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Part of USS Columbia: Sol Sub Umbra

Swagger stick yourself up off the floor

USS Columbia, Main Engineering
January 2400
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Turning the corner into main engineering, Lieutenant Andreus Kohl paused a minute to gain his bearings. He leaned close to a bulkhead, keeping back from the bustle of engineers moving around like bees worshiping the warp core. After studying the faces he saw, and mentally comparing them with the crew manifest, Kohl strode into the fray. Clutching his medikit to his side, Kohl navigated around the master systems display table, and he approached an officer wearing lieutenant pips on her gold-shouldered uniform.

“Hullo, I’m Nurse Kohl,” he said, given this was his first visit to Columbia‘s engineering section. “Might you be Lieutenant Sandoval?” he asked hopefully.

“Marcus where’s the Commander’s diagnostic on the injector assembly?”

“I’m still working on it.  The computer system is scrambled,  and it’s taking longer than it should.”

Livvy sighed,  “We need to get the warp engines online,  and we’re waiting on you for that diagnostic.” She finally turned away from the engineering “pool table” to face the intruder.   “Wrong Sandoval twin,” she joked, “you must be looking for my sister who is the Doctor.   She’s not onboard anymore and is serving with our step-brother.” She smiled sheepishly, “Sorry I tend to lean into levity during stressful situations.  It’s gotten me into trouble more than once.  What can I do for you?”

Shaking his head, Kohl blithely remarked, “Never apologize for levity.  Gallows humour is always welcome in sickbay.”  For all the lightness to those words, he said them in all sincerity.  He quickly tacked on an, “As are engineers,” to explain his presence.  Kohl plucked the tricorder from his medikit and he thumbed the toggle that activated the holographic display at his chest level.  He swiped a tab on the holo-display to point out the reports he described, when he said, “We received several casualty reports from engineering and most of them never made it to sickbay.  I’m here to make house calls.  They can keep working while I patch them up, but I need your help.”  A little more conspiratorially, Kohl requested, “I didn’t come aboard with the contingent from Europa.  I don’t know anybody.  Could I trouble you to make introductions, and order them not to move too much while I repair their damages?”

“Not really my call Doc. This is Commander Kroener’s shift.” Livvy drummed her fingers on the surface of the pool table thinking.  . Finally with decision made she led Kohl to an alcove where an Ensign sat tapping away at controls one handed. “Hey, Standing Bear, I know you don’t want to leave while we’re in crisis mode, but Doc Kohl is going to shore you up.”

The woman looked up from her console. She had thick long coal-black hair in a single braid running down the center of her back.  Her skin was the color of baked clay, with high cheekbones,  and prominent lips and nose. Her dark brown eyes had an ever so slight pinch thanks ancient Asian ancestors.  There was a deep cut and brushing above her left brow and she held her right arm close to her body.

Nurse Kohl,” he said, correcting Livvy with the emphatic waggle of his index finger.  Kohl raised his medical tricorder to the level of Standing Bear’s head, swiped it down her torso, and in the direction of her arms.  His eyes ignored the holo-display on the first go-round; rather his gaze followed the engineer’s reactions.  More than a little sardonic around the vowels, Kohl promised, “No surgical interventions from me, but I know my way around wounds and soft tissue injuries.”  Tilting his head, Kohl moved his attention to the holo-display.  While his eyes scanned through the sensor results, Kohl shifted the conversation to the engineers’ comfort zone.  He asked, “Do we know anything more about what happened to the engines?”  At the same time, his inflection seemed to ask, is it going to happen again?

“An overload killed the impulse engines, not sure about the warp drive. Something is keeping us from forming a stable warp bubble,” Livvy said.

“Something in the EPS waveguides,” Standing Bear added helpfully. 

Livvy shrugged,  “The matter/antimatter reactor is operating, but the plasma relays aren’t getting into the EPS system.”

