the junior officer aside so he could close with the screen and read her findings. What he found was emphasised by his fist coming down on the keyboard. “The controller is receiving commands from the main computer.”
“Well, that’s a bit more serious,” Tikva quipped. “Alright, T’Val,” she turned to face the bridge as a whole, “all stop. Michaels, message to Engineering to isolate the Engineering computer from the rest of the ship’s systems and I mean physically isolate.” Then he was back to Velan and Mac. “I want a level two diagnostic of the main computer. And I want the brig secured as well.”
“Already done that,” Velan responded. “Power packs for a week and orders to isolate if anything so much as looks funky.” Mac whistled at that and Tikva had to smile herself.
“Geez, there won’t be much room left will there?” she asked and an affirmative nod was all she needed. “Well then gents, get to work. And Mac, I’ll hail the Va’th and tell them why we’ve stopped. We’ll catch up soon enough.”
“Aye ma’am.” And with that both senior officers went for the turbolift doors, talking to each other and failing to notice the doors not opening before walking straight into them.
Bruised egos, a few looks from bridge officers, herself included and both men were about to say something when the lights on the bridge started to flicker, then went out, red emergency lighting taking over straight away.
“Okay, what now?” Tikva asked.