Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

Unknown, Durgbear & Cowmilk

Forward Lounge
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Erica took a sip of her orange juice as she made a few notes on her PaDD, which showed the latest diagnostics of the warp core, as well as her own work on improving the impulse manifold output. She wanted to find a way to increase impulse speed, but she knew it would take quite some time. After all, even Doctor Cochrane took years to build the first warp engine, and technology was far more advanced than what he had.

She didn’t even notice the rest of the people in the lounge. When she was involved in her work, she was able to block out anyone, not even noticing how busy the lounge was.

Bane stepped through the doors to the Lounge, the first time he had done so since being on board the Cygnus. He knew the Lounge was for the crew, not for him, and knew that the presence of the Captain would absolutely change the atmosphere of the room. Plus, he had his Private Mess where he could eat, if he wanted to outside of his quarters. Although he had told Doctor Winters he was headed to the Bridge, he still wanted to visit here. He knew he had time. All part of being the Captain. As he looked around, he saw only one familiar face, at least one familiar enough that he had talked to. He realized he hadn’t seen this officer for a while, so he stepped up to her table and waited for her to notice him. After several awkward moments, he cleared his throat to get her attention.

Erica looked up, hearing the cough, and blinked several times. “Captain! Sorry, I was looking at some work,” she said, standing up to attention. 

“Think nothing of it,” he lied. Shifting his stance, he asked, “What are you working on?” 

Erica looked at him, wondering if he had come to check on whether he had made a mistake in promoting her, or if this was what others called ‘small talk.’ It wasn’t something she was used to, or good at, but talking about work? Well, that she could do for hours. “Currently, I’m confirming the results of the diagnosis checks we ran on the warp core, reviewing the duty rosters for Engineering, as well as looking at the ideas I have on creating a new impulse engine. I believe the first part is to find a way to improve the strength of the plasma flow manifolds, in order to achieve a higher reaction speed without overloading the system,” Erica explained. 

Bane nodded in approval. He was happy he had not erred in judgment promoting her so quickly to Chief Engineer. It seemed she had taken the Durgbear by the proverbial horns.  “Good work, Lieutenant,” he said. Not wanting to get into the details of the impulse manifold (for it had been a lot of years since he was an Engineer), he asked, “You’re up to speed about our current status?”

Erica nodded. “I am. I’ve been researching the reports of the planet, and trying to make sense of what could have happened. So far, I’m not entirely sure what could have happened, but I’m sure the away team will be able to find out,” Erica said. 

Plase was again impressed. As far as he knew, she was not on the bridge when they found out everything organic was missing from the planet. “We sure hope so. Intelligence tells us there was a vast interstellar consortium here, and now their not.” 

Erica nodded. “I’ve been reading the reports, and the last report showed that nothing was wrong with any of the systems. On top of that, I’ve looked at the sensor logs, and run a scan for anything that could have done this, but there’s no trace of any of the usual suspects. I’m reading a few science texts to try and learn about other possible issues, but that I have to do when I have spare time,” Erica said.

She took a sip of her drink, sitting down. “I must confess, I don’t like not knowing something. It comes from childhood,” she said, trying to hide how annoyed she was at the puzzle in front of the ship.

The Captain had to smile at the duality that the Chief Engineer was dealing with. “It is interesting that you would choose a career where not knowing something is the driving force of the whole machination. We are out in space specifically because we don’t know.” 

“And we go out to explore and find the answers. I think the not knowing isn’t the driving force, it’s the search for answers. We all seek answers all through our life, and finding them brings a certain sense of completion,” Erica countered. 

“You aren’t wrong, but if the mystique of not knowing wasn’t there, then the seeking of answers also wouldn’t be there,” he countered back, enjoying the spar. It was rare anyone challenged a Captain so openly, and he appreciated she had done so. 

Erica thought for a second. “I disagree, to be honest, but mostly because ever since time began, and life began, seeking answers has always been the basic instinct of people. There are answers found not because it’s exciting but because it’s needed. The common cold cure, vehicles, technology… even food and drink. Take human milk. I doubt someone chose to drink from a cow’s udder because they were excited to find an answer, but because they needed nourishment,” Erica pointed out. 

Captain Bane smiled at her. “To use your analogy, could it not have been that a nomad saw a cow, didn’t know what it was, so out of not knowing what it was, approached it. Then, I imagine, not knowing what the white stuff was leaking out of that cows udders, tasted it. Not because of nourishment, but because they simply didn’t know, which drove their curiosity to find the answer.” 

“That is possible, but I rather doubt they just had a moment of curiosity. Like most things in history, I imagine someone saw a baby being fed, and thought of trying it for their own child. Either way, however, it could have been necessity more than curiosity. Either way, the search for answers is one thing that unites every species in the galaxy,” Erica replied. 

“Truer words have never been spoken, Lieutenant.” 

“Even as a child, I needed answers. My parents were amazing but I was… often alone in my studies, other than my sister Natasha,” Erica explained. 

“You aren’t alone here, Ms. Anderson. You are among some of the very best people in Starfleet, all seeking answers to the questions they have. Even me,” he said. “It was a pleasure talking to you. I told Doctor Winters I was headed back to the Bridge, so I better get up there before I get caught and she thinks I was lying to her,” he teased. 

“It was a pleasure speaking with you too, sir,” Erica said, with a genuine smile.

 

OFF

A fun little sparring JP by

Lieutenant (jg) Erica Anderson

Chief Engineer

USS Cygnus

 

&

 

Bane Plase, Captain

USS Cygnus, Commanding