As they discussed their observations and theories, Kohl plucked a tissue regenerator multi-tool from his kit.  It was shaped like a large mechanical pencil and he pointed its emitter at Standing Bear’s shoulder.  He tapped tabs on its side to apply cellular microsutures to Standing Bear’s tissue damage and activate the anabolic accelerator to encourage natural healing from within.  Kohl kept watch over the progress of his treatment, on his tricorder display, but he was curious enough to still ask the question.  “I can’t purport to be anything but a clown when it comes to electroplasma,” he said, asking, “but what could actually do something like that?”

Livvy shrugged,  “Your guess is as good as mine Doc.”

Offhandedly, Kohl corrected her with a, “Nurse.”  When he said it, he kept his eyes on the energy arcs from the multi-tool he continued waved over Standing Bear’s arm.  “Nervous nurse, actually,” he added, “If we can just fall out of the sky.”  –Urgently, Kohl looked over at Livvy for only a heartbeat, but his eyes were wide and panicked– “Do you think we could go home tonight?  Could this turn us back from our trek to the wormhole?”

Livvy crossed her arms in front of her uncertain how to respond.  She sighed,  “Anything is possible,  but as far as I can tell there’s no damage to the ship that would require a Starbase. I have full faith in the Chief Engineer, and you should as well.”

Nodding slowly at Livvy’s words, Kohl packed away his multi-tool in exchange for a dermal regenerator.  Only a couple of quick swipes were required to heal the cut on Standing Bear’s forehead.  “I receive that.  Faith was always in great supply on Argelius.  I think I can adopt a little faith in our chief engineer and her team,” Kohl said.  The way his voice went up at the end of the statement communicated a growing glimmer of hope.

She patted him on the shoulder and lead him to a replicator and handed him a coffee. “Now, I know I’m not the eternal optimist, but what’s with the Debby Downer routine Doc?”

Kohl followed Livvy to the replicator, but he trailed behind a couple of paces, as he packed his tools back into the medi-kit.  He shifted the kit’s shoulder strap closer to his neck and he accepted the mug between both of his hands.  He mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ before he took his first sip of the coffee.  “On a scale of one to ten?  You can see my anxiety is at a disregulated,” Kohl replied.  His lips curled tightly in an expression that suggested he was uncomfortable with this state of affairs, but he didn’t hesitate to admit where he was at.  Before he explained himself, he sipped at the coffee again.  “I know my way around sickbays, but I’ve hardly left Federation space before, let alone the quadrant,” he said, chalking it up to the reptilian-brained fear of the unknown.  “Only, we haven’t even made it to the Delta Quadrant, and our Head Nurse cracked her skull in the impact.  The EMH is doing what they can for her, but we’re running out of options except for stasis.”

She considered him for a moment trying to formulate a strategy.  “You know, medicine and engineering are not too dissimilar. You diagnose the problem and you repair or replace.  There are things that are within your control, and then there are things out of your control or ability.   If we were at a repair facility we would have different resources that we do not have out here in the black.  So, do we lament and complain about what we do not have? Well, that’s not productive.   That doesn’t fix the problem.  We adapt and overcome.  Are you not qualified to fulfill head nurse duties? So you’re down an officer. Every department experiences loss from time to time. Adapt and overcome.  Pick up the banner and keep charging that hill.  Move forward. Space is dangerous Doc.  If you wanted to be safe you should have stayed out of Starfleet.  There’s a need for nurses all over the Federation. So now, what are you going to do?”

“Realistically,” Kohl started to say.  He squinted momentarily as he took in Livvy’s words and considered how he wanted to answer her questions.  He took another sip of the coffee, and he said, “It’s going to be both.  I’m going to pick up the banner and charge that hill, and I’m going to be anxious to the point of unhinged at the same time.”  –With his free hand, he raised a finger to make one final, sardonic point– “However, I’m going to do better about not taking it out on so many bystanders.”

Livvy shrugged,  “One step at a time Doc. One step at a time.”